Quick Education on Disaster Relief

A good college friend of mine is the Speaker of the Vermont State House of Representatives. In helping to keep Vermonters up to date on relief efforts he posted a synopsis of coordinated functions between state and federal governments on Facebook. Anyone in need who had actually read the bulletin would probably have appreciated that the federal government was covering the lion's share of the cost to the tune of 75/25. I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this sort of arrangement is not atypical.

What caught my eye was a comment on the truncated bulletin from a Vermonter which began "Don't know about a federal response, but..." Then she went on praising what a stupendous job the state crews were doing in assisting with the cleanup. I'm guessing this lady saw "ET" or "Outbreak" too many times. She must think that "federal response" is synonymous with scores of white trucks, high-wattage light banks and people in white hazmat suits under the command of a smooth talking manager with odious intentions. Or maybe she's seen too many Keystone Cops shorts and as a result thinks that federal help is going to arrive hanging on for dear life to the back bumper of a patty wagon. 

The truth is probably less engrossing and not as entertaining. Most federal help shows up in the form of a check, and not even a giant cardboard one that sits on an easel at a press conference. It's like when fires break out here in Southern California. There is no federal firefighting force that descends down and magically puts out the fires. The government sends a check to help cover the cost of using local resources 24/7 until the job is done. That way we can still afford to send the kids back to school in September. 

Yes, FEMA does show up sometimes, but that is only when the governor of the state requests FEMA assistance. And no, they do not show up hanging on for dear life to the back bumper of a patty wagon. And no, they are not all at the top of the class either, but better presidents tend to pick better managers. On the whole, when government runs well, no one seems to notice. But when government is run by people who bad-mouth government they end up running government into the ground which makes bad government a self-fullfilling prophecy. 

As for the lady praising the local response back in Vermont, I say enjoy the efficiency. Then see what you get with a President Ron Paul. 

Not Dirty, Not a Secret, and True

In doing a little work on my book "The Michele and Sarah-Pedia: History Made Right" I found an interesting piece of information that I know others will try to deny and possibly revise in attempts to try to control the possession American history. In researching the Pledge of Allegiance I found the story of the man who originally penned the oath in 1892, Francis Bellamy. The story behind the creation of the Pledge lacks the same sizzle as the story surrounding another Francis who wrote our National Anthem. Francis Scott Key wrote the Star-Spangled Banner while watching the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812 from aboard a British ship where he was securing the release of a friend. Francis Bellamy wrote the pledge for flag raising ceremonies at school assemblies commemorating the 400th anniversary of Columbus' arrival in the Caribbean. 

Bellamy had been part of a successful campaign to sell American flags to schools. As a promotion for the campaign he devised the Columbus tribute for which he wrote the original Pledge of Allegiance as follows:
I pledge allegiance to my Flag and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

How Bellamy ended up becoming the Johnny Appleseed of American flags is where the story gets sexy. Bellamy had been a Baptist minister in Boston and a self-described Christian Socialist which is exactly what it sounds like. Bellamy believed that Socialism was at the heart of the teachings of Christ. This was just the kind of thinking that got his congregation to run him out. Bellamy then settled into the job at The Youth's Companion, the magazine responsible for the flag selling campaign. 

Those who exceedingly use "socialist" and "socialism" as pejorative terms today will not readily accept this account as truth.To acknowledge this fact as true would mean that they had been complicit with a socialist plot each time they repeated the Pledge. Either that or they will have to admit to having been duped by a red. So it would just be easier for them to dismiss this little nugget as left-wing propaganda.

That is where I believe we are today. It is the point of my book. There is a side in the political debate that creates their own facts which support how they want to feel instead of accepting actual facts for what they are. In other words, people are being willfully delusional. It is frustrating because you can't argue with crazy. I would love to posit that theoretically, this pathological form of self-esteem preservation is isolating, but that is not always true. Fake facts can infect the minds of less nefarious people as we saw with the flap over Obama's birth certificate.  

A big part of me was gleeful at finding out about Francis Bellamy. I am happy at anything that challenges the fairy tale orthodoxy about this country that gets spewed out. While the kindergarten version of America is easier to comprehend, America is a far more interesting place than that. I love the idea that a Christian Socialist who obviously loved his country came up with our national oath. I also love the fact that it will cause some inner conflict with some people even if they don't freely admit it. 

THIS POST: A Tea Party Study and Funding Bigotry

IF there was anyone out there trying to prove that American conservatism does not equal bigotry, this past week must have been a difficult one. In a year from now, give or take, Republicans will gather for their national convention and inevitably claim that they are a "big tent" party. That will fly in the face of the obvious visuals which will reflect near thorough homogeneity. The Republican party has a low threshold for different people and weeks like this one highlight this oft denied fact.

