Wednesday Reads: Going Postal, Age of Austerity and “Victim 0001”

Happy Wednesday Morning…

Okay, I am going to start this morning’s post with some humor, and end it with something solemn…I am in a melancholy mood. No surprise, right? I swear, the Obama job policy speculations are so depressing. (Yes, I am in complete agreement with the other Sky Dancers, I am not expecting anything Obama pitches will actually help the situation.)

Well, let’s get this party started…

Mike Luckovich has a new cartoon, this time he jokes about Mother Nature.  Personally, I think Luckovich is one of the best political cartoonists around.  You be the judge on this one:

9/7 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Mother Nature | Mike Luckovich

mike09072011

Dakinikat wrote about this news out of the swamp, Boehner, Cantor Want to Meet With Obama Before Speech – Billy House – NationalJournal.com

She went with the Peanuts analogy of Lucy and the Football…I am going to take it a bit further…as you will see after this quote:

The two top House GOP leaders are asking President Obama to call a “bipartisan, bicameral” meeting with House and Senate leaders before his speech to Congress on Thursday to discuss cooperation on jobs legislation and other items to spur the economy.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., note their request comes amid reports that Obama intends to unveil his own “jobs” agenda.

They suggest there may be several potential areas for “common ground,” even as they complain that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has refused to allow many of the jobs-related measures passed by the House to come up for a Senate vote.
The two also reiterate in their letter that House Republicans have themselves already announced a legislative calendar for the fall with a heavy focus on the repeal of regulations, and that they will continue to push to reduce those that are “hampering job growth in our country.”
They write that they “appreciate” Obama’s announcement on Friday asking the EPA to withdraw its new draft ozone standards. But they say it is “critical” that such actions not stop there and hope that Obama, prior to his scheduled address to a joint session of the Senate and House on Thursday night, will “disclose the cost estimates” for what they say are 212 other regulatory actions still in the works by his administration.

I don’t know why, but reading about this possible meeting of the three stooges, before the Obama jobs speech makes me think of that scene in Naked Gun 2 and a half….The Blue Note. Where you see all those disaster pictures in frames along the wall, as the camera scans the depressed clientele.

I think that photograph of Dukakis needs to be updated with a photo of Obama… No word yet on if Obama will concede to a meeting with the Tangerine and his little buddy…and yes, I am conjuring up images of the Skipper and Gilligan.

To continue the train wreck, I mean this morning’s post,  I give you this article from Scarecrow over at FDL:  Pelosi’s Picks for Super Committee Embrace Tea-GOP Economics and Budget Gibberish | MyFDL

If you’re hoping that Nancy Pelosi’s picks for the Congressional Super Committee have either the wisdom or courage to stand against the job-killing spending cuts Obama and Congress imposed on the nation, you’ll be disappointed.

Two of Nancy Pelosi’s picks, Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), revealed that their understanding of depression economics is no better than Herbert Hoover’s or Michele Bachmann’s. From Brian Buetler at TPM:

Democrats on the new joint deficit Super Committee will seek more than the $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction they’ve been tasked with finding, in order to help offset some of those costs [of funding jobs programs].

“All of us would like to set as a target for ourselves even more than $1.5 trillion,” Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), who’s also the top House Democrat on the Budget Committee, told reporters at a Tuesday Capitol press conference. . . .

Committee member Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA) agrees with Van Hollen, and says he’d be willing to put key progressive programs on the table if it gives Congress more running room to shore up the economy now.

“It’s incumbent upon the Congress and the government not to make things worse,” Becerra said. “I’m looking at the last six months and I’m not seeing how job growth has come from some of this cutting of services, but again I’ll be open to it so long as…there’s proof that the proposal will lead to job growth and deficit reduction.”

Where do they come up with these absurd notions?The answer is: from the White House, where the President told them and the American people that the debt deal would “create room” for doing some useful things. That’s beyond wrong, beyond stupid.

Dakinikat has written so many posts about how ridiculous these kinds of cuts are…so this next bit should not be a surprise to you… That these “Democrats” are buying into the Cantor Crap, you know, the Offsets bullshit.

So they have to cut back on other government spending or let the jobless remain jobless. Didn’t need that for wars, or for multiple tax cuts or this fiscal year’s budget; it’s a new thing. Even the simple notion that it makes sense to borrow at zero real interest rates now, spend it on whatever the country needs now, and pay it back/raise taxes later, seems to be beyond their understanding.

