Archive for July, 2011

FUN GUESSING GAME

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

What word am I thinking about right now?

The second meeting of the Anglican Communion Environmental Network (ACEN) will occur in Lima, Peru from Aug 4-10, 2011.

Hosted by Bishop Bill Godfrey of the Diocese of Peru, representatives from Australia, United Kingdom, USA, Fiji, Canada, Melanesia, Brazil, Madagascar, Tanzania and Mexico will report on environmental ministry in their respective jurisdictions. Together they will create an action plan which will become a template for provincial, diocesan and parish-based ministry. Such a plan will connect with environmental ministry at the United Nations and in relation to the forthcoming COP 17 meetings in Durban South Africa in December of 2011.

Hint: it rhymes with spideobonference.  Big ups to Jackie Bruchi.

THAT HAS TO HURT

Sunday, July 31st, 2011 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

I hope the Republicans don’t use the following information in any of their campaign ads next year.  Because that would be wrong:

There are fewer undocumented immigrants in California – and the Sacramento region – because many are now finding the American dream south of the border.

“It’s now easier to buy homes on credit, find a job and access higher education in Mexico,” Sacramento’s Mexican consul general, Carlos González Gutiérrez, said Wednesday. “We have become a middle-class country.”

Mexico’s unemployment rate is now 4.9 percent, compared with 9.4 percent joblessness in the United States.

KIDDIE PORN

Friday, July 29th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 49 Comments

In 2002, the Southern Baptist Convention held its national meeting here in St. Louis.  During that meeting, the Rev. Jerry Vines, a former president of the Convention, caused a firestorm of controversy:

Criticism of Islam’s founding prophet by a Southern Baptist leader has prompted Muslims to accuse the denomination of bigotry.

During a Monday evening conference at the annual Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, the Rev. Jerry Vines told conventioneers “that Islam is not just as good as Christianity.”

“Islam was founded by Muhammad, a demon-possessed pedophile who had 12 wives — and his last one was a 9-year-old girl,” said Vines, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Florida, and a former Southern Baptist Convention president.

The convention’s president has rejected calls to repudiate what a Muslim group called “bigoted” and “hate-filled” statements.

The local religious left, led by Missouri Episcopal Bishop George Wayne Smith, came down with a serious case of the vapors.

Missouri Episcopal bishop George Wayne Smith led an interfaith defense of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed during a news conference June 12, called in response to an attack on Muslims by leaders of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Standing before the altar in Christ Church Cathedral, Smith spoke on behalf of the Interfaith Partnership in condemning the statements and expressing solidarity with “our Muslim brothers and sisters.”  He then spoke as Bishop of Missouri, saying, “The statement violates our understanding of the Christian faith, which proclaims a God who calls us to love one another and to break down the barriers that separate us.’”

A guy I know personally added this.

The Rev. Dr. Warren Crews, the diocese’s ecumenical officer and president of the Interfaith Partnership, said he did not want the messengers (delegates) to the Baptist meeting to go away from St. Louis thinking that such bigotry was tolerated here.

But Mohammed had a nine-year-old…wife.  How on Earth can anyone who considers himself a Christian possibly defend marrying a nine-year-old girl?  Say this for George; the Bishop took a really inept run at it.

Questions from at least one of the reporters in the audience, representing a Baptist publication, prompted Smith and others to explain the historical and cultural context of Mohammed’s betrothal to a young girl. ‘To equate Mohammed’s marriage with pedophilia is horrific,’ said Smith, repeating earlier statements by Hayat that the marriage was not consummated until the girl was of age. He added that betrothals of children were common in Mohammed’s day as a way to unite families. He explained that such customs are not practiced by Muslims today.

Sucks to be you, George.

Muslim “child-marriage”—euphemism for pedophilia—is making headlines again, at least in Arabic media: Dr. Salih bin Fawzan, a prominent cleric and member of Saudi Arabia’s highest religious council, just issued a fatwa asserting that there is no minimum age for marriage, and that girls can be married “even if they are in the cradle.”

