One objective of this blog is to encourage productive discussion and debate within the "comments" forum. Leaving comments has been made easier. No registration is required. Comments can be left anonymously. A Hassle free and easy forum to leave a comment. However, any inappropriate comments will be deleted by blog administrators. Thank you for commenting so your voice can be heard.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rescue A Pet Today - Make Your Life Better.

As you know, I have a rescue named George.  He is the greatest dog in the world (no bias here at all).

And with the Holidays approaching the wish of a little dog or cat grows large (Santa must keep huge stocks of puppy-chow at hand).  Well reports suggest that owning a dog or cat may help you live a much healthier and happy life.

Huffington Post reports that the social and emotional benefits of pet ownership are many: companionship, affection, unconditional love, and entertainment, to name a few. Children raised with pets are more likely to be empathetic and social than kids without pets. And having a pet can help enhance a child's self-esteem.

Recent research has also uncovered some surprising physical and psychological benefits of pet ownership for children and adults. And many of the positive effects are not just limited to dogs and cats, but rabbits, rodents, birds, fish, lizards and other pets as well. Here are six of these health benefits:

  1. Pets can help prevent eczema and some allergies in children. Babies and toddlers who live with dogs -- but not cats -- have lower rates of childhood eczema than those raised without dogs. And young children who've had a cat or dog since their first year of life have fewer pet allergies than other kids their age.
  2. People who own pets make fewer trips to the doctor than those who don't. As a result, pets help keep the cost of health care down for individuals as well as our nation.
  3. Pet owners tend to have lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels than people who don't have pets.
  4. Petting pets has been shown to reduce blood pressure and heart rates in adults. Even being in the same room with pets, including fish in tanks, can lower blood pressure and reduce stress in adults and children. Indeed, many dentists and other doctors keep aquariums in their waiting rooms. This not only helps relieve anxiety, but reduces the need for pain medication as well.
  5. Regardless of age, people who have pets, especially dogs, get more exercise than non-pet owners. While this isn't surprising for dog owners, owners of other kinds of pets are also more likely to be physically active than people who don't have pets. Perhaps as a result of this increase in exercise, adults and kids with pets also tend to have lower rates of obesity.
  6. Last but not least, dog and cat owners are significantly more likely to survive heart attacks than non-pet owners, regardless of the severity of the heart attacks.
The Humane Society reports that:
Estimated number of cats and dogs entering shelters each year - 6-8 million (HSUS estimate)
Estimated number of cats and dogs euthanized by shelters each year - 3-4 million (HSUS estimate)
Estimated number of cats and dogs adopted from shelters each year - 3-4 million (HSUS estimate)
So add some love to your life.  Save or rescue a pet and safe yourself.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Do You Watch FOX News? - You Are Likely An Idiot/I Mean Misinformed

A University of Maryland study released this week finds that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed of any news consumers.

I question whether it is "misinformed" or do they simply want to hear only what confirms their political views.  If you want to believe the sky is falling, Thank God Fox News is there to tell you it is.  Or is it that Jesus Christ is coming to save you and banish all those heathen Mexicans (Democrats/liberals/blacks/poor people/homeless people/homosexuals/unemployed/immigrants/etc./etc./etc.) to hell.  The meek shall inherit the Earth was obviously some sort of mistaken interpretational error - by damn us WASPs will not give up The Hamptons and Palm Beach (the damn poor workers may have Miami and New Jersey - we have no use for that).

So nevertheless, The University of Maryland study, called "Misinformation and the 2010 Election," looked at "variations in misinformation by exposure to news sources," among other things, and specifically newspapers and news magazines (in print and online), network TV news broadcasts, NPR and PBS, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN.

The study found that daily Fox News viewers, regardless of political party, were "significantly" more likely than non-viewers to erroneously believe in out right lies!!!!  Among other lies:
•The stimulus legislation did not include any tax cuts (14 points) {WOW - Big LOL.  There were a ton of Republican sponsored tax cuts, which few economist thought helped at all.}

•Their own income taxes have gone up (14 points) {Taxes have gone down and there have been a number of special credits just to give you MORE money.}
•The auto bailout only occurred under Obama (13 points) {Did you actually watch the news?????  Bush drove (pun intended) the auto-bailouts and masterminded how they should play out.
•When TARP came up for a vote most Republicans opposed it (12 points) {LOL -LOL - LOL.  TARP was a bailout out of Banks and Big Wigs.  The rich got richer.  Banks got WAY richer and the Republicans pushed hard to get TARP done.}
The study also found that as exposure to Fox News increased, so did the misinformation.  Is that fuck*** surprising?  The liars are good at lying!

The study was released in the wake of leaked memos that show Fox News D.C. Bureau Chief Bill Sammon instructing staffers to cast doubt on climate change, and to parrot GOP talking points on the health care debate.  So all that Fox News (ok, let me barf) wants to do is parrot GOP talking points.  HOW IS THAT NEWS????

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


So what is 42,911,042?

Sounds like a huge number.

Is it - Forty Two Million Nine Hundred Eleven Thousand Forty Two Dollars?  No but that is a lot of money.

Sad to say it is the number of Ameriucans on food stamps.  As of Oct 2, 2010, another half-million Americans signed up for food stamps, bringing the number to 42,911,042 participants.

Food stamps are the soup lines of the Great Depression.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Suzi Orman Comes Out Swinging - On a Highway To Poverty

“My only fear in life, when it comes to money, is what’s happening in the United States of America. The American dream is dead for the majority of America. The middle class has disappeared. We have a highway to poverty and no roads coming out.” Suzi Orman, financial guru.

Wow.  Do you follow Suzi Orman?  I generally enjoy her but sometimes she can be a bit over the top.  You know ... she smiles that mega-watt smile a little too much.

But I agree with her.  Current fiscal policies are driving Americans into poverty.  Do the rich really need a tax cut?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Holidays Ebinezer

As you go through this festive season remember that 43 million Americans are on food stamps – an increase of 15 million since 2007. That's 14% of the population. Food stamps today are what soup kitchens were in the 1930's.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rich Americans Ditch Home Ownership For Renting

"More affluent Americans are opting to rent as oppose to buy,” says Jack McCabe, an independent real estate analyst and CEO of McCabe Research and Consulting in Deerfield Beach, Fla.
In a twist on the American dream, the rich now are renters.
From an article at CNBC:
Patrick Lee went from homeowner to home renter this year.
It may sound like a downgrade, but the New Yorker didn't make the switch because he couldn't keep up with payments or because he lost his job. Instead, Lee was nervous about the state of the housing market.
So in March he sold the Manhattan apartment he bought in 2008 for about the same price he paid and moved — along with his wife and child — a few steps away into a luxury, two-bedroom rental unit in a brand new building.
Lee wouldn't disclose what he's paying, but similar two-bedroom apartments in the building usually rent for $11,000 a month.
“I wanted to protect ourselves from prices going down,” says Lee, who is a managing director at a major bank. “I didn’t want to be an owner anymore.”
So is it smart not to own?  Isn't this a "buyer's market?"

In Manhattan the demand for high-end rentals has never been hotter. In the third quarter of 2010 there were 200 new leases signed for rentals charging $10,000 a month and up, more than double the 89 leases signed the year before, according to Jonathan Miller, CEO and president of New York City-based real estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel.

Last year, the phones at Foundation Rentals & Relocation office were ringing constantly with high-end homeowners wanting to rent property that they couldn’t sell, but no one was interested in renting them.

Now the firm is getting calls from executives, especially in the technology sector, looking to move into a rental.

“They’re entrepreneurs. They would rather put their cash in their business,” says Darcy Barrow, who founded the firm with her husband Christopher Barrow.

“And get a greater return,” adds Christopher.

Chris Wells, a broker working in the Palm Beach-Boca Raton-Coconut Cove area, says he has seen “skepticism” from would-be buyers, who ultimately decide to rent a home before making a purchase, easily spending about $8,000 to $15,000 a month, because they are waiting to see if home prices continue to fall.

“In Florida, we’re really not out of the recession yet,” says McCabe, the analyst. “There is no urgency to buy.”

