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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fascinating ad

There was a fascinating--to me--full-page ad in The New York Times yesterday from The Cato Institure and some 126 different doctors and scientists, as represented, disagreeing with then-President-Elect Barack Obama's quote from the election last year.

That quote, from November 19, was that "Few challenges facing America and the world are more urgent than combating climate change." He went on to say "The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear."

The scientists and doctors response: "With all due respect, Mr. President, that is not true."

So, okay, climate change or global warming may or may not be a scientific fact.

You know what? I can live with that.

But do you know what else?

It doesn't matter.

What does matter is that polluting the only planet we have to live on is wrong. It's dumb. It's virtually suicidal.

If you see what corporations, in particular, have done to our water, air and land, in even their mild cases, it will show that the way we have lived in the last 100 years isn't sustainable.

--We don't have unlimited electrical power from our power plants

--We don't have enough room for our waste

--We can't go on soiling our air and land and water and still have clean air to breathe, water to drink and soil to grow plants and crops

--We can't go on coaxing our soil with pesticides and have problem-free crops to eat or water without those pesticides. (This doesn't even mention the bees we need).

So the way we've lived isn't sustainable. We need to change. We need to pollute less. We need to develop clean, sustainable, supportable solar energy and good, mercury-free batteries to store the power.

And we need to get busy doing it, climate change or no.

Link to the original ad:
http://www.cato.org/special/climatechange/cato_climate.pdf

Say it isn't so, Kathleen!

Well, this is just perfect.

This must mean that former Governor Kathleen Sebelius is absolutely qualified--perfect, really--to be in the Obama Administration.

I've been a HUGE Kathleen Sebelius supporter from right next door here, in Missouri (to her Kansas).

But I never thought I'd see in the media she owed back taxes she hadn't taken care of.

Sure, far stranger things have happened in Washington and politics but I thought she was far above this.

What a letdown.

Not having paid back taxes seems to be a requirement for service in this administration.

This sets to rest any concerns these people were going to be perfect, huh?

And this was on top of her voting for, in the last week, fetal sonograms for mothers, just before any possible abortion procedure. She clearly did this so she'd more easily be voted for her position as head of Health and Human Services.

It should be all uphill, once she's voted in.

I hope.


Link to story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090331/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/sebelius_taxes

Again and again and again

So a few days ago some gun-nut nutjob goes into a nursing home in North Carolina and starts shooting away, killing 8 people.

Again.

Some more.

Can you imagine what a nightmare that was?

Earlier today, a woman was told their McDonald's wasn't serving breakfast yet in Salt Lake City so one of two men got in the trunk for a sawed-off shotgun and gave the window a blast or two.

Now, in spite of more of this kind of evidence, some right-wing Republican nutjob down in Texas, one Representative Joe Driver wants to pass a law allowing guns on Texas campuses.

Sheesh.

We'll never learn.

Ironically, if you'll remember, it was in Texas at the University of Texas in 1966 that a guy went to the top of the University Tower to shoot and kill 16 people and wound dozens more.

But lets have guns on campuses.

Like more guns will solve anything.


Link to original stories here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/us/30shooting.html?scp=1&sq=8%20people%20are%20killed&st=cse

http://enews.earthlink.net/article/top?guid=20090330/49d051d0_3421_1334520090330-1509096128

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/us/30texas.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Texas%20considers%20allowing%20guns%20on%20campus&st=cse

A proud day for America

So our new, young, intelligent and eloquent, African-American (Black) President Obama and his energetic, intelligent and, yes, beautiful wife leave today for Europe and their first big international trip, for the G20 Summit.

It is, truly, a proud day for America, even before anything good happens.

About that Secretary of the Treasury

Have you seen any interviews with Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner yet?

I have.

I have to say, too, he is just not impressive.

Maybe it's the format or something else but he doesn't come across as brilliant, by a long shot.

He isn't forceful.

He doesn't explain, for instance, this weekend when asked, why, exactly, the United States needs to save the auto industry. He just kept repeating that the auto industry is in the country's "vital interests".

Don't get me wrong, here. That is, actually, my point of view--that the American auto industry is, truly, in our country's vital interest--but if someone asks you "why?", you need to say more than just that it is. This is particularly true if you're Secretary of Treasury, defending the administration's moves and intentions.

I hope I'm wrong. I hope Timothy Geithner is a really bright, forceful guy with great ideas.

If he is, it isn't coming across the TV set. To me, he looks perpetually either scared or apologetic or both.

Here's hoping for the best.

Link to Treasury Secretary Geithner on, of all things, "Faux" news:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lRSRHavGLOM

Monday, March 30, 2009

Almost enough to make you positive, eh?

I received a business email today, pointing out the following:

·Retail sales are ticking upward ("ticking upward"?)

·Existing home sales are up 5.1 percent in the latest survey (definitely good)

·Durable goods orders are up more than 3 percent (again, good)

·Most major banks have shown a profit so far in 2009 (and many are turning down or returning stimulus money)

·The stock market staged its biggest rally since 1974 this month (after being cut in half, that isn't saying a whole lot but hey, it's positive)

·Both the fed and treasury have implemented plans that are forecast to have a positive impact (this is the weakest point of all, because what are they going to say? Something bad?)

·Corporate earnings have been surprisingly strong for a change (again, good)

Hopefully it's part of a larger trend of good, slow growth... and we can stop throwing trillions of dollars at bankers and investment companies.

The auto industry?

So we're tough on the auto industry and we get the head of GM--Rick Wagoner--to quit but how about the much larger banking and investment industry?

How about them?

The guys who "screwed the pooch" on banking, home mortgages, investments, stocks, almost everything, to the tune of trillions of dollars--where are they?

Why, they're still running those very same industries, of course.

Sure, we'll beat up on the much smaller and weaker car companies but when it comes to investment banking, why isn't the government tough on them?

AIG alone has cost us about 200 billion dollars, to support them.

Any talk on revamping how they work? How about shrinking that company a bit so it's not "too big to fail" for the country?

What? No word?

I thought not.

It's like in elementary school when two or three bullies would beat up on one weak one.

Link to story here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/business/30auto.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Friday, March 27, 2009

Our spending total

According to the McGlaughlin Group this evening and the figures they show, the United States' total taxpayer outlays since March 2008 for the financial crisis we're in is 5.32 trillion dollars.

Holy cow, people.

All of a sudden, we're talking about a ton of money.

Are we sure this isn't going to cause inflation?

LBJ's deficit spending for the Vietnam War sure did.

What we should--and shouldn't--do

Yesterday I wrote that the United States should outlaw hedge funds, short selling and other tricks on Wall Street.

I think this fits with the many people who also think that throwing billions and trillions of taxpayer, government money--that we have to borrow, mind you--is a bad idea.

Google Mish Sedlock, for one and Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist as two of them.

Fiscally conservative Republicans and some Democrats, alike, are thinking too much is too much, period.

Mr. Krugman's article in The New York Times puts this very cooly and logically into perspective today. You shouldn't miss it.

Link to the column here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/opinion/27krugman.html?th&emc=th

US to borrow from China for World Expo?

Further proof of the US' reduced place in the world now:

We may have to borrow money from the Chinese so we can have a presence at the 2010 World Expo.

And get this--for real irony, it's in Shanghai, China.

Yow. That's good.

So naturally the Chinese want us there.

But at what cost?

It's a little over a year away and we're barely pushing ground for our building.

How embarrassing for the world's superpower, eh?

Wait.

Superpower?


Link to original story:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=102432591&ft=1&f=1001

*original entry changed after note from writer, below

Remember my oil "buy" recommendation?

I wrote on March 23 that we should have bought oil (and Halliburton) stocks BIG TIME if we were cynical and greedy, at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration, in 2000.

