October 8th, 2008

Book Cover

Patriotism -

To me,  patriotism is a willingness to pay taxes, knowing they support schools, parks, police, and fire protection, and those who are weak, young, old.   The Republicans have made taxes a bad word, even as they have put us in a situation that demands them for rescue rather than necessities. 

Op-Ed Columnist

Palin’s Kind of Patriotism

Published: October 7, 2008

Criticizing Sarah Palin is truly shooting fish in a barrel. But given the huge attention she is getting, you can’t just ignore what she has to say. And there was one thing she said in the debate with Joe Biden that really sticks in my craw. It was when she turned to Biden and declared: “You said recently that higher taxes or asking for higher taxes or paying higher taxes is patriotic. In the middle class of America, which is where Todd and I have been all of our lives, that’s not patriotic.”

What an awful statement. Palin defended the government’s $700 billion rescue plan. She defended the surge in Iraq, where her own son is now serving. She defended sending more troops to Afghanistan. And yet, at the same time, she declared that Americans who pay their fair share of taxes to support all those government-led endeavors should not be considered patriotic.

I only wish she had been asked: “Governor Palin, if paying taxes is not considered patriotic in your neighborhood, who is going to pay for the body armor that will protect your son in Iraq? Who is going to pay for the bailout you endorsed? If it isn’t from tax revenues, there are only two ways to pay for those big projects — printing more money or borrowing more money. Do you think borrowing money from China is more patriotic than raising it in taxes from Americans?” That is not putting America first. That is selling America first.

Sorry, I grew up in a very middle-class family in a very middle-class suburb of Minneapolis, and my parents taught me that paying taxes, while certainly no fun, was how we paid for the police and the Army, our public universities and local schools, scientific research and Medicare for the elderly. No one said it better than Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes: “I like paying taxes. With them I buy civilization.”


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niki de saint phalle - real

Jon Carroll's solution -

It seems intelligent talk about taxes begins.  Now, if we can only pull the pit bull - barracuda away from lies about Obama and the press that stir up the ignorant and uneducated.   I thought it was illegal to yell fire in a crowded theater.  How and why is she getting away with what she is doing?    We know the GOP has no platform and nothing to stand on.   Do they really want to burn the country and tolerance down?

Jon Carroll -

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

During the much-anticipated (and, I'm guessing, soon forgotten) debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin last week, there was a small kerfuffle after Palin accused Biden of saying that raising taxes is patriotic. Turned out that what Biden really said was that paying taxes is patriotic, a view so heavily endorsed by all parties that it's actually illegal not to pay them - unless you maintain a post-office box in the Cayman Islands or find write-offs that offset what you owe.

That's probably not you, though, so it would be a good idea for you to keep paying your taxes unless you want to pay lawyers later. I understand that's something of a bummer, but then so is an irregularly shaped mole on your neck.

But the thing is, see, if Biden had said what Palin said he said (which he didn't), he would have been right. Raising taxes is patriotic. Raising taxes is what we can do to make our country, our patria, stronger.

It is amazing to watch the political discourse. Here we are about $10 trillion in debt, not counting whatever this latest bailout is going to cost; social services are being cut all over the place; entitlements are rising with no plan about how to cap them or pay for them; veterans services, national parks, NASA, the EPA, pick your own favorite - underfunded, decaying, not doing whatever it is we want them to do.

Oh, and where are we going to get the money? Oh, we will cut wasteful spending, that's what we'll do. Even better, we'll give people a tax break, so that will stimulate spending and we will grow the economy and then finally people will owe taxes and the government will get more money. Like that worked.


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barack obama

Douglas Rushkoff -

Riding Out the Credit Collapse

Arthur Magazine, Spring 2008 - Douglas Rushkoff

There’s two kinds of people asking me about the economy lately: people with money wanting to know how to keep it “safe,” and people without money, wanting to know how to keep safe, themselves.

Maybe it’s the difference between those two concerns that best explains the underlying nature of today’s fiscal crisis.

Is what’s going on in the economy right now really worse than anything that’s happened in the past few decades? Are we heading towards a bank collapse like what happened in 1929? Or something even worse?

On a certain level, none of these questions really matter. Not as they’re being phrased, anyway. What we think of as “the economy” today isn’t real, it’s virtual. It’s a speculative marketplace that has very little to do with getting real things to the people who need them, and much more to do with providing ways for passive investors to grow their capital.

This economy of markets was created to give the rising merchant class in the late middle ages a way to invest their winnings. Instead of actually working, or even injecting capital into new enterprises, they learned to “make markets” in things that were scarce. Or, rather, in things that could be made scarce, like land.

That’s how speculation was born. Speculation in land, gold, coal, food…pretty much anything. Because the wealthy had such so much excess capital to invest, they made markets in stuff that the rest of us actually used. The problem is that when coal or corn isn’t just fuel or food but also an asset class, the laws of supply and demand cease to be the principle forces determining their price. When there’s a lot of money and few places to invest it, anything considered a speculative asset becomes overpriced. And then real people can’t afford the stuff they need.

The speculative economy is related to the real economy, but more as a parasite than a positive force. It is detached from the real needs of people, and even detached from the real commerce that goes on between humans. It is a form of meta-commerce, like a Las Vegas casino betting on the outcome of a political election. Only the bets, in this case, change the real costs of the things being bet on.

