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Friday, February 27, 2009

Enough!

As I stated earlier here, the United States puts more money every year into defense spending than any other nation on the planet.

And we beat everyone else out BIG TIME.

We spend approximately $713 billion dollars annually on this crap.

Who's number 2?

It's a shocker, really.

The entire EU.

And even then, they are all back at $311 billion dollars annually.

Did you think it was going to be China?

It's not.

All that money and materiel could and should go to far more intelligent and logical needs in the country and world.

Think of what it could go for.

--Health care.

--Schools.

--Vocational education (for students who aren't as good at the fine arts but are good with their hands).

--Infrastructure.

--Solar technology.

So much more and better things it could attend to.

But no, we want to--and do--build ships and bombs and bullets and guns and planes, instead.

Stupid.

Truly stupid.

And wasteful.

And paranoid.

Think of it.

Why is the United States still in Aviano, Italy?

That is SO World War II.

And Okinawa, Japan? (To defend against Korea and China, right).

And Germany?

Germany? Are you kidding me? Does anyone really think any longer that tanks are going to start rumbling from Russia--or what was Russia--into Eastern and Western Europe?

As a people, we need to push our government and our officials to start thinking anew about all this. We need to stop fighting 40-year old wars.

And we need to stop feeding the corporate war machines.


Link to data on worldwide defense spending:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Will we ever learn?

It seems the answer is "no".

The question is, will the American people ever learn that the answer to all questions and needs is not, in fact, to throw money at the problem.

Two examples come to mind recently.

One headline I saw this week points out the President Obama is requesting $634 billion over the next 10 years for a "health care overhaul".

What a mistake.

We don't need to throw even MORE money at our health care system. Doctors and hospitals and insurance companies have taken too much money from the system already.

Money INTO the system isn't the issue. Too much of our home incomes and national wealth is already spent on health care. (And defense, too, but that's another article).

What we need to do with our health care system is what the rest of the world has already successfully done--and that is, take the profit--the ugly, fat, oversized, bloated, killing profit--out of health care in the United States.

But it won't happen.

We don't have the will or the understanding to make this happen.

We’ll never get the health care system we need because the American answer to health care is to throw more money at it when what we really need to do is take the profit out of health care, the way the rest of the world has done. Everywhere but here in the US. We love profits. We love corporations. We’re greedy.

And stupid.

The other news note I saw this week was that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just got back from the Middle East and is asking for--did you see this?--900 million dollars to rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Are you effin' kidding me?

In the first place, continuing to support the madness that continues to go on in the Middle East just makes us ridiculous enablers. Shooting, killing and blowing each other up in the Middle East should stop, period. Everyone would agree to that. Throwing money at rebuilding that mess again and again just allows for it to go on.

Years ago, when we used to have money in the United States, this wouldn't have made sense, either. But now that we're either near-broke or financially bankrupt (and it's hard to argue we're not), it's beyond our capacity. We can't afford it any longer, clearly.

We're broke, folks.

We can't any longer afford to throw money--big, small or whatever--at our problems.

We can't be the drunken sailor with our money--and our future--any longer.



Link to stories described above:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/obama_budget
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090224/ap_on_re_mi_ea/israel_us

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

All of a sudden

I'm just beginning to watch the new President of the United States give his first address toCongress and I'm struck already.

President Obama just gets to the podium and I was hit by the female Speaker of the House welcoming the African-American President for his speech.

Holy cow.

If you don't think we've come a long way and that this isn't a completely new country, with these changes, you're badly mistaken.

Wow.

Truly a new day.

Think we don't have climate change?

Another indication of possible climate change, this time here in Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas, this time from one of our local weathermen.

The local TV weatherman, Gary Lezak, pointed out the other day that never before in the history of our metropolitan area have we gotten as little snow as we have this winter.

As of today, right now, we got one inch of snow this winter.

That's it.

To repeat: never before in the history of meteorological record-keeping for this area have we gotten so little winter precipitation.

This on top of Australia's drought.

On top of the drought in the San Joaquin Valley in California.

And those could all be temporary changes, sure and not part of any larger climate or flobal weather change.

Sure.

But the big indicator for us all is, really, the changing, melting ice caps at our poles.

It's a whole lot of indication of what, exactly is going on all around the world.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Chill, people

For everyone paying attention to what's going on nationally and internationally, financially and economically--and particularly for those who aren't--it's important to see that we all need to get good information about what is going on and stay calm.

It's easy to see, already, how the demagogues in the past--say, WWII and before that, in the Great Depression--got started and got their audiences.

Awful things happen--and are happening now. We go into new territory of one kind or another--in our case, financially--and people become overcome by fear and a lack of knowledge.

Instead of listening to calm, cool, informative sources of news like National Public Radio (NPR) and PBS-TV (Public Broadcasting System) because, heck, it's dull, they either watch horrible, one-sided, emotional knuckleheads like this Larry Kudlow guy on CNBC--who's constantly yelling out at us on the television--or they listen to "Porkulus", Rush Limbaugh on the radio. (I was on vacation for a few days and got trapped into seeing and hearing Kudlow. Sheesh. What a blow-hard.)

So instead of getting intelligent information and news, they get rumors, viewpoints and emotion.