The New Indentured Servitude - Entire Countries Become Indebted To Banking Conglomerates Too Big To Fail

Have you been following the debt situation in Ireland?  I find that is presents us with a fascinating question as to what is right and proper for the Irish people and for the World economy - and whether the two may be reconciled.

Bloomberg announced just a short while ago:
Nov. 28 (Bloomberg) -- European governments threw debt- strapped Ireland an 85 billion-euro ($113 billion) lifeline and scaled back proposals to saddle bondholders with losses in future budget crises, seeking to reverse the market selloff menacing the euro.
Notice the wording - "threw debt-strapped Ireland .. a Lifeline."  Sounds like the European Governments are saving Ireland - saving the people of Ireland from undue hardship.  But is that really the case?

Iceland’s President Olafur R. Grimsson said his country is better off than Ireland thanks to the government’s decision to allow the banks to fail two years ago and because the krona could be devalued.

“The difference is that in Iceland we allowed the banks to fail,” Grimsson said in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Mark Barton today. “These were private banks and we didn’t pump money into them in order to keep them going; the state did not shoulder the responsibility of the failed private banks.”
“How far can we ask ordinary people -- farmers and fishermen and teachers and doctors and nurses -- to shoulder the responsibility of failed private banks,” said Grimsson. “That question, which has been at the core of the Icesave issue, will now be the burning issue in many European countries.”
Yes.  How far indeed do you expect farmers and fishermen and teachers and doctors and nurses -- to shoulder the responsibility of failed private banks?  Because make no mistake about it, the "people" actually being saved by this bailout are largely European Banks.

According to the New York Times

"French and German banks have lent nearly $1 trillion to the most troubled European countries and are more exposed to the debt crisis than the banks of any other countries, according to a new report that is likely to add pressure on institutions to detail their holdings.

French banks had lent $493 billion to Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland by the end of 2009 while German banks had lent $465 billion, according to the report by the Bank for International Settlements, an institution based in Basel, Switzerland, that acts as a clearing house for the world’s central banks."
So the bailout is really about bailing out French and German banks.

From Charles Hugh Smith from Of Two Minds:

Ireland, Please Do the World a Favor and Default
Ireland would save the world from much misery by defaulting now and driving the vampire banks into liquidation.
The alternative title for today entry is: Ireland, please drive a stake through the heart of the vampire banks which have the world by the throat. The entire controlled demolition of the Eurozone's finances can be summed up in one phrase: privatize leverage and profits, socialize losses and risk.
The basic deal is this: protect the bank's managers, shareholders and bondholders from any losses, while heaping the socialized losses and risks on the taxpayers and citizens.
While there are murmurings of "forcing bondholders to share the pain," any future haircut will undoubtedly be just for show, while the Irish pension funds are gutted to bail out the banks.
What do the Irish people think?  According to one blog:

As a nation we're a joke, a laughing stock, and now it's time to become a colony of the IMF under the direction of the same cowboy outfit that brought peace and prosperity to Argentina and Iceland. O Joy, I just can't wait. We the Irish People have our asses greased for yet another bout of sodomy. We're used to it. It feels good. And this time we walked right into it. Heck, we can always get drunk afterwards, have a rare old session and weep and wail over our Fenian dead.
Very strong words.  The Irish believe that they are becoming debt slaves.  And today thousands protested.
"What hurts me the most is why is the taxpayer paying for the IMF. Why are we bailing out the banks. These are the people who took the risk, let them take the hurt, let them feel the hurt." That is the common refrain of the tens of thousands of people who took to the streets today in Dublin, protesting against the government's rescue of various European banks (and Goldman Sachs) investment losses. More from RTE: "Gardaí said that around 10,000 people started the march, however the crowd swelled to around 50,000 people as it moved down the quays. Speakers at the march had estimated that the crowd was between 100,000 and 150,000. A small group of around 400 protestors are currently at the front gates of Leinster House. Some 60 gardaí are lining the footpath in front of the building, with crash barriers erected in front of them."
So in order to save German and French banks, Ireland will incur debt of $115,000,000.  How will the Irish people pay for this?  Tax increases and reductions in social services of course.  And how do the Irish feel about this?  From the Independent:

Asked if they agreed with a proposed €1 reduction of the minimum wage, 66 per cent said no, while 34 per cent said yes. Asked if they supported a proposed cut to child benefit, 60 per cent said no and 40 per cent said yes.
A proposed increase in third-level fees was rejected by 65 per cent and approved by 35 per cent. Asked if they agreed with a proposed reduction in tax relief on private pensions, 59 per cent said no and 41 per cent said yes.
The public was more evenly divided on the issue of broadening the tax net. Asked if they agreed that everybody who earned over €15,300 a year should be included, 52 per cent said no, while 48 per cent said yes. The proposed €100 property tax was rejected by 55 per cent, with 45 per cent in favour.
So the Irish really don't want new taxes and cuts in services. 

What is the alternative?  Default.  Is that so shocking?  That is the only negotiating tactic a debtor has. After default you can always "negotiate."

Russia defaulted in 1998 and guess what? Russia still exists.

Am I advocating default?  Not necessarily.  What I am questioning is whether the "loans" are best for the Irish people?  The paradigm of debt-money (and national debts) is that it was created by the banks, for the banks, and is supported by banks.

No less than Thomas Jefferson questioned the issue of debt.
And to preserve their independence, we must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt. We must make our election between economy and liberty, or profusion and servitude.
Thomas Jefferson
And there is the question I have raised - have the Irish people been sold into servitude?  Servitude to the IMF and large Banking conglomerates.

The borrower is slave to the lender. When you are in debt to another, you enter into a slave/master relationship with your creditor. (Proverbs 22:7)

So the Irish are now indentured servants of the banks.

Ironically debt bondage has been defined by the United Nations as a form of "modern day slavery" and is prohibited by international law.

I guess that doesn't apply to Too Big To Fail Banks.

Would it be better for Ireland to default?  Who is really being saved by this bailout?

Fascinating questions.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Priest Accused Of Molesting (Old News) - Priest Accused Of Hiring Hit Man - All New Low

A Roman Catholic priest, John Fiala, was named in April in a lawsuit filed by a boy's family, who accused Fiala of molesting the youth, including twice forcing him to have sex at gunpoint.

The abuse allegedly took place in 2007 and 2008, when Fiala was a priest at the Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in the West Texas community of Rocksprings, a rural enclave known for sheep and goat herding (no I did not make that up).

Well Fiala isn't just any molesting Priest.  He thinks big.

The 52-year-old clergyman was arrested Nov. 18 on charges that he solicited a hit man to kill a teenager who had accused him of sexual abuse. Authorities said John Fiala first offered the job to a neighbor, who blew the whistle and helped police arrange a sting. They said Fiala got as far as negotiating a $5,000 price for the slaying before investigators moved in.

As far back as 2008, Fiala threatened the teen, and repeatedly brandished a pistol, said San Antonio attorney Tom Rhodes, who represents the family.  Fiala "began saying, 'If you tell anyone, I'll hurt you. I'll hurt your family, your girlfriend,'" Rhodes said. "It was more than once he threatened him with a gun."

Fiala is charged with one count of solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

San Antonio Archdiocese spokesman Pat Rodgers said Fiala has been removed from the public ministry, meaning he cannot present himself as a priest.

Fiala used the pretext of private catechism lessons to be alone with the boy, Rhodes said, and in 2008 took the teen to a youth event in the town of San Angelo, Texas, during which he raped him in a motel room at gunpoint.

What is it with Catholic Priest and Texas?  Texas and its love of guns and Catholic Priest ... and you know.

Search The Other Guy

We Americans have very definitive opinions about what should happen.  It is just when it comes to figuring out how to accomplish those same objectives that we ... fall short.

The American public has made it clear that it wants Washington to cut the deficit and balance the budget, with just a few caveats - no new taxes - don't cut Social Security, Medicare, or Defense spending (or much else for that matter).

