Wednesday, March 01, 2006

On the Blogs Today

On the Blogs Today

Carpetbagger Report - Bush sees political capital that doesn't seem to exist

Crooks and Liars - Frank Zappa debates Lieberman's pals on Crossfire '86

Wonkette - Blogs: Too Dirty Even For Karl Rove?

Anonymoses on Bill Sammons' "Strategery":
"Karl Roverer, the so-called "genius" behind the so-called "successful" Bush residency, is still with the use of the hindbrain, from which he now predicts a stunning Republican victory in 2008, according to infamous catamite to the Reich, Matt Drudge, and slick Fox-fed opportunist, Bill Sammon -- neither of whom bear the least resemblance to Nostrodamus.

Mr. Sammon is hawking his new book, which is running with the title, "Strategery", which, for all we know, is but a vain attempt to legitimate one of Bush's copious blunders, in much the same way that Bush's whipping boys keep repeating "nucular" -- a move which only moves the speaker down into the sub-cerebral bushosphere.

Drudge, Rove & Sammons. Foxes that cry wolf. On cue. Pavlov's foxes. Ring the bell and turds as words begin to flow into a sort of cloaca of consciousness, or unconsciousness, the aggregate of which we refer to collectively as simply BushWorld.

BushWorld! Where the Tao fears to tread, and Nature knows no Reason.
BushWorld! The darkening of the Light.
BushWorld! Where the world is an oyster for the Topnazis to molest with their mouths, and spit up on the poor.

It's a stratragedy. Written by a shakespoon
." - Iraq's worst week -- and Bush's by Juan Cole

AmericaBlog - 100,000 'welcome' Bush to India

Robert Scheer (Huffington Post) - Mixed Messages in the War on Terror

Larry Johnson (Huffington Post) - The Nile In Iraq?

News Hounds - Fox Guest: 1300 Dead In Iraq In 6 Days - But, There's Some Good News

The Rejection of Most Things American

The Rejection of Most Things American
In the Middle East, An Unfortunate Result of Bush's Policy On Iraq

Paul McGeough, the Chief Sydney Herald correspondent in Amman, Jordan, reports that Tehran has gained influence. He calls it the staggering consequences of what many in the Middle East see as America's policy failure in the area - - "the firming supremacy of non-Arab Iran."
A Jordanian businesswoman told the Herald: "We'll look back at this period as a turning point in everyone's history - you can smell the change coming."
Middle Easterners are faulting the decidedly neoconservative idea that democracy could take root in societies that do not have the cultural or institutional depth for it. King Abdullah of Jordan has accused Tehran of peddling influence in Iraq to create a "Shiite crescent" that might extend from Afghanistan to Lebanon.
The fear across the region now is that a full-blown conflict in Iraq might speed the shaping of that crescent by sparking sectarian conflict in neighbouring Sunni-led countries.
An unnamed Jordanian analyst has said that,
...because the regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the Gulf states were entrenched, the only identity they had projected was their Arabness. But with the increasing influence of Shiite Iran, those regimes now felt obliged to project their Sunniness, and to take sides accordingly.
It's being said that Washington DC missed some extremely telling signs in 2004:
The Americans might have read something into the refusal of the rest of the Shiite religious leaders to help their failed attempt to arrest the radical Shiite firebrand Moqtada al Sadr on charges of a brutal murder in 2004. They didn't, but some Jordanian analysts draw a line from that act of defiance to the present crisis in Iraq to conclude that the Shiites have made a choice - they are Shiite before they are Iraqi. (See my own post from April of 2004).
Because of this and other misreadings of the culture in Iraq, Iran, in effect, is holding the US a virtual hostage while mired down in the uncontrollable violence in Iraq.

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Jagdish Bhagwati offers the Bush administration some advice: Take some lessons from the history of India. the U.S. goes about its business of pressure-cooked democratization in Iraq, we need to appreciate that Indian democracy succeeded because her political institutions were a legacy that evolved over decades under British rule. During those years, the rule of law, elections, the judiciary, even NGOs, developed through the land. Iraq's difficulties illustrate, by contrast, how hard it is to transplant functioning democratic institutions.
There was always a better approach to sure, steady, and positive democratic development, yet for all his passion for global democratic and economic reform, President Bush had a blind spot when it came to Iraq. He risked his Presidency on acting as a radical revolutionary - unilaterally removing Saddam Hussein and transplanting democratic institutions rather than taking an organic and cooperative approach. He lied to American citizens about his confidence in (and the soundness of) the WMD intelligence. He offered 20-plus rationales for going to an elective war with Iraq. There was no plan for victory and no visible goalposts. We're in a bind in Iraq today - chaos reigns - and our President continues to deny it in public interviews.

