Friday, April 29, 2011

FRIDAY FOLLIES: The Royal Wedding, of course.

Thursday, April 28 10 PM:  Is anything else going on these days besides the Wedding of the Century, The marriage of Katherine ( Kate) Middleton and William (Will) Mountbatten-Windsor?  (This time the wedding of the century really is the wedding of the century -- the century is young, and, until another big wedding comes along, this is it.)

Tonight the Big channels--E!,  MSNBC, CNN, BBC America--have all put together specials on tomorrow's big day. The background, the real stories, the life histories of both Will and Kate,  as well as interviews with their families and anyone who has ever known them, from class-mates to haberdashers and hairdressers to people they've waved to on the street.  Right now BBCA is talking about the wedding of the son of Camilla Parker-Bowles.  Very chi-chi.  High society. Astonishingly irrelevant and even, maybe, just guessing, in really, really bad taste.

10:38:  On CNN's Anderson Cooper they're showing vintage footage of Princess Diana being helped out of her carriage while her bridesmaids stand by.  Will it totally spoil the mood if I say that her bridal gown looked as if it had been made for a giantess and then tucked and pinned to fit little Lady Di?  Same with the bridesmaids.  Very odd.  But what do I know?  I've heard there were thousands of weddings world-wide where brides happily wore dresses that were near-copies of Diana's.

(Did you hear about the guy who had pictures of Will and Kate tattooed onto his two front teeth?  It'll wear off in about three months, depending on how often and how vigorously he brushes his teeth, but until then--they're there.  It's all here.)

10:55 PM:  Matt Lauer is excitedly talking about the wedding cake.  It'll be big and beautiful and it'll taste heavenly.  It's a Royal cake so it can't be anything less.  It just can't.  (Looks like the mayor of London forgot to comb his hair tonight.  Sure hope he remembers tomorrow.)  [Update:  He didn't]

11:00PM:  I'm off to bed.  Coverage starts at 3 AM EST.  I'm not kidding.  (No, I won't be there, either.)

6:00 AM:  I'm up.   Kate is out of the funny, boxy limo and she's beautiful and her gown is beautiful, if very similar to gowns I've seen on "Bridezilla" or elsewhere.  I'm a little disappointed, frankly.  But the tiara belonged to the Queen Mum and for some reason that makes me quite giddy.

Here come William and Harry.  Harry is dressed in regalia that's much more eye-popping than William's.  Black and gold, compared to William's more sedate red with blue banner.  One-upped.  Imagine.

I see Beefeaters lining the Cathedral aisle as Kate and her father make their way to the altar.  They really do look wonderfully Gilbert & Sullivan.  What are Beefeaters anyway?  I'll look them up later, after the festivities.  [Okay, here it is.]

Yes, those Brits know how to throw a wedding.  Is Westminster Abbey the most gloriously ostentatious building you've ever seen in your life?

They've all met now at the altar and the sopranos are singing the high notes.  I think it's about to begin. I'm sorry -- I can't take my eyes off of Harry.  Is he adorable, or what? 

Oh, wait, not yet.  Now the crowd is singing.  There's Elton John.  And Victoria Beckham and that guy. Does Princess Anne ever smile?

The queen is lovely in Daffodil yellow but can't seem to muster up much enthusiasm.  Prince Philip is looking peaked.  Lady in large blue hat is looking peaked, too. Come on, people!  It's the Royal Wedding!  Lots of work went into this!

 Okay, singing has stopped and the Archbishop of Canterbury just said "Dearly Beloved".  Shhh, I need to hear this.

I grabbed this off of my TV.  Hope it's okay, CNN.


They've spoken their vows and got through it without flaw.  Whew!  I won't mention Diana's mixing up of Charles's many names.  No, I won't.

6:20AM/11:20 AM:  It's done!  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have moved to the side of the altar and are now. . .standing there singing along with everybody in the cathedral.    Crowd scene.  Lots of fancy duds.  Camilla, true to form, is wearing a ridiculous hat, but this time she's not alone.