And as this week has shown, the American public wants to safe when they fly - so long as it doesn't inconvenience them in any way. Safe, but not inconvenienced.  Search the other guy.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Were You Part Of An "Expert Network"? - Feds May Come Knocking

What is an "Expert Network"?  This may be one of the instances where you are better off wondering what they are.

According to Wikipedia an Expert Network is generally described as:
An Expert Network can be loosely defined as a network of people used to conduct any sort of professional research. Information providers within expert networks can be anyone from doctors to academics to any type of working or retired professional. Researchers can be anyone from investors to marketers to product manufacturers. Researchers derive value from the information they gather by connecting directly with primary information sources and industry experts.

Hedge funds were the early adopters, but usage of expert networks is now widespread among all types of institutional investors, including mutual fund advisers, pension funds, banks and private equity.
Sounds innocuous enough right?
According to published reports, Federal authorities are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing people familiar with the matter.

One focus of the criminal investigation is whether independent analysts and consultants who work for companies that provide "expert network" services to hedge funds and mutual funds passed along nonpublic information, the Journal reported. Such companies set up meetings and calls between current and former managers and traders who want an investing edge. 

For the uninitiated, this is the practice of putting industry executives or even ex-employees of a company on the payroll for "color" or "insight".  In other words, the Good Old Boy Network, I scratch your back, you scratch mine.  The uber-rich get richer!

The newspaper said one firm under examination is Primary Global Research LLC of Mountain View, Calif., which connects experts with investors seeking information in the technology, health care and other industries.

The investigations have been conducted by the FBI, federal prosecutors in New York, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ellen Davis, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office and SEC spokesman John Nester declined to comment.  According to reports: "Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter. The criminal and civil probes, which authorities say could eclipse the impact on the financial industry of any previous such investigation, are examining whether multiple insider-trading rings reaped illegal profits totaling tens of millions of dollars, the people say. Some charges could be brought before year-end, they say."

Remains to be seen whether anything will actually happen.
My back itches, how about yours?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Revolution Is Upon Us?

"Occasionally the tree of Liberty must be watered with the blood of Patriots and Tyrants."

- Thomas Jefferson
By now we are all familiar with this quote from Thomas Jefferson.  In many ways it has become the battle cry for the Tea Party movement.  But its true importance can be seen in the growing discontent by not only average Americans but by those not fortunate enough to be members of the bourgeoisie (so to speak) throughout the developed World.

Many are asking if we have reached a tipping point.  The division of wealth between the richest and porrest has reached levels not seen since before the great depression.  Can a system like this continue?

One of my favorite blogs is Zero Hedge.  Today they have a story about a planned revolt against the banking system.  Why the banks?  To borrow another quote form Jefferson:
"I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale."
Have we all become debt slaves to the banks?  Some say yes and have a proposal for a Revolution!  From Zero Hedge:
A few weeks ago we noted that December 7 is becoming a grass roots "banker mutiny" day, in which citizens across Europe will pull money from their banks and thus force a pan-European bank run on what is already a bankrupt financial system, which survives each day only at the expense of the continent's increasingly indebted citizens, their life of increasing austerity, and of course, the US Federal Reserve and its final backstop. In some ways we discounted the potential reach of this movement. Enter Eric Cantona - just ask any sport afficionado who the most entertaining, flamboyant and skillful football player of 1990's Manchester United was and 9 out of 10 times you will hear that name. The icon (both in England and France) whose on field antics were only matched by his kung fu skills, and who has a massive popular following, has been recorded agitating viewers (many of them), to enact a bloodless revolution against French banks: "We don't pick up weapons to kill people, to start the revolution... the revolution is really easy to do nowadays. What is the system? The system revolves around the banks. It's based on the power of the banks... so it must be destroyed starting with the banks. This means that the 3 million people with their placards on the street... they go to the bank, withdraw their money from the banks and these ones collapse. 10 million people and the banks collapse and there is not real threat, a real revolution. We must go to the bank. In this case there would be a real revolution. It's not complicated. You simply go to the bank in your country and withdraw your money. If there are enough people withdrawing their money, the system collapses. No weapon, no blood, or anything like that." A peaceful anti-banking revolution, brilliantly explained so that everyone can understand.
Will December 7 become a day to be remembered?  Should there be a "revolution"?  Can a system where the rich control most of the wealth continue?

Many here in America have said no more.  Many in the Tea Party have said enough.  How does the average American feel?  Will Americans follow in this revolution?

I can't say. I doubt it.  It wouldn't be very smart in my opinion.  But the more that people show their discontent, the more likely change will happen.  And no form of government is exempt from these forces.  Again quoting form Thomas Jefferson:
“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms (of government) those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny”

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ladies Who Lunch - Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Linda McMahon

We have all heard about "Ladies who lunch."  Wikipedia describes these benevolent women as:

Ladies who lunch is a phrase to describe slim, well-off, old-money, well-dressed women who meet for lunch socially, normally during the working week. Typically, the women involved are married and non-working. Normally the lunch is in a restaurant, perhaps in a department store during shopping. Sometimes there is the pretext of raising money for charity.
They sound so sheik - no?

Well I only wish someone, anyone, had sent the memo to Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Linda McMahon that they were invited to lunch.  Why?

Between Meg Whitman, Carly Fiorina, and Linda McMahon, they gave $217 million to the “cause” of getting themselves elected as national political leaders.  $217,000,000.00 of their own money.  Now I believe in public service ... but spending $217,000,000.00 to not get elected just seems ... well, gross. 

If the three lovely ladies had instead gotten together for lunch and spent ... say $2,000 on lunch (Christal is very expensive and they wouldn't want to settle for Cold Duck) they could have gotten together for 100,000 lunches.  Yes that is lunch every day of the year for almost 300 years. 

What else could they have done with all of that money?

The Daily Beast reports that:
  • Whitman’s spending could have bought full tuition for 23,553 California residents at the University of California-Berkeley, which would almost double current undergraduate enrollment. She could have made 95,764 connections for at-risk youth through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Los Angeles.
  • Fiorina spending could have doubled the total assets of Goodwill of Southern California. It could have fully funded Pajaro Valley Unified School District for a year, saving the schools’ sports programs. Or, if Fiorina wanted to befriend folks closer to her mansion in Northern California, she could have increased the budget eight-fold of Raphael House, which provides low-income family services and shelter in San Francisco.
  • McMahon spending would have covered a full year’s worth of salary and benefits for 802 state employees facing furloughs because of the state’s budget shortfall. It could have provided heating assistance to Connecticut families in need for seven years. It could have paid for 15 million school lunches across the whole country, or paid for two years of enhanced security for our troops in Iraq.
Yes the $217,000,000.00 is their own money and everyone is entitled to spend it as they please.  But the bigger point is, should anyone spend so much money on having themselves elected to office?  I mean, if you are a worthwhile candidate shouldn't other people and groups support you as well?

It strikes me that we spend far too much money on elections.  Do we really need endless commercials disparaging the other candidate?

But it seems far more ludicrous, in a time when unemployment is so high, when millions struggle every day, that three people spend $217,000,000.00 to elect themselves to office.

I am glad to see more women participate in politics.  We need more women and minorities taking active roles.  But it should not cost $217,000,000.00 to do so!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Republicans Stand Toe To Toe With Neo-Nazis

We are all safe from the boogey-man.  Yes Neo-Nazis Rally For Arizona Immigration Law.

Members of the National Socialist Movement held a march in favor of Arizona's SB-1070 immigration law in Phoenix over the weekend.  This is the same law that the Tea Baggers and GOP support in order to "take back the Country."

As ThinkProgress points out, the alliance between white-supremacy groups and Arizona's anti-illegal immigration legislation appears to be more than a matter of personal associations.

According to an immigration report from earlier this year, numerous groups linked to white nationalist causes have provided monetary support to Arizona's SB-1070, both in its early stages as well as to its legal defense fund.

In an earlier blog I wrote how Arizona Republicans Seek To Tear Down Statue of Liberty.
Wouldn't it be nice if Arizona and Texas COULD be their own country? Let's build a fence to keep these separatist locked inside to themselves. It can be one big white trash BBQ of white, God delusioned, gun carrying bigots---eating corn dogs.

