Friday, October 31, 2008

THE NATIONAL DEBT Costs Americans $450,000,000,000.00 Annually (uh, that's just for the interest)

"you may ask yourself, 'well, how did i get here?'"

the simple answer is reckless, deficit spending.

it is certainly fair to point out that most economists agree that federal deficit spending is helpful, and even necessary, during recessionary times.  it primes and stimulates the economy through periodic, cyclical downturns, acting like a financial shock absorber. 

however, under responsible economic stewardship, this should only be a temporary tactic to help the economy gain momentum.  once this goal is achieved, the government should then get back to fiscal restraint and discipline. this seems like a simple and rational concept, right? well, it is not the way the u.s. federal government likes to run its financial affairs.

This is especially true over the last 8 years. americans were introduced to a unique brand of runaway deficits, caused by a deficit-spending-extravaganzathe bush administration's policies created a vicious kind of deficit-spending-on-steroidscombining substantial spending increases with massive tax cuts, which cost $1.8 trillion over 10 years, and of course, the two wars in the middle east. 

the brookings institute writes,
" Paying for the tax cuts would require monumental reductions in spending or increases in other taxes. To offset the revenue losses in 2014 would require, for example, a 48 percent reduction in Social Security benefits, a 57 percent cut in Medicare benefits, or a 117 percent increase in corporate taxes." and, "Over the long run, making the tax cuts permanent would cost as much as repairing the shortfalls in the Social Security and Medicare Hospital Insurance trust funds. Thus, to the extent that Social Security and Medicare are considered major long-term fiscal problems, making the tax cuts permanent should be seen as creating a fiscal problem of equivalent magnitude."
while the bush administration and a g.o.p.-dominated congress increased the deficits and did nothing to offset the cost of the tax cuts, some republicans were still able to create a politial issue out of "earmarks," or "pork barrel spending." the earmarks account for about $17.2 billion in federal spending. although this is certainly a lot of money, it only account for .005% of the 2009 federal fiscal budget ($17.2 billion of $3.1 trillion). earmarks were, and are, hardly the cause of the doubling of our national debt under george w. bush.

soon after 9.11, bush told americans to  "get down to Disney World in Florida." people should "enjoy life" and spend money and go shopping. there was no need for shared sacrifice, as is an american tradition during previous times of war. 

the tax cuts were safe under bush. yet, in breaking with the "conservative" stereotype, the republican-dominated government spent wildly. The u.s. waged two wars in the middle east. the financial drain of the iraq war quickly rose to $10 billion, then $12 billion, per month. this was a boom-time on wall street and in the u.s. real estate markets as well. just having recovered from the "dot-com" bubble bursting, the u.s. economy was surging. even alan greenspan, then federal reserve chairman said, "at a minimum, there's a little froth'' and "it's hard not to see that there are a lot of local bubbles" in the real estate market.

despite the fact that the economy was accelerating, the federal government continued to rely on deficit spending. the president obsessively defended his tax cuts, as if they are the panacea for all things economic. even though in terms of deficit spending, tax cuts are just another form of expenditure. 

this was a recipe for doubling the national debt and squandering an opportunity to balance the budget. 

and that's exactly what happened.

•   •   •

long after bill clinton declared, "the era of big government is over," george w. bush revived it and made it even bigger than ever. and he did this before the 2008 "bail-out."   

after being handed a u.s. federal government with three unprecedented years of surpluses, bush policies increased the u.s. national debt from $5.7 trillion to $11+ trillion.

no doubt, bush will be blamed for much more than the u.s. national debt. among many other bush-casualties is the destruction and demise of the "g.o.p./republican" brand:

"We've strayed a long way from the principles the party was founded upon,'' said Representative Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican.

meanwhile all of us, including our children, and our children's children, will be paying the heavy price for an immensely strayed and failed leadership.

this is the biggest issue that never was.

•   •   •

it doesn't take an expert
clearly, we're not economic experts here at the INKSPOT PROJECT and we don't pretend to be.  but we do wish to promote awareness of this important issue.