Appearing in Saudi papers on July 13, the fatwa complains that “Uninformed interference with Sharia rulings by the press and journalists is on the increase, posing dire consequences to society, including their interference with the question of marriage to small girls who have not reached maturity, and their demand that a minimum age be set for girls to marry.”

Fawzan insists that nowhere does Sharia set an age limit for marrying girls: like countless Muslim scholars before him, he relies on Koran 65:4, which discusses marriage to females who have not yet begun menstruating (i.e., are prepubescent)  and the fact that Muhammad, Islam’s role model, married Aisha when she was 6-years-old, “consummating” the marriage—or, in modern parlance, raping her—when she was 9.

The point of the Saudi fatwa, however, is not that girls as young as 9 can have sex, based on Muhammad’s example, but rather that there is no age limit whatsoever; the only question open to consideration is whether the girl is physically capable of handling her husband/rapist.

Are we talking about an entirely theoretical situation here or does this depraved crap actually happen?  Apparently.  Sometimes little girls even die.

Nor is this just some theoretic, theological point; the lives of many young girls are being destroyed because of this ruling.  Recall, for instance, the 13-year-old girl who died while her much older husband was copulating with her (it was later revealed that, due to her reluctance, he was tying her up and “raping” her—as if there is another way to describe sex with children); or the 12-year-old who died giving birth to a stillborn; or the 10-year-old who made headlines by hiding out from her 80-year-old “husband.”

Technically speaking, Jerry Vines was wrong.  Since pedophilia has a specific meaning (sexual attraction predominently or exclusively to young children), Mohammed would only have been a pedophile if he’d had a string of six- to  nine-year-old wives.

Let’s go with “child molester” then.

I’m not concerned about the fact that some self-nominated “prophet” back in the 600′s did a nine-year-old girl.  Those were barbaric times, people did barbaric things, Mohammed came from a barbaric place and was himself an illiterate barbarian.  It would astounding if he had limited himself to only one wife.

I am concerned that in the year of Our Lord 2011, in the land of that “prophet’s” birth, the peaceful “religion” invented by that “prophet” still officially sanctions cruelty of this kind.  Like all religions, Islam in theory is a wonderful faith.  But Islam in practice can and all too often does create individual hells on Earth for far too many people.

As some first-century Jew whose name escapes me once said about false prophets, “You will know them by their fruits.”

I’m also concerned about a trend which first popped up around 2002 and which continues to this day.  Namely, that of leftist Christians like George Wayne Smith and Warren Crews(an otherwise nice guy) tying themselves into rhetorical knots in order to refuse to criticize Islam for any reason.

Cultural context, George?  Given the fact that your “church” annually apologizes for American slavery, something that unfortunately was perfectly acceptable in its cultural context, do you really want to go there?

Is slavery evil?  Of course it is.  Should America ever permitted itself to tolerate the buying and selling of human beings?  Of course not; there isn’t an American with a conscience who wouldn’t go back in time and eradicate that national plague if he had the power to do so.

Similarly, is it or is it not wrong for a grown man to boink a nine-year-old girl?  I’d say that it is terribly wrong considering that if you’re convicted of it in this country, you’re looking at some serious time in the hole and a pretty decent chance of never walking out.  So why did you indignantly declare Vines’ charge to be “horrific?”

Why should Mohammed be given a pass?

And “bigotry,” Warren?  How do you figure?  Because Vines said that Mohammed was “demon-possessed?”  That’s the way some Southern Baptists talk.  And while some of us might not use those exact terms, we agree with Vines’ general assessment.  Stick “cultural context” where the sun don’t shine; the God we know would never sanction such a horrific and nightmarish ”marriage.”

Now or then.

YOU KNOW THE OLD SAYING

Thursday, July 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Thursday, July 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

Someone named Joanna Brooks demonstrates why some people REALLY should avoid commenting on subjects about which they apparently know absolutely nothing at all:

It’s been an article of faith of the Tea Party movement that conservative Republicans are the exclusive defenders of the Constitution.