Economics 101

As I have mentioned before, I am often asked by friends what direction I think the economy is headed and how that might affect them.  I do not offer investment advice and am not an investment advisor not an economist, but there are certain items which tend to indicate where we are headed.  The following from the New York Fed indicates we may be in fro a very rough road.
From the NY Fed:

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that conditions deteriorated in November for New York State manufacturers. For the first time since mid-2009, the general business conditions index fell below zero, declining 27 points to -11.1. The new orders index plummeted 37 points to -24.4, and the shipments index also fell below zero. The indexes for both prices paid and prices received declined, with the latter falling into negative territory. The index for number of employees remained above zero but was well below its October level, and the average workweek index dropped to -13.0.
The expectations was of a reading of positive 15.  Oops.

New Orders feel significantly and general business conditions fell by over 38 points.  Very negative signs.

And then there is the situation in Ireland and the EURO in general.

From CNBC: Ireland Does Not Rule Out EU Rescue Possibility

Ireland did not rule out the possibility of turning to the European Union for help, while an Irish newspaper reported that the Prime Minister may approach Brussels as early as Tuesday.
The Irish Independent said Finance Minister Brian Lenihan may ask his European counterparts in Brussels on Tuesday if it would be possible to funnel funds into Irish banks which he has already promised to pump up to 50 billion euros ($68.38 billion) into.
“There is no question about Irish sovereign debt – the question remains about the funding of the banks. The banks are having trouble getting money,” the newspaper quoted the source as saying.
“We have to find out – could you go to the fund and get money for the banking sector? Lenihan at ECOFIN presents an opportunity to discuss it. It would be the banks that would have to pay it back – not the state.”
The total amount of outstanding European Central Bank loans owed by Irish banks rose to 130 billion euros as of Oct 29 from 119 billion on September 24, data published on the Irish central bank’s website showed on Friday.
Retail sales did increase slightly, but it remains to be seen whether sales continue or it peters out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cruise From Hell - Welcome to Gilligan's Island

Huffington Post is reporting that a cruise ship stranded offshore with 4,500 passengers and crew must be towed slowly into a Mexican port and will not arrive until at least Wednesday night, the Coast Guard said Tuesday.

The Carnival Splendor was 200 miles south of San Diego when an engine room fire cut its power early Monday, according to a statement from Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines.

The 3,299 passengers and 1,167 crew members were not hurt and the fire was put out, but the 952-foot ship had no air conditioning, hot water or telephone service. Auxiliary power allowed toilets and cold running water to be restored Monday night.

The Mexican Riviera-bound ship, which was drifting about 55 miles off the northern Baja California coast, was in contact with the U.S. Coast Guard, which deployed aircraft and ships along with the U.S. Navy and Mexican Navy.

Two Mexican seagoing tugboats contracted out of the port of Ensenada were expected to reach the cruise ship at midday Tuesday and arrive back at the port around 8 p.m. PST Wednesday, Coast Guard Petty Officer Kevin Metcalf said.

Metcalf said the tugs, which will be escorted by a Coast Guard cutter, must move slowly because the ship is so big.

Passengers will be taken by bus to California, said Joyce Oliva, a Carnival spokeswoman. She said she was unaware of any safety concerns from passengers or their families about traveling by bus in Mexico.

Ensenada is about 50 miles south of the nearest U.S. border crossing, in San Diego.

Once passengers are dropped off, the Splendor will be towed back to Long Beach, Calif., a journey that will take days. That's why the passengers will be dropped off in Mexico first.

"They didn't want to keep them aboard any longer than they had to," Metcalf said. "They're running only critical systems as of now."

The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, conducting maneuvers 120 miles south of San Diego, was diverted to help the ship. About 70,000 pounds of supplies, including bread, utensils, cups, milk, canned food and other items, will be flown to the Reagan, where helicopters will transfer them to the stricken cruise ship, Cmdr. Greg Hicks said.

The Splendor's seven-day voyage, which began in Long Beach, was canceled and guests will get refunds, reimbursement for transportation costs and a free future cruise of equal value, the cruise line said.

After the fire, passengers were first asked to move from their cabins to the ship's upper deck, but eventually allowed to go back to their rooms. Bottled water and cold food were being provided.

"We know this has been an extremely trying situation for our guests and we sincerely thank them for their patience," Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill said in the statement. "Conditions on board the ship are very challenging and we sincerely apologize for the discomfort and inconvenience our guests are currently enduring."

Toni Sweet of San Pedro, Calif., was watching TV when she saw a news report about the stranded ship and realized her cousin Vicky Alvarez and her cousin's husband, Fernando, were on board.

She had dropped the Las Vegas couple off at the dock in Long Beach for the cruise, their first break after caring for their aging parents. She said Vicky was nervous about the trip, but Sweet reassured her everything would be fine. She has not heard from them since the fire.

"It's their first cruise and they were real anxious. I don't think they're going to take another," she said. "Here you want them to have a good time and then this happened."

Saturday, November 6, 2010

BP's Oil Spill Still Killing the Gulf - Why Is This Not A Crime?

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration believe they have a "smoking gun" after finding dead coral 4,500 feet below the surface in the Gulf of Mexico, seven miles from the Deepwater Horizon rig site. What a coincidence.

Using a submersible robot, scientists found "a brownish substance" on much of the dead coral, and Dr. Charles Fisher told the Times, "We have never seen anything like this at any of the deep coral sites that we've been to. And we've been to quite a lot of them." BP can just add this to its growing tab and all will be forgotten.

[Image via Lophelia II 2010 Expedition, NOAA-OER/BOEMRE]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Biggest Fraud In History?

From zerohedge:

The monetary and financial system that we are enslaved under at the current moment in human history has recently transformed itself into one of the most immoral and destructive forces the world has ever seen. The reason many citizens in America cannot see the extent of it at this time is because the Federal Reserve in coordination with Washington D.C. and the money center banks are doing everything in their power to keep you blind and complacent while they rob you blind. Many of the people in these institutions are not cognizant of the theft they are engaging in as they are either useful idiots or so wrapped up in their ego and false belief that they are making the paycheck they are based on some useful skill rather than simply working at the institutions that are instrumental in carrying out the ponzi scheme. You see, at the highest levels the elite must understand that the U.S. is flat broke; however, an admission of this would mean loss of power and possibly criminal prosecution. As a result, they have zero, I mean ZERO interest in the outcome for the general public and will do “whatever it takes” to quote Ben Bernanke to cover up their economically fatal mistakes and keep the mirage alive. As I mentioned above, there are two main segments that are crucial to keeping the ponzi scheme going, Washington D.C. and the big money center banks. This is why the Federal Reserve is quite purposefully directing all of the new money they are creating out of thin air into these two already bloated and corrupt cancers on the American landscape. - Mike Krieger

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Economy - Good News - Bad News

In my ongoing feature about the state of the economy I thought today I would take a slight change.  Often I have reported on stories which may be perceived as positive or negative.  Problem is, no one seems to know for sure which direction we are headed.  So today I report some good news and some, shall we say, less than positive news from some of my favorite blogs.

Calculated Risk - Headlines from today:
  • General Motors: October U.S. sales increase year-over-year
  • ISM non-Manufacturing Index increases in October
  • ADP: Private Employment increases by 43,000 in October

The one note that I add to the good news from Calculated Risk is the caveat they include regarding employment:
Since employment began rising in February, the monthly gain has averaged 34,000 with a range of -2,000 to +65,000 during the period. October’s figure is within this recent range and is consistent with the deceleration of economic growth that occurred in the spring. Employment gains of this magnitude are not sufficient to lower the unemployment rate.

Mish's Global Economic Analysis - "Economic Conditions Deteriorating":

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, things are getting worse since mid-summer.
Adding to the housing misery, over 2 million unemployed workers will lose benefits starting November 30 unless Congress acts to extend benefits in the lame-duck session. Don't count on it.
Furthermore, gallup surveys point to a flat Christmas season at best, so seasonal hiring may not be as good as expected. Finally, stimulus money is spent and there is no driver for jobs with inventory replenishment nearing the end.
These factors will put still more pressure on delinquent loans and foreclosures, which in turn will further pressure prices.
The housing bottom may be a lot further off than most think, in terms of time and price.
Without offering anyone advice (I am no investment advisor), it seems that housing is certainly headed for a double-dip.  As long as unemployment continues at around this level and other economic forces remain tight, housing will suffer.

