A bunch of things out there I feel like throwing out at you, my friends.  So lets get right to it, starting off with the video clip that you must’ve seen (cause it’s already everywhere) but deserves to be put here too, just cause it’s, well, it speaks for itself:

If you’ve somehow missed seeing this before, it happened at a press conference while Bush was in Baghdad over the weekend.  You may be aware that in Iraqi culture, showing the bottom of one’s shoe to someone is considered highly insulting; well, I won’t even speculate where they put throwing one’s shoes at someone.  And of course, I’m sure security getting into that press conference- or anywhere near Bush- was incredibly tight, but still, I can’t help but notice the lackadaisical nature of the secret services’ response here- I mean, the guy was able to get both shoes off and chuck them across the room before being tackled by security.  He’s said to still be in custody, and word is that a few thousand people took to the streets of Baghdad yesterday to demand his release.

The social unrest in Greece continues still, and solidarity actions around the world have as well.  Olympia, WA, St Petersburg, Russia, Macedonia have all added their cities to the list of violent clashes with police and Greek consulate attacks.  Boston and other Northeastern U.S. cities plan on taking action tomorrow.

A computer and telecom equipment factory in Southeastern Shanghai, China, is being guarded closely by police trying to keep 1,000 factory worker’s from entering the building as they launch their own sit-in protest.  The worker’s haven’t been fully paid in 6 months, and offer just one more sign of the growing global working class uprising that- as I’ve noted was all but certain- is resulting from the capitalist meltdown in financial markets.

Closer to home, VermontNewsGuy has the “dirt” on the latest round of Republican and Democrat bickering.  While VNG may be a bit hot-headed about the degree of the “controversy”, he’s also essentially right: Tax Commissioner Tom Pelham recently reported (as he’s required by law to do) on the State’s estimated income from the statewide educational property tax and the estimated money that school’s statewide are expected to spend in the coming year.  Well, the report is that there’s an estimated $20.5 million surplus  in the education fund.  By law (Title 32, Chapter 135, Section 5402b) such a surplus directs the Tax Commissioner to recommend a reduction in the statewide property tax rate; well, he didn’t.  For a bit of context, remember that Pelham is an appointee of the Governor and in a letter accompanying his report to the legislature, Pelham explains “Given the extraordinary fiscal choices before us, a recommendation from me regarding 2010 tax rates may be extraneous or even harmful to the flexibility you and the Governor need to craft an overall fiscal course for the state.”  Later in an interview he said “it’s worth leaving the issue of the tax rate ambiguous because there is no certainty in these tumultuous fiscal waters.”  VNG hits this one one the nose:

…put this in context. Pelham is the appointee and ally of Gov. Jim Douglas, especially when it comes to cutting property taxes. And here he is refusing to recommend a cut in property taxes even where the law requires him to recommend a cut in property taxes.

Granted it’s only a recommendation. Pelham has no power to set the tax rate. But just imagine what Republicans would say if a Democrat passed up the chance to propose lower property taxes.

No, don’t bother. No need to imagine. Go back almost four years, to February, 2005. Then as now the Education Fund was projected to be in surplus for the coming year. Douglas wanted to cut the tax rate by more than enough to bring it into balance. The Democrats said no, inspiring then Republican State Chairman Jim Barnett to issue a statement accusing the Democrats of trying to “increase property taxes.”

So are Democrats now taking similar advantage of this inconsistency on the part of the Douglas Administration?

Apparently not.

“Because these are such difficult financial times, (Pelham) doesn’t want to make promises to the schools that he may not be able to keep,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ann E. Cummings of Montpelier. Agreeing with Pelham that this is a “different year,” she declined to take political advantage of Pelham’s letter.

“We’re going to make an effort to do this in a bipartisan manner, which we can’t do if we start out throwing partisan darts at the governor,” she said.

We have here three possibilities: (1) Vermont Democrats (at least as compared to Vermont Republicans) are too responsible about governing to take cheap shots; (2) Vermont Democrats (at least as compared to Vermont Republicans) are wimps with no taste for combat; (3) Both.

Just because the Democrats aren’t complaining doesn’t mean nobody is. In a joint statement, the Vermont League of Cities and Towns and the School Boards Association called on Pelham to propose a tax rate based on the new numbers, a move they say could save taxpayers $18 million next year.

Without such a recommendation, said John Nelson of the School Boards Association, local school districts won’t be able to present their proposed tax rates to voters at least 30 days before town meeting day, as the law requires.

So the Douglas Administration gets by with effectively raising property taxes (by not taking the course of action outlined by the law- reducing the property tax rate to reflect actual school spending) while simultaneously loading-up with ammo to shoot at the education system for not making the timely cost-cutting measures that everyone is demanding in tight budgetary times.  And the Vermont “left”?  No, make that the Vermont Democratic Party (don’t ever let me get away with calling the Vermont Dems the “Vermont left”)- they either too feeble or too disorganized (or both) to do what they let the political right do almost daily, which is to engage in a populist battle over how and where money is spent versus how and where it’s raised (particularly, taxes).  I’m not saying one way or the other that the tax rate should be lowered, or if the money should be used for other budgetary shortfalls; what I am saying though is that Douglas uses every opportunity (and in fact, when there is no opportunity he just creates one) to frame the conversation and place his actions and priorities in the context of doing the best he can to make living more affordable for the average Vermonter while placing his political opposition squarely as representing monied, “specialized” interests.  The truth of the matter may be that both the R’s and the D’s represent that, but it’s the GOP- and Douglas particularly- who represent it the most.  While Douglas will often talk about acting in a bi-partisan manner (while at the same time trash-talking the opposition), he never actually acts in a manner to do so.  But the Democrats, god bless their little mis-guided hearts, simply refuse to take political advantage of the same situations and try to cooperate with this fucker.  Time and again.

The right wing isn’t going to be neutralized by cooperating with them.  While it’s important and admirable to cooperate to get things accomplished, it would best be done by first entirely wiping out the falsehood of the right’s agenda and rhetoric- once their B.S. platform is exposed for what it is and the right’s power is left to the wingnut fringes, cooperate all you want.  In the meantime, WTF? take some action to throw the right’s maddening crap to the dustbin of history.

In the world of housekeeping here at IP, I’ve added a link to the Prog Blog, which is a blog for and from the Progressive Party.  Honestly, I’d seen it mentioned in conversations at other blogs, but had never gone over.  If I’m going to link the the Dem-centric GMD, the Prog Blog deserves one too.  And hey, surprise surprise, the posts over there aren’t bad at all.  A lot more focus on the issues, rather than the names and organization of the Party, which is refreshing.  The always logical and thorough Doug Hoffer helps that to happen.

Finally, no one can claim they saw it coming before it happened: the 9-5, tied for first place Miami Dolphins, who haven’t allowed a touchdown in three games and will enter the playoffs as AFC East champs after beating the Jets in two weeks. 

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