Even if Pelosi’s picks get their way, we’re likely to get the same results Congress and FDR achieved in 1937, when the federal government contracted and imposed a balanced budget on an economy still struggling to get out of the depression: they’ll rekindle a recession and put lots more people out of work.

Pelosi has greased the wheels for the jump onto the austerity bandwagon. Just like Obama has buttered us up for his next Republican-like jobs policy, to go with all the other Republican policies that this Democrat…cough…president has kept alive.  But, back to the Scarecrow post…

Ms. Pelosi told us weeks ago that we “live in the age of austerity,” so why not choose mindless austerians to punish the nation? But there’s nothing requiring elected officials to accept that ignorant belief, because it’s nuts. Daily headlines from Europe are virtually screaming how disastrous austerity is when nations are on the verge of financial collapse.

[…]

We don’t need, and the country cannot survive, two Tea Parties or two wings of the Corporate Party. The age we live in demands just the opposite of the austerity delusions the Democratic leaders and the President have ignorantly, recklessly embraced. And come 2012, voters will have every reason to show them all what the phrase “you’re fired” means.

Next, I have a couple of World news links for you.

NATO suspends Afghan prison transfers – Central & South Asia – Al Jazeera English

The US-led coalition in Afghanistan has suspended its transfer of detainees to Afghan prisons following allegations by the UN that prisoners are being tortured.

The allegations were leaked on Tuesday ahead of a UN report that claims prisoners have been beaten with rubber hoses, threatened with sexual assault and given electric shocks.

A NATO official said that transfers have been suspended pending an investigation by the International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF).

The suspension affects detention centres run by the Afghan police and intelligence service in Herat, Khost, Lagman, Kapisa and Takhar.

Dan McNorton, a spokesman for the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) told Al Jazeera that it shared its findings with the Afghan government, including the national directorate of security.

“We understand they are taking the findings very seriously and are proposing a series of remedial actions,”  McNorton said.

“Our findings indicate that the mistreatment of detainees is not an institutional or government policy of the Government of Afghanistan.”

The article goes on to say that this can further complicate the inevitable withdrawal of foreign troops in Afghanistan.

“The NATO nations are members of the convention against torture,” he said. “Article III requires that if they  have reason to believe that a person if turned over to another government would be tortured, they’re not permitted to turn them over. So the decision that was taken today is exactly what is required of them.”

I guess we will hear more about this after the jobs speech is over and done with.

In Australia, Another bomb stand-off for Sydney as child is taken hostage – Australasia, World – The Independent

Barely a month after a teenager was terrorised by an intruder with a fake collar bomb, Sydney was the scene of another bomb drama yesterday, this time involving a man who locked himself in a barristers’ chambers with his daughter and a backpack he claimed contained explosives.

After an 11-hour stand-off, police stormed the building last night and arrested the man. His 12-year-daughter was said to be distressed but unharmed. With explosives experts still examining the backpack, it was not clear if the bomb threat was genuine.

[…]

Last month, an intruder broke into the home of a wealthy Sydney family and strapped what turned out to be a fake collar bomb to the neck of 18-year-old Madeleine Pulver. An Australian banker, Paul Peters, was arrested in Kentucky a fortnight later, and faces extradition.

Geez, what the hell is going on in this world?

I swear, people are acting crazy. Violence and desperation seems to be truly taking hold. Yesterday a man killed 3 people and wounded six in Nevada.

Which reminds me, talk about going “postal.”  White House to Propose Plan to Help Postal Service – NYTimes.com

The Obama administration said on Tuesday that it would seek to save the deficit-plagued Postal Service from an embarrassing default by proposing to give it an extra three months to make a $5.5 billion payment due on Sept. 30 to finance retirees’ future health coverage.

I guess the offset cut will have to come from somewhere, unless it is just another carrot Obama is dangling before us….

Mr. Berry said the Obama administration would push for legislation to allow a three-month delay in the $5.5 billion payment. But he stopped short of endorsing a far-reaching proposal, backed by the postal service, to allow the agency to claw back more than $50 billion that two independent actuaries have said the post office has overpaid into a major federal pension plan. Postal Service officials say such a move would go far to alleviate the agency’s financial problems.

Mr. Berry said the administration was studying the proposal, but not endorsing or opposing it at this point.

He said the administration would release a more comprehensive proposal in coming weeks “to ensure a sustainable future for the postal service,” one that would be part of the broader $1.5 trillion deficit reduction package that the President Obama has promised to send to Congress.

