So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish

Our dear friend Paul Jamiol has officially hung up his ‘editorial cartoonist’ hat for the election season, and will be focusing more on his photography, his wife, and his dogs. To keep up with his future endeavors, you can visit Jamiolsworld.com.

Paul’s ‘toons have graced TheZoo’s pages for most of our 16 years, and his custom header artwork depicting the original Critters was a wonderful and thoughtful gift to us.

Here are the last few ‘toons from Paul’s mind and hand. Note, the Kanye one is actually from August, but I forgot to post it – it still fits in with the current events.

No, Paul, “Thank YOU!”

Open Thread, say whatever you want.

Watering Hole: November 6, 2014 – Old vs New

Tuesday was a sad day for our nation.  President Obama’s voters deserted him.  This feels like a repeat of 1998. Democrats need to learn to show up at all elections.

I am getting too old to continue to fight to save our nation.  This election was about the future for the Gen X’s, Gen Y’s, and Millennials.  There will probably still be enough food and clean water to drink until I get planted in the ground.  I’m not sure that I can say the same for my children and grandchildren.

So, will the rich keep getting richer?  Will we be returning to the feudal system?  Is this the end of democracy?  Sadly, America now has the worst government that money can buy.  The “kooks” will be running the nation financed by the greedy likes of the Koch brothers.

Just a word to the younger generation, if Social Security is dismantled, your parents and/or grandparents will be moving in with you.  You will be straddled with student loan debt because the Republicans use your money to finance their wars and war machinery.   You will have the country that your apathy and lack of voting will provide.  I wish you luck with that.  As I said, I am old and for me, “everyday above ground is a good day”.

This is our Open Thread.  I’m sure there will be plenty to Speak Up about.

NB:  I cried when Reagan got elected and I came close to crying on Tuesday night.

The Watering Hole, Monday, March 11th, 2013: From Morons to Marvels

Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., has been in the news a lot lately, in part for having been one of the select few Republicans who were invited to the recent dinner meeting with President Obama. In an appearance yesterday on This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Senator Johnson stated,

“If we’re going to really get to an agreement, this is a good step…You have to start meeting with people. You have to start developing relationships. You’ve got to spend a fair amount of time figuring out what we agree on first.”

[Especially when the Republican “leaders” won’t tell their flock the truth about what the President has offered, and the flock and the media are too dumb or brainwashed to lift a couple of fingers and check whitehouse.gov!]

The same “This Week” appearance also saw Paul Krugman, in his inimitable manner, school Senator Johnson on the Social Security program.

Prior to that, in the debate over authorizing the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), Senator Johnson was one of a group of “…Republicans [who] have objected to new provisions in the law, including one allowing tribal courts for the first time to prosecute men who aren’t American Indians when they’re accused of abusing an American Indian woman on a reservation. . .”, according to ThinkProgress, which also quotes Senator Johnson as saying:

“the Senate has approved a piece of legislation that sounds nice, but which is fatally flawed. By including an unconstitutional expansion of tribal authority and introducing a bill before the Congressional Budget Office could review it to estimate its cost, Senate Democrats made it impossible for me to support a bill covering an issue I would like to address.”

Coincidentally and fortuitously (or not), when searching for a link on a completely different topic, I ran across this one about Ron Johnson from 2010. It includes a video of Johnson, demonstrating the average conservative’s love of fetuses but not actual children, while “…testifying against the Wisconsin Child Victims Act, which would have eliminated the statute of limitation on lawsuits brought by victims of abuse by priests against the Catholic Church.

Okay, as a palate-cleanser, I believe that there’s something for everyone in these photo slideshows from The Weather Channel.

For all of us who love space science and/or who have experienced various types of mind-enhancement, here’s (now think Muppets “Pigs in Space” voice) “Light Trails from Space.”

Staying in space for the moment, the Comet Pan-STARRS is in the ‘hood, and should start to be visible to the naked eye tomorrow. The chart shown in this article indicates where the large comet can be located (in the western sky at sunset) over the next two weeks or so.

