Sunday, November 28, 2004
Friday, November 26, 2004
YOUR LIFESTYE WILL SOON CHANGE
The reason for this is simple. The burgeoning budget deficit. Since 2001, virtually all of the trillion dollars of new debt has been financed by foreign banks. However, as alarm spreads about the growing deficit, this is beginning to change. Russia is starting to convert some of it's dollar reserve to Euros. Japan and China, who up to now have been financing our debt in order to keep us buying their goods, are starting to reconsider. China is threatening to stop tying the value of their currency to the dollar and tie it to the average of the euro, pound sterling, and swiss franc instead. Opec s threatening to demand payment for oil in euros instead of dollars/
So what does it mean to you. Well, as the value of the dollar drops, everything we purchase from overseas becomes more expensive. Consumer goods from the far east, oil from the middle east, natural gas from Mexico and Canada all become more expensive. Which means the value of your paycheck decreases.
Robert Reich is a guy who knows a bit about these things. He is formerly Dean of the Harvard School of Economics, was Labor Secretary under President Clinton, and is currently teaching at Brandeis University and contributing editor at American Prospect. His take? He strongly suspects that the Bush Administration is waging an ideological war to starve the Federal Government and render it unable to do much more than wage war in the future.
More important, the coming inflation will make it very difficult for families, already heavily in debt, to afford the basics: food, housing, clothing, health care. Folks, it's gonna get ugly!
Thursday, November 25, 2004
BEST MOVIES YOU HAVEN'T SEEN
First, THE ALAMO. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Dennis Quiad, and Jason Patric, this movie had tremendous action, was historically acurate, and featured great performances, especailly Thornton as Davy Crockett. It is one of those epics made for the big screen, and I am sure it won't be quite the same on dvd, but ya still gotta rent it.
The other is "The Notebook" with James Garner and Gena Rowlands. This movie is really two stories in one. An old man moves into a nursing home to be with his wife who is suffering from Alzheimer's, and the story of their young lives. It is a beautiful story, and if it doesn't bring a tear to our eye, your should have your heart checked immediately.
So those are my best.......tell me about your best movie that no one else saw!
BEND OVER MIDDLE CLASS, GEORGE HAS A "SURPRISE' FOR YOU
So this is how he plans to reward all of you who naively entrusted him with a second term. He is going to tell you to bend over and grab your ankles. Kiss your virgin ass good bye, along with your company sponsored health care plan. Because Dubya is going to do away with with the tax deduction your employer gets to help offset the expense of your policy. Since most employers are already having difficulty paying for these policies, chances are your plan will be dropped like a hot potato. Even if you work for a wealthy corporation who has little trouble paying the expense of your health plan, chances are they will jump at the excuse, leaving you to fend for yourself against giant insurance companies. Keep in mind if you have a family of four, this plan will likely cost you upwards of ten thousand dollars. Oh yeah, and the federal tax deduction you get for state and local taxes, wish it bon voyage. It goes too!
Now if you live in a blue state (or Ohio or Indiana, so much for rewarding you), you get to bend over yet again. This tax "reform" plan means you get even less of the money you send to Washington back. As it is, for every dollar your state sends to Washington in taxes, it gets back an average of 80 cents. Meanwhile, those red ( i.e. welfare) states, get back about $1.20. This new plan takes even more from you and gives it to them. Nice, huh!
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
KEEPING AMERICA SAFE
SO MANY STORIES, SO LITTLE TIME part 2
Meanwhile, Bush's buddy and bastion of freedom Vladimir Putin is openly meddling in Ukraine's affairs. He is openly supporting the winner of the election in the Ukraine, even though virtually every election observer called the election fixed. This latest in a series of anti democratic moves would normally elicit diplomatic protest from the US. But neither Bush or Putin are much interested in promoting democratic rights these days.
Apparently neither is Tony Blair. His proposed new anti terror legislation includes trials of English citizens without jury, and indefinite jailing without charges being filed. Blair should be ashamed. He has allowed the threat of terror to revoke basic British civil rights. For all practical purposes, the terrorists have already won.
