Sunday Reads, and other things…Posted: December 12, 2010
Sunday is upon us, yet again. The days are starting to blend together for me, Christmas is coming up rather fast and the cards still sit, waiting for me to send them out.
With all this tax deal debate going on, and discussions about the rich making out like a cat in a canary farm, reminds me of a story.
About 7 years ago, my husband went through a farming period. Not that he’s ever really gotten over it. After a trip to the local farm store, we came home with six little guinea hens. Living out in the back woods, it seemed like a simple idea…the kids would have some interesting pets, the guineas would be real good watch birds, they would eat the bugs, and they would fulfill my husbands need to have a his own version of the TV show Green Acres.
When we got these birds, it just so happened that the 17 year cicadas were emerging once again in our little spot of heaven in the North Georgia Mountains. These guineas hit the jackpot, there was food everywhere, and boy did they love them some cicadas! I have never seen anything like it. These guineas would stalk the little bugs, and seemed to relish in satisfaction as they devoured the noisy critters.
However, like many other items of abundance, these loud cicadas eventually petered out to nothing but a silent memory. What was a guinea to do? They still had their feed and other bugs and worms at their disposal, but they became restless…with nothing to entertain them and nothing to stalk, these guineas began to explore the upper regions of their habitat. Namely the roof of my mother’s house and the view that it offered them of the dinning room table. My mother’s house has four large gables, with big windows on all sides of the roof. The guineas would preoccupy themselves by staring into the windows while we ate our dinner every day. Imagine those ugly Jurassic looking naked heads and dark piercing eyes, peering into the windows at you while you try to eat your dinner. It was unsettling to say the least, I mean they had their chicken/guinea feed, but it made me feel guilty to be eating such a bounty of various foods…while they looked pathetically through the windows…it was as if the guineas were like Dan Aykroyd in the movie Trading Places...looking in at an upscale restaurant and its clientele…with hunger, anger and frustration in their eyes.
I know, I know… get to the point. I am fortunate that my family still has enough money, after pulling our resources together, to get by. Although, for how much longer I really can’t say. But with all these deals going on behind closed doors, I can’t help feeling like those guineas. It is like the TV is the window, and C-Span is the dinner table…if you catch my analogy. Obama and his crew are giving us the spiel, trying to sell us on this bill that will make the fat cats even fatter. But I am well aware that what they are offering my family of guinea fowl…is just chicken feed.
At least I am not the only one who “gets it,” that independent senator from Vermont does…and he talked close to 9 hours on Friday…telling it like it is. Senator Bernie Sanders spent most of Friday championing the guinea hens in all of us.(wink) It was invigorating to see him proclaiming what I and others think. Via Memorandum and Politico, Bernie’s last stand was something to see!
Oh, and if you are wondering what happened to the guineas? I came home one day from work to find them gone. My mother, the matriarch-dictator of the family got rid of them…they had been pecking at the shingles and shitting on the roof…they had to go.
And with that…on with the Sunday Reads!
Well, I have to admit I stayed up to see SNL because I wanted to see what they would do with the gem that was given to them by Obama on Friday, by leaving the press conference so as not to piss off Michelle. Unfortunately they did not use this nugget in any of their sketches, and actually it was a huge let down.
Suzie Madrak over at Crooks and Liars has this Social Security Experts On Payroll Tax Holiday: White House Trying To Jumpstart Recovery, Not Weaken Social Security | Crooks and Liars
I was on a conference call yesterday with the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, and after listing to experts explain why the proposed payroll tax holiday put Social Security in jeopardy, I asked what I thought was an obvious question: Since there were many smart people working in the White House, did these experts think the White House was oblivious to that risk — or was that the desired effect?
They concurred it was more likely a matter of kicking the can down the road, concentrating instead on the weak recovery.
“They have to look everywhere for ways to stimulate the economy,” said Nancy Altman, co-director of Social Security Works and author of The Battle for Social Security. “Republicans suggested this, they went for it.”
I don’t think it was too hard a suggestion, do you? It seems to me that Obama was always a Republican in a liberal suit, this deal is just giving him the opportunity to be like his hero Reagan…I wonder what Obama will do when he gets together with the head honchos of some of the biggest companies out there, read the whole article, this one is a doozy.
President Obama will host a roundtable with about 20 corporate chiefs on Wednesday, according to the White House, part of an attempt to ease strained relations with business.
Expected for the session at the Blair House, across the street from the White House, are executives from a range of industries, including American Express, Cisco Systems, Dow Chemical, Google, Motorola, Intel, UPS and PepsiCo, according to people involved in the planning. But the White House said it would not divulge attendees until the meeting.
With the mood for the meeting already lightened by his recent announcements of a trade deal with South Korea and a compromise on tax cuts with Congressional Republicans, Mr. Obama and the executives will discuss a variety of issues, said Jen Psaki, the White House deputy director of communications. Among the topics will be deficit reduction, an overhaul of the tax code, government regulation, export promotion, public-private investments in areas like technology and clean energy, and efforts to improve education and job skills, Ms. Psaki said.
“The biggest challenge we face moving forward is not competition between Democrats and Republicans,” Ms. Psaki said, “but in making sure we are preparing the next generation to compete globally. The working session is an opportunity for the president to continue building strong partnerships in the business community toward that goal.”
Obama is meeting with these hot shots as “an attempt to ease strained relations with business.” Huh? Hasn’t their golden boy attended to every request these contributors of big money have had? Oops, I am sorry, Obama has bent over backwards for the big money banks and the big money insurance companies…. I guess big business is next.
