enlargeCredit: FDR LibraryFDR - that small and well-upholstered minority who didn't want to pay for a civilized society.
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In keeping with our current preoccupation with taxes, the deficit and spending, I thought I would run an address President Franklin Roosevelt gave while campaigning for re-election in 1936.
Seems the subject of taxes has been with us for a very-very long time. And it also seems the ones doing the most complaining haven't changed very much in the past 200 or so years.
Comforting, I suppose. But you'd think by now it would get a little tired.
In 1936 though, FDR had a few choice words nestled in what has become a timeless address.
President Roosevelt: ?In 1776 the fight was for Democracy in Taxation. In 1936 there is still the fight. Mister Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once said ?taxes are the prices we pay for civilized society?. One sure way to determine the social conscience of a government is to examine the way taxes are collected and how they are spent. And one sure way to determine the social conscience of an individual is to get his tax reaction. Taxes, after all are the dues we pay for the privilege of membership in an organized society. And as society becomes more civilized government, national and state and local, is called on to assume more obligations to its citizens. The privileges of membership in a civilized society are vastly increased in modern times. But I am afraid we still have many who still do not recognize their advantages and want to avoid paying their dues.?
Tax breaks for the wealthy were a concept well in place by the time Hoover was President.
FDR: ?To divide fairly among the people the obligation to pay for these benefits has been a major part of our struggle to maintain Democracy in America. Ever since 1776, that struggle has been between two forces; on the one hand there has been a vast majority of citizens who believe the benefits of democracy should be extended and who are willing to pay their fair share to extend them. And on the other hand, there has been a small but powerful group which has fought the extension of these benefits because they did not want to pay a fair share of their cost. That was the lineup in seventeen hundred and seventy-six and it?s the lineup today. And I am confident that once more, in nineteen thirty-six democracy in taxation will win. Here is my principle, and I think it?s yours too; Taxes shall be levied according to ability to pay. That is the only American principle.?
So hearing this now and knowing it was from the dim-distant past of 1936, it makes the current situation and posturing that much more absurd. Unfortunately if it were only absurd it would be laughed off. But it has become deadly serious business in the ensuing years.
And I keep reminding myself that Fair is a place in Pomona California where people get together once a year and show cows.
Midwestern thunderstorms are something I miss terribly, living in DC. Sure we get the occasional thunderstorm, and the occasionally big thunderstorm, but not like back home. Shot these in Chicago on Saturday. A few photos, then a few videos.
The lightning storm, where I got the above shots, was amazing. At its peak, it was just non-stop flashes of light, almost mesmerizing. Here are a few minutes of video I took of it.
This, below, was some video I tried shooting with my iphone. Not as good of quality as the other vid, but I did capture one great blast of lightning.
I'm not sure if you can totally appreciate the color of the sky in this final video. It was turning green. Any midwesterner can tell you about that green. It's the green that comes before a tornado (doesn't guarantee a tornado, but it's often associated with tornado watches and warnings out here - and it's never a sign of something good). (With a special appearance by mom's voice, and Sasha shrieking in the background because she's been left behind inside the house.)
Today, Speaker John Boehner told the House GOP caucus that he is preparing a short-term bill that would raise the debt ceiling for about six months, despite Obama’s pledge to veto such a measure. On the call, Majority Leader Eric Cantor blasted Obama for opposing it. The Wall Street Journal reports:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor indicated in his remarks during the conference call that Republicans don?t want to give President Barack Obama a debt-ceiling deal that lasts past the 2012 elections. Mr. Cantor called the president’s insistence on a deal that carries through the election purely political and indefensible.
But late last month, Cantor himself vehimently opposed a short term deal:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor pushed back hard Tuesday against Senate Republican suggestions of a scaled-back, short-term debt deal, saying it?s ?crunch time? in White House budget talks and ?if we can?t make the tough decisions now, why ? would [we] be making those tough decisions later.?
?I don?t see how multiple votes on a debt ceiling increase can help get us to where we want to go,? the Virginia Republican told reporters. ?It is my preference that we do this thing one time. ? Putting off tough decisions is not what people want in this town.?
Standard and Poors, a credit rating agency, agrees that a short term deal would be bad for the nation’s credit. In a July 14 release S&P wrote “We may also lower the long-term rating and affirm the short-term rating if we conclude that future adjustments to the debt ceiling are likely to be the subject of political maneuvering.”
