Saturday, January 19, 2008

Writers & Producers May Resume Negotiations Monday

News comes tonight that the Writer’s Guild may resume negotiations with producers following the settlement of the Director’s Guild contract. Producers walked away from the table early last month, but now that there is what may be a template for a deal with the DGA, they have agreed to return to the talks.

More as it develops.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Blast From The Past - Jon Stewart 10 Years Ago!

Last night on "A" Daily Show, Stewart had a flash back segment and showed himself 10 years ago commenting on the Monica-gate. Watch it!

Mystery Votes Show Up In New Hampshire Recount!

While the other candidates are campaigning in Nevada, Dennis Kucinich or at least his people are recounting votes in New Hampshire. The news is not good! The machine counts in at least one ward are off by a lot of votes!

Take Ward 5 in Manchester, New Hampshire:

Diebold Result

Hand Count

Diebold is over-counting votes in at least one ward and there is no clue as to who the extra votes went. Other Wards seem to be OK so far, but the count is still under way. BradBlog has more.

Additionally, many votes were not counted because voter used the "wrong kind of pen" to mark their ballots. Watch out in South Carolina! There they have paperless voting machines!

Jonah Goldberg, Nazi Happy Faces & A Daily Show

Watching the chopped up interview with Jonah Goldberg on “A” Daily Show the other night I realized just what was happening. Jon Steward prefaced the segment with the statement that the interview ran 18 minutes and it was going to be “choppy as hell”, but what he failed to mention was that Goldberg was a tool of the Neocon machine. His book, “Liberal Fascism” is an attempt to redefine the term “Progressive” in the same way the right has redefined “liberal”.

Stewart even says toward the end of the segment, “can we use any of this?” I suspect he is referring to the impossible task of trying to get Goldberg to admit what his agenda really is. He is remarkably adroit at staying on message even in the face of absolute proof that he is wrong. His equating Mussolini with progressivism is beyond ridiculous, it’s patently false and yet he defends it with a smile.

Stewart was faced with the problem of trying to explain how silly Goldberg sounded even while Goldberg denied his own premise. No wonder the interview went on 18 minutes!

The crux of all this is a glimpse of the lies and distortions we can expect to see in the coming year from the GOP and their toadies. We will see Obama painted as a Muslim, which he is not. Hillary painted as a shrew, which she is not and everyone else tainted as a “Liberal or Progressive” as though it is a dirty word. Stay tuned.

Iraq Government At A Stalemate - Now Will They Listen?

When I look at the stalemate in the Iraq government I have to remind myself of my experiences in Mexico. Now, before I get hate mail, I would never equate the democracy in Mexico with Iraq, however there is an interesting analogy about some of the attitudes I found while living and working there. First what is happening in Iraq.

According to an article in the Washington Post written by the national security adviser to the Iraqui government, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, "it has been impossible to maintain a political consensus on many important issues." He goes on to say, "the current political framework is based on a pluralistic democratic vision that, while admirable, is entirely unsuited to resolving this three-way divide."

The gist of the article is a call for a Federalism rather than a pluralistic democracy, and the funny thing is, that is exactly what many critics in the US have always called for, a 3-state federal system that recognizes the ethnic divisions rather than ignores them. And for this we had to wait years?

Now comes the Mexico part. While working in Mexico, I often found that my suggestions were accepted gracefully and then ignored while the people I was advising struggled to find an alternative to my suggestion. In some cases they did reach "work-arounds" that were actually acceptable, but more often they struggled and finally came around to using the suggestion I gave.

As a consultant I was hired to make those suggestions, therefore I am not trying to assert any super intelligence in the matter, but my frustration was that there seemed to be an insistence to go-it-alone first. Ironically, after all the sturm und drang, they usually thanked me for my suggestion and lauded my work.

Now do you see the analogy? The Iraqi government has heard criticism and suggestions of a federalist solution from not only the US not other countries. After a lot of struggle, they finally come around to the same conclusion. Why didn’t they just consider taking the advice first? Who knows? That will be one of the great mysteries of the Middle East I suppose.

