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Blog Directory Del's Perspective: 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009

Caveat Emptor: Rethink Obama's Health-Care Bill

Are you sold on the Obama Health-Care bill? If so, think about a serious issue that hasn't been completely explained to Congress or the American public.

In 2006 the Democrats took over control of Congress and immediately they restored the pay-go as a rule for both houses. (In basic jargon, this meant that if a new entitlement program were enacted, in order to pay for it some other program had to be cut....somewhere). This year, Obama begged the legislature to make it a law, envisioning that he would have more power to enforce it. What is not reported to the public is the fact that it could do the opposite. This bill states that if Congress has spent more on new entitlements (or has given more tax cuts) than it has saved, the Prez. can roll back or hide the excess.

So why is that such a bad idea? The Congressional Budget Office sent out an alarming memo that said that the bill as introduced might allow spending to increase by an alarming amount ( let's call it an astronomical amount). The memo further stated, "that rule would allow Congress to enact legislation that would increase deficits by an amount in the vicinity of $3 trillion over the 2010-2019 period with a sequestration."

Still confused? The bill would exempt from pay-go all of the spending in Medicare physician payments and all of the revenue dependent on estate and gift taxes, the alternative minimum tax for individuals and the administration's plan to continue the middle-income tax cuts of 2001-2003.

This pay-go program doesn't have a multi-year cap on discretionary spending and could result in a budget with a 40% loophole of staggering proportions that doesn't have to be paid for.

Mr. Obama promised transparency, he promised a "revenue neutral" budget, he promised accountability. What many are seeing is a devil in the details that might just up and bite us on the butt. Caveat emptor.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Growing Weary of the Obama Bull

I know that it is not great PC to inveigh against the Prez.. After all he's only been in office a short 6 months. I submit the latest poll which shows the approval rating of 57% of Obama is down a whopping 11% since April. Of course I know that polls don't mean much, save for the fact that such a sinking in popularity, suggests the public is slowly developing a collective hum of disapproval. Perhaps the 80% figure in the latest Washington Post-ABC poll says it all: that Americans are truly worried about huge costs showing up in the new health-costs reform bill.

The nonpartisan Director of the Congressional Budget Office gives them a concern for such a worry when he warned that the proposal "significantly expands the federal responsibility for health-care costs." It's bad enough that the health-care industry just keeps slapping on more and more increases and greater denials in medical care, but now we can expect the feds to tack on even more.

Let's add to the mix a few other issues: Obama repudiated the Bush policies while on the campaign trail, but has managed to stay the course of indefinite detention of alleged terrorists, gays in the military, and huge corporate bailouts to the Wall Street elite. He pledged to bring about "net spending cuts" by budgeting wasteful spending, then went on to rubber-stamp more than 9,000 earmarks and asked the federal agencies to trim a tiny 0.003 percent from the federal budget.

Inveighing further, one could point to the fact that he didn't want a federal take-over of General Motors on the day he took it over. He promised transparency in government when, in fact, very few of the bills he promised to post on the Internet for five days before he signed them ever showed up on our screens.

The fresh air stemming from his melodic voice has turned to hot, and growing hotter, air.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

More Bull From the U.S. Senate Re: Confirmation Process

Don't you just love the condescension coming out of the hearings for the supreme court nominee, Sonia Sotomayer?
Think about it for a minute, and it does take a minute, and let me ask you the following:

What white man or woman during these same type of hearings has been asked whether being Caucasian makes h/her unable to apply the law without bias in cases involving people who are not white?

What male Supreme Court nominee has been asked whether he can apply the law without prejudice/bias to cases involving women? Remember that more than 1/2 of the U.S. population is female.

Those two questions alone automatically suggests that Sotomayer is being held to a totally different standard.

Let's throw in the issue of life experience that keeps creeping into the process. Could the lofty, yet unsettling voices from the Senate chamber have one believe that such experiences are not part of the rule of law. Did they miss something in the history of this land? Experiences should not have been taken into consideration in the Dred Scott Case? Brown v. Board of Ed.? Gideon v. Wainwright? or Hamda v. U.S.? Are they kidding?

The humans that sit on the high bench do not live prosaic lives. Anyone who has been lectured by the Supremes during oral arguments know full well that they can dish out a tongue lashing over life experiences to any counsel that is stupid enough to think they are vapid about circumstances surrounding a legal issue.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Hey Mr. Prez, the Community College Idea Just Sucks.

Hey, Mr. Obama, this time I truly think you are on the wrong track, talking to a pseudo audience, and, yes, clearly not doing your homework.

Ok, Mr. Prez., you've got the gals/guys in the White House who are doing their best to shine old leather and even make it smell better, but let's be honest the community college (drum roll, please) theme is meritless. Here's why:
1. This nation's leaders go out of their way to deny more funding to public, and now you think they will pony up more. Get real. They always cite business models as if the profit and loss statement creates thinking citizens;

2. Your ideal/ idea collides with existing monies for common ed and now ( believe me, please) this concept will only take more $$$ from common ed;

3. Your data re: future jobs lack anything close to a syllogism in that most future business do not require an associate's degree;

4. This nation's spine is reinforced with blue collar, hard working men and women, and they will tell you that being an electrician, plumber, carpenter, janitor, assembly-line worker didn't require attending any college. (Note here: most would tell you that they wanted out of the draconic world of the classroom);

5. At the risk of sounding elistist and I am not, it is extremely important that we as a nation not work toward watering down higher level education simply to advance a "not really important" product;

6. In the market place of ideas, Mr Prez., this idea ought to die and be replaced by a huge move toward more monies for vocational ed programs, community college programs, and yes, a goal toward pushing young people (who want it) through portals of a place called college.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Warning Label for Chrysler; Maybe

Consumer Action, the Center for Auto Safety, the Center for Justice, and the National Consumers League asked the Federal Trade Commission to require that Chrysler vehicles display stickers warning buyers of risks in future liability claims.
Chrysler successfully established freedom from obligation on product liability on cars made before May 30, when it was purchased by the Italian automaker Fiat.

The consumer groups asked the commission to make an emergency amendment to the "use car rule" which demands warning labels to be affixed to windows that discloses purchasing and warranty information. The label reads: "This vehicle was produced prior to the date when the Chrysler bankruptcy was approved. If you buy this vehicle and are injured or killed, even if your injuries were caused by the manufacturer, you or your survivors will not be able to recover your losses by taking action against the manufacturer. If your passengers are injured or killed, even if their injuries were caused by the manufacturer, they and their survivors will not be able to recover their losses by taking action against the manufacture.

Representative Andre Carson (D-Ind.) has proposed legislation that would require all automakers to purchase liability insurance if they are majority-owned by the federal government.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

General Custer Rides Again Via McDonald"s Happy Meals

McDonald's has begun selling Happy Meals complete with a toy of General Custer. Why are Indian activists disturbed by this idea?
Those wonderful people at McDonald's must have completely lost every fiber of sensitivity when they began selling Happy Meals, in the Dakotas, with, of all things, a gift, a toy, a Custer toy. The accompanying card read, " Ever heard of Custer's last stand? It was named after George Armstrong Custer who lead his troops into the battle at Little Big Horn."

Belva Morrison, Indian child welfare specialist for the Lakota Law Project, said, "It is insensitive for local merchants to hand out these dolls where there is a large Indian population. They should have thought twice about promoting these figurines. I don't believe we're overreacting. I think we are not tolerating things like this anymore. They're targeting young kids whose minds are easily impressed."

So what's the big deal? It seems that ole "Golden Hair" Custer went on an Indian killing raid with his Cavalry in Indian Territory ( Oklahoma) , killing Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Cherokee back in 1868. ( I hate dates, too, but stay with me on this.) Eight years later, Custer and 700 men of his 7th cavalry were wiped completely out by the Lakota at a place called "Little Big Horn" at Montana, just a rock's throw from South Dakota.

Make no mistake the Lakota (Sioux) had a complete history of what happened in Oklahoma at the Battle of Washita, but they also knew full well that Custer was responsible for the discovering of gold in the Black Hills of South Dakota that led to the theft of over $120,000,000 of that precious asset on sacred land that has never been returned.

So one can imagine the disturbing sight of having a child reach into to his/her Happy Meal only to find a figurine that would anger any Native American parent who wasn't asleep in history class or listened intently to his family oral history

At last report customers in the Rapid City area were told there were no more Custer dolls in the Happy Meals. Sadly, the PR folks at Mickey D's didn't have the corporate sense or historic knowledge to correct such a huge mistake

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Reason for More Bleach in The Gene Pool: The Darwin Awards

It’s that time again folks. The Darwin Awards are finally out. The annual honor given to the persons who did the gene pool the biggest service by killing themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid way. Last year’s winner was the fellow who was killed by a Coke machine which toppled over on top of him as he was attempting to tip a free soda out.

This year’s winner was a real rocket scientist…… HONEST!

Read on…… And remember that each and every one of these is a TRUE STORY.