An outside shot.  Crowds of Royal worshipers are seen but I can't tell if they're singing. Lots of happy flag-waving.

Kate's brother James is reading from the scriptures or something, appealing to everyone to "present your bodies for sacrifice".  What???   Is he reading the wrong passage?   "Extend hospitality to strangers".  "Weep for those who weep".  "Do not be haughty but associate with the lowly."  "Do not claim to be wiser than anyone."  What the heck?  Who invited him, anyway?

Long shot of the cathedral.  Took my breath away. I mean it.

Small boys singing in high voices.  (No, I'm not thinking what you're thinking.)  Now the grown-up choir is joining in.  Lovely.  Simply lovely. I miss the Queen Mum.

Someone says St. Catherine of Sienna said "Be all you can be and you'll set the world on fire".  (Okay. Whatever.) 

Speeches now, while Will and Kate sit obediently listening.  You just know they're thinking, "Didn't we just get married?  Why are they still talking? Aren't we supposed to be walking up the aisle?  Will this never end?"

Shot of the crowd outside.  They're getting restless.  Who knows what will happen if these guys don't wrap it up soon?  Wide shot.  Huge screens out there showing the inside events.  Almost as good as  watching it on TV at home.

Will and Kate are back at the altar, standing alone.  Gorgeous scene.  (Just saw the Palace Guard marching to somewhere. Is there trouble out there?) The singing has stopped.  Kate and Will are kneeling now.  "Lord have mercy upon us."  Now the Lord's Prayer.  Now more preaching.  What an opportunity.  A captive audience,  inside and out.  It goes on and on, with the newlyweds still on their knees.  Good thing they're young.

Now "Jerusalem" by William Blake.  Played at every British Rugby game, someone just said.  The Brits know all the words.  Nice song.  The crowd is waving the Union Jack and cheering. Now the stirring British national anthem, "God Save the Queen".  Everyone singing but the queen herself.

The Maid of Honor just bent over to lift the bride's train.  Oh, my!  The cleavage!  Watch it! They've all walked behind the altar and are, I presume, leaving the building.  The music is swelling.  Shot of the cathedral from above.  Stunning camerawork.  Really.

Oh, Jeez.  I should have known.  Here come Will and Kate again.  NOW they're finally walking up the aisle.  Kate is smiling and Will looks somber.  Ah, there's a little uplift of the left side of his mouth. And now a full blown Diana-like shy grin.  All's right again.

They're standing in the doorway and the crowds outside are seeing them for the first time.  They're going wild.  Confetti everywhere.  The bells are clanging.  The red,black and gold Cinderella-like carriage, the very same that carried Charles and Diana so long ago, has pulled up and Will is adjusting his white gloves.  They're entering the carriage.  The bells are going wild.  Lovely couple.  They're smiling at each other lovingly.  This could work.

They're off.  They've mastered that Royal side-to-side wave with precious little wrist action.  Prancing white horses.  Wide-spread jubilation (according to Piers Morgan, who ought to know).

Piers just reminded us that the sun is shining.  They're really pleasantly surprised, since it's England in April and heavy rain was actually predicted.  I seem to remember that the weather cooperated when Charles and Di were married, too.  So much for portents of good things to come.

They're entering  Buckingham Palace and both Will and Harry have saluted as they enter the gates.  The Royal couple have exited the carriage and won't be seen again until they appear on the palace balcony.  The queen is arriving behind them.  Prince Philip salutes as they enter the gate.  Charles and Camilla are in a carriage behind the queen.  (I can only guess that Charles,too, has saluted as he passed under the arch.)  Aerial view of the crowds.  Pretty impressive.

From now on it's all talk.  Example:  "We have never seen Prince William kiss Kate."  They can't stop talking about the long-awaited first kiss.  They're actually doing a minute-by-minute countdown until the Big Smooch.