Of course the same thing could be said for our government and its insistence that a pluralistic democracy was the answer without taking into consideration the facts on the ground and the best advice of its experts. I guess there are just as many mysteries in the West as the East.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Huckabee Equates Homosexuality With Bestiality - Huh?

So Mike Huckabee has finally come out of the closet! No not that closet! He has exposed himself as being very much a fringe fanatic when it comes to religion. In an interview with, he makes the unequivocal comparison between homosexuality and bestiality. In his own words when asked about his statement that he would bring Biblical conformity to the Constitution, he says:
"Well, I don’t think that’s a radical view to say we’re going to affirm marriage. I think the radical view is to say that we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, a man and three women, a man and a child, a man and animal."
That’s about as clear as it gets, change marriage to allow same sex partners and it’s the same as allowing bestiality or pedophilia?

Huckabee who has masqueraded as a reasonable voice is now shown for what he is. He is a far right religious fundamentalist far out of step with mainstream America. His fringe views may play in parts of Iowa, but he would be a disaster in the White House.

Racist Obama Joke Falls Flat In Denver

Sometimes it is heartening to hear of people’s reactions when they are exposed to blatant racism. At the National Western Stock Show's annual Citizen of the West banquet in Denver, businessman William R. Farr was pretending to read congratulatory telegrams to this year’s winner.

He pulled out a telegram supposedly from the White House, then paused and said, "I have a telegram from the White House." Then he added, "They're going to have to change the name of that building if Obama's elected."

People attending the event said there were audible gasps from the audience which included city and state officials. That gasp shows hope to me. I have attended events where similar insensitive and racist or homophobic jokes are made from the microphone and most of the time they go with an uncomfortable chuckle. The fact they people were appalled by his remark tells me that we have matured a lot as a country.

Years ago, racist jokes were the norm but today they just don’t play, unless you are speaking in front of an audience of KKK members. What that says is our country just might be ready for an African American president, and it'’ about time.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Republican Terrorist Fundraiser Indicted By State Department

Mark Siljander Representative from Michigan 1981-87 was charged with money laundering, conspiracy and obstruction of justice, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The charges stem the accusation of sending more than $130,000 to an Al Qaida and Taliban supporter who threatened U.S. troops in Afghanistan. According to a story in Michigan News, he allegedly lied about lobbying senators on behalf of an Islamic charity that authorities said was secretly sending funds to terrorists.

A former Fabius Township Board trustee, Siljander served in the state House of Representatives from 1977 to 1981. Siljander then served three terms in Congress until he was defeated by U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, in the Republican primary in 1986. In 1987, President Ronald Reagan appointed Siljander to serve as U.S. delegate to the United Nations for one year.

More as this develops.

Giuliani Trails Ron Paul In Primary - Huh?

Romney wins Michigan! Big news? I don’t think so. He only gets half the delegates he would had the state not moved their primary up in violation of both party rules. Additionally, look at the results for the other candidates in the GOP. McCain second and Huckabee third….and where’s Giuliani? Well, he ran behind the slightly wacko Ron Paul and just ahead of “uncommitted”.

If memory serves, wasn’t Rudy the guy to beat? Wasn’t he “America’s Mayor” and the almost preordained GOP nominee? Not so much apparently. I think the public is tired of his mantra of “9-11” and ready to move on. Now maybe so should he.

Rudy has spent around $40 million in his quest and he can’t do better? That should tell him something, but I know politicians egos are often much larger than their common sense. So, over the next few weeks we can expect to hear more “9-11” from Giuliani and watch him slowly slide into oblivion.

Rush Limbaugh Starts Peppering His Remarks About Obama With "Spade"

So now Rush "The Gasbag" Limbaugh is starting to smear Barack Obama with coded messages in his rants. It isn’t the first time he has done this. He often refers to Obama emphasizing his middle name "Hussein" as a way to plant doubt in the minds of his listeners and now he goes another step further.

In a recent rant, Limbaugh starts using the term "spade". Buried in his text the term comes up several times, as well as "hoe" and personally I cannot believe it’s an accident. Limbaugh is terrified by the prospect of Barack Obama as president. As a racist, the thought of an African-American in power terrifies him and he knows it will energize his audience. Look at the transcript of a segment of his show.