And the nominees were:

Semifinalist #1
A young Canadian man, searching for a way of getting drunk cheaply, because he had no money with which to buy alcohol, mixed gasoline with milk. Not surprisingly, this concoction made him ill, and he vomited into the fireplace in his house. This resulting explosion and fire burned his house down, killing both him and his sister.

Semifinalist #2
Three Brazilian men were flying in a light aircraft at low altitude when another plane approached. It appears that they decided to moon the occupants of the other plane, but lost control of their own aircraft and crashed. They were all found dead in the wreckage with their pants around their ankles.

Semifinalist #3
A 22-year-old Reston , VA , man was found dead after he tried to use octopus straps to bungee jump off a 70-foot rail road trestle.. Fairfax County police said Eric Barcia, a fast food worker, taped a bunch of these straps together, wrapped an end around one foot, anchored the other end to the trestle at Lake Accotink Park , jumped and hit the pavement. Warren Carmichael, a police spokesman, said investigators think Barcia was alone because his car was found nearby. ‘The length of the cord that he had assembled was greater than the distance between the trestle and the ground,’ Carmichael said. Police say the apparent cause of death was ‘Major trauma..’

Semifinalist #4
A man in Alabama died from rattlesnake bites. It seems that he and a friend were playing a game of catch, using the rattlesnake as a ball. The friend - no doubt a future Darwin Awards candidate - was hospitalized.

Semifinalist #5
Employees in a medium-sized warehouse in west Texas noticed the smell of a gas leak. Sensibly, anagement evacuated the building extinguishing all potential sources of ignition; lights, power, etc. After the building had been evacuated, two technicians from the gas company were dispatched. Upon entering the building, they found they had difficulty navigating in the dark. To their frustration, none of the lights worked. Witnesses later described the sight of one of the technicians reaching into his pocket and retrieving an object that resembled a cigarette lighter. Upon operation of the lighter-like object, the gas in the warehouse exploded, sending pieces of it up to three miles away. Nothing was found of the technicians, but the lighter was virtually untouched by the explosion. The technician suspected of causing the blast had never been thought of as ”bright” by his peers.

Now, the winner of this year’s Darwin Award (awarded, as always, posthumously):
The Arizona Highway Patrol came upon a pile of smoldering metal embedded in the side of a cliff rising above the road at the apex of a curve. The wreckage resembled the site of an airplane crash, but it was a car. The type of car was unidentifiable at the scene. Police investigators finally pieced together the mystery. An amateur rocket scientist had somehow gotten hold of a JATO unit (Jet Assisted Take Off, actually a solid fuel rocket) that is used to give heavy military transport planes an extra ‘push’ for taking off from short airfields. He had driven his Chevy Impala out into the desert and found a long, straight stretch of road. He attached the JATO unit to the car, jumped in, got up some speed and fired off the JATO!
The facts, as best as could be determined, are that the operator of the 1967 Impala hit the JATO ignition at a distance of approximately 3.0 miles from the crash site. This was established by the scorched and melted asphalt at that location.

The JATO, if operating properly, would have reached maximum thrust within 5 seconds, causing the Chevy to reach speeds well in excess of 350 mph and continuing at full power for an additional 20-25 seconds. The driver, and soon to be pilot, would have experienced G-forces usually reserved for dog fighting F-15 jocks under full afterburners, causing him to become irrelevant for the remainder of the event.

However, the automobile remained on the straight highway for about 2.5 miles (15-20 seconds) before the driver applied and completely melted the brakes, blowing the tires and leaving thick rubber marks on the road surface, then becoming airborne for an additional 1.4 miles and impacting the cliff face at a height of 125 feet leaving a blackened crater 3 feet deep in the rock. Most of the driver’s remains were not recoverable..

However, small fragments of bone, teeth and hair were extracted from the crater, and fingernail and bone shards were removed from a piece of debris believed to be a portion of the steering wheel.
Epilogue: It has been calculated that this moron attained a ground speed of approximately 420-mph, though much of his voyage was not actually on the ground.

You couldn’t make this stuff up, could you?

Remember, these people are breeding and, God help us, voting.

Source: Rob Polanski

Monday, June 8, 2009

Police with Backbone and Teachers with Brains Fighting a Corporate Giant

The sale of the automaker Chrysler Group to an Italian car maker, Fiat, has been put on hold. Teachers and police officers in Indiana filed an emergency petition in the U.S. Supreme Court to block the sale.
The Indiana State Police Pension Fund and the Indiana Teacher Retirement Fund filed the petition this morning suing on the grounds that "the terms of the sale favor unsecured stockholders at the expense of secured stockholders and alleged that the use of Trouble Asset Relief Program Fund (TARP) to finance the bankruptcy is unconstitutional".

In an ideal case where the police chose not to be financially bullied and where teachers put their collective brains to work to stop an otherwise collapse of their retirement fund, we have a David versus Goliath smackdown with supremes serving as the referee.

The outcome? You guessed it! The police with all their muscle and the teachers with all that esoteric logic won't have a prayer. One need only a short perusal of the recent court's history to grasp an understanding that corporations reign huge in the eyes of the mighty robed jurists. One shouldn't be surprised if the court just stuck out its sinewy finger to those teachers and police officers and boldly said, "Stare Decisis!" (a sort of we-heard-this-before-and-we-don't-want-to-hear-it-again).

If that weren't enough, the talking heads in the media will probably eviscerate both groups because they had the temerity to stand up to Wall Street and the federal government over a highly questionable if not illegal sale.

The average Joe or Jane on the street or at the water cooler is probably just a little torqued about the suit as well because they didn't have anyone in their corner to champion for them when the financial crisis placed their retirement accounts in jeopardy.

Brains and backbone. I am proud of them.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Stop thinking Swine Flu and Think Death By Pie

I learned years ago that amazing things can happen when no one cares about who gets the credit. So here goes. I don't care who gets the credit on saving someone from a serious illness or possible death, but it's my hope that you will send this article (edited, bastardized, or long as the facts get out there) to anyone who can read.

Go straight to the freezer and pull out all your pot pies, kiss them goodbye and toss them out.
Why? Salmonella. In just one outbreak in 2007 the Banquet brand of pies sickened an estimated 15,000 people in 41 states.

If you can say greed and profit and globalization then you have a pretty good start in understanding the whole scenario. It seems that the giant food corps are in a constant search to find even cheaper ingredients to put into their foods. ConAgra the maker of Banquet pot pies ( over 100,000,000 each year) places 25 ingredients from all over the world and with subcontractors who don't report their sources.

Testing? Yes sure, but only after the 2007 scare. Funny thing is, however, that even if a pie is contaminated they can't determine which ingredient is the bad one. The mighty giants admit that they are so global that they can't determine who supplying the ingredients.

Truly Amazing the food giants also admit that they can no longer ensure the safety of their products. But that's not the half of it! This same industry has found a way to shift the blame onto the customers. Here's how they do it: Look at that pie (before you toss it) and notice the precise instructions or "kill steps" that you must take in order to keep from getting sick. The diagram is right there on the back of the package. A simple four step diagram telling us to make sure the pie is heated to an internal temperature of 165 degrees "in several spots"with a food thermometer of course. That's it... fail to follow the directions and expose yourself and others to illness. A sort of "By God, it's your fault for being so stupid with directions".
Before we let the biggee corps off the hook, perhaps we should look at the New York Times response to the instructions. They followed the directions in detail on many brands of pot pies only to discover that none achieved the magic level of 165 degrees. "Some spots in the pie heated to only 140 degrees even as parts of the crust were burnt" wrote reporter Michael Moss.

There you have the reasons for tossing those pies in order to avoid death. Now you can see why even the faulty instructions by the condescending conglomerates can lead to your illness. Now you can see why greed and "undetermined ingredients" can lead to an outbreak. And now you see how the blame game works in a corporatocracy because in the end it was your fault.

Source: Oklahoma Observer

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Something's Rotten (Part II)

In part one of this story, I related that the health industry is surprisingly vowing to lower cost for we the people on our premiums. I smell something rotten and it's the source...the industry itself. Matt Wion, a fellow blogger, summed it up succinctly when he said it was a case of "Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts". He is absolutely correct and here's why:

Governments and businesses have put into play a policy known as "Marketplace of Ideas". In it's simple version, an industry for example, simply throws out an idea into the media. Usually they will sugar coat or play on God, Guns, Gays in order to gauge the public reaction to the concept. They twist wording, use confusing math, or sugar-coat a story to see if the public will run with it.

Political parties along with their think tanks will use wedge issues such as gay marriage, abortion, or estate taxes. They know that the individual issue affects a very small number of citizens, but with the help of demagogues they flame the controversy as high as it can get to create vivid excitement.

In the case of the 6 large insurance corps, they threw out large numbers, talked about generating "perhaps" 2 trillion $$$ over a decade. But from where? From the savings of 1.5 of their gross earnings. They fed the idea to the Prez and he's falling for it like a missile over Baghdad. The White House using spin doctors, threw it to the press and voila...there you have it: Big Business will save their greedy profits, they'll not fall prey to a national health plan, and they will look like Batman coming to save Gotham.
More befuddlement comes with fuzzy math. The industry says it can save the policyholders up to $2,500 a year in premiums to boot. Sounds good, doesn't it?

