Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Be the Wind

New Painting: A Day in Tunisia with Miles Davis and Charlie Parker, 24 x 37 in. $350.

And this pisses me off: Sarah Palin's Alaska TV show gets tax subsidy of $1.5 million. How ironic is that? But she publicly said she was willing to sacrifice Wisconsin's public employee bargaining rights -- that's big of her.

Like comedian Andy Borowitz said the other day, freedom movements against dictators in the Middle East continue to spread in countries that we didn't invade. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and others. At least the tear gas canisters in Libya don't say Made in USA; I think Libya buys French weapons. Hundreds of brave protesters have been killed in Libya alone. If we leave Iraq and Afghanistan later today, perhaps freedom movements will erupt there as well.

The Koch brothers are pulling the puppet strings on Governor Walker in his attempt to break unions in Wisconsin. Governor Walker receive a campaign donation of $43,000 from the Koch brothers who own numerous businesses in Wisconsin. The Governor gave Wisconsin corporations $137 million in tax breaks and now is demanding teachers and public workers pay for it. And they AGREED, but that wasn't good enough. He is now demanding a limit in their ability to negotiate contracts. And from my brother in law Kevin in North Dakota: only 5 states do not have collective bargaining for educators and have deemed it illegal. Those states and their ranking on ACT/SAT scores are as follows: South Carolina -50th; North Carolina -49th; Georgia -48th; Texas -47th; Virginia -44th. If you are wondering, Wisconsin, with its collective bargaining for teachers, is ranked 2nd in the country. Let's keep it that way.

Republican/Koch Brother/Tea Party dupes/Supreme Court are now going after Mexicans, Muslims, Planned Parenthood and women, sick children, union members, AmeriCorp, Public Television and Radio, Pell Grants, the unemployed, gays and lesbians, the environment, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, education, 43 million uninsured Americans, and pretty much the entire middle class in order to pay for their tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of the country and their corporate subsidies. Robert Reich points out that if the earnings of the thirteen highest paid hedge-fund managers were taxed as ordinary income instead of receiving an enormous tax break, the revenues generated would pay the salaries and benefits of 300,000 teachers. Yes, you read that right - 13 hedge fund managers' taxes would pay the salary and benefits of 300,000 teachers.

In this country we have socialism for corporations and the wealthy and capitalism for the rest of us. When the Republicans campaigned on Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, I thought they meant create jobs, not eliminate them. My bad.......

Quote of the day: Mary Kay Henry, the new president of the Service Employees International Union. "Politicians put their fingers to the wind," she memorably said. "We need to be the wind."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Egypt, Ronald Reagan, Neanderthals, and Jackson Pollock

It's Tuesday morning and I've got a chance to sit here and review the week that was. And what a week it was. "Democracy is sweeping every Middle Eastern country Bush didn't invade," said Andy Borowitz, a comedian whose political radar is spot on.

Now that protests are spreading from country to country in the Middle East and after listening to Republican talking heads on the news lately, their position appears to be that the US should be for democracy in Egypt and the Middle East but that no Muslims should be involved. I'm not sure they've quite thought that through. They are, apparently, for freedom and democracy only in certain circumstances.

When the Iranian government pretended to support Egypt's protest movement, Iranian opposition leaders tried to get permits to march in solidarity with Egyptians; they were, of course, denied permission. But marching they are! Update: Iran is brutally cracking down on those supporters of Egypt's dreams for democracy.

In another revolution: Mahatma Gandhi was asked by an English journalist what he thought of Western Civilization. Gandhi replied, "Ahhh, that would be a very good idea."

On the celebration of Ronald Reagan's 100th -- Why is Ronald Reagan's legacy so fondly misremembered by Republicans - he negotiated with terrorists, he raised taxes in 7 of the 8 years of his presidency while simultaneously tripling the national debt, gave amnesty to 3 million illegal immigrants, increased the social security tax in order to save the program for future retirees, and reduced our nuclear arsenal. It might be the paucity of Republicans who can be lifted up as heroes leads them to reach back and create a mythological Reagan. GWB, no. Bush, Sr., no. Nixon, no. Eisenhower, maybe, except for the military-industrial complex warning. Hoover, no. etc. They have to go all the way back to Lincoln. And Lincoln would be a Democrat today. Democrats have a few more options - Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy, Truman, FDR. And these days from Joe the Plumber to Sarah Palin to a whole new slew of Tea Partiers like Rand Paul..........Republicans are frantically creating their Warholian 15 minutes of fame Republican icons hoping something sticks.

