Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Drill Barack Drill!

What is the matter with this guy? A wimpy health care law. Greatly increasing the troops at war. Drill Barack Drill! Obama is worse than Bush in some ways. Certainly so when it comes to the environment.




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Nikon P100 Digital Camera


------------------- CLICK ON THE PICTURES AND THEY WILL ENLARGE



The new Nikon P100 is an amazing camera. It superbly fills the void between a shirt pocket point-and-shoot camera (or cellphone camera) and a full blown but heavy to carry digital SLR.

The very good Nikkor zoom lens on this camera goes from a respectable wide angle to a telephoto focal length of 678 mm in 35 mm terms. The camera takes 1080i movies with stereo sound or slow motion movies. It has built into the camera both HDR and active D-lighting, and it does excellent macro photography up really close. The 3 inch screen is movable which is a great feature.

It is a bit heavier than the P80 which I am replacing, but all the other features more than makes up for the additional weight.

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Friskies Cat Food Ad



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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Eiffel Tower Completed on This Date


On March 31, 1889 the Eiffel Tower in Paris was completed. They assembled 18,000 pieces of iron in just under 21 months, and they did it under budget.

The Eiffel Tower sits directly next to the Seine river and stands 318.7 meters high (1,045 feet). I have visited it many times. This is a picture I took of it a few years ago when I was there visiting at Easter time.

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Three Multiple Executions in Juarez Yesterday

The Mexican newspaper Diario reports that fourteen people were murdered in Juarez yesterday. Three of these were multiple executions. In addition an 18 month of child was killed, and the teenager who was carrying the baby. This attack killed 2 adults.

The insanity continues. In fact it is growing.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Watching The Death Throes Of The Catholic Church

Unless the Roman Catholic Church rapidly begins ordaining women, and even elects a female Pope, then starts encouraging priests to marry and have children it is dead. The church is dying, and it is doing so rapidly at this point.

For more than 50 years priests worldwide have been rampantly sexually abusing the children under their care. Yet the Catholic Church still feels that the major problem is the sin of a priest disregarding his vow of celibacy, not the sin of him causing horrible lifetime damage to these many thousands of boys. This church-wide pedophilia is an evil beyond description.

Maybe Joseph Ratzinger has the balls to see through this level of change, but I sort of doubt it. After all Cardinal Ratzinger was the “bulldog” who enforced these same rules for many years.

With improved worldwide communication and education organized religion in general has been in decline for some time. What is happening to the Catholics at this point is very different. It is several orders of magnitude greater. It is like the Church has been afflicted by a relatively dormant cancer for many years, but suddenly the cancer has metastasized into an amazingly aggressive and fast growing malignancy. This malignancy of pedophilia now seems to have taken hold all over the body. Unless plenty of really strong chemotherapy and radiation are applied, a fairly rapid death is almost a certainty. There is no certainty of survival even with the oncologists infusing all sorts of poisons. No doubt it will all be horribly painful to experience and even to watch from afar.

It seems equally plausible that the Catholic Church could be deemed a “continuing criminal enterprise” and be found guilty of committing thousands of crimes against humanity. If that scenario were to play out then 100 years from now the Church may well evoke similar mental images of horror and revulsion as do the concentration camps and “ovens” of Hitler's Nazis.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sexual Predator Priests

On Palm Sunday the Pope says that he won't be intimidated by criticism regarding the rampant sexual abuse of children which has gone on in the Catholic Church.

No problem Joseph Ratzinger. How about we just forget about the past and focus on the present and the future? Times were maybe a bit different back then, but we clearly see now how evil pedophilia is. Unless you are completely out of touch with reality you will do the following:

Recognize and announce to the church that potentially damaging a young boy's life permanently is a far worse sin than is the sin of a priest not living up to his vow of chastity.

You have already told the church to cooperate with secular authorities regarding these pedophiles. Now take it the final step and tell the church that from this day forward it is the God given duty and responsibility of every Catholic to notify the secular police any time that someone who works for the church is accused of sexually predatory acts. No more dead of night transfers to another parish and no more cover ups. The police and secular courts can determine if the priest has committed a crime, and the church can investigate in tandem to see if the man/woman should be excommunicated from the church.

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Middle East Peace Process

The Islamists and Arabs are furious that the right-wing Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu has finally gotten up the balls to be really honest with them. He has told the Americans and the rest of the world very clearly that East Jerusalem is in a different category than their Jewish “settlements” in the area known as the west bank of the Jordan river. He says that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, and That is That. Period. Full Stop. The Jews have zero intention of sharing Jerusalem with some Islamic murderers who continue to call for their destruction.

The Arabs are livid with rage. But what do they expect? They still openly support their religious leaders and their news media in the constant barrage of propaganda telling people that ISRAEL MUST BE DESTROYED!! The Palestinians continue firing deadly rockets into Israel on an almost daily basis. Lebanon and Syria aren't a great deal more in touch with reality.

As long as the Palestinians and Arabs do not accept that Israel has a right to exist, and as long as they support the daily bombing of Israel, of course the Jews are not likely to be willing to share the city of Jerusalem with them. Are these Arabs stupid or are they just totally out of touch with reality?

Real final peace negotiations cannot begin until the Palestinians and the neighboring Arab countries all fully acknowledge Israel's right to exist. The true peace negotiations also can't start until ALL the shelling and aggressive military moves against Israel cease. Completely stop.

“Bibi” is a right-wing red neck, but he sees this one correctly. And he had the balls to stand up to the President of the United States over this.

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Civility? Republicans say, “Hell NO!!”

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee has asked the chairman of the Republican National committee to jointly sign a statement urging civility, and encouraging the elected officials of both parties to set the example. The Republicans have refused to join in. President Obama tried bipartisanship. In fact he kept on attempting to reach a compromise with the Republicans long after it became apparent to most that the right-wing had absolutely no intention of either working with or compromising with a black president.

The hate speech coming from the mouths of the crude and uncivilized Republican congressional leaders has encouraged their ignorant radical right-wing base, and politically motivated threats and violence against Democrats have skyrocketed. One black congressman was even spat upon by a right-wing protestor. In my opinion the leaders in the Republican party are increasingly advocating and encouraging ever more violent confrontations. Bricks thrown through windows, threats of assassination, etc. Right-wing radio and TV talk show hosts are blatantly lying and openly encouraging violence, but their Republican leaders continue to remain silent about it all.

It is sort of ironic. America has the finest president it has had in many years, but the Republicans are going totally off their rocker. Their true colors are coming through. The idea that a black man can be competent and far more civilized than them just makes them get redder in the face, and they continue spouting their increasingly cruel and dishonest hate speech.

And some people wonder why liberal Democrats increasingly are getting permits to carry concealed hand guns. This really is a matter of self defense from these ultra right-wing lunatics.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring Winds


Here in the high Chihuahuan desert of west Texas it gets pretty windy in the spring. The dust/sand storms are legendary.