Of course I was right. (not assuming I always am, to be sure).

Well, here we are--an article in The New York Times today, saying that there are rising fears of an oil shock, since oil companies have reduced the number of refineries they have, due to the collapse in the price of oil.

You wouldn't think the oil companies would have reacted that far-reaching in this little bit of time but don't forget, it benefits the oil companies--all of them, world-wide--to reduce capacity as much as they can, again and again, over time. The less they can refine, boys and girls, the higher a price per barrel they can get for their precious commodity.

For stability in the United States and for the safety of both our residents, our homes and businesses, we should nationalize the oil companies and as soon as possible.

We never will, mind you. I know that.

As I've written before, we worship profit and profits and wealthy people and big wealth far too much to do what's right for the country.

We should nationalize Big Oil because they're going to do what's right for them--which is reduce capability and wring all they can out of a barrel of oil, in terms of price--and that goes in the face of what is right and good and sustainable for the country.

Screwing us is good business for Big Oil.

Buy oil stocks, folks.

It'll be good for you and your pocketbook, just not the country.


Link to original article here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/business/energy-environment/27oil.html?th&emc=th

Some simple solutions

There is an article in The New York Times today, pointing out that the people of a small town in Italy--Lecco, to be specific--have decided to fight obesity in their children, along with automobile traffic and global warming (I would add pollution) by having their children walk to school.

Now, mind you, it's not a solution most American communities could easily adopt but it proves a different point to me.

It reinforces what I said here, some time ago, about our oil/Middle East/Middle East war/pollution/climate change problems, all with one really big push.

That is, if we switch as quickly as possible to solar electricity for our homes, businesses and cars, we could do the following:

1) Get out of the Middle East

2) Stop polluting our country and the world

3) Reduce climate change and global warming and the resultant ill effects those cause

4) Stop the transfer of wealth from us and our country to the Middle East

5) Add stability to the world's socio-economic structure

6) Add stability to the world's political structures

That's a lot right there.

It's what we need to do.

It won't be easy--or cheap--but it's rather simple.

And obvious.

Link to article in NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/27/world/europe/27bus.html?ref=world

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Open for questions my butt

So I saw an article on Yahoo! News just now, telling how President Obama and his administration is taking questions from the American people about the economy and our situation so we can all participate.

And I'm thinking, yeah, I've got some questions for you--like are you going to make hedge funds and credit default swaps and short-selling on the stock markets illegal and disallow them the way you should so we clean up the current mess we're in and avoid these in the future, right?

So I go to the site, register and can't find how I put in a question. Then, quickly, I find out how and also, simultaneously find that THEY'RE NOT TAKING ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS.

Hey, thanks for that.

I really feel like part of the process.

That was a real coup for you in terms of PR.

Great job.

Not.

Link to the Yahoo!News story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obama_online

Here's the White House link:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/openforquestions/

What should happen

Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner is to go before Congress today, to say what the Administration would like to have happen for and to our financial system, so we can avoid the kinds of problems we have now, in the future.

Following is a short list of what he should be asking and pressing for, at minimum:

1) The outlawing of hedge funds since they just put bets upon bets and run up stock markets artificially;

2) The outlawing of short selling, for the same reasons as above;

3) The making illegal of "credit swaps" since they're a ridiculous lie of a term--a sham, really--meant to be a replacement for actual insurance and all their necessary financial supports;

4) The inability for corporations to buy too many competitors, so they don't become a threat to our country and financial system, the way AIG did and get to be "too big to fail". We knew this from the Great Depression but we let it happen anyway. Hey, what was Congress supposed to do, walk away from lobbyist's money and do the right thing for the country?

These are four easy, intelligent, simple things that should absolutely happen to both help clean up our current mess and to avoid similar problems to our current ones, now.

Sadly, again, ridiculously and even irresponsibly, it won't happen.

Congress hasn't the backbone to do any of this and lobbyists and corporations are too far into our representative's collective financial pockets to do these, right things. There will be huffing and puffing but in the end, what really needs to happen, won't.

Link to story on today's testimony:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090326/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/financial_regulation

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Outrage?

So a letter of resignation was sent on yesterday by one Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G. and is also printed in The New York Times today on the op/ed page.

It seems Mr. DeSantis is outraged (outraged!) that he has to give up his nearly $750,000.00 bonus through AIG because it came from the American taxpayers and our tax money.

Well bully for him.

He may even be right to be outraged because Chief Executive Liddy and all the rest of the bosses lead them down the wrong path, sure.

But the fact is, this is the ugly situation--AIG is bankrupt and the American taxpayer was getting screwed for all these billions of dollars. Unfortunately, he and a lot of others aren't getting what was promised them.

But you know what? There's a whole lot of wrong things happening and handing out these millions to the AIG staff doesn't make it right.

And if Mr. DeSantis can afford, as he obviously can, to give away the rest of this, he must not be doing badly himself.

Welcome to the real and ugly world, Mr. DeSantis.

Maybe someone at AIG should have stood up to the people in charge at AIG a long time ago.

Maybe then we wouldn't all be getting the big screw right now.


Link to full story here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/25/opinion/25desantis.html?_r=1&th&emc=th

Where now?

The Dow is up some more, along with other relatively good news about and on the economy, at least here in the United States. (European markets took a hit, however. Hopefully they're not more realistic than us in the States). Home sales were shown to be up last month in news reports yesterday, too.

So maybe now we can and should consider cutting back on the billions and trillions we were originally going to throw at Wall Street.

Sounds like a good idea.




Link to original story:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Wall-St-jumps-on-signs-rb-14740995.html

Nice change of pace

I'm always pleasantly surprised when I read or am exposed to a column by Geoge Will and find that he and I agree on a subject.

Such was the case a week ago this past Saturday when he wrote of Americans, our diets and our exposure to corn, corn subsidies, corn syrup, meat in our diets and obesity in the United States. Even the title screamed agreement to me: "BAD HEALTH BUILT INTO OUR CORN-FED FOOD SYSTEM". (The capitalization was theirs).

He gave some terrific history about us, I think. For instance, he quotes Michael Pollan (no pun intended), author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and in Defense of Food. Mr. Pollan, he writes, "says that after World War II, the government had a surplus of ammonium nitrate, an ingredient of explosives--and fertilizer. Furthermore, pesticides could be made from ingredients of poison gases. Since 1945, the food supply has increased fster than America's population--faster even than Americans can increase their feasting."

Seriously, fascinating stuff.

People either don't know why we're so dang fat or they wonder why we are. The fact is, it has a great deal to do with farms, farming and corporations.

President Eisenhower warned us, for sure.

More:

--Did you know three in five Americans are overweight?

--one in five os us are out and out obese?

"Dureing World War II, when meat, dairy products and sugar were scarce, heart disease plummeted. It rebounded when ratioinng ended."

That's pretty incdredible right there.

"When you adjust for age...rates of chronic diseases like cancer and type 2 diabetes are considerably higher today than they were in 1900."

Yow. That's pretty indicting stuff.

My sister has been claiming for years, along with others, that if we ate better and smarter, we wouldn't have to pay millions and billions of dollars to treat and try to cure cancer. She's not alone, by a long shot. There are medical people who have been claiming this for years, too. It seems the data makes this clear and not really debatable, doesn't it?

Still more from Mr. Will's column: "Four of the top causes of American deaths--coronary heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer--'have well-established links' to diet, particularly through the superabundance of cheap calories of sugar and fat,' Pollan says."

So why put this down now?

First, because Mr. Will wrote of it just this past week.

Second, to spread the information.

And third and finally, because I am, just now going to board a cruise ship out of Miami and if I've heard anything about cruising, it's that there is mass quantities of food, all over the ship, virtually non-stop.

