Thursday, January 31, 2008
All went well until sunset, when the bright sun on the horizon blinded the bus driver at a critical curve on a rural road. The driver missed the curve and the bus overturned. A farmer saw it happen and drove over in his tractor to help.
Two hours later, the farmer was back at his farmhouse and called the sheriff to report the accident.
"What took you so long to call?!" demanded the sheriff.
"I had to bury them all," the farmer said.
"What?!" the panicked sheriff screamed. "They were all dead? Every single candidate for president?!"
"Well," the farmer drawled, "they were politicians, after all."
"What do you mean?" the sheriff said.
"Well, some of 'em said they weren't dead, but I din't believe 'em."
Here's another take - "What Are They Waiting For?"
-New York Times editorial, January 11,2007
From USA Today
Foreign countries have spent about $2.5 billion of the more than $15.8 billion they pledged during and after an October 2003 conference in Madrid, according to a new report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
The biggest shortfalls in pledges by 41 donor countries are from Iraq's oil-rich neighbors and U.S. allies: Saudi Arabia spent $17.4% and Kuwait 27% of the $500 million each had pledged more than four years ago, according to a separate report released last month by Congress' Government Accountability Office. Spokesmen at both countries' U.S. embassies did not respond to repeated messages seeking comment.
The United States, so far, has spent $29 billion to help rebuild Iraq, the inspector general's report says. Congress has approved an additional $16.5 billion.
Earlier this week, President Bush signed the National Defense authorization Act of 2008, which included a statute forbidding the Bush administration from spending taxpayer money "to establish any military installation or base for the purpose of providing for the permanent stationing of United States Armed Forces in Iraq." But Bush quietly attached a signing statement to the law, asserting a unilateral right to disregard the ban on permanent bases in addition to three other measures in the bill. "Provisions of the act...could inhibit the president's ability to carry out his constitutional obligations...to protect national security,"
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Instead of being tried for crimes against humanity, Hussein was sent to the gallows for the political murders of Shiites following a 1982 assassination attempt. The implication was that justice was important only for Saddam's crimes against Shiites, and not those committed against Sunnis and Kurds, further deepening factional rifts in Iraq.
George Bush expressed his disappointment with the manner in which Saddam was executed, saying in a 60 Minutes interview that he did not believe in "vengeance." This was the same man who in part justified deposing Saddam in 2002, because "he tried to kill my dad."
Brattleboro residents will vote at town meeting on whether President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney should be indicted and arrested for war crimes, perjury or obstruction of justice if they ever step foot in Vermont.
The vote will take place in early March.
-Craig Kilborn, November 2003
Well, many of us liberals suspect that the wealth doesn't trickle down so much as it trickles UP. The CEO's, stock holders, owners and administrators of these huge corporations have seen their compensation increase a hundred-fold - or even more - as they trickled their jobs down to workers in China, Thailand, Brazil and hundreds of other countries, while American wage earners' salaries have stagnated or declined.
The zeal with which the Bush administration has sought to make the wealthy even wealthier is obvious to anyone watching the political scene. Unfortunately the big news organizations in the US are also, for the most part, big business and they don't focus much on the policies that help them grow and prosper. But the news is out there.
In an article on Slate, Nicholas Bagley points out that the Bush administration actively worked to stop regulations from being passed in a dozen states or more which would have stopped the incredibly sloppy lending practices being engaged in by huge banks and mortgage lenders that has led to the collapse of the housing market in recent months.
Not that it's any surprise that the Bush administration would screw over hundreds of thousands of Americans to help their rich buddies get richer, but it's good to keep track of the abuses.
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
The presidential candidate who sang "Bomb bomb Iran" is already looking towards the war after the war in Iraq.
Sen. John McCain told a crowd of supporters on Sunday, "It's a tough war we're in. It's not going to be over right away. There's going to be other wars." Offering more of his increasingly bleak "straight talk," he repeated the claim: "I'm sorry to tell you, there's going to be other wars. We will never surrender but there will be other wars."
