Shocked and Persuaded


Separating Fact From Fiction

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?

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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!

Limousine Liberals Strike Again!

Below I have pasted an amazing quote from this article in The Times about a wind farm receiving resistance from a couple of bad apples in the name of some pretty amazing and disingenuous concerns. I have included it as my comments were #1 among all reader comments and I think capture a couple of angles that pervade the Limousine Liberal community and are eating away at the environmental movement from the inside and from the top down. Why in God’s name or anyone else for that matter would Red States and ultra-conservatives take us seriously or work with us as liberals/environmentalists if we aren’t willing to put our money and sacrifice where our mouth is? Read the rest of this entry »

Efficient Marketeer And The Rest Be Damned

This is something I wrote in response to an article by Dr. Jagdish Bhagwati and Arvind Panagariya at Project Syndicate. I love this site and really the thinkers and practitioners run the ideological gradient. 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 »

Welch’s Haste Betrays Liberal Facade!

You would think that any group with a proven track record back to 1970 of fighting against discrimination and for affordable housing, quality education, and adequate social safety-nets for “…low- to moderate-income people across the United States” would be just the type of organization that our “liberal” congressman Peter Welch would go to the wall for regardless of the baseless attacks leveled at such an organization by the bigoted and racist right-wing of the Republican party? WRONG! ACORN is that organization and Mr. Welch decided to vote “Yes” on an amendment – last September 17th – to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which banned all federal funding to the Washington, DC based association of community organizers. This forced ACORN to end all field operations and close all field offices. This was a proud, vibrant, and relevant group with approximately 500,000 members branching out into foreclosure counseling at a time when minorities and the lower 25th percentile in the country were getting hammered by variable interest mortgages coming home to roost and declining real-estate valuations due to a variety of external and internal forces. They were influential in upping voter registration and turnout amongst minorities during the 2008 election to levels not seen before, which along with their political mobilization efforts were the reason folks like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh lashed out at them so frequently and with such vitriol.

Mr. Welch has always attempted to evince a genuine and holistic concern for the little guy regardless of color, religion, or political preference. This turns out to be nothing more than window dressing given his stance on ACORN. Why am I coming down so hard on Mr. Welch ex post facto? Well it is quite simple really he acted hastily and did not wait for a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released June 14th, which vindicated ACORN of misusing the $40.4 million in federal grants it received and election fraud. Furthermore, he wasn’t even one of the 23 signatories to a letter requesting the GAO “…provide information on federal funding provided to ACORN and oversight of the use of this funding.” (Note: Neither Vermont Senators signed this letter either!) I have two questions for Congressman Welch: 1) Why vote before you have all the facts? and 2) Why not signed the aforementioned letter? I wonder what the harm is in having the GAO (Run the ever pragmatic and empirical Republican Douglas W. Elmendorf) do a little gumshoing in an effort to get all the facts in a row. When the facts change we are supposed to change our minds and clearly the facts with respect to ACORN have changed and I would hope that Congressman Welch would change his mind and work to overturn last September’s amendment to the HEA. After all this type of haste when in the hands of congress gives the imprimatur to really well thought out and implemented acts like The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (a.k.a., The Bank Bailout) and the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. Two great ideas that have served this country and the world oh so well! Oh yeah and one more thing the moneys ACORN received during fiscal years 2005 to 2009 amount to about 0.3% of The 2008 Bank Bailout, which begs one more question: Don’t Mr. Welch and the rest of congress have anything better to do than bully and subsequently shutdown an organization like ACORN? I thought we wanted the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth! Orwell was right Ignorance Is Strength on Capitol Hill.

Image Of The Day

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


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.


Long Lost Brothers In Arms

I just read an article at Project Syndicate by Heizo Takenaka former Minister of Economics, Minister of Financial Reform, and Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications under former LDP Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi; of Japan. Who cares you may ask? And you would be right for asking that….BUT the reason we should care is that if you replaced Japanese people and places with US people and places this article would read like a John Boehner or Mitch McConnell manifesto replete with the privatization, deregulation, reduced government spending, and lower taxes (See Friedman, M) mantra of these 2 esteemed leaders of the Republican party. This would be awesome and totally worth considering if it weren’t for 1 conveniently downplayed FACT….Mr. Takenaka’s party – prior to the current DPJ government that can’t get out of its own way with respect to broken promises – had had complete autonomy in Japan for the better part of 50 years. Likewise Messrs. Boehner and McConnell along with a moderate agenda going back to Gerald Ford have been running the show since the early seventies. Okay I know there was a brief hiccup by the name of Jimmy Carter, who decided the American people needed to hear certain truths that would prove hard to swallow. Well we canned his ass the next chance we got! The point is that these Monday morning quarterbacks are incapable of acknowledging their participation in the games to which they refer. Until they do this their rhetoric and bombastic critiques of current and future regimes will – in my humble but certain opinion – be comedic at best and counterproductive to the point of being obstructionist at worst. Do the current folks in office in Japan and the US and the soon to be Green administration in Columbia have problems? Sure lots of them and their growing by the day, but to say that the trouble a/o irresponsibility starts with them, while simultaneously ignoring their own malfeasance is the reason why I just can’t imagine why anyone would give such biased and myopic voices any type of local or global platform. Enough with the sectarian rhetoric!

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.