Do these real large corporations hire additional people as they become more profitable? Don’t they outsource a lot of their jobs to countries that have lower wages? Do they look to see where they can make the “cuts” to have that larger profit margin. I wonder if any of these companies are on the list of waivers to exempt Health Care Coverage for their employees. Unless most of those employees are of the outsourced variety. And what about the topics of discussion: tax code, government regulation…yada, yada, yada. Yup, I can already guess what will come out of this meeting on Wednesday.
Reading more on the tax deal, David Dayen has this to say:
That’s an incoming member of the House leadership, Kristi Noem (R-SD), encouraging the tax cut deal, but quickly pivoting to the urgent need to slash spending.
While stopping all the tax hikes would be a good first step, this alone won’t eliminate the job-killing uncertainty hanging over our employers and entrepreneurs. That’s why we need to focus on cutting spending and reducing the size of government.
Some would look at this as ridiculous. After all, Noem just endorsed a tax cut bill which would add $893 billion to the deficit over five years. And she dares to lecture about fiscal conservatism?
But if consistency is not the strong suit of conservatives, it doesn’t mean that it will be met with laughter on either side of the political aisle. This is the gambit that Republicans have worked for a generation – make taxes so low and deficits so burdensome that pressure builds to slash spending. They claim that tax cuts shouldn’t be counted as part of the deficit but that any spending must be offset or eliminated. It doesn’t have to make sense. Because it’s working.
Americans should prepare themselves for spending cuts by Congress next year, the chairmen of the House and Senate’s budget committees said Friday.
Both Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the incoming chairman of the House Budget Committee, signaled that they’re preparing budgets that would seek cuts to government spending in order to address the deficit.
Conrad said he’d look to the recommendations by President Obama’s fiscal commission as a “starting point,” and then look to craft a budget that improves on those proposals […]
“We intend to do lots of spending cuts and lots of spending reforms as soon as we take over in January,” Ryan said. “The debt ceiling, obviously, is going to have to be increased if we’re not going to default, so the question is, what do we get in exchange for that, and what kind of fiscal controls?”
These are the two most important people in Washington in terms of what the next budget will look like and how the fight over the debt ceiling will play out. And both of them are gunning for federal spending across the board.
Someone tell me again how this tax cut deal will find reward in creating a “stimulus” by increasing aggregate demand. It’s completely clear that conservative Republicans (with a good deal of support from budget hawk Democrats) will try to create a crisis with the debt limit vote, and if only moderately successful there will use the fiscal year 2012 budget to cancel out whatever increase in demand comes from the tax cuts. And you have to ask yourself – what cuts will be more harmful? Marginal taxes on the rich, or the elimination of Head Start and TANF and dozens of other programs for the poor?
Bernie Sanders notwithstanding, I don’t see a whole lot of resistance to deficit mania in Washington, even after the deficit-busting tax cuts get passed.
The Republicans will do anything for the wealthier class, and repeatedly state that tax cuts can’t be considered a deficit because it is not real “spending.” I am sure there is something sarcastic I can compare this to, but I am distracted by the horrible “singing” coming from the TV…wow, Paul McCartney has really lost it.
I also wanted to note this, the GOP do not seem sensitive to the suffering of those first responders of Ground Zero: GOP blocks 9/11 first responders bill; ABC, CBS, and NBC ignore the story | Media Matters for America
The bill is officially known as the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010 and is named after a first responder who died from a respiratory disease attributed to his rescue efforts on the morning of the Sept. 11 terror attack. The bill easily passed the House in September with a rare bout of bipartisan support. The bill’s backers expected passage in the Senate, as well.
But yesterday, every Republican senator voted against the bill. The action was part of the GOP’s obstructionist strategy of not allowing any senate action to proceed until the chamber votes on a bill that will continue to Bush era tax cuts, including those for the very wealthy.
The fact that the 9/-11-related legislation was defeated was news. Period. The fact that it was defeated as part of the larger Republican strategy to tie the Senate in knots made yesterday’s vote even more newsworthy.
Did you see the update on this story, the only show that did report on this was The Daily Show with John Stewart.
From the Minx’s Missing Link File:
This past week, Jim Morrison was pardoned by the soon to be ex-Florida Governor Crist. Crist Pardons Jim Morrison | Mother Jones
Morrison’s pardon was unanimously confirmed by a four-person state clemency panel. It’s not exactly clear what aroused Crist’s sudden passion for the deceased rock star; the governor basically said he started thinking about it a few years ago, at the urging of a Doors fan. But Crist shouldn’t expect any thank-yous from Morrison’s family: Whether the singer exposed himself or not, Patricia Kennealy Morrison, Morrison’s widow, told CNN Jim would have been pissed.
Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the week:
Since my major in college was Medieval History, those of us who study this dark and fascinating past are required to love Monty Python…although I must admit, I adored them long before I went to college. So today I bring you this interview from former Monty Python member Terry Gilliam as he reveals the surreal world of Monty Python art – CNN
Original Python and film director Terry Gilliam was responsible for the iconic animations that acted as buffers between sketches, as well as the opening credits of the TV series “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” that ran from 1969 to 1974, as well as the Python films that would follow.
A bit further on in the article:
Describing his aesthetic for the Monty Python animations, Gilliam said: “Mine was just anything I could lay my hands on, that was free and cheap and that I could cut up and move around.”
“I used to always go down to the National Gallery (in London) when I was running out of ideas and I just wandered through and in fifteen minutes, I had a million ideas,” he said.
“Basically, I communicated with paintings, had a little dialogue with a painting, either taking the piss out of it or treating it with respect. Those things just intrigued me,” he continued.
And my last link on recent news about Monty Python…proof that even Professors and Scholars can produce essays that delve into the deep crevasses of Monty Python’s brand of humor and analyze it in a very serious way. Monty Python and the Holy Grail: Madness with a Definite Method « Medievalists.net
So what are you finding interesting today? Give it up!