"Obama is holding his own against both of them [Bill and Hillary Clinton], doing more than his share of the 'spadework,' maybe even gaining ground at the moment, using not only the spade, ladies and gentlemen. But when he finishes with the spade in the garden of corruption planted by the Clintons, he turns to the hoe. And so the spadework and his expertise, using a hoe. He's faring well."

I have to wonder how long it will take him to begin adding "niggardly" into his text?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Citigroup Hemorrhaging Again

If you ever need further proof that we are in a recession, look at Citigroup. It’s losses made it to around $10 billion in the fourth quarter and though there are Asian and Middle Eastern investors eager to bail the institution out, the loss will mean a cut of thousands of jobs. They have been hit hard for the second straight quarter by defaults in the mortgage market and that means subprime loans given to customers with poor credit history.

So what is the root of all this mess? Well corporate greed and the need to make those projections look good for Wall Street. Who cares if we are loaning money to people who will have no chance of paying it back? If it makes the bottom line look good for this quarter I still get my bonus! I suspect that is the thinking of the executives who got Citigroup and the other lenders into trouble in the first place.

I wonder when common sense will finally begin to permeate the board room and the MBAs with their spins and schemes will be tossed out on their ear. Yea like that will ever happen!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Golden Globes or Lead Balloon?

The Golden Globes looked more like the commentary on a sports show last night as the once glittering affair turned into a tag-team press conference with Billy Bush of "Access Hollywood" and Mary Hart of "Entertainment Tonight". With little fanfare and no acceptance speeches, the awards took all of one hour to announce. The audience was unseen and mostly consisted of the press.

Why the toned down affair? Well unless you are living under a rock, it was the latest success by the Writers Guild strike! The WGA successfully convinced their brothers and sisters in the Screen Actors Guild to agree to not cross their picket lines. Thus a glittering red carpet and searchlight affair looked more like an edition of "Access Hollywood".

On a positive note, the program ended on time!

Additionally the Directors Guild may be reaching an agreement with the producers regarding internet royalties and if they do, it could signal a possible solution for the WGA and the producers as well. We’ll see!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

"Naked Festival" Posters Pulled From Japanese Railways

Looks like a Japanese bear party to me! The ancient festival called Somin in Japan advertises it’s main event with posters on Japanese trains, but this year the railway refused saying the posters amounted to sexual harassment.

According to Mainichi Daily News:

"The Oshu Municipal Government had sought permission from the Morioka branch of JR East to display the posters advertising Kokuseki Temple’s Somin Festival at stations, but JR East said the posters could not be displayed unless the images were changed.

"As sexual harassment becomes more of a problem, the standards for displaying posters in public spaces are becoming stricter," a representative of the Morioka branch of JR East explained. "It wasn’t just that it was out of line because there was nakedness; the pictures showed things that were particularly unpleasant for women, such as chest hair, and it was decided that showing them things they didn’t want to see was sexual harassment."

I just want to find out how to get there next year!

Countrywide CEO Gets Lavish Perks - Company Fails, But CEO Wins!

I have to wonder just how one joins the Billionaire Boys Club that is Corporate America. Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of failed mortgage lender Countrywide, could be leaving with a sizable severance package valued at $115 million after the sale to Bank of America is complete. This, to the head of a company that crashed and burned because of lame-brained loan practices like adjustable rate mortgages for people who had dodgey credit.

He will also be entitled to receive other benefits, including office space, secretarial support, use of the company's aircraft, financial consulting services and payment of annual country club dues as well as continued health care benefits for life!

Damn, when I had my own company and we lost money, I took home less money as well. Guess I didn’t go to the right school or belong to the right fraternity?

Bush's Last Year As President

As Bush travels to the Middle East and visits with Sheiks and other wealthy heads of the UAE, the remainder of the world including most Americans are awaiting his exit from the world stage. The recent trips are obviously attempts to polish his legacy yet any substantive results are unlikely. I have to wonder how the world would see someone like Barack Obama as President. I suspect he would send a very hopeful signal to the world that the United States was returning to its role as a bastion of real democracy and not just a bully with lots of weaponry.