But with the debt crisis escalating to its endgame, it is Democrats who are defending the Constitution now. Yesterday, several Democrats invoked section four of the Fourteenth Amendment–”The validity of the public debt of the United States shall not be questioned”–and urged President Obama to do the same to shut down whatever form of the Boehner bill finally makes it out of the House. (Others are pointing to Article I, which prohibits states from passing laws “impairing the Obligation of Contracts.”)

What we’re witnessing in the debt ceiling crisis reveals what the Tea Party has been all along:  not an embrace of the Constitution as a foundation for good government but its appropriation as a weapon in a nihilistic effort by ideologues to disable and dismantle government with the object of transferring generations’ worth of public wealth into private hands.

Don’t know where you’re getting that last part, kitten, but you know who else thinks invoking the 14th Amendment in this situation would be a horrible idea?

Today, the White House poured cold water on the idea of using the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling.

“It’s not available,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said in the administration’s firmest dismissal of the 14th Amendment as a way to avoid a U.S. default if Congress fails to lift the $14.3 trillion debt limit by an Aug. 2 deadline.

“The Constitution makes clear that Congress has the authority, not the president, to borrow money and only Congress can increase the statutory debt ceiling. That is just a reality.”

Can the President unilaterally declare debt ceilings to be unconstitutional?  Not so much.

The only argument put forward to support the latter is that the 14th Amendment makes the entire debt ceiling unconstitutional. But to come to this conclusion one would have to argue that putting a statutory limit on borrowing prevents the US from honoring its debts. But there are many ways the US could honor its debts other than borrowing. A few:

1. Raise taxes to make interest or principal payments;

2. Sell assets;

3. Print money (electronic, paper, or coin); or

4. Use non-borrowing financial tools (such as selling options) to raise cash against hard assets such as the stash of gold in Ft. Knox.

With these and other options available to the government, borrowing is only one option to honor the national debt and stay in compliance with the 14th amendment.

Additionally, the 14th Amendment specifically states the validity of the debt shall not be questioned. Literally, this means the debt cannot be renounced. Missing a payment is not equal to a renouncement.

Lawrence Tribe, who actually teaches this stuff at Harvard, and George Madison, general counsel for the Treasury Department, both believe that if the President were to do what Brooks and radical Democrats suggest, he’d practically beg the Republicans to initiate impeachment proceedings.

But Laurence Tribe, a constitutional scholar at Harvard University, argues that only Congress has the authority to regulate U.S. debt. He said any presidential attempt to continue borrowing without congressional approval would therefore violate the constitution, and the Treasury Department agrees.

“The Constitution explicitly places the borrowing authority with Congress, not the president,” George Madison, the Treasury’s general counsel, said in a statement. “Secretary Geithner has never argued that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution allows the President to disregard the statutory debt limit.”

Tribe, who was one of Obama’s professors in law school, said the president understands constitutional law “as well as anyone.”

“He would have no illusions about his constitutional authority in this context,” Tribe said. “He would understand that if he tried to take unilateral action that would not in itself solve the problem.”

Because a president unilaterally making US law up as he goes along isn’t going inspire anyone’s confidence.

Tribe said that if Obama chose to continue borrowing money without the Congress’ OK it would be “a fundamental departure from all of our historic traditions.”

“I think it is something that should be avoided at all costs,” Tribe said. “Once the president floats out into Constitutional outer space without the backing of Congress behind him, it’s anybody’s guess how much confidence creditors around the world would have that those debts would be repaid.”

Stick to religion, Brooksie.  Unless you enjoy making a public jackass of yourself.

KYRIE ELEISON

Thursday, July 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Christe eleison:

In disturbing testimony during court proceedings against a well-known Florida abortionist, a fellow abortionist reportedly admitted that some aborted children are delivered alive and left “wiggling around in the toilet,” where they are allowed to die.

Michele Herzog of Pro-Life Action Ministries, a witness in the courtroom, said that jurors listened as abortionist Randall Whitney, one of Pendergrast’s accomplices, “cavalierly stated that yes, babies are delivered in the toilet all the time and many times are still alive, wiggling around in the toilet.”