First, they vowed they would "try"...nothing concrete (off that hook);
Second, they didn't say anything about how they arrived at the math (off that hook, too);
Third, the little burr under the saddle, how can 1.5% of their profits equal $2 trillion over 10 years? It can't! Just look at the current GDP compared to the last 5 years and you will note a slow growth for the whole country, but they want you to believe they alone can achieve it;
Fourth, they mentioned nothing about inflation (if they can't reach their lofty goal they have a built in scapegoat); and,
Fifth, they conveniently omitted how they would generate the monies: lower payout to Drs./hospitals/increase in deductibles, etc.

The press needing news w/out investigating, buys the whole concept lock, stock and barrel.

See what a great tool the "marketplace of ideas" is?
Perhaps you will remember when Dubya wanted to dismantle S. Security. He threw the idea into the marketplace, but in that instance the press did their homework and riled back. This time there isn't a whimper.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Something is Rotten in the State of ________! (Part 1)

Okay, I am not Marcellus who spoke of corruption in the State of Denmark in the wonderfully written Hamlet. The old Bard had it right when he spoke of rotting from the head down. In this case, the health-care industry.
Amazingly, six giants of the industry promised (vowed) to find a way to lower health-care premium costs to about $2,500 per year for a family of four. In a vaguely written letter to Prez. Obama, they boldly stated that such a reduction could save over $2 trillion in 10 years. Suggesting that they (heroically) will save the nation's deficit.
This is where is gets confusing. Maybe you can help me get the concept. Here I have degree in economics and I am still wagging my head in bewilderment. So maybe you could can clear up the math for me.
They said they will find a way to squeeze 1.5% from their savings per premium per year to generate this huge sum. That's right 1.5%. Oh, Boy!
Follow me on this: My health insurance cost me a little more that $12,000 per year. This great industry says it will pull a whopping $120 from that sum and put it in a fund to help generate $2 trillion.
Every year my premium costs explode in increments of $500 to $1,000 units.
Are they saying they won't increase health care cost over the next ten years and hold all variables?
That's the problem. They aren't saying a damned thing. Much like Marcellus, I suspect something is rotten because I smell a huge damned rat

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Political Power the Old Fashioned Way: Populate

A new group in the political hunt. They call themselves "Quiverfull". The name is based on Psalm 127 , which says, "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them."
This small group has a population of approximately 10,000 but the conviction they hold is that having more children will help spread the message of Christ. Spokesperson Kathryn Joyce says the members have high ambitions, including political and social change. Joyce said members believe, "If everyone starts having eight or 12 children, imagine in three generations what we'll be able to do. We'll be able to take over the halls of Congress, we'll be able to reclaim sinful cities like San Francisco for the faithful, and we'll be able to wage very effective massive boycotts against companies that are going against God's will."

Perhaps the Dugger family out of Springdale, Arkansas comes to mind. Maybe you've watch their (perfect word here) reality show: 18 And Counting.

Friday, May 8, 2009

The Press and Question of Ethics

Yesterday's editorial out of the Washington Post pushed the limit of ethics in my view. The editorial staff fell on their collective sword for the voucher program in Washington, D. C.
Yep, I am a former teacher. Yes, I do champion for "all kids", and no I don't apologize for it.
So what did they clamor for? They pushed, and I do mean pushed, for concept of allowing D.C. to give a whopping 2.5% of the student population a $7,500 voucher per child. This out of a total population of more than 65,000.
So, why am I bitching about this? Well, first why would the Post station itself as nothing less than elitist? Why not demand this government to properly fund pubic schools for all students.
The Post conveniently left some major details out of their rationale for their promotion of vouchers:
1. Will private schools accept children with "special needs"?
2. Will the parochial schools admit students with disciplinary histories?
3. Will the private ( let's say Catholic Schools ) schools willingly admit children from Islamic/Hindu/or Moonies backgrounds?

The Post believes it is acceptable to kick $7,500 toward a tiny 1700 students albeit the fact that so many other kids will suffer(?) under their existing school program.
Let's see: Why wouldn't they come out in favor of appropriate funds for all of the kids in D. C.?
Why the elitism? Why not come out an push Congress to stop the violation of the Church and State Program that they current endorse.?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Where's Steven Galson When We Need Him?

Quick! Who is the Surgeon General and why haven't we heard from him?
It is bothersome to me that we pay some respected physician to be the spokesperson for the U.S. in matters dealing with health and no one has a clue as to where he is.
Where is the guy?

Why hasn't the press hounded the feds about his existence?
One would think that now, right now, is the time for the guy to surface and work to soothe our fears regarding H1N1. See what I mean? We're calling this virus the Swine Flu when such a term is incorrect. Using such a term is having ruinous outcomes for agri-business as well as the small farmer in your region.

I don't have a problem with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, but I do have concerns when I hear him acting in the capacity of the Surgeon General trying to ease my woes regarding a serious issue.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Bar stool Pundits Sippin' Tea

Aah, those red states have given way to Tea Parties and no longer joke about the red Kool-aid. No one should underestimate the power of those of the conservative bent to call forth more venom and hate.
The bar stool pundits would have average Joe or Jane that the purpose of the "parties" was to push forth the idea that our taxes "are way too high" and that all concerned should join in the rallying against Prez Obama's economic program. The sad truth is the trickery of it it all. At the top of the "Tea Party" call for revolution stands Robert Murdock and a well-funded organization known as FreedomWorks which brags a membership of over 700,000 activists . The right-wing rhetoric spewing forth is the same old sound good bytes about cutting taxes and deficits, and of course the same old chestnut about cutting taxes to the rich, and while you're at it "deregulate the damned economy". Now the new hue and cry is to bring and end to the estate tax. (Lest we forget the estate tax has been raised to $10,000,000 instead of the old $7,000,000)

The months the angry propaganda on talk radio and Fox News (Owner Robert Murdock) brought forth the April 15th "tea parties. Yes, the gullible of all stripes came and heard the same untruths and the subtle call to revolt. The program directors had the audacity to compare their whiny complaints to the events that led to the American Revolution. What an insult to our history! What an offensive display of the 1st Amendment....assemblage to promote the causes of the wealthy.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Serious Question to All Out There

From the "I Need to Know" category, can someone educate me about recirculated air such as on commercial jets, trains, etc. Are they highly filtered to reduce the spread of viruses?
If this is a stupid question please forgive. Your response could help me determine whether or not I should consider a future trip.

Friday, April 24, 2009

It's A Bird, It's a Plane, It's.......A Spy Blimp Near You (Maybe)

It's hard to imagine a world without Agent Bond...James Bond. It's hard to visualize a planet without the super powers of our beloved friends Superman, Batman, and Wonder woman but here in the real world we will lose all of them to DARPA.

By real world I mean that sci-fi has become real-truth in that our supposed friends at the Pentagon has ready for delivery a blimp destined for a 12 trip into space so that it hover over just any old place and spy on just about any person, place, or thing that brassy guys in uniform so determine.

The Pentagon says this new balloon can stay in one place for days, weeks, months, and years just for the purpose of reconnoitring. Under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) the Pentagon has found yet one more way to watch just about any group it deems necessary to place a lens over. This $400 million project is set to launch one of these surveillance vehicles around 2014.

It's okay to run up into the attic and get those scary books that made us think, surely you remember them: Brave New World, 1984, and Animal Farm.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Take Your Child to Work Day: What a Joke

Is it really necessary to take your child to work? The individual(s) who thought up this grand scheme may have given birth to a novel idea. Maybe it is important for children to see how the daily bread is earned. Maybe children can truly develop a sense of respect for dear old mom or dad for their awesome contribution to society and the GDP. I certainly don't want to take away from that particular aspect of the concept. My problem deals with some ancillary things that go along with taking children to work.
First, why isn't it an activity for the summer? Children need to be in school. The absence from school puts an additional work load on the teacher(s) in that homework assignments need to be explained yet one more time, and what was covered that day in class will need to be taught yet one more time. It can not be emphasized strongly enough that a child cannot receive the same benefit as his/her peers when absent from school, even given the makeup work. The interactions that occurs in the classroom is extraordinary to the learning process.
Second, it is not unusual for a child to miss school on this day so that he/she can be with his mom/dad who is (are ready for this?) a teacher.
Stay at home moms will have their children stay at home on this day so that her child can ( I'm not making this up) see what she does all day.
Third, for many schools this is the week for the ubiquitous "end of instruction" or achievement tests. So here it is one of the most important of all school days and we find parents pulling their children out so they can go to work with them. Shouldn't someone have had the decency to coordinate their respective calendars to end such a conflict of interest?
Fourth, and this is the most disturbing side effect of the such a day, is that now most schools want proof that a child did come to a particular business. In order to skirt this requirement, some parents just flat out lie and keep their child out by just calling the school with reports of illness, bee stings, allergic reaction, ad nauseum.

