Happy Holidays everyone! How was your Christmas? Snowy? Warm? Crazy?
Open thread below....
Tonight's Rescue Rangers are Purple Priestess, Louisiana 1976, claude, grog, and vcmvo2 as reader and editor.
The rescued diaries are:
lao hong han reminds us why the South seceded from the Union in The South, Secession, Slaves & John Brown. (vcmvo2)
fallina7 discusses what's behind finding The Perfect Gift and how it's not always something you purchase. (grog)
On Death And Clemency, Or, Here's A Real Christmas Story, by fake consultant. (claude)
Im a frayed knot shares a moving Poem To the Blessed Mother. (Purple Priestess)
Long-time Kossak ogre calmly reflects on Why I'm a Democrat (but might not be...). (claude)
sam2300 beautifully explains why the "Christmas War" between Atheists and Christians in missing the point in A Christmas Story. (Purple Priestess)
In a heartfelt essay pfiore8 asks What if Christmas doesn't come from a store? (Louisiana 1976)
For michelewin it is a Red, White and Blue Christmas without her Mom. (claude)
Detroit Mark hearkens back to "It's a Wonderful Life" in bringing us banking news from Michigan: Merry Christmas Bank & Loan!! (Louisiana 1976)
Ojibwa brings a history lesson in his Santa bag: Geography 101: Greenland. (vcmvo2)
jotter has the day's High Impact Diaries: December 24, 2010.
carolita has tonight's Top Comments 12-25-10 - Christmas Edition.
Happy Holidays, please rescue your own favorite diary from the past twenty-four hours in this Open Thread!
Merry Merry! Y'all have a safe and happy one. And remember our sister site Newstalgia has for its Backstage Weekend, Dire Straits - Live in Oslo -1992.
Because nothing says "Christmas" quite like shrubbery decorated so as to resemble an glowing electric penis.[...]
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Tonight I was spending my solitary Xmas evening researching the effect of conservative fiscal policies on public employees, specially in regard to pension plans and found that I had been scooped by Karoli at C&L. OH well... I'm nothing if not totally mule headed so I'm going to go ahead and thrash away at it but in the meantime, she provides a damned good view of someone who epitomizes the hatred conservatives have for anything that might benefit the working classes at the expense of himself and his rich friends.
Not sure exactly what Grover Norquist does to earn a living. I know he was born wealthy and has never had to do any real work in his life but that's typical of 99% of the fat rich white guys making life or death decisions for the rest of us.
His Wiki entry blurb gives us part of the picture as to what he DOES and a further read at Wiki provides some insight into the man himself... not a pretty picture but typical of his ilk... but no indication as to what he does to EARN his way in the world.
Apparently... like so many who are born to privilege instead of having to earn their way... he has come to believe it his God given right to simply be a "Hood Robin", aka one who takes from the poor to give to the rich... minus his "share" of course.
Grover Glenn Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is president of taxpayer advocacy group Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist is a member of the board of directors of the National Rifle Association, the American Conservative Union, as well as the Advisory Council of GOProud, in addition to being the co-founder of the Islamic Free Market Institute
I have to admit, that last one kind of threw me... I thought all patriotic conservatives had to HATE anything Islamic so they could keep whipping their base into frantic Islamophobic paranoia. Maybe Grover has a money angle working. Wouldn't be the first time I've seen phony patriotism and principle run over by the chance to make a buck or two.
Really, I've never seen him do much of anything except appear on right wing talking head shows and take potshots at anyone not included on his "Grover Approves Of" list... which does NOT include anyone who is just trying to live from paycheck to paycheck nor dos it include the poor, the working poor, the elderly, the disabled, MediCare/Medicaid recipients, public employees, public employee unions, any other unions and... most pertinent to MY current project... public (federal/state/local) retirees.
He's never met a social program or any part of the safety net for the rest of us that he didn't positively hate with every fiber of his body and is probably most famous for this little gem,
"I don't want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub."
It dawned on me that he would make a perfect example for my little crusade to get simple working folks to understand once and for all that Neoconservatives are NOT your friends when it comes to making Wall Street leave something for the rest of us and sure enough... as Karoli lays it out for us... I couldn't have thought of a better one.
Grover Norquist to States: Go Bankrupt, It'll Feel Good
Grover Norquist is only one conservative of many calling out for states to declare bankruptcy. Why? To kill unions, of course. His editorial in The Republico (Politico) doesn't say that outright, but it's his goal, nevertheless.
Citing acolyte Governor Chris Christie, Norquist writes that states' "day of reckoning has arrived." Norquist avoids the "u" word while listing every other "ill" plaguing states' budgets:
Many states, including those with the country's largest population centers, are now on a path to insolvency. This is primarily due to fiscally promiscuous lawmakers, skyrocketing Medicaid costs and unsustainable gold-plated government employee pension plans that most Americans could never dream of.
These states' ballooning obligations simply cannot be met without either soaking state taxpayers or federal assistance - read: taking taxpayer dollars from properly managed states.
Heading into 2011, states are facing an overspending-generated budget shortfall of $72 billion, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Coupled with unfunded state and local pension obligations estimated in excess of $3 trillion - a half-trillion in California alone - one understands the concern that states are the next "too big to fail."
