Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Updates -Tax Cuts, #Wikileaks, #Payback/#Leakspin, & #DADT

Ok, now that I've had a bit of time to process some of what's been going on lately (among other things), I think it's about time I get back to the weekly updates (and once the holidays are over, I'll finally be able to work on real posts again! Yay!)

  • Crazy weather all over the world, from massive blizzards in the Midwestern US, to torrential rain in the Middle East... This winter is going to be brutal. I hate winter. Stupid global warming/climate change... [grumbles]
  • Haiti was tormented this weekend by the arrival of yet another disaster in their country, decked in cargo pants and giant designer sunglasses. Can't catch a break, can they? [sigh] Ms. Palin's "humanitarian" trip was marked by the quizzical stares of perplexed Haitians (None of the people interviewed had any idea who she was. They're so lucky... I wish America could say the same. Damn you, McCain staffers!!!)-- who promptly decided that any publicity was good publicity, amongst the cholera outbreak and continued post-earthquake rebuild.
  • Anyway... In LGBT related news- 
    • The Prop 8 trial is back in court for the appeal! And is certainly looking good for our side.
    • Illinois passed a civil unions bill. Progress is progress.
    • DADT repeal is currently somewhat stalled. While we're hoping for Obama to step up and sign an executive order (a move he has stated he does not want to take), the fight isn't quite over yet. The stand-alone bill has been introduced in the Senate, however odds are, we aren't going to see a successful vote on it (or the DREAM Act) until this tax-cut issue is resolved.
  • Speaking of tax cuts... Obama's deal with the GOP. Wow. Um, no, no, that's not a good idea, Mr. President. Since this is a huge story overall, I'll break it up into parts:
    • Backstory: GOP threatens to block everything (yea, what else is new) unless they get to continue or expand tax cuts for the uber-wealthy. Obama, in what I'm sure was supposed to initially be a friendly gesture to keep things moving, met with McConnell, and made a deal, and then announced it to everyone - Democrats would get their wish of 1 more year of unemployment benefits and tax cuts for the middle class, and Republicans would get... everything else. Tax cuts for the top 2%, including a reduced estate tax.
    • Here's why it's a bad idea - it actually raises the tax burden on the lower and middle classes (primarily by replacing a current tax cut with a payroll tax cut. For anyone making less than $20,000, and $40,000 for families, the payroll tax cut is smaller, and will basically leave us with smaller paychecks... Trust me, $80-100 LESS a month adds up fast when you're poor. A day after I shared this info with Care2, I discovered that the White House admitted it was true. So yea, guys, apparently it is actually true.) while giving the upper classes (especially those making over $5million a year) a bunch of very huge breaks that last for 2 years-- while unemployment benefits will only get 13 months of extension. We know that the continued tax cuts have been estimated to add a staggering $700+ billion to the deficit, but the CBO recently announced that this plan will actually add $858 billion. It will cost almost $100 BILLION more than the stimulus plan, and we actually got something positive out of that. This, not so much. So, yea, dreadful idea. I mean, I have nothing against compromise, but dude, it's not a compromise when it's a sneaky, back-door deal in which the other side gets everything and you get the wimpy consolation prize. Totally lame. Create jobs? I fail to see how continuing the same tax cuts that failed to create this magical trickle-down job thing will somehow work now that the rich can continue get richer without doing a damn thing-- well, nothing but screwing over the rest of us. So you're going to have to explain this one to me. I've tried, and tried, but nothing. Supply-side simply doesn't work.
    • So what's happened since? - Democrats in Congress have basically revolted. 54 Dems in the House signed a letter, rejecting the deal. Independent Senator Bernie Sanders staged an 8.5-hour-long filibuster explaining why he did not agree with the President's decision. (Mixed feelings. Awesome, epic speech, but I really hate filibusters. Total waste of time, which we are seriously running out of. In just 3 weeks, the so-called "Teabaggers" take over, remember? And that's not even taking into account the holiday recess. Then again, maybe wasting time is in our best interests here-- waste enough, and ALL of the tax cuts will expire. Which will suck for us, yes, but will probably do a lot more good for the budget than this deal ever could.) Speaking of the TP, this is one thing we SHOULD actually agree on, though apparently they're split on this. TP "Patriots" says no, FreedomWorks (you know, the corporate leaders of the TP) says yes.
