Tuesday, December 30, 2008

You'll Put Your Eye Out

Israel is attacking Gaza again. Israel says that Hamas is firing rockets into civilian areas, so Israel has to defend itself by bombing and rocketing into the Gaza strip, and because Hamas hides itself in the civilian population, civilians are getting the brunt of the attacks.

Or is that really the case?

So far, one Israeli has died due to rocket attacks from inside Gaza (homemade rockets, mind you). In the first day or two of fighting, over three hundred Palestinians have died, a lot of them children on their way to school. The Israelis have bombers, fighter jets, tanks and artillery that they may yet unleash on the Gaza, while Hamas and the Palestinians can defend themselves with bricks from the rubble created by the Israeli attacks.

Yes, the Israelis deserve security. And while Hamas has always said they aren't for Israel (well, they're for Israel no longer existing, if that's possible), Gaza itself has become an ironic boil on Israel's backside. Do the Jews of Israel remember the Warsaw ghetto? If they could have defended themselves against the Nazis, don't you think they would have? The Palestinians in Gaza have been cut off from clean water, their food supplies have been restricted, people have died trying to get to hospitals outside Gaza because they've been stuck at the border, waiting to get through. So the people in Gaza are basically being treated with absolute contempt by people who were once treated the same way, and for similar reasons.

Is this some sort of weird, pay-it-forward-style of inhumane treatment? They got us, we'll get you? And this is where I suddenly go from defending Israel (being a good American), and become the one saying, if the Israelis can't deal with the problem in some sort of peaceful way, do they deserve to be treated well? Should we continue to give them guns, money, a free pass? 

300 to 1...

If Mexico sent a single shell into San Diego and killed twenty or thirty people, would we be justified in bombing Tijuana flat?

Monday, December 29, 2008

A Coal Ash Martini, Please

Sure enough, it has happened again. A coal ash waste pond (where they stack the ash, and then mix it with water and divert it into storage "cells") finally blew its buffer and released more than 5.4 million cubic yards of this toxic crap into the environment, near the town of Kingston, Tennessee. This coal ash tsunami invaded twelve homes in the area, covering 400 acres of land between four and six feet deep.

That's 1.06 billion gallons, 100 times the Exxon Valdez spill, and this stuff is pouring into two feeder tributaries of the Tennessee river. The Tennessee, in turn, is a drinking water source for Chattanooga, west Tennessee, and the states of Kentucky & Alabama.

Clean coal, indeed.

Coal ash has high levels of mercury, arsenic and lead, and is more radioactive than spent nuclear waste (Scientific American, thanx for that happy little nugget of info), thanks to the two major radioactive impurities found in coal, uranium and thorium. When the coal is burned, anything that is NOT combustible is stored in concentrated form in the ash. Then the ash is very carefully piled up in enormous mounds inside earthen dams that are sort of affected by stuff like, well, rain, and so on. Yes, there had been warnings about this particular cell and it's ability to hold in the contents. 

There are always warnings that officials decide not to act upon, and hope for the best. This is known as laissez-faire.

Now, this is not the first time this has happened. And it probably won't be the last. The question is, where is the government in regulating this stuff: how it should be contained, how much can be in one place at one time, etc.? Apparently this particular sludge pond was a record-breaker. The kind of thing where the tour guide goes on about how "this here coal ash repository is three times the size of the next smallest one, and there ain't one bigger'n this'un."

Great - a "toxic-waste Titanic."

Monday, December 1, 2008

Dying for that Minimum Wage

The first death of the shopping season was recorded on Friday morning after Long Island WalMart shoppers decided it was more important to buy... something... than to aid a fellow human being, prone at (or under) their feet. 2000 people were so impatient to get in and shop before the bargains were all snapped up, they broke down the door before opening, and ran down Jdimytai Damour, a temporary employee from Queens, who struggled to get up under the onslaught of rushing idiots.

I realize this isn't the normal sort of topic for what's supposed to be a political blog, but it speaks to the United States of Mind. And, of course, repeating my mantra, which is "WalMart is Evil."

What is wrong with Americans? Or is it just Long Islanders? Do we really need the DayGlo hot pink TV Chef Barbie so badly we're willing to kill immigrants just to get our hands on one? Is the value of that new Transformer Car higher than that of the human being gasping out his last breath on the floor? Makes me re-think my whole attitude towards X-Mess.

Yes, I still want to buy presents for my wife, my friends and my cats (though not necessarily in that order), but the crowds are bothering me this year more than ever. Shopping in the middle of a rugby scrum only appeals to those already interested in being in rugby scrums (hint: not me). Nothing against rugby or scrums for that matter, mind you. 

I remember being in London on Boxing Day and thought it was pretty crowded, but to me, the worst part of it was the attitude of the folks working the counter at the Macy's-like department store where we bought a bunch of our stoneware (really really decent price). The guy saw what we were bringing to him and we opened our mouths (here come the rude Americans) and asked to have it all shipped back to the States. "But I'm about to go on break." Whiner. The whole city was crowded, and it hardly bothered me at all, even in the very busy toy store, with zillions of kids. But no one was trying to kill anyone else to get the last whatever on the shelf...

The term "Black Friday" is meant to indicate the day of the year when retailers go into the black for the year, where they make their best sales. It's also the time when sales are at their most extreme in bargains bargains bargains for the consumer. So people get a little crazy.

And now of course, Black Friday has a whole new meaning for one Queens family.


Being WalMart means never having to say you're sorry, right? Even if it costs you an arm, a leg, and a lung? I guess they feel it was no longer cost-effective to avoid paying a tiny fine, since paying it would set some sort of, I dunno, precedent: WalMart spends $2,000,000 to avoid paying $7,000.

Really, you are reading that correctly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fresh Blood or Fresh Meat?

Obama has approached Hillary Clinton to be his Sec. of State. Ex-Sen. Tom Daschle as the Health Care Czar (whatever that is). Rahm Emanuel as his White House Chief of Staff. Eric Holder as AG. Everyone's referring to these folks as Clintonistas. While the urge to give yourself the most experienced team in the universe (mostly because they've all been there before) is understandable, this particular team carries a taint: William Jefferson Clinton, ex-Pres. He wasn't all bad, but when he was bad, he was very, very bad, indeed.

Obama needs to be about boldness, and he's picking folks out of the middle of the "darn good" pile. Hilary. As centrist as you can get, and somewhat a bit to the right. Daschle is well-known for being mealy-mouthed and far too trusting for his own good, and his wife lobbies for health care companies. While Emanuel has a reputation of being a bit of a wolf in wolf's clothing, he was one fellow who pushed hard for NAFTA, which has been a disaster for America's and Mexico's economies. And Holder was involved in the Marc Rich pardon scandal.

