When Persuasion Doesn't Work, Try Threats, Eh?

I’m sure most of you have read the story of Rick’s pretty pamphlet by now. If you’re one of the five non-Pharyngula readers, go ahead and click through – we’ll wait.

(Dude – you know what we Pharyngula fans need to do this Christmas? Rewrite all the carols to the theme of squid. Nice, eh?)

You guys back? Excellent. So, I’m sure you noticed a pattern to that church’s pamphlet: it started out all warm and fluffy and then bludgeoned you with the “You’re gonna rot in HELL if you don’t BELIEVE!!1!!1!!!” These things always end in threats, and frequently tears, don’t they?

It brought to mind one of my favorite stories from Garrett. His friend Steve Stone, who’s a pagan and a Jew (great combo!) got a letter from one of the local churches “inviting” him to join. He announced this to the pagan church he belongs to one outing.

They all crowded ’round. “Steve, what’d it say?”

“Well,” Steve said, “it was kinda like this.” He put on his best Mafia don voice and paraphrased, “You come to church, you pay your tithe, we don’t gotta problem. You don’t come to church, you don’t pay your tithe, we gots a problem.”

Nailed it!

Every single proselytizer I’ve spoken to has come down to the same thing in the end: threats. The answer to “Why should I believe?” isn’t “Because it will enrich your life beyond measure.” It’s always, “Because if you don’t, you’ll burn in Hell.” Some of them don’t state it quite so baldly, but that’s always the subtext. They get that fearful look in their eyes. They go pale and clammy and animated and babble about how it’s not a good idea to piss of God.

You know something? If God’s that much of an asshole, I’d rather end up in Hell anyway, thanks ever so much. At least the people there will be quite a bit more interesting, and from what I’ve read of Satan, he could hold a lively conversation and likes good music.

If you have to resort to threats to get people to convert, your religion’s got some serious issues.

And what the fuck is up with these sunlit-clouds motifs? Every evangelical religious site and pamphlet is infested with kitschy sunlit-cloud photos. It’s so vapid. And it’s totally at odds with the whole “God loves you unless you don’t toe the line – then he’s really gonna be pissed” motif. Why not illustrate with something like this:

When Persuasion Doesn't Work, Try Threats, Eh?

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Something tells me some Republicons are awfully embarrassed to be seen in their party’s company:

A few months ago, Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican and former chairman of the NRCC, told the WaPo, “The House Republican brand is so bad right now that if it were a dog food, they’d take it off the shelf.”

Has the GOP “brand” improved since? Apparently not.

Nine of 12 targeted Republicans running in the most competitive Senate races this fall are either skipping the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn., or have not decided whether to attend.

Among those who will not attend are Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska, who is not close to presumptive presidential nominee Sen. John McCain of Arizona, and Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who is a McCain loyalist. Stevens and Collins will use the convention week to focus on their campaigns.

Also sending regrets is former Rep. Bob Schaffer of Colorado, running for the seat being vacated by retiring GOP Sen. Wayne Allard.

Six others — Sens. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, John Sununu of New Hampshire, Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and Gordon Smith of Oregon and challengers John Kennedy of Louisiana and Rep. Steve Pearce of New Mexico are still on the fence. Their spokesman offered responses ranging from “there are no plans yet” to “no decisions have been made.”

Now, I can understand these vulnerable Republican incumbents not wanting to be photographed alongside George W. Bush. I can even understand some of them, particularly those in traditionally “blue” states, not wanting to be seen delivering speeches at the Republican

But these guys don’t want to go to their party’s quadrennial gathering at all? Do they think voters might forget which party they belong to if they steer clear of St. Paul altogether?

Apparently they do. Good luck with that.

They have plenty to be embarrassed over. Bush has been an enormous failure who broke every promise he made. Observe:

By one count, the president has publicly vowed to “solve problems, not pass them on to future presidents and future generations” upwards of 400 times.

As the clock starts to run out on Bush’s presidency, we know, of course, that the opposite is true. Global warming, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, a weak economy … not only is Bush passing monumental problems onto his successor, he’s created new ones that didn’t exist when he got there.

This is especially true when it comes to the federal budget. Bush inherited the largest surplus ever recorded ($128 billion), but his fiscal legacy is a painful one.

The White House on Monday predicted a record deficit of $490 billion for the 2009 budget year, a senior government official told CNN.