That’s what happened in the housing market and the credit market—which, these days, are actually the same thing. Here’s the story, in the simplest terms:

Bush’s tax cuts and other measures favoring the rich led to the biggest redistribution of wealth from poor to rich in American history. The result was that the wealthy—the investment class—had more money to invest, or lend, than there were people and businesses looking to borrow.


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obama - book lovers

Andrew Sullivan on the debate -

Andrew Sullivan:

This was, I think, a mauling: a devastating and possibly electorally fatal debate for McCain. Even on Russia, he sounded a little out of it. I've watched a lot of debates and participated in many. I love debate and was trained as a boy in the British system to be a debater. I debated dozens of times at Oxford. All I can say is that, simply on terms of substance, clarity, empathy, style and authority, this has not just been an Obama victory. It has been a wipe-out. It has been about as big a wipe-out as I can remember in a presidential debate. It reminds me of the 1992 Clinton-Perot-Bush debate. I don't really see how the McCain campaign survives this.

Book Cover

So long Fourth of July!!

To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except Kansas , which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

(You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

1. Then look up aluminum, and check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour', 'favour', 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise'. Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').


3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as 'like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize.


4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.


5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then you're not ready to shoot grouse.


6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.


7. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables.

Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.


8. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.


9. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.


10. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-FrozenGnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.


11. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.


12. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body Armour like a bunch of nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash you, like they regularly thrash us.


13. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.


14. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.


15. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).


16. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.

God Save the Queen

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The World Choice -

Polar bears and wolves vote for Obama too.

Planet Obama

What would happen if the entire world could vote in our election? One guess

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The entire world is, apparently, full of whiny no-good commie liberals.

It's true. This is the only logical conclusion, the only way you can possibly parse the piles of (largely unscientific, but still pretty damn convincing) numbers and data and full-blown emotional consciousness now pouring in from all over the world, pumping our little presidential election full of all sorts of cosmic meaning and profundity and oh-my-God-can-it-be-true.


Check that: Maybe it's not the only way to parse it. But if you're a hard-core McCainite and/or are under some sort of unfortunate, chemically-induced delusion that Sarah Palin is just exactly the sort of dangerously harebrained, folksy, winking, nonsensical political confection we all really need right now, well, you might be more than a bit peeved to learn that the entire world has already cast its vote for our next president.

And of course, the world wants Obama.

Overwhelmingly. Crushingly. Rather staggeringly. By quite possibly the largest margin you will see anywhere except maybe Hawaii and D.C. and, well, San Francisco.

Did you already suspect? Could you not already guess? Because despite how here at home Obama is pulling nicely ahead by anywhere from five to 10 points almost across the board, we still call that a relatively close race. It's still "anybody's game," with both candidates currently whipping the battleground states into a frenzy and spending millions in a mad-dash sprint to an extraordinary finish.

The rest of the world? Not quite so divided. Not by a long shot.


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obama - book lovers

Arianna Huffington -

Arianna Huffington: The Winner of Debate II? "That One"

In Debate II, John McCain twice laid out the criteria for how the American people should judge the candidates: In tough times, we need someone with a steady hand on the tiller. By that measure, Obama was the clear winner. He was centered where McCain was scattered. Forceful where McCain was forced. Presidential where McCain was petulant. In the first debate, McCain wouldn't look at Obama. In this one, he referred to him as "that one." The contempt was palpable, and unpalatable. At the end of the debate, Brokaw asked McCain to get out of the way of his Teleprompter. He might as well have been speaking on behalf of the future: Senator McCain can you please get out of the way so we can get on with it?


Evening -

The moon is a treasure in the sky tonight.

Zach and I had a great time today. Unfortunately he is at the stage where he thinks anything of his is great, which includes snot, so he kept giving me the snot from his nose as a special treat. It is like when your cat brings you a rat. It is lovely to share, and .... I love him, so what the heck. It is a treat, though I did wash my hands carefully before eating. :)

We went to see the movie Learning Gravity tonight which is at the MVFF. It was wonderful!! It is about the poet Thomas Lynch, who is also an undertaker and inspired the HBO series Six Feet Under. The movie went back and forth between his home here and another in Ireland that he inherited. The backdrop to the incredible scenery and his life was his poetry. Oh, my!! We were riveted. We went out to dinner beforehand and the restaurant was empty. Normally MV is booming in the ten days of the film festival. It is not a positive sign for the economy that it was so quiet. Understatement, obviously.

Naturally we had to stop in at the Book Depot where Norman Fischer's new book, Sailing Home, Using the Wisdom of Homer's Odyssey to Navigate Life's Perils and Pitfalls, hopped, or maybe sailed right into my hands.

Also, the news I heard on Obama while driving was positive. McPain has to campaign together while Barack and Joe are not co-dependent and so can be in two different places, and they are targeting the tough spots and being well-received. Someone also commented on how blacks and whites are working together to canvas, and how one white woman wasn't sure about the black man who was her canvassing partner, and now after working together for two weeks, she trusts him as much as she has ever trusted anyone. The point of the show is that racial healing is happening, each day, as people work together on the campaign.

I am happy to have had a break from it all today, and I know all the worries and loss are still there.

Happy sleeping under this beautiful, bright moon!! I am poetically coccooned tonight.