Friday, December 31, 2010

Oh, One More Thing, 2010 Year End Thingee

Why our nation is screwed, Evidence #4,718.  The media does not have any accountability for their partisan bullshit.  From Conor Friedersdorf, covering for Sully:

There's a guy named Juan Carlos Vera. He worked at an ACORN office in San Diego, California. One day, James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles walked in with a hidden video camera, and pretended to be a pimp and prostitute. They asked for help smuggling underage girls across the Mexican border so that they could work in a brothel. Confronted with what appeared to be a sex trafficking plot, you'd hope that someone would play along, get as much information as possible, and call the police. And guess what? That's exactly what Mr. Vera did! Unbeknownst to O'Keefe or Giles, he called his cousin, a police officer, shortly after they left his office.
Perhaps you know what happened next. Having cut his teeth editing The Drudge Report and its notoriously misleading headlines, Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart published the ACORN videos, which fooled me at the time – I praised them, and even encouraged Breitbart to pressure attorneys general into investigating the organization. I've never felt like such a fool. Some of the ACORN tapes reflect very badly on that organization, but taken as a whole, they are misleading in a lot of ways...
After publishing videos of Vera that made him look like a sex trafficker and costing the man his job, did Breitbart explain how the mistake happened, apologize and correct the record? Did he alert his readers to the truth? Having expressed outrage at the media on countless occasions for trafficking in serious accusations that weren't grounded in facts, did he behave better after realizing that he'd done exactly the same thing?
Nope. As far as I know, neither an apology nor a correction has ever appeared. The vast majority of his readership remains misinformed. The San Diego videos remain posted at Big Government, misleading as ever. I've attempted to get Breitbart and O'Keefe to address this. No luck...

Brietbart Delendus Est.

So What Will 2011 Hold In Store For Us?

If 2010 was any indication, the coming year is going to be batshit crazy.

The Republicans' priorities at the federal level - now that they control the House of Representatives, and have demonstrated how they can bully their way about the Senate - are going to be 1) Screw Obama, 2) Demonize Obama, 3) Pillory Obama, 4) Cut Taxes for the Rich, 5) Shovel More Federal Money to the Rich, 6) Impeach Obama, 7) Take As Many Vacation Breaks As Possible While Railing Against the Lazy Poor and Unemployed, 8) Prepare for 2012 Elections, Because Elections are More Important Than Actual Governance.

The Republicans' priorities at the state level - considering they have a majority of state legislatures and governorships to play with, especially here in my home state of Florida - are going to be worse.

Already here in Florida, incoming Governor Rick "MEDICARE FRAUD, YOU IDIOT VOTERS HE COMMITTED MEDICARE FRAUD" Scott has already spoken openly about eliminating corporate taxes altogether, privatizing our entire school system, cutting state jobs which would affect social services at a time of massive unemployment and poverty, arguing against ANY regulations that would, you know, PROTECT PEOPLE FROM INJURY OR CRIMINAL ACTS, and not really offering any kind of works programs or incentives to businesses to grow and add jobs.

"I'm going to run this state like a business," Scott promises.  Considering he ran his businesses into law-breaking acts that led to massive fines, THIS IS NOT A GOOD SIGN.

What's worse?  I worry for the state of Texas.  There, the state legislature has 2/3rds Republican majority in the state legislature, meaning they could pass anything requiring supermajority vote... like amend the entire state constitution to whatever wingnut obsession tickles their fancy.  Meaning you Texans are going to say goodbye to whatever abortion rights you have, to whatever rights to privacy you have in your bedrooms and sexual lives, to whatever freedom of religion you thought you had, to any sane fiscal policy, and say hello to a secession amendment contingent on whether or not Obama gets impeached before 2012.

So, yeah, here comes 2011.

My predictions for the coming year?

Obama gets impeached right out the gate.  Instead of wasting time investigating Obama for his Hawaiian birth certificate, the House will admit into evidence whatever crazy shit Orly Taitz has and use that as grounds for impeachment.  It won't go anywhere in the Senate, as there are enough Republican Senators there with enough sanity to know how insane the House's move will be, but the real purpose - get Obama embarrassed early and often before the State of the Union speech - will be served.

Speaking of the State of the Union, it's already established that Justice Alito would like to excuse himself from appearing.  The question will be who among the Republican Far Right will excuse themselves along with him?  A half-empty audience will look bad on the television screens, no matter how petulant and childish the Republicans will be pulling this stunt.  That's because no one will hold them accountable for their childish stunts.  Hell, pulling these stunts was why they won in 2010, right?

Obama will then get impeached for the Health Care Reform bill, as it was an act of treason instituting such an obvious communist plot against America.  Never mind the final bill nearly matched the Republicans' proposals from 1994.