Kyrie eleison.

THE HORNDOG CHURCH

Thursday, July 28th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 16 Comments

Matt Kennedy directs the Editorial attention hither.  As far as the Rev. G. Thomas Luck, dean and rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Syracuse and canon theologian of the Diocese of Central New York is concerned, feel free to do your girlfriend/boyfriend on a regular basis.  And if you two kids want to get married, hey, that’s great too:

Marriage is a sacrament in which two people enter into a union with the intention that it be life-long, making their vows before God and the church, and receiving the grace and blessing of God to help them fulfill their vows. The union of two people in heart, body and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the raising of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of God. In marriage it is the two people making their promises and vows to each other who are performing the sacrament, brought together by God and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Sex is good, and in marriage it is great. I wish to call all people to use their God-given gift of sexuality for relationships that are mutually fulfilling, joyful, committed for life, faithful and sanctifying, recognizing that there are stages on the way to discerning marriage, and accept that for most people sex is part of that discerning. Yet, I urge all people, as much as possible, to save sexual relations for the person they will love most in life. And if you wish to get married, we would be happy to talk with you!

Intelligent people recognize that for the pick-up line that it is.  “No, no, baby, I’m not looking for a roll in the hay,” he tells you, “How could you think such a thing?  I’m trying to spiritually discern whether I should be married and who I should be married to.”

But don’t hang by the telephone since he’s not going to call you, like, ever.  Next weekend, he’s going be doing some more discerning with a woman he met in a bar the evening after he did you.  He’s going to discern a hot redhead the weekend after that and then he’s going to discern these blonde twins who really like to get after it.

Oh and thanks for yet another euphemism for sexual intercourse, Canon.  We can never have too many of those.

HEADLINES THAT MAKE YOU STOP READING

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Mentors and trainers help Episcopal Church musicians live into their vocations

PREDICTION

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

There will be an Angry Birds movie:

Hollywood has long been criticized for completely running out of ideas. One of the seemingly most obvious examples was the 2009 announcement of “Battleship,” the movie based off of the board game of the same name.

But here it is, 2011, and the first trailer for “Battleship” has officially arrived. And it looks… pretty freakin’ sweet, actually! It has good music (The Black Keys, DJ Shadow), solid cinematography, and a hell of a lot of explosions — exactly the kind you would hope to see from a movie called “Battleship.” Of course, trailers can often be deceptive. This one, however, has a few promising elements — something that’s essential to marketing a movie based on a game that involves pegs and little plastic boats.

Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “What on earth could a movie about Battleship be about?” The answer: Battleships. That and the quest of brave naval officers to save the planet from a mysterious armada of alien warcrafts, of course. The official Yahoo page, where the trailer debuted, describes the movie as “an epic action-adventure that unfolds across the seas, in the skies and over land as our planet fights for survival against a superior force.” So, basically, every action-adventure movie ever.

The trailer does look kind of cool.

HOPPED UP ON CASHEWS

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 22 Comments

Last year, some Food and Drug Administration airhead, who must have been smoking something really high-grade at the time, decided that walnuts were drugs:

Based on claims made on your firm’s website, we have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease.

Because of these intended uses, your walnut products are drugs within the meaning of section 201 (g)(1)(B) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(B)]. Your walnut products are also new drugs under section 201(p) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(p)] because they are not generally recognized as safe and effective for the above referenced conditions. Therefore, under section 505(a) of the Act [21 U.S.C. § 355(a)], they may not be legally marketed with the above claims in the United States without an approved new drug application. Additionally, your walnut products are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners; therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes. Thus, your walnut products are also misbranded under section 502(f)(1) of the Act, in that the labeling for these drugs fails to bear adequate directions for use [21 U.S.C. § 352(f)(1)].

AND NOW…IDIOTS

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 21 Comments

The New York Times is an interesting newspaper.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read one of its regular columnists and wondered who the writer had to sleep with to get that slot[coughMAUREENDOWDcough].