8:30AMish:  Okay, they've kissed. That's it.  We're done here.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

We're Michigan and Most of Us Don't Deserve This

 Michigan, our wonderful, beautiful jewel of a state--the only state in the union that looks like a mitten reaching up to grab a leaping rabbit, the only state surrounded on three sides by three different really Great Lakes, the only state that can lay claim to both Vernor's Ginger Ale and Sanders Hot Fudge Sauce, has been in the news a lot lately.




 Not because we've finally been discovered and people are wondering how they could possibly have overlooked us (Weather Channel, I'm talking to you. Bad weather travels from the northern plains to NEW YORK CITY! via a route through Michigan.  There's no getting around it), but because on January 1, 2011 Richard Dale Snyder ("Rick", because, you know, he's just--aaaw--Rick) was sworn in as Governor.

Nothing unusual about a new governor being sworn in in early January, but this particular brand-new governor raised hackles in some circles (okay, in nearly ALL circles outside the corporate honchos and people still having Tea Parties in the midst of the rubble) by stepping off the podium and almost instantaneously barking orders to annihilate anyone outside his own elite space who thought they might be entitled to a taxpayer-funded public education, or wages beyond the truly laughable, or even a retirement free of toil and strife.

For most people bent on taking over an entire state that might have been enough, but some days later this man Rick found the Holy Grail.  An existing Financial Emergency Manager Law that he and his Republican-led legislature then got to work enhancing and extending until it no longer would only be used in--okay--emergencies, but could be tweaked to kill the unions, take over public education and. . .oh, let's say. . .fire duly elected officials in cities and towns that may or may not have potentially fatal fiscal wounds but do have too many poor people and thus can't keep the Gov and his court in the style to which they've become accustomed.

Robert Bobb (true name) has been the Emergency Financial Manager for the city of Detroit since 2009.  I don't know how well he was doing in that job before the EFM act gave him infinite powers, but he's apparently rubbing his hands in glorious anticipation of being able to do away with 53 Public Schools, either by outright closings or mergings or switching them to charter status.  (Rachel Maddow has been reporting on one of them--The Catherine Ferguson Academy, a school for teen mothers.  After learning their school was targeted for closing, the students staged a quiet sit-in and, for their efforts, were handcuffed and taken away by the police, causing enough commotion (not by the students) to make the story go national. Thank you, Rachel--and everyone else who picked up the story and ran with it.  Everything that happens in Michigan mustn't--must not--stay in Michigan.  We need to shout it to the mountaintops.  We're under attack and we can't pretend it's all pretend.  It's not.

As Todd A. Haywood reported in Michigan Messenger yesterday, The Mackinac Center for Public Policy,  home of Michigan's Randian Tea Party, really is a part of the Vast Right Wing Free Market Think Tank Conspiracy.  They've joined up with Sauron in the Dark Tower to seek out and destroy anything resembling entitlement programs, government-sponsored good works, university professors' emails in support of beleaguered Wisconsin, and more importantly, labor unions.  Their goal is small government and their method is to fire all municipal officials and put an "emergency financial manager"--one person--in their place.  One person will run everything, making every decision without fear of being fired or losing elections.  It's the Fascist version of "we're not a Democracy, we're a Republic".
  
This group, State Policy Network, is working at installing a host of compliant soldiers posing as Leaders of the People in all 50 states.  Their purpose:  to guarantee the complete and total privatization of these United States of America.  So far they've managed to enlist the governors of Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana, all of whom are not in the least shy about expressing their fascination with the mission they've chosen to accept.

In Michigan, Governor Ricky is in direct competition with Wisconsin's Governor Scotty to see who can take down whose state first.  At first glance you might be inclined to say "boys will be boys", but you mustn't forget the Eye of Sauron watching their every move.  (Here I'll repeat:  Vast Right Wing Conspiracy)

More to chew on:

If two members of the legislature get their way, Michigan's foster kids will have to get their back-to-school clothing from thrift stores because Michigan could save a lot of money that way.  I loved this part but you have to read the whole thing by Susan G. Demas:


So what's behind these moves by the Legislature? Well, the two DHS panel chairs both live in relatively homogeneous and very conservative enclaves in the state.