The first ray of light has been the choice of Ariz. Gov. Janet Napolitano for Homeland Security Chief. By targeting the business owners that hire illegals, and the criminals that supply them with fake IDs, she's going about the illegal immigration problem the right way - make it tough on those who are exploiting the needs of the border crossers, rather than going after the folks who are coming here because our treaties have screwed up their economy.

Obama really needs to move his Cabinet and his policies to the left as quickly as possible. Working across the aisle is commendable, and while I don't want to be in the "so THERE" camp, and f^&k over the Repugs as much as they f^&ked us over, what Obama really should be wanting to do right now is run with the wave of good will he currently has, and persuade us to do better as a nation. I think he can do that. But if he follows it up with a "living in the 90s" style of administration, he (and we) will be in big trouble. All of Clinton's years led to the collapse of the Dot-Com bubble, followed (in the Shrub years) by the housing bubble, followed by the banking and Wall Street bubble. Bubbles do not make good economies.

Obama talks about change, and the change we really need is to get away from this mindset of growth, growth, growth. If it was happening to you, it would be a bad thing. Constant expansion is either a weight problem or cancer. Perhaps what we need is to have an economy that simply works, creates jobs where they're needed, balances human capital against the other kind, and interlinks with the rest of the world. Stability usually means peace, boring as that is. When someone is suffering somewhere, conflict isn't far behind.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Bailing Out the Titanic with a Walrus

Exactly what is this whole bailout thing? American Express becomes a bank so they can get money from taxpayers? I thought AmEx was the strongest, best-run credit card co. in the world? I thought they were pretty draconian in their quest for only signing up sure things.

Well... except I have one, which really doesn't speak well for them.

And the Big Three automakers are begging for our spare change as well. As the Rivethead once said, maybe they shouldn't have been marketing rhinos when the world really needed a lot of gerbils. Now we have a year's backlog of Hummers just waiting to be purchased by the next wave of Rap moguls to sweep the country. Or Boy Bands. Or perhaps Hannah Montana needs to give her entourage and her fan base a free car each, just to keep them showing up as she passes through a drug- and alcohol-fueled pooberty (remember Drew Barrymore? remember?).

While the Big Three stare down the barrel of the Big Sleep, Americans must ask themselves, if Toyota can do it, why not us? Japan had one of the uglier recessions of the last fifty years, and Toyota didn't go under, neither did Honda, Subaru, Isuzu, or even (gasp!) Suzuki. While American car manufacturers do occasionally create an interesting car, most of them are indistinguishable piles of cheap plastic toy knockoffs of each other's bad designs. The PT Cruiser (gag!) morphs into the Magnum (huk!) flattens out into the 300 (only without the homoerotic, beardy, bloody fight scenes).

Where is the American Prius?

(author's disclaimer - I drive one, and it f%^&*$g rocks!)

Sure, there's the Saturn Vue, or maybe the Chevy Volt (next year, next year, next year - why is it always next year?). But these are odd exceptions. Otherwise, you get these crappy cars that look a lot like their Japanese or Korean counterparts, only with cheaper materials and sleazier salesmen.

So, my solution? Let 'em all drown in debt. Someone will come along, buy up their assets and do a better job of it. And if the UAW needs to take a pay cut, well, the rest of us did - so there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It Actually Happened

We elected the Black Guy.

How did that happen? Better yet - why?

While I will try to keep the cynical snark to a minimum, it's important to remember a salient point - most Americans aren't that smart. Stimulus in the form of rewards of food or whacks on the head seems to be what we respond to best. Just look at California and Prop 8, the "Yes on No Gay Marriage Act." People voted for it because there were ads saying Barack Obama's for it. Which, given his stated opposition to the concept of gay marriage comes as no surprise; however, he might not have been for this particular initiative, simply because the Supreme Court of the State of California had ruled in favor of gay marriage, and Obama's big into Constitutional law. All of that aside, people were voting for this initiative because they saw ads saying someone they thought was cool was for it, too. They thought "Yes on 8" meant yes on gay marriage, when, in fact, it meant precisely the opposite.

"Yes" is such a positive word, though, isn't it? "Yes," good. "No," bad.

Except when it isn't. Or they aren't. Or something.

In other, shorter words: READ THE FINE PRINT, YOU F%&*ING IDIOTS!


But that's the whole problem, isn't it? We like our politicians to give us sound bites we can believe in. We want to put our country first, but first we have to figure out where they put our country. We're undereducated, overworked, and desperate for good news (or at least less bad news), but a good slogan fills the gaps nicely. "Work makes you free," and all that.

Someone who tracks such things measured the minimum required educational level of the Presidential debates through the years. They apparently started with Lincoln-Douglas (11th-12th grade), moved on to Kennedy-Nixon (11th-10th), Bush-Gore (6th-7th), and Obama-McCain (6th-5th). We are Devo.

Isn't this the fundamental problem? We don't read, we have the attention spans of fruit flies, and we find people who are smarter than us to be "nerdy," "wonky," or "elitist." I keep arguing this point, and maybe the American public finally caught on, too, but shouldn't the guy running the country be smarter than everyone else? Sarah Vowell described the Bush-Gore debate as being between the dumb jock and the snorting nerd. Yet we voted for the dumb jock. Twice.

(and yes, I know there are still issues with whether Shrub actually won, but that's a different column or two)

So one thing I hope to see is a better educational system in this country. Educate the people for free up through college, put money into early childhood education (most specifically, make early childhood something you have to have a degree to teach), and really make us the best-educated populace on the face of the earth.

Be more erudite. Or we'll be the country India outsources their cheap car parts from.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Today


Still confounds me every time I read stuff like this, but that someone could get up on their hind legs and crow about how they won't vote for Obama, because they "don't like black people" - holy s&*t! To quote my favorite dead journalist hero, Molly Ivins, "dumber'n a bag of hair."

This is the American Presidential Election of the year 2008, 143 years after the end of the Civil War, and forty years after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and someone still has the stones to use that as as an excuse for not voting their own party. How absolutely Neanderthal! I totally get the "he doesn't represent my values" crowd, because at least they have specious reason that he doesn't go to their church, or he's "too young" - like Bush - or they believe that wealthy people need to be more wealthy - hey, even I understand someone believing that the rich deserve more money than God. But not to vote for someone because he's the wrong color?

(well... OK... I wouldn't vote for the dark purple one myself, but still...)

There's a neat audioblog where people can record via phone why they voted for whoever they voted for, or why they aren't going to vote at all. A direct quote - "I voted for John McCain, because I'm an ass."

I'm now convinced that I am a racist, too, somehow.

Monday, November 3, 2008

It's Tomorrow

Tuesday is the day when we finally say good-bye to all that, and hopefully for a really long time. And of course, Wednesday is when we find out if we actually won.

The Know-Nothing party has been in charge too long, and have begun to grab a greater and greater share of eyeballs, because so many people are willing to be stupid. Over at Common Dreams, there is a terrifying video of Idiots on Parade, people who believe the worst lies about Obama, very probably because they want to. While that may sound dismissive and condescending, if you can't make the effort to look this stuff up on your own, you deserve the worst president you can vote for.