It also seems like the economy is heading into some strong headwinds.  And - and this is a big AND - the election of Republicans on a low government, less spending agenda, while it may be great for the Country in the long term, will put strong downward pressure on any current economic recovery.  Millions are scheduled to loose their unemployment insurance; we can expect no further stimulus spending; and, expect the Federal Reserve to be under increased pressure.  Those all are ingredients for a slower economy.  You may ask what about extending the Bush Tax Cuts?  Those tax cuts will have a marginal benefit on the middle class (yes they will have a little more money to spend), but it will give the rich a bunch more disposable income to spend at Tiffany's and Gucci. 

On a more cynical note:
How is it possible that consumer spending is back and the economy is nearly fully recovered while unemployment hovers around 10%, foreclosures are mounting, poverty has reached a 15-year high and great parts of the public are struggling with debt? Because the richest 5% account for 37% of all consumer spending. Sorry, but most of the American public simply don't matter.

To the victor goes the spoils.  Buy Tiffany's stock?

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Autism is a developmental disorder that appears in the first 3 years of life, and affects the brain's normal development of social and communication skills.  It is a physical condition linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain. The exact causes of these abnormalities remain unknown, but this is a very active area of research.

Children with autism typically have difficulties in:

•Pretend play
•Social interactions
•Verbal and nonverbal communication

The exact number of children with autism is not known. A report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that autism and related disorders are more common than previously thought.

If you or anyone you know has been impacted by Autism you know how life changing it may be.  A friend of my family has a new blog up:

Voices Found - autism and typing to speak

Check it out!

Constitutional Scholar - Christine O'Donnell

I have long been critical of the litany of candidates for the US Senates we have seen this year who seem to lack any real qualifications for what is arguably one of the most important positions in the world.

How important is the US Senate?

The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate is established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution (which does not use the terms "upper" and "lower"). Each U.S state is represented by two senators, regardless of population.

The United States Senate is often described as the world's greatest deliberative body. Many of the most influential political leaders in U.S. history have served there. A total of fifteen senators later became President. Fourteen incumbent senators were nominated for President. Twenty-two senators later served as Vice President. Twenty-seven incumbent senators were nominated for Vice President. Nearly one hundred senators later governed their respective states.

The United States Senate has also been called the most exclusive club in the world. It is an auspicious body with a renowned history.

I am not critical of anyone who chooses to run for office. What I am critical of, is that people who seem to lack a fundamental knowledge of issues which impact our lives have become serious candidates for such an important position.

And what might be more important to each of us, than basic questions of our Constitution. Enter Constitutional Scholar - Christine O'Donnell.

Mind you, I didn't call Christine O'Donnell a Constitutional Scholar, she did. When asked recently what qualified her for the senate, O'Donnell discussed her "graduate fellowship from the Claremont Institute in constitutional government."

Anderson Cooper, on CNN, recently took Ms. O'Donnell to task for her speaking of her knowledge of Constitutional issues and her apparent lack of any actual knowledge of what the Constitution says.

Check out the video:

The Quagmire of Real Estate - Sudden and Dramatic Drop in U.S. Home Prices - Deal of the Century?

Have you been looking to buy a home?  Are you being told that housing is a big gamble?  Is this the deal of the Century?

It sure seems as though there are some great buys.  I mean housing prices have tumbled, so why not buy?  Right?

Isn't home ownership part of the American dream?

I have people that tell me this is the best time ever to buy - you would be crazy not to buy now.  I also have a lot of people saying you would be crazy to buy - why put money in a sinking ship.

So what to do?  Well, some new reports have sounded another alarm as to buying now.  Is it really time to buy?

Clear Capital (, is issuing this special alert on a dramatic change observed in U.S. home prices.

“Clear Capital’s latest data shows even more pronounced price declines than our most recent HDI market report released two weeks ago,” said Dr. Alex Villacorta, senior statistician, Clear Capital. “At the national level, home prices are clearly experiencing a dramatic drop from the tax credit-induced highs, effectively wiping out all of the gains obtained during the flurry of activity just preceding the tax credit expiration.”
This special Clear Capital Home Data Index (HDI) alert shows that national home prices have declined 5.9% in just two months and are now at the same level as in mid April 2010, two weeks prior to the expiration of the recent federal homebuyer tax credit. This significant drop in prices, in advance of the typical winter housing market slowdowns, paints an ominous picture that will likely show up in other home data indices in the coming months.
2% drop in two months is HUGE.  Scary huge. 

And Clear Capital is not alone.  Gary Shilling (he of S&P/Case Shiller) says single-family home prices will drop another 20% over the next few years with number of homeowners underwater to rise from 23% to 40%.

20% further decline!!!  That means if you buy now and put 20% down, YOU WILL BE UNDERWATER in the next few years.   You will loose everything you put down!  

But even worse, that 20% decline is based only on real estate prices returning to the norm (the average historical norm for house prices).   Excess inventories of 2.1 million are the "mortal enemy" of prices says Shilling. "A 20 percent decline would bring us back to the long-term trend, all the way back to 1890. I am a great believer in reversion to the norm".

What does Shilling mean by "the norm."  The norm is the average historical price for homes SINCE 1890.  And current prices are still well in excess of the norm. 

More importantly, a 20% decline just brings us back to the norm.

A lot has been said about home prices falling and how the decline is "as great as the Great Depression."  But that is misleading.  Housing prices during the 1920's were not as high as we have recently seen.

How bad could it be?

The Case-Shiller Index in its entire 110-year history had never crossed 140 until the recent bubble. In 2006, it reached 210. Every single real-estate bubble in the past has at best been followed by a fall back to at least the 110 level in the postwar era, although the bubble preceding the Great Depression witnessed a fall to 60.


So historically, a fall of 20% doesn't even look bad!  What about a decline of another 50%?

Yes, if prices were to do what they did during the Great Depression, prices could fall a lot more.

When you look at the graph of the Case-Shiller residential real-estate index, an index dating from 1890 to the present and an index which measures the cost of housing in comparison to other goods, the first thing you see is that the 2001 to 2006 bubble stands out like the Empire State Building in a patch of daisies. There simply has never been anything like it before.

Where will prices go?  I have no idea.  But I also have no idea if now is a good time (or a really horrible time) to buy a house.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dawn Of The New Fascist - Alaska Senate Candidate Joe Miller

The Anchorage Daily News reports that Tony Hopfinger, who founded and edits "Alaska Dispatch," was handcuffed and detained arrested by Alaska senate candidate Joe Miller's private guards at an Anchorage school. The senate hopeful was on hand as part of a town hall event and Mr. Hopfinger was there to try and interview the candidate.

The reporter was on public property where a public event was being held at the time of the incident.

Hopfinger had been trying to ask Miller questions when two or three guards told him to leave or risk being charged with trespassing. When Hopfinger continued to try to ask questions, one of the guards put the reporter in an arm-bar and then handcuffed him.

Hopfinger was released after police arrived.

The "private security" guards claim that Hopfinger shoved a man, but Hopfinger claims that he only pushed back at a guard after the guard began pushing him.

I am not sure why the "private guards" didn't call police. But I am sure with their expert training they figured why not detain someone on public property that you don't like. Too bad it that might constitute kidnapping or false imprisonment. When you are above the law you do as you will. It is good to hear Joe Miller has his own private SA, SS or Stassi or whatever we call them today. [What do you think the SA was about? Exactly this, those who questioned Hitler during his rise to power (but before he got it) would be attacked by the SA who would beat them, kidnap them, and sometimes make them disappear permanently.]

But just because Mr. Miller may be kidnapping his detractors is not why I think he is now a leading candidate for Fascism. No there is another position of Mr. Miller's that I find more disturbing.