Oh, wait…Obama is pushing the Postal Problem on the Super Committee…so I guess the postal workers are up shit creek, and we all will have to find some other way to send those Mother’s Day and Christmas cards.

I want to end with this small article from Democracy Now. It is about Father Mychal Judge, the NYFD’s Cathoic chaplain, who was killed on September 11th, 2001.  Amy Goodman: 9/11 Victim 0001: Father Mychal’s Message – Truthdig

The body bag marked “Victim 0001” on Sept. 11, 2001, contained the corpse of Father Mychal Judge, a Catholic chaplain with the Fire Department of New York. When he heard about the disaster at the World Trade Center, he donned his Catholic collar and firefighter garb and raced downtown. He saw people jump to their deaths to avoid the inferno more than 1,000 feet above. At 9:59 a.m., the South Tower collapsed, and the force and debris from that mass of steel, concrete, glass and humanity as it hit the ground is likely what killed Father Mychal. His was the first recorded death from the attacks that morning. His life’s work should be central to the 10th anniversary commemorations of the Sept. 11 attacks: peace, tolerance and reconciliation.

Goodman goes on to discuss Father Mychal’s journal that was given by his twin sister to journalist Michael Daly. More particularly, the admission in those diaries.

Father Mychal was well known to the poor and afflicted of New York City and New Jersey. He helped the homeless, and people with HIV/AIDS. As a member of the Franciscan order, he would often wear the traditional brown robe and sandals. But there was a half-known secret about him: He was gay. In his private diaries, the revered Catholic priest wrote, “I thought of my gay self and how the people I meet never get to know me fully.”

[…]

Brendan Fay is a longtime Irish-American gay activist who was a friend of Judge’s….[says] “He was one of the priests at Dignity New York, an organization for gay and lesbian Catholics. … He ministered to [us] during the AIDS crisis, when there were few priests available to our community.”

I remember a few seconds of the documentary film 9/11, by Jules and Gedeon Naudet. Father Mychal is seen praying while you can hear the sound of jumpers as they fall on the plaza.

Many remember the iconic photo of Father Mychal being carried from the rubble of the WTC, taken by photographer, Shannon Stapleton. But when I think of Father Judge, the image from the film 9/11, his look of worry and his mouth moving in prayer is what comes to mind.  I think it is fitting that Amy Goodwin ends her post with this quote from Brendan Fay.

“On 9/11, the one thing we can take from Mychal Judge is, in the midst of this hell and war and evil and violence, here is this man who directs us to another possible path as human beings: We can choose the path of compassion and nonviolence and reconciliation. Mychal Judge had a heart as big as New York. There was room for everybody. And I think that’s the lesson.”

That is all I have for you today, what are you reading and watching today? Anything good? Please be sure to share some links below…


28 Comments on “Wednesday Reads: Going Postal, Age of Austerity and “Victim 0001””

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Good morning, I wanted to give you a couple links this morning:

    First, I saw this one late last night when I finished up the morning post. Late Night FDL: Fred Karger, Composer and Fred Karger, Candidate | La Figa

    I am very fascinated by the controversy surrounding GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger and the GOP’s fear of him. And for me it’s personal.

    My stepfather, Fred Karger was a film composer and musical supervisor at Columbia, MGM, for Elvis Presley’s goofball oeuvres (Harum Scarum, Kissin’ Cousins, Frankie and Johnny, etc.) and later for a series of campy independent films like Riot on Sunset Strip. He’s best known for the theme songs he wrote: From Here to Eternity, Magnificent Obsession, Gidget, Gidget Goes Hawaiian, and for his love life: He dated Marilyn Monroe for a number of years and was married twice to Jane Wyman. And once to my mom. Fred, who died in 1979, was super cool and a great stepfather. Every day I give thanks for having him in my life, for all the amazing people I met through him, and for showing me you can live life by following your creative dreams.

    […]

    Since then, Republican Fred Karger–who worked on nine presidential campaigns and served as a senior consultant on campaigns for Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Gerald Ford–has become a frequent correspondent since he’s running for president as a Republican.

    But Fred Karger has been excluded from the debates by a constantly shifting series of rules put in place by debate organizers. But it seems more like the other candidates and GOP Powers That Be want him excluded because of his political and social stances. He’d like to make the Republican party more open and inclusive. He is also openly gay, supports same-sex marriage, and

    believes that abortion is a private matter for citizens, and rejects the idea of the government’s encroachment into the life of ordinary Americans…

    Oh and he’s Jewish, not that religion should be an issue in any campaign because the Constitution states that Congress should establish no religion; to run the country under Christian law is the same principle as running the country under sharia law.