Last from TWC (and getting back to ‘trails’…you’ll see): unusual (and occasionally claustrophobia-inducing) tunnels are highlighted in this feature. Although the first tunnel shown only has the one photo – see below – the rest of them have some amazing shots. Tunnel #18, Shanghai’s Bund Sightseeing Tunnel, described as “senseless, yet fabulous“, could likely induce trails even for persons who have never seen trails before. A youtube video of the entire ride is linked to under the description of the Shanghai tunnel, but I haven’t had the chance to watch it yet. Who’s gonna go first? 🙂

Enjoy!

Ukraine "Tunnel of Love"

Ukraine “Tunnel of Love”

This is our Open thread – what topic would you like to discuss?

Sunday Roast: January 6, 2013 – Permanent Campaigning

Will permanent campaigning remain to be the future of Politics? I seems so.

Take the upcoming fight about the debt ceiling. President Obama has said his piece and stressed he won’t give in again.

“While I will negotiate over many things, I will not have another debate with this Congress over whether or not they should pay the bills that they’ve already racked up through the laws that they passed,” he said late Tuesday night. “Let me repeat: We can’t not pay bills that we’ve already incurred. If Congress refused to give the U.S. the ability to pay these bills on time, the consequences for the entire global economy would be catastrophic – far worse than the impact of a fiscal cliff. People remember, back in 2011, the last time this course of action was threatened, our entire recovery was put at risk. Consumer confidence plunged. Business investment plunged. Growth dropped. We can’t go down that path again.”

But on the other hand Republicans don’t seem eager to take this for granted:

 

On Thursday, the Speaker, John Boehner, humiliatingly sidelined in the fiscal-cliff talks after he lost control of his unruly House membership, was re-elected to his post for the 113th Congress by just six votes, after a dozen arch-conservative Tea Partiers defected. Less than 24 hours later, Mr Boehner promised House Republicans he would use the debt ceiling to force Mr Obama to cut spending.

A recipe for the next disastrous showdown? Or, maybe not? Lately we have seen some active campaigning when it comes to several issues. In the matter of the debt ceiling we may have the most colorful and ingenious one. #mintthecoin that’s a gem. Although I am highly nervous about that one, here’s why.

The fancy of a $1 trillion platinum coin is so tantalising in part because it puts a monetary option in play. The larger attraction, though, is that it does so in a way that honours democracy by sticking to the letter of democratic legislation, yet also flirts with the heady unilateral decisiveness of fascism.

There was and is a very active campaign for the protection of social programs, as soon as the rumors were flying Medicare and and the Social Security COLA were on the table. There is active campaigning going on from both sides pro and contra when it comes to gun control. And there was a rather active but unsuccessful campaign from the very right to unseat Speaker Boehner. 

The powerful had done their lobbying for ages and activism played a very important part in American politics for a long while, so why is this different from what we had before?Politicians and activists understand, that in a media environment where nothing remains unseen or unheard of and twitter and facebook can get a message viral within seconds, political life is a constant campaign and you’re not campaigning only for office anymore, but rather for every bill and measure you are supporting. So, the campaigning goes on, after elections is before elections, no time to go back to some serious policy making.

Who uses the media best will get proclaimed the winner, even if in the process the people they are supposed to work for, loses. Politics has become about winning and losing in a constant campaign. Policies will be determined by Gallup Daily, Rasmussen, tv ratings or Nate Silver. (The latter would be a blessing though, because then we would at least have the unbiased majority decision on policy.)

All that’s missing is a full onslaught of tv ads, or do I only think so because I can’t get US television? If the media don’t pick up their responsibility in this this won’t change any time soon. But will they? Do I have to mention that this is a billion $$$ market, well worth to extend beyond it’s two and four year cycle for the National Elections? So no, I don’t think they will.

THIS IS OUR OPEN THREAD, HAVE A GOOD SUNDAY AND JOIN THE DISCUSSION!

