Archives for: February 2009
"So am I"
"I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:
"So am I."
Video at the whitehouse.gov link.
I decided to remain skeptical after his election, but I have to admit that the more I see of this guy the more I like him.
A Party of Hate
I was reading about how the the GOP has become "the Party of Hate", but decided not to post about it because I think you guys know, by now, that I'd like to see the GOP go the way of the Whigs and the Tories. You saw the same videos that I saw of the ovewhelming ugliness of the crowds attending mccain/PALIN rallies. It felt too much like beating a dead horse.
This morning this was the first story I clicked on when I opened up google news:
Chicago Man Arrested for Allegedly Targeting Obama With HIV-Infected Blood
It's only the second time ever that HIV-infected blood has been sent with malicious intent through the U.S. mail system, a spokesman for the U.S. Postal Inspection Service said.
Citi, U.S. close to stock deal
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Citigroup Inc and the United States are close to an agreement in which the government will substantially raise its stake in the bank, but demand a boardroom shakeup, the Wall Street Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.
Under a deal expected to be announced early Friday, the Treasury Department would agree to convert some of its current holdings of preferred Citigroup shares into common stock, the Journal reported on its website.
The government will convert its stake only to the extent that Citigroup can persuade private investors to do so alongside the government, the people said. The Treasury will match the private investors' conversions dollar-for-dollar up to $25 billion, the Journal said.
A representative of Citigroup and a spokesman for the U.S. Treasury were not immediately available for comment.
The size of the government's new stake will hinge on the amount of preferred shares that private investors, including sovereign wealth funds, agree to convert into common stock. The Treasury's stake is expected to rise to 30 percent to 40 percent of Citigroup's shares, the Journal said.
IIRC, Citibank is the largest employer in Delaware.
Unhinged in 30 days
The right-wing media's Obama era implosion
The Republican Noise Machine doesn't need the customary 100 days to size up the new president. Right-wing commentators barely needed 30 days to come to their conclusion that they hate everything Barack Obama stands for.
A nice rundown of the crazed reaction of the RW noise machine to a President who actually won his election, has repeatedly gone out of his way to listen to all sides of an argument, and is even willing to admit when he's made a mistake.
I think this paragraph sums it up nicely.
It's astounding to watch the avalanche of hate ooze from conservative media quarters. And why? Because Obama passed an economic recovery bill. Good Lord, imagine if he had failed to win the popular vote and then led the country into a pre-emptive war based on faulty intelligence, a war that lost thousands of American lives, and tens of thousands of foreign lives, while milking the U.S. treasury out of a few trillion dollars in the process.
Obama lays out spending cuts in new budget
A list of some of the proposed spending cuts obtained by CNN shows that the programs on the chopping block include outdated farm subsidy programs, pricey Pentagon weapons programs and the "carried-interest" loophole on Wall Street.
Each program, however, has political patrons on Capitol Hill who will fight to save the budget items, setting the stage for major political battles as the details of the budget are debated by lawmakers in the months ahead.
Let's see if the "fiscal conservative" Republicans get away with continuing to carry the water for the wealthy. I'm betting it's going to get tougher for them to do it in the shadows.
Where can I donate to this "dream ticket"???
C'mon, GOP. Run 'em. I'll donate. I promise. ;->
One guy in the stall, another at the urinal. The guy in the stall breaks wind, and the guy at the urinal says "Your voice sounds different, but your breath smells the same."
Attention to Detail
I'm pleased with President Obama's decision to include the costs of war in the budget.
We can't have a rational discussion of the costs of any other program until the immense amount of money being funnelled to the military-industrial complex is put in perspective.
Spending on the military was INCREASED by 10%, this year, yet the RW extremists claim the military budget was cut because they didnt get all of the increases they asked for.
Why is spending on the military never questioned, yet funding medical care for kids or retiree medical benefits for unions are demonized?
Because we lack the proper perspective.
We spend more on our military than the next 20 nations combined. It's long past time to move some of that funding to national health care and weaning us off fossil fuels.
Sky Show Tonight
A fresh new face has moved into our neighborhood, but once this green-colored comet swings by Earth tonight, it may never come back (picture of green comet Lulin).
Comet Lulin is currently sailing through the inner solar system and is getting closer to our home planet, with its nearest approach expected on February 24.