Recently, Mr. Miller abruptly announced that he would no longer answer questions from the press. "We've drawn a line in the sand. You can ask me about background, you can ask me about personal issues, I'm not going to answer them. I'm not," he said at the time.

He is running for US Senate and he refuses to answer questions!! Why should anyone vote for a candidate that refuses to answer questions? Does Mr. Miller believe that he is above answering questions? Does Mr. Miller believe that he is so superior to us dumb Joe's that he need not explain himself?

Is Mr. Miller waiting to be anointed Führer und Reichskanzler?

Seems very convenient that someone trying to ask Mr. Miller questions needed to be arrested by Mr. Miller's private guards. Perhaps Mr. Miller if you answered questions no crimes need have been committed.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

State of the Economy

It has been some time since I have commented upon the economy or the stock market.  There simply hasn't been that much that is different than what has been going on in the past several years.

I think there are serious, fundamental issues with our economy which are likely to lead (actually continue) to great despair for millions.

Today I saw an article at Some Assembly Required which summed up so well what I feel is going on.

From Some Assembly Required:
First Principals: In the US, housing is central to the economy, to the financial system, and to the society. It has failed. And with it the consumer economy has lost its main support, so, too, have employment, taxation, the social contract and governance. The replacement, in each case, is fear. And not far behind the fear is the gathering recognition that doom, that collapse is just off stage, waiting.

There is no rational way to discuss one aspect or another of the hydra facing us. Yes, fraudulent affidavits were used to keep foreclosure mills running. Why not? The mortgages were frauds at inception – deceitful loans made to deceitful buyers. The fraudulent mortgages were quickly passed on to the slice and dice middle-men who knew what they were cutting up was fraudulent but didn't care as long as they could pass it on – nudge, nudge, wink, wink – as MBS given fraudulently high ratings by firms that were no better than houses of prostitution. A “service” industry grew up that was designed to keep all the players fat, dumb and happy until they were starved, very unhappy, but still greedy, still dumb.
The housing market has disappeared into the hated federal government – no one else would lend money into such a market, nor offer MBS stuffed with fraudulent documents and backed by no-loss covenants. All the banks do is collect fees and distribute bonuses.
The rule of law disappeared along with the magic of deregulation – what are laws except inconvenient constraints on profits? Common sense left town years ago. Readers ask why I've not written about the 'foreclosure fraud', this is why: It is too big to grasp. We are living in a world made by fraud and it cannot but all fall down. Anyone who thinks this is all trivial technicalities is wrong.
I truly thought our doom would flow from the increasing decline in petroleum production, years from now. I was wrong.
Yes it is a very depressing assessment of our current state.  But I ask you, do you feel that we, the people of the United States, are doing the best, electing the best and doing more than what we have done in the past?

It is not enough to simply complain (Tea Party) and wish for things to go back to some hypothetical place that actually never existed.

We need real leaders.  We need real vision.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Carl Paladino - Being Gay Is Brainwashing But Bestiality Involving a Horse and a Woman OK?

Carl Paladino - If he wasn't running for Governor of the 2nd most populace State it might be comical.  However, New York gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino is embroiled in a controversy over a series of emails containing pornographic images reportedly forwarded by the Republican hopeful to friends and colleagues within the last several years.

Note these are items which he took the time and energy to forward.  Not only that, he also added notes and comments to many including "awesome," and "for andy this is better."

What are these "awesome" images?  According to they include:
- Ahead of Obama's swearing-in ceremony, Paladino sent around a video entitled "Obama Inauguration Rehearsal." The video shows an African tribesman dancing, and is apparently popular among white supremacists.

- An email with the subject line "Proof the Irish discovered Africa" containing a video of monkeys that appear to be doing a Riverdance-style jig.
- A video of a naked woman sent from a government email account.
- A bestiality video involving a horse and a woman.
- One image passed along by Paladino featured President Obama and the First Lady made to look like "a pimp and a ho."

This is the same Carl Paladino who just said "We must stop pandering to the pornographers and the perverts, who seek to target our children and destroy their lives."  Of course he just meant all those gay perverts, not good, normal men who like beastiality videos involving women.

And Carl wants you to know he is a good guy, just a regular Joe.  "I'm not politically correct and never have been." He added, "I'm not perfect. But if the worst I ever did was send out some non-politically correct e-mails, my God."

Yes, exactly "my God."  You blast people for being gay but see nothing wrong with racially charged videos and images and images of beastiality.  And you want to be Governor of New York.  Seems perfectly sensible to me - not.

So lets look at what Carl considers awesome.
“Sensacional Zunga….XXXX” Carl Paladino: “awesome”  So “sensacional” (Paladino must have been so excited he forgot how to spell) that it was given not a three, but a whopping four-x rating by the email’s progenitor. Carl? He calls it “awesome“.
Many of the rest are just too disgusting to post.  Here are a couple of e-mail titles given to them:
Russian treasure xx open in private 
2 Chicks Turning up the heat – XXX Carl Paladino: “awesome” 
I found my retirement job! XXX
 Chiquita Bananas XXX … careful  
 The pornographic emails, which contain graphic images, can be found here..

You cannot claim that gay marriage will cheapen or harm the institution of marriage if you, yourself, have carried on an affair and fathered a child out of wedlock.

You cannot claim that you are opposed to pornography when your email inbox and outbox is so jam-packed with it.

You cannot claim the moral high ground whilst crawling through the gutter.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gay For Pay - Carl Paladino and Ron Paladino

Actions speak louder than words.

Huffington Post is reporting that State liquor license records show that New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino had once collected rent from two gay clubs located in buildings he owned in downtown Buffalo, according to a published report.  And more revealing, so to speak, a club named Cobalt, run by Paladino's son, William, operated as a gay bar in 2004 and most of 2005. It was housed in a building owned by one of Paladino's many companies, Huron Group LLC.

Liquor license records also showed that the other club, Buddies II, operated under the name Queen City Entertainment in another Paladino building in 2005 and 2006.  Buddies II described itself as a "bar where anyone and everyone is welcome (and) prejudices are left at the door."

The report in the Daily News on Wednesday comes just after Paladino told a group of Orthodox Jewish leaders that he opposed schools for what he called "brainwashing" of students into thinking that being gay is just another choice and "not the way God created us."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ann Coulter: A Disgustingly Slimy Human Being (Perhaps Giving Her Too Much Credit)

Ann Coulter - even the name gives me creeps.  Does she hate gay people so much because she looks like a transsexual?  Loving American's would still embrace her if she just admitted she has had a sex change.

Poor Ann Coulter. It’s gotta be hard being ‘her’! Ann has now gone on record being against full body scans because she believes it goes against our privacy and because she knows the full body scanners won’t be able to "find a bomb under a foreskin" or "stuck up someone’s ass".

Ironically, the only time that Ann Coulter actually likes lesbians and gays is when they are shelling out a lot of money for her to lambaste them in some masochistic ritual. The rest of the time, she is just another homophobe like her good buddy Carl Paladino. She has proclaimed that same-sex marriage is not a right because lesbians and gays are not black. She has, of course, felt compelled to defend her homophobe buddy Carl Paladino and try to spin his words as if they were something less homophobic and more, well, acceptable- at least to the non-Liberal LGBT Community.

Coulter told Bill O’Reilly, who is if not an ally of LGBT at least not a virulent homophobe, that Paladino was attacking only “gay left-wing activists” when he warned against gays “brainwashing” children. She noted that he did not read “the Leviticus part” of the speech, as she put it. She even tried to define how this was good politics after O’Reilly challenged her on it by stating “I think everybody but you in the world agrees this isn’t going to help the guy.” She replied that the audience didn’t “want to hear about the fiscal issues. They want to hear about the moral issues.” Though, he may have won the roughly twelve votes of the people there, he likely lost the votes of the majority of Manhattan, Albany, Buffalo, and other LGBT enclaves in New York.

