Shocked and Persuaded

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Separating Fact From Fiction

2.8% and 170,000

These are the two numbers Wisconsin man-child Republican Congressman Paul Ryan is touting for his “A Roadmap for America’s Future: Version 2.0”. The first has to do with what he and the Heritage Foundation project will be the rate of US unemployment and the latter is what his manifesto says will be average US economic growth per capita by 2083 or put more magically a nearly four-fold increase over current US GDP per capita (See Page 30).

These are nonsense numbers and the kinds of voodoo economics that convinces “middle America” that Republicans like Ryan are on their side when as point of fact he and his fellow Wisconsin governor Scott Walker have no problem putting out this kind of BS with one hand while simultaneously taking in the largess of the Koch Brothers with their other hand. Read the rest of this entry »

Back Off Westboro Baptist Church

Last year we had a group of visitors here in Burlington from Topeka, Kansas affiliated with Fred Phelps‘ Westboro Baptist Church. For those not familiar this group you may be familiar with some of their pleasant slogans such as “God Hates Fags”, “Thank God For Dead Soldiers”, “Thank God for 9/11”, “Thank God for IEDs”, “Fags are Beasts, “God Hates Jews”, “Fags Doom Nations”, etc, etc. The list is long and oh so thoughtful. When this group came to Burlington they brought with them their signs and their children to protest Vermont being “most ‘gay’ friendly spot in DOOMED america.” This was not the first time they visited little ol’ Vermont they came a couple of years earlier to spew nonsense during the funeral of a Richmond man killed in Iraq by one of those IEDs they like to scream about so much.

During their most recent visit the anti-Westboro contingent was large, persistent, and peaceful following them from Montpelier to Burlington and all around town just letting them know we didn’t agree with their tactics or the hateful rhetoric that came forth from their mouths and those of their children. BUT I don’t know one person involved in the Burlington section of the anti-Westboro crew that thought they didn’t have the right to say what they wanted wherever they wanted. As common defense of Howard Stern goes: If you don’t like him change the station?

Read the rest of this entry »

Federal Budget Fact From Fiction

So President Obama released his much anticipated budget today and I took a couple of minutes to analyze the numbers to find the winners and losers. The results will surprise those on the right and left alike (See Figure Below).

The big winners are:

1. the Natural Resource Conservation Service with respective 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 budget increases of 123% and 167%.

2. the Department of Energy with a 2010-2012 increase of 134%.

3. the Department of Transportation with 2011-2012 and 2010-2012 increases of 113% and 115%

4. a recipient near and dear to natural/environmental scientists hearts the National Science Foundation (NSF) with a 2010-2012 of 118%.

True many of these recipients could be considered liberal or dare I say the word “scientific” causes, but the fact is that there are many progressive recipients on The Big Losers list below.

The Big Losers:

1. Well we have to start with the undisputed biggest loser of them all and one you would think would be in the previous category given how often Obama, Democrats, and Republicans talk about the importance of small-business creation. The Small Business Administration is going to be 20% of what it was in 2010 in the following 2 years if Obama gets his way. This will be an interesting pivot point around which we will see whether conservatives who say Obama is anti-business fight him OR whether the small businesses of America call Obama’s bluff and the Republicans if they jump in bed with him on this one invoking his recent placating speech at Tom Donahue’s Chamber of Commerce. This country is clearly decoupling both at home and in the workplace with Too Big To Fail Military contractors, Banks, and Agribusiness clearly in the driver seat not just with Republicans but with Democrats as well. What a shame.

2. OH and then there is military family housing, which one would assume everyone would want to increase with the patriotic rheotirc booming out of MSNBC and Fox News equally. I thought we valued our warriors and their sacrifice? Guess not because military family housing is set to shrink by 25% 2010-2012.

3. Education and who – like military family housing – could argue with education? Apparently an Obama administration that has found it’s Reaganomics Religion all of a sudden. Education will be slashed by 11% and 24% between 2011-2012 and 2010-2012, respectively.

4. Finally, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be slashed by 31% between 2010-2012.

SO WHAT IS THE POINT OF THIS BLOG? The point is that Obama has shown he is hardly a socialist, fascist, liberal/progressive populist and that with respect to the SBA we will see whether all those jokers on Capitol Hill really do care about small businesses because if the Obama administration gets it’s way the SBA will be hacked to a fifth of it’s size today.

NOW if only we could get the Pentagon to incur more than the 2011-2012 4% decline only to rise like a Phoenix the following year giving it a 2010-2012 6% increase.

If we don’t address the retirement age, tort reform, the military industrial complex leviathan, and things like Bureau of Land Management gifts to the coal/natural gas industry via infinitesimal land rents we are not being serious. Hacking away as the Republicans and Democrats are at discretionary spending, which depending on the year ranges from 10-12% of the federal budget means that honesty is in short supply in DC and that faith is winning out over rationality. What a sham I mean shame!