This gives me more desire to tone it all down, in the first place, and maybe evaluate the consumption, casually, while I'm enjoying myself.

Bon appetit'.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Observations from a vacation

Literally, observations from a vacation:

--It seems like lots of young women in America--more than used to be--are reading pulpy, fashion and celebrity magazines and it surprised me;

--the Fort Lauderdale International Airport is a nightmare to go through on Sundays, when cruise ships are dumping off their recent passengers;

--the Chicago and St. Louis International Airports are greedy business pigs as they charge for internet access;

--the Fort Lauderdale and Kansas City International Airports don't charge for internet access;

--I have more respect now, for the Kansas City International Airport, after going through Fort Lauderdale's;

--there is no way the Kansas City International Airport should be leveled, in the future, to make way for some other, newer airport. It makes no sense. It couldn't possibly improve the facility and it would certainly not be a "green", sustainable act (tearing it down and replacing it);

--It seems as though some national law was passed in the recent years, requiring young men to wear their baseball caps backward, in spite of otherwise outward good looks and taste;

--I would think the Chili's restaurant chain would either want a better image for themselves, with their "Chili's on the Go" chains or that they'd be ashamed of themselves, given the really awful food they just barely served today at extraordinary high prices in their Fort Lauderdale International Airport facility;

--It seems encouraging to see all the reading I saw this past week, while on vacation on a cruise ship in the Western Caribbean;

--Making cruise ships available to the masses has taken a great deal of "mystique" and sheer, true, real pleasure out of it (I'm not trying to be a snob here, just truthful);

--When people go on cruise ships for a vacation, you'd swear they all think they are the only one on the ship. Virtually all of them seem to act as though they are the only ones in the aisle or walkway and normal awareness and manners, much too frequently, are abandoned;

--CNN no longer gives straight-forward, simple, intelligent and unbiased news on its daily newscast. Far from it. I don't know how long this has gone on but what I saw last week was infotainment, at best and insulting, throughout. It seems the only source for good, again, intelligent, unbiased news reports is PBS--and not enough people watch that;

--There are honest citizens and organizations is the world, in general, and in Florida, more specifically. To wit: I lost my rather expensive digital SLR 35mm camera on a public rail line from Ft. Lauderdale to Miami a little over a week ago. I phoned them YESTERDAY about it and they confirmed by phone this morning that they do, indeed, have it. Yow. Yay! Things like this make you hopeful for mankind.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Everyone's going to want a piece of this

I've said several times that at least I should have been cynical enough to see what was coming in 2000, with the election of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney stealing the White House election.

Face it, we all should have bought oil stocks.

Oil and Halliburton--all we could have gotten our hands on, absolutely.

So now? Now that everyone thinks we may have hit the bottom of the market?

A couple of things are going to happen, here, folks.

First, there is going to be, as my partner, Michael said, some very real "irrational exuberance" that's going to kick in.

Everyone's going to want to make up in profits what they lost in the last few years, with this down, bear market.

And second, a whole bunch of people are going to get on that band wagon and buy oil stocks like crazy.

Today it was up to $53.00 a barrel.

That will look like such a bargain in no time, it won't be funny.

Really, it won't be funny.

Every household and speculator--everyone--is going to want to buy in to the roaring oil markets.

Congress should shut this down now by regulating the speculation markets for oil.

But they won't.

Hang on to your seats, folks, it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Link to markets story today:
http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/energy-stocks-join-rally-petro-canada/story.aspx?guid={81E7937A-5152-44A8-A238-BFD96B830764}&siteid=yhoof

The President of the United States on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

For the record, I want to be clear that President Obama's appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno only served to cheapen the office, even if he hadn't said anything stupid which, unfortunately, he did.

I'm back!

After just getting back from a vacation and, as good fortune and hard work would have it, my first cruise on a cruise ship, it naturally gave a great deal of food for thought, so to speak.

Stopping, day after day, in different ports of call and cities, towns, countries and cultures, it helps give a little bit bigger viewpoint of the world. It may not be Europe or Africa or the former Soviet Union or anything more global--it was the Western Caribbean, after all and only 8 days--it was still a bit of a larger picture of the hemisphere, its current situation and some of its history.

The question I'm left with, after seeing these current civilizations and the remains of ancient ones like the Mayans, it seems clear, given our current world situations, that we just don't have the whole successful, supportive culture and civilization down yet.

What I mean is, after all these thousands of years of human kind's living and the lessons we can and should take from them, we still don't have sensible, intelligent, successful, working plan for a society down yet.

Think about it.

We don't.

Too much greed, surely.

You would think we could come up with some reasonable ways to educate, clothe, employ, feed and tend to the health care of all our citizens and society.

You would think.

I do.

It seems that with all the scientists, doctors, teachers, sociologists, historians and more--all the educated people, worldwide--we could set up a working,
simple and, again, intelligent society.

And in examples large and small, across the globe, it seems we're breaking down right now.

Things and places aren't working and aren't working well or right.

Russia fell apart and became the "Former Soviet Union".

South and Central America never have been coherent and working--or haven't been for years, since the Mayan or Aztec civilizations.

Africa is in pieces and has been for hundreds of years, I believe.

China is not a working, sustainable society as it exists today.

The examples go on.

It would seem Denmark and some other Scandinavian countries come closest to truly be successful, supportable and functioning for all, though who knows? I could be proven wrong there.

In the current world situation, it seems wealth, as always, rules.

And that's not supportable and able to work in the long run.

It doesn't make one very hopeful for us.

It brings up the same old, simple, possibly funny but also possibly poignant question from years ago:

Why can't we all just get along?


(The first thing we should all do is outlaw war).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Our institutions are failing us

Our governments are not doing their collective jobs well at all, our churches have us do silly, pointless, unproductive things to ourselves--
maybe this is an improvement, since they used to have us kill one another--while. finally, our corporations drain and killus.

All I need to say about our govenrments not working is the current national and international financial, economic and banking crises. That along
points it all out but add that they are taking money in all kinds of amounts from businesses and business people, instead os doing their job and working
for us, the people they are supposed to be representing and working for.

--Some examples of our silly church practices::

==Hassidic Jews, with their required haircuts and black, "just so" clothing;

--Sikh Indians, with their rules about men never cutting hteir hair;

--Mormans with their "magic underwear";

--Catholics with their magic "blessings" and "holy water" (you gotta be kidding me);

--Amish people not using electricity (aparently because God doesn't want us to be warm in the winter or cool in the summer, eh?);

--Swirling dervishes, who do all that spinning to "get closer to God."

Shouldn't churches just be concerned with getting us all to help and work with one another? Wouldn't that be a better use of their--and our--time?
Wouldn't that be a better function for a church? All churches?

Examples of how our corporations are killing us:

--Bhopal, India in 1984 when Union Carbide has a gas explosion;

--Our food corporations are putting chemicals in our foods, along with fats and salt and sugars of all kinds, that are having the effects of making our
lives more miserable, while we're here, and then kiling us prematurely;

--those same food corporations and chemical corporations (and no doubt others, too) poisoning our soil, air and water, all for their various uses and
profits;

--the nature of corporations and their structures, period, which constantly, annually, require ever-increasng profits, to the detriment of their own
employees, since so much of their profits frequently, obscenely-largely go to executives and executive pay, while being taken from the most of the
employees;

And one of the subtle worst--taking all our working lives from us but giving us no means to take care of ourselves once their through with us and we're
elderly, preferably with a pension or some such;

This isn't working. Our instutions are failing us. They need to make sense and work for us. They're not, as I've illustrated.

We need to change them and have them work for us.

We need to get busy and take our lives and our worlds back.

"Workers of the workd, unite."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

As I write this, we're warming up in our area.

We were warmer today and the forecast is to hit nearly 80 degrees on this St. Patrick's Day.

