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Cousin Myron and Class Warfare

I was in court this morning as a character witness for Myron, my hotheaded, redheaded, wealthy and brilliant cousin. I sat in the back of the court and read our local newspaper, The Centre Daily Times, while waiting for Myron’s case to come up. The CDT often, and I think accidently, puts two articles or opinions together that are made for each other. Today on their opinion page they had an editorial on the end of the American Dream, about young people unable to get decent jobs, and one on taxing the super-rich, by imposing a yearly 2% wealth tax on the 0.5 percent of Americans with assets of over 7.2 million dollars.
As it turns out, Myron was in court because of one of the super-rich, our cousin Alvin. Alvin likes to parade his great wealth and, by default, his great intelligence before us at our monthly cousin’s club. His son Stephan, the congressional candidate, is even worse. Myron likes to point out, and I think with some cause that Stephan’s claim to fame, before the congressional race, was his ability to pick both nostrils, cross-handed, simultaneously.
It started as a simple discussion about taxes. Myron feels that taxing the rich through income, capital gains, and percent of wealth is reasonable and more than reasonable now during an economic downturn. Alvin thinks that paying taxes is for saps like Myron.

Congress to Pass DCDRA

StevieslawExclusive: Congress to Pass DCDRA

Stevieslaw Exclusive: Congress to Pass DCDRA
Smokey Diamond, our intrepid reporter, learned today that Congress will pass The Dysfunctional Congress Disaster Relief Act. Smokey reports further that vote to pass the act will be unanimous. “Long overdue,” said Johnny Ray—a spokesman for John Boehner, while Anne Rice, spokeswoman for Nancy Pelosi, concurs. President Obama has promised to sign the legislation should he be able to find a pen that works in DC.
The act will fund remedial courses, at the 8th grade level, in Civics, American History and Science for all members of Congress. Group therapy sessions, concentrating on anger management and building trust, will also be given.
The cost of the legislation was not immediately available. Of the hundred people Smokey polled about the legislation, however, 97 responded “priceless.”

Stevieslaw Goes Back to Basics

Marc Levy of the Associated Press reports in our local newspaper, the CDT, that 1 in 5 of the bridges and 1 in 5 highway miles in Pennsylvania are in need of repair. Infrastructure funding has been inadequate under Republican and Democratic administrations but is a particular problem for the current bunch—starring Tom Corbett—that believe all taxes are bad and that government cannot create jobs even when they create jobs.
Fortunately, there is another way—The Back to Basics Movement— that is currently sweeping the nation. BBM will start to offer classes in most cities across the US this fall. For example, Smokey Diamond is signed up for, “Use What Nature Gives You,” a course that teaches you to find and use the natural fords that traverse our abundant waterways, while I am signed up for “Herbal Medicine,” an essential course for those of you stuck with prescriptions for drugs the Pharmaceutical Industry no longer finds profitable to manufacture. I’m told that hundreds of courses, which will adequately prepare us to go back to the glory days of the 1700’s—when men were men and women (and some men) were property, will be offered.
I will see you in class (if the road holds up).

Obama's Bold Move

Obama’s Bold Move

The pundits, who are mostly concerned with whether or not Sarah Palin will enter the Republican race, are about to be blindsided. Smokey Diamond, our intrepid reporter, has once again ferreted out the big story, well ahead of even those reporters who are paid for their work.
Are you sitting down? Barack Obama will announce this weekend that he is in the race for the Republican Presidential nomination. He will note that the reason he moved his jobs speech was so he could participate in the Republican Candidate’s debate. Smokey has run down the fact that the President is prepared to cross file for the election, running as both a Republican and a Democrat—in this way ending partisan politics, “once and for all.”
Obama spokespeople were quick to point out that his decision to run as a Republican was not made lightly. “For a long time now it has been clear that Barack can make himself sufficiently comfortable with GOP positions to allow him to support them or at least not oppose them,” said an unnamed source.

Biosurfactants and the Making of Dick Cheney

Catherine Tsal, writing for AP, reported today that an unnamed Halliburton Corporate Executive took a sip of their new fracking liquid when summoned to the podium by CEO Dave Lesar, during an industry meeting. The sip was supposed to prove that the liquid, to be used in enormous quantities in fracking to produce natural gas, was quite benign.
At Stevieslaw, we find ourselves less concerned with whether or not this test was meaningful than with the persistent rumor that Dick Cheney, upon assuming the mantle of Halliburton in 1995, took a sip of rhamnolipid—a specific biosurfactant used to enhance the recovery of oil from wells. We are not saying that Halliburton is using their fracking liquid to create yet another “Frankenstein” monster just on the basis of a long standing rumor, but we would like to know the name of the executive who took the sip and how many other Halliburton employees are using.
Experience suggests that when dealing with Halliburton, you and I cannot be too careful.