The state of Florida will pass legislation firing every state employee and then contracting out to private corporations to cover all services.  Never mind the fact that privatizing all state services - including law enforcement - is actually going to ADD another layer of bureaucracy and will most likely make things MORE expensive.  But hey, privatizing everything (except corporate welfare) is supposed to be a good thing, right?

Oh, and in Texas, half the population is going to flee for Oklahoma and New Mexico before April because their state lege is going to destroy every sane provision and law in their desire to create a Christianist Old Testament nation/state.


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Only Good News In a Bleak Winter

At least Congress was able to get this mess cleaned up before the Republicans got back in charge of things:

This morning, a bipartisan group of 57 Democrats and six Republicans broke a GOP filibuster, allowing the Senate to vote up or down on a standalone bill to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." This afternoon, the Senate finished the deal -- the legislation passed 65 to 31.
The legislation is identical to the one that passed the House a few days ago, so its next stop is the White House, where President Obama will gladly sign it into law, officially removing DADT from the books and relegating the discriminatory policy to the trash heap of history.

For those who don't know, Don't Ask Don't Tell was a compromise plan put into play back in the 1990s to allow gays and lesbians to serve in the military.  As long as the gays and lesbians didn't publicly state their orientation, nobody was (supposed to) ask what that orientation was.

Problem was, the opponents to having gays in the military (social conservatives reading a very narrow and inflexible interpretation of the Bible) quickly figured out loopholes to that: for example, having a third party report someone suspected of gay/lesbian leanings.  And then using either the soldier's silence on the matter to remove them for insubordinate behavior, or force the soldier to admit their orientation and get drummed out for Telling.  What was meant to protect gays had instead been used to push even more of them out of service than before.

It took time - younger and more tolerant generations getting into the military, growing public awareness that a majority of straight soldiers had no problem serving with gays, the problem of pushing out highly qualified officers at a time of war and manpower shortages - but today, after years of conservative obstruction and flat-out fear-mongering (that homosexuality in the armed forces would lead to body art, adultery, bestiality, and waaaaaay too much make-up girlfriend), the Senate voted on the repeal of DADT.  Basically, gays and lesbians should be able to serve in the military same as straight people.

The Religious Right are going to have a conniption over this.  "Oh noes" they will scream "God will PUNISH us for not adhering to Leviticus!  Our military's gonna be filled with flamers and anal rapists and cow lovers!  Our nation is DOOMED (unless you buy my book about it, for only 29.99 directly from my website!)"

Problem for those "righteous" screamers is this: the ones yelling about it the most are the most hypocritical of all with their own sins (draft dodging, adultery, war-mongering).  So screw them.

The average soldier is not gonna have a problem serving with gays.  If there's a hassle, you take it to the MPs.  The military can maintain discipline in the face of ANYTHING, dammit (The US Armed Forces are quite possibly the most organized, prepared and adaptive military force since the Romans or the Mongols), and we ought to be able to trust all of them on that.

I have no problems with gays in the military.  If an American wants to serve in the armed forces, as long as they are fit and capable, as long as they accept the challenges before them, I don't care of their ethnicity, their religion, their gender, their statehood, their sexual orientation, their foot size, their hat size, their favorite color.  I never served, but that's me, and I'm not about to begrudge those who did with honor, and love of home and family.

This is a good day to be an American.  One more bigotry defeated.  One more right confirmed for those who want to serve this nation.

Tomorrow is gonna feel like a sunny day.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Two Year Anniversary of Unemployment

Dec. 18, 2008... I lost my full-time job.

It's been two years since then.

During that time I've looked for work.  Both full-time and part-time.

The full-time job interviews have been few and far between.  Just one in 2009.  Just one this year 2010.

The part-time jobs had been more frequent... Two part-time job interviews in 2009 and three in 2010.

Out of... lessee.  At least one hundred applications sent in for work through... lessee... twelve different job agencies, four technical corporations, nine colleges and universities, tons of government offices, and seven different job fairs.

I did have part-time employment.  One was for an inventory counter position that wasn't getting a lot of business during a recession.  Even when I made myself more available for hours, they weren't calling me in for a lot of work.  The other job was with the U.S. Census, counting houses and the people who weren't living in them anymore.  That lasted a bit more than a month.  Nothing since.

Not much out there for a librarian.

Not much out there for someone with computer training, computer troubleshooting, and computer repair skills.

The story is that there's currently five applicants per position in this high-unemployment era.  Under normal circumstances it's supposed to be three per position.  The truth?  I'm hearing stories about 150 to 300 applicants per position.  'Cause it's not just the unemployed competing for work, it's also the employed people too, ones who are looking for better job security in an uncertain market.

But, say the naysayers, there are jobs to be had after all!  True.  But when you're one out of one-hundred, the odds are AGAINST you being even on a list of five to get through the door for interviews.