[Bruce] Caswell is a Calvinist who's never had to deal much with Democrats or people with other views on social issues, taxes or government services. He believes he's doing the right thing and rooting out inefficiencies in the budget.

[Dave] Agema ... well, his general philosophy can be summed up in his solution for overworked welfare caseworkers. Rather than hire more workers or work to speed up paperwork processing times, the goat killer suggested that DHS employees be armed with guns to subdue any unruly welfare queens.

Sen. Coleman Young II (D-Detroit) once flippantly described Republicans' attitude toward the poor and unemployed as: "Too bad. It sucks to be you." 

Who thinks like this?  What kind of person sits around thinking about poor, dispossessed kids and, instead of wondering what he/she can do to make things better for them, concludes that money could be saved if they wore second-hand Government-issue clothes?  And what kind of person is then surprised when reasonable people say, "Hold it right there. . .".   And who then would say in response, they probably don't spend it on clothing anyway, and "I think the hardship is negligible"?

(Newsflash:  They're rethinking this, after a really soul-satisfying (on my part), all-out blogospheric blast attack against it.  Looky here:

Senator Caswell initially proposed issuing a gift card for the clothing allowance for resale shops in order to ensure the money would actually go toward purchasing clothing. After a suggestion from a constituent, he plans to draft an amendment to the proposal that would direct the state to work with major retailers to create a gift card program that would ensure the clothing allowance money only purchases clothing and shoes at their stores. Furthermore, the amendment will direct DHS to negotiate with the retailers for a discount on those clothing items purchased with the allowance in order to get the best deal for the recipients.

Okay, I'm exhausted.  But one last thing.  You know how Gov. Ricky gave supreme power to one lone Emergency Financial Manager in poorest of the poor Benton Harbor?  Yes?  And how they fired everybody (see links above) and then poured salt in the wounds by demoting them to secretarial duties, like taking minutes at meetings?  Yes? Well, Gov. Ricky will be visiting Benton Harbor on May 7.  No, he won't be looking around to see how well his plan is working. Or to see what else he can do to lift that poor town out of its misery.  No. He'll be Grand Marshal of  Blossomtime's Grand Floral Parade.  The parade route will start in St. Joseph:


And end in Benton Harbor:



This is clueless to the absolute ultimate.  This is Nero fiddling while Rome burns.  This is the New America.

So the way I see it, we either get used to it or we fight like hell to end this onslaught.  I know us.  We don't plan on ever getting used to it.

Michigan Labor Legacy Landmark, "Transcending"

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Friday, April 22, 2011

FRIDAY FOLLIES: Earth Day, Beautiful Danger, Buseyisms, and Oh, by the Way. . .Jesus is coming

Today is Earth Day.  Ever since 1970 we've been setting aside April 22 to celebrate the birth of the earth. (It also happens to be Lenin's birthday but I promise there is absolutely no connection.  I only mention it because some subversive with a tea cup is sure to bring it up, and I want to be able to say I got there first.)

 When I wrote about Earth Day last year I wondered how Ken Salazar would do as Secretary of the Interior.  So far so good, I'm happy to say.  (If you know something different I invite you to burst my bubble.  Go ahead.  It wouldn't be the first time.)  This week is National Park Week and all entrance fees have been waived through April 24, which means you can go celebrate Earth Day in some of the most beautiful places on earth for free this weekend.

The Grand Canyon

 I took the picture above a few years ago but, lucky me, I never wrote about it.  (See below)  The Grand Canyon is spectacular, for sure, but it can also be dangerous.   As you can see, there are places where there are no barricades.  Most people have enough sense not to get too close to the edge, but every now and then someone leans over to take the picture of a lifetime and. . .
  
                                                                                           
It happens. . .