A Carrollton couple has appealed a federal judge's decision upholding the constitutionality of a state law requiring school children to observe a daily moment of silence to pray or meditate.
David and Shannon Croft filed their initial lawsuit after they said one of their children was told by an elementary schoolteacher to keep quiet because the minute is a "time for prayer."
The complaint, filed in 2006, named Gov. Rick Perry and the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District, which the Crofts' three children attended in the suburbs of Dallas.
District Judge Barbara Lynn upheld the constitutionality of the law earlier this month, concluding that "the primary effect of the statute is to institute a moment of silence, not to advance or inhibit religion."
The Crofts' attorney appealed the decision to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, The Dallas Morning News reported in its online edition Thursday.
Monday, January 28, 2008
Police in Washington state say Joshua R. Stetar, 20, of Granville, N.Y., met a girl on the Internet, and sent "several hundred" text messages to her cell phone and sent her flowers. The girl is just 15. He then said he was coming to see her, and "tell the cops that I'm gonna rape you and your sister."
Her sister is 6. When the girls' parents spotted him sitting in front of their Spokane house minutes later, they called police. Officers discovered Stetar had driven 40 hours straight to meet the girl.
He was arrested on felony stalking charges, but when he was released after posting $10,000 bail, he allegedly continued to harass the girl -- and volunteered to work at her school. He was again arrested and his bail was raised to $100,000.
Investigators found Stetar's MySpace profile, which notes he has studied psychology, and as a "very conservative" Christian hopes to "maybe one day" become a Christian school teacher. (Albany [N.Y.] Times-Union, Glens Falls [N.Y.] Post-Star)
Republicans - the party of gay closet-dwellers?
The following is from the NPR...
January 24, 2008 · President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki issued a joint letter in November. On the surface, the "Declaration of Principles" appears as a mutual "expression of friendship," as it has been characterized by administration officials.
Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-MA) says such language is vague, and he has launched a series of congressional hearings to find out what it means.
But it also includes a provision that promises to maintain the stability of Iraq's government from "internal and external threats." This sentence is raising alarms for some U.S. lawmakers.
Any such agreement would be considered a treaty by many legal experts. And under the U.S. Constitution, treaties have to be ratified by Congress.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
A man who allegedly stabbed his disabled cousin to death said he did so on orders from the Virgin Mary, according to an expert mental health witness.
Gray Maria, 23, was found incompetent to stand trial after testimony Tuesday from two psychologists. Maria was transferred to Patton State Hospital, where he will undergo treatment and report back to Commissioner Michael Schuur in 90 days.
"I don't think there's any doubt that he suffers from mental illness," Schuur said.
How can we believe that anything God has to say is worth listening to if this is what he has to say when he does talk? Why is this guy any crazier than anyone else who claims to speak with God?
Make of it all what you will, none of it is surprising - we all knew Bush lied us into war. Now I want those not-for-profits to figure out how he has blackmailed a Democratic Congress into not impeaching his ass.
However, he does have some insights that I admire - like pointing out the mistakes of the economic stimulus package. The following is from WCBS radio...
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg castigated the White House and Congress on Wednesday for what he said was a shortsighted economic stimulus package and years of lousy financial management.
``There's just one problem: It's not going to make much of a difference because we've already been running huge deficits,'' Bloomberg said.
Friday, January 25, 2008
"Gravity: Doesn't exist. If items of mass had any impact of others, then mountains should have people orbiting them. Or the space shuttle in space should have the astronauts orbiting it. Of course, that's just the tip of the gravity myth. Think about it. Scientists want us to believe that the sun has a gravitation pull strong enough to keep a planet like neptune or pluto in orbit, but then it's not strong enough to keep the moon in orbit? Why is that? What I believe is going on here is this: These objects in space have yet to receive mans touch, and thus have no sin to weigh them down. This isn't the case for earth, where we see the impact of transfered sin to material objects. The more sin, the heavier something is. Trinidad and Tobago,"
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report yesterday on the U.S. budget and economic outlook. The CBO projects the 2008 fiscal year budget deficit to rise to $219 billion, up from $163 billion in 2007. Yet the report added that "'funding that is likely to be needed to finance military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan could add $30 billion to outlays this year," making its total budget deficit projection for 2008 at $250 billion. CBO also stated that "funding for U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and other activities in the war on terrorism expanded significantly in 2007," from $120 billion in 2006 to $171 billion in 2007. President Bush "has requested $193 billion for war-related purposes in 2008, of which $88 billion has been appropriated thus far." Congressional Democrats reportedly predict that the budget deficit could increase to as much as $350 billion.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Yeah, here's what we need today!