Not that Paladino was likely to win anyway. He is currently trailing Andrew Cuomo by double digits in the polling.
And I get tired of hearing about Leviticus.  Rabbi Brad Hirschfield has a very insightful article in Huffington Post concerning the significance given to Leviticus 18:22 (   The words of Leviticus 18:22 read as follows: "Do not lie with a male as one lies with a woman; it is an abomination" (sometimes rendered as "abhorrence"). 
The Rabbis points out:

Why are those who hold it to be legally binding so obsessed with this prohibition? Is it a reflection of the prohibition's being somehow unique by virtue of being abominable? Clearly not. If something being an abomination were our concern, then we would also be equally concerned about the other sexual, ritual, and ethical transgressions that are also described as such.
For example, I don't see people losing sleep over the consumption of pork, also prohibited by the Bible. And the same can be said for the relative calm over those who wear garments that weave together strands of linen and wool, also biblically prohibited. People do not make up ugly terms of derision for those who commit these transgressions as they do for gay people. Nor do they ask that the government intervene in limiting people's freedom to do these things as they do when it comes to providing full legal equality for gay people.
I am not suggesting that for one to be a good and compassionate reader of the Bible, one must let go of the notion that homosexual sex is biblically prohibited. I am simply suggesting that our culture's obsession with this issue probably says more about us than it does about either the Bible or our commitment to honoring what we see as its demands.
So when Ann stops eating shell-fish and pork, and just comes out as the Gay Man she was born, let me know.  And Ann you better ditch all those fancy linen and wool suits you own.

Devil Worshipers Beware - Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler Knows You Do Yoga

Is it just because Halloween is near?  Seems witchcraft and devils are everywhere these days.  Christine O'Donnell best get her cauldron warmed up as Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler calls for all good, God-fearing, Christians to avoid yoga.

Yes  Yoga.  You know, that devil-worshipping ritual where some satanic leaders, called "Gurus" (we all know that is not a good God-fearing Christian word), leads their followers into contorted positions.  I mean look at the "positions" these people take during these coven rituals, which could only be for the purpose of self flagellation or to perform oral sex on one's self. 

I mean why else would a normal and rational person put themselves in such gumby-like positions?

Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler, agrees, saying that the stretching and meditative discipline derived from Eastern religions is not a Christian pathway to God.

Mohler said he objects to "the idea that the body is a vehicle for reaching consciousness with the divine." "That's just not Christianity," Mohler told The Associated Press.   The body should only be used as an instrument of war to to bring Christianity to all those heathen nations and peoples throughout the world (not that he said that, but I guess that is what he means).

Bet he agrees with O'Donnell that masturbation is the Devil's hand at work, so to speak.
And it is a growing problem.  Yoga fans say their numbers have been growing in the U.S. A 2008 study by the Yoga Journal put the number at 15.8 million, or nearly 7 percent of adults.  Look around you, almost 1 in 10 people are performing these sick rituals.
In 1989 and 2003, the Vatican issued two documents: Aspects of Christian meditation and A Christian reflection on the New Age, that were mostly critical of eastern and New Age practices.  The Vatican warned that concentration on the physical aspects of meditation "can degenerate into a cult of the body" and that equating bodily states with mysticism "could also lead to psychic disturbance and, at times, to moral deviations."
Moral Deviations - Listen All.  Priests know all about moral deviations so we better take them seriously.  God’s Lunatics: Lost Souls, False Prophets, Martyred Saints, Murderous Cults, Demonic Nuns, and Other Victims of Man’s Eternal Search for the Divine.
Not to be outdone, other Christian leaders have said practicing yoga is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus. Pat Robertson (who said the people of Haiti made a pack with the Devil and that is why they deserved the earthquake and said 9-11 was the result of American's heathen ways) has called the chanting and other spiritual components that go along with yoga "really spooky."   Pat, have you looked in the mirror lately? 
The heart of any yoga practice is the performance of yoga positions (called asanas), each of which has specific physical and and mental benefits.  Just look at those satanic names, like Red Indians who named themselves Sitting Bull or Galloping Horse. The poses bear names like The Boat, Crow, Peacock, Lotus and so on.

Of course it is against this guy's idea of Christianity, because yoga encourages people to be flexible.  We all need to be rigid, stepford-like followers of God's chosen Priests and Preachers who can do no wrong.  I am positive that Baptist megachurch leader Bishop Eddie Long was certainly not coercing young boys into having sex with him during hotel stays on out-of-state and was merely showing them the ways to be more subservient to God and his messengers on Earth.  Gives a new meaning to taking the "body of Christ."
And what did happen to the notion "Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit" thingy that's in the bible?  If yoga is so bad, then what about our obsession with eating fast-food, fatty hamburgers, fried chicken, french fries and mounds of sweets, many of which are being passed around the table every Sunday after church?
But seriously if more people would abandon Christianity in favor of Yoga, the world would be a better place.  I've never heard of a Guru commanding a squad of suicide bombers, burning down a gay bar, or shooting an abortion doctor.
And as to the claim that yoga in American is some eastern- mysticism, there might be some legitimacy if it wasn't for the fact the modern yoga has hardly any of the deep seeded religious practices or understandings that it contained at it's origin. I think though to say that it's contradicting Christianity is like saying if you wear a scarf, you are Muslim, or if you sit in silence for a while, you are Buddhist. Doing these things does not necessarily associate a person to a religions, nor make it a contradiction of another religion.

With all of the hate being espoused in the name of God (Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc.), is a little self-meditation and awareness of the wonders of the body and means to make a person healthier and happier really "un-Christian"?   Angle, Miller, O’Donnell, Beck, Palin Speak Of God - But Are God And The Devil The Same?

And then we have Glenn Beck.  Pope Glenn Beck To Restore Christianity To The Huddled Masses.

Why don't we focus on starvation, malnutrition, infant mortality, teen suicide, etc., etc., etc.  There are so many pressing issues, should we even devote a second to calling yoga Un-Christian?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lou Dobbs - American Hypocrite

When Ranting And Raving Isn't Enough - Lou Dobbs Hires Undocumented Workers.

The Nation is reporting that Lou Dobbs, who made a big name for himself on CNN with his nightly rants against illegal immigration and companies that hire undocumented workers, may not be so opposed to the practice in his own home. The Nation investigated Dobbs for a year and found that the former TV anchor has long relied on such workers to take care of his multimillion-dollar estates as well as the horses he keeps for his daughter, Hillary, a competitive show jumper.

Each November, all five of Dobb’s show-jumping horses are shipped to Florida, and the workers tag along. Undocumented Mexican immigrant Marco Salinas worked in Dobbs’ stables for two years. Pedro Gomez, also illegal, has worked for Dobbs in Vermont and Florida. So has Marco Esperanza, another Mexican worker. Rodrigo Ortega, who’s worked in America 14 years, tends to Dobbs’ garden. The workers report long hours, low wages, and no overtime pay.

I am shocked - just shocked.  Actually I'm not shocked at all.  I always found him to be the most pompous nincompoops on TV.  I can't stand the man.  Another blow-hard who cannot practice what he preaches.

What is worse is that Lou Dobbs took advantage of people.  They are the very same people he rants and raves against.  Have you no shame?  Guess not, because even Lou says that such employers are scum.  According to Lou: "the employer who is so shamelessly exploiting the illegal alien and so shamelessly flouting US law" is vile and Lou even proposed, on one April 2006 show, that "illegal employers who hire illegal aliens" should face felony charges.

Turn yourself in Lou.  Prison may do you some good.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds ("L S D")

Do you like to travel by plane? I can never decide if I like it or not, especially now with all of the new travel restrictions. It seems to take forever to get checked in and through security. And then you never know with whom you will sit. Will the people sitting around you be interesting? How about the Flight Attendants?

Last night, I was flying back from Miami where I had been for some business meetings and boy did the flight ever become interesting. If you read my blog you know I recently rescued a dog, George. It was the first time I had taken George with me on a flight. (we both get separation anxiety when we are apart, or at least I do). Since George is only 9 pounds he gets to fly with me and is small enough to fit in a cool carry on bag so it is easy. Turns out that he is a great traveler. He loves hotels and room service. And many of the cooler non uptight flight attendants will let George out of his bag when we are in the air and I try to buy the seat next to me so as not to disturb anyone.