Case in point: many people in this country regularly speculate about what effect a third party would have on American politics.  But Tom Friedman knows that such a party already exists and he knows what it’s effect is going to be.  IT’S GOING TO DESTROY THE UNITED STATES AS WE KNOW IT!!  AAAAAAUUUUGGGHH!!

After all, “we don’t just need a plan for regaining American solvency. We need a plan for maintaining American greatness and sustaining the American dream for another generation,” argues Michael Mandelbaum, the Johns Hopkins University foreign policy expert (and co-author with me of a forthcoming book). “Such a plan requires cutting, taxing and spending. It requires cutting because we have made promises to ourselves on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid that we cannot keep without reforming each of them.”

But we cannot possibly generate the savings — or the new investments we need in our formula for success — by just taking funds from these social programs and shredding the social safety nets, adds Mandelbaum. “That would trigger a backlash against free-market capitalism. And free-market capitalism is the engine of our growth, and growth is the best way to reduce the deficit.”

That is why we need to raise new tax revenues as well — so we can simultaneously shrink the entitlements programs, but still keep them viable, and generate the funds needed to strengthen all five parts of our growth formula. Anyone who says that either entitlement reform or tax increases are off the table does not have a plan for sustaining American greatness and passing on the American dream to the next generation.

Alas, that is the Tea Party. It is so lacking in any aspiration for American greatness, so dominated by the narrowest visions for our country and so ignorant of the fact that it was not tax cuts that made America great but our unique public-private partnerships across the generations. If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission. No American politician was more allergic to debt or taxes than Thomas Jefferson, but he also appreciated the need to have the resources to make the Louisiana Purchase and insisted that on his tombstone it be written that he founded the University of Virginia.

“Hezbollah faction,” Tommy?  Really?  I guess that’s because of all those people Tea Partiers have deliberately murdered.  Given your current enthusiasm for China, I’d call you a leader of the America’s most prominent Maoist writer but you’d probably act all insulted and call me an extremist or something.

Let me see if I can explain this to you, Friedo.  You’re independently wealthy and you’re a guy who prefers the best.  You own a Rolls Royce and lease a Lexus so your trophy wife can get around.  The only beef you put in your mouth is Wagyu and the only (European)wine you drink is at least fifteen to twenty years old.

You own five homes from one end of this country to the other.  When you take one of your three or four annual vacations, most, if not all to Europe, Asia, South America or some other exotic locale, your flight is always first class and your hotel is always five-star.  To paraphrase Al Yankovic, Friedo, yours is the life.

But along comes the Obamaconomy and it all comes crashing down.  You wake up one morning and find out that you’re basically broke and heavily in debt so you schedule an urgent meeting with your financial advisor.

Know what he/she’s going to tell you, Friedo?  You’re going to have to lose the Nexus lease, trade the Rolls in for a couple of low-end Nissans and sell four of your five homes for whatever you can get for them.

Taking a vacation?  For the time being, it’s going to be one a year(if you have enough ready cash), it’s going to be in the United States and you’re going to stay in whatever hotel you can afford.  Like a nice glass of wine?  It’s going to be American for the forseeable future.  Enjoy a nice beef dinner now and then?  Get used to buying sirloin or chuck from the supermarket.

Want money coming in on a regular basis?  Get a job.

Bottom line?  Your financial advisor is not going to waste his/her time trying to figure out a way for you to keep living the way you’ve been living.  Your financial adviser is going to tell you that you have no alternative but to start living within your means.

For decades now, I’ve heard and read warning after warning after warning that Social Security and Medicare were fiscally unsustainable.  That there would eventually be many more users of each than there would be taxes(and taxpayers) to fund them.  We appear to be close to if not already at that point, Friedo.

Baby Boomers have already started retiring.  And more and more of us are going to follow them(if we can; big if) and make use of Medicare services if we can’t.  So preserving this social safety net of yours as it is currently constituted means higher and higher taxes on everyone who is still working.