And that is no way to make any headway and success on where we are and what we need to do.

So I'm clear on this, let me also say that we can't just listen to the likes of "Mr. Sanctimonious", Keith Olbermann, or Jon Stewart for our news, either. We have to know what's truly going on. No "slant" to it.

Public radio and TV are more important right now than probably ever before.

So let's chill, people. Let's either read and listen to non-biased sources of information as much as humanly possible, or shut the hell up.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

We need to get this hog out of the trough

Last evening I watched the movie "Why We Fight", about the United States build-up to attack Iraq in 2003, the actual attack and its aftermath.

Very enlightening, for sure.

Besides President Eisenhower's warning to keep the "military-industrial complex" in check, which is so frequently repeated lately, it was illuminating on exactly what we've don over there and showed a rather direct and blatant connection between Darth Dick Cheney, Halliburton, KBR and the situation.

So this morning I searched for some US Department of Defense data on our military budget and came up with some staggering information.

No surprise, really. We've heard some of this stuff for years.

As a country, we all seem really concerned, still, about Russia--or the people and land mass that used to be called Russia.

First of all, you have to know that the United States GROSSLY outspends ALL OTHER NATIONS ON THE PLANET in this ugly, wasteful, paranoid defense spending. We pay about 711 billion dollars a year on all this stuff.

Keep in mind, we have acres and acres of old military jets and other equipment, decaying in the desert. That's where a lot of this spending has gone.

Other nations spending, you might ask?

Number 2 on the list, in terms of spending, is all of Europe at $289 billion.

China? No. 3 at $211 billion.

Russia is number 6, for pity's sake, at $70 billion a year.

Why the paranoia, Amerika?

Who's the real "war monger"?

Why are we still fighting World War II by being in Germany and Okinawa, etc?

Why are we still building nuclear submarines? The next war will absolutely, simply be an air war. We know that. That's the way we've fought our most recent wars. (I refuse to call them skirmishes. It's too tame for what we do.)

Either that or it will be the continuing war with terrorists, which we've, again, known all along and you don't fight terrorists with nuclear submarines.

Between what we send overseas, mostly to the Middle East, for oil and what we waste on Department of Defense spending, this is clearly not sustainable.

We'll go bankrupt keeping this up.

Not as though we aren't already.

We have to get this pig out of the trough.

We'll all be and do better for it.

We need to have our Congressional representatives stop voting to continue these stupid, expensive, useless appropriations for war.

We can certainly educate, clothe, house, feed and nurse a whole lot more people with all that money.

It would be far better spent on "butter" than guns.
___________________________________________________

Anup Shah, World Military Spending, GlobalIssues.org, Last updated: Saturday, March 01, 2008

Sunday, February 15, 2009

President Dwight D. Eisenhower's Farewell Address

Good evening, my fellow Americans.

First, I should like to express my gratitude to the radio and television networks for the opportunities they have given me over the years to bring reports and messages to our nation. My special thanks go to them for the opportunity of addressing you this evening.

Three days from now, after half century in the service of our country, I shall lay down the responsibilities of office as, in traditional and solemn ceremony, the authority of the Presidency is vested in my successor. This evening, I come to you with a message of leave-taking and farewell, and to share a few final thoughts with you, my countrymen.

Like every other -- Like every other citizen, I wish the new President, and all who will labor with him, Godspeed. I pray that the coming years will be blessed with peace and prosperity for all.

Our people expect their President and the Congress to find essential agreement on issues of great moment, the wise resolution of which will better shape the future of the nation. My own relations with the Congress, which began on a remote and tenuous basis when, long ago, a member of the Senate appointed me to West Point, have since ranged to the intimate during the war and immediate post-war period, and finally to the mutually interdependent during these past eight years. In this final relationship, the Congress and the Administration have, on most vital issues, cooperated well, to serve the nation good, rather than mere partisanship, and so have assured that the business of the nation should go forward. So, my official relationship with the Congress ends in a feeling -- on my part -- of gratitude that we have been able to do so much together.

We now stand ten years past the midpoint of a century that has witnessed four major wars among great nations. Three of these involved our own country. Despite these holocausts, America is today the strongest, the most influential, and most productive nation in the world. Understandably proud of this pre-eminence, we yet realize that America's leadership and prestige depend, not merely upon our unmatched material progress, riches, and military strength, but on how we use our power in the interests of world peace and human betterment.

Throughout America's adventure in free government, our basic purposes have been to keep the peace, to foster progress in human achievement, and to enhance liberty, dignity, and integrity among peoples and among nations. To strive for less would be unworthy of a free and religious people. Any failure traceable to arrogance, or our lack of comprehension, or readiness to sacrifice would inflict upon us grievous hurt, both at home and abroad.

Progress toward these noble goals is persistently threatened by the conflict now engulfing the world. It commands our whole attention, absorbs our very beings. We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insiduous [insidious] in method. Unhappily, the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration. To meet it successfully, there is called for, not so much the emotional and transitory sacrifices of crisis, but rather those which enable us to carry forward steadily, surely, and without complaint the burdens of a prolonged and complex struggle with liberty the stake. Only thus shall we remain, despite every provocation, on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.

Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research -- these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel.