Because, in my opinion, Bush ain't it. He's tried really hard to be the worst, but it's still possible to run down that rabbit hole even deeper. 

We still have some sort of freedom of the press, though the press has taken that freedom and used it mainly to increase their ratings, and the truth be damned. As many better writers have pointed out, it's so sad when the "mainstream" media constantly refers to the Daily Show and the Colbert Report with a certain amount of envy as the cutting edge of political commentary.

We still have (mostly) habeas corpus. And that's because we haven't quite replaced all those "liberal" Supremes (John Paul Stevens and David Souter) with those strict constructivists (or Federalists), like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. And the problem with the Federalists is that they're the only ones who believe the founding fathers ever wanted us to maintain the Constitution in its present form. Jefferson believed that the Constitution should be re-written every twenty years or so, to reflect changes in technology or changes in society. Such a radical, that Jefferson.

We still have (mostly) all of those liberal departments instituted by folks like Nixon and Johnson and Eisenhower, like the EPA and the FDA and FEMA. Not that they work that well, but they're still around.

We still have (mostly) a separation of Church and State. All of those "faith-based" initiatives notwithstanding, we still don't have someone in power who can make the "Constitution more in line with the word of God," to quote Mr. Huckabee. Obama apparently thinks that the whole faith-based thing is still a good... thing, but I'm not sure why. He's a constitutional scholar after all, and I would think he'd have read Jefferson's letter to the Danbury Baptists, but hey, what do I know? I'm just an Atheist for Jehovah.

And lastly, we still think of the President as Commander-in-Chief. Which is really stupid, because they're only supposed to be that way when we're at war. And only the Congress is supposed to be able to declare war. And we haven't declared war. We're just having a war. For, you know, the fun of it. So we can have wars, we just don't declare them. But he's still Commander-in-Chief. 

Kind of a chickenhawk and egg problem, really.

And it's tomorrow...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Edging Towards... Change?

It's coming.

We don't know what yet, but it's coming, and it might actually be a good thing. Assuming the polls are generally accurate (and the pundits are simply looking for ratings), next week is going to be something of a walkover for Obama.

The thing I expect from an incoming administration is, first, a lot of waffling over what can or cannot be done. There will be a certain amount of backtracking from promises. The economy will have a lot to do with that. If the Dems don't have a supermajority in both House and Senate (which is a possibility), then there will be push-back from the Repugs.

If we get a Democratic Congress, however, then I expect major changes to occur, and darn fast. Regulation of the financial sector in our economy has to be reinitialized. This whole sub-prime/inverse mortgage mess, with its derivatives and swaps, simply has to become criminal. Someone benefitted from all of this nonsense, and I fear that we bailed them out of their problems without putting any brakes on this sort of behavior in the future.

I expect that, once the financial crisis has been dealt with, our troops will begin to rotate home. Iraq has to rebuild itself. In the past, after Gulf War I for example, they managed to rebuild their infrastructure within the first year. The Iraqi government is currently sitting on something like $80 billion in surplus, so I think that would be a good start. I would also like to see, as the troops rotate home, an end to military contract outsourcing. The original argument held some water, that perhaps if a private company were to do certain logistical functions, the Pentagon might save some money, rather than having it all done by the soldiers themselves. This has not proven to be true, but perhaps only because of the way it was managed (really, really badly). 

And Blackwater should not be able to get a contract to defend even an Army latrine, ever again. Mercenaries have no place in a Democratic society, let alone as an uncontrolled arm of policy.

All of the demoralized agencies that have had their budgets gutted and their staffs stuffed with cronies need to be overhauled and modernized. This includes FEMA, the EPA, the FDA (no more letting the drug companies test and validate their own products!), the Department of Education, the DEA, and so on.

The War on Drugs must end. Mandatory minimum sentencing must end. NAFTA and the WTO need to be revisited and we need to withdraw from both. Subsidies for profitable industries make little fiscal sense. Tax breaks for outsourcing and off-shoring must end. 

Our infrastructure is crumbling, and the federal government has been telling the states to deal with it on their own, so many locales are rebuilding dying bridges and making them toll roads, which is a surefire method of making commuting more costly, while wages keep spiraling down.

Tie the minimum wage to the cost of living. I just don't see what's so terrible about that.

Finally, open the operations of government to the scrutiny of the people once again. Nothing our government does should be so terrible that we have to classify it forever. I understand keeping secrets from the enemy, but keeping things secret from the population, or worse, lying to us, has to stop.

The current administration talks a lot about being the government for the 21st century and a beacon of hope for the world. What they've actually been is a return to policies of the 19th century, and an angry bully. Let's make the next version of the government what the last one should have been.

Monday, September 29, 2008

"Gidget Addresses the Reichstag"

Boy, do I wish I'd come up with that headline on my own. The article link is to Matt Taibbi's blog, one of the best political journalists in the USA right now, and this particular entry has to do with what's wrong with Sarah Palin and America.

Unfortunately, it also links itself (obliquely) to the financial crisis we're in. Mr. Taibbi's thesis is that we (Americans) will put up with practically anything, so long as someone gives us the right stimulus at the right time, even if the rest of the time they've been pounding on our, um... toes... with a jackhammer. Even the reformers will tell you that the current bailout deal (which just died today) is too good to be true, as far as the banks are concerned.

There will be oversight (like we've had so far - spying, eavesdropping, politicization of every government department, the war in Iraq) over how the money is spent. There will be a cap on executive salaries and retirement/termination packages ("is $1 million a year enough? Or would 2 be better?"). And if the securities we're buying with this bailout don't prove to have their purchased value five years down the road, we can tax the companies we bought them from and make them pay us all back. 

Or something.

Or will we simply continue to accept whatever the government does, no matter who does it, in the hopes that we will still be able to charge that TV upgrade we've been wanting to our children's college fund under the "we'll pay it back later" umbrella?

I realize this is mostly a load of old snark (which I usually reserve for actual political campaigns) and not much in the way of useful information. I do find it fascinating that one of the leftiest of left-wingers, Dennis Kucinich, is absolutely opposed to the bailout right alongside the Republican "we really really HATE socialism" crowd. Economics makes strange bedfellows, indeed.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Running into Trees While Ignoring the Forest

So, while the banks of Wall Street gradually become the banks of, well, Wall Street (but paid for by you and me - where's my shares?), we in America are almost, but not quite watching the other subversion of our democracy - voter suppression by various Republican Party operatives around the country. Colorado Republican folk are telling out-of-state students that if their parents can claim them on their IRS taxes as dependents, they can't vote in Colorado. This of course, is what's known in the trade papers as a lie.

