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…