But, say the naysayers, you can ALWAYS find work at a retail or fast food business!  Not really.  I've put in for retail jobs and they never call me back.  And the pay these jobs give out WILL NOT COVER MY MORTGAGE, MY HEALTH CARE NEEDS, or anything else a full-time job would.  I *am* putting in for the part-time jobs anyway, just to have something, but still...  No calls.  Nothing.

But, say the naysayers, you're being too picky about what jobs to put in for!  You're just being too lazy about your job hunting!  Put in for every job and you're bound to get one!  Like a librarian will have qualifications to work in sales?  And like I mentioned earlier, I've put in for jobs where I'm qualified, and I even follow up on them to show my interest for them... and I still never hear a word back!

I'm at that point my depression is getting the better of me.  Convinced that it's not the overwhelmed job market, that it's me.  That for all my intellect, skills, work experience, all that... it's ME that people just don't want to hire.

I'm too young to retire, even if I could.  I'm too poor to have any investments or capital to afford starting my own business.

And this is, for what I know, the last week I have any unemployment benefits at all.  Even all the new benefits extensions that Obama just wrangled out of an obstructionist GOP isn't going to help me.  It's going to help the millions after me who have yet to use up their 99 weeks of unemployment.  All the ones I'm competing with for a handful of jobs.

Meanwhile, Congress is about to get taken over by a Republican Party whose idea of jobs creation is to cut social benefits, test the unemployed for drug abuse, and cut more corporate taxes that DON'T CREATE JOB GROWTH.  The state of Florida is about to get taken over by a MEDICARE FRAUD openly pledging to slash jobs, with a GOP-held state legislature obsessed with cutting state-level taxes to zero while wasting millions on pork-barrel projects.

I am totally serious about running for office.  Getting elected may be the only chance I have to ever seeing paid employment ever again.  "Vote for Wartenberg.  I Need The Work."

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Damage Done: December 2010 Florida Update

That Rick "MEDICARE FRAUD" Scott and the GOP-majority state lege would go after our state's educational system (all to destroy the teachers' unions, never mind the damage done to our kids) was pretty much a given.

It's how they're going to go about doing it that ought to make state residents regret their votes.

Not ONLY will Scott and the Pork Barrel GOP go after massive property and corporate tax cuts that will hinder school systems' ability to PAY FOR ANYTHING (just remember, parents, this was the year the schools started asking you to provide all supplies for your kids, including toilet paper!), they will pursue the most radical attempt ever on pushing their wingnut obsession with school vouchers.  They will make vouchers universal (from the St. Pete Times' opinion section):

It is clearer than ever that Republicans intend to mount a frontal assault next year on Florida's public schools. Legislators show no interest in building consensus on efforts to abolish teacher tenure and create a merit pay system. Gov.-elect Rick Scott also pledges to slash school property taxes even as declining property values and tax revenues have forced deep spending cuts in education. But those misguided approaches are small potatoes compared with their pursuit of a radical plan to give all students tuition vouchers

The whole thing about vouchers is that it's a feel-good proposal by conservatives: a means of introducing "choice" into a public educational system they despise.  Vouchers are meant to give parents money to afford sending their kids to different schools outside of walking distance that can provide better opportunities (say, if your kid is gifted in fine arts but the best art school is on the other side of the county).  But vouchers are an illusion of choice: schools are still limited by how many students they can enroll, and there's no guarantee your kids will get into the school they need or you prefer because - guess what - everyone else is trying to enroll there too.  The push for Vouchers is also a con game: the proponents want them available for private (read: Christian) schools as well, meaning they want tax-funded moneys to pay for something that violates the rules of Separation of Church And State.

To refer back to the Times' article:

It is unclear how much universal vouchers would cost the state and how they would be financed. Taking a portion of the per student funding for public schools and allowing families to spend that amount as they wish would not leave enough money for public education. And presumably, the hundreds of thousands of students already in private schools would receive public money as well.The state already faces a budget deficit of more than $2.5 billion. On top of that, Scott wants to cut school property taxes 19 percent and eliminate the corporate tax. That would be the same corporate tax that companies can avoid paying now by earmarking the money for vouchers. How does this possibly add up?

Again, take a good look at the con game.  The REAL OBJECTIVE here by Scott and the Pork Barrel GOP is to cut corporate taxes ALTOGETHER.  Never mind that 19 percent cut to your property tax, citizen: home owners will still be stuck paying a bill with whatever is left of your millage rate, while corporates get to pay NOTHING toward our state and our families.  And again, no guarantee that all that money saved to the corporations will go back into their workers, their businesses, or anywhere else that would help our depressed economy.