But each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration: the need to maintain balance in and among national programs, balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages, balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable, balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual, balance between actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress. Lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration. The record of many decades stands as proof that our people and their Government have, in the main, understood these truths and have responded to them well, in the face of threat and stress.

But threats, new in kind or degree, constantly arise. Of these, I mention two only.

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. Our military organization today bears little relation to that known of any of my predecessors in peacetime, or, indeed, by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States cooperations -- corporations.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.


Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades. In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers. The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present -- and is gravely to be regarded.

Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.


It is the task of statesmanship to mold, to balance, and to integrate these and other forces, new and old, within the principles of our democratic system -- ever aiming toward the supreme goals of our free society.

Another factor in maintaining balance involves the element of time. As we peer into society's future, we -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow.

During the long lane of the history yet to be written, America knows that this world of ours, ever growing smaller, must avoid becoming a community of dreadful fear and hate, and be, instead, a proud confederation of mutual trust and respect. Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many fast frustrations -- past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of disarmament -- of the battlefield.

Disarmament, with mutual honor and confidence, is a continuing imperative. Together we must learn how to compose differences, not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose. Because this need is so sharp and apparent, I confess that I lay down my official responsibilities in this field with a definite sense of disappointment. As one who has witnessed the horror and the lingering sadness of war, as one who knows that another war could utterly destroy this civilization which has been so slowly and painfully built over thousands of years, I wish I could say tonight that a lasting peace is in sight.

Happily, I can say that war has been avoided. Steady progress toward our ultimate goal has been made. But so much remains to be done. As a private citizen, I shall never cease to do what little I can to help the world advance along that road.

So, in this, my last good night to you as your President, I thank you for the many opportunities you have given me for public service in war and in peace. I trust in that -- in that -- in that service you find some things worthy. As for the rest of it, I know you will find ways to improve performance in the future.

You and I, my fellow citizens, need to be strong in our faith that all nations, under God, will reach the goal of peace with justice. May we be ever unswerving in devotion to principle, confident but humble with power, diligent in pursuit of the Nations' great goals.

To all the peoples of the world, I once more give expression to America's prayerful and continuing aspiration: We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its few spiritual blessings. Those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibility; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; and that the sources -- scourges of poverty, disease, and ignorance will be made [to] disappear from the earth; and that in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

Now, on Friday noon, I am to become a private citizen. I am proud to do so. I look forward to it.

Thank you, and good night.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The gamble the Repukes are willing to take on the United States

The Republicans set up this magnificently bad current financial scenario for us by pushing for and getting deregulation of the banking industry.

Now we have to pay for it, the United States and the whole world.

We took this collapse of the financial system to them by selling all these damnable, crappy, formerly illegal home loans which were then sold as "assets" to other institutions here and around the world--'cuz, hey, the United States plays clean, right?--and now we all get to wallow in horrible bank assets as we watch the world's economy come down around us.

So now, the Democratic President is scrambling with his--our--government and those same financial institutions in order to both clean up the mess and get us all back on solid footing again so we can make a living, feed our families and go about the day-to-day job of living and what do those same Republicans do?

Why, they vote against the plan because 1)they don't think it will work and 2)they honestly--but privately (with the exception of Rush Limbaugh) don't want it to work so the American voters can get desperate again and vote the only other political party back into power.

The selfish gits.

That's exactly what's happening.

If President Obama and his administration are successful in cleaning up this financial toxic waste dump and/or turning around this economy, they can kiss their chances of being back in power away for a generation or more.

And the Republicans know it and know it well.

So if you figure they're going to do the right thing, the statesmanlike thing, for the country--as they should, God knows--fuhgedaoudit.

Ain't gonna happen.

No way.

The Republicans figure it's a huge mess and they don't want their fingerprints on the next 4 years.

They want this President to hang in the wind with this financial crisis.

In order to support their own, selfish, self-centered Republican interests, they're only too happy to risk taking down the United States.

If you don't think the stakes are that high in this crisis, check out the front page of The New York Times yesterday, Friday, February 13. See the article about how there are still many big banks that are in trouble and that they may collapse.

Then it starts looking and sounding a great deal more like 1929, folks.

But the Republicans are all too eager to take that bet on the future of the United States and your and my future.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Think mankind is unique?

Think mankind is the only life form that can and does show compassion?

Think again.

What's really great, too, is that this came to me on the anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth.

We think--or some of us used to--we are so "above" or removed from the animal kingdom and that we are so superior to them.

Right.


More to come in this series.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Do you see a pattern here?

All it takes is seconds on television any more.

You don't even have to have talent or education or knowledge or looks or anything.

First it was "Joe the plumber", who turned out to not be a plumber after all and now there's some kid President Obama spoke to in a crowd yesterday and bam--he's a celebrity.

These people have gone from "nobodies" on the street to nationally- and internationally-known phenomena within no time at all and for virtually no reason at all.

All it takes is presence.

Have you seen about this young kid since yesterday?

He stood up and asked the President a question--however manic he was and dis-jarring his delivery was--and suddenly he's all over the news. Keith Olbermann interviewed him live last night on his show on MSNBC, he's all over the internet, he got a radio disc-jockey job I guess, the whole thing.