I just checked with the weather bureau at the El Paso International Airport. The winds are currently gusting to 68 mph (109 km/hour). These trash cans are merrily sliding down the street with the cars desperately swerving to try and avoid hitting them.

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The Lost Tomb of Jesus

In 2007 the James Cameron movie called The Lost Tomb of Jesus came out. It describes how in 1980 a bulldozer near Jerusalem which was working on a construction project accidentally discovered a first century tomb.

The evidence highly suggests that the bones of Jesus of Nazareth, Mary Magdalene, the Virgin Mary, and members of Jesus' direct family were buried in this tomb. Maybe even the son that Jesus and Mary Magdalene had.

This movie seems to be an unbiased and professional view of the discovery. This is also that same movie that caused Glenn Beck to so thoroughly criticize James Cameron. Although I no longer consider myself to be a Christian, I was raised as one, and was baptized and confirmed in the Episcopal church. In the 1970's I traveled widely in Israel. I have no faith in the miracles and all the hocus pocus of the Christian religion, but I do recognize its tremendous historical importance. As an educated person one must hold an interest in the history of the Christian church.

I recommend this documentary movie highly.


LINK: http://dsc.discovery.com/convergence/tomb/tomb.html


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Privatization

Privatization of social security was a horrible idea. Thank goodness that the Republicans were not able to slip that one in. It would also not be wise to privatize the fire department or the police department. When jails are privatized judges end up taking bribes so that more people will be put in jail. Using private military contractors instead of the military has turned out to be a total disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am not an educator, but as an ignorant layman I certainly have mixed feelings about privatizing our public schools (called charter schools).

When free enterprise is allowed to run rampant without any control or regulation the marketplace does not control the boom and bust cycle – it exacerbates it. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I have some bad things to say about capitalism and free enterprise. Note that I was general manager of a privately owned company with over 100 employees for 15 years. We were highly profitable every year that I served at the helm. So I am not just some wild eyed socialist.

I do admit that when governments allocate precious resources they are sometimes less efficient than businesses. But they are also less ruthless.

For the last 30 years America has been conducting a radical experiment in deregulation and completely uncontrolled capitalism. It has not turned out at all well. The middle class has shrunk, the rich have gotten obscenely wealthy, and the poor are suffering more than ever. American life expectancy has actually decreased. The radical free market capitalists who advocated this deregulation almost broke the American economy, not to mention all the damage which was done overseas. Far fewer workers have employer sponsored health insurance or retirement programs now than in the 1950s and 1960s. Many more people work part time against their wishes, and far more people work for what is well below a livable wage.

Yes, this has been a real disaster. Whenever someone starts talking about privatization we need listen carefully and then think long and hard before we do something really foolish.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Immigration

Americans are self centered, and for the most part don't pay much attention to what is happening in the rest of the world. Some would call it high-handedness or even arrogance. Others just see it as simple ignorance.

Many Americans are worried about all the poor, badly educated people entering the country from Mexico. They are not aware that Mexico also has a similar problem...many central American people are so poor that they try to illegally immigrate into Mexico and take jobs away from poor Mexicans. Germans are worried about too many Turks coming in, and the French see the massive Muslim immigration as a real threat to their culture. South Africa has a massive problem with people entering illegally from Zimbabwe. People come from North Africa into Spain and Italy. This sort of population movement by desperate people moving out of their home countries and taking shady and illegal routes to more prosperous countries is taking place all over the planet.

These people would not be leaving the comfort zone of their own countries if their economic situation were not so desperate. The question is why has the issue of immigration turned into such a major worldwide problem in the early twenty first century?

In 1950 the world had about 2.5 billion people. In 2009 the world had 6.7 billion people living on it. This is far greater than the sustainable carrying capacity of the planet. Massive numbers of people do not have access to fresh water or enough food. Wild animals, ocean fish, and plants are becoming extinct at the highest rate since the world was last hit by an asteroid. The air of the entire planet is now polluted as are the world's oceans.

In the course of my lifetime things have changed massively. I have seen great improvements in the technology of communication and computing. Cars pollute a bit less than they did 60 years ago. But we have not made great strides in health care, nutrition, world social justice, or the elimination of warfare. In fact many things are now a good bit worse than they were in 1950.

After the healthy birth of my first child in 1976 I had a vasectomy because I didn't want to be part of the problem. At the time we called it ZPG – zero population growth. The ignorant right-wing forces opposing birth control may be stronger now than they were 40 years ago in the 1970s.

Worldwide if we educate women and help free them from the oppression of men it will do more to help the planet survive than anything else. Think schools for girls and micro credit for women. Other than that I think it may be time to begin seriously considering what planet Earth is going to be like after all the humans are extinct.

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Hate Speech

Wikipedia defines hate speech this way:

Hate speech is, outside the law, any communication which disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race or sexual orientation. In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic. In some countries, a victim of hate speech may seek redress under civil law, criminal law, or both.

America clearly has a problem with radical right-wing hate speech. Since mainstream Republicans are not in any way denying what these extremist radicals are saying, their very obvious silence is aiding and abetting the inciting of violence and racial prejudice.

In America we hesitate to inhibit anyone's freedom of speech. But these right-wing freaks have gone far, far over the line. Is hate speech now deregulated too? How obvious can one be in calling for the assassination of people like President Barack Obama before the law enforcement part of the government gets its ass moving?

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Pedophile Priests

I have been a staunch defender of Joseph Ratzinger for years. I have argued that he is a brilliant man and that he is humble. But I think now I have finally figured this thing out.

When the Catholic Church finds out that one of their priests or bishops has been sexually abusing, fondling, or butt fucking young boys who come to them in good faith and trust, the Church worries that the holy man has committed a sin. The major sin has been the man breaking his vows of celibacy. The Church has viewed it from the perspective of sin and repentance more than as criminal matter which should be investigated by the secular authorities.

The church hierarchy was intensely worried about the image of the Church, so they routinely engaged in cover ups. They don't seem to have been even a little bit concerned about all the young boys that have been severely damaged by these pedophiles.

It really has now evolved to the point where if I see a Catholic Priest I assume that as a minimum he is a homosexual. Probably some kind of a pervert; maybe even a pedophile. I'm sure there are probably many good priests who are not sick sexual predators, but my very first assumption is that this guy probably gets little boys in his congregation to jack him off and give him blow jobs.

If you could “short” the stock of the Catholic Church, I think it would be a good investment.

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Social Security Trust Fund

I see that the chief actuary for the social security administration says that this will be the first year where social security pays out more in retirement payments than it receives from employee payroll deductions. I am now in my early 60's. For well over 40 years I have had large amounts of money deducted from my pay each year to be invested in the social security trust fund. No doubt the government has earned a little interest on my money, so there should be a large trust fund just waiting which has my name on it.

Of course this is all just dishonest propaganda. Social security has always been a pay as you go system. Sort of a U.S. Government ponzi scheme. So where have our elected officials spent all of the excess money? Certainly not on universal health care; nor on programs trying to reduce obesity or smoking. They also haven't spent my money properly maintaining and repairing the nation's bridges and roads.