William Buckley Jr. knows it didn't work. Christopher Hitchens rails at Francis Fukuyama for abandoning the brand of neoconservatism that brought us the Iraq War. Josh Marshall is quoting Peter Galbraith who is referring to Iraq as "The Mess." As we approach its Third Anniversary, Scott Ritter calls the Iraq War a solution to nothing.
The Sunni insurgency is stronger than ever, and Shiite death squads roam the street in the guise of government police and soldiers. Torture, rape and murder are rampant as official tools of government suppression. And American troops appear to be powerless to stop this mindless slide into the abyss, all the while being killed and maimed for a cause that has always been nebulous.

..herein lies the problem: We continue to try to solve a problem we have yet to define, meaning we are seeking a solution to nothing.

- Scott Ritter

2007 Federal Budget Drains Lifeblood of U.S. Communities

2007 Federal Budget Drains Lifeblood of U.S. Communities

Another Stab at the Heart of the Poor - A Look at Some of the Federal Grants That Have Been Eliminated or Severely Cut by the 2007 Federal Budget
The reductions in grant funds are spread throughout a wide range of budget categories and programs. In some cases nominal funding is slated for a cut. In others, the proposed funding fails to keep pace with the cost of the program.

Examples of grants that are being terminated include:

HOPE VI grants, which help to revitalize public housing and nearby communities and promote resident involvement

The Community Services Block Grant, which provides funding for a range of social services and other types of assistance to low-income families and elderly and disabled individuals

The Preventive Care Block Grant, which is operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provides grants to states for preventive health services for underserved populations

The Commodity Supplemental Food Program, which provides nutritional food packages for less than $20 a month to more than 400,000 low-income elderly people; and

A variety of education programs, including the Safe and Drug Free Schools grant.

Grants that are being cut significantly include:

The Child Care Development Block Grant;

Community Oriented Policing Services;

The Community Development Block Grant formula grant program;

Other education programs including vocational and adult education;

Who will feel budget's impact?
- Medicaid recipients can expect higher copayments and deductibles.
- College students may face higher interest rates on student loans, as lenders are squeezed.
- Work requirements for women on welfare are likely to be tightened.
- Federal aid to states for child-support enforcement will be curtailed.
"There's a fairness issue here," says Isabel Sawhill, a senior fellow in economics at the Brookings Institution. "We're basically cutting programs that serve low-income families and the middle class in order to pay for tax cuts that go overwhelmingly to the very wealthy. Even some Republicans have been uncomfortable with that."

The Rutherford Institute -
War Machine Drains the Lifeblood of America
by John W. Whitehead
With so much allocated to fighting the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration and Congress have cut funding elsewhere. For the most part, this has meant cutting funds for the poor and elderly. In December 2005, Congress passed a budget bill (with Dick Cheney as the deciding vote) to cut $40 billion in federal spending by ending funding for foster care, child support and student loans. It also imposed new fees on Medicaid recipients and new work restrictions on state welfare programs.

In Iowa -
"I can't believe that there's a will to cut $36 billion out of Medicare," said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa. "I can't imagine the Republican Party . . . is going to allow this to come through this year, in an election year. We all know who votes in election years," Harkin added, referring to the high voting rate for senior citizens who rely on the health care program for the aged.

In Pennsylvania -
Pennsylvania's safety net will fray even further and vulnerable children, women and families will disproportionately bear the burden of budget choices outlined within President Bush's 2007 budget request.
In New Mexico -
The idea of handing off more responsibilities to the states is swell, theoretically. But the idea is pretty much meaningless for needy states that can't afford to take on those responsibilities. New Mexico, more than most other states, will bleed from these cuts.
In Virginia -
Most Americans assume that those who make the most pay the most -- on the contrary, the administration's budget of the 21st century is looking more like a voodoo economic program to keep the rich richer and the poor worse off.If the administration could shoot the deficit as well as it can shoot its friends, our generation would be much better off. However, it is up to the more level-headed Congress and the American people to make sure all Americans pay their fair share in the economy.
In South Dakota -
South Dakota is among nine states that would receive less federal money next year under President Bush's $2.7 trillion budget proposal, according to an independent analysis.
In Massachusetts -
Massachusetts will receive more than $5 billion in Medicaid reimbursements this year. That number would drop in 2007 to $4.3 billion -- endangering thousands of poor families who rely on the benefit for healthcare. The state is also scheduled lose an estimated $69 million in federal money from a variety of other programs, including $288,000 from child support enforcement, $8.6 million from Title 1 education grants and $6.9 million from the Environmental Protection Agency's clean water fund, the study found.
In Georgia -
His budget simply extends the fiction that spending on social services can be reduced while tax breaks cannot, leaving the coming crisis for someone else to deal with. That "someone else" is the younger generations of Americans who will have to pay the bill for the current foolhardy fiscal policies. To assure that Social Security and Medicare can deliver promised benefits three generations from now, the federal government would have to set aside $5 trillion and $30 trillion, respectively, in interest-bearing accounts today, according to U.S. Comptroller General David Walker. Deep deficits make that impossible.
For Black Americans -
Civil rights activists and congressional leaders assailed President George W. Bush’s proposed budget, saying the $2.77 trillion spending plan will dramatically reduce funding for domestic initiatives while eliminating social programs that serve millions of black Americans.