Saturday, November 20, 2004
After this latest in a long series of Ron Artest inspired fiascoes, the Commisioner, David Stern, needs to get some balls and boot Artest from the league permenantly. While I generally detest the NHL's Gary Bettman, I will give him credit for handling the Todd Bertuzzi situation the way he did. And remember that Bertuzzi was a much better citizen that Artest. Artest has been a constant black eye for the league for years, frequently suspended, any number of on and off court incidents. Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix is right on point when he asks if the NBA is gonna wait till Artests antics get someone maimed or killed. After last nights near riot in Auburn Hills, does anyone really believe this is not a real possility. He is, at this point, also a real danger to himself. He is amazingly lucky that the blow delivered by Ben Wallace was an open handed shove and not a closed fisted blow. As it was, the shove moved Artest about fifteen feet. Wallace is one of the leagues gentlest men, but also it's hardest body. If Artest is stupid enough to pick a fight with Wallace, he should be thrown out of the league for his own protection.
The Pacer's Germaine O'Neil should also get a season ending suspention without pay, for not only going into the stands and trading punches with fans, but for sucker punching a fan at floor level.
Kid Rock and Chris Chelios are two guys who have seen there share of unruly fans and brawls. When they leave their courtside seats shaking there heads in amazement, you know it must have been an amazing scene.
Friday, November 19, 2004
HA!!!! I KNEW IT!!! The relationship between IQ and Bush voters!
"The top 16 states in the nation with the highest average IQs all voted blue, based on measurements in the book "IQ and the Wealth of Nations" by Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen. All 19 Blue States are in the Top 25 and, of course, the bottom 25 IQ states are all red. This is not meant to be smug, but just to point out that, the lower the IQ, the more appealing George W. Bush is and vice versa."
FLORIDA, THE BAD DREAM STATE
"It’s not proof of voter fraud -- at least not yet -- but it seems that somebody has some explaining to do about the election results from Florida. In a report released this morning, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, say that George W. Bush received 130,000 more votes in Florida in 2004 than he should have received, and that the only real explanation has something to do with electronic voting machines.
Through multiple-regression analysis, the Berkeley researchers examined the increase in Bush’s support, on a county-by-county basis, between 2000 and 2004. Their conclusion: A county’s use of electronic voting machines resulted in a "disproportionate increase" in votes for Bush which "cannot be explained away by other factors."
The disparity between the votes Bush received and the votes statistical models said he should have received was largest in those e-voting counties where Al Gore was strongest in 2000: Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade. Michael Hout, the Berkeley sociology professor who presented the researchers' findings today, said that he could not explain why the disparity was so high in counties that favored Gore in 2000, nor could he explain how the electronic voting machines might have over-counted Bush votes. But he said that there’s virtually no possibility -- a one in 1,000 chance that he called "trivial" -- that the voting disparities arose by chance. "
Incidently....no such disparity found in Ohio!
MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS
RED STATE WELFARE QUEENS by Mike Hudson (www.niagarafallsreporter.com/column189.html)
BLUE STATES, CANADA SHARE VALUES, WHILE RED STATES REJECT TOLERANCE by Bill Gallagher
POLITICAL TRUTH WITH A TEXAS TWANG by Bill Gallagher (http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/gallagher189.html)
THE SMIRKING CHIMP has become my favorite blog!
If the hockey strike doesn't end pretty soon, I'M GONNA DIE!
MEDIA COMPLICITE IN SPREADING SMEAR
This charge might seem logical, except for one fact. Earle has prosecuted a number of prominent Democrats over the years. In fact, of his fifteen political prosecutions, eleven were democrats. Yet the media continues to spread the partisan smear against Earle's reputation, and has made it easier for Republicans to protect the sleazy DeLay.
Most experts say Earles case against DeLay is strong. So how is it the party of moral issues is preparing to protect this scumbag from prosecution?
Thursday, November 18, 2004
RANDOM THOUGHTS AND OBSERVATIONS
Hoyt Axton was right. "Work your fingers to the bone whad'ya get? boney fingers, boney fingers" (perhaps my all time favorite line from a song)
Sears and KMart merge. Does that mean I now have to go to KMart for my Craftsman tools, or Sears for my Martha Stewart Living sheets and pillow cases?
Dollar again hits new low against Euro. Anyone starting to worry yet?
Bad news.... Congress had to raise the ceiling on the national debt. WORSE NEWS..... they are expected to have to do the same this time next year.