The deficit would amount to roughly 3.5 percent of the nation’s $14 trillion economy.The official pointed to a faltering economy and the bipartisan $170 billion stimulus package that passed earlier this year for the record deficit.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) said Bush “will be remembered as the most fiscally irresponsible president in our nation’s history,” adding, “If they gave out Olympic medals for fiscal irresponsibility, President Bush would take the gold, silver and bronze. With his eight years in office, he will have had the five highest deficits ever recorded. And the highest of those deficits is now projected to come in 2009, as he leaves office.”

He’s also leaving a legacy of legal nightmares for his successor:

Remember Monica Goodling, Kyle Sampson, and the team of Bushies who blatantly politicized the employment practices at the Justice Department? Including the selection of judges? In case there were any lingering doubts, the Bush gang’s conduct was apparently literally criminal.

Former Justice Department counselor Monica M. Goodling and former chief of staff D. Kyle Sampson routinely broke the law by conducting political litmus tests on candidates for jobs as immigration judges and line prosecutors, according to an inspector general’s report released today.

Goodling passed over hundreds of qualified applicants and squashed the promotions of others after deeming candidates insufficiently loyal to the Republican party, said investigators, who interviewed 85 people and received information from 300 other job seekers at Justice. Sampson developed a system to screen immigration judge candidates based on improper political considerations and routinely took recommendations from the White House Office of Political Affairs and Presidential Personnel, the report said.

Goodling regularly asked candidates for career jobs, “What is it about George W. Bush that makes you want to serve him?” the report said. One former Justice Department official told investigators she had complained that Goodling was asking interviewees for their views on abortion, according to the report.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a good reason. The Justice Department’s inspector general is releasing the results of a lengthy investigation in four parts, and this is the second. The first was released about a month ago, and documented six years of illegal hiring practices relating to the Justice Department recruiting new attorneys (those with “liberal-sounding resumes” were barred from employment). Today’s repo
t documents the allegedly illegal conduct from Goodling and Sampson (among others). Still to come are reports on hiring problems in the civil rights division and the dubious purge of nine U.S. attorneys.

That said, today’s report, which is online (.pdf), is a doozy. The Bush gang wasn’t just involved in blatantly criminal acts, their conduct had consequences for the nation.

And that conduct will continue to have consequences, for many years to come. Cleaning up after Bush is going to be a task akin to cleaning up after a herd of two-year olds on crack.

My sincerest sympathies go out to the next president. Unless, of course, it’s McCain, who’s proven himself too addled to clean up after himself, much less the two-year old terror that is the Bush regime.

I weep for America.

Happy Hour Discurso

Pimping Out My Co-Blogger

Cam Lee, aka Chaos Lee, has hired me as his pimp. I accepted the request with alarcrity.

I’ve been reading his stories and listening to the evolution of his novel for well over a decade now, and it’s about bloody time some of his writing goes public.

He’s going to kick the collective asses of Warren Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, and any other author you care to name whose books leave you gasping, “That was the most fucked-up thing I’ve ever read in my entire fucking life.”

I’ve spent the majority of my adult life wishing I could be even a fraction of the writer he is. My work seems plodding and pedestrian compared to the constant mindfuck that spills from his pen. He brutalizes words into singing for him. Setting, mood, theme, plot and character all end up twisted like a hangman’s noose in a hurricane.

Even a simple description of his day turns into something else again:

Today’s been a bit of a paranoid day. When people at work seem to actually know I’m sitting at my desk and not working and looking for ales on whiskey or making voodoo dolls that not-so-coincidentally resemble certain directors at certain corporations. But anyway, I need to find thought suppressants because they’ve become loud. People are hearing them.

The risk here is that not only will the bastards get forewarning, but they might try and steal my brain. And I like my brain. It sponges up the whiskey my liver rejects.

See what I mean?

The above excerpt comes from Cam Lee’s Chaos Hangover, his new MySpace Page, where he’s posted the short story “Halo.” Go read “Halo.” Then go read everything else. And then go demand more.

Because as good as “Halo” is, it’s only the barest tip of a fucking enormous iceberg. Trust me when I tell you it gets a lot more bizarre, dark and mindblowing.

I know. I’ve read. And I’ve never been the same.

Pimping Out My Co-Blogger

Ahoy the Ship!

The third voyage of the HMS Elitist Bastard has just sailed at Pharyngula.

