• RAMA commented on the blog post War On Women: The Cartooning (updated)

    2012-03-13 12:03:23View | Delete

    You can read “Doonesbury” every day like I do at GoComics.com:

    http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Emptywheel Leaving Firedoglake

    2011-07-12 09:02:22View | Delete

    Just let me know where to show up, and I’ll be there; been reading you since about the time you started.

    I thought it was a grind writing a column and a few edits a week; I can’t imagine what it must be like to churn out the copy you do all the time. Makes my head hurt. Need a beer. Got some cold Spotted Cow, and while the sun’t not up to the yardarm quite yet, I’m drinking a toast to your new venture…

  • So what? We’ve already endorsed torture and murder of prisoners under our control, violating Constitutional restrictions on unreasonable searches and seizures, and illegally invading countries where we figure the leaders have looked at us cross-eyed. What’s one more atrocity?

  • Here’s the letter I sent in response to the boilerplate reply I got to my first e-mail castigating AARP for embracing SS cuts:

    Pardon me if I believe you are less than committed to keeping Social Security benefits at their present level.

    “It has always been AARP’s policy that Social Security be strengthened
    to provide adequate benefits, in order to ensure solvency for the
    next 75 years. Any changes should be phased in slowly, over time,
    and should not affect any current or near-term retirees.”

    Artfully worded, but it doesn’t mean what you want me to believe it means. “Changes?” “Phased in slowly, over time?” That means exactly what that moron Ryan from Wisconsin is pushing, which is that it’s okay to screw future generations as long as present retirees and near-retirees are safeguarded. Problem is, Ryan’s plan DOES NOT safeguard current retirees, much less near-retirees, but rather starts taking benefits (the donut hole for one) away right away.

    You people ought to be ashamed of yourselves for thinking that current retirees would be willing to thrown future retirees under a handy bus in order to keep their own benefits intact.

    So far, I haven’t gotten another auto reply, but figure I will within the next few days. Sure makes a person feel warm and fuzzy to get form letters in reply to queries. But then that’s all I get from the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, aka Dick Durbin, when I write to him, too.

  • We tried a private penitentiary at Alton here in Illinois in 1833. When it closed in 1860, with the prisoners moved to Joliet, it was deemed an abject failure. Now they want to try it again? Guess those of us who know our history really are condemned to watching others repeat it.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Durbin Undercutting Democratic Message on Medicare

    2011-05-17 11:46:30View | Delete

    Durbin better remember what happened to Danny Rostenkowski when he got too far away from his constituents’ views.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Osama bin Laden Left the Tribal Lands in 2003

    2011-05-08 07:28:23View | Delete

    A question I’ve been mulling for a while now is whether the Cheney faction, through Tommy Franks, let bin Laden go from Tora Bora on purpose.

    At the time, they were planning the Iraq invasion and were ready to ramp up the PR machine stressing that we needed to invade Iraq in order to stop Saddam from giving bin Laden nukes. What their actual reasons are will have to be dug out by historians. Or criminal investigators. But nukes were what drove widespread public acceptance of invading Iraq.

    If bin Laden was dead, that argument would have far less traction. In fact, if bin Laden had been killed or captured at Tora Bora, the whole Global War on Terrorism would have probably sputtered badly for lack of the necessary fear on the part of so many Americans, left and right. Bin Laden attacked us; we tracked him down and killed him. Lesson: Don’t screw with America and we all go home.

    And that simply wasn’t allowable for the Cheney crowd. The fear component was necessary to propel the draconian Patriot Act expansions, illegal surveillance, extraordinary renditions, and other acts Cheney was fixated on. With bin Laden dead, too many uncomfortable questions would have been asked, including why it was then necessary to go into Iraq. It’s entirely possible that many of those on the left who were enthusiastic supporters of invading Iraq would have had serious second thoughts, seriously damaging the bipartisan support for what was obviously an illegal war. Same with our “partners,” especially Great Britain, where it’s likely public opinion would have gotten even more skeptical than it already was.