Check out excellent article by Peter Beinart in New republic online titled MORALLY CORRECT... here's an excerpt or two:
" For a time, combating this culture of punitive sensitivity was one of the right's primary concerns. Not anymore. In the wake of their recent triumph at the polls, conservatives have found their own supposedly disrespected minority: evangelicals. And they are playing victim politics with a gusto that would make campus radicals proud..........But, most of the time, what conservatives call anti-evangelical bigotry is simply harsh criticism of the Christian Right's agenda. (Joe) Scarborough seized on a recent column by Maureen Dowd, which accused President Bush of "replacing science with religion, and facts with faith," leading America into "another dark age." The Weekly Standard recently pilloried Thomas Friedman for criticizing "Christian fundamentalists" who "promote divisions and intolerance at home and abroad," and Howell Raines, for saying the Christian Right wants to enact "theologically based cultural norms."
This isn't bigotry. What these (and most other) liberals are saying is that the Christian Right sees politics through the prism of theology, and there's something dangerous in that. And they're right. It's fine if religion influences your moral values. But, when you make public arguments, you have to ground them--as much as possible--in reason and evidence, things that are accessible to people of different religions, or no religion at all. Otherwise, you can't persuade other people, and they can't persuade you. In a diverse democracy, there must be a common political language, and that language can't be theological."
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
PLEASE TAKE A MINUTE AND LISTEN
BUSH NOMINATES WIFE
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
ASHCROFT'S CONFIDENTIAL RESIGNATION
THE DOLLARS PLUNGE (and why you should worry)
At first blush, this might seem like a positive thing. It makes US goods for export less expensive and more competitive. It makes European and Canadian goods more expensive, making it more likely that Americans will buy goods produced here. And since most consumer goods purchase here are produced in China, which ties it's currency to the value of the dollar, it seems like the best of both worlds. But here's the rub:
The falling value of the dollar is making it more expensive for China to do business with the rest of the world. So they are threatening to tie the value of their currency to an average of currencies (pound sterling, euro, yen etc.) If this happens the cost of almost everything you buy (clothes, small appliances, shoes, etc.) will rise. The farther the dollar falls, the more expensive imported goods become. One commentator referred to it as importing inflation.
Add to this the fact that some OPEC members are again making noises about taking payment in euros instead of dollars, and the falling value of the dollar suddenly becomes a real concern.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
EXPANDING THE WAR
Next Thursday, barring some unexpected change in his schedule, Mofaz (Israeli Defense Minister) is scheduled to chair a meeting about a fateful issue: Iran's nuclearization. The date was set last month, but U.S. President George Bush's victory Tuesday over Senator John Kerry, which is equivalent to the defeat of the line of thinking of the Sharett from Boston to that of the Ben-Gurion from Texas, lends the discussion additional importance. The use of military force against Iran is looking more and more likely. The coming year will be one of confrontation. The Iranians will not yield, Bush will not give in, Israel will not remain outside the collision. Even if it wanted to, Israel will not be able to prevent the Iranians from launching an escalation against it, which will precede and disrupt the American plan.
If Israel is indeed drawn into the conflict, Syria and Lebanon will almost certainly be dragged in too. There is a very good possibility that the governments of Jordon and Egypt will be destabilized to the point of collapse. You think its messy over there now.......
In any event, it would appear that with such a large escalation of the war, a draft is almost certainly eminent.
Friday, November 05, 2004
The dollar is close to setting record lows against the Canadian dollar and the euro. The ever important Index of Leading Economic Indicators is down for the fifth month in a row Consumer confidence is down, third month in a row. Manufacturing output down two months in a row, Toy manufacturers are warning that Christmas orders are down, that profits will be down from last year. Dept. stores are ordering much less stock than last year, warning of reduced profits. Reminds me of another term from the Reagan years....STAGFLATION!
check out excellent article on the dollars fall: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_10_31.php#003942
Thursday, November 04, 2004
I LOVE THIS LETTER
Many of my liberal friends are seriously discussing leaving the country, for Canada or Europe or New Zealand. It is, of course, tempting. How could we not feel a violent disillusionment and disconnect when we discovered this morning that the majority of voters in the country have a worldview we cannot comprehend? That hate and fear and ignorance can run a successful presidental campaign; that people will respond to these things with eager glee?
And if I wasn't tempted before leaving the house, one look at my car with its Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker -- the only car with such a sticker in the lot -- and how overnight it suddenly acquired a political statement consisting of eggs and shaving cream -- the only car in the lot so decorated -- certainly pushed me in that direction. I imagine the decorators (or their parents) voted on "moral values," as so many Bush supporters did.