First there was data presented by two researchers from Harvard and Notre Dame which identified who makes up the Tea Party. The first gratifying reveal was that of those who consider themselves Tea Party supporters, 80% considered themselves Republicans back in 2006 when the original study began. No surprise there. This contradicts the flim flam that the Tea Party is a grassroots, independent, nonpartisan movement (this is underscored by the fact that virtually every elected official aligned with the Tea Party has run on the Republican ticket). If the Tea Party entered a Halloween pageant they would win for worst independent grassroots mask. Everyone knows exactly who they are. 

For the sake of this post though, the even more gratifying reveal from one of the researchers himself (see above video) is that the Tea Party is made up of "the Republicans who are the most skeptical about racial minorities." Anyone who reads this blog knows that his has been an unabashed allegation of mine all along. There is nothing like proof to back up something you feel strongly about. Of course, as you will see later, accusations of Tea Party racism is dismissed by the Tea Party as propaganda which makes no sense. The most likely motivation for that kind of propaganda would be to keep blacks from voting for Tea Party candidates, but Black people already vote overwhelmingly for the Democratic candidate. Who needs to use propaganda? 

Also this week we had the Center for American Progress shedding light on how coordinated the anti-Muslim campaign is among conservatives. They have found that, like the Tea Party, anti-Muslim actions and soundbites are not grassroots or independent. They name several conservative organizations that donate tens of millions to promote such idiocy as anti-Sharia law bills and referendums. These laws are as practical as those that would keep sparrow laws or hula hoop laws from taking over our legislative and judicial systems. Sharia Law bashing has nothing to do with keeping America safe. It has everything to do with keeping the readily frightened in a heightened state of hysteria against American Muslims. Why do they do it? It seems they gotta hate somebody and Blacks have a certain readiness for mobility against such unmitigated denigration. Unfortunately, it seems that American Muslims do not, and to make matters worse, American Muslims seem to be victims of a goodwill gap, due in part to this hysteria.

When New Jersey governor Chris Christie appointed Sohail Mohammed, a Muslim judge to the state bench earlier this year he ran into a cadre of bigots opposing the appointment on the basis of Mohammed's faith. Christie came out swinging against a fringe of his own party who voraciously subscribe to this infantile race baiting. It is sad that there are very few Chris Christies in the Republican party. There may be a lot of people who see eye to eye with him, but they don't speak up because they don't want to draw the ire of the torch and pitchfork crowd who are always frothing at the mouth to run someone, anyone out of town. 

So with this in mind, what will the next Republican National Convention look like? It will look like all the ones past because in the past four years the Republican party has continued to coddle the ugliest members of its ranks. It is not even clear if there is any consensus within the party to do anything about the glaring bigotry problem within. I could warn that the predominant message from the Right is that they are staunch bigots. I think I have laid that case out, but as usual that message would not resonate. One partisan represented that side very well in an online message board in response to the Harvard/Notre Dame study: "Anyone who believes this left wing propaganda should take a brick and smash themselves in the face with it for being so gullible and stupid." Way to recruit, guys. Way to recruit. 

Even More From the Michele and Sarah-Pedia: History Made Right

Captain Custard was sent to the frontier with the cavalry to inform Chief Little Bighorn and his people all about their brand new reservation that was more suitable to their style of living. When Custard arrived at Little Bighorn's wigwam, Indians snuck up and scalped him in the back multiple times which was against Geneva's Conventions. Many tourists still trek to Little Bighorn's wigwam to see where Custard last stood.

Chicago, the city with the reputation for backroom deals in in smoky bars, bribery, and blackmail, mismanagement and misappropriation of funds, widespread corruption, mob dominance, welfare queens, miscarriages of justice, embezzlement, vice, poverty, white-collar crime, blue-collar crime, kickbacks, crooked contracts, moral lacks, lax ethics, and LaGuardia Airport, and which also happens to be the hometown of Barack Obama once suffered a large fire. 
BONUS: "Chicago" is an American musical about corruption, murder, deceit, prison, and philandering.




that joke originated here.

Spanking the Koched Up Redubyacans

Every once in a while I do an Internet search for billionaires who support raising taxes on the rich. Of course there is Warren Buffett who has been vocal on this, but he seems to be valiantly leading this fight on his own. The other "celebrinaires" have not been as forceful. 

It's not that Warren Buffett has no Wall Street cred. When he speaks about money, people do listen, but there is still power in numbers. It has thus far been Buffett against the Redubyacans* who form this human shield around those who are already the most invulnerable among us. The Redubyacan response Buffett's call for tax fairness is to refer to him as a socialist. The word socialist is supposed to make people shudder and send them into fits of anti-Buffett hysteria. Sadly, this tactic only works on other Redubyacans. The majority of Americans support rolling back the Dubya tax cuts for the rich. Still, it would further validate Buffett's point if he were to be joined by just one more billionaire.