(Mother Jones)(Laura Clawson)On Tuesday, Markos announced the launch of Daily Kos Labor, "a new vertical focused on issues of importance to working Americans." That means we're focusing on workers who are not in unions and those who are. We're focusing on the ongoing class war from above and its many effects, from stagnating wages to high unemployment to state budgets balanced on the backs of working people to every well-publicized implication (or outright declaration) that the problem here is that regular people, working people and those out of work are just lazy or looking for a handout and that strengthening the social safety net rewards that laziness.
In short, we want to re-inject the voices and concerns of workers into economic coverage. In this, Daily Kos Labor pushes back against the trend of recent decades, in which, as corporations and their Republican allies have waged a class war against the middle class, the voices of working people have fallen out of the story the media tells about work, business and the American economy. Believe it or not, it used to be common for newspapers to have labor reporters. Now, they have business sections that talk about stock prices and corporate restructuring and only rarely take notice of how workers are doing. So we're going to do it.
In Markos' announcement diary, several people saw the name Daily Kos Labor asked if we would be covering non-union workers as well as unions and union workers. The answer is yes, but it's important to say at the outset that the distinction is not as big as it's often made out to be. That fact?that working- and middle-class people have more experience and economic interests in common with each other than not?is critical to understanding the new class war.
Labor doesn't just mean unions. One question that came up several times when Markos announced the launch of DK Labor was, "Will you cover workers who aren't in unions?" In the United States these days, yes, "labor" is frequently shorthand for "organized labor." But Dictionary.com defines labor as:
1. productive activity, especially for the sake of economic gain.
2. the body of persons engaged in such activity, especially those working for wages.
3. this body of persons considered as a class (distinguished from management and capital).
We could argue that defining non-union workers out of the term labor is part of a longer-term attempt to drive a wedge between union and non-union workers, to diminish class consciousness. But whatever the reason we've gotten away from identifying ourselves-as-workers with the term labor, the vast majority of us work for a living, "labor" is an appropriate term to describe what we do, and if you have to work for a living, your interests are more aligned with those of other people who have to work for a living than they are with the interests of the wealthiest 2 percent.
Unions make a difference for all workers. You may have seen it as a bumper sticker or on a mug: "Unions: the folks who brought you the weekend." Weekends and occupational safety laws and the like are one of the clearest ways unions have changed the work experience for everyone. Mitt Romney recently demonstrated how that fact can be used in an anti-union way, by implying that the appropriate role of unions is historical but that they've outlived their usefulness. As I pointed out at the time, though, you have only to compare the safety records, as measured in traumatic injury and fatalities, of union mines and non-union mines, to see that just because we now have occupational safety and health legislation (thanks in large part to unions) doesn't mean that we're safe for all time. Without an organized force pushing for better laws and more inspections, corporations would gut the protections we have now. Similarly, unions today work to push legislation like Wall Street reform and unemployment insurance extensions that benefit all workers.
But most of all, those waging class war from above know the rest of us are in it together, even when we don't. Here's just a sample of stuff we've covered in the past month: 88 percent of the growth in real national income between June 2009 and the end of 2010 went to corporate profits, while just 1 percent went to wages. No less a bastion of capitalism than JP Morgan said that wage reductions have driven increases in corporate profit margins. Two-parent families are earning a tiny bit more than in past generations, but only by working a whole lot more hours. Meanwhile Republicans in the House of Representatives are gearing up for an attack on minimum wage and overtime protections. Child poverty is nearly 25 percent, but hey, the Heritage Foundation says some of those poor kids have cable television, therefore they're not really poor and we should cut the safety net. Meanwhile, over the past 12 years tax rates for the 400 richest Americans were cut nearly in half?but that didn't prevent a mighty howl at the notion of eliminating a tax break for corporate jets. Corporations are helping to write legislation that shows up in states across the country, while House Republicans shut down the FAA in a drive to strip workers of union rights and Senate Republicans promise to block Richard Cordray, President Obama's strong nominee to head the CFPB. Meanwhile, unemployment is at 9.2 percent, and we face the end of extended unemployment benefits.
They?corporate CEOs, hedge fund managers, private equity executives like Mitt Romney, Republicans?are making war on the rest of us. The evidence is everywhere, in economic statistics and in the stories of struggling families. They bring a lot of firepower to this class war. We can at least be clear that it's a war and that we have to reject efforts to drive wedges between us.
Barack Obama was the right "product" in 2008 to be sold to a country that was reeling from, to say nothing of being embarrassed over, eight years of George W. Bush. But the game has changed and, in combination with the Geithnerite upper class twit cabal,[...]