The truly great part of this story is the history of it. It started out as Take Your Daughter to Work Day, with the nascent thought that girls could be empowered by seeing the real work place, that it was truly possible for women to compete and work equally with men at any level. It was and is a refreshing idea in that today women earn on average 77% to that of men for the same workload or job description. Fewer young ladies enter the engineering and mathematical abstract careers than young men. So the original take your daughter to work idea was and is a good way to inspire girls to greater heights in the job market.
Now that the day has morphed into "take you child to work " let's be honest and at least have it slated for a summer day.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Guam Can't Handle Huge Population Growth

Guam will receive 7,000 marines by 2014. That would be bothersome enough for the island that it is already at capacity with water and sewer facilities and an electric grid that is on overload, but now add 7-to-8 thousand military dependents and the situation becomes stressed.

Why is Guam the recipient of this huge human bubble? In 2006 the U.S. and Japan signed a treaty to bring about the withdrawal with details that are confusing at best. Nonetheless, Guam must find the resources and the wherewithal to deal with this dubious agreement.

How can Guam deal with a possible 15% population increase? Her revenue forecast for 2010 is around $500 million which falls far short of the needed $5 billion experts say is necessary for the infrastructure.

All of this begs the question: What Were They Thinking?

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Unemployed Denied, The Elite Win Out

I watched in dismay when S. Carolina Governor Mark Sanford proudly stated that he would not take part in the stimulus package offered by the federal government in spite of the fact that he has thousands standing in unemployment lines. Much like sheep, the unemployed and concerned citizens hadn't pilloried him with anything other than a wet noodle before they felt the shears of an uncaring politico.
Then came the state legislature of Virginia that sang in one voice that they just couldn't accept the stimulus package money either lest they be excoriated by the national far-right conservatives. The logic they offered for the rejection was simple: If they took more money for unemployment compensation, for example, and at some point in the future if said money drained away they would be required to force businesses to pay a greater amount into the system (they have one of the lowest payout in the nation). In other words, they pandered to big business (again) and have now taken on the role as its mouthpiece. One can almost hear them chanting to the unemployed: "Get over it, we can't help you".
Using logic with more holes in it then Caesar's punctured body, both Sanford and the state of Virginia have taken the intransigent attitude of "No further discussion about our reasons", a sort of "Stare decisis, damn it! We'll decide what is right and we won't hear about it again".

Rewards adults, Ignore the Kids - Tulsa's Sad Model

In a story that only Scrooge could love, the corporate world rules with a heavy hand when it comes to adults getting the new toys and the children getting absolutely zilch. Is this story occurring in your city? See if this scenario is happening in your city or town.

The city of Tulsa has a wonderful minor league baseball park . The parking is spacious, the ballpark is clean and in great shape, the park attendance hovers at about 1/4 capacity. But this otherwise ideal situation wasn't good enough for the city leaders (both Demo and Repub) who went into a frenzy looking for ways to find erect a new ball park with a horrible location, pitiful parking, and a cost of about $20 million.

The cost will be more than the $20,000,000 (I am sure you knew this was coming). Yep, in order to help the city recover from the tailspin in revenues the decision just had to be made to save money and, by God, the kids will have to do their share. How's that? Of the 23 public swimming pools only 7 will be allowed to open this summer. All summer camps will be closed including the only one that brings joy to special needs children. But, yeah, the corporate icons will have a ballpark paid for by Tulsa citizens in the form of taxes. And, yes, the corporate sponsors will get huge tax exemptions.

I am quite sure one could carve a better mayor and city council out of a bunch of bananas.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Good News About Oil Reserves: In the Trillion of Barrels

The U.S. Geological Service issued a report in 2008 (where was the press on this one?) on how much oil was in North Central region of the U.S. in a basin known as Bakken. The Energy Information Administration (who the hell is this group?) estimates a starting base of over 5oo billion barrels of oil with a worth in the trillions. Additionally, scientists say there is over 2 trillion barrels of untapped oil beneath the Rocky Mountains.

Okay, I can hear your question from here: Why aren't we going after it to rid ourselves of foreign dependence? Short answer: Somewhere in Congress someone has an agenda with the Mideast oil producers.

Okay, you don't like that answer, try this one: Oil companies could be flooded with oil right up to the CEO's executive suite but it wouldn't lower the price of gasoline or oil products because we haven't built a refinery in over 25 years. The oil execs offer up the "EPA makes it impractical to build refineries due to all their rules and regs" as if to say it should be okay to inhale all their carcinogenic carbons. Therefore, the fewer the refineries the greater control over supply. Control over supply equals (hold your breath) higher prices.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Prez Scores Mightily In Europe

After all the fatuous statements by pundits regarding Prez Obama's failure to achieve much success after his kiss-and-makeup tour with European leaders, it's pretty clear that he got what he went after....a starting point for continued dialogue; a promise to meet often; a vow to really listen.

The talking heads on the conservative radio/TV programs went after the Prez with hammer and tongs basically saying he didn't have a spine and that wimpy Euro leaders couldn't bring much muscle in the World Wrestling Arena on Nuclear Power. They hinted that he should stop Kim ll sung and that we would be absolutely stupid to drop production of the long-range interceptor missiles, never mind the fact that such hubris could easily create another scary brinkmanship campaign that kept this nation on edge during the Cold War that almost went hot.

I'm in the Obama's camp on this one. It took us eight years to totally incense the European nations. Eight years of referring to them as cheese eaters, monkeys, wimps, etc., we shouldn't expect them to trust us overnight. Just because we have a new man in the White House doesn't mean they are ready to embrace him until they know what he's up to and developing trust doesn't come with a social visit.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Budget Woes Hurt: Beating Up on the kids

As is often the case there is always more to a story than the replayed story on television. All of us are concerned about the the auto industry and the possible loss of the Big Three. In this case the city of Detroit is bracing itself for the shuttering of 23 schools and the lose of 600 teacher positions.

The school district says it has a deficit of over $300 million and, wouldn't you know it, consolidation is the only way to resolve the matter. So, what should the kids expect out of this mess? You can bet that the district will raise class sizes to an intolerable limit. Inexperienced teachers will replace veteran teachers in a manner so as to lower cost. Look for tests scores to go south ( so much for NCLB, now it's about manning the zoo-like conditions), and while you're watching don't be surprised to see a mass exodus to a place called home-schooling (who wouldn't with no rules/no regs).

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Take a Minute and Think of the POWs

Today, April 9th, is POW Remembrance Day.
Please take a few minutes and give thanks to those who suffered in the name of this wonderful country.

Vouchers Aren't The Answer

The magic bullet has been placed in the chamber in hopes that all of the ills of public education will disappear. Like other supposed cures, it sounds good in the sound bites, but it just won't cut it when the smoke clears.

School vouchers work something like this: Student X doesn't like h/her current high school and wants to be with h/her friends at Scared Heart Secondary School. Student X applies for chit (voucher: equal to the amount the public school spends on h/her for an academic school year) with a value of $3000 to $5000 depending on the state.

The hue and cry promoting the vouchers is that the private school has:
1) smaller class sizes;
2) high quality instruction;
3) a safer environment; and,
4) higher tests scores.

There is no longstanding evidence that could suggest that any of the above are factual save for #1.
But, let's get to the points that aren't shared with the public.
1) Private schools are not required to admit anyone, so racial groups might have issues upon enrollment;
2) Students with disabilities are likely to find the admission doors closed; and
3) Private schools are not required to meet any state standards on tests, teacher quality, special education, etc.

An example of unfairness in the voucher program is if student X takes his chit to Sacred Heart and discovers that that school does not have a speech therapist (physical therapy) on staff, state law will require his previous high school to provide for that service even though the expenditure money for student X is now in the coffers of the private school.

Of course the above list is short, and yes there are many more issues that should be brought front and center to the marketplace of ideas for a fair hearing in the public square.

So, the next time you hear the cheer for vouchers, take the role of a wise and informed citizen and look at all the facts.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Be My President Not My Idol"

With the nation going ga-ga over Michelle Obama's European trip with her famous husband and with the conservative news stations serving up the headline: "The U.S.- Road to Socialism", I am hoping we take a collective reality check.

Whether we like it or not this nation is viewed by most European leaders as brash, pushy, and demanding. At the onset of the Iraqi War our nation's leaders took a John Wayne, hard-nosed attitude with them with verbiage that said: "You're either with us or you're part of the problem". Even kind and generous Americans were thought of as "Ugly Americans" by most European citizens. So, it should come as no surprise that developing an amicable relationship with the European hierarchy isn't going to happen over night.

Michelle Obama's appeal, both national and international, can't bring further harm to the Prez's image here and abroad. Let's be honest about it, she's a breath of fresh air. A new look, a new voice. But isn't that her role?

As for the conservative talk shows, what credibility can be garnered when they feel the need to exaggerate the dangers of the economic course in which this country is headed. The answer is none.

As for the President I want him to stay the course, stay grounded, and stay away from concept that he should be hep, cool, and with it. I just want him to be himself. I don't want him to be my idol, I want him to be my prez.

Monday, April 6, 2009

"Global Warming"? ..Yeah, Sure !