John Edwards Leads the Fight Against Poverty

John Edwards Leads the Fight Against Poverty

Jim Morrill/Charlotte Observer -
Edwards blends poverty, politics

Ed Tibbetts/Quad-City Times -
Edwards: Katrina brought poverty back to political forefront

From One America blog -
Illinois blogger writes about Senator Edwards
Scott McFarland is a young blogger from Moline, Illinois, who recently saw Senator Edwards at a Democratic fundraiser in Davenport, IA. In his blog post about the event..
Chicago Chronicle -
Edwards to share his message on lifting Americans out of poverty by Rob McManamy
The charismatic, passionate and articulate former U.S. Sen. John Edwards is speaking out about the need to lift more Americans out of poverty and into the middle class.[...] "Speakers like Sen. Edwards provoke, inspire and foster dialogue in a way that complements students’ experiences at the University and in their academic training," said [Susan Mayer, Dean of the Harris School]..."


Recent Stories on Poverty in the U.S.

Salt Lake Tribune -
When the spotlight fades: Katrina a powerful lens for seeing response to poverty: Battling poverty: For some, the hurricane just compounded problems, such as lack of job skills, that already existed
The stories of Hurricane Katrina survivors provide a powerful lens for viewing this country's response to poverty. Whether former Gulf Coast residents were impoverished before the storm, many fit the criteria now. "Katrina victims are what we've termed in social work circles the undeserving poor. The hurricane hits and they become the symbol for how we focus our resources. They were in the headlines, and we could see their poverty and their need," said Mary Jane Taylor, a University of Utah social work professor. "The question then becomes how soon are they going to become invisible, sent to the back of the line and become the deserving poor again?" -
Poor Pay Biggest Share of State, Local Taxes
Federal program cuts, tax breaks for the wealthy and state budget crises are not the only forces squeezing the working poor. According to a study by a progressive think tank, low-income households are getting pinched yet again by state income-tax policies that turn what little they have into even less.[...]Antipoverty groups say such tax policies add a perverse twist to an already tattered social safety net, and are demanding tax relief for the poor through redistributive fiscal policies..

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities -
The Impact Of State Income Taxes On Low-Income Families In 2005
by Jason A. Levitis and Nicholas Johnson
Some states levy income tax on working families in severe poverty. In Alabama, families with two children owe income tax when their earnings reach $4,600...Taxing the incomes of working-poor families runs counter to the efforts of policymakers across the political spectrum to help families work their way out of poverty. The federal government has exempted such families from the income tax since the mid-1980s, and a majority of states now do so as well.....States seeking to reduce or eliminate income taxes on low-income families can choose from an array of mechanisms to do so. These mechanisms include state Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs) and other low-income tax credits, no-tax floors, and personal exemptions and standard deductions that are adequate to shield poverty-level income from taxation. Some states go beyond exempting poor families from income tax by making their EITCs or other low-income credits refundable. These policies mean a lot to a family struggling to escape poverty, but they are relatively inexpensive to states, since these families have little income to tax.

PDF of Full Report (Mississippi) op-ed -
We Need To Talk
" is time to have a serious discussion to find serious solutions to the poverty problem in America. Katrina has opened a window. The question is: Do our elected leaders have the courage to move beyond politics and truly address a genuine problem that must be remedied if America is to live up to its promise?

David Jones/Gotham Gazette -
Taking On Poverty
Urban efforts to combat poverty are on the march. Just last month, the U.S. Conference of Mayors announced that it is forming a Taskforce on Poverty and Opportunity in America. Yet it has taken a storm of unprecedented magnitude – Hurricane Katrina - to bring the poor to the surface of the nation’s consciousness.

The Republican/ -
Many Hispanics facing hunger
Latinos are the poorest population in the United States and the least likely to seek emergency food assistance, according to a study issued by America's Second Harvest, the nation's largest food bank network.[..]The national study also found that more than 40 percent of people who depend on charity for nourishment have to choose between eating and paying utility bills. And 35 percent choose between the rent or mortgage and food.