No, my elected representatives have largely pissed away my pension trust fund on the military and on entirely unnecessary wars. When I was a young boy the outgoing president of the United States, former General Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned the American people about the military-industrial complex. It now seems that these assholes have wasted almost all of my retirement fund on brutality and killing.

These are the same right wing types as represented today by congressman John Boner. Of course the blue dog Democrats blissfully went right along with it all.

I served my country faithfully by giving it three of the best years of my life. After I graduated from college the Vietnam war was still raging, and I served in the U.S. Army as a clerk-typist stationed in West Germany. I received an honorable discharge. Now it seems that these bastards with the United States Government have stolen most of my old age pension.

And you wonder why some people get so angry?


LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/25/business/economy/25social.html?partner=rss&emc=rss



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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Congressman John Boner

Republicans and the Right-Wing Advocate Violence

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Eight People Killed in Juarez Yesterday

Molly Molloy of NMSU is well recognized as one of the top experts keeping track of the brutality and killing happening in Juarez. She sent the following this morning:


Eight people in all were killed yesterday in Juarez, including a municipal policeman. Four of the 8 people murdered yesterday were shot to death at about 6:00 in the evening while they were working on repairs to a funeral home that they owned in the Colonia Guadalajara Izquierda.

One of the men who died was El Paso resident Ruben Quezada. People at the scene said the young men (aged 19, 23 and 24) had been involved in the past with the Blue Star gang and that their enemies, the Tiburones, did not forget old quarrels. Besides, the kids had left this behind and were working for a living, painting and doing other interior work on the small funeral business.

Some 120 federal and state police and soldiers came to the scene and were received with anger and contempt by the residents and relatives of the dead men. The attitude of the agents assigned to the scene angered the neighbors who began to yell things at them such as, "get out of here assholes, go look for the killers" and "you are worthless, standing there you look so pretty" and "if you are not going to do your jobs, you might as well get the fuck out of here..." These were among other expressions that the residents of the neighborhood yelled at the agents.

Yet again, I would ask the experts to explain exactly how this mass killing fits into the idea that a CARTEL WAR is the cause of all of this violence and death in Juarez?

In all, the 8 deaths yesterday bring the total killed in Juarez so far this year to 540. For the month of March the total is 164. The average number of killings per day in the month of March is now 7.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Firefly


The TV series Firefly aired in 2002. At the time I was living in Europe, and I just recently became aware of it. This TV series was written and directed by Josh Whedon. Fox television canceled it after 11 episodes had aired. I have been slowly and patiently enjoying watching all the eleven episodes over the last couple of months.

This show really appeals to me. I guess that I would have to put it in the top five maybe ten TV series I have ever loved.

If you aren't familiar with it please do watch it. I recommend it highly. I bought mine used from Amazon.

This Is A Big Deal

Vice President Joe Biden says it just right, "This Is A Big Fucking Deal."

I agree with him.



President Obama Signs Health Care Law





Vice President Joe Biden gave a moving speech at the signing ceremony for this legislation this morning. So did President Barack Obama. It could all be viewed live via the White House web site.

This bill needs to be improved substantially, but it is a vast improvement over what America has had.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Immigration

I heard some professor say on the news tonight that America lets more people legally immigrate each year than all the other countries in the world combined. I wonder if that is true or just a bald faced lie?

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Camera Recommendations


Since I have been involved with photography for 50 years, and because I now have a large collection of cameras, I sometimes am asked for my recommendation regarding what kind of camera people should buy.

There are lots of variables, but more and more often I respond, "The best camera in the world is the one you have with you when you see that great shot."

A great article on the subject has just been published. It is short and well stated. I recommend that anyone considering the purchase of a new camera read this: http://www.earthboundlight.com/phototips/DSLR-versus-compact-camera.html


World Water Day

Today March 22, 2010 is World Water Day. It is worth taking to heart that there are still approximately one billion people on planet Earth who do not have safe drinking water available to them.

Here in El Paso, Texas in the United States of America we have very dependable and basically safe running water coming out of our faucets; and our sewage is properly treated. But desertification is real both here in the U.S.A. and many other parts of the world.

In this part of the country agriculture uses and wastes much of the available water. Our drinking water comes from two sources: The Rio Grande River which goes thorough the Pass Of The North at El Paso, and the ground water which has been stored under the city for eons. Agriculture and the people of El Paso have now used up almost all of the drinkable ice age geologic well water stored underneath us. Since rainfall rates are very low here in the desert, there is virtually no recharge into our aquifer when you compare it with the rate at which we have been using up (mining) this underground water. There is a substantial amount of salty water left in the aquifer, but removing this salt (desalinization) demands a great deal of energy and thus is very expensive in both dollars and the carbon footprint.

In the newer parts of middle class suburbia desert landscaping (rock lawns) is now the norm. In the poorer and older parts of El Paso many people have just stopped watering their lawns, so almost all plants including the trees, have now died. In the wealthy areas of town many of the arrogant and rich thumb their noses and point their middle fingers at nature and the poor, and so they still have their lush green lawns and golf courses.

The Rio Grande River is just about played out by the time it reaches El Paso. It is heavily contaminated with salt from evaporation and agricultural chemicals like fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Many cites up-stream of El Paso discharge their sewage into the river before it reaches the inlets of the drinking water system, so the river also contains scary amounts of fecal and biological contamination. The underground aquifer in El Paso is now so depleted, and the Rio Grande River is so contaminated, that the bottom of the river bed has been lined with concrete near downtown El Paso. This is at least in part to try and stop this contaminated river water from recharging and contaminating what is left of the largely depleted aquifer.

The agricultural parts of town are beautiful. They are green and lush. The pecan trees and fields of cotton or chile seem so nice. Unfortunately almost all of the farmers irrigate their land in an extremely wasteful manner. It is sad, but agriculture needs to end both here in El Paso and also up-stream in the Hatch, New Mexico area.

As for the rest of the world, I am really worried. It seems almost hopeless. Global warming is melting the high mountain glaciers which feed some of the world's major rivers during the hot and dry growing season. When the Ganges and other major rivers which are fed by melting glaciers in the Himalaya mountains dry up and can no longer provide water for cropland irrigation, there is going to be hunger and famine on an unheard of and almost unimaginable scale.

What can each of us do? Probably the first step is to lower your own individual water usage. There are many ways to be less wasteful – if you don't know how, just look on the internet for ideas. The next step is becoming better educated and more politically active.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Photographing Star Trails

-------------------------------------------------------------------------- PLEASE CLICK ON THIS PICTURE TO ENARGE IT.


If one is using a telescope to view the heavens, or one takes a long exposure picture of the stars, it quickly becomes apparent that the stars appear to move. What really is happening is that the earth is rotating. In the northern hemisphere where 90% of the earth's human population lives, if you photograph Polaris (the north star) all of the sky appears to be rotating around it.

Virtually all articles on photographing star trails begin with the exhortation that to do it successfully one must be in a very dark location. In an urban environment with a lot of air pollution and light pollution the results will not be as good as desired.