Meanwhile, Repugnicans in Michigan got their asses handed to them by the local courts when the Democrats pointed out that it wasn't right to use foreclosure notices as a basis for challenging the votes of Michigan voters. Just because someone has received a foreclosure notice does not mean that they no longer live at the address they're registered under. The Secretary of State of Ohio has already commanded her vote-counting folks to resist any temptation to do this sort of thing. Yay.

Diebold voting machines aren't letting people finish their voting unless they go really really fast, apparently. Voters receive a two-minute warning on the terminals, and are subsequently kicked off, requiring that they fill out a provisional ballot (which is less likely to be counted, because it's easier to challenge someone's vote if they don't know you're doing it).

Florida in 2000, Ohio and Florida in 2004 - where next? While the Repugs continue to scream vote fraud at the top of their lungs, actual stories about voter suppression tend to get dropped by the mainstream press; the papers that will publish these stories are either considered partisan hackery, or just too small to be noticed by anyone. 

Or (even worse) foreign.

You have to get mad, you have to get loud, you have to look, and you have to care. If you want your vote to count, demand that there be a paper trail that can be counted by a person. When Diebold (or other companies) talk about how expensive it is to add a printer that can print the equivalent of a receipt after you vote, ask them why it isn't so prohibitively expensive for pharmacies and grocery stores to attach them to their registers (a much more complicated procedure - take it from me). 

When your Republican friends talk about voter fraud, ask them to name a particular case. The ones I read about are excessive registration (ACORN got nailed for this sort of thing, but everyone seems to forget that ghost registrants don't vote - when was the last time Mickey Mouse voted for anyone?); or my other favorite, people who get deported for registering to vote who aren't citizens. Usman Ali is trying to rebuild his life in Pakistan after mistakenly filling out a voter registration card while in line at the local DMV, after living here legally for ten years, with his American wife and child. Mr. Ali was certainly a threat to democracy...

So look. Get pissed off. If they can do it to the Democrats, the Democrats can do it right back to the Repugs. You McCain voters out there - how would you like it if we targeted all the rich white folks and said they could vote on Wednesday, while us Dems would be voting on Tuesday?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Ideas that Irritate the Wealthy

So, with all of this subprime meltdown, insurance policies that cover nothing, bankers letting themselves be swindled, consumers being swindled by unscrupulous mortgage brokers, and so on and so on, what does one do?

First off, write your senator/congresscritter, preferably through the real mail, with a real letter (NOT form letters - they don't read them), or you can always call - the messages you leave with the congresscritter's aide will be passed on. Tell them that this contingency plan that they've been ready with for months (not just slapped together over the weekend like we all thought) is no damn good, and we shouldn't have to cover poor business practices or lapses in ethics. If they get to keep the profits, then they should have to cover their losses as well. If the banks are too big to fail, then they should be broken up into smaller companies so that individual portions can fail should they do something stupid.

In this case, the stupid was spread around pretty heavily, and everyone seems to have caught some of their own personal version of stupid.

Bernie Sanders (Socialist, VT - I love a good socialist in times of capitalism's failure to perform to spec) has suggested we do two things: first is the one I mentioned above, break up the banks that are so large their failure equals the collapse of American finance as we know it; the other suggestion is to impose a 10% surtax on individuals with take home pay greater than $500,000, or couples with take home pay greater than $1,000,000. They benefited from this disaster, they should pay. I don't really disagree with either of these ideas.

Another idea came from the Thom Hartmann program on Air America this morning: return the %0.25 per stock purchase tax that was discontinued in 1966. Used to be there to fund the SEC, but as the income from this tax was exceeding the operating costs of the SEC by a factor of about ten, LBJ and the congress decided to end it, and roll the SEC budget into the general fund.

Two reasons to do this: might slow the speculators down if they have to report every single trade to the IRS; it would bring in potentially billions per year. The London Stock Exchange has been doing this for a long time and is prosperous enough to attract buyers like the NASDAQ.

Above all, none of this $700,000,000,000 bailout crap - no private profits with socialized losses.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

HOW much?


Is what we will owe the government from keeping the mortgage bankers, who have forgotten how to tell the difference between a person who has a job and savings from a person who doesn't, from going out of business, and carrying the rest of us into the financial toilet with them.

Credit cards, rent-to-own, payday loans, sub-prime mortgages, NINJA loans (no income, no job or assets - coined by HCL Finance, a mortgage broker, as a product) - is this all some sort of big surprise?

I am now no longer worried about the atomic bomb.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What were we THINKING?

It has begun. The great unraveling.

As banks that lent money to people with no way to pay the money back (but it looked good on the bottom line) are suddenly realizing that they can't squeeze blood money from a homeless person (the homeless will tell you that you can get blood from a homeless person - sometimes the only way they can afford food is to sell their plasma), the country is beginning to understand what uncompromized deregulation looks like - a f**king disaster.

Through various things called leveraging, or futures forecasting, or reading the bones, or perhaps there are more technical terms for the shell games they've been pulling since Phil Gramm (John McCain's former financial wizard) gave them the cake they're eating, too, our economy has become, suddenly what it really is: a house of cards, built on fake money, or (even better!) the promise of fake money, and everyone is asking, "Can we have our real money back?" And the banks have to answer, well, no, we're not sure who has it.

All the while trying to sound like Jimmy Stewart in It's A Wonderful Life. All that money is tied up with the various developments and investments that each of these large financial institutions owns. Except the housing market is going into the tank, thanks to subprime mortgage swindlers, and house-flippers (a pox on them all). And the investments? Well, Bank A loans Bank B money in order for Bank B to grow Bank A's money through investment in housing. Bank B's housing market collapses, and Bank A loses some or all of that capital.

I have two cheap illustrations of how our financial markets are at the mercy of every idiot (including me): The Current Occupant of the White House, George W Bush, recently lifted the ban on offshore oil drilling, and the price of oil went down - based on what, exactly? That oil was really cheaper, or that oil might get cheaper soon, or that my tummy hurts and I don't feel like bidding? The other story was when American Airlines was going bankrupt and their stock price went way down in a single day. The person that said they were going bankrupt was American Airlines, but six years ago. The mis-reporting of this fact sent the stock market into a down-bid frenzy, and AA ended up at something like $0.50 a share.

So, meaningless news and old news can make something suddenly worth less, down to almost nothing. This is our financial system. Live with it.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

To whom do we owe...?

This is the seventh anniversary of September 11th, 2001, when four planes were hijacked by terrorists bent on the destruction of financial, military and political symbols of our nation.

Three of them succeeded, one was crashed into a field (how, we still don't know), and 2,999 people died as a result, along with the nineteen hijackers, the "suicide pilots."

I wasn't sure if I was going to write about this, as my take on it upset people at the time, and I think it would upset them still. To the families of the people who died, the only thing I can offer is bottomless sympathy for their losses. To the American public, I'm sorry, but the only thing I can give you is heaps of scorn for not recognizing how we all contributed to this event, and on the day, my first thought upon hearing and seeing what was going on was, "they finally had enough of us."