My darlings… we have a long way to go before we can match PZ for elitistism or bastardry. But I have a cunning two-fold plan, “a plan so cunning you could stick a tail on it and call it a weasel.”

Firstly, as we celebrate this sailing, we ensure we buy PZ many drinks for his selfless service. Many strong drinks.

Secondly, we take some lessons in bastardry from Blackadder.

Let the lesson begin…

Ahoy the Ship!

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Remember, my darlings, it’s Obama who’s the presumptuous one. Not McCain. McCain’s not presumtuous in the least (h/t Digby):

This image is going to give me nightmares tonight, guaranteed.

McCain may be making assumptions based on the fact that the Republicons have gotten very good at stealing elections. Digby has an excellent rundown of some of the major shennanigans, along with a warning so obvious we’ve missed it:

This voting stuff isn’t going away, and if anything it’s going to get more intense as Republicans get more desperate. I can’t believe that this article didn’t get more attention when it came out a few weeks ago. There’s no question that this will became an enormous issue literally out of nowhere this fall.

Election officials worry that the state’s home foreclosure problem will pose a problem this November for voters still registered at their former address, a newspaper reported Sunday.

Voters in pivotal Ohio with outdated addresses face possible pre-election challenges and trips to multiple polling places. They also are more likely to cast provisional ballots that might not be counted.

“It’s a real issue,” said Daniel Tokaji, an Ohio State University law professor who specializes in elections. He wonders whether foreclosures might explain the increasing percentages of provisional votes cast between 2004 and Ohio’s latest election, the presidential primary in March.

Ohio provided President Bush with an 118,000-vote victory in 2004, giving him the electoral votes he needed to win the election.

All of a sudden you’re going to hear that these families forced out of their homes and relocated across the country are actually fraudsters trying to steal the election for Obama. The very fact of vacancy at the addresses where these people are registered makes hundreds of thousands of people prime suspects for voter caging. And you can be sure that re-registering isn’t paramount on their minds, either. In battleground states like Nevada, one out of every 120 or so homes is in foreclosure right now. This seems like a huge under-the-radar issue that is receiving literally no attention.

Time to shine the bright light of scrutiny on the Republicons. We don’t want another election stolen out from under us. I don’t know about you, but the idea of McCain’s little “President McCain” graphic is something I want to see remain presumptuous, not prophetic. So if you know someone unfortunate enough to have suffered foreclosure or any other uprooting experience, be a dear and make sure they get properly registered. Their votes need to count. After all, it’s not likely that McLame and his Incredible Tax Fairy with Magic Budget Dust are going to be able to help people who’ve lost their homes, jobs and possibly hope due to Bush’s insane policies.

In other outrageous news, let’s turn to what one of McCain’s fundraisers is up to these days. I’m not copying in the entire post – you need to head over to ThinkProgress.org to read it for yourself – but here’s the gist: Chevron is battling an $8-16 billion judgement against them for environmental damage in Ecuador’s rainforest. One of McCain’s top fundraisers is pushing hard to ensure they don’t have to pay for their pollution. Outrageous enough, and your blood pressure is sure to rise reading the details.

Here’s the icing:

So far, Chevron’s power push has resulted in “a senior Chevron exec” meeting with Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte “on the matter.” “One Chevron lobbyist” told Newsweek that the company’s argument to the Bush administration is: “We can’t let little countries
screw around with big companies like this—companies that have made big investments around the world.”


But this is exactly how these people think: the corporate juggernauts and the Republicons in their pockets. Dems end up in corporate pockets, too, but not to this extent. Not to where they can get away with having their major fundraiser lobby on behalf of a corporate polluter. Not to where they think sovereign countries have no right to “screw around” with the corporations.

This is 19th century thinking, people. This is colonialism, imperialism, and a sense of entitlement so huge it should leave you sputtering. They think their money entitles them to own the world.

And McCain believes them. Otherwise, why have so many lobbyists on his staff? Why such idiotic tax policies guaranteed to screw the poor and throw cash at the rich? Why repeat every fucking Bush talking point nearly word-for-word?