Facing Up To The Nation's Finances (




A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEBT, by Margaret Atwood


[fact: the last president to create a surplus was bill clinton in 19981999 and 2000 and encouraged the american people and the future leadership to pay down the national debt by 2015.]


photo: Whitney Curtis/Getty Images

seriously, won't we all miss her?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

THE NATIONAL DEBT: The Biggest Issue That Never Was

one thing is certain

the next president will substantially increase deficit spending and significantly increase  the national debt. does this alarm you?

it should.

for fiscal year 2008, americans spent $451 billion for just the interest payment on the national debt. that is roughly half of the cost of the "bail-out." you can bank on this: this interest payment will recur every year and it will only go higher, as long as the u.s. continues its reliance on deficit spending. 

for sport, let's count the zeros: $451,000,000,000.00

all that money for interest on debt. is that really how americans want spend u.s. tax dollars?

in fairness to the next president, he won't really have a choice whether or not to increase the federal deficit.  the "bail-out," the wars in iraq and afghanistan, and a widening recession will force the next president to borrow and spend more. 

poignantly, the next president will occupy the oval office having significantly fewer choices and options for his policy agenda than his predecessors. neither candidate will admit it on the campaign trail, but the next the president's hands will be tied, given the burdens of growing record deficits and a bourgeoning, record national debt. the u.s. is nearing its financial limits, in terms of deficit spending, without the onset of seriously negative consequences.

the new president will have a briefcase full of policies that can help the u.s. through the economic recession, help get more people health insurance, to help pay for the wars and improve education, social security, to help stabilize the real estate market, etc...  

but these policies cumulatively are too expensive for the u.s. to afford.  the new president will need to earnestly prioritize.  the u.s. is bumping up against the national debt ceiling, again. the debt ceiling has needed to be raised 7 times under president george w. bush.  the  u.s. is set to reach $11+ trillion in a matter of months.

these are a few signs that u.s. is already feeling the gravity of massive indebtedness. according to many experts, serious ramifications are sure to follow if we continue to grow the national debt

the cruel irony is that the next president's ability to help lead the u.s. to a better and safer tomorrow will be limited from the very start, all because the federal government has spent itself into a very, very, big hole.

this is the biggest issue that never was.

•   •   •

we're not economic experts here at the INKSPOT PROJECT.  but that won't stop us from discussing the issue of the u.s. national debt to help raise awareness. this is a vital issue that, unfortunately, does not get the attention it deserves. one day, it will be the biggest of issues, whether we want it to be, or not.

we will focus on the subject as often as possible and will share helpful articles and links as we find them. it is in the vital interest of the united states for all citizens to start paying attention to this issue, and vote accordingly.

this is the first article of a small series.  please stay tuned.


Monday, October 27, 2008


in one week, we americans will vote for our next president.  the INKSPOT PROJECT, however new to the blogging scene, has long followed american politics.  never before have we seen anybody more fit for the times and the circumstances to lead this country to a better and safer tomorrow than barack obama. 

we have no illusions that "change" will be easy.  on the contrary, if obama wins (and we feel confident he will win with 325+ electoral votes), the struggle for progress will have just begun. we also accept the fact that we may not always agree on the course we take along the way. 

but, now more than ever, we need a smart, steady and inclusive leader in the white house to navigate our country successfully through these unprecedented crises. we need a president who has the character and temperament, much like abraham lincoln, to seek to work with those who disagree with him on the toughest of issues. 

humbly, we think barack obama will provide such leadership and is the right man for this moment.

please vote on november 4th. 

but please vote early if you can.


there is nothing like carving a pumpkin into a jack-o'-lantern

drunk with power.
giddy with endless choices.
scary-face? whimsical? artistic?
absurd? ornate? stream-of-consciousness?

grab your favorite saw-toothed knife or other weapon of choice.
just start slashing, stabbing, gutting and cutting.
savor the catharsis while inflicting pulpy-carnage.
scrape out the slimy, gruesome guts (be sure to save the seeds). 
O                         O
lacerate and hack away at the giant, fleshy squash.
fine-tune to your heart's content.
[warning: perfectionists may get stuck in this mode, indefinitely.]

prepare the seeds (do not wash).
add salt and spice and bake at 375F.
eat them while crispy-hot.

put a candle in your masterpiece.
light it up for the big reveal:
grotesque. beautiful. hilarious.


bask in the mellow-orange glow.
now this is halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2008


photograph by Chip Somodevilla - Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

lately, a steady stream of conservatives have removed their fingers from the dyke and are hastily sprinting to higher ground.  perhaps, like everyone else, they are watching the polls continue to show a steady, unrelenting uptick for barack obama. or maybe they can actually see the blue tsunami coming and are doing what any sensible human being would do: hunker down and prepare for the aftermath.

in a way that nobody could have foreseen just a few months ago, one by one, stalwart conservatives, like kenneth adelmandavid frum, christopher buckley and colin powell, to name a few, are bailing on the mccain/palin ticket.  at best, they leave in their wake dire warnings, emphatic suggestions and begging pleas to help their party lose - less badly - on november 4th.  at worst, they are simply choosing to support barack obama. 

