Friday, July 28, 2006

Not Only Are You A Cheat, You're A Gutless Cheat As Well

Republican leaders are willing to allow the first minimum wage increase in a decade but only if it's coupled with a cut in future inheritance taxes on multimillion-dollar estates, congressional aides said Friday.

A package GOP leaders planned to bring to a vote Friday or Saturday in the House also would renew several popular tax breaks, including a research and development credit for businesses, and deductions for college tuition and state sales taxes, said a spokesman for House Majority Leader John Boehner.

The wage would increase from $5.15 to $7.25 per hour, phased in over the next three years, said Kevin Madden, the aide to Boehner, an Ohio Republican.

The maneuver is aimed at defusing the wage hike as a campaign issue for Democrats while using its popularity to spur enactment of the Republican Party's long-sought goal of permanently cutting taxes on millionaires' estates.


Democrats immediately expressed outrage, saying low-income workers deserved a straight vote on increasing the minimum wage uncoupled to other measures.

"It's political blackmail to say the only way that minimum wage workers can get a raise is to give a tax giveaway to the wealthiest Americans," said Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts. "Members of Congress raised their own pay -- no strings attached. Surely, common decency suggests that minimum wage workers deserve the same respect."

"It's outrageous the Republican Congress can't simply help poor people without doing something for their wealthy contributors," said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio.


The move comes after almost 50 rank-and-file Republican lawmakers pressed House leaders -- who strongly oppose the wage hike and have thus far prevented a vote -- to schedule the measure for debate. Democrats have been hammering away on the wage hike issue and have public opinion behind them

"We weren't going to be denied," said Rep. Steve LaTourette, R-Ohio, a leader in the effort. "How can you defend $5.15 an hour in today's economy?"

It was a decade ago, during the hotly contested campaign year of 1996, that Congress voted to increase the minimum wage. A person working 40 hours per week at minimum wage makes $10,700, which is below the poverty line for workers with families.

In advancing the tax plan, GOP leaders excluded a measure popular with small businesses that would make it easier for small businesses and the self-employed to band together and buy health insurance plans for employees at a lower cost.

That idea was blasted as a "poison pill" by Democrats and labor unions. The small business health insurance bill exempts new "association health plans" from state regulations requiring insurers to cover treatments such as mental health and maternity care. And opponents fear they would offer inferior prescription drug benefits.

Democrats have made increasing the wage a pillar of their campaign platform and are pushing to raise the wage to $7.25 per hour over two years. In June, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to raise the minimum wage, rejecting a proposal from Democrats.

See, this is yet another example of why we need universal health care, so we can get that off the table for everybody, rich and poor. It's also a prime example of how going for the bottom line, for their business constituents who don't want to lose any profit in any way, has made the Republican lawmakers in this country corrupt and stupid. Most of all, it's an example of how the governing process has gone to hell in a handbasket.

What we're talking about here is the dignity to be able to have a chance to eat and pay rent. The Repubs are holding it hostage to get their fucking estate tax passed, so that, even if those in the Old Boy Network can't take it with them, they can pass it down to the next generation of robber barons.

The very idea of a straight up-and-down vote on only the minimum wage hike is anathema to the Repubs. They have to wheel and deal, they have to Further Their Agenda. Their agenda is supposed to be taking care of the priorities of this country -- not the coffers of a few multimillionaires.

And they think this will provide them political cover.

The Dems have to bludgeon them with this. A few of the quotes above are a good start, but they have to hammer them on this endlessly. When the Repubs say, "Hey, we offered you a vote on the Minimum Wage", the Dems have to respond, "Only if we gave away tens of billions more to the very rich. You keep giving stuff to the very rich. There are other people in this country than the very rich. And they're trying to eat."

Once again: Bottom-line profit as the only measurement of success is about as wrong as it gets.

Rams Plagued By Fumbles As Earthquakes Rock Los Angeles -- Film At Eleven

I really despise the Corporate Media -- not merely because I feel they are directly complicit in and dedicated to keeping evil men in power, but because the shit they do tell us is, largely, shit.

Yahoo News has this "story" from Business Week about how Cartier watches are made. Besides my having trouble giving a third of a shit about how an $80,000 watch is made -- hmmm, lemme see: Wrist chronograph, or rent, food, and expenses for four years? Tough call -- the main Yahoo page has the headline, "Cartier timepieces crafted with artistry, detail".