Although it's hard to glimpse with the naked eye, the comet "should be a fairly easy object [to see using] modest amateur telescopes or even binoculars," said Don Yeomans, a comet expert at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Astronomer Mark Hammergren of Chicago's Adler Planetarium added that the icy body has the potential to do something unexpected.
More at the link.
Update: Movie of the comet.
This may be of interest. A couple of summers ago my wife and I made what's become an annual pilgrimage to the midwest to visit our families. We decided that we'd stop in Michigan to look at a property that I found on landandfarm.com on our way back to the East coast. On paper it looked like exactly what we were looking for, ~20 acres with "a shack" that we could live in while I built a retirement home. It wasn't exactly what we were looking for when we saw it in person, but that was OK. It was on the way home, anyway, and I'd never been to the West coast of Michigan.
Republicans to "the middle": F#$% Off!
From The Orlando Sentinel:
Bush, the son of former Gov. Jeb Bush, grandson of former President George H.W. Bush and nephew of former President George W. Bush, addressed a national conference of young Republicans and told them there is a rift in the party between fiscal conservatives and what he calls "D light" -- Republicans trying to appeal to the political middle.
The "permanent majority" Repubicans are now calling "the middle" "D light".
As if we needed any more proof that they're the party of extremists, and no one else...
From the "inconvenient truth" website, these are aimed more at lowering your carbon footprint, but many of them would also reduce your monthly expenses. Others might be good to do while you're working, especially if you think you're on the verge of a layoff.
Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
Move your thermostat down 2 degrees in winter and up 2 degrees in summer
Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
Turn off electronic devices you’re not using
Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them
Be sure you’re recycling at home
Buy recycled paper products
Plant a tree
Get a home energy audit (Many utilities offer free home energy audits)
Switch to green power
Buy locally grown and produced foods
Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
Seek out and support local farmers markets
Buy organic foods as much as possible
Avoid heavily packaged products
Eat less meat
Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible
Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates
Keep your car tuned up
Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated
When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle
Try car sharing
Try telecommuting from home
Since We're On The Subject...
Wash. Post defends George Will’s climate change denial: We ‘check facts to the fullest extent possible.’
The Washington Post has refused to run corrections on George Will’s recent “global cooling” column, despite its “stunning, boneheaded, egregious errors.” In response to a ThinkProgress request, Washington Post ombudsman Andy Alexander “sought clarification from the editorial page editors”:
Basically, I was told that the Post has a multi-layer editing process and checks facts to the fullest extent possible. In this instance, George Will’s column was checked by people he personally employs, as well as two editors at the Washington Post Writers Group, which syndicates Will; our op-ed page editor; and two copy editors.
Read Alexander’s full response at the Wonk Room.
This is the RW's modus operandi, willfully aided and abetted by media conglomerates who know who butters their bread; Tell a lie, refuse to acknowledge it's a lie, wait for it to become "common wisdom".
This would not be good news.
Deflation warning bells ring louder
Consumer prices may fall on an annual basis for the first time in more than 50 years. Is this the beginning of a deflationary spiral or just a blip?
Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene
PolitiFact has compiled more than 500 promises that Barack Obama made during the campaign and is tracking their progress on our Obameter.
We rate their status as No Action, In the Works or Stalled. Once we find action is completed, we rate them Promise Kept, Compromise or Promise Broken.
The Obameter Scorecard
* Promise Kept 11
* Compromise 3
* Promise Broken 2
* Stalled 0
* In the Works 20
* No Action 474
Depending on whether you think he's destined to be a 1-term or 2-term President (there are 208 weeks in 4 years), that's 11/474*100 = 2.3% of promises kept in 1.9% of his one term (or 0.96% of his two terms). If you're feeling generous and want to include compromises, it's 2.95%. Throw in the 20 "in the works", subtract 2 for "broken promises", and he's already done (a whopping) 7.2% of the things he said he'd do.
Not, BTW, that I agreed with everything he promised to do...
Quayle With a Ponytail
(h/t to Huffpo for the nickname)
Back Home in Alaska, Palin Finds Cold Comfort
Scrutiny Has Been Intense Since Election
Backward green comet makes one-time only visit
By SETH BORENSTEIN – 15 hours ago
WASHINGTON (AP) — An odd, greenish backward-flying comet is zipping by Earth this month, as it takes its only trip toward the sun from the farthest edges of the solar system. The comet is called Lulin, and there's a chance it can be seen with the naked eye — far from city lights, astronomers say. But you'll most likely need a telescope, or at least binoculars, to spot it.