today, among the growing chorus of republican outcries and right-wing panic, another conservative has publicized a clear, message-of-alarm for his party. in spirit, david frum still supports the mccain/palin ticket, but he's now ready to cut losses for the good of the party.  

using our words for creative affect, the INKSPOT will convey the essence of frum's sentiments in the format of a telegram:

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -






- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
david frum, neo-conservative thinker, former bush speech writer, author and national review columnist writes, "in these last days before the vote, Republicans need to face some strategic realities. Our resources are limited, and our message is failing. We cannot fight on all fronts. We are cannibalizing races that we must win and probably can win in order to help a national campaign that is almost certainly lost. In these final 10 days, our goal should be: senators first."

the INKSPOT foresees a nasty republican party civil war, replete with vicious finger-pointing, spontaneous cannibalization, circular firing-squads and political blood-baths.  the g.o.p. will be in the political wilderness for some time. 

we hope they have plenty of warm clothing, matches and moose jerky.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


perhaps florida will redeem itself this time around.  

the "hanging chad" fiasco still haunts us in so many ways.  apparently, the polls are shifting towards obama.  this is a state that should have been a layup for mccain.  

when asked yesterday if he should have been chosen to run as vice president over alaska governor sarah palin, tom ridge said "i think the dynamics would be different in pennsylvania.  i think we'd be foolish not to admit it publicly."  

well of course it would be different in pennsylvania.  the same is true across the nation as well.  it is also true that if maccain picked florida's governor, charlie crist, the race would be "different."  but everyone knows that tom ridge's "different" means "much more favorable for mccain."  many people on both sides of the aisle think that if mccain picked A.B.P. ("anybody but palin") and chose from a fairly healthy list of qualified conservative candidates, this race may be seeing more red than blue. but that is not the bet that john mccain made.  

one thing is clear, whether florida is following the country or vice-versa, the "big mo" is with the blue team, team obama.

how fortunes change while rolling dice.

"While McCain Looked Away, Florida Shifted"

Friday, October 24, 2008


Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records. The campaign categorized Ms. Strozzi’s payment as “PERSONNEL SVC/EQUIPMENT.”  -by Michael Luo, The Caucus



get your gaffe on!


"Mr. Obama has met challenge after challenge, growing as a leader and putting real flesh on his early promises of hope and change. He has shown a cool head and sound judgment. We believe he has the will and the ability to forge the broad political consensus that is essential to finding solutions to this nation’s problems." -excerpt from the new york times editorial


...certain to keep the story alive.

highlight quotes from the above article:
  • "Most of the clothes have never left the campaign plane, she told the newspaper."
  • "'It's kind of painful to be criticized for something when all the facts are not out there and are not reported,' Palin said."
  • "'That whole thing is just, bad!' she said. 'Oh, if people only knew how frugal we are.'''


on palin's $150k wardrobe malfunction.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


" I know what Americans are going through. Todd and I, heck, we’re going through that right now even as we speak, which may put me again kind of on the outs of those Washington elite who don’t like the idea of just an everyday working class American running for such an office."  -sarah palin on the hugh hewitt show, 8.30.08

photo: jim watson/afp/getty images

elitist is what elitist does.

according to reports, a team of stylists shopped for, and purchased palin's wardrobe (classified as "campaign accessories") and spent $75,062 at neiman marcus and $49,425 at saks fifth avenue. apparently, palin was not present for the shopping spree.  it is safe to say there are few plumbers, six-packers or wal-mart shoppers that can fathom spending $150,000.00 on lip-stick, hair-do's, dresses, black boots and red pumps, for a 10 week campaign.
so much for mccain & palin's hyperventilation about the re-distribution of "joe-the-plumber's" wealth.  and what about the already forgotten other joe, the wal-mart-shopping "joe-six-pack."  palin doesn't talk about him anymore.  the plumber's hegemony over the six-pack was swift.  the six-pack is so last-month's fashion.

and then there is obama "the elitist." in terms of campaign-trail-red-meat, this is one of the most relished mccain/palin character attacks.  ironically, it turns out that obama is happy wearing and repairing his old suits.  

how common.

hypocrisy is always the politician's achilles heel.  most of the "joes" in the world can smell hypocrisy through their flat screen televisions.  for palin to sell herself as an "everyday working class american" and participate in this silliness is not only disingenuous, but really poor image management.  and even worse politics.  