Hip-hip-hooray.

The Dow was up about 700 points by the end of last week and we're almost into Spring.

Yow.

More hope.

As it is, I am on vacation and computer hook ups are unavailable (by my choice, really).

So my next entry here should be this coming Sunday.

I didn't want to miss this opportunity to wish you a Happy St. Patty's Day.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A new consensus?

Word out Friday was that the Chinese don't want the Americans blowing all that big money on bailouts, for the very real fear that it could and would devalue the dollar, thereby devaluing Chinese investments.

Hmmm.

This sounds strangely familiar.

If you put this rather big news, coming from Chinese leader Wen Jiabao, together with the fact that, lately, some banks are saying "no thank you" to the Feds for that same bailout money, wouldn't it seem like we have a bit of a consensus here?

Mind you, it's only 3 banks (out of 487) but maybe more banks will get some courage up and either want to return it or out-and-out do so.

Citigroup and GM said they need no more money from the Feds right now, too.

Anyway, it's interesting, at least, that these completely different organizations in totally different physical and structural locations come to the same conclusion.

This could possibly mean that our response has been one of desperation and panic and that maybe this isn't the way to go.

Stay tuned.

It's as I've said, since we're in totally new territory, financially, it's hard to tell where we are.

Unfortunately, it's like a recession--we'll find out after we're already long since there.


Links to original stories:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090313/ap_on_bi_ge/as_china_us_economy
http://www.propublica.org/article/third-bank-says-it-will-return-bailout-funds-but-487-banks-keep-theirs-311

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another committee?

After the debacle that was the Bush administration, it seems clear we need government.

We need roads and streets and bridges.

We need the people who respond to fight fires and help people after floods and hurricanes (think Katrina) and all that, sure.

Hey, I'm a left-wing, bleeding heart liberal, as you know if you've read here in the past.

But there is--there has to be--some point at which there really is just too much government.

The Department of Homeland Security is surely one of those.

We've had the FBI and the CIA for years and they're supposed to protect us internally and from outside the country, from threats.

Why did we need to create another large, tax-gobbling bureaucracy to keep us safe?

If the FAA had done its job at our airports and kept people from having pocket knives on-board commercial airlines, chances are the attacks on 9/11 wouldn't have occured. (For that matter, if President George W. Bush, at the time, had read and responded to his Daily Presidential Briefing, which warned him of a possible attack at our airports by Muslim extremists, the attacks on 9/11 wouldn't have happened, but that gets forgotten).

With the current financial/fiscal mess the country is experiencing, the last thing we need is to keep creating positions in the White House and country.

A "Car Czar" comes to mind.

Do we really need a "Car Czar"?

What is the Commerce Department doing?

Can't some person or persons in the Commerce Department keep an eye on the automobile industry and report back to the President on what's happening and what we need to do?

What brings this to mind is President Obama's creation this week of a White House Council on Women and Girls.

As the father of a girl, for starters, and as someone who knows and recognizes that women need support, particularly in this male-dominated world, I know we all need this.

My first reaction to this news was to be against this new council.

Not anymore.

As long as this White House Council is kept small and on target, I think this is nothing but a good development.

Let's just not grow it to take up an entire building.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What's it going to take?

We've had all these headlines in only the last few days:

--Man opens fire in US church, pastor killed

--Police shoot gunman dead in Nevada hospital ER

--Teen kills 15 in Germany before taking own life

--Ala. gunman `cleaned his family out' in rampage

And that's just the last few days. And it's been worldwide.

How long is it going to take?

How many times do we have to have this happen until we realize we need to do something?

How many random, insane, inexplicable murders is it going to take until we think and believe and live that human lives are more important than the sales of weapons?

Sure, I'm a left-winger and no, I don't own a gun (yet) but for pity's sake, at some point, haven't we had enogh people killing people--random or not?

I repeat, what is it going to take?

How many people have to die for absolutely no reason at all until we recognize that we have to do something (or some things) about these possibilities?

And here's a thought--I'm not suggesting of saying that it ought to be registering weapons.

What I am saying is that we have to do something.

We ought to start some conversations about what options are viable and what we maybe can and should do.

A study came out this week, too, pointing out that we need to have testing of some kind or another, to find the people who have these tendencies.

My thought is, that would beat what we're doing now, which is nothing.

So let's bring it on.

Let's start testing folks to see who is capapble or randomly killing others, in whatever number.

Then wait for the NRA to go ballistic.


Links to original stories here:
http://sify.com/news/fullstory.php?id=14867353
http://enews.earthlink.net/article/nat?guid=20090311/49b74550_3ca6_1552620090311706639784
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090311/ap_on_re_eu/eu_germany_school_attack
http://enews.earthlink.net/article/nat?guid=20090311/49b74550_3ca6_1552620090311913364830
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/mar/12/gun-laws-germany-teenage-shootings

Friday, March 13, 2009

What a dick

Isaw this Andrew Breitbart guy on Real Time with Bill Maher tonight and came to the conclusion he is a total dick.

He tried, again and again, to manipulate whatever anyone was saying, but particularly Michael Eric Dyson's statements.

What was especially obvious was that it was a television show with an interview with 3 high strung men who act like 6th grade boys.

There was just almost non-stop talking over one another.

This is why people create single-sex schools.

Boys and young men just run roughshod over one another--and the other girls who might otherwise be in the classroom.

It's nuts.

Anyway, I'll now watch for this Andrew Breitbart guy.

Like I watch for Bill O'Reilly.

Have a good weekend, y'all.

Here's hope

Did you see the study on religion in America that came out this past Monday?

It gave me hope for America.

It came from the Associated Press and told that "More Americans say they have no religion".

May I have an "AMEN!"?

No, seriously, this is good news.

It will be interpreted as "hell and damnation" and nothing but bad things by the religious kooks but it's just good news.

Some of the data from the article:

"A wide-ranging study on American religious life found that the Roman Catholic population has been shifting out o of the Northeast to the Southwest, the percentage of Christians in the nation has declined and more people say they have no religion at all."

"Fifteen percent of respondents said they had no religion, an increase from 14.2 percent in 2001 and 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the American Religious Identification Survey."

"Northern New England surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the least religious region, with Vermont reporting the highest share of those claiming no religion, at 34 percent. Still, the study found that the numbers of Americans with no religion rose in every state."

Naturally, there was also a dollop of bad news and that is "since 1990, a slightly greater share of respondents — 1.2 percent — said they were part of new religious movements, including Scientology, Wicca and Santeria."

Talk about superstitions.

I've written here before that we just need to rely more on logic, intelligence, research, intellect, reason and decency and good morals, in my opinion, than on religion, superstition, "gut-feelings", emotion and everything else that keeps us from progressing, as individuals and as a group.

It just makes sense.

Europe learned its lessons, over many centuries--and the hard way, I might add--by putting its literal faith in religion and religious institutions.

We'd do well by studying their history--and our own, for that matter.

Is it enough, this progress we've made?

No, certainly not.

But we're headed in a good direction, thank goodness.

Link to original story: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090309/ap_on_re/rel_religious_america

Thursday, March 12, 2009

This isn't what we voted for

A news article came out Thursday evening, pointing out that Speaker Pelosi rather cowardly passed on the ability to do away with the automatic pay raises for Congress.

The article starts it best:

"Congress' automatic pay raises are in little immediate danger of being scrapped for good, even with the economy slumping and millions of Americans unemployed. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Thursday would not commit to holding a vote on a bill to do away with the annual cost-of-living increases. She pointed out that Congress recognized the economic crisis by voting this week to skip next year's raise."

You know what?

This isn't the kind of thing we voted for.

This isn't change.

This is more of the same.

This is cowardice.

And this is wrong.