I experienced this last night. El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico are geographically one city of almost 2 million people. About 75% of these folks live in Mexico, where the air pollution laws are much less stringent than they are in America. So El Paso is not in any way the correct location.

Well, it was worth a try. The dog and I both enjoyed being out in the back yard in the middle of the night. This picture is a 20 minute exposure. My longest try was a 2 hour exposure. The light pollution was terrible, but even so if you click on this picture to enlarge it you can “sort of” see that the stars seem to be circling around Polaris.

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Israel and the Palestinians

Politicians from all over the world, including the head of the United Nations, keep lecturing Israel. They stress “the need for Israel and the Palestinians to live as two states side-by-side in peace and security.” I have traveled all over Israel and to some of the Arab/Islamic countries as well. I have witnessed the deep seated total hatred...on both sides.

It is a reality that the Palestinians and their Islamic neighbors like Syria and Lebanon continue to refuse to accept Israel's right to exist as a state. They openly support propaganda calling for the total destruction of Israel. And after all this time the Palestinians are still firing deadly rockets into Israel on an almost daily basis.

I abhor brutality and war. But there will never be any genuine peace until Israel's Islamic neighbors stop shooting the missiles at Israel and doing all that aggressive military posturing.

Sometimes one just cannot compromise. It didn't work with Hitler, and perhaps the same is now true for Israel. If the Palestinians fire one single missile into Israel, they should respond by completely closing all borders. If Israel is sending utilities like electricity or water to the Palestinians these should be cut off immediately also. It is like conditioning a child. Bad child! You must not do that or you will suffer the consequences. Every time you fire one missile into Israel we will isolate you and humiliate you (put you in a corner wearing the dunce cap) for two weeks. One Missile = Two Weeks. No crossings at all. No humanitarian supplies, nothing. Absolute and firm. Any trainer knows that it only works if one is 100% absolutely consistent in your training.

LINK: http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=171419

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Immigration Reform

One reads the phrase “comprehensive immigration reform” often in the news media. I am fairly well informed, I speak Spanish almost fluently, and I live just a few miles north of the international border with Mexico. But I still really don't know what that phrase means. Probably it implies different things to different people. It seems like one of those phrases designed by marketing people which are intended to deceive or fool people.

It is certain that there is rampant abuse of illegal Mexican aliens in the American workplace. The government also puts these people in secret jails where they do not have access to an attorney. These two parts of the puzzle are well documented. But I still remain unclear what the Mexican American community means when they say that they want President Obama to get “comprehensive immigration reform” legislation passed.

I suspect that in addition to stopping the obvious and egregious abuse, what they really want is for a great many millions of people who in the past snuck into this country and still remain undocumented to be granted U.S. Citizenship. This no doubt includes the many who are completely uneducated and do not either speak or read English. To others of the right-wing persuasion “comprehensive immigration reform” probably implies stopping all of this illegal immigration and deporting most of these illegal immigrants back to where they came from.

I am not inclined to support immigrants who have been involved in illegal activities or people who do not both speak and read the English language. To maintain a cohesive culture we must all be able to understand and communicate with each other. I say this from personal experience. For many years I was a green card carrying resident alien in Europe who did not read or speak the native language.

I also would prefer to see the vast majority of immigration coming from well educated and professional people, rather than from the very nice and hard working but completely uneducated farm workers and laborers.

The health care debate is clear cut. Anyone who wants to continue letting American citizens die needlessly just because of the greed of the health insurance companies and drug companies needs to move to Afghanistan and join their Taliban and Al-Qaeda buddies. The debate about immigration reform is not nearly as clear cut. There are well thought out ideas and well meaning, caring people who come down all over the spectrum on this issue. Unfortunately when the economy is in a bad downturn, undocumented aliens are hurt worse than anyone else. It is sad, but this is mostly just human nature.

One thing is certain: With the declining birthrate among Americans, in order to pay for the government old age pensions and health care for all of the retired geezers, our country requires that lots of documented immigrants enter the country and start working and paying taxes.

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Bill Maher on Liz Cheney

Bill Maher recently did a really funny little piece on Liz Cheney:



video

Friday, March 19, 2010

End Game For Health Care Reform

One way or another health care reform will be decided in the next few days. Its about time. Republicans and their fellow right-wing travelers have used every deceptive trick and tactic to try and stop even the smallest little reform, or at least to delay, delay, delay the possibility. If the bill does pass there will remain many millions of Americans who are still denied health care, but at least something like 30 million people will eventually be included in the health care system, instead of being unable to get proper medical care.

In the mean time many thousands of these people have died or will die because of the intentional delaying tactics of the Republicans. The blood of all the people who could have been saved with proper medical care is on the hands of these detestable right-wing bastards. By all rights people like John Boehner should be prosecuted for these unnecessary deaths, but of course the rich and powerful don't have to follow the same rules as everyone else.

This Obama health care ultra-light reform is not universal health care. It is an absolute give away and bail out to the health insurance industry. Many major provisions won't even go into force for several years. But it is a small step in the right direction. Keep your fingers crossed.

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The Catholic Church's Pedophilia


Don't think that I am anti-Catholic, or even slightly biased against Catholics. I am not; honest. The Catholic church still has the ability to inspire people to do good and fight evil. I have visited the Vatican, and I have great respect for the current pope, a German by the name of Joseph Ratzinger. He is well educated and a humble man. But the church is rapidly losing its moral authority worldwide. I took these pictures in the Vatican museum, which is one of the finest musems in the world.

It is now clear that just like with the super wealthy and powerful capitalists, the Catholic church has felt that it was somehow above the need to obey laws made by mere secular governments. Their church's “holy” laws superseded the laws made by people. So when one of their own Bishops or Priests did something bad, they took what they felt to be appropriate action. But their corrective actions certainly did not include notifying the police of the incident; it was all kept very secret. A clear example of the arrogance of power.

You can now see the light slowly going on in some of the Catholic church leaders' heads. They now are in the early stages of figuring out that pedophilia is not something that can be hidden by just transferring the priest or bishop to another parish. In most countries it is a crime, and if the church does not report it to the secular authorities they then become co-conspirators. From one perspective the worldwide Catholic church seems to have become an ongoing criminal enterprise, much like the Italian mafia or the Mexican drug cartels.

There have been some attempts by those inside the church to analyze why so many priests are sexual perverts, pedophiles, and homosexuals. Some prominent church leaders have suggested that the concept of celibacy may be directly related to this; but so far the right wing of the church has the upper hand in this debate. The ignorant right-wingers are claiming that sexual celibacy by priests, bishops, and even popes is some sort of wonderful gift given by God. Get Real. This is sick.

There are various religions which believe that sex is nasty and evil. Christianity has this concept at its core. They had a good life living in the garden of Eden, but that sluttish Eve tempted Adam to do something naughty, and so forever afterward people were required to wear clothes so as to cover up their nasty sexual bits. Say what?