What insanity.

Have we become so shallow that it doesn't even require knowledge or education or, virtually anything, in order to be famous and on television?

Does this make any sense?

Who is listening to these people? (Wait, I ask myself that about Rush Limbaugh all the time and he makes nearly a half-million dollars a year, for pity's sake).

It seems like this comes from the "Sarah Palin School of Politics".

Again, you don't need to know anything and you can still be "important". Heck, you can be elected governor of a state, for pity's sake and even, nearly, Vice President of the whole bloody country.

Man our standards are low.

Are you in the right place? Is it the right time? Then COME ON DOWN! "We have a position of former importance for you!"

Now that I think of it, it's likely an outgrowth of the "President George W. Bush School of Presidential Politics".

Wrong person. No knowledge. No experience. Ideologue. Divisionist. Destructive--all that.

But what the hell, "How about you be our President, boy?!"

We're dumbing ourselves down incredibly low, folks, and it ought to stop way higher than this.

No wonder we're going broke.

Link to story about latest connection here:
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/02/62687523/1?se=yahoorefer

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Whole new world

The American people, by and large, don't know that the world around them is changing, wholesale, in so many ways, and isn't going back to the way it used to be.

At all.

One study I saw recently pointed out how our workforce is going to end up being occupied, mostly, by females.

Don't get me wrong--I'm no sexist.

This, to me, is not a bad thing, it's just a matter-of-fact.

And the thing is, up to now, it's not been the other way around, uh, let's see--FOREVER?

And the thing is, it combines two factors.

One is that it is cheaper in the entire world, sadly, to hire women than men so that lends to this trend significantly.

The other thing is that, at least in the United States, more women are going to college than men--and that's a change, too, of course.

There are so many worldwide and nationwide changes that are taking place right now, it's hard to keep up.

Many, many political scientists and economists think that it's highly likely that the United States may have already lost its position in the world, politically and financially.

Smaller issues are about the fact that Caucasians are fewer in number all the time in the US. Hispanic and Latino populations are growing in size every year. We've already passed the place where "White" people were the majority.

If the financial situation pans out the way so many economists warn, America will have fallen from our place of power and strength, at the same time the White Man realizes he's lost his place alongside both women and Hispanics and Latinos.

Believe me, it's not a problem for me.

Let's hope it's not a problem for people of lesser educations and financial means.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Let's stop pretending

Okay, the "stimulus package" is going to pass, for better or worse, it seems.

All the economists say for the better so let's stick with those people. It's an economy, after all. They should know what they're talking about.

But let's stop pretending we live in a capitalistic, free-enterprise society any longer. (Beats being in an oligarchy, in my view).

Geez, between W's 350 billion dollar give-away, right at the end of his 8-year reign of terror and this apparently necessary, nearly one trillion dollar prop-up of the economy, and the fact that the government now owns so many banks and that they're going to own a bunch more this year, let's stop living in the past or kidding ourselves or out-and-out lying to ourselves or whatever it is we're doing.

The United States is now, truly, officially, a socialistic state, at minimum.

We probably were--and still, likely are--some form of oligarchy where the rich rule--and so many of us like it that way, clearly. But we are no longer a free-enterprise, capitalistic group of people.

No way.

Have you seen or heard what's in the apparently necessary boondoggle that was passed Friday night? Here's a glimmer:

• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)

• $75 million for Smithsonian

• $600 million for Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)

• $327 million for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

• $100 million for law enforcement wireless

• $300 million for federal fleet of hybrid vehicles

• $300 million for FBI construction

Don't get me wrong. I'm a follower of Paul Krugman (professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, centenary professor at the London School of Economics, op-ed columnist for The New York Times and winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences last year) and he has made it very clear he thinks this stimulus is very important for the country, to the point of keeping us out of, in his words, a "catastrophe".

But there is both a huge bundle of "pork" in this bill and it furthers the Federal Government's extension into our lives. This extension being financial.

And then there's the fact that it seems insane to try to fix a financial problem that grew out of everyone--banks, individuals, companies, everyone--having and using too much credit.

Finally, there's the whole idea that this will likely cause a great deal of inflation.

That's a lot of things to go against this bill and the ideas behind it.

But what, exactly, are we supposed to do, as a country and as a people, to keep the country from spiraling down, into a 2nd "Great Depression", if we don't do this?

Is there some other option?

If there is, no one's come up with it.

Krugman has also made it clear he thinks the package should also, possibly, be even bigger.

Wrap your mind around that one.

I will say that building the bridges and roadways we need seems necessary and smart. Same with switching us to clean, renewable energy as soon as is wisely possible.

But are we just supposed to let everything fall apart and then try to clean up the mess?

That doesn't seem like a good option.

So this is the path we're going down.

It seems like our only option.

Let's hope it is.

Just don't expect any details. I've spent some time looking and there's nothing out there to tell us what's in this boondoggle.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A new weekly entry

Thoughts after reading The Sunday New York Times:

--There is a serious article in The New York Times today with a challenge to President Obama. The title tells it all: "You Try to Live on 500K in This Town".

The smaller description of the article declares that: "The preident's Wall Street salary cap threatens live as we know it in Manhattan."

How laughable.