Interesting that he should cite California as one of these states run by "fiscally promiscuous lawmakers". I still remember Darrell Issa's tears when the petition for a recall of Gray Davis made it onto the ballot, but with Arnold Schwarzennegger as the preferred replacement. Arnie has now been governor of this state for half of Davis' term and then one of his own. In that time, he has vetoed any effort to get oil companies to pay their fair share of taxes in this state, he has slashed programs to the bone, and the "fat pensions" are ones beefed up by the likes of the Bell City Council, not ordinary employees.
Norquist lays down his hand at the end of his editorial:
The mere "threat of bankruptcy," as Michael Barone recently noted in National Review Online, "would put a powerful weapon in the hands of governors and legislatures: They can tell their unions that they have to accept cuts now or face a much more dire fate in bankruptcy court."
Bada bing. There it is, in living color. It's not about pensions for the fat cats (which is really what's driving costs up), but about breaking the unions, a long-cherished goal of conservatives.
California's budget woes could be resolved easily enough by simply making oil companies and large corporations pay their fair share for doing business in California. Repealing or amending Proposition 13 would also help.
But no. In conservatives' worlds, the mismanagement of state finances should be on the backs of teachers, policemen, firefighters, and public employees.
Otherwise you're once again simply voting to cut your own throat... something that Americans have become known for over the past few decades and something that needs to stop. We can't have a sound economy without safety nets for the "underclasses" and anyone who tells you we can is a damned liar and unworthy of your vote on that basis alone.
One simple rule of thumb might be, "If Grover likes it, vote against it.". Definitely works for me.
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Rossini's - Duetto buffo di due gatti ? as performed by Les Petits Chanteurs à La Croix de Bois the music and the choir both deserve to be better known.[...]
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The Senate adjourned earlier this week, even though it confirmed only half of the 38 judicial nominees awaiting a vote on the Senate floor. And the overwhelming majority of the blocked nominees cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee without a single negative vote.
This failure to confirm even many of the most uncontroversial nominees is the culmination of a concerted GOP strategy to delay as many of President Obama’s judges as much as possible, and it leaves Obama with fewer judges confirmed than any recent president:
The Senate’s failure to even hold a vote on these nominees leaves the federal judiciary with record vacancies — approximately one in nine federal judgeships are now vacant.
Notably, three of these vacancies are on just one court. Of the four active judgeships on the United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois, three are presently vacant, leaving the court’s chief judge as its only active member. Two of President Obama’s nominees to this court, James Shadid and Sue Myerscough, were unanimously approved by the Judiciary Committee for this excessively overburdened court. Yet none of Obama’s nominees to the Central District of Illinois received a vote in the 111th Congress.
This failure to confirm anyone to this Illinois court may be the most reckless legacy of the right’s obstruction of Obama’s judges, but it isn’t even the most absurd. One of the president’s blocked nominees, District of Oregon nominee Marco Hernandez, was previously nominated for the exact same job by President George W. Bush. Somehow, now that he’s an Obama nominee, the GOP has suddenly decided to throw up roadblocks before his confirmation.
Cross-posted on The Wonk Room.
A regular Christmas tradition in my family is finding just the right book as a gift; the right book meaning it will be as interesting to the recipient as the giver. So following this tradition, I was finishing up my gift to my brother the other night, Bill Bryson's At Home: A Short History of Private Life and came across a passage on poverty and the plight of the poor, and particularly children, in England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
No one better represented the harsh side of beliefs than the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), whose Essay on the Principle of Population as It Affects the Future Improvements of Society was published anonymously in 1798 and became immediately and resoundingly influential. Malthus blamed the poor for their own hardships and opposed the idea of relief for the masses on the grounds that it simply increased their tendency to idleness. "Even when they have an opportunity of saving," he wrote, "they seldom exercise it for all that is beyond their present necessities goes, generally speaking, to the ale-house. The poor-laws of England may therefore be said to diminish both the power and the will to save among the common people, and thus to weaken one of the strongest incentives to sobriety and industry, and consequently to happiness." He was particularly troubled by the Irish, and believed, as he wrote to a friend in 1817, that "a great part of the population should be swept from the soil." This was not a man with a lot of Christian charity in his heart.
How little things change.
Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) had said in March that Unemployment Benefits insurance "doesn't create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay [unemployed] people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work."
Senator Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said in May that extended Unemployment Benefits undermine economic recovery because they "basically keep an economy that encourages people to, rather than go out and look for work, to stay on unemployment."
At a June hearing on long-term unemployment, Rep. John Linder (R-Ga.) said, "Even when businesses are willing to hire, nearly two years of unemployment benefits are too much of an allure for some," and: "The evidence is mounting that so-called stimulus policies rammed through Congress are doing more harm than good."
And the real topper:
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah): "You know, we should not be giving cash to people who basically are just going to blow it on drugs."
There's not a lot of Christian charity in the hearts of modern-day conservatives, either, apparently. Next step, poor houses.
5th Century AD Hephthalite coin of King Lakhana The Hephthalites were a Central Asian nomadic confederation of the AD 5th-6th centuries whose precise origins and composition remain obscure. According to Chinese chronicles, they were originally a tribe[...]
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