    There’s also the other fact, that at first glance doesn’t seem to mesh with the above, but which I think also had a bearing on it, and that’s that Bush’s national security apparatus, especially Rice who Bush depended on for his foreign policy knowledge (having absolutely none of his own), still didn’t assign much value to preventing terrorism. They were far more fixated on the Great Game, and while Russia had been back-burnered by 9/11, I think it was still very much on Rice’s radar screen. After all, Iraq had been a long-time USSR/Russian client state. I’m convinced that Rice (who really wasn’t trusted enough to be one of the Cheney putsch), while seemingly brilliant, is extremely limited in her ability to see the big picture, and was never, even after 9/11, totally engaged in anti-terrorism. I don’t think she understood it, and from her public comments since leaving the Bush Administration, she does not understand it yet.

    So with two factions in Bush Land uninterested for different reasons in eliminating bin Laden, and, in fact, since at least one faction believed he was of much more use to their ultimate goals alive than dead I don’t think their search for him was ever very serious. Franks’ inexplicable actions concerning Tora Bora make no sense otherwise.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Tracking the Courier … Through Hassan Ghul

    2011-05-03 06:04:09View | Delete

    So the obvious question is, how much sooner could they have found bin Laden had they not tortured their two sources in the first place? Are we talking years, here?

  • RAMA commented on the diary post The Beltway Fantasy Land In Operation by dakine01.

    2011-04-29 14:42:28View | Delete

    Assuming economists were telling the truth about the economy before the real estate implosion, I don’t see any chance of a recovery until and unless the real estate market is fixed. One economist after another said that growth was fueled by people using their homes as capital producers, rolling over their home equity loans and [...]

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-04-27 05:36:36View | Delete

    Haven’t you heard? We can’t leave Afghanistan or Iraq until we’ve killed all the people who want us to leave.

  • Damn! I was hoping we’d get all their stuff at the Rapture…

  • Our county was too small to have its own poor farm, so local townships paid to send folks to a neighboring county’s poor farm. I’ve never been able to figure out from the records what the point was when that happened. It seems the poor farm option wasn’t available until the early years of the 20th Century.

    Back in the late 1800s, one guy was injured when he fell off the roof. The early mentions of him were very respectful, calling him mister. But after four or five years, references were only by his last name. Eventually, the township offered him a deal: They’d give him $100 (a fair sum at the time) if he got on the train and promised never to come back to our township again. Which he did. Don’t know what happened to him after that.

    But I do know that lawsuits between townships sometimes arose when they persuaded paupers to move to other localities, which is one reason things like food stamps, Social Security, Medicaid, and other such programs are still supported by most officials at the township and county level, even wingnuts, because they know the money won’t then be coming out of their property taxes.

  • “A hundred years ago the social safety net in the country was provided by the church.”

    Which is a lie, and we’ve got the township records in our museum to prove it. In Illinois, township government was responsible for assisting “paupers,” funding with tax dollars the “town house” where paupers were allowed to live. Township records are replete with expenses paid on behalf of paupers from firewood to medical care to food and clothing. Churches may have helped a little–depending in whether the pauper in question belonged to the church in question–but it certainly doesn’t show up in either the press of the era or in township records. Paupers were mostly widowed or otherwise unmarried women, but they also included those injured on the job and who were otherwise unemployable.

    Ignorance and total disinterest in history is a positive plague on the American body politic.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Fed’s Quantitative Easing Seen as Ineffective

    2011-04-25 09:05:49View | Delete

    Seems to me there’s a substantial difference between improving the stock market and improving the nation’s economy. It was pretty clear the Fed was doing the former without much thought of or interest in what was happening with the latter.

    Until the real estate crisis ends, I don’t see any real improvement in the economy. For some years leading up to the real estate market crash, economists contended (and rightly so, with wages stagnating) that the investment people had in their homes was what was fueling a goodly part of the nation’s economy as they used home equity loans and refinancing to buy stuff. Now, with so many homes foreclosed and so many more with loans under water, that source of cash is no longer available, and probably won’t be for years. Couple that with the goal changes of big business, which now seems more aimed at making their executives rich an accumulating cash reserves than actually engaging in growing the economy, and I simply don’t see where the economy has any fuel to grow.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post They’ll sell your soul to the company store…

    2011-04-14 05:36:28View | Delete

    Raise the retirement age to 70? Only if the age at which elected governmental officials can start drawing their pensions is raised to 90. Seems fair to me and a great way to save taxpayers’ dollars.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Early Morning Swim

    2011-03-15 05:55:38View | Delete

    The Boston Globe is on the Manning bandwagon this a.m., too.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Pull Up a Chair

    2011-01-01 07:01:15View | Delete

    Thank god 2010 is over, and here’s hoping this will be a much happier New Year.

