Saturday, December 22, 2007
Of course there is no evidence that Blankfein actually was instrumental in making GS a %5 gain this year, but who know? Personally I think it’s bonuses like this that are turning our country back to the gilded age where there was very little middle class, just fabulously wealthy and the working poor. Wonder if he is planing to build another Vanderbilt Mansion?
It’s obvious from the tone of the piece that the columnist has only been exposed to the radical form of Christianity in the US, but it still is an encouraging sign when a church turns from bashing gays to feeding the poor.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Thanks to Bradblog.com for the news. That little tidbit as their stock hits a 5-year low and the company seems destined to continue sinking as the SEC and the DOJ are now investigating it. Add that to the fact that study after study shows that their electronic voting machines are easily hackable and I really don’t see them recovering. Couldn’t happen to a nice group of Bush supporters!
Here is the kicker, the girl died Thursday, just hours after the fine folks at CIGNA reversed their decision under pressure. It is a clear case of "wealth = life, poverty = death." Had her family had lots of cash or connections with the hospital she might be alive today.
That kind of system is wrong, for our country and morally wrong for anyone. We must have a single-payer national health insurance to cover these kinds of things. It’s time we admit that health care should be part of your rights as a citizen of a developed country.
Next time anyone says to you that the USA has the best health care in the world, remind them we only rank 37th against other countries. And who is first in the world for quality of health care? France! Mon Dieu!
UPDATE: Now the families attorney is talking about pressing manslaughter charges against the insurance company. ABC News.
In other words, there has been no quantitative study done on how effective the measures such as having passengers remove shoes actually is. The response from the Us Transportation Security Administration? The TSA told research teams requesting information their need for quick new security measures trumped the usefulness of evaluating them. Huh?
Basically, the team found that screening measures were implemented after news reports of threats leading me to the conclusion that they are mainly cosmetic measures meant to assure the traveling public. Additionally, I get the feeling the screening is meant to keep the traveling public scared. People who live and travel in fear are more easily controlled by government agencies. Conspiracy? Probably not, but still it’s easier to get more intrusive security measures passed through Congress when the public is afraid. Roosevelt’s quote was never more poignant than today. "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."
California has tried to lower emissions faster than the federal standard. Schwarzenegger understands that the regulations from the feds are not nearly strong enough to do any good in the foreseeable future. Therefore California tired to do it alone. Not so fast said the EPA. Environmental Protection Agency chief Stephen Johnson announced the decision Wednesday, refusing the state's request for a waiver that would have allowed it to cut emissions faster than a new federal plan the president signed into law Wednesday.
No the "Governator" is threatening to sue the federal government. Good for him! I sincerely hope the suit goes through if for nothing else to bring to light the ineffective plan proposed by the EPA. It’s time to get serious about this stuff and Arnold knows it.
So the White House is now implicated in another potentially criminal act and still the Democrats are sitting on their hands and refusing to hold impeachment hearings. Here’s a special word to the Democrats.
A real impeachment doesn’t look like the sideshow put on by the GOP during the Clinton years. A real impeachment is about breaking the law of the land and holding our officials responsible when they do. To let Cheney and Bush sit safely in the White House and not even call into question their activities which very well may have broken the laws that govern our country, not to mention international laws is unconscionable. Not holding impeachment hearings may well be a sign that the Congress was complicit in that illegal activity, otherwise why would they not want to uphold the law of the land?
Thursday, December 20, 2007
The losses of these two financial giants is disturbing enough, but the biggest red flag I see is to who they have turned to patch their leaky financial ships. Both companies went to the Chinese to shore up their stocks. Bear Stearns swapped stock with Citic Securities and Morgan Stanley got a $5 billion cash infusion from government-controlled China Investment Corp.
The stakes are pretty high in this game, and right now it looks like China is getting a bigger and bigger share of American debt. Not only do we buy cheap goods from China, we borrow the money to do it! This whole thing sounds like the beginning of a collapsing house of cards. I am reminded of the dot com bust and have to wonder what new scandals will be on the horizon.
Glad I am not in the financial sector right now.
Now the Archbishop of Canterbury has done an interview where he not only clears up the Christmas date, but dispels the 3 king story as well. In the Gospel of Matthew wise men from the East are mentioned, but they are not Kings nor are there any numbers. The number was extrapolated from the 3 gifts of frankincense, myrrh and gold. I suspect the song "We Three Kings" helped that legend as well.
His interview will undoubtedly attract the ire of the folks who believe there is some sort of "war on Christmas". Personally, I am glad to see these traditions put in the correct light. They are legends than have become traditional stories and that’s fine. They are not in the Bible, just as the "Rapture" is not mentioned in the Bible either.