The rest of us will say good for New York.

Any forced deflation for the island of Manhattan could be a good thing, ultimately.

Painful, but good.

This will could bring some sanity and livabilty back to New York.

--There is an article about Michelle Obama going around Washington, talking about her husband's administration's goals and work ahead of them, all the while thanking the different people for that work.

So far, it seems, she's doing a great job of it and it's well received.

It will be fascinating to see how far Mrs. Obama takes her role in this--will she work on policy?--and how this will be received, especially compared to how the Clinton's got into a bit of trouble when Hillary worked on health care.

--It was reported that KBR, the Halliburton subsidiary, just got a new $35 million contract with the Department of Defense even though they've been accused of having electrified an American soldier in Iraq, due to unprofessional electric work. The soldier was electrified in the shower.

Why would they get a new contract?

--There's yet another article about the results of the scumbag Bernard Madoff and his handiwork.

Tragic. Truly tragic.

Reading these things makes me hurt for these people.

--One of the things that really struck me was a full-page ad in the first section by Wells Fargo Bank.

It really upset me. (Read: p*ssed me off).

The whole thing was to explain why they should have been able to take their staff to Las Vegas.

They claim they should be able to "recognice" their excellent staff this way.

Well, hogwash.

They can "recognize" their excellent employees by giving the lowest and lower-level associates with $100.00 or $500.00 bonuses and/or recognition meetings with the rest of their staff, for starters.

But let's make it clear--you don't take millions or billions of dollars of government tax money in order to survive in a tough economy because, frankly, YOU--THE PRESIDENT OR OTHER EXECUTIVES--SCREWED UP.

No way.

Talk all you want. Trips to Las Vegas are out, boys.

Don't even try to explain it away.

--There are a few terrific articles in The New York Times Magazine, within the paper (of course), telling of new, current trends.

The first is a newly coined phrase, "fat tail" by William Safire.

The 2nd is on VH1's new reality show on addiction, "Celebrity Rehab". Formerly famous actors and performers check into a home to dry out, publicly and on camera. Ugh.

A third one deals with the fact that upper-end, pricier chocolates seem to be holding their own in sales, all the while becoming almost ubiquitous.

--There is a fantastic article on David Sanger's new book about the new President's and country's challenges. It suggests President Obama will likely not be able to break away from now-former President Bush's direction, as Presidents, one to the next, can't break from the previous one, or our history.

--The last one I might have mentioned might have been about what to do for this financial crisis but it was written by Ben Stein.

I refuse to comment further on Ben Stein as I have no idea why The New York Tiems, CBS Sunday Morning News and who knows who else, give this clown any airtime.

Ben Stein.

A 2nd-rate, B movie actor.

Why do people listen to this guy?

We can do this

and we must.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

One love

Let's get together...

(Thanks, Bob! Actually, both Bobs).

Have a good weekend, y'all.

Topsy-turvy

At some point, in a regular capitalistic business world, when someone doesn't any longer need a service or product, the product likely gets less and less expensive, as much as it can, until it no longer makes a profit, and it disappears. It goes out of business.

That's in the regular world.

In the government world, like in postage and the postal world, as computers come further into our lives and we email more and more and need the mail service less and less, the costs of these things just keep going further up and up.

It makes no sense.

The federal government needs to recognize the situation for what it is and ready the whole system to, one day, go out of business and go away.

Postage. Postage stamps. Postage meters. Mail-persons, mail trucks, the whole thing.

They need to plan for its disintegration.

Maybe not in 2 or 3 years but soon.

It only makes sense.

It's already begun.

People are mailing less and less all the time.

We'll benefit by this, too, as a society.

We'll use less paper and papers and envelopes--the whole thing.

It's going to get more and more expensive to use the regular paper mail system, as people use it less and less, because they're going to want to keep their profits as high as in the past, to keep the whole thing going.

And the more expensive it gets, the less people are going to use it. And computers, by comparison, are already falling in price terrifically.

And young people are going to use these new, much cheaper computers more and more and more, as we already know.

We need a plan to get rid of this United States Postal Service and up to now, we don't have one.

Mind you, it doesn't rank up there with saving our current economy but it would be good to tell them, if you're President, to get a plan.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Why?

After writing a bit yesterday on America and the Vietnam War, I was reminded, too, of a book on the subject.

The book was "America's Longest War: United States and Vietnam", 1950-1975 by George Herring (Nov 1985).

And that really set me back.

Vietnam.

America's longest war.

And here we are, still in Iraq after 6 years.

Fortunately for the soldiers and for America, the human toll hasn't been nearly as bad, of course, but does this make any sense?

Does it make any sense for us to still be in Iraq?

Does it make any sense at all for us to still be committing men, women and materiel to this far-flung, sand-blown outpost?

If you've read anything by me at all, you'll know my answer would have to be a resounding no.

But my point in bringing this up is that, here is this book from so long ago on Vietnam, calling it our longest war and the average American on the street today really doesn't seem to have any big feeling, one way or another, about our country being in Iraq.

Soldiers are over there, living and dying for our country and most of us are just concerned about our jobs, our bank accounts and how the weather is going to be in the next 24 hours.

That's not right, to say the least.