Here in the south central part of the U.S. we have experienced some severe winter storms and even below freezing temperatures in the first week of April. Of course such weather brings out the expected comments about Al Gore and the issue of global warming. Surely you have heard them: "So much for global warming" or "It just proves that Al Gore doesn't know jack about climate", and so on.
Intelligent people say stupid things that get picked up by h/her not so intelligent peer and soon the average g/gal on the street is repeating a falsehood as if it were true. Unfortunately, had those who blew off Gore as if he were an alarmist, and looked at his main points regarding climate, h/she would have discovered a most interesting point: huge swings in weather conditions. Instead they sneer at the "Inconvenient Truth" and the former Veep as if he were the village idiot, not realizing that their very disparaging remarks identify them as such.

"Operation Firewall"

Obama bolsters Mexico border in new drugs ...

Fourteen tons of drugs burning in Juarez, Mexico.

Mexican drug cartels are fighting for the U.S. dollar in a modern drug war along the U.S./ Mexico border. Officials at the D.E.A. have reported that American consumers spend about $12 to $15 billion each year for illegal drugs and have pledged to bring such a demand to a grinding halt.

More than one year ago Congress passed the Merida Initiative in an effort to stop the violence and the flow of drugs into the U.S. The initiative calls for $1.5 billion in aid to Mexico with approximately $117,000,000 for military hardware and equipment (that's more than the Defense Dept. hands to Israel, Egypt, Jordan, and Pakistan).

So, why isn't this program working? The Department of Homeland Security says the "shared problem, shared solution" hasn't gotten out of the portals of the Treasury Dept. because the new military technology hasn't been resolved. Huh? The word we should use here is bureaucracy.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Job Market Looks Bleak for Grads

The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has announced that this year's crop of grads will have a rougher go of it in the job market. Their report says that corporations plan to hire 22% fewer graduates. Reporting corporations also said they wouldn't be hiring at all.

The only bright spot in the employment arena is the announcement by the fed govt that they will be hiring but the increase is only a whopping 5-6%.

Want ideas about getting hired? Whether you are a newbie or a person recently laid-off, you can find a wealth of helpful info in the Wed., April 1, Reader's Digest, article by Hilary Sterne and Cathy Grandel.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Ssh! If We Sit Here Long Enough Even More Will Die In Darfur

The press is so mum on the subject of Darfur one would think it's "All Quiet on the Western Front" all over again. With all due respect Remarque and his wonderful book we could use his example regarding silence again. The scene: the Western Front of the Great War with millions dying while we ( Americans) sat as happy as clams thinking nothing was happening at all.

Now we have Darfur about the size of Texas, a region in Sudan about 1/4 the size of the U.S. and what is happening therein is a perfect storm whipped up by the Janjaweed who have killed over a 1 million souls, and have displaced over 300,000.

The U. N. sits on it's collective rump and does nothing about the slaughter. The U.S. and all its bluster about worldwide freedom doesn't say or do a thing.

Just think about the geography one more time. Darfur the size of Texas! Just thinking about how to police the region, not to mention food or drug distribution, would require one hell of a military presence.

Ssh, all's quiet in a world with no backbone!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Hey Ladies! What's Wrong With this Picture?

Let's see: they are the world's leaders. They represent all of us, all races, all genders.
What does the picture below tell us? Females represent 51% of the world's population, yet one could hardly tell it by the photo of the "elected" representatives (ok, some of them come from plutocracies) at this conference.

The U.S. Congress has 535 members is made up of only 15% women.

What does this picture of the G-20 conference tell you about power?

G20 leaders, with Her Majesty the Queen

Huge False Alarm: Was it Done on Purpose?

Yesterday, for no worthy reason, the respected Washington Post editorial staff sent out the ominous alarm that we would see a "light-switch tax" in Prez Obama's budget. So, right now let's get it clear before the heated discussions at the water dispensers and the local pubs heat up. It's not in the bill. It's not even vaguely mentioned in the bill.

I have a great respect for the fourth estate. We sorely need them to serve as a check and balance on the three branches of the federal govt. We should expect them to report the facts and we should also understand that they can surmise all the want in their op-ed sections, but to stoop to a legerdemain-like trick as the Post did yesterday is below the standards of good journalism. Was this done in a manner to get the concept out into the marketplace of ideas to see if it would fly? Doubtful.
Was it done as a way to create an even greater uproar from members of Congress (who probably haven't read the bill and are not likely to do so) to stifle its passage? Maybe.

Was it an oversight? Not in a million years.

Who knows? Just know that it isn't true .

Joseph Goebbels said something to the effect that if we tell a big enough lie long enough the will people tend to believe it. I am pretty sure this false alarm will be repeated as the truth for weeks/months to come by millions.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Want to Win the Debate Over the Stimulus Package?

Last Sunday I wanted to throw a shoe (Ok, both shoes) at the talking heads decrying the negatives over the Stimulus Package. On almost every show some conservative shouted out that the New Deal didn't work during the Great Depression. I knew they were wrong so I did my homework and this is what I discovered:
1. The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) produced over 2,750,000 jobs;
2. The WPA was at work in every county in the nation producing dams, bridges, water systems, roads and sever systems;
3. That same group built almost every library and public school in its 9 year existence, with employment near 3,000,000;
4. The F.D.I.C. was created (where would we be without it today?)
5. The Security and Exchange Commission was created (it has failed us of late, but the idea is solid if "regulation" were placed back into force;
6. Photographers, artists, and musicians of every stripe were hired to maintain our cultural heritage;
7. The Tennessee Valley Authority brought forth thousands of jobs, bringing electricity to rural communities and farms; and,
7. It worked!

Most of the conservatives who waved off this Keynesian Theory dismissed its value by saying it was only WWII that stopped the economic collapse. Not true. Such pseudo-logic completely leap-frogs over 9 years of hunger, strife, and family separation that would have been further exacerbated without such a program.

Now, go win the debate!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Oklahoma's Rock'n Roll Song As Decreed by the Lawmakers

The Neanderthals at the capitol building in Oklahoma City spent untold hours studying for the honor its citizens the State Rock'n Roll song. The lawmakers just couldn't help themselves, they just had to pick what Time Magazine called the most depressing song ever. What a tune! What a sound! Not quite up there with Steinbeck's "Grapes of Wrath" but the ditty is truly a downer.

Drum Roll please. Yes, let's hear it for the Flaming Lips and their truly sad song "Do You Realize"
Here are the lyrics, you decide.

Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize - we're floating in space -
Do You Realize - that happiness makes you cry
Do You Realize - that everyone you know someday will die

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do You Realize - Oh - Oh - Oh
Do You Realize - that everyone you know
Someday will die -

And instead of saying all of your goodbyes - let them know
You realize that life goes fast
It's hard to make the good things last
You realize the sun doesn't go down
It's just an illusion caused by the world spinning round

Do You Realize - that you have the most beautiful face
Do You Realize

So, why the carping?
They could have picked a number of great rock songs from the Tulsa Sound era. They could have found something that would put the state in a positive image, instead we get another round of depression.

Modern Day Salem Witchhunt: Scapegoating the Auto Industry

Treasury Sec. Geithner announced yesterday that, yes, we will probably need to push more money into the banking industry. At the same time the Prez announced that he wouldn't give the auto industry anymore $$$ without huge changes; he basically took these CEOs to the public whipping post and meted out punishment after he humiliated them via the airwaves. The clarion call echoing nation-wide is "Let Them Go Bankrupt".

I don't get it, and I don't think the average citizen gets it, either. This govt gave the industry a whopping $18 billion and is miffed that the magic wand of capitalism isn't bringing about sky-rocketing auto sales. And, because of the paucity of sales, the Prez and Congress have had a field day beating up on them.

The banking industry, on the other hand, which hasn't done a thing has been given the royal treatment. Many have been invited to the White House or to special functions by members of Congress for a red carpet-back slapping- good ol' time. Remember these are the same g/gals who got us into this mess and, guess what, no one in leadership wants these CEOs fined, prosecuted, removed, or even verbally criticized.

Oh, lest we forget, the banking industry has been handed $1 trillion U.S. dollars (and getting more). The auto industry at least created jobs and our beloved cars.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The 77% Woman

You won't read this in the Wall Street Journal or any other rag, but the above title is correct. It is also sad and sobering. Save for government related jobs women still earn 77% of her male colleague in blue to white collar jobs and this is 2009 not 1909. Disgusting isn't it?

Just think what would happen if the women of this nation finally put their power into a mass political surge to put an end to it all.
Ssh! Here's the big unknown that just shouldn't ( ok, maybe it truly should) get out into the marketplace of ideas. If only women knew that they currently they hold 51% of the vote; 51% of the population; and, 53% ownership on corporate stock on Wall Street. If they only knew...oh my, you go girls!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Economic Ignorance: Don't blame the kids

Walk into any high school and you'll probably see a slogan that just so full of optimism that your hair will stand up on your arms in excitment. It reads something like this: " We're Here For the Kids". If only it were true. So many words, so meaningless. There are reasons for the facade put forth by education leaders, but let me give you a simple example.

Ask the next high -schooler you see the following:
1. What is the function of the Federal Reserve System?