The Republicans are really only interested in one thing when it comes to fiscal policy: Tax Cuts.  Everything else - balancing a budget, paying for social services, KEEPING PEOPLE ALIVE, ALERT AND HEALTHY - is meaningless to them.  They want their tax cuts.  They don't want to pay for anything, and all the while they'll take all the public money they can in state-level pork barrel projects, corporate payouts, and everything else they can get away with because YOU VOTERS DO NOT PAY F-CKING ATTENTION TO WHAT HAPPENS IN TALLAHASSEE.

Please, Floridians.  Please for the LOVE OF GOD.  Try to get this into your heads.  Tax Cuts is just another phrase for Snake Oil.  You are getting conned by political hacks and corporate criminals into buying a product that does not work.  Please, please, learn this now.

Friday, December 03, 2010

The Saturnalia Wish List of 2010

Heya!  Once again, dear seven readers from China spawning spam mail in the Comments section, as part of our effort in the WAR ON BILL O'REILLY'S CHRISTMAS we here at this blog celebrate the life-affirming pagan holiday known as Saturnalia! The day where we look for any back issue of Batman comics involving the lame-ass supervillain Calendar Man.  Yes, he did exist and yes Calendar Man had one of the WORST costumes in comic book history...

Anywho. As part of tradition, I'm posting my wishlist to The Roman Lord of Time (hi there!) in the mad hopes that the pagan gods will once again after thousands of years notice us tiny insignificant lifeforms and smite our enemies. And hoo boy, has this year produced a sh-tload of enemies for smiting...

The wishlist is as follows:

1) That when - not if - Rick Scott breaks the law while serving as Governor (HOW THE HELL COULD YOU VOTE FOR HIM, FLORIDA?), I be given the power to visit each and every 2.5 million who voted his criminal ass into office so I can tap each one on the shoulder and yell in their ear "WE TOLD YOU!"

2) That I find a full-time job starting right on January 2011.  That hopefully the job will be getting hired by Obama to walk up to the doors of the Congress every morning, knocking on said doors, and shouting "HAVE YOU CREATED JOBS FOR 20 MILLION AMERICANS YET?"  As long as I've got water and throat lozenges I should do well...

3) That I get this novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo finished for real, edited, and submitted for publication somewhere.

4) That when the House GOP starts their all-too-obvious Impeachment hearings on Obama over his Hawaiian birth certificate, everyone in the nation finally groks just how stupid, insane, and criminal the Republicans they've elected into power actually are.

5) That when the Republican Party at the national level completes their war on social services and the damage starts hitting the Tea Partiers in their own lives, that they fucking wake up to the reality that they just got suckered by the uberwealthy bankers and CEOs... again.  And that the Tea Partiers grok just how stupid, insane, and criminal the Republicans still are.

6) That when the Republicans in charge of all these state legislatures mismanage things to hell - creating even more state-level deficits with their obsessive need for tax cuts - while busying themselves with passing anti-health care bills, anti-gay bills, anti-immigrant bills, anti-evolution bills, anti-fetus bills (they claim to be pro-life, but the way they'll enforce it will end up causing MORE damage, not less), anti-teacher and student bills, anti-higher learning bills, anti-everything that's not Rich and White... ahem, what was the point?  Oh, right.  When the GOP-controlled state leges mismanage things to hell, I hope that the voters try to remember it was the REPUBLICANS who are stupid, insane and criminal, and who deserve to get kicked out of office.

7) I just hope there's still an elective system still in place by 2012... I worry that our elections offices might get slashed in the mad dash for "balancing the budgets" so that billionaires can get million-dollar tax cuts.

8) I hope that there's more than one arrest warrant for Dick Cheney being processed as we speak...

9) That every time the U.S. Senate holds up the unemployment benefits extension, there's another chain forged in Hell for the goddamn soulless bastards who are playing political games with peoples' lives.  WE ARE NOT LAZY OR DRUG ABUSERS, YOU SONS OF BITCHES!  WE CAN'T FIND FULL-TIME JOBS OUT HERE IN THE REAL WORLD!  Gah!

10) The Tampa Bay Bucs NOT make the playoffs this 2010 season.  I'm serious.  While it's nice the Bucs are winning this year, they are still a team with serious gaps of talent at key positions.  The more likely they make the playoffs, the more likely they will drop too low in the rookie draft status to get a half-decent DE, MLB or S/CB to bring the defense back to 1999-2003 dominance.  While this isn't a high priority, it would be nice to just have the Bucs go 10-6 and just miss the postseason.  It will keep the kids on the team (oh God, I've gotten old, some of these players weren't even born when I got into college...) hungry for next year...

And so to you, Lord Saturn, upon this festive time of Saturnalia, I ask of ye for these small favors.  And I just hope that 2011 is a saner, calmer year... (financial institutions collapse again in February 2011) AW GODDAMMIT...

Oh, one more thing.  Brietbart Delendus Est.