I have a certain sympathy for those who oppose abortion and even think of it as the murder of a human being. But by consistently opposing condoms and all other methods of birth control except abstinence, the Catholic church continues to alienate and drive away more and more people.

Times change. People, businesses, cultures, countries, and religions all have life cycles. It seems clear that Christianity in general is nearing the end stage. I have no problem with this, but I do have a genuine and sincere problem with young people growing up without gaining a proper moral foundation. Knowing what is good and what is bad is vital to one's own personal happiness and success in life, and it is critical for the survival of our species.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Michael Moore with Wolf Blitzer on CNN

Michael Moore with Wolf Blitzer on CNN:




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When Bad Things Happen To Sleazy People

Probably the best internet online discussion groups which responsibly specialize in the Toyota Prius are on Yahoo Groups.

There currently is a rather free thinking discussion going on regarding the real estate salesman who the discussion group members have named "San Diego Jim." There has been quite a bit of speculation that San Diego Jim's older model Prius did not accidentally accelerate purely on it's own as he described it. Large portions of his story just don't fully add up.

This 3d generation Prius is the second one I have owned. When I was living in Europe I had a 2d generation Prius. The silver grey one parked above the Rhine River in Germany was mine. They both are nice cars. The Prius gets good fuel economy, they have good air conditioners, a nice ride, and fine sound systems.
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Earlier this week I received the recall notice from Toyota saying that I needed to take my 2010 Prius in to a Toyota dealer to have the anti-lock brake software updated. I made an appointment, and later today I'll be at their mercy. Fingers solidly crossed.
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UPDATE LATER: I took my 2010 Prius to Dick Poe Toyota in El Paso, Texas even though I didn't originally buy it there. The dealer was super nice, professional, and prompt. First Class. I really have nothing but praise for their staff and their service.


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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Patrick's Day

I've been to Ireland, and I think it a very nice place. In fact it is absolutely beautiful, and all the people I met were very nice and friendly. Most of my ancestors came from Wales or Scotland, both of which are Celtic, so maybe that is why I feel close to the Irish too.

I was in the supermarket in El Paso, Texas this morning. I was wearing a green pin stripe shirt. Looking around it seemed like somewhere between 5% and 10% of the people were wearing green...mostly the young kids and women/girls. Maybe that is normal for El Paso; I don't know.

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How Congressmen Vote vs. How Much Money They Have Taken From The Health Insurance Industry

If you go to this link you will see an incredible chart.
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It shows how each of the elected representatives in the house of representatives have voted on health care reform, what percent of their constituents are uninsured, and how much money they have accepted from the anti health care reform lobby.


LINK: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/votes/house/finalhealthcare/?hpid=topnews

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FBI "Advises" News Media on How To Report the Killings in Juarez

I received a copy of the following email from the El Paso, Texas office of the FBI today. It was sent out to the news media “suggesting” or “advising” that they should report the story of the killings of the American Citizens working in the American Consulate in Juarez in a certain way. In their email the FBI says that they are disappointed that most of the media has been incorrectly reporting certain elements of this story.

This is not some kind of a hoax or a joke. This is completely real. The enforcement arm of the U.S. Government is now telling the news media how to report events, and they are indicating that they are disappointed that certain elements of the news media are not doing so.

Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, FOX News, and the other right wing fanatics can tell absolute whopper lies about what is happening in the world or about President Obama, and the FBI does absolutely nothing. Perhaps it is deliberate that they do not worry about this intentional right-wing misinformation. But for some reason the FBI is so invested in the drug war that they now have begun trying to control the news media.

I especially like the threatening tone of the last sentence: “Please do not further misrepresent the information in this investigation.” --This overt move by the FBI to control the news media seems absolutely Orwellian to me.

My question is: Exactly when did it become acceptable for the U.S. Government or the FBI to exert influence over how the news media reports? I thought that back in high school civics class we learned something about “freedom of the press” being an essential part of Democracy.
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El Paso Media:
This afternoon the Associated Press in Mexico City incorrectly
reported FBI comments related to Saturday's killing of 3 people in
Juarez. After the writer recognized that her editor had incorrectly
rewritten her story, AP sent out a corrected version.

Many of the national media called to confirm this new information and
did not take the information at face value. The El Paso Times was the
only local media to fact check what another agency had reported. I'm
disappointed that so many of you didn't bother to do the same and that
you are now reporting the incorrect information.

The FBI has never said that the investigation's main or "working"
theory is a case of mistaken identity. We have no information at this
point to believe that the 3 were targeted based on their connection to
the US Consulate but we don't know that for certain. Mistaken identity
is one of many possible theories that will not be known until the
Mexican investigation is complete.

Please make this note in your newscasts and on your websites. In the
future, I hope that you will call and ask me what the FBI's response
is rather than assume that another news outlet is right. You all have
my office number and know that I return all phone calls so there is no
excuse for you not reaching out and asking. Please do not further
misrepresent the information in this investigation.

Thanks for your assistance.
Special Agent Andrea K. Simmons
El Paso FBI

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Google China

I read in the news from msnbc today that: “Chinese news reports say Google is on the verge of shutting its China site, Google.cn, and some say it has stopped censoring results.”

Very good Google! Its far better to go out fighting for what is right, than it is to go out with a whimper and with your tail squarely between your legs.
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Juarez

Molly Molloy is one of the most trusted and respected people keeping track of the horrible violence wracking Mexico. The following is from an email from her today:


If it weren't so tragic, all this death, it would be kind of funny that the SUV apparently used in these killings is burned on the street in Juarez, right under the noses of the Mexican Attorney General, the US Consulate, the Mexican Army and a host of DEA and FBI investigators.

I am also kind of touched by the movers and shakers in the business community and Juarez are exhorting the President to build a "safe route" into and out of the city—for them. What very little of the press coverage of these consulate killings (in either the US or Mexico) actually says is that the huge majority of the people killed (at least 4,800 in Juarez alone since January 2008 and more than 18,000 in Mexico since Calderon took office in Dec 2006) are ordinary people, most of them poor and struggling to find some measure of economic survival in a place with few options.

In Juarez, these are the majority of the people in the city who must travel day in and day out from and to the dangerous areas where they live, with no schools and no city services, to their maquila jobs that are sometimes 2 hours away from where they live--if they still have maquila jobs...at least 200,000 of those jobs have disappeared since 2008. These are also the people who have no resources that will allow them to leave Juarez for El Paso or other places where they would have a chance to live without the constant violence surrounding them....

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Tea Parties

I used to think that the ultra right wing weirdos who affiliate themselves politically with the so called "Tea Parties" were just unpleasant people who were ignorant, poorly educated, and not very bright. This is still the case, but I realize that I need to add another couple of descriptors: Racist and Treasonous.

By and large these people have been duped, taken advantage of, and screwed over by the rich and powerful elements of American society; yet they still blindly follow them. They believe that FOX news is truly unbiased news (it actually is entertainment), and they think Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck are telling the truth and will save them. Save and protect them from the big government socialists, liberals, and progressives.