For as a nation, we have thought of ourselves as a beacon of democracy, of hope, of justice, and by our principles (as enshrined by such documents as the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights) we deserve to be thought of as a possibility for a better world. And as a nation, we have blindly sat by while our leaders have secretly (and not so secretly) subverted those ideals in smaller countries around the world, in order to improve the chances of American corporations, and the indigenous population's rights be damned.

1953, we overthrew the democractically elected Mohammad Mossadegh of Iran, and replaced him with our puppet, the Shah of Iran, after Mossadegh demanded a greater share of the oil revenues for the people of Iran in order to improve their lives. The Shah was the recipient of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of American military equipment, and used some of this technoogy to repress and brutalize the people of Iran, living a life of luxury while his people starved.

1959, we propped up Ngo Dinh Diem, a member of the Catholic minority in South Vietnam, in order to maintain control of that country in the face of the popular uprising that wanted the South reunited with the North. Ho Chi Minh had written to President Truman after WWII, begging that we assist in their democratic efforts to remove the French, and quoting both the Declaration of Independence and the French Rights of Man. The response we gave him was to fund the French against the people of Vietnam. When we finally left Vietnam in 1975, over fifty thousand Americans had given their lives, and approximately two million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Loatians were dead.

1965, we supported a coup against Sukarno of Indonesia, and threw our weight behind Suharto, who proceeded to slaughter every Indonesian Communist he could find. Deaths were counted at somewhere between 700,000 and 1.2 million.

1975, we supported Suharto in the invasion and occupation of E. Timor. With a population of a little over a million people, in the years between 1975 and 1999, seventeen thousand people lost their lives in fighting against the occupation, while another eighty-four thousand died from disease and starvation.

1989, we invaded Panama to ensure that America would retain control of the Panama Canal, under the cover of capturing the "drug dealing" head of the country, General Manuel Noriega, a former associate of President George Herbert Walker Bush, who ordered the illegal invasion. Twenty-three American soldiers lost their lives, and somewhere between three and five thousand Panamians were killed. The entire neighborhood of El Chorillo (also known as the poor/black section of Panama City) was burned to the ground. The World Court condemned our action, calling it "genocide." And after the invasion, drug traffic through Panama doubled.

These are some small examples of the terror we have wrought around the world in the name of promoting democracy, or protecting our way of life. Did we think we could do these things and no one would notice? That no one would get upset?

While I disapprove of the tactics used by Al Qaeda, and deplore the loss of life, why do we think that, as a nation, we could ever expect to be treated by the world differently than we have treated it?

If we don't wake up and start holding our government accountable for its past misdeeds, and do everything we can to prevent future misdeeds, then we deserve what we get.

We have to stop forgetting our own past.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Yes, the polls are in - Obama and McCain are now in a dead heat, thanks to that plucky maverick, Sarah Palin. As well as the Repugs repeating the constant refrain that the Democrats will "raise your taxes, raise your taxes, RAISE YOUR TAXES."


>>sound of running away<<

Ms. Anti-Pork has worked to ensure that her state receives the most piggy per person of any state in the union. She continues to trumpet her refusal of that Bridge to Nowhere, but forgets that she got all cranky at first when that rude epithet was first used on one of her pet projects, the, ummm.... Bridge to Nowhere. So, OK, she decided to junk the project while (oh, yeah) keeping the money anyway.

I'd like to try that with my overlords. No, I don't want to go build that apartment building, house, skyscraper, etc., after all - but gimme the money for it. I'm sure I will find something to do with the dough.

Like, for example, charging the state for per diem travel expenses while staying home. Or paying the kids' expenses for "state business." Still waiting to hear what a 4-month old with Down Syndrome can do for the state of Alaska. Other than look really really cute.

So here's the thing - I don't think it's right to try and figure out how her daughter had a child out of wedlock or whether Sarah had an affair, or if her Church is kinda kooky (and it really really is). All I care about is whether she plans on legislating how the rest of us behave based on her biblical outlook. I'd much rather we had the option of doing as she does/did, rather than doing what she says.

And her defenders - how many people can the TV news pundit machine line up to say how wonderful she is? And how many will say what a straight-shootermaverickhonestplain-spokenfamilyvalueshockeymom thing she is? And with a straight face, too...

Anyone planning on voting for the McCain/Palin ticket? If you are, let me know where to send the bill in 2012. I've been trying to get reimbursed for the last eight to no avail, and since the Repugs want to crack down on "rogue trial lawyers," pretty soon, there'll be no one to serve the writs I'm writing.

Friday, August 29, 2008


McCain/Palin is in deep trouble.

Obama's speech to the Democratic National Convention (and everyone else on the planet not hiding in their broom closet, quivering in fear of the latest liberal onslaught) was a barn-burning chunk of rhetoric with plenty of substance and plenty of steel. He promised a lot of stuff, and apparently has the actual numbers hiding somewhere in the recesses of his organization to back 'em up. Education, new jobs, new technologies, better infrastructure, lower taxes (but not for everyone, just mostly the working poor and middle class) - the list goes on.

And while I was emotionally sandbagged by the whole thing (not breathing as he was finishing his speech was a good indication of just how involved I got), I look back on the speech - and I still can't find a damn thing wrong with it.

If he can manage to do half what he's promised, folks will look back at the Bush occupation of the White House as some kind of dark nightmare that the country managed to wake from. If he can't, the country is bound for hell, and we only have ourselves to thank for it.

Picking the Chick

Sarah Palin is the current Governor of Alaska. And the selected running mate of John McCain. She has only spent two years running the state of Alaska as Governor, and was only notable before that for being mayor of a town that concerned itself with having enough snow on the ground to run the Iditarod race.

I'm going to say it: John McCain is an old man, much like I will be in twenty-five years. She will be a heartbeat away from the Presidency, with only slightly less experience than George Bush had. She loves guns and the death penalty, hates gays and abortions, and finds polar bears inconvenient. She sued the federal government because the Endangered Species Act prevents oil companies from pursuing their God-given right to pump as much oil out of the ground, and all because of the f$%king polar bears.

So why did they pick her? She's certainly more acceptable to the pro-life contingent. Those Hillary supporters who were supporting Hils just because she's a woman (again, how very, well, female of them) now have someone to rally behind. Someone whose policies (like Sen. McCain's) are 180 degrees off Hillary's positions. But you know, positions - who listens to that? That's just like trying to learn math or something - much too hard. So, for those of you feminist types out there, considering voting for McCain because he picked a (dare I say it) girl to run beside him, you're being irrational, hysterical even. Or, well... dumb as a stump.

Do I feel like the choice of a female running mate (after Sen. Obama notably passed over Hillary for Joe Biden) is a cynical move on the part of the Repugs? Something to energize the ticket in a simplistic and shallow way without any real redeeming consequences?

