Thursday, February 22, 2007

Fitzgerald Hints At Further Prosicutions - Is Cheney Next?

As Patrick Fitzgerald concluded his arguments in prosecution of I. Lewis Libby he said there is a "dark cloud over the White House". Few people would miss that reference to Dick Cheney and his staff who seem to be at the heart of the leak of secret information about Valerie Plame’s CIA job. This bodes well for people wanting to see an end to the intrigue and deception of this administration.

My guess is it is an opening salvo in what will become a deeper investigation into the White House dirty tricks and perhaps an indictment of Cheney himself. Already many in the media including most recently a writer for GQ have made the case for VP impeachment. My hope is that these kinds of inquiries will lead to a full purging of the criminal activity going on in the highest levels of our government.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Payday Lenders Under The Gun

Want to get buried in debt really quickly? Go to one of those "payday lenders" you see popping up all over. How do they work? Well to those who have never fallen a little short just before payday here’s the deal.

You go in and see the rates no the wall. They are in dollars and cents, not percents. Typical rates run about $15 for $100 lent until payday. This is also typically a two-week loan. When you think of it on the dollar only level it doesn’t sound so bad, but that $15 represents an annual interest rate of 390%. How many people would pay that?

Payday lenders prey on low-income people who lead a cash existence. These people often times do not have bank accounts and live only with the cash in their pockets. If you have ever tried this, and I have, it is almost impossible especially if an unexpected expense comes along. For many that means a health emergency or car repair or other necessity that is unavoidable. If you make $300 or $400 a week, and need a $250 car repair, things get tight real quick. So you go to the payday loan store and borrow the money.

Here’s the catch. Payday rolls around and you pay off your loan with the interest at $287.50 and you have $12.50 to get you through the week. If you want to eat and feed your kids and have a roof, you head over to the next payday loan store and borrow another $250. Get it? In no time you are working for the loan store and stacking up debt at a phenomenal rate.

These guys used to be called "Loan Sharks" and they were strictly regulated until recently. The GOP mantra of deregulation was a windfall for these guys. Sensing the turning tide with the new congress they are taking a defensive posture and trying to appear self-regulating. In reality they are just covering their collective asses. They see the writing on the wall. About 13 states have effectively banned payday lending; the other 37 regulate the practice to varying degrees. State regulation is pretty much all that protects consumers from these sharks and now it looks like congress is going to take action and they are scared.

They should be. I have no problem with making an honest dollar. But, the payday loans just like the rent-to-own business make money on the ignorance of their consumers and that is just plain wrong.

Denmark and Britian Set To Pull Troops Out Of Iraq

The coalition of the willing seems to be unwilling to continue ad nauseum the crusade George Bush has started in the Middle East. Yesterday, Britain announced it would have all its troups withdrawn from Iraq by 2008 and now Denmark is following suit. Though the tiny Scandinavian country only has 460 Troops there, it will withdraw them all by August of this year.

Once again the rest of the world sees the reality and Bush does not. The Neocon idea of creating reality is really wearing thin and soon we will be so isolated by our illusions they we will become completely alone on the world stage. The biggest problem with that is that as a solo act, Bush just doesn’t play well.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

NYT Paints Picture Of Cheney As Center Of Intreague In White House

So an article in the NY Times confirms the suspicion I had all along about Dick Cheney. The article draws a very unflattering picture of Mr. Cheney from the Lewis Libby trial testimony. The picture is of a manipulative, underhanded and backroom dealing VP with unprecedented power in the White House.

Those who have pointed to Cheney as the true power may have been right. Specifically the days leading up to and after the start of the Iraq war were busy for Cheney. His office worked hard to push misleading information and defend flawed intelligence.

Excerpt from the article:

The evidence in the trial shows that Vice President Dick Cheney and Mr. Libby,
his former chief of staff, countermanded and even occasionally misled colleagues
at the highest levels of Mr. Bush’s inner circle as the two pursued their own
goal of clearing the vice president’s name in connection with flawed
intelligence used in the case for war.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Group Lobbies UN To Launch Asteroid Rescue Mission

Here’s a riddle. What is 460 feet long, spinning in space, and is on a very near collision course wit hearth in 2036?