2. What is a blue chip stock?

3. What is meant by the term "federal deficit"?
4. What is meant by the term "fiscal policy"?

If the responses are "I don't know", please don't nod your head in agreement with so many other adults who just think our children are below stupid on the intelligence scale. They aren't!

Let's go back to that school slogan about being there for the kids. How can our school look at us with a straight face and say they are there for them when they make no effort to prepare these kids with economic knowledge? Let me take it a step further: school districts pulled courses such as economics and civics out of the curriculum in an effort to save money. In place of those courses they designed a course called "social studies" a sort of snake oil of the social sciences; a sort of dumbed-down version of history.

After thiry four years as a teacher of government and economics I couldn't define the term "social studies" because it is just too nebulous.

Schools....not there for the kids.

While your at it try asking a college graduate the following:
1. What's the function of A.I.G.?
2. What's a hedge fund?
3. What is a "credit default swap"?

He/she probably won't have a clue. So how dare any of us point a finger at those who took out mortages they didn't understand and criticize them anymore than we would those brilliant lawyers/doctors who bought the crap Madoff sold them

Friday, March 27, 2009

No Sunset for the Patriot Act

I have been in Prez Obama's camp since his Democratic nomination. His ideas/ideals have been refreshing and sorely needed. Now comes the bad news. The infamous Patriot Act introduced under the previous administration was set to expire this year. In political circles this is known as "sunset". Now, however, it appears that Mr. Obama just can't seem to let it die.
A quick review of the law should scare anyone. It allows for the arrest and detaining of a "suspect" without habeas corpus for just about anything authorities may deem a "terrorist act". Check out too many books on radical Islamic Faith and risk having the librarian report you to the F.B.I., no, it's not because she's a mean busybody, it's because the law requires such notification ; your buddy sends a $500 check to his friend Ibn in Niarobi which immediately draws the attention of the Dept. of Homeland Security and his possible arrest. This law allows for the searching of our phones, computers, and just about anything that might be considered "suspect". Which could lead to arrests with out right to legal counsel indefinitely.

Every civil rights organization under the sun has come down hard in opposition to the act, but their pleadings have fallen on death ears.

Pardon my naivete, I looked to Mr. Obama to change this capricious law with an executive order the first day he walked into the White House. It didn't happen. Later, I waited for him to ask Congress to deny reauthorization of the bill this year. It didn't happen, either.

Obama's position on this issue begs for logic only to find none. Yep, it's all about politics. In this sense one could think of the Executive Branch as a sponge soaking up yet more power that it doesn't want to release. Think Lord Acton and you get a better picture: "Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely".

Benjamin Franklin got it right when he said: "Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve either".

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Goodbye to a National Icon

John Hope Franklin was a legend. Save for the Neo-Nazis, I cannot think of an American who is not indebted to him. How is that? In great measure, it was his research that helped Thurgood Marshall achieve victory over segregation in the famous BROWN v. TOPEKA SCHOOL BOARD, wherein the very conservative U.S. Supreme Court ruled 9-0 to outlaw discrimination in public schools. Had Mr. Franklin not been in the throes of disgust over Jim Crow Laws one could pretty much guess that Marshall wouldn't have had the ammunition to win over the court and the Supremes would have sent Brown packing just like they had done previously in the famous Plessy v. Ferguson Case of 1898.

Mr. Franklin, you were one hell of a man.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Common Worker Takes a Hit .....Again

The Prez's plan to give back $400 to the common worker is taking a hit by the Rebubs. To me it is obvious, because: 1) $400 couldn't really help anyone and it's almost nonsensical; but, 2) the repubs want to put a stop to it.

Just totally forgetting #1 because it is too little too late, is one thing. But #2 is, well, what could we expect from the Repubs. Are they kidding? They have so little concern for the common guy/gal at the workplace that they just can't wait to "serve it up to the big business" that they want to erase the $400 stimulus monies from the "little" guy and dedicate all the monies to business. Yep, another episode of screwing the little guy.
It's just another example of Corporatocracy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Home Schooling: Child Abuse , Criminality , and Knowledge

How does your state deal with home schooling? Hopefully you have checked into it just to make sure things are on the up and up.
Here in the Sooner State our leaders are so convinced that our citizens are so bright, intellectual, and enamored with the love of learning that they allow home- schoolers and their parents to go totally unregulated and unrestricted.
Think of the thousands of Oklahoma children who elect to be "home schooled" because:
1. They hate the teacher or the school;
2. They hate algebra or science, some class;
3. They have been suspended and just say "to hell with it, I'll just be home schooled";
4. Maybe mom or dad need them to babysit.

My point is obvious: there is plenty of room for abuse in this new societal approach to academia.

The religious zealots say they pull their child out of the schools due to the social environment only to later demand that their child be allowed to be a cheerleader, on the ball team, or serve on the debate team. Many of these parents demand to enroll their child in driver's education in order to skirt the cost of private training.

Are there legitimate reasons for home schooling? Absolutely. My fear, however, is that one day we will read of something horrible or dreadful as a result of this new method of scholastic achievement.

Lastly, just because someone has an education it doesn't mean that h/she could inculcate a lesson correctly or appropriately.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Tort Reform #1 on Republican Agenda, #1 Joke

The Republican Party has trotted out its major issue and of course it zeros in on the almighty dollar, and more huge profits for the insurance industry. The industry is serving up its new and improved version of "tort reform" wherein the Party acting as a shrill for the industry paints all lawyers as evil and that the number of frivolous lawsuits is astronomical thereby crippling the industry.
The reality is anything but what the industry says it is. For example, State Farm Insurance Co. acknowledged to the state of Kansas that, "We believe the effect of tort reform on our book of business would be small." The lie regarding frivolous lawsuits is further debunked in the New England Journal of Medicine which reported that only 2% of people injured by a physician's negligence ever file a lawsuit.
Tort Reform would deny the injured the right to select h/her own doctor, insurance companies would make that decision. It would deny the right to hire a lawyer if injustice has occurred. But more importantly, it would deny the injured the right to have a judge or jury examine the seriousness of the case and the extent of the damages.
If you think "Tort Reform" is really necessary and that the insurance companies are just barely holding on, you might want to view the Consumer Federation of America study profitability of the insurance industry that showed a profit of $157,000,000,000 (that's billion) over the last 3 years.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

A..I.G. Bonuses: What a Bunch of Bull

To hear it from the august body of Congress, we now must suffer from the complete anger of its members . What a great day, can't you see it? Ranting, raving about how untoward it is for A.I.G. to send out bonuses albeit the fact that they are miniscule in relation to the bailout (1%).

What a microphone day these Congressional g/gals must be having! Can't you see it: raising hell over nothing but getting credit for being a vanguard of the public trust. (Where have they been?)
Everyone connected to this episode knew that the Feds and the Treasury Dept. gave complete and total information regarding this (not so important) story months ago.
But, hey, it fills up the giant T.V.s and gives us a reason to flip-off a commentator to vent our anger. But, it's a no story made huge.
How about reporting on the unemployed, the failings of Iceland, or Darfur? Much like the Octo-Mom, whom I ditched weeks ago, I am pretty much tired of listening to this non-event.

The Holy See Has Smashed Its Moral Compass

What I know about the inner workings of the Catholic Church could fill a gnat's naval. I do have a great admiration for the work of its missionaries, hospitals, and educators. But I do know when Papal Bull is just so much bull. Pope
Benedict XVI said, " You can't resolve the Aids epidemic with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem". The Pope has a moral obligation not to invite death to anyone's house. He did just that with two sentences.
The scene was simple: he was flying into the continent of Africa. A giant place with a giant problem. HIV/Aids is racking most of the Third World Nations there with so much pain and death that most of the 53 countries within the continent that they can not contain or stabilize it. So what does the Pope do? Instead of just going to Cameroon and expressing his love for the people and exemplifying compassion, his Holiness pulled the pin on a social bomb that will explode into even more pain and death.
The Universal Leader has unleashed an internecine madness that even his own spin doctors will not know how to control.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Teachers: Just Shut the Hell Up!