This is everything we don't want and didn't want.

Letting pay raises automatically take place, if you vote for them yourself--voting for your own pay raise--is a perfect example of what we don't want.

We have a huge deficit and a crashing economy.

But Congress is seeing that they have a pay raise.

Let's raise some hell.

This should not stand.

It's bad enough they have full health care, a big, fat, juicy pension and aren't tied into the same broken Social Security program we all are.

Let's start to undo these clowns.

They're our representatives, after all.

Let's take our country back.
_______________________________________________
Link to original story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090313/ap_on_go_co/congress_pay

I just got this in an email

And what kills me about this is 1) that one guy in here sings "my creed is equality" which is all well and good but I hope he doesn't think we have that yet, here in the "Land of the Free" and 2) I dearly, dearly wish we could all separate church and state, once and for all.

What is so hard about that?

Conservatives talk about small government but then want to throw in their Bible, into the mix. To wit: "my Bible and my Bill of Rights", they sing.

Oh, really?

I wonder if everyone knows there is an organization whose sole purpose is to support the Bill of Rights and they get heck all the time, for people wanting to go against them.

Know who it is?

The ACLU.

And don't get me started on "Faith-based Initiatives".

It makes sense. It's simple:

Government out of religion; religion out of government.

It should be a Conservative mantra.

If only we could have it.

An update

An update to Tuesday's (March 10) entry:

There's a story out right now on Yahoo! News from a Time Magazine article saying much the same thing.

See story here:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20090312/us_time/08599188463000

People are asking the same thing--Is the President trying to do too many other, less important things right now, rather than focusing on fixing the financial mess we're in?

He seems to think not.

Some of us think he is.

We hope we're wrong, of course.

We want and need this thing attended to--and fixed.

What needs to be expected of us

It seems so many people have all these opinions about what we should and shouldn't be doing, regarding our economy and our economic and financial situation, for the country and the world.

There's no shortage of opinions in normal times, of course, but when it's extraordinary times like these, well, the opinions flow. Some good, even. Lots of bad ones.

What we need to do, what needs to be expected of us, all of us, is that we

--stay calm,

--search for good sources of non-partisan information (think NPR and PBS),

--hold on to reason and logic,

--fight letting our emotions take over,

--avoid thinking of situations as "me" or "us" vs. "them",

--look for solutions to problems and not focus on just the outcome(s) of any current bad situation,

--be realistic

--push ourselves to think of solutions we can possibly offer other people,

--avoid demagogues of any political stripe and their emotional calls or out-and-out tirades to act out or think in certain ways,


Knowledge, information and logic will help us.

Yelling about things and getting and keeping emotional helps nothing.

Hating others is ugly, pointless and, in fact, only creates more problems.

So Rick Santelli-type rages on the trading floor of Wall Street helps nothing.

Daily rants from the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Larry Kudlow types is just irresponsible and only creates interference and roadblocks to solutions. It only clouds people's thinking and creates more problems.

What we need to do, folks, ultimately, besides this listed above, is work together. We need to talk to one another. We need to understand our mutual problems and situations and then work together to common, shared solutions.

And we can't get that without talking to and understanding one another and then working together.

That goes for both houses of Congress, all political parties, and all of us "common people" on the street.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ben freakin' Stein?

I ask again--why is Ben Stein on television?

Why does CBS put Ben Stein on its Sunday "Morning" news program at all, let alone talking about the economy?

As my partner said, "Ben Stein was in the movie 'Ferrel Bueller's Day Off'".

And that's it.

That's why.

Ben Stein is a "personality".

That's all.

He is not an economist.

He is, in fact, the son of an economist. That's all.

Check this out, from Wikipedia:

"Benjamin Jeremy Stein (born November 25, 1944) is an American actor, writer, conservative political and economic commentator, and attorney. He gained early success as a speechwriter for American presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Later he entered the entertainment field and became an actor, comedian, and Emmy Award-winning game show host. He is famous for his monotonous yet humorous voice in acting."

"Stein has frequently written commentaries on economic, political, and social issues, along with financial advice to individual investors. He is the son of noted economist and writer Herbert Stein,[1] who worked at the White House under President Nixon."

So my question is, why is anyone listening to this clown and giving him any time?

We need to be listening and paying attention to intelligent, educated people who have information, answers and suggestions for where we are, financially, socially and economically, and where we want and need to go.

And my other, more important question--would Ben Stein please go away?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Citigroup? Connected to a profit?

Are you kidding me?

A profit?

That's what they want to declare that?

Let me be the first to point out that Citigroup took how many billions of dollars from the government, just to prop it up?

Billions of dollars.

February 27, the United States was to be giving them 25 billion dollars for a 36% stake.

How, exactly, do you take 25 billion dollars from your own government's tax coffers and then declare a "profit"?

What nonsense.

Not only that, but from everyone's best estimations, there is still a great deal of bad paper on Citigroup's books they have to get rid of.

And the Dow goes up 379 points?

This is, truly, a world gone mad.

This must be some bizarro universe.

Citigroup's stock is at $1.40.

How excited can you be about that?

I have to say, the possibility of that same Dow losing those nearly 400 points between now and Friday are far too possible--and even likely.

But who knows?

In this "bizarro world", absolutely anything could happen.

Link to story: http://www.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUSTRE5291NK20090310

What needs to happen instead

Yesterday, I wrote that the US won't have a new, inclusive, workable health care system by the end of the year because we haven't got the will for it and we don't understand and/or accept that we have to take profit out of that same system.

I stand by that.

But more than all that, what really needs to happen is that, as David Brooks said Sunday morning on "This Week with George Stephanopoulis" on ABC, "The house is burning down around us."

It's all great that President Obama is tackling our other big problems, sure. Tackle health care. Tackle relations with the Soviet Union, the Taliban, Iran and the rest of the world.

But not right now.

Above all, get a handle on our economy. It is THE big problem, above all others, that needs to be addressed.

Fortunately, everyone agrees on this.

But that's not, it seems, what is coming out of the White House, to date.

I think this is going to change. The President and his staff and administration are all bright people.

I'm not just being trusting here. I'm not simply being naive.

The people running the country are opportunists and the kind of people that jumps on the biggest problems that would run them down otherwise.

But this needs to happen sooner--like this week--rather than later. The need to get on top of and pay attention to the economy, right now, above all other and as soon as possible.

Monday, March 9, 2009

From a person on the right and former Republican, to the Republicans


Open Letter to the Republican Traitors (From a Former Republican)

Dear Republican Leaders: The Republican Party has become the party dedicated to sabotaging the American future. Check out the sermon I just delivered about the Republican Party on CNN when being interviewed by D.L. Hughley -- and/or read on.

You Republicans are the arsonists who burned down our national home. You combined the failed ideologies of the Religious Right, so-called free market deregulation and the Neoconservative love of war to light a fire that has consumed America. Now you have the nerve to criticize the "architect" America just hired -- President Obama -- to rebuild from the ashes. You do nothing constructive, just try to hinder the one person willing and able to fix the mess you created.

I used to be one of you. As recently as 2000 I worked to get Senator McCain elected in that year's primary. (McCain and Gen. Tommy Franks wrote glowing endorsements regarding my book about military service, AWOL.). I have a file of handwritten thank you notes from Presidents Ford, Reagan, Bush I and II. In the 1970s and early 80s I hung out with Jack Kemp and bought into his "supply side" myth and even wrote a book he endorsed pushing his ideas.) There's more, but take it from me; my parents (evangelical leaders Francis and Edith Schaeffer) and I were about as tight with -- and useful to -- the Republican Party as anyone. We played a big part creating the Religious Right.