On the international side of things, I do believe that Bush's tax cuts and deficit spending have put us in the position of borrowing way too much from foreign countries. So much so that I think the existence of the US as the world's largest economy might be endangered. You just can't borrow that much money indefinitely without ceding too much power to foreign governments. Even now, the oil producing giants (including Russia) have us over a barrel (pun understood). Our economy has grown too fast (on borrowed money) and our demand for the black gold has increased so quickly that we need oil that we can't get (thus the rise in oil prices).
A case in point relative to my comments above - the declining value of the American dollar against almost all foreign currencies. The dollar has not fallen so far yet as to make our exports more affordable overseas (not when Asian workers still make as much for a days work as American workers make in an hour), because our deficit trade balance is at an all time high - principally because we are funding our economy with borrowed money.
And speaking of borrowing - the "financial crisis" here at home - Bush's proposed hundred-billion dollar bailout - Bernanke's quick push to lower the Fed's lending rate - the housing crisis - are all a plot designed to get us - the middle class and our government - to pay for the games of the filthy rich. The unemployment rate isn't so high that it could possibly cause the drop in the price of stocks or the bank defaults. No, the problem stems from the obscenely wealthy playing games with their money and getting caught.
The housing crisis? Not so much, I'd guess. First of all, because of the US Government borrowing so much foreign money and spending like drunken sailors on a war and the war machine, a lot of people and institutions got extremely rich. Newly wealthy banks, lending institutions and hedge funds, looking for places to invest their incredible sums of money, found a market in middle class investors who saw the rising housing market and figured they could get better than average returns in property rather than in stocks and bonds.
So the folks with money loaned money, at very good teaser rates, to those with less money. Some people bought homes they couldn't really afford figuring that they would be able to sell them later in life and assure themselves a decent retirement. Others bought homes they couldn't afford so that they could turn around and sell them for even higher prices within a year or two. No matter, they bought homes they couldn't afford and they should have known they couldn't afford them
But then the prices on homes stalled. And the teaser rates started phasing out and the REAL interest rates started to kick in - the interest rates that the banks, mortgage lenders and hedge funds had thought would bring them THEIR big returns. Only everyone involved had been really stupid - not even one-tenth as smart as they thought they were - and the money wasn't there to pay these high interest rates. Everyone who played this game is getting creamed.
But who is losing? Huge banks, lending institutions and other speculators who should have known better. Also, small time gamblers - folks who thought they were smarter than the banks. There isn't ANYONE who's getting clobbered by this fiasco that doesn't deserve it. Not one. These people and institutions knew that they were gambling and they deserve to pay for their mistakes. There needs to be a market correction.
Now, if the government bails these institutions and people out of their jam by lowering interest rates and by borrowing another hundred-billion dollars from China, they're going to reward them for their stupidity. Worse than than that, inflation will soar with all of that additional money in the streets, more speculators will borrow and spend, and the crash, when it comes, will be just that many times worse.
We need to stop borrowing. Now. Yesterday. From now on. Stop. It. The savings rate among US citizens is negative. This can't go on.
Bush is a moron. A complete, unadulterated, unvarnished, stupid, blithering idiot. If he doesn't get hold of the government's spending NOW, our entire economy could go under. Not a recession, but a DEpression.
This is serious stuff, folks. We're not playing games - this is the real world. I just hope it's not too late.
But that's all just how I see it.