But I'm not going to leave, and I made a list of reasons why.
Because this is my country.
Because I'm not letting them have New England autumns, New Mexico sunsets, the Grand Canyon, or Revere Beach.
Because Barack Obama, Ted Kennedy, Barney Frank and a few other stalwarts are isolated enough in a Capitol gone mad without their supporters pulling up and getting out.
Because over a million people voted for Alan Keyes, and that means even in Illinois we can't relax.
Because Massachusetts elected a far-right religious zealot in a gubernatorial race no one bothered to vote in.
Because I do, honestly, want my kids to be American citizens.
Because 200 years ago Americans believed in a separation of church and state, and if there's one thing we seem to be good at, it's regression.
Because we have to speak up even if they're not coming for us personally yet. We're educated and energized and relatively financially secure, and there are a lot of people out there who are none of those things and are at least initially going to suffer far more than we are. We have to speak for them if they can't speak for themselves.
Because this is still my country, and being female and pro-choice and pro-gay rights and an environmentalist and a pacifist and a believer in intelligent leaders and an atheist does not make me un-American or unpatriotic -- and that needs to be screamed from the fucking rooftops.
Because they vandalized my fucking car, and that is their level of discourse.
Because I am not afraid anymore. I am angry.
-- Mary Meiklejohn
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
BIZARRO WORLD CHRISTIANITY
I am constantly amazed at what passes for morality among the new Christian right. They believe life is so sacred, we must protect even potential human lives, but but have no problem with 100,000 civilians killed in an unnecessary, not to mention immoral war. It doesn't concern them that 18,000 people a year die due to lack of health insurance. They believe in family values, but it doesn't bother them that their children are being slowly poisoned by air and water pollution. Even the fish sticks their kids eat are a potential hazard. But no matter, as long as the queers can't marry, things are good. Their parents can't afford the medications they need, one out of five kids live in poverty, but these aren't the family values that matter, apparently.
I grew up in an Evangelical home, and as I recall corruption and cronyism were not considered good moral values. Back then corruption was bad. Guess things have changed at church.
The truth is, the christian right has become a danger to democracy. Their agenda is simple. Blur the constitutional line between church and state, and force their "values" (and I use that term loosely) on the rest of us.
I'll have a lot more to say about this in the coming days. Stay tuned.
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
ELECTION NIGHT BLUES
But what if Bush wins. What are my options? Shoot myself immediately comes to mind! My mother was born in England, I believe under English law, I can apply to become a citizen of the UK. Attractive option, I could use the health care benefits! Or, I can channel all that anger towards the 2006 Congressional election! Decisions, decisions. Hopefully, I'll only have to worry about being a gracious winner!
Monday, November 01, 2004
THE QUESTION I MOST WANT TO ASK GWB
VAUGHN MEADER PASSES
It was Vaughn Meader who actually spurred my lifelong interest in politics. I came from a family of Roosevelt/Kennedy haters, people who believed Joe Kennedy made his money in liquor because Roosevelt tipped him off that prohibition was going to be repealed It apparently never occurred to the good evangelicals that the whole country knew prohibition was about to end and Kennedy was just a shrewd businessman. Like most kids, I believed my parents, when they demonized JFK, I thought him to be some kind of fiend. Then I saw him on tv, being asked about Meader's impression of him. Kennedy said "I think he is really a very funny fellow, but I have to tell you, I think he sounds more like my brother Bobby." The line brought howls of laughter from the press corps, and instantly humanized Kennedy for me. He was suddenly a very likable man, a guy who could poke fun at himself, a regular guy. I immediately became a Kennedy fan, and remain one to this day.
Meader doesn't get the credit he deserves, but he was really a pioneer. His ensemble political comedy paved the way for the likes of the SMOTHERS BROTHERS, THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS, LAUGH IN, AND SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE. It is a shame he didn't get to enjoy more of the limelight he deserved.
After Kennedy's death, he became reclusive for a couple of years. He tried to get back into show business, but he was too closely tied to Kennedy, it was too painful for people to except him in any other role. He drifted into alcohol and drugs, and eventually made his way back to his native Maine. About 10 or so years ago, he re-emerged as a folk singer, and kept busy working the northeast until the emphysema he battled for years over took him. He died this week from the disease.
I notice that there is a cd available at Amazon of the two FIRST FAMILY albums. I believe I will drop the $20. Sometimes, it helps to remember where you came from!