The right wing fringe goes against almost everything that the United States of America was founded upon. These people are sick and frankly a bit frightening.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Sexual Abuse By Priests

Is the Catholic Church a criminal organization? It is headquartered in Italy after all.

Just the very question sounds like some kind of anti-Catholic propaganda. But if one stands back and looks at all the cases of criminal sexual abuse which have been covered up by the church, it doesn't seem as silly as it does at the first view.

I'm not sure that one can limit it to only the Catholics either. It may well be that the most of the various sects of the organized religion called Christianity are guilty of so many dastardly acts that the entire religion should be vilified. Perhaps even outlawed.

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Barrel Cactus


In the extremely harsh environment and low rainfall of the Chihuahuan Desert it may take 50 to 100 years for one of these barrel cacti to reach a height of three feet.

Out walking the dog today I saw these. Apparently someone had grown tired of desert landscaping and had these removed. Whoever did it then just dumped them out in the desert.

This is a crime against nature.


The Census

I believe in the census. An accurate count of the population is critical to representative democracy. In America the number of congresspeople a state gets is based upon its population – which is known from an accurate census.

My census form arrived in the mail today. Prominently on the front of the envelope it says, “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW.” In bold, all capitals, large font.

This is what is known as poking the animals or trying to pick a fight. Are these government bureaucrats loco or just plain stupid? They most certainly were born in a barn.

The racists on the right wing don't want a accurate census. They detest the idea of one man, one vote if this also applies to people of Mexican American or African American heritage. The tea party weirdos are solidly against the idea of an accurate census.

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Noam Chomsky

Professor Noam Chomsky was on Pacifica Radio this morning. Although I agree with many of his ideas, I very much dislike hearing this guy speak. I finally figured out why this morning.

Chomsky presents highly controversial ideas in a very low key tone of voice, pretending that they are completely middle of the road and 100% accepted by everyone. He is a professor of linguistics, and I guess he thinks this is an effective speaking technique.

When you pretend that something is not what it really is, I have a word which I use to describe this. Dishonesty. For a left wing intellectual to be basically dishonest in his speaking technique tarnishes the ideas that he is trying to espouse.

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Close The Border

I just read the brand new state department warning for Americans traveling to Mexico. It is absolute bureaucratic nonsense. It is long and verbose and is just about 100% useless.

So almost tongue-in-cheek let me suggest another approach: Mexico has now degenerated into chaos. Many are now openly calling it a failed state. Governmental corruption in the police and military is rampant in Mexico. This corruption has begun spreading to America.

One appropriate reaction by the U.S. Government would be to simply close the international border between El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico.

The immediate reaction to this suggestion by almost everyone would be, “Oh Good Heavens, NO!! This simply is not possible or realistic. It might upset commerce or even the market. The rich campaign contributors simply wouldn't tolerate this.”

So just like with deregulation and the non-existent re-regulation of Wall Street, rather than us having the strength of character to do what protects America and our people, the U.S. government is once again trembling and cowering. Again we see the American government bowing down and kissing the feet of the the gods of greed and capitalism.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

John Boehner

Frequently referred to as Congressman Boner, or Bone-Head, this Republican from Ohio is clearly an egotistical news hog. I see in today's news that he wouldn't close Guantanamo if a gun were put to his head, and that he is going to make certain that the Republicans do every thing humanly possible to kill President Obama's health care reform.

What can one say about a cretin like this? This creepy guy is so intensely evil that I am at a loss for words. Four letter words just don't seem to do him justice.

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Evil Doers

I thought it might be an interesting exercise to list the most evil people during the last 100 years. This is my first go at at. I am trying to list the most reprehensible examples of human beings who have both lived and infected others with their sick ideas.

There are many who belong on the Very Dumb & Incompetent Pretty Bad Guys list, like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, but this list I am currently making is intended to be the real deal, the True Evil Doers:


Adolph Hitler
Republican Congressman John Boehner
Rush Limbaugh
Glenn Beck
Pol Pot
Joseph Stalin
George Wallace
Robert Mugabe
Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy
Republican Vice President Richard Cheney

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Capitalism: A Love Story



The documentary movie by Michael Moore called Capitalism: A Love Story is now out on DVD. This is without a doubt the finest movie he has ever made.

The movie is an eloquent indictment of the rich getting richer and the middle class disappearing into poverty. If you think of yourself as a hard working, patriotic American you need to see this movie. Honest.


LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitalism:_A_Love_Story

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The Hurt Locker


If you want to better understand why America's military shouldn't be in Iraq or Afghanistan, this is the movie for you. Another way of saying that is, if you are some red neck, gung-ho, super patriotic, true believer type who supports the wars blindly then you really need to watch this.

But if you are just looking for a nice “feel good flick” this isn't it. I made it about half way through before I began fast forwarding. Just couldn't stand to watch it.

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Euro Crisis

The blatant dishonesty of the Greeks in hiding off-balance-sheet a crippling amount of debt may end up threatening the entire concept of the European common currency, which is called the Euro.

I was living in Europe when the Euro was introduced. On a personal basis I found it to be great, since the place where I was living in Holland was less than a 20 minute drive from both Germany and Belgium. Only having one currency to carry around, instead of three, made it far more practical to regularly visit and go shopping in these nearby countries.

On a purely academic and intellectual basis, at that time I didn't feel that the Euro had much chance of long-term survival. It turns out that my ideas may end up proving correct. A number of European countries have blatantly ignored the rules regarding budget deficits and national debt. Some of these European countries have been outright fraudulent in hiding their secret debt. Greece is certainly among that group.

I got this chart from the BBC. England chose not to join the Euro common currency. At the time I thought they were wise to make the choice to keep the British Pound, and I still think they were. But they have a terrible debt burden facing them too.

My forecast ten years out from now is that Italy and Greece will have been proven to be completely unable to control their governmental corruption and their budgets. Both countries will be forced out of the Euro community. Or just as likely, Europe may decide to just blow off the entire idea of a common currency. Germany would be the leader of that pack.

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Chinese Human Rights

For many decades America has been critical of communist China's human rights record. Much of this criticism has been on target, if maybe a little weak.

Now that China is beginning to feel it's oats, it has turned the tables and has begun criticizing America's human rights record. Although overall America has a far better human rights record than the Chinese, anyone with half a brain knows that America has done lots of things that none of us are proud of. Slavery and racism need to be on the list for sure. The Bush-Cheney water boarding and torture would certainly be on the list, as would letting millions of people die due to greed because they don't have access to health care.

The Chinese official news agency Xinhua recently reported that, "The United States not only has a terrible domestic human rights record, it is also the main source of many human rights disasters worldwide. Especially at a time when the world is suffering serious human rights disasters caused by the global financial crisis sparked by the U.S. sub-prime crisis, the U.S. government has ignored its own grave human rights problems and reveled in accusing other countries."