Uh Huh...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Prisoner of War Honors

While John McCain may be "honorable," because he served my country when that country was at war, well, ummmmm.... OK.

Not anymore. When someone asks you how many homes you have, and you can't answer, you're no longer honorable. If you use your POW status (in a war that was over thirty-three years ago) as an excuse for not knowing how many houses you have, or for feeling guilty over how many houses you know you have, you're no longer honorable.

Being a POW or even just a veteran does not confer instant sainthood. As a citizen who never had to shoot at anyone or be shot at by anyone during wartime, I can tell you that my imagination gives me plenty of opportunities to visualize how horrible it is, and that it should never be entered into lightly. While service to your country is indeed an honorable ideal, war is not honorable. War is ugly, bloody and terrible.

McCain announced "next stop, Baghdad" a mere three months after 9/11. I think even the most war-happy members of the Bush administration weren't pushing Iraq at that point (out loud anyway - I think they started in September - you know, school was starting, Christmas was coming, time to roll out "Baghdad or Bust!"). McCain has suggested new lyrics to the Beach Boys with "Bomb, Bomb Iran."


The "maverick" who detests lobbysists has a campaign staff comprised largely of lobbyists. The fella who will stand up to big oil did just that, until they gave him money; suddenly, drilling off the coasts seems like such a good idea. The man who champions anti-corruption in Washington was a member of the Keating Five (the 80s were SO COOL).

To all these criticisms, John McCain has an answer: "I spent five years in that Hanoi pit'o'hell."

To which I respond:


Knowing the attacks that are going to come after our candidate next week at the Repugnican convention, politics has become the least honorable profession. The country is broken in pieces. After eight years of being misled by their emotions, many folks are still voting emotionally. What is with you PUMA people anyway? So you don't get your candidate - them's the breaks. Now you're going to vote for no one, or worse, the opposing ticket, because you didn't get a pony for your birthday?!? How very (dare I say it) feminine of you.

And yet, we have just managed to nominate an African-American candidate for President. Joe Biden is a good running mate to Barack Obama. I would have preferred Bill Richardson, but my wife pointed out to me that we might have a problem electing an "all-brown" ticket, especially when the Repugnicans put up an "all-white" ticket. Question is, will it be an all-Christian ticket, or do we get the Mormon or the Orthodox Jew running alongside the "Old Airedale?"

And if we do, will the Repugnicans vote for someone not of their creed? It's taken a long time for the Democrats to allow a black person to be nominated for the top job. Can the Repugs contain enough "honor" between them to nominate for second-in-command a Mormon? a Jew?

See you next week for the answer...

Monday, July 21, 2008

We're Afraid of Us

The local police units of several states have been working with their local Homeland Security departments to spy on terrorist groups.

Sorry, my mistake: on violent protest and subversion organizations.

Sorry, screwed up again: on anti-death penalty and peace organizations.

Do any of us remember the sixties? When the FeeB and the local cops and probably the CIA would infiltrate groups like Students for a Democratic Society, or the Black Panthers (admittedly not the most peaceful of organizations), and make recordings of meetings, protests, and try to become effective moles within the organizations. In some cases, the police or the FeeB would attempt to persuade other folks in the organization to do something violent as a protest.

Not that that is happening now (that we're aware of). We don't know who the infiltrators are, but we do know they exist, thanks to the ACLU getting ahold of a variety of reports stating unequivocally that the pacifist Quaker group, the American Friends Service Committee, had been infiltrated, and were being monitored in case they were planning a terrorist attack on America. And that's just once instance. Quakers = Terrorists. Another sentence I've long looked forward to writing.

Pretty soon all of life's absurdities will have been written about, and I'll have nothing left to say.

In another case, an anti-death-penalty group in Maryland was the target of an investigation, and the Homeland Security folks can't decide whether the members are "socialists or anarchists." Gee, they might be both. That doesn't make them terrorists. Does the phrase "we think killing people is wrong" not give you a hint that they might not actually want to hurt anyone? Or are you thinking that's some sort of clever bluff?

Or are you just kinda stoopid?

(I'm voting for stoopid)

Dear Senator Obama,

When you become President, please abolish the Department of Homeland Security, or at least make an IQ test part of the hiring requirements. Anyone not smarter than the average housefly should automatically be rejected, rather than promoted to whatever position it was that thought these stupid schemes up. Write me for further requests (I have a very long list).


Sten Ryason, OBL
(Odd Bald Liberal)

Frankly, I wish that someone would surveil me, so I could find out about it and gain some sort of notoriety. Advertising revenues would be SO neat.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another Day, Another Republican Twit

Don't forget, 9/11 was Clinton's Fault. A moron wearing a Republican brain has put up several large billboards with a picture of the burning towers, a waving flag (of course!), and the slogan, "Please Don't Vote For A Democrat." Go to the article to get their web address, and then spam the crap out of them.


CNN sort of gives Clinton the benefit of the doubt, but none of this article brings up the salient points that Richard Clark tried to get Condoleeza, George, Dick, etc. into a room to discuss terrorist activities, and to warn them that a "big one" was coming. They had their first meeting a week before the attacks occurred. Our Anointed One, Attorney General (now former) John Ashcroft said he didn't want to hear Osama bin Laden's name mentioned anymore. He de-funded terrorist investigations on September 10th. George W. Bush, the Current Occupant of the White House, received warnings in early August that a massive strike was imminent. To quote his response to the representative of the intelligence service that dropped off the PDB (Presidential Daily Brief), "You've covered your ass. You can go."

There are two possibilities here: George W Bush and his cronies knew an attack was coming, but discounted it's ferocity; or, they knew an attack was coming and let it happen, in order to shock the public into meekly going along with whatever screwy ideas they wanted to push onto us. The PATRIOT Act, anyone? Privatizing Social Security? Invading Iraq? I could go on...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Impeachy Keen!

Dennis Kucinich has offered both a written and verbal offering of impeachment (not really the right phrase, but it's more fun to say), and it's the old tree-falling-in-a-forest moment for that good old "liberal media."


MSNBC and Keith Olbermann are the only ones to report on this. Apparently, CNN has finally posted a summary of his statements. He spoke for five hours straight on the floor of the House Monday night, and the mainstream media (mostly) ignored the story. The GOP leadership forced a reading of the entire document, in order to prove how much the Democrats are wasting the time of the House, but instead they got a categorical list of everything the President has done for the last 7 years in defiance of the law and the Constitution.

As a privileged resolution, it will need to go to committee pretty much right away, however that's where his "Impeach Cheney" resolution went as well, and it's still there, doing nothing. The difference this time is that Scott McLellan is testifying before the Judiciary Committee next week, which is where the articles went. If we're lucky, good old John Conyers will connect the dots, and perhaps persuade Ms. Pelosi to put impeachment back on the table.