The previous leadership from the White House got us into this stupid, deadly, costly war and then didn't lead the American people.

Thank all that's good that he's gone.

Now, let's do all the right things and get out of Iraq and the Middle East.
________________________

Within an hour or two after writing the above, a news article came out from Associated Press and Yahoo! News telling of an alarming rise in January this year, in the number of suicides by American Soldiers.

A year ago it was bad enough at 8. This year it was a shocking 24.

Clearly, this seems to point out exactly what I was saying.

Why are we in Iraq?

And why don't we get out?

Link to full story here:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090205/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/army_suicides

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Staggering--and a question

We've all heard so much about Bernard Madoff and what a horrific thief, scam artist and charlatan he's turned out to be.

A ponzi scheme is one thing, that's bad enough.

But a 51 billion dollar ponzi scheme?

What cajone's this guy has.

Apparently there's no question, either, but that he did this--took millions and millions of dollars of people's money.

Have you seen some of the data on this scam?

Here's just some of what he did--whom he took from and how much:

--a 76 year old retiree and his wife who are now broke and have to sell their home;

--His own sister, for pity's sake, who's 74 years old. Reportedly, her house is now up for sale because of this, in Palm Beach;

--Eliot Spitzer. Okay, that may be karma;

--Zsa Zsa Gabor, who is 91 years old, for pity's sake. He literally stole from little old ladies. She apparently lost at least $7 million;

--Marc Rich, the fugitive financier President Clinton took money from and then pardoned. He apparently lost 10 to 15 million big ones. Again, possibly bad karma, come back 'round--though don't get me wrong, that doesn't make anyone's losing money like this okay;

--both Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg;

--The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, for pity's sake for a reported $15,200,000. Man, what nerve;

--Hadassah, the U.S. women's zionist organization for $90,000,000;

--One of the worst is when he took $250 million dollars, for pity's sake, from "a 95-year-old Florida man who helped him get his start on Wall Street." That's some gratitude, huh? "Overall, the man and his charity lost more than $500 million."

Unbelievable.

And did you know the SEC has confirmed that he never once invested one dollar he ever got, all this time, over all these years and all these many millions he took from people, ostensibly to invest.

So, I know Madoff's under house arrest but I just have to ask, why is he not yet in jail?



For a more complete list of all the people Mr. Madoff scammed, go to this link:
http://s.wsj.net/public/resources/documents/st_madoff_victims_20081215.html

An update!

Remember my entry a couple days ago about the racist email I got?

Well, I just learned that a Republican Committeewoman in Florida sent 'round the same email and she was relieved of her job!

Yay!

Can you say "justice"?

Kind of proves my point about these things, don't you think?

How can this work?

Last evening, I was reminded of a book I read in the 70's on Vietnam and the American lessons from it.

The conclusion of the author--Gloria Emerson--was that the United States people learned nothing from our long and costly involvement in Southeast Asia. (The book was "Winners and Losers: Battles, Retreats, Gains, Losses, and Ruins from the Vietnam War").

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to successfully debate that point and I think most all people--Americans and others--would agree: Americans just didn't learn the big lessons from the Vietnamese War.

So last evening I was watching "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" on Comedy Central and saw and heard Karen Greenberg, the Executive Director of the Center on Law and Security.

She was speaking on her new book about the first 100 days of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the United States, when we first made it a "prisoner of war" camp.

It is Ms. Greenberg's conclusion that the United States simply "doesn't plan ahead" and that this was clear regarding Guantanamo.

So here we are, the United States--one of the wealthiest countries on the planet at least now, if not ever, and we think we're smart, along with all that wealth but we don't learn lessons from the past and we don't plan for the future.

Now, my documentation, above, is anything but strong, I'll grant you, but the two points are easily supportable given our long- and short-term histories. If you look at Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and this more isolated case of Guantanamo Bay, I think it's easy to come to these conclusions--we don't learn from the past and now, don't plan well for the future. (Can you say "climate change"?)

So I ask you, how, exactly, can any group of people possibly be successful in intelligent endeavors--even in lower-level, basic, long-term survival--if we don't learn from the past and plan well for the future?


________________________________________________
Find The Daily Show here: www.comedycentral.com

Find information on Karen Greenberg and The Center on Law and Security here:
http://www.lawandsecurity.org/about_staff.cfm

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

I'm with Republicans on this one

When it comes to blowing money or saving it, I can so frequently say I'm with the traditional Republican position.

That is, let's save it.

Right now, the Democrats and the Obama administration are apparently on course to set up $650 million to give to people in the form of coupons so they can buy converter boxes for their television sets.

Over one-half billion dollars.

For TV's.

No, I just can't see it.

It seems Congress thinks we all need more time and more money in the form of these coupons to switch over to HD viewing.

Ridiculous.

The assumption is, if we went on schedule now, in February, to switch over to all digital transmission, 15% of us wouldn't be ready.

Well whoop-ti-freakin'-do.

I can virtually guarantee that if these people went home and their tv sets wouldn't receive a signal, they'd go out that day and buy the $40.00 converter box so they could see their shows that very night.

And if they didn't? Would that hurt anyone?

It just isn't worth more than a half billion dollars to the country to switch this over.

We have a lot more important things to take care of than these things.