In Hawaii  they want to put a stop to people getting hurt or killed while going ga-ga over splendiferous sights.  They can't blame the dangerous places themselves because they're tourist attractions and they bring in money so the next best thing is to blame the. . .(wait for it). . .travel writers.

PRINCEVILLE, Hawaii—In his work, travel writer Andrew Doughty often deals with mosquito-infested rain forest and treacherous riptides. Recently, he had to grapple with a new career challenge: a proposed state law that would hold Hawaii guidebook writers personally liable for deaths or accidents at spots they recommend.
[HAWAII]
Kauai
Mr. Doughty, a longtime Hawaii travel writer, didn't take the plan seriously at first. But he had reason to worry about its implications. As the author of "The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed," Mr. Doughty, 47 years old, was one of the first writers to widely publicize remote attractions such as a natural tide pool called Queen's Bath and a swimming hole called Kipu Falls on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.
Kauai officials say accidents used to be rare at the two attractions, remote places with rocky terrains. But since Mr. Doughty wrote about them in 1994, at least 10 people have drowned at Queen's Bath and Kipu Falls.
That has put Mr. Doughty and other authors in the cross hairs of politicians such as Hawaii state representative James Tokioka, who sponsored the liability bill in January. "I do believe we are endangering our visitors, and it is our responsibility to keep them safe," he says. "Authors or publishers of visitor-guide publications describing attractions have a duty to warn the public of dangerous conditions."

So okay, if you're going to write about dangerous places in Hawaii you'll need to add something like this:  "Caution:  Sheer stupidity can lead to death, maiming or heavy embarrassment.  Author is not responsible for your inability to engage brain while hanging from cliffs, swimming in deep water, or driving anything with more than one wheel."

All of which leads me to another fine example of failing to engage brain.  Did you happen to catch Gary Busey on "Celebrity Apprentice"?  Too bad.  The Donald has already fired him.  But Gary forgives and mostly forgets.  He's endorsing Mr. Trump for president.  (Yes, of the United States.)



Does it seem to you that every day is April Fool's Day?  I know.  Me too.

 But April is almost over and come next month it looks like we'll all be almost over.  Jesus is returning on May 21st and who knows?  It could be the end for most of us.

 

 So. . .



Oh, of course I'm kidding.  I love this earth and I do worry.   How can we look around at what we've got and not worry?  May 21st will come and go and we'll still be the stewards of our planet.

Remember this?  It was an ad campaign from more than 40 years ago.  We've come a long way. (And still a long way to go.)


______________________

Cartoon of the Week
(click on cartoon to enlarge it.)


Not just one but 46.  Cartoonists celebrate Earth Day and we get to participate:

Click here.


(Hey, is it still Friday?  Sorry this is so late.  Earth Day, you know.)
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Friday, April 15, 2011

FRIDAY FOLLIES: The Cheesiest and the Choicest

My pal Jan started this yesterday on Facebook with a "Hooray!  Hooray!  It's Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day".  I'm shocked that I didn't know about GCSD.  I love those things!  But when Jan crabbed about her favorite sammich getting the recognition it so richly deserves for only one day, I wondered what I could do to make her feel better.
Here it is!


Now there's a sandwich.  But the best part is that Grilled Cheese gets a whole month!  They even get a whole website!

Or two:  grilledshane has a site that brags "A Grilled Cheese no longer has to be white bread and American cheese". Okay, but we all agree a Grilled Cheese sandwich should be mostly cheese, right?.  Otherwise it's not a Grilled Cheese sandwich, it's a grilled stuff sandwich. (Try and remember that when you're busy re-inventing these things.)

 An outfit in L.A called The Grilled Cheese Truck (big yellow trucks serving up GCS) set aside an hour on April Fool's Day to give away grilled cheese sandwiches at Beverly Hills Porsche.  Fun!  But, ha ha, the joke's on us--this from the L.A Weekly:

It can be fun shvitzing in line while waiting for your meal, but it's also nice to have a table, chair, and maybe even some utensils to enjoy with your food. Mark Gold, chef-owner of Eva Restaurant, and Dave Danhi, co-owner of The Grilled Cheese Truck, are offering four- and five-course grilled cheese pairing menus ($35-$50) on Tuesday, April 5th. Depending on which option you choose, there will be a truffled mac and cheese melt, and Gold's butter poached lobster. Wine pairing is $20 extra.