    Fred Karger, Republican candidate, has been shut out of the Fox GOP debates and the CNN GOP debates, and now:

    NBC News will broadcast a GOP presidential debate…And still Fred Karger won’t be permitted to participate. Please sign this petition to get Fred Karger on the GOP stage

    And then there is this from Cannonfire:

    Cannonfire

    Two little birds have told me that Rick Perry will not be the Republican nominee because an undefined “something” is going to come out soon. When the first bird said this, I shrugged. When the second said much the same thing, I started to wonder what that “something” might be.

    Neither bird told me to look into a possible sex scandal, but that possibility seemed the logical starting point. What else could it be? Republicans don’t care about financial scandals, at least not when one of their own is involved. All that their tiny little brains can comprehend is Gawd and misplaced wee-wees.

    So I hit Google. Turns out there’s a whole world of rumor out there. Start here.

    Basically, what we have are two sets of allegations: Either Perry has slept with some very curvaceous strippers and hookers, or he has slept with men. Or both.

    Enjoy!

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    The irony to the current political atmosphere is that though we thought it couldn’t get any worse under Bush, his tenure merely gave rise to the more “cerebrally challenged” out there who believe they have the capabilities to lead.

    Most of them seem to be acting on behalf of the wealthy with no true vision to offer but more of the same. Unfortunately they are faced with a present leader who is devoid of passion or principles acting on behalf of the majority who least benefit from these foolish policies and proposals.

    Faced with a choice of a total wimp willing to do business with the hated Right, or a “austerity” driven opponent bent on privatizing everything in sight, the public in 2012 will be offered a Hobson’s Choice at the voting booth.

    At this point I am beginning to wonder if there is much difference either way. A slow ride to the bottom or an escalated fall. Pick your poison.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      At this point I am beginning to wonder if there is much difference either way. A slow ride to the bottom or an escalated fall. Pick your poison.

      Oh Pat…I am at that point already…great comment!

  3. paper doll says:

    We don’t need, and the country cannot survive, two Tea Parties or two wings of the Corporate Party

    well that’s just what we have ,,,and have had since 2000. Let’s not pertend Dems would fight a Repug POTUS…that’s what we have had since 2000 and they have fought for nothing expect for the right to do some hand ringing and grandstanding before caving. They helped Bush 2 more in any two week period during his two terms , than they ever helped Bill in his eight years….But they could not do enough for a Repug WH…this trend continues today

    • Peggy Sue says:

      “They helped Bush 2 more in any two week period during his two terms , than they ever helped Bill in his eight years….But they could not do enough for a Repug WH…this trend continues today”

      Sadly true because both parties are dedicated and controlled by oligarchal/corporate interests. The elections have nothing to do with us anymore. It’s whose financial interests will bask in the profitable haze of DC politics.

      The American public? An afterthought at best.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Great roundup, Minx. Thanks. I’m sorry to say I hadn’t heard about Father Mychal before.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      He was one of those people that really make a difference. It is hard to explain, but have you ever met someone who connected with you instantly, and seemed to have an sense of understanding, compassion and caring that was genuine…soulful…that you felt it deep down in your gut. That kind of person is able to reach people on all levels…
      That was Father Judge…

  5. Pat Johnson says:

    Those rumors surrounding Rev. Rick have been floating around for a few years. They surfaced during one of his runs for governor if memory serves.

    If true, that is the “deathknell” for him as his followers may not be outraged if shown a picture of him holding up a bank at the end of an automatic rifle. No, it will be based on the fact that Ricky may be gay, a sure indication of his “abnormality” in that quarter.

    I see it a little differently: if true it is a validation of the hypocrisy so abundant in this wing of the GOP. Fighting against the biological evidence by abhorring and criminalizing it to please the fundies.

    Liar, liar, pants on fire.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I don’t think it will hurt him unless he is caught in flagrante during the presidential campaign. He has already survived being caught in bed with a man by his wife. The Republicans don’t seem to care if someone is in the closet–like Mitch McConnell–as long as they keep it quiet. They even put up with Lindsey Graham, who isn’t married and has been spotted in gay bars. Sadly, I think Perry is going to be the nominee. Either we’ll be stuck with him or a mortally wounded Obama. The only solution is for Obama to drop out like LBJ did. It could still happen.