Like saving our economy, for starters.

How about the 46 million of us that don't have health care?

But no, we have to pay loads of money, time and attention to television sets.

Oh, yeah. We have much greater problems than this.

What does he know?

There's a report out just now that President Obama (God, I love to see that) has warned anew, this morning, that unless his economic stimulus package is put through, the recession will turn into "a catastrophe":

"A failure to act, and act now, will turn crisis into a catastrophe and guarantee a longer recession, a less robust recovery, and a more uncertain future," he said. "That's why I feel such a sense of urgency about the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan."

Now, supposedly Mr. Obama is a cool, calm decision-maker and not prone to exaggeration.

Wouldn't you love to know just exactly what he's seeing and what he knows?

There are bloggers all over the internet predicting some awfully bad futures for the United States and the world.

One of them, "Automatic Earth", is particularly good at giving simply raw data and statistics on the US' and world financial and economic situations:

http://theautomaticearth.blogspot.com/

If you go there and read very long, it makes you think it's this kind of data the President is must be getting and reacting to.

And it doesn't sound good, by any stretch of imagination.

When I read and think about this current economic situation of America and the world, I begin to feel as though I'm on a roller coaster in utter darkness--and it's scary, getting bad and I fear what's coming up ahead will be much worse.

Link to original story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090204/ap_on_bi_ge/congress_stimulus

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The time is now

Yesterday, I was at the office, working and reading emails. I got one from a nephew and another from his father--my brother.

I was surprised.

Both were racist.

I knew they were both capable of it but hadn't gotten any of these from them in the last couple of years and so, had forgotten their proclivity for them.

The first asked, supposedly (apparently?) seriously how all the African-Americans could get to Washington for the inauguration of President Obama but not out of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

The ignorance was stunning.

To them and the person who wrote it, both groups were the same people. And apparently, also, the same situation. Or some such. There's twisted logic in there somewhere, I'm sure.

The 2nd one was a picture of a box, propped up with a stick that had a slice of watermelon under it.

It said it was a "plot to kidnap President Obama."

Again, such monumental racism it shocked me.

I thought, if they didn't know how stupid it was, at least they should know to not send it to me.

My responses for both were the same. I just wrote back that both were racist.

That's it.

And that is what we need to start and keep doing.

Every time we see this stuff, we need to call it out for what it is. It's not difficult.

Everyone needs to do this. It's easy and doesn't take much time. And everyone who calls themselves "Christian" or who belongs to a religion should step up and take this stand.

It was reported today that an African-American family was on the road in West Texas for 8 hours and showed up at the motel where they had reservations. A man gardening there started shouting at them that they couldn't stay there. He seemed to make it clear it was because they were black, too.

It's more racism, if their story pans out.

We have an African-American President, folks. It's 2009. We're smarter than all this.

The racism has to stop.

Let's see to it.

Great news, just out

Another "right thing" happened just now.

It seems Tom Daschle has withdrawn from consideration as Director of Health and Human Services.

Terrific.

He shouldn't have been under consideration in the first place, since he hadn't paid, apparently, over $140,000.00 in taxes and he didn't tell the Obama administration about this glitch during his earlier clearance.

The reason he really ought to have been thrown out of consideration is because he "earned" at least $200,000.00 from some of the very health care companies he'd have to be overseeing.

That's a huge conflict of interest.

And this is exactly, specifically what this new administration was not supposed to be about.

If we're going to be creating a new type administration that's "cleaner" than what's come before, there shouldn't be anyone on the staff who has not paid or who does not pay their taxes.

That's easy and obvious.

If we're going to have a new administration that breaks from the past as promised, the person shouldn't have taken money and support from the very corporations they're going to be overseeing for the public's welfare.

No way.

So no matter what is said in the near future, the right thing happened here.

Tom Daschle was not the right person for this job.


Link to full story:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090203/ap_on_go_pr_wh/daschle_taxes

George Herbert Walker Bush Quote On Iraq

10-30-3

"Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

George H. W. Bush, in his 1998 memoir A World Transformed


He was prescient, of course.

Unfortunately for the United States, his son was never that bright.

More of that "creeping corruption" I spoke of earlier

Did y'all notice that Senator John McCain's son--Andrew--was on the board of directors and the auditing committee of a bank in Nevada last year until July 26, when he all-of-a-sudden resigned.

Just before the bank failed and the government took it over?

No, of course you didn't.

In the first place, the media didn't cover it very well at all. (It was in The Wall Street Journal, yes, and a few small articles in papers but it was very well buried, for the most part).

Oh, and that and the fact that it was NASCAR season. You know, we had other, more important things to pay attention to.

So here's Senator John McCain, campaigning to be the next President of the United States, his son resigns from a bank--both it's board and audit committee--the bank fails and has to be taken over by the Feds AND IT'S NOT A PART OF THE CAMPAIGN?

Can you imagine what FOX, CNN, and Rush (I'm an Idiot) Limbaugh would do with that news, if it happened to either Bill and Hillary Clinton or Mr. Obama?

Any of them would have been toast.

But here's this mega-rich white guy and his blonde, trophy wife and they get off scott-free.