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I was running out of time last week as the publication hour was neigh, so I was not able too include everything that I wanted to include. In the meantime, I have gained some additional information that refutes one of the points that I made.[...]
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Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty Sunday accused President Barack Obama of "hiding in the basement" instead of speaking to the American people directly about his plan to raise the debt ceiling.
"As important as the debt ceiling is, the other issues of whether we're going to fix the spending problems of the country also deserve attention, and if not now, when?" Pawlenty told CNN's Candy Crowley. "He's ducking, he's bobbing, he's weaving, he's not leading leading, and that's not the kind of president we need. And that's why he needs to be removed from office."
"We should say that apparently with Speaker Boehner, he has talked about some of these reforms," Crowley noted.
"In hiding," Pawlenty interrupted. "If you're the leader of the of the free world, would you please come to the microphone and quit hiding in the basement about your proposals and come on up and address the American people? Is he chicken?"
"Is he?" Crowley pressed.
"I love Paul Ryan, but we should not have to have a congressman from Wisconsin leading the debate on the nation's financial challenges in one of the most historically moments in the country's history. The president should be standing out courageously and leading on these issues specifically, and you can't find him," Pawlenty said. "If we wanted to do it in private, we can go down to the VFW basement. I can go have a beer with my neighbor over that. He's the president. Come on out of the basement and come out to the lawn of the White House to the microphone and tell us your plan on entitlement reform and he won't do it because he doesn't have the courage to do it."
But Obama has spoken to the American people about the need to raise the debt ceiling in a series of interviews and press conferences in recent days.
"President Obama has been spending more time in the White House briefing room that a C-Span cameraman the past couple of weeks," Mediate's Tommy Christopher observed Sunday.
And the White House has presented the public with the same proposal to raise the debt ceiling as past administrations.
"Our very strong view is that the debt limit should be passed as a clean, standalone bill," Office of Management and Budget director Jack Lew told Bloomberg TV in April.
"It has always been a straight up or down vote," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said Thursday. "The new leadership in the House has decided that they want to add some budget cuts or other considerations to this vote, because that is their preference, and they are the leadership, so we are in this quagmire."
"The problem here is that there are two issues tied together that shouldn?t be," Christopher opined. "If Republicans want to see a 'plan' to avoid a default, here it is: raise the goddam debt ceiling. Is that specific enough?"
Not sure whether the headline from Harry Reid's statement below is "Talks Break Down -- Again" or "Democrats Agree To Nearly $3 Trillion In Cuts With No Revenue Increases":"Tonight, talks broke down over Republicans' continued insistence on a short-term[...]
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We've got a better read now on what went down during Speaker Boehner's conference call with House Republicans late this afternoon.[...]
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Hot, hot, hot. Not a fun weekend weather-wise, especially for those of us who participated in the New York Transit Museum's Coney Island Nostalgia Tour on Saturday (traveling on authentic restored 1930s IND cars), and then came back today to venture a Municipal Art Society tour with star tour leader Francis Morrone to the posh Manhattan East Side enclaves of Beekman Place and Sutton Place. So I think I'll just pass on this breaking report from the Borowitz Report. -- Ken
JULY 24, 2011
Obama, Boehner Come to Agreement That Cantor Is Douche
Could Be First Step Toward Debt Deal
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) ? In what members of both parties are hailing as an important first step on the road to a deal on raising the debt ceiling, President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner today came to an agreement that Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is a douche.
Mr. Obama and Rep. Boehner made the dramatic announcement in the East Room of the White House late Sunday afternoon.
?Speaker Boehner and I have come to an agreement that Eric Cantor is a douche,? the President said. ?We?ll see if we can build on that.?
The breakthrough reportedly came Sunday morning, but both sides spent several hours hammering out the language before agreeing on the word ?douche.?
?Boehner had been pushing hard for ?dickwad,?? said a source familiar with the discussions. ?He was concerned that using a like ?douche? could be alienating to his base because it?s French.?
While skeptics cautioned that agreeing about the douchiness of Eric Cantor is still a long way from agreeing on raising the debt ceiling, a new poll shows that Messrs. Obama and Boehner have broad public support for their position on the congressman from Virginia.
According to a new poll of likely voters, 56 percent agreed that Mr. Cantor is a ?douche,? 32 percent agreed that he is a ?asshat? and the remainder characterized him as a ?dickhead,? ?cocksucker? or ?motherfucker.?
?With all the partisan bickering in Washington, the American people should rest assured that we all agree on one thing,? said Rep. Boehner. ?And that is, Eric Cantor is one irritating mofo.?