Oh, man!  Those crazy kids!  But if that's not enough for you, there's this:




It just seems to go on and on. . .

But speaking of things cheesy and running on, I guess it's no secret that Donald Trump is thinking of becoming president.  He's looking into ways to do it without wasting time campaigning and/or waiting for votes, so in the event he figures it out and worms his way into the Oval Office, click here for a preview of the person we'll be hailing as chief.  (Sorry, embed disabled.)   

Shudder. . .I don't know why I put that in here.  Honestly.

Oh, wait. . . just had to add this to my homage to fromage:  Got this from Wonkette:  Sarah Palin will be pelted with cheese curds in Wisconsin on Saturday.  Cheeseheads attack!

***

Time for the sublime.  Eric Whitacre's amazing virtual choir performing "Sleep". (2000 voices strong from 58 countries:)


(I found this in an Op Ed News article by Rob Kall called A Bottom-Up-Virtual Choir.  He has links to other videos by and about Whitacre here. What an incredible accomplishment.) 

And finally, to further lift your spirits:  the power of words.



And the power of silence:



Cartoon of the Week:

Thanks to Mike Keefe, The Denver Post



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The People's Budget: Yes Virginia, there are Decent Democrats

The Republican budget will wreak havoc on hard-working Americans. They have proven, once again, their unwavering commitment to taking trillions of dollars from the pockets of the middle class and giving ever more generous windfalls to millionaires and large corporations. They want to throw seniors off Medicare. Their slash-and-burn tactics will throw hundreds of thousands of people out of work. They will eliminate health care for children and those with disabilities. They will fire teachers, firefighters and police — some of the truest heroes of our society.

We must be clear — we will not and cannot stand for this recklessness. We must fight for the American people.

(Memo to Ranking House Budget Committee member Chris Van Hollen, April 6, 2011.)

Raül M. Grijalva
Co-Chair Progressive Caucus


Keith Ellison
Co-Chair Progressive Caucus

Waifs and Strays
by Gustave Doré


It's a great day (but a damn sad commentary, considering how long it took) when two Democratic congressmen, Raul Grijalva and Keith Ellison, co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, finally make waves by belatedly getting around to doing what Democrats were supposed to be doing all along.  They're publicly talking truth about the House and Senate Republicans who keep using the old Debt Ceiling ploy to justify their unrelenting take-aways from vital domestic programs.  (No,they didn't mention the shameless "Democrats" who've been going along, pretending its all good.)

The Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a group made up of more than 80 Democratic House members and one Senator, Bernie Sanders (who started the CPC some 20 years ago when he was a House member), put together a proposal called The People's Budget, outlining it in the recent memo to Van Hollen:

The CPC budget:
• Eliminates the deficits and creates a surplus
• Puts America back to work with a “Make it in America” jobs program
• Protects the social safety net
• Ends the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq
• Is FAIR (Fixing America’s Inequality Responsibly)


To summarize what our budget accomplishes:
• Primary budget balance by 2014.
• Budget surplus by 2021.
• Reduce public debt as a share of GDP to 64.4% by 2021, down 16.9 percentage  points from a baseline fully adjusted for both the doc fix and the AMT patch.
• Reduce deficits by $5.7 trillion over 2012-21
• Both outlays and revenue equal 22.3% of GDP by 2021.