Don’t be deceived by St. John playing Mr. Common Man on the campaign trail. He’s a corporate bitch, and he’s a lying, pandering, slandering political hack, and he’s going to give us four more years of absolute political decomposition. The White House isn’t even rotting at this point: it’s gone beyond that, so defiled and polluted that I’m surprised it doesn’t explode like a week-old corpse in a humid room:

Last night on PBS, Bill Moyers interviewed investigative journalist Jane Mayer and mentioned that in Mayer’s new book, she notes that FBI agents refused to participate in the CIA’s interrogation of terror suspects at Guantánamo Bay because they determined it to be “borderline torture.” Moyers then asked, “Who were some of the other conservative heroes, as you call them, in your book?”

Mayer remembered one top Justice Department lawyer and “very conservative member of this administration” who said that after participating in White House meetings authorizing torture, he believed that “lunatics had taken over the country.”

Mayer said two other top DOJ lawyers had to develop a system of speaking codes because they feared they were being wiretapped while others described an “atmosphere of intimidation,” mainly from Vice President Dick Cheney:

MAYER: There was such an
atmosphere of intimidation. … They felt so endangered in some ways that, at one point, two of the top lawyers from the Justice Department developed this system of talking in codes to each other because they thought they might be being wiretapped…by their own government. They felt like they might be kind of weirdly in physical danger. They were actually scared to stand up to Vice President Cheney.

That’s how bad it is. High-level government employees are afraid of being physically harmed by the administration. They’re terrified of their own government. This sounds like the USSR, not America. And to retain this power of terror and fear, to stay in control and ride American democracy and prosperity down its death throes, people like Bush, Cheney and the evil fuckers running McCain will lie, cheat, and steal their way to victory.

Don’t let them do it.

Happy Hour Discurso

Sunday Sensational Science

Al Gore issued America a challenge on global warming that left me stunned: A Generational Challenge to Repower America. No other political speech has ever galvanized me like this. We’re used to hearing scientists sound the alarm and tell the world it needs to act now to stop the slide into climate chaos. No one else has ever come out with such force to say we can.

We have the science. We have the technology. We have the need. All that we need now is the will, and Gore’s speech has the power to give us that. He takes something enormous and makes it seem almost simple.

So I’m handing Sunday Sensational Science over to him. I’ve excerpted key points from his speech, and I hope you send this to friends, family, coworkers, and politicians. They need to hear that clean energy and freedom from fossil fuels is possible. Not in 50 years, or 30, or 20, but in 10.

Global warming is real. But even if you don’t believe that, there are other critical reasons why we should still work together to make clean energy our immediate future.

I don’t remember a time in our country when so many things seemed to be going so wrong simultaneously. Our economy is in terrible shape and getting worse, gasoline prices are increasing dramatically, and so are electricity rates. Jobs are being outsourced. Home mortgages are in trouble. Banks, automobile companies and other institutions we depend upon are under growing pressure. Distinguished senior business leaders are telling us that this is just the beginning unless we find the courage to make some major changes quickly.

The climate crisis, in particular, is getting a lot worse – much more quickly than predicted. Scientists with access to data from Navy submarines traversing underneath the North polar ice cap have warned that there is now a 75 percent chance that within five years the entire ice cap will completely disappear during the summer months. This will further increase the melting pressure on Greenland. According to experts, the Jakobshavn glacier, one of Greenland’s largest, is moving at a faster rate than ever before, losing 20 million tons of ice every day, equivalent to the amount of water used every year by the residents of New York City.

Two major studies from military intelligence experts have warned our leaders about the dangerous national security implications of the climate crisis, including the possibility of hundreds of millions of climate refugees estabilizing nations around the world.

Just two days ago, 27 senior statesmen and retired military leaders warned of the national security threat from an “energy tsunami” that would be triggered by a loss of our access to foreign oil.

And by the way, our weather sure is getting strange, isn’t it? There seem to be more tornadoes than in living memory, longer droughts, bigger downpours and record floods. Unprecedented fires are burning in California and elsewhere in the American West. Higher temperatures lead to drier vegetation that makes kindling for mega-fires of the kind that have been raging in Canada, Greece, Russia, China, South America, Australia and Africa. Scientists in the Department of Geophysics and Planetary Science at Tel Aviv University tell us that for every one degree increase in temperature, lightning strikes will go up another 10 percent. And it is lightning, after all, that is principally responsible for igniting the conflagration in California today.

I’m convinced that one reason we’ve seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately – without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective – they almost always make the other crises even worse.