  6. paper doll says:

    Two little birds have told me that Rick Perry will not be the Republican nominee because an undefined “something” is going to come out soon.

    This kind of reminds me of the MB “Whitey Tape” from 2008…that was happening “soon” for months and never did….Perry could do whatever on national TV, but if the over lords want him it would not matter …if they don’t want him, a lone cocktail wait person will do to take him out ( see the French guy/ maid case ) who then is dismissed

    See what one actually does is totally immaterial in the trajectory of a modern caeer…it’s whether they want you or not. If they want you, starting endless wars on a lie is fine and you can write books about it!. If they do not want you ,accepting two sport tickets is a high crime and will be punished with jail time

    If they spring this on Perry, it will be to help install Obie part two. It will be because they have chosen to continue the CEO route for dismantling and looting the country and world , rather than go back to the cowboy way. The CEO way has a great advantages for them. For one thing it keeps the peace movement compleatly nonexistent….at least it has so far.

    If Perry is pushed now and then sunk, it would make for an amazingly weak GOP field ( yes even weaker than now!) since most others would have melted away in the mean time . A weak as possiable GOP field is exactly what Obama must have if he’s to be reinstalled. You know he’s never won a real race…something always “happens” to the opposition during a campaign . Scandal from somewhere and then being everywhere for his opponent would be right from the Obie Inc playbook

  7. JeanLouise says:

    I can’t say that I’m surprised but I’m saddened by Van Hollen’s and Becerra’s statements. If I remember correctly, they’ve both scheduled numerous fundraising events based on their membership on this misbegotten committee. I think that we can safely assume that few of the attendees at those events will arguing in favor of insisting on higher taxes on the wealthy versus cutting services to the middle class and the poor.

  8. paper doll says:

    Indeed! Great round up!!

    Ms. Pelosi told us weeks ago that we “live in the age of austerity,”

    LOLOLOLOL….she’s one of the wealthiest people in congress . I kind of think she’s not living
    in the age of austerity( A song called The age of Austerity set to The age of Aquarius would be funny )

    So let’s add this Nancy quote to her other sage like gems

    Impeachment is off the table

    Obama is God’s gift

  9. Fannie says:

    Funny, I needed that laugh at the Blue Note………….Thanks

  10. bostonboomer says:

    Barry Bluestone has an editorial in the NYT today recommending a wage freeze on all public employees, suggesting a deal with unions.

    When I was working at MIT in the ’70s and ’80s, we tried to form a clerical union for four years and never were able to get quite enough signatures for a vote. Harvard Medical and Boston University also had union drives. BU won theirs, Harvard lost. In Boston the administrations of the large universities met every year to fix wages–that’s collusion, but they got away with it. During that time, Barry Bluestone was in charge of union busting for the universities.

  11. Minkoff Minx says:

    You know, I wonder if there is a handbasket big enough for all of us…Working-age poor at highest levels since ’60s – Business – US business – msnbc.com

    Currently, the ranks of the working-age poor are at the highest level since the 1960s when the war on poverty was launched. When new census figures for 2010 are released next week, analysts expect a continued increase in the overall poverty rate due to persistently high unemployment last year.

    If that holds true, it will mark the fourth year in a row of increases in the U.S. poverty rate, which now stands at 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people.

    • Peggy Sue says:

      This is what is so disgraceful about what’s going on in the country–this huge disparity in income, leaving increased numbers of the working poor out in the cold. When 20% of American kids are living on foodstamps, something is desperately wrong. Yesterday, I read a stat indicating that a quarter to a third of the homeless population is now comprised of the working poor. Doesn’t part of our social contract say that if you work and pay taxes and are part of the social network that the very least you can expect is a roof over your head? I am so weary of hearing and reading the poor blamed for being poor, the unemployed referred to as parasites [for the grace of God go thee] and the sick, disabled, children and elderly discounted as if they were nothing more than malingers.

      If a government cannot or will not provide protection of our most vulnerable, what good is it? When you have thousands of people lining up for basic dental care, it’s a clear indication that we’ve lost our way. And all too friequently, those bashing the idea of a basic social contract are those who insist they’re dedicated Christians. It makes no sense.

  12. Minkoff Minx says:

    Isn’t this great news…Mich. governor signs 48-month welfare limit – Yahoo! News

    It an ap article, but here is the jest of it…October 1st will find est. 41,000 people will lose cash assistance, and kids make up 29,700 of that 41,000 figure.