As it turns out there is a handful of these people who have backed Buffett. The only difference is that Buffett has been more consistently vociferous on the subject, recently writing an NYT op-ed (Stop Coddling the Super-Rich). Here is a collection of what these wealthy people have said on the record regarding the ridiculousness of the current tax code:

One of these men is Ace Greenberg, the former head of the defunct Bear Stearns. Below is a video of Greenberg sitting down with Fox Business' Neil Cavuto who fawns all over his guest, but still challenges him with whispers of stupid arguments such as "is the American government a commodity worthy of increased investment." At least that is how I understood the question. Anyway, it's satisfying to watch a person who knows money school a Redubyacan like Cavuto who has only spent his career talking about it. 
*Redubyacan - A Republican who continues to espouse the failed economic policies of George W. Bush.

What's the Difference Between Apes and Conservative Iowans?

Michele Bachmann posing for her next Newsweek cover
Apes choose leaders with better odds at success.
Issues aside, is Bachmann really the paragon of leadership among her party hopefuls or does she merely represent the visceral resentment racial conservatives have held against Obama since they found out who he was three years ago? Bachmann has never been a "work together when we can" type of legislator regarding Obama. She has used her energy to denigrate, lie, and decontextualize with the hopes of creating as much anti-Obama hysteria as she can. One such event was her mad press dash to blither on about how Obama's official trip to India was costing the taxpayers $200 million a day. It was a figure  no one else outside of Fox News trusted. Bachmann and friends ripped the figure from an erroneous Indian press source, erroneous because unless Obama was dumping bags filled with hundred dollar bills from Air Force One, it would have been impossible for his trip to have exceeded the daily average cost of the war in Afghanistan. So why did Bachmann say it? She and people like her hate Obama so much that they want to believe whatever negative reports they hear about him. It's why Bachmann can never run successfully against Obama. She can't keep a narrative on him straight. One day he is a crafty and successful flimflammer. The next day he is a neophyte who is in over his head. Which is it? This senseless vacillation only exposes the extreme prejudice she and her fans are capable of.

The goal of Ed Rollins in her campaign will be to avoid the careless slinging of falsehoods for as long as Rollins can stand being around Bachmann. This will make her SEEM like a more centered person, but unless Ed Rollins can erase the past, he's running up against a brick wall. Bachmann's Iowa win on Saturday was not about her ability to lead. It was about her vehement and irresponsible anti-Obamaism. Her record exposes her as a crackpot. And now Iowa unfairly gets the crackpot label. 

As a reminder of how normal Iowa can be, it was the state governed by the capable and reasonable Tom Vilsack who is now Secretary of Agriculture. The progressive Tom Harkin has been the junior Senator from Iowa since 1985. Let's not forget that Iowa was the third state to allow gays to marry. Of course, Bachmann's state of Minnesota allows gays to get married too. The only difference is that in Iowa, they're allowed to marry each other. Zing!
Marcus Bachmann. Supply your own joke.

AOTL Headlines for August 12, 2011

Scientists establish link between phenomena of global warming and global bitching

Newsweek hires former motor vehicles bureau photographer
London rioters sip tea with pinky in, chew with mouth slightly open

Standard and Poor's gives planet of the apes highest credit rating - Cite organization, willingness to work together

Debt super committee: expenditures on red ink costing government a fortune

Screwing skanks now less problematic for single Woods

Oklahoma: Sharia law ban working so far

Rebel Frankenstein new "Twilight" series villain, heartthrob

Elderly Sudoku players found to have keener memory of numbers 1-9

The Michele and Sarah-Pedia: American History Made Right - Guest Contributor

The saga of missed history continues with a twist. This segment began as a Facebook comment from my father, but was too funny not to include here. 

AMERICAN SLAVERY by Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin as told by Ed Dornell
In the 17th century American venture captialist liberated people from the jungles of Africa and brought them to America to offer them lifetime employment in the agricultural field. After over 200 years of guaranteed employment, northern unionist agitators were able to disrupt this beneficial labor arrangement.

Just Relax, It'll All Be Over Soon

Every once in a while there is an issue with the water heater here in the Royal Delapidation Estates complex where I live. Without fail, it means that I need to minimize the cold water pressure and maximize the hot. If and when the water heater gets fixed, the cold water pressure needs to be increased in order to keep from being scalded. Like the cold/hot water balance in a shower, fiscal policy needs to be fluid, so to speak, in the same way.