An American Foreign Legion
What a great, descriptive phrase; "The American Foreign Legion". It's reminiscent of renaming food, and at the same time describes perfectly how our "defense" has turned into a far-flung protection corps for the only really profitable business in America, the seizure of oil from other countries to keep down the cost of refueling over-sized gas-guzzlers in the price range of the average American who's still lucky enough to be employed.
Is the U.S. Military Now an Imperial Police Force?
By William Astore
A leaner, meaner, higher tech force -- that was what George W. Bush and his Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld promised to transform the American military into. Instead, they came close to turning it into a foreign legion. Foreign as in being constantly deployed overseas on imperial errands; foreign as in being ever more reliant on private military contractors; foreign as in being increasingly segregated from the elites that profit most from its actions, yet serve the least in its ranks.
President's: Best to Worst
CSPAN just released "its second Historians Survey of Presidential Leadership. 65 presidential historians ranked the 42 former occupants of the White House on ten attributes of leadership."
C'mon, you know you wanna read it.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Just in time for Valentine's Day, a panel of scientists examined the mystery of what happens when hearts throb and lips lock. Kissing, it turns out, unleashes chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes and encourage bonding in men, though not so much in women.
Stop Believing in the Easter Bunny
Frank Schaeffer, whose father Francis was influential in the rise of the Religious Right, has penned an open letter to Barack Obama to tell him that they cannot be worked with:
"As someone who appeared numerous times on the 700 Club with Pat Robertson, as someone for whom Jerry Falwell used to send his private jet to bring me to speak at his college, as an author who had James Dobson giveaway 150,000 copies of my one of my fundamentalist "books" allow me to explain something: the Republican Party is controlled by two ideological groups. First, is the Religious Right. Second, are the neoconservatives. Both groups share one thing in common: they are driven by fear and paranoia. Between them there is no Republican "center" for you to appeal to, just two versions of hate-filled extremes.
The Religious Right supply the kind of people who at McCain and Palin rallies were yelling things such as "kill him" about you. That's the constituency to which your hand was extended when looking for compromise on your financial bailout bill.
There's only one thing that makes sense for you now. Mr. President, you need to forget a bipartisan approach and get on with the business of governing by winning each battle. You will never be able to work with the Republicans because they hate you. Believe me, Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter are the norm not the exception. James Dobson and the rest are praying for you to fail."
Who funds and runs the Politico?
I'd be surprised if anyone who reads this blog wasn't already aware that Politico is a den of RW hackery, but there could still be something here you could use at family gatherings. ;->
Remember when "we shouldn't bail out Detroit" because "it's all the union's fault"? Have the extremists who still vote Republican ever been right about anything? Are they capable of learning or admitting mistakes? I think not.
SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Toyota Motor Corp. said late Thursday it will reduce production at its North American manufacturing plants in an effort to grapple with what the Japanese automaker termed "the worst automotive slump in decades."
Toyota said it will take steps including cutting production days in April, reducing paid hours for workers, eliminating executive "and salaried" bonuses, cutting executive pay and offering a "voluntary exit" to employees "who wish to pursue other opportunities."
Toyota also said it sees "no wage increases for the foreseeable future." Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America Inc. employs roughly 25,000 hourly workers, while bonuses for roughly 3,000 executives and salaried workers are being eliminated as part of the cutbacks, according to a report in the online edition of The Wall Street Journal.
Binyam Mohamed torture evidence 'hidden from Obama'
(This is the guy who had his dick cut up to obtain "priceless information" that ultimately led to him being released.)
US defence officials are preventing Barack Obama from seeing evidence that a former British resident held in Guantánamo Bay has been tortured, the prisoner's lawyer said last night, as campaigners and the Foreign Office prepared for the man's release in as little as a week.
Clive Stafford Smith, the director of the legal charity Reprieve, which represents Ethiopian-born Binyam Mohamed, sent Obama evidence of what he called "truly mediaeval" abuse but substantial parts were blanked out so the president could not read it.
In the letter to the president [PDF] , Stafford Smith urges him to order the disclosure of the evidence.
