February 2009

From the NY Times. Now might be the time to head for the hills.



I figured I should follow up my angsty return post with something ridiculous. Here it is.


I like t-shirts. More specifically I really enjoy The Names Brand. A sample:


Yes, that is the cast of The Cosby Show. These shirts are ridiculous, and completely live or die upon easily missed referents to popular media. But even that is a little too obvious for me, so I made a shirt in that style with the names of the five Cahiers filmmakers of the French New wave.  So why do I find it so appealing? What is it about obscuritanism that is so much fun?

This I think is much the essence of things I find interesting today. It’s somehow a holdover from the abject nerdom of my youth, I like things that people don’t know about. In 1997 it was weird Japanese animation and Hong Kong action flicks, today it is art cinema, world music and indie rock. There is certainly some fun in feeling like you are the only person that knows about something exciting, but that also goes against the inherent desire in the mind of the fan, that everyone should love this. I would love it if every new Jia Zhang Ke film were a major media event, even if that will never be the case. But then in a perverse way would that make the films less fun? Is it the mind of the fan for niche works that inherently limits their possible exposure?

So meanwhile I sit here and wait on my New German Cinema director shirt. It’ll be here next week.

Animal and Dr. Teeth:

This guy dancing to Minor Threat:

I don’t know why.

The title pretty much says it all.

I’m outraged that they would be so flippant about Ghostbusters. A better argument could be made for it’s conservatism, it’s liberalism – whichever. But the fact that they were private contractors alone is weak.

I do, however, think Brazil is an interesting and fairly accurate choice.

Let’s go way back to that crazy world before 9/11…to February 2001, when the country was considering a most massive redistribution of wealth: George W. Bush’s 10-year, $1.6 trillion tax cut. Here is what the DLC had to say at the time:

GOP Claim: Future budget surpluses are so large that we can afford the President’s tax cut while paying down the national debt, keeping Social Security and Medicare solvent, and dealing with other national priorities.

New Democrat Response: The Bush tax plan relies on shaky surplus estimates that do not include the President’s own spending promises and do not reflect the enormous costs associated with the retirement of the baby boom generation. If the estimates are wrong, the Bush plan would sacrifice fiscal discipline, debt payment, Social Security and Medicare solvency, and bipartisan domestic initiatives for tax cuts.

 …pretty much wipes out the surplus.

the Bush tax scheme assumes there will be no increase in federal education funding to ensure that “no child is left behind;” no effort to reduce illiteracy; no prescription drug benefit under Medicare; no progress on extending health coverage to the 43 million uninsured Americans; no new funds to address military readiness or adopt new defense technologies; no deployment of a missile defense system; no housing or environmental or energy initiatives. 

If the Administration really believes in its own numbers, it should readily accept the idea — proposed by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan in his recent testimony to the Senate Budget Committee, and since proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators led by DLC Chairman Evan Bayh — that any tax cut scheme should include a “trigger” making it contingent on continued economic growth and continued progress in paying down the national debt.

Obviously, a number of “triggers” went off during Bush’s eight years – the tax-cuts are such a small part of the GOP disaster pie that by now they’re not brought up too often.

President Obama has to face one battle at a time – and whether or not the stimulus as it is signed into law tomorrow provides all or some of the necessary boost to the economy, there can be little debate about the need to get moneys flowing into state and local coffers, not to mention relief to middle- and working-class taxpayers – so he may not be in a mood to fight for a repeal of tax legislation already set to expire in two years. 

But those Bush tax cuts for the wealthy still stand, and as a liberal tax watchdog group – whose claims were later bolstered by non-partisan media outlets – found:

42.6 percent of Bush’s $1.6 trillion tax package would end up in the pockets of the top 1 percent of earners. The lowest 60 percent would net 12.6 percent. 


We will have to confront the deficit at some point – this administration inherited a $1.2 trillion shortfall from the outset, and the number will continue to skyrocket.

Based on the numbers above, doing away with two years of Bush’s upper-one-percent tax cuts will pay for approximately (and I didn’t pull out a calculator here) one-fifth of the total cost of the recovery bill, before 2011. While certainly that is no immediate offset, here we have a chance to repeal a tax code that was destructive and unjust in the first place, while at least working towards bringing the costs of recovery down.

Does anybody remember when Republicans threatened to “go nuclear” to stop Democrats’ “obstruction” of…a few disputed judicial nominees?

Considering that right now the minority party is wantonly refusing to take the economic crisis seriously, and at least try to figure out what’s best for their constituents, when is the Democratic leadership gonna show a little spine of its own? They’ve extended the hand of bipartisanship more than enough, and been met with a clenched fist. Republicans simply are not interested in seeking serious solutions. They’re interested in political survival, therefore, the failure of the stimulus. When do we simply move on without them?

Kevin, as you see it, would a version of the “nuclear” option be available to Democrats here? Assuming the party is finally interested in growing a pair, how best might they push their weight around?