For an interesting article that argues against the Bernanke Bailout, visit The Motley Fool.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
"Just recently my son Bobby came out to me. I had been worried for awhile. His teachers said most of his grades were slipping and he seemed depressed and withdrawn. Bobby said he'd been hiding it for awhile because he was afraid I would reject him. I sat him down and told him that I loved him and that God loved him, but that his salvation was in danger if he did not resist his unnatural tempations. I told him how being gay would mean he would live a shorter life, and that if he couldnt change his orientation he could be celibate like most the ex-gays are. He started crying saying something along the lines of "I knew you wouldnt understand! You're just like everyone else!" before running to his room and slamming the door. What did I do wrong? I dont want to lose my son, but I fear I already have. I talked it over with his therapist, who had the ludicrous idea that homosexuality was unchangable and that trying to repress could lead to lots of psychological damage (I've dropped him and will try to be finding another therapist with more moral beliefs). I wouldnt be surprised if he's the one who's feeding my son all the homosexual propaganda about how its 'ok' to be gay. That, or how homosexuality has engulfed the media, making it seem 'cool' and 'hip' and how they were just another oppressed minority. You didnt have to worry about seeing two men making out on tv at my age! I dont want to sound like a fanatic, but Im worried what other effects will come out of this increasingly secular, immoral society obsessed with filth. Am I too late? Or is it possible to save my son [Note: the boy eventually took his own life. ] Betty"
The Presidential Records Act requires that the president "take all such steps as may be necessary to assure" that the activities of the White House "are adequately documented." Under the Clinton administration, the White House adopted a custom archiving system known as the Automated Records Management System (ARMS). But shortly after taking office, the Bush administration scrapped ARMS, claiming the system was "flawed." Despite proposing two other records-management systems in 2003 and 2004, neither was ever adopted. The White House "would not comment on why ARMS was eliminated." Not only was the White House recording over "computer backup tapes that provided a last line of defense for preserving e-mails" between 2001 and 2003, but Press Secretary Dana Perino has admitted that between 2003 and 2005, five million e-mails were potentially lost. "We screwed up, and we're trying to fix it," Perino told reporters in April.
Want to bet that the problem can't be fixed? Can you say, "bunch of crooks?"
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
"Before you settle in, it seems there is a problem. We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we're not sure what to do with you."
"No problem, just let me in," says the politician.
"Well, I'd like to but I have orders from higher up. What we'll do is have you spend one day in Hell and one in Heaven. Then you can choose where to spend eternity."
"Really, I've made up my mind. I want to be in Heaven," says the politician.
"I'm sorry but we have our rules." And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell. The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a club and standing in front of it are all his friends and other politicians who had worked with him, everyone is very happy and in evening dress. They run to greet him, hug him, and reminisce about the good times they had while getting rich at expense of the people. They play a friendly game of golf and then dine on lobster and caviar. Also present is the Devil, who really is a very friendly guy who has a good time dancing and telling jokes. They are having such a good time that, before he realizes it, it is time to go. Everyone gives him a big hug and waves while the elevator rises.
The elevator goes up, up, up and the door reopens on Heaven where St. Peter is waiting for him. "Now it's time to visit Heaven." So 24 hours pass with the politician joining a group of contented souls moving from cloud to cloud, playing the harp and singing. They have a good time and, before he realizes it, the 24 hours have gone by and St. Peter returns.
"Well then, you've spent a day in Hell and another in Heaven. Now choose your eternity."
The politician reflects for a minute, then answers: "Well, I would never have said it, I mean Heaven has been delightful, but I think I would be better off in Hell."
So Saint Peter escorts him to the elevator and he goes down, down, down to Hell. Now the doors of the elevator open and he is in the middle of a barren land covered with waste and garbage. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags. The Devil comes over to him and grins menacingly.
"I don't understand," stammers the politician. "Yesterday I was here and there was a golf course and club and we ate lobster and caviar and danced and had a great time. Now all there is a wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable.
The Devil looks at him, smiles and says, "Yesterday we were campaigning. Today you voted for us!"