Wednesday, February 18, 2009

* “Unsafe sex” ~ getting screwed by conservatives – The heavy petting began with Ronald Regan’s Reaganomics – cut taxes for the wealthy, build up deficits but hide some of the deficits by stealing from Social Security (SS) surpluses. I call it stealing because it was dressed in the alluring lingerie of borrowing that was never paid back – about $200 billion per year. “Each time the government dipped into the Social Security trust fund this way, it issued a legal obligation to pay back the money with interest whenever Social Security needed it to pay benefits… That moment of reckoning is approaching. Uncle Sam owes these trillions to Social Security retirees and has to pay it back or look like just another deadbeat. That risk is the only "crisis" facing Social Security.” The Congressional Budget Office says SS is not broke. It can sustain its obligations for another forty years if nothing changes. Conservatives call SS an “entitlement program.” I suggest that each reader look at their SS statements to see what they have actually paid in to this program. Taking into consideration how much this money would have earned if kept in a private account, it is not likely we each will be paid out what we paid in.

I bring this to readers’ attention because there is a backroom move afoot. Being characterized as fiscal reform some conservative think tanks and influential wealthy interests are pushing for what amounts to the misappropriation of trillions of SS dollars. I urge anyone who will be eligible to receive SS to read this article in The Nation by William Greider, author of the book Come Home, America. We all should be alert to any suggestion to reduce SS benefits and the deceit and lies that accompany such suggestions. It is a Ponzi scheme that dwarfs Bernie “The Goniff” Madoff and directly affects all of us.

* The Fairness Doctrine – This was a federal regulation abandoned in 1987 that required broadcasters to present opposing views on public issues. “More and more Democrats in Congress are calling for action (to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine) that Republicans warn could muzzle right-wing talk radio.” I have mixed feelings about renewing such a law. As much as I abhor the hate, divisiveness and prejudice of Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage and like savages the principle of freedom of speech calls for free speech. I do not think open-mindedness can be legislated. Those who achieve tumescence from hateful talk radio have the same rights as people who want to watch porn or listen to the progressive views of Rachel Maddow. Porn and liberal broadcasters may be less harmful to one’s well being but in a free society it is not our place to restrict viewpoints. And although the majority of radio stations are owned by conservative interests the internet is providing balancing points of view that were not available when the regulation was in effect. There are many situations where government involvement is necessary. I do not think that this is one of them.

* The Unfairness Doctrine – I will leave it to others to determine how disingenuous ideologues reach the pinnacle of mainstream media voices. They are given positions in major newspapers or seats on major television news broadcasts. Much of America relies on their punditocracy in spite of their being either ill-informed or intentionally misleading or in some cases both. Case in point is long-time Washington Post columnist George Will. In his Op-Ed column on February 15, 2009 Will attempted to demonstrate that concern about global warming is misplaced. Supporting his argument Will made the following reference; “According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center (ACRC), global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.”

Hours after the column appeared ACRC posted the following response on its website: “We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California, and Oklahoma combined… It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.”

Thanks to TPMMuckraker for bringing this to our attention and for providing greater detail about errors in Will’s column. I would suggest that the greatest value of this Washington Post piece is that it can be used to wrap mercury-laden fish that probably smell better than Will’s “journalistic” effort.

* Generational Theft – This is the new Republican buzz slogan prognosticating the effect of the stimulus bill. It speculates that the enormity of the U.S. deficit will burden future generations with untold consequences. We did not hear this swan song when Reagan started the deficit ball rolling. In 2001 Dick Cheney said, "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." And from 2002 to 2007 few if any of these same Republicans decried the deficit spending they voted for, doubling the deficit from $5 to $10 trillion. Now that they are in the minority, deficits matter. Like many citizens I share concern about deficit effects on subsequent generations so I found an article by economist Ann Pettifor at the Huffington Post of particular interest. At some length Ms. Pettifor describes that this stimulus bill will pay for itself and “not cripple us long-term… when the government invests the bulk of $789 billion in real, productive economic activity - it always gets its money back - plus some.” Since mainstream and cable media are not providing a balanced look at the effects of the stimulus package a read of this article may prove enlightening.

* Get serious Sirius - One of the least talented “entertainers” on the planet is foul-mouth and teenage-horny Howard Stern. He certainly is not to be blamed that Sirius satellite radio offered him a 5-year $500 million contract. Nor is he to be blamed that Sirius is about to file for bankruptcy. Who would not take the windfall? At the same time it is not surprising that financial problems beset a business model that included paying a half a billion dollars for a questionable asset. It reminds one of the many “leading” banks and financial institutions in America and around the world desperately seeking bail (hand) outs from governments.

* Pomp and a great deal of Circumstance – Wes Yoder’s company Ambassador Agency is a publicist for the fundamentalist preacher, author and anti-gay activist Reverend Rick Warren. Just added to the covey of Yoder’s clients is Nadya Suleman. She is the single mother of six that showed America how a stimulus package works when her fertility doctor powered her up to give birth to octuplets. Said doctor can probably use a publicist as his proficiency sans ethics is stimulating the call for regulations and oversight of gynecologic breeding farmers.

* What’s It All about Alfie? – It seemed strange enough when the 13-year old British boy Alfie Patten made the news for fathering a child with his 15-year old friend Chantelle Steadman. British observers described the schoolboy as another symbol of “broken Britain.” Alfie will have to be a part-time dad since he cannot move into the Steadman household until he is 16. In the mean time he has helped change the baby’s diapers before immersing himself in video games.

The saga gets stranger as two other teenagers, one 14 and one 16, claim they may have fathered the child. Generally, when a girl gets pregnant, potential inseminators experience paternus interruptus. Those Brits know how to maintain a stiff upper lip, among other appendages. Alfie’s dad Dennis, no stranger to fathering children, has advised that his son submit to a DNA test. Dennis is the father of eight but two years ago split with Alfie’s mom when he was caught having an affair with a 19-year old. There was no mention in related articles whether the Patten family is philosophically opposed to rubbers, incapable of comprehending the concept(ion) of sex education, or are forming a new cult that will eventually seek to revise inbreeding made infamous by British aristocracy in days of yore. I expect Alfie and Chantelle will headline a new reality show, “The Young and Defiant… and Stupid.” In the first episode the young couple will get home from school and share milk and cookies with their infant and then take turns burping each other. Alfie may have been quoted as saying that when he grows up he wants to be a freshman.

* "My husband and I have decided to start a family while my parents are still young enough to look after them."
Rita Rudner (born 1953) American comedienne, writer and actress


Ruth Z Deming said...

Loved the sexual metaphors running thru tonite's column, you lothario you!

Thanks for the reassurance that Social Security should be around another 40 years IF it's not dipped into again. "Another great program of FDR," says Scott. "Otherwise, you work your whole life and you wind up eating dogfood when you retire."

I think Obama & Co. are doing a great job steering the nation back on course despite the calcified brains of the has-been Republicans. "Best interests of the country," they say. Which country is that? The country club?

Anonymous said...

Rubbers? You're showing your age. Love it!

Sue Katz said...

Oops. I take full responsibility for the comment that ran away screaming Anonymous before I could identify myself.