Before you discount this as another "poor teachers, always whining" scenario, hear me out. The far right legislature in the far right state of Oklahoma has a pending bill that would disallow teacher associations from bargaining for terms and agreements on teacher contracts. Before you blow that off as "So what?", it would be important to remember that the Republican Party has for years tried to muffle the voice of teachers and their associations. Let's try their first strategy: always refer to teacher associations as a "Union", as if it is a pejorative. But let's take it to a higher level, Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity belong to the National Broadcasters Association, would anyone suggest that they don't belong to a union. In other words they have they right to associate, but teachers do not. How about lawyers or doctors? Aren't they members of a union? But hey, the repubs feel they must cast teachers as a bunch of blue-collar workers who listen to some guru, such as Jimmy Hoffa. What a bunch of B.S.
So, you're saying: "What the hell does this have to do with me or my state?" Simple answer: if the radical spin doctors can influence Okla. they damned sure can influence the negative attitude about teachers in your neck of the world. If they can be successful in shutting the voices of teachers, then what about citizens , who are unassociated and who want to bring forth change?
Will this bill, a total violation of the 1st Amendment, make it through the totally dominate Repub. legislature in Oklahoma? Who knows.
The question is: Will it come to a state near you? I am betting yes.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Begrudging Fairness to A.I.G. Bonuses

The gravamen on the latest A.I.G. flap is a little irritating in that: 1. the Fed and the Treasury have known about the new round of bonuses going to employees in London for months. To come out now and make the officers of A.I.G. look like greedy pigs just doesn't have the smell of something untoward; and, 2. lawyers for the Fed and the Treasury Department approved these bonuses based on the rule of law and not on the will to plunge the public knife of hate into the deeply troubled insurance behemoth.
Money is of course money but having a tizzy fit over the bonus money that equals a mere 1% of the bail out is hardly criminal. The manner in which the latest rounds of bonuses was announced to the press was out of bounds and below the belt.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hey! Let's Beat Up on the Kids

Check out State Budget Shortfalls on K-12 Education Spending and Job Loss. Geez, wouldn't you know it, right off the bat the destruction will be around 9% loss on common ed. spending.
Ok, let's use really big numbers here for emphasis: $54,000,000,000. Sadly the stimulus package won't help shortfalls in local spending.
This country ought to be ashamed of it lack of effort or concern for it's citizenry and it's future. Every S.O.B. elected leader has h/her hand out for the stimulus money, but as usual the kids get the punch in the mouth both now and, oh, yes, later when the bill comes due to pay for this mess over Wall Street.
Of course the teachers get kicked in the ass over this crap too, yet they will be expected to shoulder the load and suffer from the "come on do it for the kids" even though their health insurance soars, their retirement stands in jeopardy, and their principal has one thing on his/her mind: Test Scores.

But, hey, lets screw with those who can't speak for themselves. Isn't that the American way?

Wrong road to win in Afghanistan

A slow walk through history would tell just about any one that the continuing a surge in Afghanistan is, how should I put this? A big mistake.

I won't bore you with the history but in the short-cut version the Brits called it the "graveyard of empires". Alexander the Great had more problems there than he would admit while his army was there. The mighty Russians got their asses kicked until the sophomoric U.S. Representative, Charlie Wilson (Texas) found the means, however secretive, to get shoulder-rocket-launchers to the Afghani fighters. After 10 brutal years the Russians pulled up, retreated, and left the place admitting that too many Russian helicopters were falling out of the sky. Remember they were the "Super Power".
So what are we doing there? Adding another 36,000 troops, spending (choke) another $2 Billion a month, and for what?
If Bush/Cheney were pulling this we would be outraged, in fact, how is it any different?
I ask: "What is so important there that we must risk/kill another young soldier, marine, or airman for that place (Ok, apologies to the Navy Seals). Please show me/us the world what is so damned valuable that we must necessitate an even more brutal war than in Iraq.
This is from a former Marine.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

John Wayne, Billy the Kid, and Professors at the Ok Corral

Wonderful Oklahoma, so far to the right you couldn't locate it with flashlight. The only state that went totally red in the last Prez election. A state so steeped in conservatism that 1/4 of its children go to bed hungry every night, their parents have no health insurance, and 80% of the population still believe that Iraq was involved with the terrorist attack of 9/11.
Given the above info, it shouldn't come as a surprise to learn the the state legislature just turned down a bill which would have given professors the right to carry concealed weapons on campus. Whew! It died in committee. But wait, this was the second time this bill was introduced, and with lots of fanfare. Surely you can see why this bill got lots of play at every deeply red bar or reddish church social, after all this state invented "God, Guns, and Gay bashing".
One would think that our state legislature would be trying to do something with our prisons (# 1 in the nation for incarcerated women and #4 for men). How about focusing on our roads and bridges ( #1 worst in the nation)? Education? 48th in the nation for teacher pay and 47th in student expenditures.
Of course we would be asking too much for our legislators because last year they concentrated huge blocks of time on selecting/naming the State Rock & Roll Song and brought tearful debates on naming the state fruit.
Ignorance be not proud, for we have next year to reintroduce a handgun for professors and "intoxicated" students. Three times is a charm. Bang! Band!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Hubris Sans Dignity

I "get it" when a leader, mayor, governor, etc stands by h/her political or economic philosophy. I find it refreshing that anyone in a leadership role would reason that they were elected to make decisions based on their intellectual skills and that they would stay the course on what brought them their initial success in the first place.

Governor Mark Sanford, however, goes beyond the pale when he refuses to help the people of S. Carolina. How he could look into a camera and proudly proclaim that his state can and will withstand the massive unemployment, the huge turn down of private donations in the Palmetto State? Ok, Ok, his hubris at that point was acceptable; sort of a "keep a stiff upper lip" response. But he irritated the hell out of me when he declared that he would only take stimulus monies to "pay down the state debt".
The whole concept of the stimulus package is to create more shovel-ready jobs, not to shove the money into banks or pay off debts that stimulate nothing. Sanford knows this yet he refuses to help his hurting populace. He knows full well that United Way has exhausted its funds and that the food stores for the needy are bare but he refuses to help.
When supposed leadership hurts rather than helps, when it becomes more Machiavellian than compassionate one could deduce a change must result.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Stimulus Package: Where's Ross Perot When We Surely Need Him?

Where's Ross Perot we need him? No, I am not talking about leading the country, although I do think he would be a great source of knowledge in these troubled times. I am talking about his ability to get up close and personal with his flip charts. Who could forget his visual effects during the 1992 presidential campaign? Whether we want to admit it or not he did inculcate a lot of difficult information with those big charts and keen pointers.

Every one is in a tizzy over the stimulus package and the bail out of banks. The information is so esoteric that the average citizen doesn't gasp the rationale for the continued loaning to A.I.G. and Citibank, for example. For that matter, many well educated people "get it" but continue to berate the Obama plan for no other reason than to follow the party line.
One huge reason why we must continue to bail out the big boys falls to a concept known as "credit default swap". This is a very complicated bank-to-bank scheme wherein world banks pay off a monthly type of insurance plan (this plan that must be paid monthly for fear of a run on the banks). In other words, A.I.G. and Citibank are wrapped up in a world web from which they cannot be extracted.

So, why bring in Ross Perot? Well, maybe not him physically, but someone who could graphically explain the whole process to us in order to bring credibility back to Wall Street. Yes, we need a Perot type person who is not connected to the financial barons who could flip chart us into some modicum of sanity.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Say No to Merit Pay for Teachers

Here comes the cure-all for ills suffered under the huge umbrella called education. It's posted everywhere, it's ubiquitous, it's the answer... it's Merit Pay for Teachers. Don't buy this snake oil. At least have a conversation with a teacher before you believe the hype coming out of school superintendent offices nationwide.

First the old chestnut is thrown out on the public square to get our pulse rate up: "Throwing more money at the problem won't solve the problem". The truth of the matter is that we haven't put enough money in education for decades, save for the huge amount that is spend out of the general fund for special education (about 25%). The last huge influx of dollars into common education occurred in the 60s during the race to space. The results were unbelievable and positive.

Second, the anti-ed crowd will shout to the heavens that we need to get rid of bad teachers. I agree, but the average citizen would be stunned at the low percentage of teachers who are doing an unacceptable job. More often than not, educators are placed in positions of which they have little or no skills or training. One simple example could be a beginning teacher who, in need of a job, will be placed in a classroom for special needs children. This teacher may not have a clue as to how to write an appropriate lesson plan for these children. Sadly, these teachers are left to figure out what to do with little or no assistance from h/her fellow teachers or administrators. A really excellent biology teacher may be assigned to teach physics, a subject h/she may not have the skills to teach. It certainly doesn't suggest that this teacher is a bad educator.
As unbelievable as it may sound, a school principal may have a conflict with a teacher over politics, religion, or even sports with (I am not kidding here) the principal looking for ways to "write up" that teacher with a "needs to improve" evaluation. Is this an exaggeration? Absolutely not!

Third, merit pay should be based on the tests performance by their students. The inherent unfairness in this concept is almost too difficult to explain because there are too many scenarios to explain. For example, Mrs. X teaches Honors English while Mr. Z teaches 10th grade English. It doesn't take an I.Q. over the temperature of table water to determine that Mrs. X's students will perform well above Mr Z's students.
What about Ms. Bell and her art class? There isn't a statewide/nationwide test over art. or for that matter physical education, or government, music, etc. Is it fair that Ms. Bell would be denied a pay increase while Mrs. X will probably enjoy a hefty bonus? What about the school librarian or the school nurse?
Speaking of tests, more Americans don't know that the tests never compares , for example, sophomores to sophomores of a given class, region, state, or the nation. Instead, it compares the current a sophomore class to the previous year's aggregate sophomore group.

Lastly, there remains the group who calls for the Arkansas Model for Merit Pay. It is even more bothersome than merit pay on its face. This model calls for a bonus to all of the employees (cooks, janitors, secretaries, and teachers) of a school when that school raises tests scores to a specific level. The idiocy of this plan is to suggests that the secretary or custodian worked as hard as the history teacher to raise the actual scores. Did the football coach truly deserve the same merit pay as the biology teacher who is stressed to the max to improve tests scores.