Tea Partiers understand all this, Tommy.  We know it is pointless to talk about new programs or strategies to realize anyone’s “aspiration for American greatness” when there is basically no money left to pay for them(we also know that that confiscating all the money the “rich” have would make a dent in the deficit.  For one year) and a smaller and smaller group of people to extract money from.

Do you know the quickest way to kill the social safety net, Tommy?  Keep on deciding, for the sake of “American greatness,” that you can raise revenue whenever the mood strikes you.  Put more and more of a tax burden on fewer and fewer people and eventually a great many of them are going to decide that taking care of Grandma is no longer worth the trouble.

Want to have some kind of national conversation about the way forward for this country?  Excellent idea as long as you understand something.  Generations of US fiscal irresponsibility mean that much of what you think the US must do to remain “great” is going to have to remain a pipe dream.  The money’s just not there anymore, Tommy.

And then there’s the whole idea that it isn’t programs and strategies that can or will make America great.  America isn’t great because of what we do or because of the stuff we make.  America is great because of who we are.  But I’ll save that one for another day.

COLD, DEAD HANDS

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Barack Obama.  A uniter, not a divider:

Twelve Democratic senators have joined 45 Republicans in a fast growing movement to halt progress on an Obama-backed United Nations effort that could bring international gun control into the United States and slap America’s gun owners with severe restrictions.

Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester’s office today provided Whispers with their letter, signed by 11 other Democrats, urging the president to press for significant changes in the treaty. Their major concern: that domestic manufacture, possession, and sales of firearms and ammo will be included, thereby giving an international authority the right to regulate arms sales already protected by the Second Amendment. They also said any move for an international gun registry would be a non-starter.

In his letter, Moran wrote, “Our country’s sovereignty and the Second Amendment rights of American citizens must not be infringed upon by the United Nations,” Moran wrote in the letter. “Today, the Senate sends a powerful message to the Obama Administration: an Arms Trade Treaty that does not protect ownership of civilian firearms will fail in the Senate. Our firearm freedoms are not negotiable.”

IMAGINARY FRIENDS

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney arrogantly tries to explain that a proposal that isn’t actually written down anywhere is a real proposal, cross Jay’s heart and hope to die:

It’s like the White House press corps is a cat and Jay’s a ball hanging from a string.

PANTS ON FIRE

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 12 Comments

Did you catch the President Obama’s televised speech on the debt ceiling debate last night?  I was at work so I missed it.  If you missed it as well or if you’d like to read his words and ponder them at your leisure, a transcript’s here.  Among other things, the President drove home just how serious a matter a default would be for the country:

Now, what makes today’s stalemate so dangerous is that it has been tied to something known as the debt ceiling -– a term that most people outside of Washington have probably never heard of before. 

Understand –- raising the debt ceiling does not allow Congress to spend more money.  It simply gives our country the ability to pay the bills that Congress has already racked up.  In the past, raising the debt ceiling was routine.  Since the 1950s, Congress has always passed it, and every President has signed it.  President Reagan did it 18 times.  George W. Bush did it seven times.  And we have to do it by next Tuesday, August 2nd, or else we won’t be able to pay all of our bills.  

Unfortunately, for the past several weeks, Republican House members have essentially said that the only way they’ll vote to prevent America’s first-ever default is if the rest of us agree to their deep, spending cuts-only approach.   

If that happens, and we default, we would not have enough money to pay all of our bills -– bills that include monthly Social Security checks, veterans’ benefits, and the government contracts we’ve signed with thousands of businesses. 

For the first time in history, our country’s AAA credit rating would be downgraded, leaving investors around the world to wonder whether the United States is still a good bet.  Interest rates would skyrocket on credit cards, on mortgages and on car loans, which amounts to a huge tax hike on the American people.  We would risk sparking a deep economic crisis -– this one caused almost entirely by Washington.