The Watering Hole, Thursday, December 13th, 2012: Retirement Plan?

lotteryticket

Since I apparently did not inherit my parents’ excellent habits of saving money and planning for the future, my own idea of a comfortable retirement depends, for the most part, on winning big in the lottery. Yes, I have a 401K plan which, when I finally pay back the loans I’ve taken out against it, might (with care) get me through two years of retirement. So it looks like I’ll have to keep working until I either go blind from staring at a computer all day (too bad my health insurance doesn’t cover eyeglasses), or until I hit the big one. Medicare and Social Security had better be alive and well when I’m finally forced to retire!

This is our daily open thread — feel free to discuss any topic you’d like!

It’s Was Just A Matter of Time

The greedy Republicans want ALL of our money.  Last Friday, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), introduced a bill that would allow workers to immediately stop contributing 6.2% of their pay to Social Security and instead, put this money in a “Savings Account for Every American” (SAFE).

That would take the place of the 6.2 percent the workers now contributed to Social Security.

Another 6.2% is sent to Social Security by employers. Under the Sessions bill, employers would continue to make this matching contribution to Social Security, but after 15 years, employers could also send that amount to the employee’s SAFE account.

(Source:  The Hill)

Under the bill, employees would be able to make tax free contributions to their SAFE account, and take tax-free distributions at retirement age. The bill would also allow employees to stay with the Social Security program if they wish.

From “the bill”…

‘‘(2) The trustee is a bank (as defined in sec20
tion 408(n)) or such other person who demonstrates
21 to the satisfaction of the Secretary that the manner
22 in which such other person will administer the trust
23 will be consistent with the requirements of this sec24
tion.

A bit more from “the bill”…

‘‘(3) No part of the trust funds will be invested
2 in life insurance contracts.
3 ‘‘(4) The interest of an individual in the bal4
ance in his account is nonforfeitable.
5 ‘‘(5) The assets of the trust will not be commin6
gled with other property except in a common trust
7 fund or common investment fund.

H/T Blatant Liberal

So here it is, the privatization of Social Security.  This is what the Republicans have been working towards since the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

To the Republican plan, I’ll be saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.  I’ll be staying with Social Security.”

Watering Hole: December 13, 2010 – They Are Coming For It All

I spoke with a woman that ran for Congress three times against Joe Pitts.  Yes, it is the same Pitts from the Stupak/Pitts amendment to the health care reform bill.  Her name is Lois Herr and I have met her on many occasions.  She said that this time she became more acquainted with Washington money and the huge amount of money that is required to get elected on the national scene.  Unfortunately for Americans, Lois Herr did not unseat Joe “creationist” Pitts.  She will not be running for Congress again.  Instead, she will be writing a book about the influence of big money on our elections.

According to this article at the Los Angeles Times, the fund raising has already begun.

George Carlin, may he rest in peace, said it all.

This is our open thread.  It’s your turn to Speak Up!

Watering Hole: December 6, 2010 – Say It Ain’t So, Kitty

First, they came for my retirement 401K/IRA.  Then, they devalued my investment properties.  Now, they want to dismantle the only thing between me and living on the streets.  They want my Social Security.

Instead of focusing on a commission to create jobs which would increase tax revenues and increase demands for goods, Obama decided that it was better to go along with the Tea Party’s and Club for Growth wishes reducing Government spending so he opted for a Deficit Commission instead.

So how does the recommendations from the Deficit Commission (Cat Food Commission) effect seniors?  Here’s how…

The plan calls for eliminating most popular tax breaks, while preserving smaller breaks for mortgage interest on primary residences, charitable contributions and employer-paid health insurance. While broadening the tax base, it would lower individual and corporate tax rates from a maximum of 35% to no more than 29%.

It includes higher Medicare copayments and reduced Social Security benefits for many future retirees, as well as an increase in the retirement age from 67, where it’s headed in 2027, to 69 by 2075. Both defense and domestic spending would be slashed, and new rules put in place to lock in those reductions.