Breakdown of Policies
Individual income tax policies
1. Extend marriage relief, credits, and incentives for children, families, and education, but
let the upper-income tax cuts expire and let tax brackets revert to Clinton-era rates
2. Index the AMT for inflation for a decade (AMT patch paid for)
3. Rescind the upper-income tax cuts in the tax deal
4. Schakowsky millionaire tax rates proposal (adding 45%, 46%, and 47% top rates)
5. Progressive estate tax (Sanders estate tax, repeal of Kyl-Lincoln)
6. Tax capital gains and qualified dividends as ordinary income


Corporate tax reform
1. Tax U.S. corporate foreign income as it is earned
2. Eliminate corporate welfare for oil, gas, and coal companies
3. Enact a financial crisis responsibility fee
4. Financial speculation tax (derivatives, foreign exchange)


Health care
1. Enact a public option
2. Negotiate Rx payments with pharmaceutical companies
3. CMS program integrity and other Medicare and Medicaid savings in the president’s
budget.
4. Prevent a cut in Medicare physician payments for a decade (maintain doc fix)
Social Security
1. Raise the taxable maximum on the employee side to 90% of earnings and eliminate the
taxable maximum on the employer side
2. Increase benefits based on higher contributions on the employee side


Defense savings
1. End overseas contingency operations emergency supplementals starting in 2013,
providing $170 billion in FY2012 funding for withdrawal
2. Reduce baseline Defense spending by reducing strategic capabilities, conventional
forces, procurement, and R&D programs


Job Creation
1. Invest $1.45 trillion in job creation, early childhood, K-12 and special education, quality
child care, energy and broadband infrastructure, housing, and R&D
2. Infrastructure bank
3. Surface transportation reauthorization bill
4. Finance surface transportation reauthorization


On April 5 Grijalva and Ellison wrote an article in Politico once again spelling out clearly what the Republicans are trying to do with their new "budget", as defined by Tea Party lead man Paul Ryan.  It barely got a notice. 

Yesterday they tried again on Alternet, posting an article titled, Here's a Real Democratic Budget that Serves the Interests of the American People.  Barely a ripple.  (Okay, granted-- a title not designed to force you to drop everything and get to reading.  But still. . .)

 This is big.  The People's Budget is almost everything we've ever wanted and fought so hard for with little success.  Now at last there are folks in power who are willing to help us.  We need to get behind this and shove it to its rightful place at the head of the line.  It's getting some play in the liberal/progressive blogosphere but I don't see much in the MSM. (A shocking surprise.)

Contrast this budget to Paul Ryan's proposal,  (nicely broken down on Karoli's Blog), which starts things off with 1) repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and 2) continuing the corporate tax deduction, and then goes downhill from there. ( Kids will go hungry but the important thing is that the Death Tax is scheduled for a hasty demise.)

There are good Democrats out there and these people are proving it.  They understand what we're up against and they're trying against all odds to get the message out.  I think it's going to have to be up to the blogosphere to build the bridge in front of them.  Looks like nobody else is going to do it. 

Liberals and Progressives, Democrats and Independents, can we unite on this?.

(I'll get my tools. . .)

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Friday, April 8, 2011

FRIDAY FOLLIES: Maine again. Gospel Teens, Homeless Artists, and all that's Rich



Oh, man! Maine's rookie Tea Party governor, Paul LePage can't get a break.  He's still getting all kinds of flack for taking down those nonessential murals showing nothing but the damned hoi polloi, but on top of that, he got word that 63% of the  mural was paid for by a Federal grant and the Feds aren't looking kindly on his hotshot actions.  Seems  he broke an essential clause in the contract that clearly stated he was supposed to notify people and give them a good reason for pulling those murals from those walls, and then those essential people would have to agree.   So if the Feds demand their money back at current market value, which would be higher now with all the attention, it's the taxpayers who would have to foot the bill.

But once again, Big Business demands the action and the taxpayers get stuck.  Life just keeps imitating life. 
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I know this is Friday Follies and we're supposed to be having fun here, but if we can't squeeze a little  laugh out of this next one, we may never laugh again:
(Reuters) - Most U.S. and foreign corporations doing business in the United States avoid paying any federal income taxes, despite trillions of dollars worth of sales, a government study released on Tuesday said.
Where's the funny, you say?  I don't know. . .you know how some jokes just hit your funny bone and you can't explain why?  This was it for me.  I laughed till I cried.