I am a big guy, tall with long legs, and traveling in small seats is tough. So, and not to sound pretentious, I try and only travel first class so I can stretch out. Goal before I turn 45 is to have my own jet. Shallow maybe. Eco friendly, not. Fun, for sure.

Well on my leg back from Miami I had a small obstacle. The airline had goofed and put me in the front row, the bulk-head row. Problem is, there is not a seat in front under which I can put George in his bag for take-off. You all know the drill, everything has to be stowed under the seat in front of you for take off.

I was heading back to my desert vacation home so there were quite a few older and, seemingly, uptight people in this small first class - only like 5 rows.

The flight attendant told me that sadly the rules demand George be put under the seat otherwise they'd have to put him under the plane. Obviously that was not something I'd do to George.

So the flight attendant asked me to nicely ask if anyone would switch with me. So I stood and asked everyone up front if anyone would switch. I said hey you'll get two seat and the leg room is fine. I just need to be back so I can put the dog in a seat in front of me.

I was kind of surprised as I received nothing back but sour faces and grunts. I asked, "is that a no?" "Anybody?"

People just avoided eye contact. So I told the flight attendant and she said she'd try. She was very nice and reminded me exactly of Kristin Chenoweth, the actress who is so hysterical.

So as everyone was seated she nicely asked again if anyone would switch. The couple right behind me said "why should we have to move?" "Ask someone else."

I found myself getting angry and wanting to smack the husband for his spoiled, crotchety attitude.

So still no one agreed.

I started getting agitated and said well maybe someone from coach would like to switch.

But, right then, a lovely woman in her late 80's took out her earphones and asked what was going on. She said, " Oh for heaven's sake of course I will switch." Then the lady next to her said, "Oh no I'll switch I'd actually like to sit alone up there."

So George and I moved and sat next to the nice 86 year old woman, Lucy. We hit it off immediately. I don't usually like to talk to people on flights at all. I like to have my two drinks and then fall asleep.  Lucy was a stylish red-head, wrapped in Hermes scarves and draped in enough diamonds to give Elizabeth Taylor a run for her money.

Lucy was so full of life and so kind. She started speaking loudly saying why are people so uptight. Life is short why do people take things so seriously. Why can't people help each other more . I started to really like this woman.  Lucy had that vibrant, Lucille Ball, red hair and at 86 years was now a desert snow bird. She was heading back to her golf club home for the season. We started to learn a lot about each other and we dove right into religion. As an Irish, 86 year old, I was certain she'd likely be catholic. But I learned fast she thought all that was a "bunch of baloney. "

I thought, "wow, I'm really liking this woman now!"

Then we jumped right into the bible and she said she thought it was just one big fairy tale, which as you know is exactly what I believe. At this point we are on our 3rd glass of white wine.  Lucy kept joking this is only the first glass we have had right? At the 5th glass I was still agreeing it was only our first.

We'd do a toast and laugh and I said, "I'm glad I had made a new friend." She said. " Oh I hope so" and invited me to Monday night football at her community golf community.   " We all love to party," Lucy exclaimed.  I also learned she had fought to have a 9 hole putting green built in her community because 18 holes were getting harder at her age. I said, "damn, glad to see you fight for what you want."

She told me she had been married twice and that both husbands are now deceased. All her siblings had passed and she was the only family member left except for some cousins. She smiled as she said that her last husband was her true love. She said he owned a plant and had patented 25 famous tools which are sold at Home Depot and the like. She winked and said selling the pattens was very profitable. We toasted again with another glass of wine

The flight attendant seemed to become more and more fun as the time went on, with the three of us laughing hysterically as she filled our glasses.

But at that point we were all becoming distracted by a very odd looking man. He had one of those neck pillows around his head and he left it on around his head as he got up and walked down the aisle to the bathroom. What made it really strange was that he had now gone to the bathroom what seemed like a dozen times, so we were all slightly concerned.  Also, our great flight attendant was concerned because she said the woman who was sitting next to the odd looking man had told the flight attendant that the man was showing off his finger nail clippers which had a sharp knife in it. These days, that is cause for concern for anybody.

The flight attendant asked me to help keep an eye on him. So one time he got up to go to the bathroom and I got up and stood behind him and said "excuse me may I use the bathroom?" He seemed drunk and chatting up the flight attendants at the front. After I went to the restroom, he was waiting to go into the restroom again. When the odd looking man finished and came out, he whispered to the flight attendant that I should sit down when I go to the bathroom because "I had peed everywhere." He then told the flight attendants that he was a pharmacist and he'd prescribe me Flomax.

Our new friend, the flight attendant, came over to tell the nice red-head and me what pillow man had said and that she was nearly wetting her pants with laughter. Soon the rumor had flooded all of first class. Everyone thought he was insane, Funny thing was I had only gone in the bathroom to blow my nose. We later realized since he had been so many times that he must have had a real bladder problem and he must have really lost control the last time in.

Anyway this brought up the topic of terrorists with my new friend. We both agreed that the guy with the neck pillows was just off a little and not really a threat.

We laughed some more.

So then I don't remember if Lucy or I brought up President Obama. She said "well you know I am a conservative." I was somewhat surprised, given our conversation of religion as well as her having spoken of gay rights, saying "who cares - people are born the way they are." When I asked she said that she was socially liberal but conservative in all other ways. To which I replied, "well I can respect that." She reminded me again of coming to Monday night football, telling me that they start drinking early but that they go to bed at half time so the night would be over by 4pm. Laughing, I said I couldn't wait, as I have always had an affinity for older people.

That is when she said," that terrorist, Muslim, sneaky, Obama would never get her vote." I laughed assuming she was kidding. Lucy said, "oh no, I'm very serious." I told her I was a big fan and think he is fantastic.

Wanting to learn more, I asked why she thought Obama was a Muslim. She said," that not only did she think he is a Muslim but also that she thinks he is not a US citizen." Laughing she said "you watch." "It is all part of a terrorist plot."

Since we had become friends I didn't want to be overly antagonistic with my new friend and simply said, "I disagree with you on this one." Not to be deterred, she then told me "why his birth certificate is hidden and that the one everyone has seen is a fake." She also told me "that his college records are locked because he was actually an exchange student from another country - a Muslim country." I had never heard the story about the college records (which I am fairly certain is simply not true in any respect) and wasn't certain to laugh or cry at the outlandish accusations (but I guess lots of people today believe that shit). 

With all the conspiracy theories Lucy was talking about it was beginning to feel like an LSD trip (or at least what people say they are like).  Did someone slip something in my drink?  Pillow-man was a pharmacist.

I did tell Lucy I was surprised she was so caught up in the Muslim thing with Obama given that she had expressed her views that religion was stupid. She said that yes religion is a "bunch of crap" but she thought the Muslims "stoop a bit lower than the Christians" and that Muslims have wars over their religions. I said so do the Christians - consider the crusades, but she just thought that the Christians had grown up since then. I said what about all the new right-wing, ultra-conservatives out there today - Palin, O'Donnell, Miller, Angle, etc?

That is when Lucy's humor came streaming back through. "I would never vote for those dumb asses" she said, also adding that she would not vote for Hillary either. And despite what I thought were some crazy ideas, I really liked her. I considered that I might blow off the Monday night football, but decided instead that it would be a great opportunity to try to learn from one another.

Lucy and I agreed that our differences over these issues would not get in the way of our budding friendship and we would not bring it up on football night. But we did agree we'd each look into the issues more and bring our research to the table for our second meeting.

I carried her bag into the terminal and she got to meet George out of his bag. George had been blissfully unaware that anything was going on. No crazy pillow-man. No Flomax. No secret birth certificates. George just slept. But I realized I had a great time and made a new friend. We gave each other a hug and I said that I was looking forward to meeting her wild and crazy party group at the seniors community center on Monday.

And in out last laugh I said lets punk your friends and say I'm your new boyfriend. And showing that wonderful spirit she said that she would love that, but ... just please shave. She said I don't like facial hair or tattoos.

So you just never know when you fly what might happen and who you might meet. But I did learn a great lesson about just enjoying people's company and not worrying over every detail. We all have so much more in common than we do differences.