Republican Ready to Compromise on Taxes

Charles Babbington, writing for the Associated Press, reported today that Republicans might be willing to let the temporary reduction in payroll tax—that most helps the working poor—expire as planned. Astounding—some might even call that a tax increase. Now, Smokey Diamond, our intrepid reporter, has learned that other compromises on taxes are also possible, as the kinder and gentler Republicans look to the 2012 elections.

Ivan Kisantell, spokesperson for the Republican Tax Initiative Committee, says that his group will propose some major changes to the tax code as part of the group of twelve recommendations. “We are looking for a zero net tax increase that balances the needs of the “job users” against those of the “job producers,” he said.

Save the Date

Latest opinion polls suggest like 6.2% of the population approves of the performance of the current legislators. Most pollsters will tell you that the percent of people who do not understand even the simplest questions is roughly 6.3%. Those people invariably answer yes, as they believe it makes them seem more likeable.
At Stevieslaw, we have learned that our elected officials are preparing a bold stroke to turn those numbers around. Congress will soon announce that Sunday, August 21th, is to be declared “Celebrate Those Who Legislate Day.” Legislators will provide hot dogs and lemonade for the masses at churches, county fairs, and stadiums using money recently cut from social programs. At some locations, flag pins may be available. The highlight of the day will no doubt be the stump speeches, delivered by each of the representatives, in which they will focus on their sincere and unique love for America. In fact, it is likely that sincerity will ooze from their very pores.
We are pumped and we believe our friends and neighbors will be as well. What a great way to unify the country, to bring smiles to the faces of the populace and to stimulate the economy. Smokey Diamond has a already bought two dozen eggs, a dozen large heirloom tomatoes and a “YOU SUCK BIG TIME,” sign in bright purple.

Sleep Deprivation and the Radical Right

Even with their endless rounds of pronouncements, “Catch-22 style “ loyalty oath signings and non-constructive posturing on the debt ceiling—that threatens through interest rate increases the existence of the tottering middle class—House Republicans are still finding time to gut environmental regulations, as reported in the New York Times yesterday. At Stevieslaw, where dreams of long naps occupy even our most productive hours, we can only ask in awe—When do these people sleep?
Smokey Diamond, our intrepid reporter, was down in DC this morning to speak with Babbsy Boat, spokesperson for “Hush Little Baby,” a liberal think tank that believes that they have a solution to the problem that Republican sleep-deprivation is causing. “Rather than follow the President’s advice and call your Representative to demand this or that,” said Babbs, “We recommend that you call your local Republican representative and sing him a lullaby.” “In our view, we will never end the lunacy that wide-awake Tea Partiers are bringing to our country.” “Our only hope is to get them to sleep until their terms are up.” “Think Rip Van Winkle and croon, croon, croon,” she concluded as she drifted off to sleep.

Is the Media Up to the Challenge

With the two competing bills in Congress designed to end the “Great Default Debacle” doomed to failure even if one passes the House and the other the Senate, we, at Stevieslaw, are forced to ask the only sensible question: Can the media make these votes even remotely interesting? Both cable and network TV are planning to cover the voting with hordes of talking heads and the screen pyrotechnics left over from the 2008 presidential election. Even the print media has stopped printing multi-column personality analyses of that raving maniac in Norway to concentrate on what is sure to be a completely meaningless vote. If you watch, you can be sure that when Joe Smith from Wyoming votes for or against one or the other of these useless bills you will see his smiling face against a map of his great state along with the latest public opinion polls, which will provide you with great detail about what an uninformed public is thinking—some of which may even vaguely related to the issue at hand.
Smokey Diamond, our intrepid reporter and statistics whizz, will be compiling the truly important figures instead. He will monitor the ratings of the TV news shows, in nearly real time, by logging on to, to see who is winning or losing the battle. Early money is on Fox.

My Mom's Fallback Plan

It has been weeks since Smokey Diamond, our intrepid reporter at Stevieslaw, enjoyed a decent night’s sleep. Frankly, I have been worried as well. So, when Smokey came to the office this morning—all smiles— and clutching a copy of the New York Times, I knew that we would be celebrating this day with a couple of cups of some very good Kona coffee a friend had brought us. The good news is—and it is very good news indeed—that Wall Street has a fallback plan should the US Government default. Whew! We are saved. For as we all know and history has proven again and again, if the rich are amply taken care of all good things will come to us as well.
I was a bit surprised then when I spoke to my mother later. It turns out she has no fallback plan. My mom lives in South Florida, in a condo that has seen its best years. Hurricanes and the recession have reduced the value of her property to about nothing. She is 96 and she soldiers on. Mom lives on a social security check of about $1000 a month. She is on Medicare and occasionally she finds a doctor still taking it in Florida. She’s been on her own since my dad died about a dozen years ago and one of the things she’s proud of is her ability to make ends meet on that check.

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