Touche!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Toyota

Humans seem to have an innate desire to see the high and mighty fall. This is especially true if they have also been behaving arrogantly. I have owned many brands of cars over the years, but I eventually came to the conclusion that Toyotas were the best built. Until they began making F150 knockoffs and enormous V-8 SUVs they were also known for their good fuel economy. High resale value was a part of the equation. No doubt Toyota has now taken a most serious body blow.

Volvo, Honda, Ford, Chrysler, and Volkswagen have also had trouble with unintended acceleration. The Japanese engineers at Toyota now understand without any doubt that the stake of the entire company (and much of the entire country's economy) now sits squarely on their shoulders.

Apparently Toyota has succumbed to greed and arrogance. It seems that they have often openly lied to U.S. government regulators and the U.S. Courts. Like others of great success and wealth they became convinced that they could get away with it. They didn't have to follow the same laws as everyone else. Now they know better.

My 2010 Prius has averaged a fuel economy over 61 mpg during the last 2,500 miles. No other car sold in America can even get close to this. The Prius has a great air conditioner and a good sound system.

I still believe that Toyota makes the very best cars of any manufacturer. I have owned BMWs, a Mercedes, a Volkswagen, a Fiat, a Volvo, a Renault, as well as several Fords and Chevys. I think that when they do eventually solve this baffling problem with unintended acceleration Toyota will be an even stronger company. If any company can get to the bottom of this problem it is Toyota.

But between now and the final solution, I forecast that more than a few people will have to fall on their swords.

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Slavery

President Obama is not a black man in the way most people think of it. His wife Michelle is directly descended from people who suffered from slavery. Barack Obama was basically raised by a single white mother and his white grandparents in Hawaii. The terrible history of slavery, and the recovery from it left a deep impact on most African Americans. Barack doesn't have any of this in his background.

Maybe that is why Mr. Obama's actions are so different than his oratory. In real life his actual behavior seems just like what one would expect from a white, center-right Republican. Just like the liberals, progressives, and environmentalists; the congressional black caucus considers Obama to be a really big embarrassment. What a letdown he has turned out to be.

The Democrats need to get prepared for a terrible loss of seats. They have gone back on so many of their campaign promises that the well educated voter who actually turns out at the polls is demoralized and is just going to sit out the next one.

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Do Our Elected Representatives Really Care What The Voters Think?

President Obama is working hard at trying to get normal citizens to pressure their elected representatives with phone calls and emails to ask them to pass his health care program. Obama is articulate and is having some great success. But does it really matter?

It is clear that our representatives really do care what the voters think, because they want to stay in power and they want to keep their jobs. But because of the immense pressure for money to fund their campaigns they are forced to pay a lot of attention to what their major contributors want.

No doubt most of our elected representatives won't admit that they have had to “sell their souls” a bit to get elected and stay elected. But everyone knows better. The American form of democracy is now at the point where the politicians frequently pay vastly more attention to what their major campaign contributors want than they do to what the people who elected them want. There are words that describe this phenomenon: Corruption and Bribery.

Most of the messes we see can be traced back to this. Without genuine campaign finance reform the open buying of politicians in American will continue.

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Final Push on Health Care Ultra Light

President Obama is in the midst of his final big surge to try and get his watered down, weak version of Obama style health care reform approved by Congress. He is asking all of his supporters to call their congressmen, etc. It is too bad that he so severely alienated the most vital and influential wing on the Democratic party, namely the progressives and the liberals. They are so demoralized by his lack of backbone that many are just standing by on the sidelines watching the disgusting chaos.

Barack Obama's top man called us liberals “fucking retards” because we actually wanted to make certain that all people in America had health care. UNIVERSAL health care. President Obama promptly made his guy apologize to the mentally challenged community, but to the progressives and the liberals in the Democratic party Mr. Obama basically held up his middle finger.

Not one single regulation has been re-implemented to stop the financial system from imploding again. And the Wall Street crooks are back to doing their crazy credit default swaps and derivatives which brought the house of cards tumbling down the first time.

President Obama has not ended the wars, instead he has increased the fighting and funding for the military. Barack Obama also showed his middle finger to the environmental community by solidly coming out in support of nuclear power.

During his campaign he supported the Single Payer method of implementing universal health care, but as soon as the going got a little bit rough he completely sold out the liberals on this idea. Then he did the same with the Public Option, and even Social Security Buy-In.

Barack Obama is charming and a good orator. But he has no strength of character. He has no strongly held ideals over which he is willing to draw a line in the sand. This man simply has no balls. What a pity.

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Michael Moore on Rachel Maddow

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Outrage


Outrage is a 2009 documentary movie. My copy of the DVD arrived today. It explores the hypocrisy of closeted gay politicians who oppose and vote against any and all gay-friendly legislation. I'm not even a teeny tiny bit gay. I'm not homophobic, and I certainly would oppose the morality police breaking down doors in the middle of the night trying to catch two lesbian women or two gay guys engaged in some sort of homosexual act. I'm mostly just uninterested in gay-lesbian issues.

I think that there are about a zillion more important issues we need to work on first. Re-regulation of the financial system, ending the wars, winding down nuclear energy, improving education, and global warming are only a few of them. We only have so much time and energy, and we have to set priorities.

But I am very much opposed to almost all forms of dishonesty and hypocrisy. Reform of the American form of Democracy so that no elected official can accept a campaign contribution, gift, or bribe in excess of $25- is probably the most important item on my list. Why did I limit it by saying “almost all” in the first sentence of this paragraph? Cruelty and brutality under the guise of honesty is also a really bad thing. Example, “Honey, does this dress make my ass look really fat?”

There are some really good people who are gay. Congressman Barney Frank is one, and the actor and writer Stephen Fry is another. There are also some dishonest jerks among the gay community, like Senator Larry Craig. It doesn't matter one bit if these politicians are straight and kinky as hell, or if they are flamboyantly gay. But if they are gay, and because of their paranoia about being outed they vote consistently against legislation which might save people's lives from AIDS, then their hypocricy matters a lot.

If this issue is important to you, then you certainly need to watch this movie.


LINK: . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Outrage_(2009_film))
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Lousy-Ana


For a few years I was the Plant Manager of the nation's largest sweet potato cannery, which is located in the Cajun part of South Louisiana. I must say that in general even the racist, rednecks of South Louisiana are genuinely nice people. They are hard working and will give you a helping hand. Really nice folks.

I can also assure you that the slaveholder, plantation mentality is alive and well in Louisiana. Their politics are among the nation's most corrupt, and the schools rate among the worst. Racism is alive and well, it is just covered up by a thin veneer.

Even with the generally very poor education one has to wonder what the Wal-Mart manager was thinking when the marked down the black Barbie to a much lower price than the white Barbie. Does this say something about how people in the deep south rate those who have dark colored skin?




LINK: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/10/black-barbie-sold-cheaper_n_492924.html

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The Dali Lama


In my opinion the Dali Lama is one of the smartest, kindest, most humble, and funniest guys alive. If a scientifically unbiased worldwide poll were held I have no doubt that he would come in on top, or at least among the very highest.

Check out his posts on Twitter. He really has a wonderful mind.