Really?  They want you to work until you drop dead on the job.  If you do manage to survive,  there could be a boost for the cat food industry.

Fortunately for Americans, the recommendations did not receive the 14 votes that were needed to move these recommendations to Congress for a vote.  Some members of the commission had this to say:

… co-chair Erskine Bowles (transcribed more or less verbatim). Saying that the the threat of these deficit is “real”, he said: “The solutions will be painful, and there is not easy way out but at the end of this journey America will be a better place.”

The bi-partisan insanity was represented by Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad: “Other than the terrorist threat to America, this is the greatest threat to America.”

That’s a bit frightening.  In my opinion, high unemployment with few available jobs is a greater threat to America.

This is our Open Thread.  Feel free to Speak Up!

(All politics are local)

Continue reading

Watering Hole – September 13, 2010 – I Want My Country Back

Yes, you heard me.  I want my country back… back from the Tea Party and the big corporations that financially support them.  I do NOT want my country to return to the Tea Party and Republican principles of:

  • Repealing the Civil Rights Act because the central Government should not tell States how to treat American citizens.
  • Eliminating the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.  Women should not be voting.  They don’t have time for politics because they need to be in the kitchen cooking and they should be waiting on their husbands.  The bible tells us that women are subservient to men.
  • Returning to slave labor and sweat shop labor practices because businesses should be free to abuse their employees without Government interference.
  • Dismantling Social Security because seniors should have planned better for their retirement.  Too bad and too sad if Wall Street bankers stole most of their IRA money.  Tough luck if the seniors worked at jobs that didn’t have a pension program or 401K program.  If these seniors worked for minimum wage, they still should have thought ahead even if it required providing less food and clothing for their children so that they would have that extra money to save for their retirement.  Some Republican candidates are claiming that Social Security is unconstitutional.
  • Dismantling Medicare because health care is not a right, it is a privilege and the Tea Party does not approve of privileges except when it comes to their idols and themselves.  Besides, only the privileged deserve health care.
  • Eliminating disability payments because people need to be more responsible and not get injured on the job.  This includes our military veterans.  They should stop whining because after all, they volunteered.
  • Forcing Catholics, Jews and Muslims to commit sins by having to read and study the protestant bible in public schools.
  • Allowing property owners to create toll roads.  People have a right to collect money from anyone that crosses their property line.  Good luck with getting to work on time and having any money left over from your paycheck after paying all the tolls.
  • Supporting “Second Amendment” solutions as a means of conflict resolution.  This might also work as a method of population control.
  • Returning to the glory days of lords and serfs.

I want my country back from hate mongers like Beck, Palin, Limbaugh, Malkin, Kristol, Bachmann, Rove, Cheney, and all the rest that appear on Fox News, the opinion network.  The goals for these people are to divide our country and to make piles of money while undereducated people do their dirty work for them.

I want my country back from racists such as Beck, Laura Schlesinger, the Tea Party and the Larouches.  These people are so upset because there is a black family living in, what they perceive as, the White(‘s only) House.

I want my country back from people that profit from the suffering of others (Beck, Palin and Limbaugh).

I want my country back from politicians that place Wall Street above and before Main Street.

Yes, I want my country back.  The one where everyone is treated with respect and  equality, the one where everyone receives good health care, the one where everyone receives a livable wage, and the one where everyone is free to practice their religious beliefs without interference from other religions.

I want back, the country that was progresing forward.  Not the one that is currently heading in Reverse.

This is our Open Thread.  What do you want back?  Speak UP!

Keep the Government’s Hands Off My Medicare and Social Security!

The Teabagger’s concerns aren’t too far off the mark. With an eye on running for Governor of California, Senator Diane Feinstein has unveiled a plan to create a super-commission tasked with gutting the country’s most popular and effective social programs, Social Security and Medicare.