The University of Iowa may sell its Jackson Pollock valued at $140 million. If anybody needs an 8 foot by 20 foot genuine Pollock replica action painting mural like this one, I can do it for less than the $140 million this older one is appraised for.

Republican scatterbrain Sarah Palin called Republican Neanderthal Rick Santorum a Neanderthal. Neanderthals lived half a million years ago which is interesting given the number of Sarah Palin supporters and Tea Partiers who think the earth was created 6,000 years ago. Or perhaps Sarah Palin just didn't know what she was talking about..........nah, it couldn't have been that. And have you ever noticed that Republicans who denounce evolution often embrace "survival of the fittest" as the foundation for their social policies. Hmmmmmmm...........

On the difficulity of balancing the budget: On one side are the Democrats and on the Republican side you've got the Koch Brothers, the Supreme Court, and all that new corporate cash from the military/industrial/banking/financial/plutocrat complex flooding and corrupting our political system, a political ethos that says first try to distort your opponent's record and if that doesn't work, then just lie about it, coupled with a Ruppert Murdoch/Roger Ailes media "Big Lie" propaganda system unchecked by any semblance of even minimal standards of journalism, and an electorate suffering from short term memory loss and a shrinking attention span -- other than that, it should be easy......

Provisions of The Government can Wiretap Anybody Anytime without a Warrant Bill, otherwise known as the Patriot Act, were up for renewal and enough Tea Party Libertarians sided with enough Democrats and voted against it which stalled it for a week. It has since been revoted upon and passed in the House. The Republicans are so good at naming things. The We Love the Constitution Crowd who made such a show of reading portions of their beloved document on the first day of the new Congress just voted to suspend the 1st and 4th amendments. With the complicity of a large number of Democrats and President Obama, I am sad to add.

Like Kurt Vonngegut used to say, "so it goes."


Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Egypt and other Stuff

A recent painting of mine is Sailing the Nile. There's a saying, "Revolutions begin with enthusiasm and end in tears." So I'll offer this painting as a "picture prayer" that Egyptians can find their way to a better tomorrow. Alliances with military dictatorships, however short term our narrow interests may be served, do not work out very well for us in the long run......After listening to the many Republican talking heads on the news lately, their position appears to be that the US should be for democracy in Egypt and the Middle East but that no Muslims should be involved. I'm not sure they've quite thought that through. The Obama Administration, sadly, appears to be siding with the wrong side of history on this one in backing away from support for the removal of Mubarak and for tolerating the continuation of Mubarak's reign at the expense of the people of Egypt. Be a leader for democracy, President Obama.

An interesting vote took place Feb. 8 on the renewal of portions of the PATRIOT ACT, or The Government can Wiretap any American for any Reason Without a Warrant Act. Tea Party Libertarians broke from the Big Government Republicans and joined with enough Democrats to defeat the extension of portions of the act. Time will tell how this works out. Meanwhile, the Culture Wars Religious Right branch of the Republicans, who want Big Government to be in charge of women's pregnancies, continues to introduce bill after bill to take away women's reproductive rights.

And after all the Republican campaign blather about jobs, jobs, jobs, and deficit, deficit, deficit, the House Republicans so far have voted to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act, adding $1 Trillion to the deficit over ten years according to the Congressional Budget Office, cut taxes for the wealthiest of the wealthiest, adding hundreds of billions of $$$ to the national debt. Items on their budget cut "target" list include the EPA, the Dept. of Education, NEA, Public Television and Radio, and virtually every program for women, sick children, the disadvantaged, college students, people with disabilities, people of color, and everything Democrats have done since Franklin D. Roosevelt. And after all his campaign posturing, Republican budget "genius" Paul Ryan's proposed budget cuts have been pared down from $100 billion to about $32 billion. And he won't even include the $56 billion in budget cuts the Pentagon is proposing by eliminating weapons systems the military doesn't want.

In the meanwhile, John McCain and Donald Rumsfeld are publicly calling each other names, former President George W. Bush cancels a trip to Switzerland for fear of being arrested as a War Criminal, and a prisoner at Guantanamo dies after 9 years without being charged with a crime. House Republicans are trying to reinstate Don't Ask Don't Tell back and end Social Security. Republican William Kristol says Glenn Beck goes too far with his nutty conspiracy theories (the two Bush Presidents and a whole list of others are in conspiracy with Iran to create a world caliphate), Lindsey Graham sides With President Obama over Sarah Palin On Egypt, Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann relentlessly say goofy stuff illustrating the contemporary truth of Thomas Brackett Reed's 19th century assertion: “They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.”

So there you go. Everything's back to normal.