So defaulting on our obligations is a reckless and irresponsible outcome to this debate.  And Republican leaders say that they agree we must avoid default.  But the new approach that Speaker Boehner unveiled today, which would temporarily extend the debt ceiling in exchange for spending cuts, would force us to once again face the threat of default just six months from now.  In other words, it doesn’t solve the problem.  

First of all, a six-month extension of the debt ceiling might not be enough to avoid a credit downgrade and the higher interest rates that all Americans would have to pay as a result.  We know what we have to do to reduce our deficits; there’s no point in putting the economy at risk by kicking the can further down the road.    

But there’s an even greater danger to this approach.  Based on what we’ve seen these past few weeks, we know what to expect six months from now.  The House of Representatives will once again refuse to prevent default unless the rest of us accept their cuts-only approach.  Again, they will refuse to ask the wealthiest Americans to give up their tax cuts or deductions.  Again, they will demand harsh cuts to programs like Medicare.  And once again, the economy will be held captive unless they get their way. 

This is no way to run the greatest country on Earth.  It’s a dangerous game that we’ve never played before, and we can’t afford to play it now.  Not when the jobs and livelihoods of so many families are at stake.  We can’t allow the American people to become collateral damage to Washington’s political warfare. 

Strong words.  Words that Mr. Obama himself doesn’t seem to believe.

While officials from the Obama Administration raised their rhetoric over the weekend about the possibility of a debt default if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, they privately have been telling top executives at major U.S. banks that such an event won’t happen, FOX Business has learned.

In a series of phone calls, administration officials have told bankers that the administration will not allow a default to happen even if the debt cap isn’t raised by the August 2 date Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says the government will run out of money to pay all its bills, including obligations to bond holders. Geithner made the rounds on the Sunday talk shows saying a default is imminent if the debt ceiling isn’t raised, and President Obama issued a similar warning during a Friday press conference after budget negotiations with House Republicans broke down.

Major ratings firms — namely Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s — have said even if the country raises the debt ceiling and doesn’t default, there’s a strong likelihood that the triple-A bond rating will be cut to double-A unless a budget can be crafted that results in $4 trillion in savings, the result of the massive debt load the country has accumulated in recent years. The nation’s outstanding debt is more than $14 trillion.

A senior banking official told FOX Business that administration officials have provided guidance to them that even though a default is off the table, a downgrade “is a real possibility for no other reason than S&P and Moody’s have to cover (themselves) since they’ve been speaking out on the debt cap so much.” 

I’m fifty-five years old.  I’ve personally lived through only one presidency that I’d call genuinely bad, that of Jimmy Carter.  And I’ve read about other presidents in our history whose terms have been disasters, men like Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan.

Fact is, this country produces far more mediocre or bad presidents than great ones.  But in one regard, Barack Obama is unique in this country’s history.  He is the first US president I would literally describe as dangerous.  Because no one, least of all a United States president, should be able to lie through his teeth this easily.

NOT A JOKE

Monday, July 25th, 2011 | Uncategorized | 34 Comments

The American Prospect’s Adam Serwer complains that the new movie Captain America is historically inaccurate:

In the vein of what Ta-Nehisi Coates referred to as a “convenient suspension of disbelief” in X-Men First Class, Captain America: First Avenger dutifully ignores the civil-rights struggles of the 1940s. Well, not exactly — where X-Men simply didn’t mention the civil-rights struggles of the 1960s, Captain America: First Avenger pretends segregation didn’t exist in the 1940s.

Captain America is a movie about a superhero which there have never been any of.

In the comic books, Gabe Jones, one of Marvel’s “Howling Commandos,” is the first black soldier to serve in Nick Fury’s integrated unit. This rewires American history a bit seeing as though integration didn’t begin to take place until President Harry Truman’s 1948 executive order, but at least it acknowledges that it is rewriting history. At the time, the Howling Commandos were a clever metaphor for the way the war accelerated the cause of integration — both for the white ethnics who benefited most directly and for the black service members who inspired American leaders to push for full equality. 

That’s what ruined The Ten Commandments for me.  All the actors spoke English, a language that didn’t develop until thousands of years after the events of the movie.

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