Friday, February 06, 2009

Don't Divorce Our Parents!

It's a pity this ad didn't run before the Prop 8 vote, but it still works. Even made me cry. Watch!

"Fidelity": Don't Divorce... from Courage Campaign on Vimeo.

7.6% Unemployment, Rewards Of The Bush Years

I know I will hear a lot of Republicans start crying about the "blame game" but let me make this perfectly clear. It is no game, and the blame for the current economic mess can be lain directly at the feet of the failed policies of the Republican lawmakers and their president, George W. Bush.

The unemployment figures came out today and they were even higher than expected. A whopping 7.6%! All of those job losses are a result of a trickle down effect, and not the kind promoted by the GOP. Lack of adequate regulation prompted financial institutions to create more and more exotic instruments to create higher returns. Strange and impenetrable concepts like Credit Default Swaps and derivatives. These odd inventions were not even legal until 2000 and their effect on the economic decline is massive.

Take the lax regulation on Wall Street. That kid of laissez faire oversight bright us folks like Bernie Madoff. People who had no one looking over their shoulders while they fleeced their clients of billions.

The other part of the problem has been the policies that rewarded companies for outsourcing jobs and production as well as a general laid back attitude toward any kind of trade regulation at all. Free trade is a good thing if it has the kind of protections that do not make it a one way street.

But I am preaching to the choir. Now we have a president who is taking a common sense approach to the problem and perhaps he will be able to get things changed. That can happen only is the Congress stops playing games and starts trying to forge a new path. More blanket tax cuts will not fix this mess. It will take some wise spending and in the end a higher tax burden on everyone. Regressive taxes are not the answer, but carefully crafted moves perhaps in the direction of a Value Added Tax might help. Think about it, and write your congressperson and senator!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hardware Store Offers Bush A Job As A Greeter

Our fair city is blessed with a very rare establishment. An independent hardware store that is perhaps the best in the world. Elliott's Hardware down on Maple Ave, and its sister store in Plano are the place to go when you just can't find it anywhere. I have found rare parts, odd size screws and just about every imaginable kind of oddball hardware there.

They have a staff that knows the store like a book and can easily direct you to the exact location of just about whatever you are looking for. It's also a pretty good place for finding kinky goodies as well. How many hardware stores in big cities have a "Tack" section complete with whips and riding crops?

Aside from being a great place, the owners understand great PR. Today they made an offer to our ex-president, Mr. Bush, to be a greeter at their store. What a great job for a guy who recently retired and is good at glad handing and smiling a lot, no matter what happens?

Though I doubt he will take them up on the offer, I have to say, that is one job I would feel OK about Bush holding. Heck, I might even say howdy on my next trip to the store?

Pete Sessions Admires The Taliban! Really!

I do not even have to wonder what would happen if a Democrat made the analogy that Republican Representative, Pete Sessions of Texas made in an interview today. Mr. Sessions actually said that the GOP should use the Taliban as a model.
“Insurgency, we understand perhaps a little bit more because of the Taliban,” Sessions said during a meeting yesterday with Hotline editors. “And that is that they went about systematically understanding how to disrupt and change a person’s entire processes. "
Yes, taking a page from terrorists would become all the rage for right-wing talkers if it was said by a Democrat, but one of their own is speaking here, and it's time we gave as good as we get.

Sessions should step down as Representative. His admiration of the Taliban, a terrorist group is tantamount to treason!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Obama Shows Rare Candor

I listened to President Obama on CNN last night in one of his many interviews for the day and I heard a phrase that was s refreshing I got chills. When asked about his choice of Tom Daschle as Health Czar he remarked, "I screwed up..."

When is the last time you heard a president speak with that kind of candor? For me it was Harry Truman, who I only remember as a vague shadow from my childhood. I do remember people talking about how he was frank and straightforward and had that famous sign on his desk, "The Buck Stops Here".

It is unfortunate that Daschle pulled out, since many feel he was ideal to bridge the gap between the health care industry and Congress but I feel sure another person with suitable credentials will be found. Daschle's tax payments and use of a limousine would have become the issue and I suspect little would get done because of the poltical hay that could be made of that, so I don't see this as a major roadblock, just a bump in the road.

Meanwhile Obama proposed salary caps for executives at companies we bail out at $500,000. Sounds reasonable to me, since the corporate governance of these firms got them into the mess, they should feel a bit of the pinch as well. Some will say these companies will lose their top talent, but in my opinion if those in charge got them into the mess, then losing them wold be a boon not a blow.

This presidency is getting really interesting, and I like that.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

AG Holder Hints At Revealing Secret Bush Torture Memos

My partner and I have been straining our ears listening for that tell tail thud. The other shoe dropping!