If you guessed Apophis the asteroid, you’re right!

Seems there is a potential killer hurtling toward us and it just might collide in 2036. Now the odds are 1in 45,000 but every day millions of people risk worse odds trying to win the lottery. Luckily a group of former astronauts and cosmonauts are lobbying the UN to do something about it. They have proposed a "Gravity Tractor" mission to tug the asteroid further away from its collision course.

The cost of such a mission? Only around 300 million, and that would be a drop in the bucket compared with the end of an entire city or region of the earth. Sounds like a really good use of our tax dollars.

Wounded Vets Treated Like Animals By Bush Administration

The Bush Administration really loves our troops, as long as they are fighting. The real problem comes when they get home. Recent stories of the house of horrors Walter Reid Medical Center has become make my stomach turn. Rehabilitation for some maimed vets takes place in rat infested sub-standard buildings and without proper medical care.

Worse yet, stories are surfacing of semi-delusional soldiers who are being put out on the street. The Washington Post broke the story last week and it is just now coming to the general public’s attention. It shows the sad truth that the Bush administration, whose new budget proposes even more cuts in Veterans benefits, really cares about nothing but themselves. They show such disdain for our wounded troops that I have to believe their actions are not from administrative mistakes, but calculatedly cruel.

Americablog has an extensive story on what would qualify as abuse of our Veterans at the hands of the very people who should be helping them. Enough is enough. It is time to write your congressperson and demand accountability for these and other crimes against Americans by the Bush administration.

McCain Wants Roe vs. Wade Overturned

So much for any illusion that John McCain is a moderate. In Spartanburg, South Carolina last week he came out fully in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade. He has come a long way from the moderate-sounding McCain who ran against Bush in the primaries and was smeared by the right-wing that he is now trying to woo.

More and more he comes across not as the voice of reason, but simply another sad politician trying desperately to be relevant to the southern block of hard line conservatives. It is a strategy that will ultimately fail him. By sacrificing his moderate image he will loose all but the most right-wing voters and will gain neither the nomination nor the presidency.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Father Of TV Remote Control Dies

Couch Potatoes of the world are in mourning today as one of the fathers of the TV remote control died at age 93. Robert Adler in vented the Zenith Space Command and TV was never the same.

For those who may not remember, Space Command was a futuristic looking hand held box with two buttons, one for channel up and one for channel down. What the buttons did was activate a spring that struck a small metal chime. This chime emitted a very high frequency ping that signaled the TV to move one channel up or down. Crude, yes by today's standards, but back in the 1950'a being able to click that button and watch the dial move was magic.

Adler shared the title with Eugene Polley who invented the flashmatic remote. It was an optical device that triggered a photo cell on the TV to do the same task.

Both received an Emmy in 1997 for their combined inventions which led to the modern remote control. So next time you reach for that remote rather then get up to change the channel, thank Adler and Polley!

The Word Scrotum Gets Book Banned - Librarians Have No Balls?

For Stephen Colbert it's "balls", for Carlos Mencia it's "Cajones" but the technical word "scrotum" is apparently off limits for reading in school. Librarians across the country have removed a Newberry Award winning book from their shelves because of the medically correct term.

The book, "The Higher Power Of Lucky" mentions the word in the opening chapter when a character in the book hears another character describing how a rattlesnake bit his dog on the scrotum. Apparently medicine is off limits for our youth.

Ridiculous? You betcha! This is a crazy as removing Huckleberry Finn from libraries because the characters use the term "nigger" in their speech. Never mind that the term was used colloquially at the time and that the books message is anti-racist. It's THAT word!

What will happen to our little sheltered kids when they go out into the real world and experience real slang and actual medical terminology? I guess they will be clueless, almost as clueless as their parents and librarians.