Now how long will it take for the fundamentalists to start flaming me?
This all happens at the same time that both Benny Hinn and Creflo Dollar are under investigation by the Senate into their spending of tax exempt funds. I have to wonder if there may not be a relation seeing how Richard Roberts spending habits are what lead to his ouster?
I feel a special attachment to Queen Elizabeth. Aside from the catty comments some of my friends might make about "queens" I actually have a connection to her. My father was good friends with a Sir Lionel Whitby, one of the Queen’s physicians. Sir Lionel was a Hematologist like my father and they both served as Presidents of the International Society of Hematology for a time.
As a child I remember visiting Lady Whitby, Sir Lionel’s wife at Hampton Court several years after his death. She was a gracious and delightful woman. Due to Whitby’s influence, I was even once considering attending Downing College in Cambridge, however that never happened. My only legacy from that time are a few Christmas cards from Lady Whitby with the Royal address on them.
Long live Queen Elizabeth II and congratulations on another milestone in her reign.
The Democratic majority was sent to Washington with a clear message, "end the war". So far what we have is more funding and a general caving-in every time the GOP steps up their pressure. The Democrats are behaving as though they are still the minority and that may very well kill their advantage. Americans have very short attention spans and should the Republicans or someone else come along with a reasonable sounding plan to end the war the public just might vote for them.
Republicans have shown an ability to close ranks and really resist change. It’s time the Democrats tried the same tactic. Democrats have to realize that the GOP is not going to share power or submit to any sort of coalition building. They are adversaries and they play their hand like one. Democrats are still stuck in the 1950’s when both parties could agree on what was best for the country. Unfortunately, the Republicans could care less, their taskmasters are the rich and big business. Their ranks may include the radical religious right, but only so long as they are convenient. The minute that faction should turn against business or the rich and they will be dropped like a hot potato.
So why are the Democrats afraid? I suspect they have been victim or the same PR that made "liberal" a dirty word. They are laboring under the illusion that the country wants "centrist" politicians when in fact the countries views are liberal, even though they won’t call themselves such.
So to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid and the rest of the spineless Democrats who caved in to the GOP, I would say this. Get your act together or get out of the way. There are many more progressive politicians out there who could actually move this country towards a read democracy and away from the autocratic GOP rule. Start acting like Democrats. Start doing the job you were elected to do!
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Steele divides successful black people into two groups, “bargainers” and “challengers”.
“Challengers never give whites the benefit of the doubt. They assume whites are racist until they prove otherwise.”
“Bargainers make a deal with white Americans that gives whites the benefit of the doubt: I will not rub America's history of racism in your face, if you will not hold my race against me.”
Though there may be some truth to these groupings, his rethoric is still the same argument that Obama won’t fly with black voters. This is part of the Republican disinformation campaign that is cranking up early just in case Obama gets the nomination. Republicans are afraid of him, since he defies the racial stereotypes and is not conveniently pigeonholed like some African American leaders. The author even brings up Hillary Clinton as being “more black than Obama”.
The bottom line is who cares? Black or white or grey, Obama is a reasonable and astute politician as well as something rare in this day and age, a statesman. That is what scares the Republicans and so they must try everything they can to “diss” him. So they have to attack his race. It’s still racism, and that is the strong suit of the GOP. Without it, they have nothing but a legacy of bolstering the rich at the expense of the poor.
I certainly hope they have read "I Robot" and know the laws of robotics, otherwise we are doomed.
Texas is slowly turning blue. Last night election results were encouraging for Democrats in Tarrant County. Joel Burns won the runoff election in Ft. Worth City Council District 9 to become the first openly gay man elected in Ft. Worth history! Additionally Dan Barrett, was elected as State Representative for House District 97 taking the seat form his Republican challenger, a seat that has traditionally been Republican.
City Council-District 9
Joel Burns 1,796 votes 54.08%
Juan Rangel 1,525 votes 45.92%
House District 97
Dan Barrett (D) 5,365 votes 52.20%
Mark Shelton (R) 4,913 votes 47.80
Wouldn’t it be convenient if records were destroyed relating to the CIA tape destruction. After all, VP Cheney’s office is in that building, although it is a ceremonial one.
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
It’s pretty bad when our own law enforcement folks find that the activities of the CIA are so abhorrent that they cannot stand by and watch anymore. Personally I wish they had arrested them in order to bring this to a head before now. If they had, we would not be having the investigation of why the CIA destroyed tapes of the interrogations, they would already be on trial and the people authorizing the torture would be out of jobs.