My real point is that a true conversation is needed the between concerned citizens and the educators. Have you ever noticed that when it comes to complex issues such as this one the principal/administrator is paraded out to "speak for the school" in an effort to muffle the voices of those who are truly and harshly impacted, the teachers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Sixth Amendment slowly and painfully disappears

The famous Gideon v. Wainwright supreme court case is nearing its 50th anniversary and now, sadly, it is not a cause for celebration, instead it is a time for sorrow. Why is that? It has become obvious that state govts have gone out of their individual way to deny counsel for those accused of felonies.

Now, with all the creative incentive they can muster, state govts have established criteria that makes it almost impossible for lower income citizens to qualify for counsel under the 6th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Abe Fortas, Clarence Gideon's lawyer, would be ranting before the supremes today if he could open his casket. From six feet below he could see the disingenuous of it all and demand that the supremes put an immediate stop to such silly rules that deny counsel to the accused should h/she own a car of $5000.00 value, or if h/her home is valued over $20,000, or if he is gainfully employed (as if he/she were making money while they sit in the clink), and the list goes on and on.

So why the whine over a bunch of losers who just happened to arrested? Let's see: false arrest, racial profiling, arrest quotas. More important is the fact that numerous states are thumbing their noses at the supremes and the 6th Amendment. The caveat from law enforcement appears to be: the only amendment with weight is the 10th.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

They're Missing the Point Both Left and Right

The Sunday Morning round table discussions excoriating the Obama stimulus program are worthy of the off button when the hosts and guests refuse to acknowledge the commoner in the equation. "The Potus has no credibility" or "Bankers are cautious of the program", etc is what is spewed across the airwaves instead focusing on where the public stands on this mess. If the public were queried the overall response would be echoed across the nation and it would be simple and understandable. Whey want the CEOs, the bankers, the Wall Street financial leaders brought to justice. They want to see that corruption is punished. They want a pound of flesh and who could blame them after all many lost their life savings or their retirement accounts due to illegal graft.

When honorable Americans see the dishonorable and greedy banksters and financial magicians get away with corruption, they lose faith in the rule of law and the concept of justice.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Flush Rush

One of the radio talking heads said quite smugly that "the Democrats are just looking for a scapegoat when they start designing ad campaigns against Rush Limbaugh". How can that be possible? Limbaugh has spent twenty years destroying the Democrats to the point wherein the very name is taken as a pejorative by most Republicans.

Limbaugh chants the Democrats are "soft on crime" and pushes for the "Lockem' up and throw away the key" philosophy even though he himself is a drug abuser. He growls that Democrats are liberals and that our very nation is on the precipice to hell if we endorse any plank of their platform, which is interpreted to mean that liberal thought is akin to the dreaded concept of Socialism. He riled for days against the social compact of Social Security and begged and pleaded with us to adopt George W. Brush's program to invest our money instead into corporate Wall Street financing. Where the hell would we be today had that market place idea come to fruition?

Many people say that Rush only wants Obama's plan to fail, and not America. What the hell does that mean? If the stimulus plan fails, than the syllogism follows that more banks will fail, more mainstreet and sidestreet business fail, and many American jobs will fail to exist, as well.

Sadly, we he makes comments about the economy failing, he has millions of listeners applauding in the background, who much like him, are gleeful at the supposed outcome, and that's just plain sick. It congers up a word for most of us; a word we commoners rarely use due to it's negative image: UnAmerican.

Awaiting your reply

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Limbaugh v. Steele: Two Scorpions in a Bottle

Was it ever a schadenfreude event or what? Surely you got the visual: the bloated faced, part-time druggie, Rush Limbaugh radio host giant went straight to smack down with the egoistical-over-the-top, RNC Chairman, Michael Steele. There it was the alpha males in a made for television version of" two scorpions in a bottle"

No sooner than Joe-the-plumper could pop a beer tab, chairman Steele went straight to his knees in obsequiousness. The whole scene was over so fast that SUV soccer moms could only surmise that King Rush ordered Steele to apologize publicly, but not on the Rush's "The Commies Are Coming" news hour, but on every major television station in the country.

Let's see if we get this: Rush, who has no love of minorities can't wait for not only Obama to fail, he couldn't wait to body slam the new (black) Repub. leader.

Sorry, I enjoyed the discomfort endured by the actors and the republican party in this scene. A schadenfreude moment short lived.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Washington Post Nods to Elitism

Watching the disappearance of the fourth estate before our very eyes is very disconcerting. After all, they have served as the watchdog against governmental abuses, not to mention the idealism of truth in discovery.

Therefore, one could not help but be disturbed and angry over the endorsement by the Washington Post Editorial staff for school vouchers. Using syllogisms that couldn't hold up a pair of baggy pants let alone water, they merrily...urgently ...begged us to disregard the first amendment's wall of separation between church and state. Ironically this is the very amendment that has protected the press since the nascent beginnings of this country.

Yesterday's endorsement by the Post conveniently failed miserably to reveal the real truth about vouchers. The Post failed to tell the reader that private schools accepting vouchers can and do discriminate at will; yep, they have their own subtle form of racial profiling. Private schools need not meet any state or federal laws regarding testing, special needs children (you can pretty much bet that this group is completely disregarded), teacher certification, or even reduced lunch programs for the very needy.

The Post cited higher tests scores, lower class sizes, and a profound environment for learning in the private schools and thus pleaded for us cast out whatever teachers may tell us about the value of public schools (aah, the dreaded teachers' union)and go for the elitism approach. In others words they parroted the concept of dismantling common schools a trademark issue of the neocons and the Republican Party.

They ought to be ashamed.The vanishing 4th estate"Potential" Disruption?

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

My job's gone, what do I tell my kids?

I met John at bar the other day. He seemed like a regular guy, but I could tell that deep down he was angry about something. After a brief introduction he told me that he had just been laid off after 20 years of dedicated service. "My job's gone, what do I tell my kids?"

What was your job? In our plant, in Arkansas, we make automotive parts such as hoses, gaskets, and other related things for General Motors and I was part of that for twenty years and very proud of it.

Did you have a clear clue about being laid off? It was almost secret-like in the beginning. As much as a18 months ago we saw maybe one or two getting pinked-slipped every month. Management always came up with some vague reason to keep us from getting scared. Then, suddenly, the lay-off notices came out of the blue. I got mine the week before Christmas and not one son of a bitch manager had the balls to look me in the face and express his concern.

How do you feel when people say that that our government shouldn't bailout the auto industry? Get real man. Are you kidding me? It isn't just the auto manufacturers employees who will suffer, it's also the auto
parts stores, tire companies, the essential small product producers (gaskets, hoses, etc) and, even, Serius Radio that will be negatively impacted. So, we're talkin' tens of thousands of jobs. Do we deserve a bailout? Look, if I have a job pay my mortgage. My job pays the bills. My job gives me a sense of dignity. Without my job, I draw unemployment, seek foodstamps, and lose the house with the picket fence (and yes, it has a picket fence). I didn't get a special loan; I didn't curry special favor with the bank, but without a job I lose my home...I lose it all.

He waved me off after that response. He was in no mood to sulk in pity. It was if he were saying that it (this pressing problem) was in his brain every minute of every day, and he just wanted to listen to ole George Jones on the juke box.

John multiplyied by 1000s.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

The vanishing 4th Estate

Many sources for the commoner regarding international and national news are quickly disappearing in the media world and the lack of attention to it is bothersome. The list of remarkable newspapers evaporating before our evey eyes is too numerous to list here, but it is safe to say that is not a good day for America.
Without the Fourth Estate, whom amongst can watchdog the various governments? Without the print media how do we know for sure what is told to us by our national govt in regards to foreign powers, or state leaders, or even our lofty Congress or the Executive branch? Without a healthy Fourth Estate we end up with power-elite press that reports only what they want said. Want proof? Just look at the latest cartoon in the New York Post which depicts our president as a dead monkey after being shot by the police over the stimulus package. Yep, these are the same folks who claim to be "fair and balanced". Can you say the FOX network? So...with friends like FOX the death of the 4th Estate must be invigorating.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Spokesmen Rooting for our Nation's Failure

If ignorance is bliss than the leaders of the Republican Party must be ecstatic. They followed George Bush-the-pied-piper to the river of spending (for two wars and massive corporate bailouts) and said said nothing about oversight, greed, economic stability. Now that Obama is attempting to pump life into an otherwise sick capitalistic system they go back to their old role of negative response of it-won't-work theory; or even worse, the dreaded "It's Socialism" scream.

What would the repubs have this nation do? Where is their plan? The constant carping about the lack of bipartisan over the financial free fall rings hollow it that their refrain when they were brought to the table of compromise was "It grows the government".

While most of us worry about the breaking point of our nation's stress and strain, the repubs give the appearance of glee and hope that Obama's plan will fail. Need proof? Just ask their de facto leader Rush Linbaugh, he will tell anyone that listens that he is cheering for our nation's failure.
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