That isn't news; it's a spam subject line. I know. I get about a hundred Rolex offers a day.

Listening to WWJ-AM in Detroit yesterday (which has similar ads-disguised-as-news all the time, mostly from the auto industry talking about sales promotions), there were constant breathless announcements of a "developing story": Former Detroit City Council leader Maryann Mahaffey died. Now, she was a great lady, who did a lot for Detroit -- but, if her death is a "developing story", I want some fuckin' zombie action, y'know? Illegal experimentation, reanimation, something. I want an origin.

On the same channel, the CBS news update noted the new video by the #2 al-Qaida leader, the one with al-Zawahiri saying they would not stand idly by "while these [Israeli] shells burn our brothers" (a statement made over two weeks after those shells started burning their brothers, where ya been, guys, but never mind). And then they got the following sound bite from "a terrorism expert": "This message may lead to a major attack on a Western target in the future...."

Ooooh, pithy insight.

The capper for the day was Nice Polite Republicans with a story on a national election poll, the results of which came down to: Either the national elections will be decided by national issues, or by local get-out-the-vote efforts on the ground, and there was no way to tell until the election.

The fuck? Somebody got paid for an insight my stuffed bear could provide more detail about?

I know they think we're stupid. I know they talk to us like we're stupid. But I'm getting damn sick and tired of them saying things which are so blatantly stupid that you wonder how the Action Eyewitness News Team can dress themselves in the morning.

Friday, July 14, 2006

We're Sitting On Top Of The Story Of The Century Here

I'm quite sure that the Powers That Be at CNN and wonder why they're held in such contempt by progressive audiences. I mean, gosh-a-roonies, their slogan is "The Most Trusted Name In News!" Way better than "Fair And Balanced".

Well, today gives a perfect example. See, there's this little throwdown going on between Israel and Lebanon, and the issues are confusing to many, and one would think that asking the viewers and web readers a provocative question would get them to think about those issues, maybe just a little. That's, after all, kinda the point of polling.

So what's the poll at right now?

"Should a picture of a dying Princess Diana have been published?"


No disrespect or nothin', but the woman died nine years ago. And the pictures -- ooooh! An unconscious woman being fitted with an oxygen mask -- are provocative only because of some people's natural tendencies towards celebrity voyeurism.

The Middle East is bombing the shit out of itself. I think that has a little priority. But asking sush asinine poll questions raises them to a level of respectability they don't deserve, and diminishes actual news by making it no more important than your breathless opinion about a nine-year-old photograph.

In other words, CNN, you keep up shit like this, and you will cease to matter.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Tell Your Friend Not To Get Cute Down There -- The Marines At Gitmo Are Fanatical

Rule of law? Who'd a thunk:

The Pentagon has decided in a major policy shift that all detainees held in US military custody around the world are entitled to protections under the Geneva Conventions, according to two people familiar with the move.

The [Financial Times] has learned that Gordon England, deputy defence secretary, sent a memo to senior defence officials and military officers last Friday, telling them that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions – which prohibits inhumane treatment of prisoners and requires certain basic legal rights at trial – would apply to all detainees held in US military custody.

This reverses the policy outlined by President George W. Bush in 2002 when he decided members of al-Qaeda and the Taliban did not qualify for Geneva protections because the war on terrorism had ushered in a “new paradigm…[that] requires new thinking in the law of war”.

The policy U-turn comes on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling last month that the military commissions Mr Bush created to try prisoners at Guantanamo Bay contravened both US law and the Geneva Conventions.

In spite of everything this horrific administration has done to our Constitution, this country, and the world, there are still good people out there. People who know that violating civil rights and torturing people is, y'know, wrong. And, dammit, we're going to win.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

"Drop Dead." "That's Not Funny."

Enron founder Ken Lay died this morning. Condolences to his friends and family.

No, I'm not a fan of what Mr. Lay did. Not in any way. But, on several other liberal/progressive blogs, I'm already seeing lots of Good Riddance. Snark, wishes that he rot in hell, jokes. Bluntly, all the stuff the right side of the blogosphere accuses us of.

You won't see that here.

A man died.

And it's a sad end to an incredibly awful situation.

I really don't have more to say about it than that.

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