America's Second Harvest -
New Study: More Than 25 Million Americans Seek Food Assistance Each Year
• 42% of clients served by the A2H National Network report having to choose between paying for food and paying for utilities or heating fuel
• 35% had to choose between paying for food and paying their rent or mortgage
• 32% had to choose between paying for food and paying for medicine or medical care.

Ann Doss Helms/Charlotte Observer -
9 [CMS] schools join poverty aid list
Nine more Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, including three "middle ring" high schools, will get extra aid in 2006-07 because of high poverty levels this year

In These Times -
Lies, Damn Lies and Poverty Statistics: How an archaic measurement keeps millions of poor Americans from being counted
By Christopher Moraff
...the gulf between the “haves” and “have nots” is reaching crisis proportions. Compounding the crisis is an archaic method for determining America’s poverty rate, which is then used to formulate the funding of programs that alleviate poverty. When President Bush sat down with his advisors to draft his FY 2007 budget, it’s debatable whether he took the time to examine the national poverty statistics provided each year by the Census Bureaus. What’s not debatable is that the Census Bureau’s methodology is woefully inadequate..

Op-ed News -
Behind The Curtain No Longer: Six Months After Katrina by Todd Huffman, M.D.
Since January 2001 .. the ranks of the poor in America have swelled by over four million. Today, one in five children in the greatest nation on earth live in poverty. Nearly 50 million Americans are without health care. Meanwhile, astoundingly, out of spite or simply in oblivion, Republican leaders in Washington are this year set to consider further tax cuts for the rich and budget cuts for the poor.


Alleviating Poverty Around the World -
Social Entrepreneurs' "Base of the Pyramid" Movement: Sustainable Business from the Bottom up
".."we try to create an enabling ecosystem of entrepreneurs, whom no one else is willing to fund."

- A quote from Upendra Bhatt of Bhatt's Aavishkaar, a company harnessing the poor's ingenuity and entrepreneurship to build profitable businesses serving basic needs.

..Fisher and Bhatt are part of a growing BOP (base or bottom of the economic pyramid) movement, whose common call is to alleviate poverty while generating sustainable profits for companies large and small. Poverty alleviation and profit making are rarely considered complementary activities. BOP practitioners -- social entrepreneurs such as Fisher and Bhatt -- seek a middle ground where the private sector's power is brought to bear on persistent social, economic, and environmental problems.

Robert Fripp/Charlotte/February 22, 2006

Robert Fripp Concert
Charlotte/February 22, 2006

*Robert Fripp's Live Soundscapes CD is:
Love Cannot Bear

I traveled from Syracuse, N.Y. to Charlotte, N.C. last week to see guitarist Robert Fripp perform at the Neighborhood Theatre. His soundscapes transported me from a mundane Wednesday evening existence deep into one of my inner chambers where no one is generally allowed admission - - not even me.

The audience was offered a screen with colorful images generated as impulses, hypersensitive to sound. It was easy to get completely lost in those ever-changing images - or in simply watching the graceful gentleman in the black leather jacket facing his intricate electronic equipment with guitar in capable hands. Often, as the sound reverberated, I would close my eyes and imagine spirits summoned to turn my worldworn thoughts toward the one light that we call home. It isn't just any man who can feed such inspiration into the hungry soul. Mr. Fripp is the living hymnal, dust blown off the cover and the ancient notes come to life.

When it came time to speak to his audience, he showed that he cared so much for his craft - and for passing it on - that he would go beyond the norm to tolerate the corrupt of this world in order to reach those men and women who would never otherwise have had an opportunity to experience the joy of music.

He said that playing inside an old church or cathedral is the most enriching experience for the player as well as the listener because of all the melodious strains in the building's history that have preceded that performance.

The two photos above are credited to, where Robert Fripp's own diary about the Charlotte show can be found. I was one of the people who offered the kind words as Mr. Fripp left the venue. I recall thanking him for feeding my soul with such richness. To have failed to have thanked him would have seemed as unappreciative as failing to give thanks to Mother Earth for a precious sunny afternoon. His Soundscapes are a diamond in this coal mine of a world.

I am quite shy, but I had secretly wanted to tell Mr. Fripp about a time - more than once, actually - when I got lost in the West Virginia countryside in my search for a place I knew he was quite familiar with - a Washingtonian estate in the Shenandoah Valley called Claymont Court .

I had attended the Fripp concert with a fellow fan (a dear friend) who had gotten lost along with me while searching for the Gurdjieff/Bennett school - and the places to which the wrong roads took us were the places we will never forget for the surprising joys they'd brought our way. Life is, indeed, the lovely book of experiences that are written while you're on your journey to the places you think you're going to.
..that evening was my favorite
driving back from a day of discovery
sun setting below the mountains
sky turning a Parrish blue...

I have also posted a review to DMGLIVE.