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Did you hear about the guy who got glued to a toilet seat in WalMart?  Yes, somebody squirted glue onto a toilet seat in a men's bathroom and the guy didn't notice (more about that later) until he tried to get up.  The fire department came to the rescue and all was well except for a red face and an even redder arse.  But it seems this wasn't the first time a man's behind was glued to a toilet seat. It happened in the UK in 2008 and it happened at a Home Depot in 2005.

Notice something interesting about all three of those stories?  They all happened to men. That's because no woman would sit on a toilet seat without looking first.  We have boxes on the walls with disposable toilet seat covers, but if they're not there we lay TP on the seat.  Or we squat without touching.  We don't just drop and hope for the best.  Jeez!  Hard to feel sorry for those guys, isn't it?

But speaking of toilets, there's a toilet museum in Weisbaden, Germany where you can pee on Hitler.  Really.

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Another story that got a lot of play last week was the one about the guy in Ohio who barked at the police dog.  "He barked at me first", the guy told the police but all it got him was a breathalyser test.  This, too, is one of those shaggy dog stories that keeps popping up every now and then.  So this guy walks up to a police car window and the dog inside starts barking at him.  Understandable.  He's a trained police dog.  He barks at perceived danger.  So then the guy barks at the dog and claims harassment when he gets caught.  It's not pretty out there, folks.  I'm guessing this guy votes, too.

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But enough of that stuff.  On to the sublime:  I loved this story about a homeless shelter in a 1920s building on Atlanta's Peachtree Street becoming an art studio where artists down on their luck have a place to work. 

When Anita Beaty decided to start painting in the storefront window of a homeless shelter, people were soon looking in and asking to join."It seemed to me that there were lots and lots of creative people among folks who were experiencing homelessness," Beaty says.
And she would be familiar with their needs -- Beaty is the executive director of the Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless. She'd been looking for a way to combine her love of art with her passion for eliminating poverty.
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And I really loved this 60 Minutes segment on the Harlem Teen Gospel Singers.  If you haven't seen this before, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.   This story and the one above tell me we have not given up on joy.  It's out there, and when we find it, let's pass it on:



Cartoon of the week:

By way of "The Political Carnival"

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Monday, April 4, 2011

Adding some Business to those Maine Labor Murals

Once again I'm drawn to the story of the Maine Labor Murals.  They're safely hidden out of sight where no one will be corrupted by those images for a while, but that doesn't mean they won't be talked about. Judy Taylor, the artist who painted the murals is offering to hang her father's war medal on one of the empty walls:
  
She said it was heartbreaking to learn that LePage may have decided to remove the mural after getting an anonymous letter that said the mural was reminiscent of brainwashing tactics in communist North Korea.
Taylor's father served in the Korean War as a forward observer.  "He was a man who stood by every word he spoke," she said in her statement. "Perhaps we should hang my father's Bronze Star for his service in Korea in the now-empty reception area of the Maine Department of Labor until the mural is returned, as a symbol of the importance of remembering our history and not shuttering it away."

There's also talk that the Governor could be in lukewarm (in olden days it would have been hot) water over breaking the contract with the artist.  Is there no end to the pain Gov. Paul LePage will have to suffer over his actions?  One can only hope.

There have been any number of responses to the removal of the murals, but the one that brought me to write about it again is a video put together by video producer Geoffrey Leighton showing how the murals could regain some legitimacy by adding some corporate faces to the mix.  Brillliant!



Note:  I found this video via The Liberal Light Facebook page, which then led me to The Maddow Blog, and now I'm posting it here. Passing it on. Networking is how we're going to get things done.  I see a trend growing on our side, finally.  We're networking, we're blog-reciprocating, we're joining together to spread the overwhelming evidence of wrong-doing in every corner of this country. 

If we keep it going we can't fail.
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