    •  As a result of all of this, there are rumors of a possible rival in the 2012 Democratic Primary... Good idea, or bad idea? I personally think it depends on who it is... but overall, probably a bad idea. I don't know if there are enough of us to get a strong progressive in the White House, nor do I want the GOP to have the satisfaction of having their dreams of a "one-term Obama presidency" come true. (Ok, that one might be a little petty, but c'mon!)
  • I think now I should get around to the whole Wikileaks issue. I won't/can't talk about my own opinions of it all right now, or any involvement I may or may not have in anything other than blogging about it ;-), but if you know my past or what I stand for, you should know where I stand.
    •  Well, we know now how the world feels. Less than 2 weeks later, we have this long, lovely list of the government leaders' reactions. Some are negative, some positive, some indifferent. Will it spark an international war? Other than what's already been started, it's unlikely, for the time being.
    • The "sex by surprise" charges brought against Assange in Sweden might be dropped if the US decides to go ahead with the new plan-- charging him with espionage. I'm not even going to go into how silly that is, (or how ignorant a certain someone sounds when she calls him un-American-- lady, he's AUSTRALIAN, not American.) or how strange consensual "sex-by-surprise" sounds when in the US or the UK, it wouldn't even qualify as sexual harassment, let alone rape. I'm all for women's rights of course, and I do believe that rape allegations should always be taken very seriously; but based on what information I have right now, I think that in this case it's likely it's a specious argument. Well, very suspect, to say the least. (Btw, if you want someone to get tested for STDs, wouldn't it make far more sense to do that BEFORE you sleep with them? And then not try to sell the story to tabloids & get "caught" via text messages? Just sayin... It sounds a little weird. But maybe that's just how things go down in Sweden. I don't know.)
    • Over the past few weeks, the gathering known as Anonymous has been launching cyberattacks on opponents of Wikileaks-- primarily against the companies that have been censoring information or trying to shut down or block aid to the whistle-blower organization: Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, etc. They will be switching tactics away from the DDoS attacks of Operation Payback to a flood of information known as Operation Leakspin. The media--well, one half of it, anyway-- is very wrong about the group, though-- they're not cyberterrorists. Most of them aren't even hackers and were not involved in the DDoSing attacks. Their objective, as they state, is not about damaging or destroying anything, but getting noticed, and getting a message out, which is why the tactics have been changed. So again, I'm still not "officially" announcing my position on any of this, but tonight, I'll recruit for them. If you're interested in getting involved, or just finding out more information, email me or find me on IRC, Care2, or AIM. I know they need hosts, writers, editors and graphic designers. (Official Info & sites are somewhat hidden and change frequently due to government/corporate intervention plus various attacks from "enemies," so unless you're already involved, it might be difficult to keep up with them. I've been trying to keep an eye on all sides of things, to say the very least, and it sometimes proves to be a challenge... There's a lot going on.)
    • I love Love LOVE Dennis Kucinich. "Wikileaks ... gave us 92,000 reasons to end the wars. Pick one!"
    • There are rumors of a new Patriot Act for the internet. I'm hoping it's just related to that horrific, supposed law that gives the President the power to effectively shut down the entire internet (good luck with that...), and it's not the new horrific supposed law that allows them to tap into our IMs and emails and webcams, and is a continuation/expansion of this crusade against the P2P community... Call us paranoid, but this is a netizen's worst nightmare.
    • I finally found a much better organized database of all of the cables and their contents, at the Guardian. (Yea, trust the British media to do it right!) Or you could just find one of the mirrors at this point. Either way, seriously, go check it out. You'll find out some pretty wacky things.
      • Like how Iran is hiring ninjas to take part in political assassinations. Yes, NINJAS. (Let the ninja-pirate wars begin!!) So if you're unemployed and have wicked nun-chuck skillz, I'd get on that. Probably your best bet at a job nowadays...
      • Or how Sarkozy chased a dog chasing a rabbit chasing a... well, I don't remember what, but diplomats share some damn weird gossip...
And most importantly... this past week saw the passing of Elizabeth Edwards, a woman of great grace and courage who fought for our rights to proper, affordable healthcare. RIP.

And I thought 2010 was bad. 2011 is looking to be a whole new level of Hell...

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