Yet when we look at all three of these seemingly intractable challenges at the same time, we can see the common thread running through them, deeply ironic in its simplicity: our dangerous over-reliance on carbon-based fuels is at the core of all three of these challenges – the economic, environmental and national security crises.

But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard, all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we’re holding the answer to all of them right in our hand. The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels…

What if we could use fuels that are not expensive, don’t cause pollution and are abundantly available right here at home?

We have such fuels. Scientists have confirmed that enough solar energy falls on the surface of the earth every 40 minutes to meet 100 percent of the entire world’s energy needs for a full year. Tapping just a small portion of this solar energy could provide all of the electricity America uses.

And enough wind power blows through the Midwest corridor every day to also meet 100 percent of US electricity demand. Geothermal energy, similarly, is capable of providing enormous supplies of electricity for America.

Today I challenge our nation to commit to producing 100 percent of our electricity from renewable energy and truly clean carbon-free sources within 10 years.

This goal is achievable, affordable and transformative. It represents a challenge to all Americans – in every walk of life: to our political leaders, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers, and to every citizen….

To those who argue that we do not yet have the technology to accomplish these results with renewable energy: I ask them to come with me to meet the entrepreneurs who will drive this revolution. I’ve seen what they are doing and I have no doubt that we can meet this challenge.

To those who say the costs are still too high: I ask them to consider whether the costs of oil and coal will ever stop increasing if we keep relying on quickly depleting energy sources to feed a rapidly growing demand all around the world. When demand for oil and coal increases, their price goes up. When demand for solar cells increases, the price often comes down.

When we send money to foreign countries to buy nearly 70 percent of the oil we use every day, they build new skyscrapers and we lose jobs. When we spend that money building solar arrays and windmills, we build competitive industries and gain jobs here at home.

Of course there are those who will tell us this can’t be done. Some of the voices we hear are the defenders of the status quo – the ones with a vested interest in perpetuating the current system, no matter how high a price the rest of us will have to pay. But even those who reap the profits of the carbon age have to recognize the inevitability of its demise. As one OPEC oil minister observed, “The Stone Age didn’t end because of a shortage of stones.”

To those who say 10 years is not enough time, I respectfully ask them to consider what the world’s scientists are telling us about the risks we face if we don’t act in 10 years. The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover
from this environmental crisis. When the use of oil and coal goes up, pollution goes up. When the use of solar, wind and geothermal increases, pollution comes down.

When President John F. Kennedy challenged our nation to land a man on the moon and bring him back safely in 10 years, many people doubted we could accomplish that goal. But 8 years and 2 months later, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the surface of the moon.

To be sure, reaching the goal of 100 percent renewable and truly clean electricity within 10 years will require us to overcome many obstacles. At present, for example, we do not have a unified national grid that is sufficiently advanced to link the areas where the sun shines and the wind blows to the cities in the East and the West that need the electricity. Our national electric grid is critical infrastructure, as vital to the health and security of our economy as our highways and telecommunication networks. Today, our grids are antiquated, fragile, and vulnerable to cascading failure. Power outages and defects in the current grid system cost US businesses more than $120 billion dollars a year. It has to be upgraded anyway.

Of course the greatest obstacle to meeting the challenge of 100 percent renewable electricity in 10 years may be the deep dysfunction of our politics and our self-governing system as it exists today. In recent years, our politics has tended toward incremental proposals made up of small policies designed to avoid offending special interests, alternating with occasional baby steps in the right direction. Our democracy has become sclerotic at a time when these crises require boldness.

It is only a truly dysfunctional system that would buy into the perverse logic that the short-term answer to high gasoline prices is drilling for more oil ten years from now.

We are on the eve of a presidential election. We are in the midst of an international climate treaty process that will conclude its work before the end of the first year of the new president’s term. It is a great error to say that the United States must wait for others to join us in this matter. In fact, we must move first, because that is the key to getting others to follow; and because moving first is in our own national interest.

So I ask you to join with me to call on every candidate, at every level, to accept this challenge – for America to be running on 100 percent zero-carbon electricity in 10 years. It’s time for us to move beyond empty rhetoric. We need to act now.

This is a generational moment. A moment when we decide our own path and our collective fate. I’m asking you – each of you – to join me and build this future. Please join the WE campaign at wecansolveit.org. We need you. And we need you now. We’re committed to changing not just light bulbs, but laws. And laws will only change with leadership.