    Out here west of Chicago, we had 13″ of snow on the ground day before yesterday; today, the only remnants are where it had been piled down at the end of the driveways in our neighborhood. Our yards are completely snow-free. When we went out to get Chinese for our New Year’s dinner last night, it was 56 degrees! This morning, it’s 27. Gotta love northern Illinois weather.

    Across the road along the river, the geese are having a high old time from the sounds of things. The finches and snowbirds are visiting the feeders–as are those damned squirrels, even though they have their OWN food which we supply, damnit! But no, they’d rather dismantle the woodpeckers’ suet feeder and demolish the finch feeder. Don’t even get me started on squirrels.

    But the neat thing is a friend called a week ago and said she saw eight bald eagles sitting in a single tree just upriver from us. This time of year, the eagles come down from Wisconsin and other places to spend time with us, and it’s always a treat to see the sun glinting off their white heads and tails as they soar above the river.

    And they make the Canada geese freak out, too, which isn’t a bad thing. There are an estimated 60,000 geese now living year round here in the Fox River Valley, and they are major pests. I was going through back issues of our weekly newspaper the other day, and back in 1966 seeing geese anywhere around here was so unusual that there was a front page story complete with a photo of six (count ‘em!) geese that had stopped on their migration south. There are now so many of them packed along the riverbank that they stain the ice yellow with their droppings. Which is why I cheer every time I see a coyote or fox or hawk or eagle. Go get ‘em, boys, say I!

    Time for another cup of coffee and then out to fill the feeders. And I’ve got to paint the replacement window feeder my son the craftsman made for his mother for Christmas. The old one is badly deteriorated. The new one, of nicely finished red oak, is almost too pretty to paint, but I’m very big on white window feeders.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Pull Up a Chair

    2010-12-18 06:37:32View | Delete

    This is going to be a family-intensive holiday. Our son, daughter-in-law, and their twins plus my daughter will come over Christmas Eve to open gifts and graze on all sorts of goodies. The twins are 3 this Christmas, and so it ought to be a lot of fun. Christmas Day, we all troop to my son’s house for dinner at noon with the group plus my daughter-in-law’s parents. Great food (everybody’s a great cook in my family–except me), good conversation, and great beer are in store.

    We’re all very lucky in my family this year. The construction company my son worked for went broke a couple years ago, but last January he incorporated and he now does remodels, cabinet-making, furniture making, and other stuff on his own hook, and has an increasing amount of business. His wife is a teacher of gifted students, and has enough seniority that her job is pretty safe. My daughter does something with computers, survived two layoffs at her company, and is now moving up. Both son and daughter have English degrees and are self-taught in what they do for a living. All us parents are retired and so far so good, financially, although my son’s in-laws’ income has been cut by two-thirds by the depression. But their baseline was two or three times higher than ours to start with, so they’re not candidates for the food pantry.

    So we’ll all get together and wonder what the hell is happening to this country, commiserate about the fate of Bill Foster (who we all worked for) in November, drink good beer (wine for the women, I hear), and watch some football if we’re lucky.

  • RAMA commented on the diary post Another Phony Dispute Between the White House and Its Stalking Horses by Scarecrow.

    2010-12-16 19:33:33View | Delete

    Perhaps someone could explain to me how DeLong knows what Orszag believes. It’s possible to know what Orszag SAYS he believes, but it’s impossible to know what he actually believes. That used to be Journalism 101. Back when there were journalists, of course.

  • RAMA commented on the blog post Mica Begs Passengers Not to Opt Out of Porno Scanners

    2010-11-21 18:41:30View | Delete

    I can see why the GOP wants to go back to private screeners; that system worked so well on 9-11-2001 we ought to go back to it. Right?

    I refuse to fly. I’m just not interested in surrendering what little human dignity I have left to some federal rent-a-cop, not to mention giving up my constitutional right against unreasonable search.

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