According to the article on Credo, Calfornia’s senior Senator is willing to cripple the federal government by blocking any increase to the debt ceiling unless she gets her way. And her way is to create a commission that’s given extraordinary legislative powers:

“The commission would be able to offer legislation in both chambers of Congress that could not be filibustered or amended and that would pass on simple majority vote.”

So, it appears that Democrats can operate with resolve. Rather than make Social Security solvent by removing the cap upon which wages can be taxed – Income over $100,000 per year is Social Security Tax-Free – meaning the wealthy get a tax break, but not the minimum wage earner — Senator Feinstein would cut benefits to retiree’s whose sole income is Social Security.

Now, I must admit, I am a bit biased against Senator Feinstein. She lost my vote when she voted for a Constitutional Amendment aimed at restricting a particular form of political speech, flag burning. But she’s revealing her true Corporate Colors now.

And, one more thing to think about. If a super-commission can be created and given the powers to introduce legislation that cannot be filibustered, cannot be amended, cannot be blocked:

WHY THE HELL DIDN’T THE DEMOCRATS DO THAT WITH HEALTH CARE REFORM! WE COULD HAVE HAD UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE MONTHS AGO!!!!!

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Where Barack Obama stands on 10 key issues

Newsday

In accepting the Democratic Party presidential nomination Barack Obama laid out his philosophy on the role of government.

Newsday examined Obama’s positions
on 10 key issues:

On the economy: Would inject $75 billion into the economy through tax cuts and direct spending, targeting working families, seniors, homeowners and the unemployed. He contends this would prevent 1 million Americans from losing their jobs. The plan includes an immediate $250 tax cut for workers and their families and an immediate, temporary $250 bonus to seniors in their Social Security checks. 

On Iraq/Afghanistan: Pledges to withdraw most U.S. troops from Iraq within 16 months, by the end of next year, four months earlier than his previous pledge. A residual force would remain to conduct targeted counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida, protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel, and support Iraq’s security forces. Opposed use of military force in Iraq, as well as the January 2007 “troop surge,” saying that while it improved security, a political accommodation in the country is the ultimate solution. 

On National Security: Would implement 9/11 Commission recommendations. Would close controversial prison at U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, which holds hundreds of suspected terrorists and other detainees. Voted to reauthorize Patriot Act in 2006, but would revise it. Pledges to secure chemical plants and ensure safe, secure disposal of nuclear waste.

Continue reading

Cafferty File on Privatizing Social Security

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H/T: Crooks and Liars

Jack Cafferty is the only person I’ve seen on TV so far to make this incredibly important point: If George Bush and John McCain had their way with privatizing Social Security, millions of seniors would be totally screwed right now.

From The Cafferty File:

“Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

The crisis on Wall Street is enough to rattle any investor Let alone one who is about to retire or whos already living on a fixed income.

401(k)s and pension plans — many of which have exposure to these troubled companies — are taking huge hits as a result of this mess.

Luckily we have the safety net of Social Security to fall back on. For now.

You may remember just four years ago President Bush made a big push to partially privatize Social Security You know so we could individually invest our future with the great minds on Wall Street. It failed back then, but that concept could still become a reality. See John McCain also supports supplementing Social Security with private investment accounts. His opponent Barack Obama does not.

Heres my question to you: In light of the failures of large financial institutions, is privatizing Social Security a good idea?”

Here they Go Again, Social Security must be Cut!

Story off the AP wire via MSNBC:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20957376/
The Bush administration said Monday the only way to permanently fix Social Security is through some combination of benefit cuts and tax increases.

That was one of the key findings in a new paper on Social Security released by the Treasury Department in an effort to achieve common ground on the politically explosive issue.

“Social Security can be made permanently solvent only by reducing the present value of scheduled benefits and/or increasing the present value of scheduled tax increases,” the paper said. The Treasury paper said that while other changes to the giant benefit program might be desirable “only these changes can restore solvency permanently.”
!~!~!~!~!
Unfortunately, these clowns completely forget to mention that uncapping the SS contribution or raising the interest rate for raiding the surplus would fix the problem permanently…