Convenient Thomas Jefferson Fidelity

I just received an amazingly convenient reading of Thomas Jefferson today and I would like for the record to address some of the convenient stuff. First I am listing my rebuttal and below you will find the quotes from the email. Enjoy!

To All
I just can’t let this lauding of some of TJ’s work go without parsing the other side of the story.
First
OK I understand the admiration for TJ as I have tons myself, but keep in mind he was a willing owner of slaves.
ALSO
Second
This idea that there are tons of folks out there not willing to work and looking for those that are to bail them out is nonsense. The people that received the biggest bail out weren’t the bottom half or bottom 99% it was the top 0.001Percenters. Look at AIG, Goldman, Citi, hedge funds galore. They got bailed out because much of what we feel is sacrosanct about capitalism failed that is undeniable. I for one would be happy to work full-time for way less than the folks at the Big Banksters get paid PER WEEK!! But because the financial industry collapsed under CDOs, CDSs, leverage, and real-estate BS I can’t get a job and I know tons of folks like me. This argument that this all comes down to Obama and it is all his fault is so much nonsense if you believe honestly that what just happened stems from the last 2 years IN ISOLATION your crazy and need heavy dose of rationality. I know Socialists, I know Marxists, I know liberals and conservatives. Obama is hardly a left-winger and would laugh at the thought of embracing socialism I am sure. Read the rest of this entry »

From the How Petty Can U B Department

This from a recent article about the schism between the Anglicans of England lead by Rowan Williams and the boys of the Holy See lead by Pope Benedict XVI:

“The trouble with the Anglican Church is that it has adopted a parliamentary model and one that presumes change and presumes everyone can have a say…I think it’s become a kind of fascist democracy.” from Reverend John Broadhurst an Anglican traditionalist Read the rest of this entry »

We’re Not Your Problem Mr. President!

I have known for quite a while now that the vote I cast for you in November of 2008 – my first ever vote for a member of The Big Two – was one that I would not regret, because I am still a huge admirer of your intellect, but would come to view with a great degree of disappointment and anger. Read the rest of this entry »

From the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” File

Seriously does it get any better than this?

Ohio: Lightning Destroys 6-Story Statue of Jesus

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I chuckle as I write because I was struck by the materials used in this wonderful project at Solid Rock Church$250,00 worth of Styrofoam and fiberglass at 16,000 feat and 62 feet high.

In case your interested here is a picture of Pastor Lawrence and Darlene Bishop. What a cute couple! Judging by the First Couple of Solid Rock’s attire they are big fans of St. Augustine’s famous quote “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet”.

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I’m sorry I have to do this as this is a must read from the original citation in The Times when Big J as it is referred to was built:

“MONROE, Ohio – Jesus first appears in a flash, a white statue rising from the flat cornfields 40 miles north of Cincinnati. Then he is gone, hidden behind a gas station.

Drive another quarter-mile up Interstate 75, past the billboards for Bristol’s Strip Club and Trader’s World Flea Market, and suddenly the image appears in all its full dimensions. Jesus, depicted from the waist up, is six stories tall and seems to burst from the ground, as if he might gather a tractor-trailer in his Honda-size hands and lift it to heaven.

After dark, the figure is illuminated by spotlights from below. “It sort of looms out at you, especially at night,” said Aaron Andrews, a trucker from Milwaukee.

The statue, erected in 2003, was the inspiration of Lawrence and Darlene Bishop, evangelical Christian pastors of the 3,400-member Solid Rock Church here, which spent $250,000 on a project that did not go smoothly.

The image’s steel frame was built in nearby Lebanon, Ohio, and the body, made of Styrofoam and fiberglass, on the beach in Jacksonville, Fla. The body was then trucked north. But when workers started installing the statue on an island in a man-made reflecting pool behind the church, they found that the head and arms were too small for the chest.

The builder, James Lynch, then spent three months ripping the fiberglass apart and recasting the outstretched arms and upturned face. The completed figure weighs 16,000 pounds and, at 62 feet, stands 20 feet taller than originally planned, though its skin is so thin that it bends to the touch of a finger.

Some congregants say the statue keeps watch over a section of freeway that was once among the most dangerous in Ohio. Twelve people died along that 15-mile stretch of I-75 in the two years before the image was erected, eight of them killed after cars jumped the median into oncoming traffic. Since the statue went up more than two years ago, there have been no such crossover deaths.

“Can’t too much go wrong next to a big statue of Jesus,” said one member of the church, James Nelms, 23.

Officials at the Ohio Department of Transportation attribute the improved safety to a $1.1-million high-tension cable that the department built in the freeway’s median about the time, coincidentally, that the statue was erected. Cars have hit the cable 183 times since then, and in three of those cases, crashes have occurred within three-tenths of a mile of the church.