We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history. Our entire civilization depends upon us now embarking on a new journey of exploration and discovery. Our success depends on our willingness as a people to undertake this journey and to complete it within 10 years. Once again, we have an opportunity to take a giant leap for humankind.

Sunday Sensational Science

Drink Specials

This is a cantina. Alcohol should be involved (especially considering the subjects we discuss – alcohol is practically a necessity). Therefore, we’re going to start publishing some house specialties.

Where else would we start but with a margarita? And not just any margarita, mind you.

Dana’s Margarita Magnífico

José Cuervo Tradicional
Triple Sec
100% pure Key lime juice
Brown Sugar (seriously)

In step numero uno, combine your water, brown sugar, and Key lime juice to make lime aide. Sweeten to taste.

In step numero dos, stir in a goodly amount of Tradicional and just a smidgeon of Triple Sec.

Serve over ice. Proceed to oblivion.

You may ask, why brown sugar? I’ve made the lime aide with regular ol’ white sugar, and it’s all right. But the brown sugar – oh, honey, you’d be amazed at the difference! People who despise tequila and have never enjoyed margaritas suck these down like candy. I once spent a frantic evening doing nothing but mixing more margaritas because of all the buggers who’d assured me they never drink ’em, but they’d try a little taste… okay, a little more… may I have another pitcher, please?

So that’s House Specialty Numero Uno. I’m calling upon all of you to email me your delightful, unique, bizarre, or just plain devastating drink recipes so we can get a full bar going. I especially call upon Chaos Lee to share the secret of his Sambuca Shake. I have many happy memories of that shake, and so should you all.

Drink Specials

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

We’re going to start with a little music to set the tone: “Lies” by Black Light Burns.

You always know it’s going to be a rough Saturday when you end up screaming “WILL YOU FUCKERS JUST STOP LYING?” at every blog entry. Lies lies lies lies lies lies lies…. if a Republicon opens his/her mouth, a lie comes tumbling out. If the truth comes out, you can bet it’s an accident or prelude to an even bigger lie. Nothing has proved that so much as today.

Republicans lie on taxes and what Obama plans to do with them:

Yesterday The Entrepreneurial Agenda, a blog at Inc.com, looked at accusations that Obama would harm small business by raising taxes. McCain’s argument is that, “Small businesses are the job engine of America, and I will make it easier for them to grow and create more jobs….If you are one of the 23 million small business owners in America who files as an individual rate payer, Senator Obama is going to raise your tax rates.” The Agenda responds:

Well, McCain is certainly, unequivocally wrong that Obama will raise taxes on 23 million small businesses. Let’s begin by establishing the figures. According to Census Department (as reported by SBA), in 2005 there were some 26 million firms with 500 or fewer employees. (McCain’s figures apparently come from 2002.) Of these, 20 million have no employees at all. Many of these are glorified hobbies, others are lucrative consulting gigs, but as the nonpartisan Factcheck.org points out in a thorough debunking, “McCain is arguing that Obama’s tax increase would ‘destroy jobs,’ but he’s counting mostly firms that don’t produce any.”

A more interesting question is whether small businesses would actually see a bigger tax cut under Obama or McCain. Again, if the number-crunchers at the Tax Policy Center is to be trusted, then the laurels go to Obama, who’s proposing a variety of additional tax cuts targeted toward low-income and working families. (Here is the analysis, which includes very detailed descriptions of the candidates’ proposals. More detailed, in fact, than the candidates’ own position papers. Because the candidates haven’t fully fleshed out their tax proposals publicly, the Center has talked informally with campaign advisers and made its own assumptions to fill in the blanks.) Anyone earning under $112,000 in 2009 — or 80 percent of the population — is more likely to see a higher after-tax income under Obama than under McCain.

The post refers to this post at factcheck.org which debunks McCain’s charges on taxes on small business. This isn’t the only time
that factcheck.org has debunked false claims on Obama’s tax plans recently. They
debunked a claim that Obama “voted to raise income taxes on individuals who earn as little as $32,000 per year.” They concluded that McCain’s $32,000 figure is “phony.” That is only one of many false claims on Obama’s record made by Republicans. Factcheck.org also debunked a claim from the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee that Obama voted for higher taxes 94 times.

I encourage you to read Ron Chiusad’s full guest post over at The Carpetbagger Report. Just make sure to take your blood pressure medication first.