Here's a quote from a paper at the time:

"Andrew K. McCain, the son of Republican Presidential nominee John McCain abruptly resigned from the bank’s board of directors and his position on its audit committee July 26. His term wasn’t due to expire until 2011."

During his Father's bid for the White House.

Since the press didn't ask and hasn't asked, let me set forward the following questions:

1) How did Andrew McCain get out of the bank?
2) Was he paid anything additionally for this?
3) If so, how much?
4) Also if so, did that money come from the bank? If not the bank and he did get money, where and from whom or what corporation did it come?
5) Was his Father involved in any way?
6) Were his Father's friends, associates or business friends or associates involved in any way? (Surely they were. Someone.)
7) If they were, whom? and what relationship were they to Senator McCain and the family?
8) How does one so abruptly resign from a bank's board of directors AND his position on the freaking AUDIT COMMITTEE, shortly before it FAILS and NOT be held accountable for the bank's failure? Unless, of course, your Father is running for the Presidency and the two of you have friends in high places in Nevada and nearby Arizona, where his Father is Senator?

Now, then, questions for the press:

1) Why weren't these questions asked?
2) Why don't we ask them now?

Links to related stories:
http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=47791929957&h=pPzub&u=21BVe
http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=48571013933&h=bpnu7&u=zr-_i

Monday, February 2, 2009

Climate Change? Global warming?

We've had a fairly bitterly cold January this year, here in the midwest. We've had a lot of cold, cold days. Plenty of freezing temperatures.

And that's no surprise.

January is, like the rest of the continent, our coldest month.

But this weekend, the last day of that coldest month of the year, the temperature, thankfully, shot up to 70 degrees.

I don't know what it was officially but it was wonderfully, blissfully, forgivingly warm.

And sunny.

Sure, we had some pretty good winds with it, too, but hey, we took it, for sure. It was welcome relief from winter.

At about 10 o'clock in the morning--still fairly early in the day--I was walking the few blocks back from a weekly breakfast get-together, when all of a sudden I saw a few robins in a nearby backyard--3 or four.

January 31st.

I have to tell you, as a kid, I walked to school every day.

No, it wasn't "uphill both ways in the snow" but all my brothers and sisters and I walked to school. It was only less than two miles to school--too close to be bussed and way before children weren't safe on our streets.

So over the years, I've virtually always paid attention to the flora and fauna I passed on these walks, at whatever age and whatever the locale.

Come Spring, on these walks, it's safe to say I always remembered when the robins came back to our city.

That would have been a big day for me.

I would have announced that, at least to family.

So I remember that robins came back, what? March? April?

Like I said, that was a big day and time for me.

Like most of us, I loved the warmer, sunnier, longer days of Spring. Any sign they were 100% returned was huge for me. Shoot, that would have been true for most of us here in the dreary, gray and brown midwest.

So I know, as a child, the robins used to leave.

And they didn't return for a long, long time.

Now, it seems, they don't really leave our area.

And maybe that only means officially, scientifically, a one-degree change in our median temperatures. Maybe even just a half point change.

Not a big thing.

Yet.

But it's a change.

There have been letters to the editor of the local newspaper--The Kansas City Star--saying "so much for global warming" or some such idea.

Well, when you put together the fact that last year was still officially one of the top ten warmest years, with this, either the return of robins at the end of January--or the fact that they never left, it that's the case--it seems to make the point that things are changing.

And maybe we should do what we can to clean up how we live, so the future won't be so dirty or potentially negative otherwise.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"Creeping corruption"?

The term is Howard Shore's, from yesterday on NPR.

It was a good question yesterday and it's a good one today.

Is there, as it seems, this creeping corruption in the United States?

Think about it.

There's the whole fact of lobbyists paying their representatives so they can get the regulations they want. Does "banking crisis" mean anything to you?

Timothy Geithner is nominated to be Treasury Secretary but it's found he hasn't paid $34,000.00 in taxes.

Rod Blagojevich offers to give a Senate seat but not without being paid first.

It seems like there's both local and national representatives being on the take, in different examples and situations.

Now, Tom Daschle is nominated to be Secretary of Health and Human Services but, oops, he hasn't paid $140,000.00 in back taxes. Sure, after the fact, on January 2 he pays them in full but hey, doesn't that look as though he's trying to "get by"?

And there are many, many more indications of at least impropriety, if not out and out illegality.

Are we becoming no better than any other country in the world where graft is common?

Part of it might be results of a tougher economy, sure, but it seems we are victims of our own lower standards, too. Lower standards by politicians and ourselves.

When we hear of rampant corruption in the former Soviet Union or Mexico or other countries, I think we Americans always thought we were better than that.

And we have been, by and large.

When we want to see our doctor or dentist, we don't pay for that privilege, by and large, I don't think. And I think that's true nationwide.

But for our government representatives, it seems it's getting more questionable, at least.

We need to hold them--and ourselves--to a much higher standard.

______________________________________________

A fun side note, I think:

Did you hear this? Rush Limbaugh is referring to the White House/Democrats stimulus bill as "porkulus".

I have a recommendation:

I think it's the perfect way to refer to Mr. Limbaugh.

Think of it: "Porkulus is bloviating on the economy again!"

It's perfect.

Have a great week, y'all.