There is also a running disagreement over the statue’s name. Postcards for sale in the church’s gift shop refer to it as the King of Kings. Many locals call it Touchdown Jesus, since, a bit like the famed mural at the University of Notre Dame, it resembles a robed and bearded referee signaling a score at the goal line. Others call it Super Jesus, MC 62ft Jesus (for the technomusician of a similar name) or simply Big J.

The Bishops’ original idea was for a sculpture of Jesus that was no larger than life-size. That it turned into something much bigger than envisioned was entirely apt, given the couple’s own lives.

Mr. Bishop, now 63, was born in the Appalachian village of Zag, Ky. He bought his first horse for $25 at the age of 10 and, though it was blind, sold it for $250 and went on to become one of the nation’s biggest quarter horse dealers.

He opened Solid Rock Church with 12 members above a fire station in 1978. Together with his wife, he built it into a megachurch on a 100-acre campus with its own Bible college and music amphitheater.

Four years ago Mr. Bishop wrote his first song, for church. Now he has recorded five hits. On Nov. 10, he went to Nashville to perform at the Christian Country Music Awards Show. He was nominated for three awards, and won one of them, as music evangelist of the year.

As for Mrs. Bishop, who dropped out of high school at 17 to marry him, she now has her own Christian talk show for women, called “Sisters,” which appears nationally seven days a week on various cable television channels.

Solid Rock Church, with its atmosphere of unplanned gigantism, is one of the few places where a 62-foot statue of Jesus could fit right in. In March, the Bishops squeezed a 1,000-seat balcony into their worship hall to accommodate all the new members who have joined their rapidly growing church in the last two years.

“God ordained all of this to happen,” Mr. Bishop said. “I never even wanted to be a preacher.””

Image Of The Day

Thanks to a great article by Nelson D. Schwartz in The New York Times. Can you believe this?

eudebtweb

Of course we have been doing the same here in the US since September of 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed. This type of mixing and matching would make even the most devious street hustler blush given the trickle down, up, left, and right of a group of greedy bankers and profligate sovereign governments. The idea that this type of thing couldn’t have been stopped is nonsense and to go one step further the Greenspanian idea that you don’t prick a bubble is pure hubris mixed with a large dose of Cigarette Smoking Man “After all, villains don’t think they are villains”.

What was it that John Maynard Keynes said about capitalism run wild. Oh yeah…Capitalism is the astounding belief that the most wickedest of men will do the most wickedest of things for the greatest good of everyone.

Well say what you want about Lord Keynes politics and the bastardization of his work and theories by the left and the right, but the fact remains we have never seen a paradigm proved so faulty, so often, in so many disparate economies, and with so many casualties than we have with Capitalism. Don’t even think I am espousing Socialism across the board I am not and would never, but a reexamination of the facts when they change should lead us to change our minds about Capitalism as it’s universal application is clearly misguided and when you wipe away the muck and bombast very dangerous for lots of folks.

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Misdirected Attention

From an interesting article by Joschka Fischer on Project Syndicate:

In Iraq, the question of power-sharing between Sunnis and Shia has neither been resolved or secured institutionally in such a way that would definitively prevent a slide back into civil war after the majority of US troops withdraw in 2011.

Quite simply the reply to this is that while Sunni v. Shia may be the short-term cyclical conflict of most importance it is clear from this reader’s perspective that the long-term structural problem is the Kurdish Northeast (Large concentrated oilfields) v. the predominantly Arab rest of Iraq (Small dispersed oilfields). The Trigger Line as this separation is known will prove a chronic issue and one that no amount of troops, drones, or Maliki/Obama DoubleSpeak will resolve.

Nuance is the name of the game in Iraq and the quicker we in the US brush up on it the quicker we will be equipped to hold our politicians feet to the fire on the off chance they show their faces around town. I would imagine the heat will turn up even more when water becomes more restricting…Again a short-term cyclical (Oil) v. long-term structural (Water) paradox, only this one will be a matter of life or internal combustion. In the words of Hindu priest Avimukteshwaranand Saraswati “Without electricity, you can survive. One can’t survive without water…”

Hypocritical Activism

I wonder if when Senator Sessions refers to “a nominee…that is so activist like Goodwin Liu…if it’s somebody like that, clearly outside the mainstream…” is he on the same page with a presumed conservative partner-in-arms like Jerry Falwell Jr. who when asked about the objectives of Liberty University School of Law said it is “…to transform legislatures, courts, commerce and civil government at all levels.” (The Times, R. Shorto “How Christians were the founders?”, February 11, 2010)? I would hope not because otherwise this would make for an awkward moment if such a conflict of ideology were brought up by another member of the Judiciary Committee (Hint: Earth to Senator Leahy!).

Whats good for the flock is apparently not good for the herder.