This does not in any way negate the fact that in most situations “organized religions” have been exceedingly negative forces in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Almost always religions help people endure the suffering imposed upon them by their wealthy and overbearing rulers. Christian, Muslim, you name it. So instead of the people rising up and changing the system into one which is more just and fair, they engage in their primitive little religious rituals and just accept it all.

It is a real shame that the Chinese have been such assholes to the people of Tibet. But their evil behavior doesn't in any way make Buddhism into a positive force for change.

LINK: http://dalailama.com/

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Mellow Out You Right Wing Locos

By email I received a little pearl of wisdom today from one of my old colleagues who still lives in Europe:

“Get your priorities right for your serenity.
Live and Let Live - Most people are going to do what they do in spite of your good advice.
Easy Does It - Chill out!!”

Pretty good advice. So Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and Senator John Boner just shut up and chill out. No sane person wants to listen to your hate speech or cares even a little bit about your lunacy.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Cell Phone Ban in El Paso, Texas When Driving

The El Paso, Texas city council has finally approved a ban against talking on the cell phone or texting while driving. Both are clearly hazardous. They are examples of driving when distracted, and neither should be allowed.

The problem is that a great many people will just treat this unpopular law like they already do the laws regarding speed limits, stop signs, and marijuana use. This increasing rejection of the concept of rule-of-law is troubling. It does not portend well for the future.

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Mexico Invades the United States

On this date in 1916 Pancho Villa and his fellow revolutionaries attacked the United States at Columbus, New Mexico. This is about 80 miles (130 km) West of where I now live in El Paso, Texas. That is now just slightly less than 100 years ago.

I lived for many years in Germany and later in The Netherlands. Both have been invaded by foreigners countless times over the years, but in America having foreign troops invade is almost unheard of.

Growing up as a child, my maternal grandmother lived in a little apartment she had built which was attached to our house. She had owned a large apartment house near the center of town, but after my grandfather passed away she got a little lonely so she sold her apartment house and moved in with us. It was great as a child having two parents, a brother and a sister, dogs, cats, birds, and my grandmother all living together as an extended family. She played a major role in raising me.
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She was there when Columbus, New Mexico was invaded. I remember her accounts of it well. My grandmother held a prized job as a telegrapher for the railroad. Her husband, my maternal grandfather, also worked as a telegrapher for the railroads. This was a fairly high responsibility and high status job, and it was not very common for a woman to be employed as a telegrapher.

In March 1916 my grandmother had a new, small baby in arms. My aunt. When the “drunken Mexicans” invaded (her words, not mine) she and several of the other ladies ran out into the desert to avoid being killed or raped. I can imagine her terror that the baby would start crying and give away their location. Fortunately it all worked out well, both she and my aunt survived, and I grew up being enchanted by her stories of Pancho Villa attacking Columbus, New Mexico.


LINK: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_Villa

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Monday, March 08, 2010

President Obama's Biggest Mistake

President Obama should have brought guys like Paul Krugman and Michael Moore into his inner circle. Instead he packed his cabinet and inner most advisers with ex-Bush republicans, greed driven Wall Street types, and a variety of other dishonest center right wing people.

Rahm Emanuel recently called the progressives and liberals “fucking retards.” He then promptly apologized to the mentally retarded community, but not at all to the most intelligent and active wing of the Democratic party. Basically he held up his middle finger to us liberals and told us to just shut up and go get lost. Since President Obama did not object, one can only assume that this anti-progressive sentiment applies to him as well.

They felt that the progressives had no where else they could go, so it was just fine to completely ignore them and even savagely sell them out to the republicans on the wars, nuclear energy, financial reform, and single payer health care.

To paraphrase President Lyndon Johnson, “It is better to have them in the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.” It should be noted that some of the most important human rights legislation in the nation's history was rammed through Congress by LBJ during his tenure as president.

The Obama administration has now managed to totally demoralize its most important asset. Now that they need every hand on deck supporting the final push for Obama's “health care light” they find that many of the liberals and progressives are just standing by on the sidelines. The most dynamic people in his own Democratic party no longer trust President Obama. He has lied to them, sold them out so many times and on so many issues that Barack Obama is now almost assuredly well beyond the point of no return.

Let me restate this, because it is very important. For the most part liberals and progressives no longer feel that Barack Obama is an honorable man. They no longer trust his word. They think he is just another slick Chicago prevaricator.

What a lost opportunity; how terribly sad. I wonder what part of the word “mandate” it is that Mr. Obama does not understand.

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Funny Link - GFY

I'm sure you can think of lots of creative ways to use this. Prior employers, ex-spouses, perhaps your lawyer, maybe Glen Beck or Senator John Boner.


--------------------- LINK: http://www.amishrakefight.org/gfy/

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Iraq and Afghanistan

"The troops are not there in Iraq and Afghanistan for me. Sorry.

It was wrong 7 yrs ago, and it's still wrong tonite. God forgive us."


---------------------------- Michael Moore

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Specialization

The entire body of human knowledge has become so vast that there is no way one can be well informed about all important matters. Just 400 or 500 years ago lots of people with above average intellects were able to be excellent musicians, physicians, scientists, explorers, linguists, and philosophers. All in the same person; all at the same time. The Renaissance man.

What got me to thinking about this is today's analysis of why some countries have been so badly affected by the current economic downturn by the Nobel prize winning economist Paul Krugman. He notes that at the same time other countries have escaped the worldwide downturn almost completely unaffected. His article explores why there is such a big difference between the losers and the survivors.

I have a great many areas of specialization that I have focused-in on over the years. Many I intentionally chose to learn about because I found them interesting or intellectually exciting. Some I just blindly stumbled upon seemingly by chance, and then before I knew it I was deeply immersed and then gradually became fanatical and excited. Others I was forced to learn about, and at the time I wasn't at all excited about at it either!

Economics and Accounting both fall into the last category. In my twenties I was dragged kicking and screaming into learning about both disciplines. But now I am incredibly glad that I did end up taking so many undergraduate and graduate courses in both economics and accounting. One of my great interests in life is how we as a species can improve the lives of the vast majority of humans who do not have clean and safe running water, access to health care, flush toilets with sanitary treatment facilities, refrigerators, and healthy food which is not subject to famines nor contaminated with industrial chemicals or pesticides. Greed, deception, and the capitalist way of organizing our finances have resulted in the horribly destructive boom and bust cycle. Time after time. This cycle goes back at least to the time of the Roman Empire. And almost always the rich end up even better off, and the poor or middle classes pay for it all. Since the 1960's the destructive idea of deregulation has had a lot to do with this.

One cannot understand what is happening with extreme wealth, crushing poverty, the Wall Street crooks, or the economies of entire countries without a strong educational foundation in both accounting and economics. Without the cornerstone of this knowledge one is ignorantly shooting in the dark. This is a link to Krugman's article. Anyone who considers themselves as well educated should read this. Its not a long piece, and he hits the nail right on the head.

LINK: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/08/opinion/08krugman.html



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