In the mid 1980s I left the Religious Right, after I realized just how very anti-American they are, (the theme I explore in my book Crazy For God). They wanted America to fail in order to prove they were right about America's "moral decline." Soon after McCain lost in 2000 I re-registered as an independent in disgust with W. Bush. But I still respected many Republicans. Not today.

How can anyone who loves our country support the Republicans now? Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan defined the modern conservatism that used to be what the Republican Party I belonged to was about. Today no actual conservative can be a Republican. Reagan would despise today's wholly negative Republican Party. And can you picture the gentlemanly and always polite Ronald Reagan, endorsing a radio hate-jock slob who crudely mocked a man with Parkinson's and who now says he wants an American president to fail?!

With people like Limbaugh as the loudmouth image of the Republican Party -- you need no enemies. But something far more serious has happened than an image problem: the Republican Party has become the party of obstruction at just the time when all Americans should be pulling together for the good of our country. Instead, Republicans are today's fifth column sabotaging American renewal.

President Obama has been in office barely 45 days and the Republican Party has the nerve to blame him for the economic and military cataclysm he inherited. I say economic and military cataclysm because without the needless war in Iraq you all backed we would not be in the economic mess we're in today. If that money had been spent here at home on renovating our infrastructure, taking us toward a green economy, putting our health-care system in order we'd be a very different situation.

As the father of a Marine who served in George W. Bush's misbegotten wars let me say this: if President Obama's strategy to repair our economy, infrastructure and healthcare fails that will put our troops at far greater risk because the world will become a far more dangerous place. So for all you flag-waving Republicans who are trying to undermine the President at home -- if you succeed more of our troops will be killed abroad.

When your new leader Rush Limbaugh calls for President Obama to fail he's calling for more flag-draped coffins. Limbaugh is the new "Hanoi Jane."

For the party that created our crises of misbegotten war, mismanaged economy, the lack of regulation of our banking industry, handing our country to rich crooks... to obstruct the one person who is trying to repair the damage is obscene.

Just imagine where America would be today if the 14 to 20 million voters -- "the rube base" who slavishly follow the likes of Limbaugh -- had not voted as a block year after year thus empowering the Republican fiasco. We would have a regulated banking industry and would have avoided our current financial crisis; some 4000 of our killed military men and women would be alive; over to 35,000 wounded Americans would be whole; we would have been leaders in the environmental movement; we would be in the middle of a green technology boom fueling a huge expansion of our economy and stopping our dependence on foreign oil, and our health-care system would be reformed.

After Obama was elected, you Republican leaders had a unique last chance to send a patriotic message of unity to the world -- and to all Americans. You could have backed our president's economic recovery plan. Since we all know that half of our problem is one of lost confidence and perception, nothing would have done more to calm the markets and project resolve and confidence than if you had been big enough to take Obama's offered hand and had work with him -- even if you disagreed ideologically. You had the chance to put our country first. You utterly failed to rise to the occasion.

The worsening economic situation is your fault and your fault alone. The Republicans created this mess through 8 years of backing the worst president in our history and now, because you put partisan ideology ahead of the good of our country, you have blown your last chance to redeem yourselves. You deserve the banishment to the political wilderness that awaits all traitors.

Frank Schaeffer is the author of CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back Now in paperback.

We still need International Women's Day--and badly

We had women's rights battles in the 60's and 70's, remember?

They were all over the news.

It was huge, at the time.

Revolutionary.

You wouldn't think we would still need International Women's Day that badly, now, in 2009, would you?

But, oh yeah, we surely do.

There are enough reasons and needs for it even here, in the United States, still, if for no other goal than just sheer equality.

How about equal pay for equal work?

Wouldn't you think that's a "no-brainer"?

It ain't.

It's not a given in the United States.

It's still being fought through Congress.

More tragically and importantly, there are places like Afghanistan where schools for girls have been destroyed because what passes for government--in this case, the Taliban--thinks women shouldn't be educated.

This takes "barefoot and pregnant" to a whole new, really ugly and ignorant level.

Then there's the whole male-dominated religious world out there, that makes women second class citizens, at best.

And I'm including the Catholic Church in that group, along with Islam, Muslim and virtually all other Fundamentalist religions of the world, including Southern Baptist.

So yeah, we still need an International Women's Day, now, in 2009. at this late date and we need it badly.

We need a well-advertised Women's International Month, for pity's sake.

Link: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

Just please go away

As I write this, I've been made aware of 4 events concerning the Catholic Church.

You just can't get much more out of touch with reality and the present than by being in and part of the Catholic Church.

The first thing I was made aware of is that the Vatican has made it known they're upset about a 9 year old girl, who had been raped, getting an abortion for the twins she was going to have.

You have to be effin' kidding me.

Here's a young girl, 9 years old, whose been raped, for pity's sake, and the Catholic Church thinks it should intervene, if only with opinion.

Thanks, keep it to yourself.

Can you imagine what a 9 year old girl would go through--and have to go through--to take a pregnancy to term and give birth?

Good God. (figuratively speaking).

So here there's a group of MEN--the Catholic Church--that thinks they can and should interject their opinion into this delicate and very private situation.

What chutzpah.

The 2nd situation is that Kansas City, Kansas Catholic Archbishop (where are there Archbishops--or, for that matter, Bishops, Cardinals and even Popes in the Bible?) Joseph Naumann announces, publicly, that he's "concerned personally" for Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, since she supports abortion rights.

Geez. These people need to go away.

This whole "concerned personally" nonsense is so insulting. It's a not-too-hidden, secretive phrase, meant to say that the Archbishop thinks the Governor may go to hell, let's be blunt.

It's so insulting.

It's so 15th century.

The 3rd instance, coincidentally, is that Roman Catholic Bishops (there they are again) are telling "the faithful" (can you say needy and co-dependent?) to "give up technology such as Ipods and text messaging until Easter." Read: for Lent.

Good God. They seem to outdo themselves in ridiculousness and absurdity.

These people are all stuck back some 100 to 500 years ago and their followers and media are still paying them attention and giving them headlines. We all need to get over this and move on to the intelligence and education we have and know.

We need to get away from the superstition and ignorance that is old, uninformed religion, particularly Catholicism and other fundamentalist, archaic religions, including Mormonism, fundamentalist Christianity, among others.

Finally, today, President Obama is having to announce that the government is going to rely more on science and less on religion and ideology for policy and that proof of this is that we can go back to using stem cell research in science and labs.

The biggest part of this, besides repudiating the non-science dogma of the Bush years, is that stem cells from embryos are needed so much less anyway, in the first place, due to advances in technology and secondly, the whole idea that you're "killing people" by using embryonic stem cells is laughable, at best, to the biggest part of the entire world.

We're smarter than this, people.

We all need to move on.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

How to be irrelevant--and demeaning to women, even if you're Liberal and work for The New York Times

Write a column in The New York Times op/ed page declaring that the First Lady, Michelle Obama, needs to cover up her arms in her daily, public attire.

No one would do such a thing?

Rush Limbaugh is that stupid and irresponsible.

But he didn't. No way.

Newt Gingrich?

Nope.

Michelle Malkin?

That would have made sense.

But no, not her, either.

Not a male.

Not a Conservative.

Who would do such a thing?

Maureen Dowd.

The world is going to heck, financially and economically--as I said in a letter to the Times today--Rome is burning and Maureen Dowd--a woman--writes that another woman should wear different clothes, for pity's sake.

She should be way above and beyond this.

We're all being screwed and we let people do it to us

We're all being cheated, screwed, by American corporations, the American health care system, the American pharmaceutical industry, the American insurance companies and finally, by our own supposedly representative government.

Ain't gonna' happen

President Obama did a very noble thing announcing that he'd like to put together this whole health care for everyone program by the end of this year.

And I'm very hopeful and positive about the President, his administration and hwat they can do and get done. Sure.