Stafford Smith tells Obama he should be aware of the "bizarre reality" of the situation. "You, as commander in chief, are being denied access to material that would help prove that crimes have been committed by US personnel. This decision is being made by the very people who you command."
In my experience, only someone who's guilty and knows it works this hard to hide the truth.
7 Major "Missing Links" Since Darwin
Drawings and text on National Geographic web site.
"Doing my part to piss off the religious right."
Bank CEOs to Face Congress
The heads of BofA, Citi and six other banks that got the first round of TARP funds appear before Congress Wednesday. Here is what lawmakers should be asking.
Here's mine: If you loaned your sister $20,000 to save her house and she threw a $20,000 party but didn't invite you, would you agree with her when she claimed that she "used your money for house payments, and (her) own money for the party"?
Dollar bills aren't individuals, each with a unique identity.
Torture, When Put to the Test
Donald P. Gregg (served as national security adviser to Vice President George H.W. Bush)
When former Vice President Dick Cheney warned last week that terrorists will be emboldened by President Obama's decision to close Guantanamo and to ban harsh interrogation techniques, I was reminded of a story.
During wartime service with the CIA in Vietnam from 1970 to 1972, I was in charge of intelligence operations in the 10 provinces surrounding Saigon. One of my tasks was to prevent rocket attacks on Saigon's port.
Keeping Saigon safe required human intelligence, most often from captured prisoners. I had a running debate about how North Vietnamese prisoners should be treated with the South Vietnamese colonel who conducted interrogations. This colonel routinely tortured prisoners, producing a flood of information, much of it totally false. I argued for better treatment and pressed for key prisoners to be turned over to the CIA, where humane interrogation methods were the rule - and more accurate intelligence was the result.
When the TARP was passed, I had some level of trust in congress but based on his record I didn't trust the President in the slightest. I believed, and still believe, that it was his (and/or Cheney's) last grab of taxpayer dollars. I'd add, now, that it may have been his last attempt to sabotage his successor by "poisoning the well". It's no secret that one reason so many opppose another bail out package is the way the TARP was used.
Now, I have less trust in congress (and almost none in the "60 votes are required" Senate), and "hope" as much as "believe" that the President will do the right thing.
Is It Really This Bad?
Disclaimer: Take anything you read on a financial message board with a grain of salt. I am not endorsing the link attached as a reliable source of information or investment advice. I discovered the Motley Fool before I found Yahoo message boards and that experience tells me that not all information found there is true, and not all of it is untrue. You will have to decide for yourself if you believe this, or not.
International Conspiracy to Torture
Last week, two British High Court judges ruled against releasing documents describing the treatment of Binyam Mohamed, a British resident who is currently being held at Guantanamo Bay. The judges said the Bush administration “had threatened to withhold intelligence cooperation with Britain if the information were made public.”
Don't Buy Stuff You Cannot Afford
Have you guys seen Hulu, yet?
SOMEDAY historians may look back at Tom Daschle’s flameout as a minor one-car (and chauffeur) accident. But that will depend on whether or not it’s followed by a multi-vehicle pileup that still could come. Even as President Obama refreshingly took responsibility for having “screwed up,” it’s not clear that he fully understands the huge forces that hit his young administration last week.
The tsunami of populist rage coursing through America is bigger than Daschle’s overdue tax bill, bigger than John Thain’s trash can, bigger than any bailed-out C.E.O.’s bonus. It’s even bigger than the Obama phenomenon itself. It could maim the president’s best-laid plans and what remains of our economy if he doesn’t get in front of the mounting public anger.
As Jon Stewart might say, oh those pesky ordinary Americans!
It Took Bush 8 Years to Break It
Give Obama 8 years to fix it.
Three U.S. Banks Shut by Regulators as Financial Crisis Deepens
Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Three banks, two in California and one in Georgia, were seized by regulators, bringing this year’s tally of closings to nine as a recession and record foreclosures extend the biggest financial crisis in more than 70 years.
Steele's Campaign Spending Questioned
Michael S. Steele, the newly elected chairman of the Republican National Committee, arranged for his 2006 Senate campaign to pay a defunct company run by his sister for services that were never performed, his finance chairman from that campaign has told federal prosecutors.
A corrupt Republican? Say it ain't so!
Diaper Boy Takes It In The...