the purchases were bound to be made public.  forget the terrible judgement, the "straight talk express" dropped the transmission on this one.  we are talking about the most elementary of tasks  expected from a competent campaign: build an image that is honest and has integrity to the existing identity of your subject.  is neiman marcus, saks fifth avenue and barney's new york really where sarah palin would normally shop? did anyone in the mccain campaign ever hear of "mr. populist" john edward's $400.00 haircut and the charges of hypocrisy that dogged him ever since? 

no matter how petty the criticism may seem at a glance, this wardrobe fiasco is yet another pockmark on a politician who is as much out of touch as she is "out of her league." in the history of american campaigning, nobody has ever gotten a wardrobe "allowance," let alone such posh digs that would take a 30-year mortgage for the average american to afford.

the "obama is an elitist" charge suddenly rings hollow.

for grins, here's a brief comparison between where most of the "joe's" shop and where the palin stylists shop.  we all know that "save money. live better" is the tag line for the behemoth super-discount store, "wal-mart."  and we all know that regular neiman marcus shoppers are predominantly wealthy.  but if you dig a little further into the neiman marcus website, you'll find just how well the corporate office knows its clients: "For over a century, The Neiman Marcus Group has stayed focused on serving the unique needs of the luxury market. Today, that commitment is stronger than ever...The Neiman Marcus Group stores.. offer upscale assortments of apparel, accessories, jewelry, beauty and decorative home products to the affluent consumer. " how many neiman marcus consumers drop $75,000.00 at a pop?

let's add some mathematical perspective. to date, palin has been campaigning for about 7 weeks.  after dividing $150,000.00 by the amount of days she's been on the campaign, you get a little over $3000.00 per day, including weekends. that is truly haute couture.

this wardrobe faux pas puts extravagance on parade.  those with a tin ear may not have heard, but the rest of us are concerned that the drumbeat of bad news in the u.s. is growing louder. americans lost 159,000 jobs last month.  that makes 1.51 million jobs lost for 2008, a six-year high.  the nation's unemployment rate hit 6.1% in september and is expected to climb. 

it's no surprise that republican strategist, ed rollins chided, “It looks like nobody with a political antenna was working on this."

people wonder how sarah palin can keep a straight face while aggressively selling whoppers to all the joes in the country.  she would have you believe she's just an average working "hockey-mom," meanwhile she slips into something more comfortable, like "living the life of riley."  

what the mccain campaign seems to have misunderestimated is that this sort of out-of-touch-display reminds us what we are trying to move away from in this country: the scourge of dysfunctional and unrestrained consumption during an historic, economic downturn.

this issue alone won't doom the mccain/palin ticket.  not by a long shot.  but for most americans during this campaign season, palin's $150k for "campaign accessory" clothing will be considered a major re-distribution of wealth.  

for the g.o.p. hopes, there are now pockmarks aplenty.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


michelle obama electrified a large and enthusiastic crowd in gainesville, florida today.  in the heart of the city, on the steps of the historic hippodrome state theatre, mrs. obama made the case for change and encouraged voters to "walk one block down the street and vote today."


the usually hilarious dowd takes a somber tone in her new column about colin powell's recent meet the press appearance

Elsheba Khan at the grave of her son, Specialist Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan.  photograph by Platon.
general colin powell, the former secretary of state for the bush administration, endorsed obama on the show and recounted a poignant moment of truth that inspired his difficult decision.  

dowd writes, powell "saw a photograph of  a mother pressing her head against the gravestone of her son, a 20-year-old soldier who had been killed in iraq.  on the headstone were engraved his name, kareem rashad sultan khan, his awards - the purple heart, the bronze star - and a crescent and a star to denote his islamic faith."    

paul volcker highlights obamas fiscal strengths

while the mccain/palin campaign runs around the battleground states calling barack obama a "socialist," obama was busy hosting an economic summit in the state of florida.  

obama was flanked by google ceo eric schmidt, former federal reserve chairman paul volcker, govs. jennifer granholm of michigan, bill ritter of colorado, bill richardson of new mexico, and ted strickland of ohio, as well as small-business owner victoria villalba.  the summit focused on how to generate new jobs in a faltering economy and discussed overhauling the nation's power grid.

it has become apparent that the mccain/palin charge of socialism rings hollow and even ironic  to most people, given that bush/cheney just engineered the biggest federal governmental take over of the financial sector in u.s. history.  who are the socialists?

on the topic of socialism, volcker cautioned "one of the challenges for the next president will be how do we re-privatize institutions that never should have needed to be socialized in the first place by this [bush] administration." 

ann telnaes's cartoon: 10.22.2008

hot off the press: wall street journal/nbc poll graphics...