If we don't hold hearings, we get no evidence. If we can't appoint a special prosecutor, we get no grand jury evidence. I seriously doubt Michael ("Mr. Independant") Mukasey will bother appointing a prosecutor, since he won't even enforce a legal subpoena from the Judiciary Committee.

If we don't hold hearings, our party has no spine. Color me surprised.

Friday, June 6, 2008

I'm Damn Mad

War Kills People who aren't Soldiers

Chris Hedges has a wonderful post in the Common Dreams website from yesterday, but I just started reading it. And now I have to stop.
Published on Wednesday, June 4, 2008 by TomDispatch.com

Collateral Damage
What It Really
Means When America Goes to War
by Chris Hedges

War as Betrayal
“This unit sets up this traffic control point, and this 18 year-old kid is on top of an armored Humvee with a .50-caliber machine gun,” remembered Sgt. Geoffrey Millard, who served in Tikrit with the 42nd Infantry Division. “And this car speeds at him pretty quick and he makes a split-second decision that that’s a suicide bomber, and he presses the butterfly trigger and puts two hundred rounds in less than a minute into this vehicle. It killed the mother, a father, and two kids. The boy was aged four and the daughter was aged three.

“And they briefed this to the general,” Millard said, “and they briefed it gruesome. I mean, they had pictures. They briefed it to him. And this colonel turns around to this full division staff and says, ‘If these f—ing hajis learned to drive, this sh-t wouldn’t happen.’”

I can't argue with that. Damn Iraqis' own fault that we kill them indiscriminately.

Or my other favorite, "hey this s**t just happens, man. It's war."

Tell that to the parents whose children are killed. Or tell it to the kids whose parents aren't ever coming home again. Mothers, fathers, husbands, wives... kids. Who knows which ones are insurgents, or supporters of insurgents? Think about that word, insurgents. That means they're against us. Not the Iraqi government (though many Iraqis refer to them as the "puppets"). Not the Iraqi police. Not the Iraqi army. Us. If we weren't there, would there be an insurgency?

Slow Intelligence

So the Senate Intelligence Committee finally got to complete part two of their report on the pre-war intelligence on Iraq, leading up to the war. Part one was an examination of the intelligence, and gee, how did the CIA and the DOD and whoever else get it so wrong? The second part has to do with whether or not the sketchy intelligence that we had was perhaps misused by our leaders in order to bolster an otherwise untenable case to go to war with a country that was perhaps less of a threat than say, Jamaica.

Sure enough, Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush and Wolfowitz... tired now... need a nap. All of these bastards lied to us in one form or another, either by inflating unlikely claims made by unappetizing sources, or, in the classic phrase, "making s**t up." Rumsfeld comes under fire in particular for making claims "unsupported by the intelligence."

There's another word for that - lying.

WMDs? no hard evidence whatsoever. Claims made by "Curveball" and Ahmad Chalabi turned out to be not much more than interesting fantasies, but no one in the administration questioned their veracity, because they really wanted it to be true.

Ties to Al Qaeda? Outright BS, with no evidence at all to back it up, but plenty to contradict it. Mohammed Atta was in Florida when he was supposedly meeting with the Iraqi secret police in Prague. We know this, because we were keeping an eye on him at the time.

Nukular Weapons? Nothing. Some paperwork, but no labs, nor access to nuclear materials.

And the White House response to this report? "Old news." Another non-denial denial. They don't say it's not true, they just dismiss it as "playing politics." So it's true, therefore the perpetrators of these various deeds should be brought up at least for impeachment, if not war crimes. I have to wonder if the Senate Intelligence Committee could give their report to the Hague, and let the chips fall where they may. Would Bush be unable to leave Crawford, TX for fear of being extradited? Would Rummy ever get to visit his friends in Europe without being grabbed right as he stepped off the plane?

One can only hope...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rachel Ray - the Unknown Jihadi

Wow. I finally got to write that headline.

Yes, folks, if you read/watch Michelle Malkin (a notable right-wing wacko/Fox News pundit - two great tastes that taste better together), you would know that Rachel Ray unknowingly lent her support to Islamic Jihad, al Qaeda and the PLO by appearing in an ad for Dunkin Donuts.

Yes, you read that right - Rachel Ray, al Qaeda, Dunkin Donuts.


Ms. Ray wore a black and white checkered scarf that bears a mild resemblance to the scarves you'd see on Yasser Arafat (and about 500 million other muslims), known as the keffiyah. In other words, terrorists wear them because they are muslim and not because they are terrorists.

Then again, making sure that we see the surface rather than getting any deeper, Ms. Malkin specializes in ruffling people's feathers by saying ridiculously outrageous BS in the name of giving us the NEWS, or whatever it is she spews forth. In the past, she has written a book favoring internment of all muslims (by analogizing that the internment of all Japanese folks from the west coast during WWII was also justified) on the off-chance that some of them might be terrorists, or harbor terrorist sympathies, or look like terrorists, or look like a terrorist she saw on 24.

The funny part? Dunkin Donuts pulled the ad.

Being a white racist myself (and thus voting for an African-American candidate to assuage my liberal guilt), I abhor racism in any form, but I'm not sure if this qualifies. Obviously, Rachel Ray is not a muslim. In fact, her greatest crime is her preternaturally annoying & artificial perkiness, which is so extreme, I think if I met her I might try to push her eyes out through her ears. "STOP SMILING LIKE THAT!" On the other hand, if we want to get racial, Ms. Malkin seems to have it in for anyone who's not white or at least a card-carrying conformist. Non-Republican in other words. She's Filipino. And changed her name to sound whiter.

Sorry, ran off the rails.

It is a not-too subtle form of racism to associate a particular piece of clothing with a particular race or attitude. For example, some people still use their red gingham checkered tablecloths at Christmas time, unknowingly supporting the Khmer Rouge. If we start labeling people by a scarf, can we label them by their shoes? Does Ms. Malkin ever wear f**k-me pumps? If so, what does that make her? A slut? A supporter of prostitutes? Or just a garden variety shoe fetishist?

Or does that make her (like the scarf makes Rachel Ray) someone who liked the look of something, and decided to wear it?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Majority is Speaking in Tongues

Elections Vs. Electorates - the Democrats

The people have spoken, and Senator Hillary Clinton will be the next President of the United States.

According to her.

No matter that Senator Obama has an insurmountable lead in delegates, and many SuperDs are waiting in the wings to endorse him as the front-runner that he already is.

In North Carolina, Obama really slayed 'em, and got the overwhelming majority of delegates. In Indiana, Clinton received a bare two percent more than half the vote, and got a few more delegates - but so did Obama. And she says that this is a deciding factor in whether not she will continue to run. Which she's said after every state she's won; Sen. Clinton is still having math problems. Her surrogates, notably James Carville (doing his best Foghorn Leghorn impersonation EVER), are out there saying, "Hold on there, I say hold on there... You guys just don't understand how all this works." Yes, we do. The person with the most votes, in a contest where the rules were agreed upon in advance by all the candidates, wins. And yet Hillary and her supporters are still insisting that the delegates from Florida and Michigan be counted.