Now we get to wade through months of hearings and tap dancing by Bush and his henchmen as they try to explain away the torture. The way I look at it is, if it was bad enough for the FBI to seek intervention, it’s probably pretty bad!
“…today Russia sent some enriched -- or in the process of sending enriched uranium to Iran to help on their civilian nuclear reactor. If that's the case, if the Russians are willing to do that -- which I support -- then the Iranians do not need to learn how to enrich. If the Iranians accept that uranium for a civilian nuclear power plant, then there's no need for them to learn how to enrich.”
So what is the difference if the Iranians learn to enrich uranium or they buy it? They still end up with uranium and prior to this odd logic, that is why we were afraid of them building a bomb. Last time I checked, enriched uranium was needed to build an atomic bomb. Now I suppose the real reason it’s OK now is that they bought it. You see PROFIT always trumps national interests.
Sometimes I feel like we have the Ferengi running the country.
Monday, December 17, 2007
In reality, our health care system ranks 37th out of 191 countries ranked by the World Health Organization. That puts us just below Costa Rica and just above Slovenia and Cuba. This in spite of the fact that the US spends more than anyone on health care. And remember this comment is coming from a man who has free government health care!
So Mr. Bush, I am one of those folks who can’t get insurance privately. Now tell me just how frigging great the system we have is!
Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah was imprisoned ni a series of cells, most no bigger than 7 X10 feet, often with only a bucket as a toilet and a constant barrage of rap music and white noise. After several months of this confinement he slashed his wrists and tried to kill himself. The thoughtful folks at the CIA patched him up and tossed him back in his cell. When he went on a hunger strike, they force fed him.
Finally his mental state deteriorated so much that they turned him over to psychiatrists who brought him back from the edge of insanity only to be interrogated even more. His torture is detailed in the article which I can assure you is not easy to read at one sitting.
What sickens me most is that it is Americans who are doing this to prisoners. We have recreated the Inquisition and many folks like Bashmilah got rounded up by accident. Though he is free today, he still suffers the debilitating effects of the torture and mental illness he developed while incarcerated. His life was turned inside out by my country and that makes me angry and sick.
Read the article if you can stomach it, then call your Senator and Congressperson and demand that this kind of madness stop. And while you are at it, encourage the impeachment of Dick Cheney. It is his policies that have lead to this kind of inhumane acts by our country and it must be stopped.
New Jersey becomes the first state in a decade to repeal the death penalty and in the words of the governor of New Jersey, John Corzine, "Today New Jersey is truly evolving. I believe society first must determine if its endorsement of violence begets violence, and if violence undermines our commitment to the sanctity of life. To these questions, I answer yes."
It is heartening to see that a few people understand how damaging to society the death penalty really is. State sponsored killing affects everyone, and study after study show that executions rarely serve as a deterrent. Now if we could just get Texas to take that step.
Now comes the case of Darcie Esson, 33, a former teacher at Elizabeth High School in Colorado. After spending several hours knocking back drinks with other adult supporters of the high school football team, Ms Esson returned to her room and had sex with one of the team’s players. The problem, he was 17 and legally a minor. I believe that is still a crime even in Colorado.
Why do I bother blogging about this? Well, because any time a gay man or woman is accused of any sexual impropriety, it blows up into a big stink and the right-wing fanatics try to use a broad brush to pain all GLBT people as sexual predators. The truth? Well statistically there are more straight child molesters than gay ones, so I am just trying to level the playing field a little.
The Congressman writes in the Huffington Post:
"First, impeachment hearings are only proper when significant allegations exist that the President or Vice-President, or others civil officers, committed actions - within their official duties - that constitute 'High Crimes and Misdemeanors.' The allegations against Clinton - involving a personal affair - never reached this threshold. The serious charges against Cheney involve alleged crimes that are central to his duties of Vice-President; namely war and peace, the widespread violations of civil liberties, and the security of the United States and our covert agents."Show your support for seeing justice done, join the drive for impeachment now.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
We are living in the new Gilded Age as corporate CEO’s regularly make hundreds of times the salary of the average worker and the stock market delivers more and more into the pockets of the already wealthy. We even have analogs to the robber barons of the first Gilded Age back in the 1870’s through the 1890’s. Now instead of owning vast railroad and steel empires, they sit in board rooms and manipulate the mass media and outsource jobs away from the least able to protest.
I have no problem with wealth, I do have a problem with the idea of a ruling elite populated by billionaires and their cronies. Right now that’s what we have in this country. Gone is the democracy of equality and fairness, replaced by capitalism run amuck. It’s time someone leveled the playing field a little. That’s why we need a congress and Presidency that will take a long hard look at the tax holiday the rich have been taking at everyone else’s expense.