There are few constants in economics, and therefore, responsible economic policy can’t call just one constant setting on all variables. While I don’t want to resort to name calling, America is flush with Republicans who are hypnotically in accord with this idea that no taxes and no government spending is the way to economic prosperity. To use the bathing metaphor, they want to eliminate showers altogether.

One hero of this corps of financially dysfunctional is the otherwise seemingly decent Grover Norquist who has chaired Americans for Tax Reform since its inception in 1985. The following quote of Norquist’s says all you need to know about him: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.” With a nice Scandinavian name like Norquist you would normally assume a certain social practicality free of violent tendencies… right? To reuse the bathing metaphor, if Norquist actually had his way, there would be no water with which to drown the government.

While Norquist is trying his best to commit government-i-cide, I’d rather quote Barney Frank by saying tax cuts don’t put out fires. It is one thing to bite the hand that showers you. It is a completely different thing to have to go without a shower. It would be worth honoring the flighty Republican cries to shut government down just for one day because that would be as long as it would take for the scads of Tea Party fist shakers who are sucking on any number of government teats to sober up and switch their support to the “Democrat” party.  

Americans for Tax Reform was allegedly the idea of President Ronald Reagan who also spoke as if he found government despicable.  He was the first president to speak in such clear terms on how much he hated the managerial administration of America. Thanks to him, new generations now run around irresponsibly believing that anything with the word “federal” in front of it is the devil or at the very least does not work. It has gotten to the point that earlier this year House Speaker Boehner announced that if federal employees lost their jobs due to GOP cuts then so be it. Federal employees officially joined the list including union members, the poor, Mexicans, Planned Parenthooders, the unemployed, the middle class, the uninsured, Europe, the educated, education, teachers, Northeasterners, etc., that Republicans hate.

It has come down to Republicans only seeing the guys that print our postage stamps as recipients of the welfare program known as tax funded government employment. They want to take people who process disaster assistance loans to small businesses and drown them in the tub. They want those Border Patrol loafers to get a real job with one of those companies in the private sector that are making record profits, but aren’t hiring.

There is a real mental disorder in which people dysfunctionally obsess over money. Due to the fear of financial ruin they hesitate spending even the money they need to spend, to the detriment of their health, living environment, or interpersonal relationships. These drawn out shenanigans of debt ceiling debate were controlled by people with this disorder or people who are faking the symptoms. Their money hang-ups created a fake panic in Washington DC when the people were rightly more concerned about unemployment than they were about the deficit. Instead of doing something about unemployment, two branches of government spent 100% of their time working on something 17% of people think is a priority. Ronald Reagan’s own economists are warning that the current Republican lack of agility is wrong. Meanwhile, the Republicans are chanting “shut it down” while waving Ronald Reagan placards. It sounds like an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”

I woke up to an interview with Grover Norquist on the radio yesterday morning in which he paid tribute to the man who gave him his start at ATR, Ronald Reagan. He credited Reagan with reducing taxes, reducing spending (misleading to false), and presiding over growth. He DIDN’T credit Reagan for his record deficit, record spending, or his tax hikes. Nor did Norquist credit Bill Clinton with raising taxes, presiding over record growth, or balancing the budget. Nor did he mention that Democratic presidents have created more jobs in the past 30 years than Republicans did in the past 36.

Norquist is so obsessive about his no tax, no spend fantasy, it is creepy. It may not have to do with his prescription for growth. He may just have a fetish for seeing America under water. So when America wakes up bound on the floor in the hall outside his bathroom we should know it won’t end good. We are actually there now. It’s just that we are still unconscious. 

Michele and Sarah-Pedia III

The feedback on the "Michele and Sarah-Pedia" continues to be overwhelming. It is my pleasure to give back with more.

When our great land was settled some people chose to be lawyers. Some people chose to be doctors. Others chose to be mass murderers. The Boston Massacre was one of these. The Boston Massacre was the first mass murderer in American history. He got his name because he liked to massacre his victims to death. His great great great grandson was the famous Boston Strangler.

Before the resonation of the lesson of AIDS, it became a fad among certain women to have unprotected relations with test tubes. Some of these women got pregnant and the result was test tube babies. While science wrongly hailed this as a breakthrough, their excitement did not take into account the lives test tube babies would be subject to. Since marrying test tubes is not legal (yet), test tube babies are generally raised in single-parent homes which tend to be poor, dirty, permissive, and underachieving. Because they are part glass, test tube babies tend to be very brittle and can not play like other children. For this reason they are teased and bullied. While no one should bully other children, interfering with bullies is a violation of the First Amendment. Test tube babies have a higher tendency towards a life of crime.