Obama's camp, meanwhile, is certain that it will all be over by May 20th, when they get an unassailable majority of delegates via the popular vote. I'm fairly certain that Hillary will still see this as some sort of victory for her side, but - oh, dear, I've gone cross-eyed.

Reasons to not vote for John McCain

To those of you out there disenchanted with either of the democratic candidates for obvious reasons, here's a list of John McCain's "problems:"

He refers to Clinton and Obama as elites; he owns seven homes and married a woman worth over a hundred million dollars. Does this make him a "regular guy?"

He favors abstinence-only sex education. Which doesn't work, and there have been many studies proving it doesn't work. As well as a lot of living, breathing, babies - er, statistics.

McCain favors charter schools over public (which means less money for public education).

He has been reluctant to fund the reconstruction of New Orleans.

I've already gone over the dumbass gas tax holiday concept that he and Clinton endorsed.

He called his wife a "dumb c**t" in public. Maybe she is, but geez...

He is now for things he used to be against: the war in Iraq, not taxing the rich, and occupying places forever.

He sought and got the endorsements of John Hagee, Rod Parsley and Tim laHaye, three Christian Zionists and generally religious nutbags that either believe that America was founded in order to destroy Islam (Parsley) or that the only way Jesus is comin' back is if Israel gets its act together and rebuilds the Temple where the Dome of the Rock (one of the holiest places in Islam) is currently standing, thus starting off a holy war in the middle east and (of course) guaranteeing the return of Jesus and the beginning of the End Times (Hagee and laHaye). McCain refers to Parsley as his "spiritual guide."

He wants to discontinue the tax break that corporations get for giving their employees subsidized health insurance, and bring it back to the competitive marketplace - thus ensuring that even fewer people will have health insurance.

I can't find the quote, but someone said this about McCain's attitude towards our staying in Iraq: "We're staying until the killings stop, or staying until we can make the killings stop. And then we'll stay." He talks about us staying in the middle east the same way we're staying in places like Germany, Japan, etc. My personal favorite response to this particular idea was put out there by Ecuador - the United States can continue to have an (enormous!) airbase in Ecuador (war on drugs), so long as Ecuador can put one of their own airbases in South Florida - fair's fair.

He likes the judges that Bush has picked. Roberts, Alito. He also likes the other judges that were the models for picking Roberts and Alito, i.e., Scalia and Thomas. These judges believe that corporations have more (and better) rights than people. They are what is commonly known as Strict Constructionists or Federalists. This is the belief that the Constitution should be read as it was written, without all those nasty Amendment things. This, of course, is directly at odds with the founding fathers concept of a living, breathing constitution. Jefferson even thought we'd have to rewrite it every twenty years or so. These jurists are also not fond of the separation of Church and State. Be assured, if McCain is elected, we will get more of these weird men who want prayer in school, no right to choose for women (which might include birth control pills), and executing people for spitting on the sidewalk.

Okay, I made that last one up, but it sure sounds good.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hot Air & Other Expensive Gasses

So, the prophets have spoken, and both Obama and Clinton are appearing or have appeared on the Fox news thing.

How sad is that...

Isn't it enough that they will do all kinds of crap to whatever you say in order to smear you once you're actually the nominee? Whichever one of you that is...

Don't give them ammo, don't talk about the other nominee, talk about policy and only policy and make sure you answer the "when did you stop beating your wife?" questions with a simple "irrelevant." When asked about Reverend Wright, please say, what does he have to do with me (or the other person) being President? Rev. Wright is a man with an opinion, not the mouth of God.

Just stop.

And there are the various proposals for gasoline prices this summer. Clinton and McCain have both decided that we could have a gas tax holiday this summer. This would (according to Obama) give us a break worth half a tank of gas for the whole period, while de-funding the roads and highways trust fund for the summer. Wanna buy a bridge in Minneapolis? Many economists and pundits have weighed in, and they've all come to the same conclusion: gas prices are high, and there is very little we can do about it in the short term. And the high prices are a harbinger of bad things to come (food prices are going up in direct proportion of the gas prices going up), but perhaps the high gas prices will finally persuade Americans that the free ride is pretty much over.

To those of you out there riding around in big-ass four-wheel-drive SUVs/pickup trucks used to ferry the child to and from soccer practice and the occasional hauling job from the grocery store: yes, YOU are safer from other cars on the road, but the other cars are less safe from you; 4WD is not helpful in the snow except to propel you forward - it doesn't help you stop; the actual cost of your vehicle is approximately $40,000 worth of pollution and environmental costs (waste oil, waste tires, road wear, and disposing of the carcass of your super-heavy vehicle) more than you paid for it, but don't worry, I'll be paying my share of your car's leftover crap when it comes due.

So, from my smug, Prius-owning mouth comes a request: buy smaller cars, or cars that run on biodiesel (not corn-thanol - no energy savings there). You'll be just as safe in a modern, smaller car, as you are in a big-ass SUV, especially when you are only likely to be hit by other small cars.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

This is your election on Voter Fraud

The Supremes have spoken, and voter fraud will now be a thing of the past in Indiana.

So long as Diebold isn't making the machines, that is.

The Indiana state legislature (in its infinite wisdom) has decided that, in order to combat Voter Fraud, voters will now be required to present either a valid driver's license or a free state voter ID card. But, as they say in Country Western music, freedom isn't free - the only way to get one of these precious voter ID cards is to present a certified birth certificate. If you have just moved to Indiana, get a new Driver's License.

None of these things are cheap. And if you're trying to lock out the poor and possibly the elderly, this is certainly an effective way of keeping the riff-raff out of the voting booths. At least, that was the argument put forward by the folks trying to invalidate this nifty new law.

However, in their Supreme wisdom, the court came down on the side of the "everyone's trying to put one over on us" types, who believe that most voters probably shouldn't.

Sadly, this means that even the Democrats will have a problem when it comes to voting for one of their own. Obama supporters tend to be the kind of people that are going to be hosed by this law, and so Clinton may come in and beat Obama because of a law passed by Republicans, and okay-ed by a predominantly Republican Supreme Court (though Justice Stevens crossed the wire to write the majority opinion this time).

Since the investigations have been going on extensively for some time, what the Justice Department found is that there is very little voter fraud. Not enough to affect a national election, anyway. Maybe a sheriff or mayor might get in, based on dead voters, etc., but not a whole president.

And Scalia, this last week on 60 Minutes, doing the whole "get over it" thing. Again. And blaming Al Gore for involving the courts. Oy. One of you old creeps, make sure you retire after the Dems have taken the White House back, because we can't live with this kind of pro-corporate, anti-personnel justice any more.