But you know what?

It will never happen

With all of the organizations involved in health care in America--the doctors, pharmaceuticals, insurance agencies, lobbyists, everyone--no one is going to give on this.

More importantly, the thing that won't happen--not in the next decade, anyway--is that profit won't be taken out of the whole health care picture in this country.

The rest of the world, virtually, has done it, but the US just can't.

We idolize profit, profits, wealthy people and the possibility to get rich too much to take profit out of the formula.

As a group, we can't comprehend how the whole arrangement can work without there being profit in the equation. Too many people in our country have bought off on the corporate propaganda that there must be profits--large ones, at that--so new technologies can be brought forward to cure more diseases.

It isn't so but you'd be hard pressed to convince us of that.

So he's done his Don Quixote and that's great but come December 31, 2009, we won't have a new, working health care system for all of us, the way we should.

I hope I'll be wrong.

I'd bet I won't be.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Bad--and getting worse

As I write this, auditors for GM just released a financial assessment of the former behemoth carmaker and it isn't good.

Not by a long shot.

The auditors, in what formerly would have been shocking honesty, came to the conclusion that they don't think the big auto maker from Detroit can make it.

Yow.

GM.

The previously largest automaker in the world.

Going down.

This on top of the United States government giving $175 billion dollars to AIG, the formerly largest insurer in the world, just to prop it up.

These are staggering facts and realities.

And no one knows what to make of it all, least of all me.

But we have to pay attention and know what's going on.

It isn't good but we can't get lazy, lazier or lethargic. We have to pay attention and do what we can do, in hopes that 1) we can do something positive and contribute to some good outcome to the situation and 2) so we can maybe still steer our own futures.

If GM fails, that will mean millions out of work. The ripple effects will be immense.

If GM fails, it means the Labor Unions will take a HUGE hit in membership and could quite likely no longer exist. They're already small and weak enough in this country.
And that won't kill us but it certainly isn't good for the common worker and it's not good for the country.

It's ugly and getting uglier.

But we have to pay attention and do what we can, at least.



Link to original story on GM:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101468051&ft=1&f=1001

Friday, March 6, 2009

Claire McCaskill on the Senate floor about earmarks in recent legislation

Yeah! Yay, Claire! You go, girl! We're with you! We are proud you're from Missouri! And we're proud you're not bringing home any earmarks to us, here at home! You've got our backs and we've got your votes!

The original "Piggies", from the Beatles, dedicated to the new "business piggies" of today

Dedicated to AIG, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and their former leaders, Angelo Mozilo (former head of Countrywide Home Loans), Bernard Madoff, Former Vice President Dick Cheney, John Thain (former head of Merrill Lynch) and all the Wall Street fat cats who've been cleaning this country's clock, financially, unregulated, for so long. This includes, of course, all the Republicans, in office and out, who've also made this all possible.

Again, have a great weekend, y'all.

"Bonehead" Rush Limbaugh, courtesy of David Letterman

Thanks, Dave!

Have a great weekend, y'all!

It keeps getting better and better

I keep seeing more and more about the failing and failed Republicans and how, right now, it seems so clear that Rush "Porkulus" Limbaugh is their de-facto leader.

It kills me--in a good way.

You have to smile, really big, if not laugh out loud at that current situation.

Rush Limbaugh, the brains of the Republican Party.

Ya-hoo!

It hardly gets any better than that.

Then, a new Republican National Committee Chairman, Michael "I swear I'm not a racial token" Steele tries to put Porkulus in his place and has to go back, the next day, hat in hand to apologize to him for saying he was "incendiary" and just an "entertainer".

Imagine that--having to apologize for saying what's both obvious AND true.

That would have to kill you.

Anyway, the more I see of it, the happier I am and the better it gets.

Then another thought struck me--another source of amusement and laughter:

You know it's gotta' be killing Bill "O'Really?" O'Reilly since he's not in the equation an virtually being ignored.


I tell you, it just keeps getting better and better.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What oughta' happen

Did you hear that Bernie Madoff wants to keep $62 million dollars that he put in his wife's name and their $7 million dollar Manhattan home?

This guy's chutzpah just doesn't quit.

And sure, our gut reaction is "hell, no!"

But on a more cerebral, thought out plane, here are two reasons why he shouldn't get to keep either, no matter whose name they're in:

1) In all the years and with all the money--50 billion dollars, give or take--he took from people, he NEVER ONCE INVESTED ONE PENNY OF IT IN STOCKS OR ANY INVESTMENT TOOLS. Not once. The SEC, though they don't otherwise do their job, confirmed this much, anyway.

If he deliberately took this money, from the start, and never invested it, it seems pretty clear that his goal, right away, right from the start, was to scam people with a ponzi scheme. If that's the case, then everything he and his wife have is ill-gotten and should be returned to these scammed investors.

2) If you haven't read the list of people and organizations Bernie Madoff scammed, you should. (Link here: http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/documents/st_madoff_victims_20081215.html) It's staggering.

Two brief examples:

He took $14,500,000.00 froom Yeshiva University in New York, alone. And that wasn't one of the largest amounts he took, by any means.

Can you imagine stealing from a Jewish University, even if you're NOT Jewish?

The second example is also particularly egregious, to me. He took $15,000.000.00 from The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity.

My God. He really had no shame at all.

The largest amount he took from one organization was a staggering 7 billion 500 million dollars (from Fairfield Greenwich Advisors).

One organization.

Those are just a few, brief examples from a very long list of people and groups from whom he stole.

And this is all staggering for three reasons.

One, the large amounts he took from people and organizations.

Two, the people and organizations he took this money from--big names, in the world and big philanthropists and philanthropic charities. He totally, absolutely showed no shame or mercy from whom he took money.

And finally, three, he had an incredible ability to take money from organizations--largely Jewish--that do, did and were doing such good, generous, philanthropic work. Again, he was shameless and exploited these people and organizations completely, totally, in some cases.

There are individuals and couples who have been destroyed, financially, because of him and his blatant, ugly, brazen theft.

So no. No sympathy or empathy for Bernard Madoff. That 62 million dollars in his wife's name now was never his. Neither was the 7 million dollar apartment in Manhattan. He got both by exploiting and exposing these people and groups completely, totally and utterly.

He should be shown the same mercy he showed his "investors", who trusted him.

Important reads and site for all of us

I decided some months ago to only put up my own writing--with some, few exceptions.
This is one of those.

If you don't read or watch the Alternet site, you should. They have great, important material out there--not just the current, temporary and hilarious antics and fights within the Republican Party and Rush "Porkulus" Limbaugh vs. Michael Steele vs. the Republican Party. (though those are some GREAT laughs).

The one that turned my head is this one:

We're in the Midst of an Epic Battle over the Direction of this Nation

By John Cavanagh, Foreign Policy in Focus. Posted March 5, 2009.

It really tells, very well, just where we are, what we're doing and where we might be going right now, as a nation and we could all use that information.

You can find it here:
http://www.alternet.org/workplace/130106/we%27re_in_the_midst_of_an_epic_battle_over_the_direction_of_this_nation/?page=entire

Here's another very good one from the same site and it speaks for itself:

What It's Going to Take to Stave Off Another Great Depression
By Dean Baker, The Guardian. Posted March 5, 2009.

Link: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/130155/what_it%27s_going_to_take_to_stave_off_another_great_depression/

Finally, here's a really good column also from Alternet.org that's both sobering and somewhat lighthearted, which is rare:

1/3 Of America Is Crazy: They Think Their Jobs Are Safe

By Jill Andresky Fraser, Tomdispatch.com. Posted March 5, 2009.

Link here:
http://www.alternet.org/workplace/130154/1_3_of_america_is_crazy%3A_they_think_their_jobs_are_safe/

I put these up because I think they are all 3 important reads and because I think the site may be overlooked by the "man on the street". I think they're too important to miss or overlook.