As Bush and his criminal cronies left office, we both knew there would be some blockbuster revelations about the mischief they had been up to but I suspect the biggest revelations are about to come out. THUD!

Our newly confirmed Attorney General, Eric Holder has made not so subtle hints that he might make public some of the secret memos sent by the Bush administration about a bushel full of controversial practices including torture and illegal wiretapping.

This may be the reason Obama soft peddled any thoughts of holding Bush and his minions accountable for their crimes. Perhaps he didn't want Bush issuing preemptive pardons?

Wells Fargo Rewards The Guys Who Brought In All Those Bad Mortgages With A Lavish Holiday In Vegas, Baby!

I understand employee incentives. These are the perks that companies give their top sellers and best performing employees and that's fine. However, and you knew there was a "however".

Wells Fargo, the bank that you and I bailed out to the tune of $25 billion has decided to award it's top mortgage producers with a holiday in Las Vegas at the most expensive hotel on the strip, the Wynn Las Vegas. Now if you will remember, it was bad mortgages and sub prime loans that got Wells Fargo into the mess it is in. So how much reward do those top mortgage executives really deserve?

12 nights at the Wynn or the Encore, it's new glitzy sister hotel costs the average Joe about $400.00 per night. Considering these guys are staying 12 nights to the tune of $4800 per guest and all the other perks that would include, you would think they carried the company into record profits instead of the poor house.

I think the feeling I have is not so much outrage, and there is plenty of that to go around, but incredulity. I have to wonder how the executives in that company got where they are. The illusion of meritocracy has long vanished from my thinking. I know full well, the CEO and other fat cats at Wells Fargo got where they are by a rigged system that awards big payoffs to only the already ultra-rich and their buddies. As a stockholder, I think that should come to an end.

As a stockholder, so should you! Write President Obama and tell him the days of posh luxury for the executives of failed companies is over. I long for the day when the CEOs of major companies only made a few hundred times the salary of the average employee instead of several thousand times that rate. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!

Iran Launches Satellite

For many of us the image in our minds of Iran is that of a country awash in sand and just coming out of the middle ages. Perhaps that could be true for some remote parts of the country but we too often confuse Iran with an Arabian country, and that it is not.

Yesterday, Iran joined the Space Age as they launched their first satellite into orbit. That may come as a shock to many, but personally I was not that surprised. I have long known Iran is, in reality, a technologically advanced country with aspirations to expand its technology and industry.

The Safir-2 rocket was launched and successfully inserted a satellite into orbit with the name Omid, meaning hope. According to the Iranian news agency the payload is a data processing device intended as "the first practical step toward acquiring national space technology.”

Why is this story important? Not for the knee jerk fear factor I feel sure it will be used as by the right wing, but as a wake up call to our government to begin seriously diplomatic relations with an emerging technological power in the East. We can only ignore Iran for so long, and now with a new administration it seems there might be a chance to bring Iran back to the international table of diplomacy.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Pittsburgh Steals The Super Bowl!

I am not a football fan, and I rarely watch the Super Bowl, but I caught the end of tonight's match up and I was amazed. This was the most nail biter finish I have ever seen! That Pittsburgh touchdown with 35 seconds left was AMAZING!

OK, so much for my testosterone rush.

Mother Of Octuplets Pregnant By Artificial Means, Now Has 14 Children!

When I heard the story about the woman giving birth to octuplets, I was amazed. My partner and I were talking about it and wondered how on earth the family would support 8 children. Then we found she already had 6 kids and it seemed even more insurmountable.

Well, today the rest of the story came out and it is stranger than fiction. It turns out the mother had been unable to conceive and had her first 6 children by artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization. She is unmarried and always obsessed with having children, according to her mother.

She succeeded 6 times but apparently that was not enough. Nadya Suleman, 33, gave birth to 8 babies Monday in Los Angeles. The 8 newborns are products of the same procedure and are from left over embryos from her previous pregnancies.

Her mother had been caring for the other children until she returns from the hospital, but apparently not after that. According to AP reports:
She said she warned her daughter that when she gets home from the hospital, "I'm going to be gone."
Gone indeed. My question is how can a doctor ethically assist in a pregnancy like this when the woman is unmarried, and already has 6 children?

Now with 14 kids she will be even less able to take care of her offspring than before and I guess no one mentioned that to her or bothered to question assisting in another pregnancy?

I am a big believer in the rights of the mother and that control of a woman's body should be up to her, but artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization takes the cooperation and active involvement of medical professionals. Where does their responsibility for this huge family begin and end?

I feel pretty sure Child Protective Services will end up involved in this mess and after that it will be a tragedy for the children and for the mother. Somebody should have told her "no" at some point and I am amazed it wasn't a doctor who did it.