The Republicons lie about Obama’s foreign trip and his cancelled visit to injured troops in Germany:

I can appreciate the fact that Republicans aren’t quite sure how to criticize Barack Obama’s international travel over the last week. It has, after all, been an usually successful trip, which the McCain campaign practically goaded Obama into taking.

They’ve tried out a few angles, but the attacks have either been foolish, contradictory, or both. Republicans said Obama shouldn’t campaign outside the U.S., but McCain did it first. They said Obama shouldn’t describe himself as a “citizen of the world,” but Reagan used the same line. They said Obama shouldn’t be so popular with people yearning to love America again, but no one’s sure what that actually means.

So, left with literally nothing else, Republicans have turned to an old stand-by: they’re making stuff up.

Obama had planned to visit with injured U.S. troops in Germany before he left the country this week. He scheduled a visit, he wanted to visit, and he arranged for the visit three weeks ago. And suddenly, the meeting was called off, and Obama left the country without having seen the troops.

“A ha!” said the unhinged right. “Obama was blowing off the troops!”

Yeah. The problem with that is, the Pentagon told him not to come. At least NBC, for once, did some actual reporting and set the record straight. But I’m sure that won’t stop the lies. Reality has no meaning for these fuckwits.

And Republicons lie about the significance of German monuments (h/t Sadly, No!):

Just to be clear about the Victory Column: It is not a Nazi monument. Obama has not flunked history — or offended Germans — by choosing to speak there. The original source of this story is, again, my own employer, so I know when bloggers inflate the details out of all proportion. Some minor German politicians have grumbled about the Siegessäule’s history, for political reasons, but their comments aren’t very important.

This is just a glass full of lies. There’s an ocean of them out there. That’s why Dennis Kucinich is my hero o’ the day: his attempts at impeaching Bush probably won’t go anywhere, but at least he’s trying to air out the lies:

House Democrats — and one Republican — are using today’s hearing in the Judiciary Committee to slam President Bush for abusing his executive power.

After laying out a litany of charges against Bush, principally on the “illegal war for oil” in Iraq, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), the driving force behind today’s hearing, said Congress must act to remove Bush from office.

“The war was totally unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified,” Kucinich said in his opening statement. “The question for Congress is this: What responsibility do the president and his administration have for that unnecessary, unprovoked and unjustified war?”

Kucinich said if lawmakers reviewed the issue, they could only come to the conclusion that it was needed.

“I ask this committee to think, and then to act, in order to enable this Congress to right a very great wrong and to hold accountable those who have misled this Nation,” Kucinich said.

If only. I truly do wish these fuckers could be made to pay for endless, terrible lies.

Happy Hour Discurso

Another Good One Gone, Legacy Lives On

Randy Pausch, the Carnegie Mellon professor who delivered the stunning Last Lecture “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams,” died yesterday of pancreatic cancer.

And no, the world is not just. It’s not fair. It doesn’t care that a tremendous professor, a truly incredible human being, a husband and father died far too young. So let’s not focus on that. Randy wouldn’t.

People who live to be 100 don’t live as much as he did. It’s not the length of your life that matters so much as what you do with it. Randy proves that more than anyone else I’ve encountered.

I remember stumbling across his video several months ago, and not wanting to watch it. How morbid, the idea of a dying man giving a “Last Lecture.” I hit play thinking I’d shut it down after a few moments, because of course it would get saccharine and maudlin and have about the same profundity of a Hallmark greeting card.

It’s not the first time I’ve been wrong, not by far, but it’s certainly one of the more dramatic examples.

I didn’t expect to come away with sides aching from laughter. I never expected to come away renewed and inspired. Randy performed a vanishing on the last lingering fear of death I had. He was one of those extraordinary people who permeates every aspect of your being and makes you feel as if you’re exploding with potential. He made me want to be more and do more, but it wasn’t pressure – it was excitement.

I felt it again this morning, when I leaned over my coworker’s shoulder and read the news of his death. Right there beside the sadness and shock was the echo of that feeling that anything at all was possible. Life is a grand adventure, a gorgeous journey, even if we encounter a few bumps in the road: have fun. Courage, a sense of humor, and a sense of adventure are all you need to make life extraordinary.

Those lessons I’ll never forget. I doubt anyone who’s seen his Last Lecture ever will.

Muchos gracias, Randy. Salud.

Another Good One Gone, Legacy Lives On