Have a great day, everyone (in spite of our outlook).

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

It's a small window, and it's closing

We've all watched the price for gasoline--both the price per gallon and per barrel, on the world markets.

We know it's gone from too high to ridiculous. The ridiculous part was when it hit $147.00 per barrel on those world markets, due mostly to speculation and people successfully, unfortunately, making a killing in the market.

Well, it fell to a bit less than $35.00 per barrel at one point and now it's back up to around $43.00 per barrel.

I have said several times that I should have--heck, we all should have--been very sarcastic, cynical and opportunistic back in 2000, when "W" and his cabal were about to take over, and invested heavily in oil and Halliburton stocks.

It only made sense.

We would have made a TON of money.

Of course, it would have been on the backs of the American people and the world but then we could have done some good with it.

So anyway, now, here we are, back in about the same situation.

If and when the world economy turns back around and people sense a "bottom" to the markets and economies start coming back, you can be sure people will start speculating--and speculating wildly--on oil, the price of oil and the oil markets.

There are a whole lotta' people out there who would like to make at least some of the money back that they've lost in these last months.

And that's where our government's plan to add $1.00 in tax or fee or whatever you want to call it comes in.

This should happen and it should happen now. It should happen right away.

It won't but it should.

This $1.00 per gallon could, would and should, then, be put to use getting us freer from Middle East oil. Parts of it could and again, would be given back to the American consumer but the rest would be used to get us onto renewable energy sources and so, again, out of the Middle East.

This would also, as I've written before, help clean up our environment, since it would be based on clean fuel and would help reduce the carbon dioxide being fed into our atmosphere so less climate change, God willing.


This, then, is what should happen, in a smart world--a perfect world.

It won't, though.

Not in a million years.

We haven't got the political fortitude to do it.

We haven't got the guts.

The politicians haven't got the guts.

In the first place, they'd all say it would just keep us in a recession--or worse. And actually, I'll admit, given that we're in financial and economic territory we've never been in before, it may even be true. (It shouldn't be, however, because of the returning of a good protion of the $1.00 per gallon to American consumers).

So the price of oil was outrageously high.

It came down.

And now it's creeping back up.

If and when the economy comes back, hold onto your hats.

It's gonna get ugly.

And expensive.

On a brighter note, if/when you see the bottom of the market, this time, buy lots and lots of oil stocks.

Monday, March 2, 2009

More sarcastic thanks to the Republicans, Conservatives, the NRA and now-former President George W. Bush

If you saw "60 Minutes" last night on CBS, you saw how a whole society and large country just to our South--Mexico, of course--is unraveling.

Unraveling due to drugs, drug wars, money coming in for it all and the available guns that make the killing and insanity all possible.

And if anyone thinks this isn't the United States' concern or problem, they can think again.

Sure, for one thing, you certainly don't want this neighbor falling apart.

We can't have the murders and kidnapping that's taking place there come across the border and spill into our country.

But it's more than that. More by a long shot.

The fact is, the money coming into Mexico, the drugs they distribute and the guns they use all come from us. The United States.

And it's the guns that get me here.

Remember the assault weapon ban we used to have?

Remember that?

Of course not. We're Americans. We have little, if any, attention spans and no memory.

The assault weapons ban was a law that tried to keep down the number of assault weapons in America and on our streets.

The Republicans, Conservatives and NRA all thought it better to do away with this ban in 2004, what with their imperial leader, George W. Bush, in charge, it was a no-brainer.

So how does this connect to Mexico's meltdown?

Statistic from last night's program: 90% of all the weapons going through Mexico come from the United States.

So it seems that this will likely come down, in future history books, as the United States could, possibly be getting a bit of comeuppance, given that those original three factors--the guns, money and drugs--that are the problem in Mexico are of our creation, here.

So maybe it would be wise to do something about those guns and our gun laws?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What they really need

So CPAC's annual meeting is over.

You know, the Conservative Political Action Committee's annual meeting, deciding who they are now, where they are, where they're going and what they ought to do next.

It brings up so many thoughts.

Some of the information that came out of the meeting was blatantly laughable and, if you're a Conservative, sad.

The fact is, the Republicans and Conservatives have been damaged--almost destroyed--by George W. Bush, his administration and their 8 years of antics.

If being conservative means shrinking government, forget it. George shot that to heck.

Why didn't we just give the CIA and FBI the tasks we needed as a nation, instead of creating the new, bloated Department of Homeland Security. No one asks that question, it seems.

If being conservative means spending less and being financially responsible and downright thrifty, again, forget it. W laid budgets to waste. George inherited a budget suplus and turned it, after his blown-out 8 years, into the boondoggle deficit we have now.

If being conservative means keeping government out of people's lives, again, forget it. George reached that same government further into people's lives than any President in the nation's history since at least Abraham Lincoln, and at least President Lincoln had the Civil War as his reason.

W had no such excuse. History will prove that out.

So here we are, at the beginning of 2009 and conservatives are trying to figure out what happened to them and what to do next.

Here's what they have to do:

Recover from George W. Bush, like the rest of us.

Don't get me wrong, he isn't the reason for EVERYTHING that's wrong in the world. (Almost, sure, but not everything).

But yeah, conservatives need to disavow everything W did that flies in the face of what they're about.

They need to say that government cannot and should not reach into people's personal lives via the internet and phone searches, etc.

They need to say--and mean it--that they won't preempt the Supreme Court and the court's need for warrants to get information.

It worked for the previous 300 years.

Government must play by its own rules, too. And that includes the Executive Branch and all others.

They need to get government out of religion.

And they need to get religion out of government.

Shrinking what we pay out, as a nation, is a great idea.

And to do it, Conservatives should help us shrink the military and the Department of Defense.

We need to stop fighting WWII and the Cold War.

And this starts bringing up exactly what was wrong with the Republican Party and Conservatives.

They are both too much in bed with Big Business and corporations. They've given both of them too much of what they ask for. (It doesn't even have to be what they want or need. All Business has to do is ask for it and the Rebubs and Conservatives give it to them, usually for a campaign contribution of a mere $2,000.00 to $5,000.00. A pittance.)

Repubs and Conservatives need to then go much further.

Go back to the way they both used to be in their heyday--think Barry Goldwater and President Eisenhower--and REALLY get government out of people's personal lives.

Get government out of homes and bedrooms.

That gay problem they have?

Lose it.

A woman want to have an abortion?

Butt out.

Look, in the first place, IT'S BEEN THE LAW OF THE LAND FOR ALMOST 40 YEARS. For pity's sake, be realists. Wake up. It's done.

But it's much more than that. The fact is that poor women need the option of abortion.

Should there be lots of them? No. Certainly not.

Should we, as a society, use abortions as birth control? Again, no.

But instead of trying to go against those nearly 40 years of legal precedent, why not put a ton of energy and resources--very publicly--into sex education and helping people adopt?

Both these things make much more sense. Then maybe we could all work together to reduce the number of abortions in the nation.

There's a thought.

Americans working together.

Wouldn't that be refreshing?

So sure, shrink government. Reduce spending. Shrink the military. Get us out of Europe--Germany and Italy, for starters.

Sell Camp Pendleton, California. Can you imagine how much all that Southern California beachfront property would sell for, in a recovering market, hopefully in a few years from now? Then move those Marines to some unused part of Arizona or Nevada or somewhere. They don't need and shouldn't be on the beaches of Southern Callifornia.

There are a ton of good, positive things Conservatives could do for themselves and the country that would make them vital and positive again.

Being divisive, separatists is not one of them.

But listening to and taking direction from Rush "Porkulus" Limbaugh isn't, either.