This is great, from Congress Matters:
Sen. David Vitter (R-LA), in offering one of the stupidest amendments in the entire stimulus debate, is
diaperedpantsed by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) for his idiotic vindictiveness, pettiness and ingratitude:
Vitter's amendment was particularly petty, as Durbin points out, given that ACORN volunteers rehabilitated some 3500 homes in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Vitter thanks them for their service by trying to use them as a whipping boy.
Living (and Dying) in America
Martin Schur, 93, froze to death in his home last month. His death shocked his community after it was learned the power company limited his electricity because he owed $1,000. The story has taken a new twist: Schur left his estate to the local hospital, possibly more than $500,000. "He loved his community. He loved Bay City, Michigan," his nephew said. full story
The World War II veteran's frozen body was found in his home January 17, just four days after a device that regulates how much power he uses -- installed because of failure to pay -- shut off his power. A medical examiner said the temperature was 32 degrees in the house when Schur's body was found.
The medical examiner told The Bay City Times that Schur died a "slow, painful death.
Ah, the joys of unrestrained capitalism.
"Failure to pay" is a capital offense.
What's next? Lopping off the hand of someone who steals a loaf of bread to feed his family?
I'm sure it's just a coincidence that our
mammon money references God in this "good, christian nation". Right?
Cheney is still a Crotch Stain
Via Fox News (of course).
Former Vice President Dick Cheney predicts a "high probability" of a nuclear or biological terrorist attack in the coming years and said the Obama administration is ill-equipped to prevent it.
In a candid interview published Wednesday on Politico.com, Cheney said he fears President Obama will put the county at risk
"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," he told the Web site.
Not content to wait for a historical verdict, Cheney said he is set to plunge into his own memoirs, feeling liberated to describe behind-the-scenes roles over several decades in government now that the “statute of limitations has expired” on many of the most sensitive episodes.
A) No one is reading al Qaeda members, who are not American citizens, Miranda rights.
B) No one has released more prisoners from Gitmo than Bush and Cheney.
C) Can we just put this douche-nozzle on trial for war crimes, already? It's obvious he's trying to cover his crimes against the constitution and the American people.
Obama to limit bankers' pay
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Executives of companies receiving federal bailout money will have their pay capped at $500,000 under a financial compensation plan that President Obama is expected to announce Wednesday, two senior administration officials said.
Teach Your Kids Fear & Submission
Via Common Dreams:
Next Up For the Kids: Their Own Little Guantanamo Play Set. Tasers Optional.
by Abby Zimet
From the Surreal Adventures in Capitalism Department comes Playmobil's Security Check Point ($62), where kids can learn about racial profiling, metal detectors, full body searches, questionable abridgements of civil rights and other pleasures of our so-called war on terror. This toy is real. The customer reviews, a collective, hilarious holler of protest, are the best part.
Read the comments on Amazon, here.
Seven Sacred Pools
You can buy T-shirts that say "I survived the road to Hana" all over Maui. Of course, I couldn't buy one until I'd actually survived the road to Hana, so off we went. It's windy, twisty, bitch of a road with something like 57 one-lane bridges, complete with "yield to oncoming traffic" signs. Both of us had heartburn and felt a little dizzy by the time we got to each end.
Now that the governor has promised to replace him with a Republibootlicker, nominating Gregg doesn't seem like such a hot idea.
Lots of "dark humor" this year. I liked the careerbuilder "is it time for a new job?" ad and the Doritos / Bus ad. The Bud / guy out the window ad was good, too.
I got my 3D glasses on, in time. ;->
Advice for AZ: stop voting Republican. Kyl sucks harder than McSame.
Sunrise Over Heleakala
Two days before I left one of my cats got sick. Kumahl is Tina's son, about 4, and a major-league sweetheart. He's big (14 lbs), and he's a "Ferdinand the Bull" type. He'd rather smell the flowers than fight. One vet called him "a purring machine" and remarked that she'd never seen a cat who was that sick and still purring.
I was OOT last weekend so I didn't notice it. Did the Sunday sermons stop?
Churchie, I looked forward to those and I'm sure I'm not alone.
Perhaps you could do a "risen from the dead" theme using his disciples, apostles like Coburn, Cornyn, KB Hutchinson, et. al.?
The Revelations of Wide-Eyed McConnel?