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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hypocrite of the Day!

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) claims he "worked successfully to improve Medicare payments to doctors in rural states like Iowa and, in turn, access for beneficiaries, as part of the health care reform enacted this year." But Grassley voted against the health care bill, claiming it was, “a government run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma.”

Taking credit for something you voted against is by definition being a  hypocrite.  But then when the reason you voted against the bill was because of its so-called negative impact on Seniors and then claimming credit for the bill HELPING Seniors is just pure double talk.  Shame on you!


Deepwater Horizon took $560 million to the bottom of the Gulf – about a mile down. The replacement will run close to a billion. The blow-out preventer didn't, and as much as 200,000 gallons a day (an Exxon Valdez every 2 months... ) are spewing into the Gulf, and will be for at least three months – that's how long it will take to complete a relief well which may – or may not – stop the flow. 'Drill baby drill' isn't going to be near as popular along the coast from New Orleans to Tampa as it is on Palin's platform.

Madonna & Glee

The cast of Glee took the number one spot on the charts this week with the release of The Power of Madonna compilation selling nearly 100,000 copies.

Not Feminine Enough? Why?

Why?  Why do we act this way in 2010?  Perez Hilton is reporting on his site (
Nothing surprises us anymore!

In a despicable move by the Copiah County School District in Mississippi, lesbian student Ceara Sturgis was not included in the school's 2010 yearbook.

The senior photo she submitted wearing a tuxedo was denied!

"They didn't even put her name in it," said Ceara's mother Veronica Rodriguez. "I was so furious when she told me about it. Ceara started crying and I told her to suck it up. Is that not pathetic for them to do that? Yet again, they have crapped on her and made her feel alienated."

The Mississippi ACLU wrote a letter in October demanding the school use the submitted photo, but officials would not relent. But her mother did expect a reference to her daughter on the senior page, yet she discovered that they refused to acknowledge her existence.

Ceara's mother continued:

"It's like she's nobody there, even though she's gone to school there for 12 years. They mentioned none of her accolades, even though she's one of the smartest students there with wonderful grades. They've got kids in the book that have been busted for drugs. There's even a picture of one of the seniors who dropped out of school. I don't get it. Ceara is a top student. Why would they do this to her?"

She basically grew up here, but she feels so isolated. And it's not the students. The students love and accept her," Rodriguez said. "The kids even nominated her for prom queen, but she ducked out, knowing the officials would never let her be prom queen."

It's not know whether the victim will take any legal action.

Stay strong, Ceara!

Read More: Celebrity gossip juicy celebrity rumors Hollywood gossip blog from Perez Hilton

Celebrity Juice, Not from Concentrate

Unions Oppose Cuts - Greek Headline Coming Your Way.

“We find ourselves before the most savage, unprovoked and unjust attack,” said Spyros Papaspyros, head of the ADEDY civil servants union, after meeting Papandreou in Athens today. “The answer will be given in the street.”

Measures may include a three-year wage freeze for public workers and cutting two of the 14 salary payments that they receive annually, the ADEDY union said.

Papandreou is stuck between investors, who want faster deficit cuts, and voters and unions, who are already chafing from existing austerity measures. Elected in October on pledges to raise wages for public workers, Papandreou has been forced to cut salaries, curb spending and raise taxes to reduce a deficit that was more than four times the EU’s limit last year.

Sound familiar?  We in the US may soon face similar measures.

American Taxpayer Getting Screwed by Greek Debt

Zero Hedge ( has an interesting article out about the proposed IMF loan to Greece (the US is the biggest contributor to the IMF).
In breaking all ties with reality, the IMF has decided that not only will US taxpayer money be freely abused to rescue a profligate Greece, but that money will be effectively junior to existing claims, in essence making it some MC Escher DIP reverse DIP nightmare. Basically US taxpayers will be Last In, Last Out, and will recover any proceeds only after existing creditors get paid out. Pardon us, but this is bloody ridiculous. When will someone in the mainstream media start focusing on this??? Americans are getting the short end of the stick, and nobody in this country knows or cares about it.This is more billions that will be promptly paid and never recovered.

Jobless - Benefits Expiring - What's Next?

Since the U.S. recession began in December 2007, Congress has extended the length of unemployment benefits for the jobless three times. Now, the lawmakers may have reached their limit.

“What happens to these families when they have no money for food, no money for their rent and no money for their health care?” said Representative Jim McDermott, a Washington Democrat. “It’s a problem that nobody around here wants to talk about.”

They are quietly drawing the line at 99 weeks of aid, a mark that hundreds of thousands of Americans have already reached. In coming months, the number of those who will receive their final government check is projected to top 1 million.  Democrats who have pushed through the past extensions agree there’s insufficient backing to go beyond 99 weeks, largely because of mounting concern over the federal deficit, projected to reach $1.5 trillion this year.

“You can’t go on forever,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, of Montana, whose panel oversees the benefits program. “I think 99 weeks is sufficient,” he said.

“There’s just been no discussion to go beyond that,” said Senator Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat.

About 3.4 million Americans have been out of work for more than a year, according to a study by the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative.

The deadline hasn’t been lost on Teauna Stephney, a 39-year-old single mother from Bothell, Washington, who said she could become homeless once her $407 weekly checks stop in June.

“What are people like me supposed to do?” said Stephney, who said almost two years of benefits haven’t proved long enough for her to find work after she lost her last job in August 2008. Referring to lawmakers, she said, “I would like them to come and talk to me and spend a day in my shoes.”

Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

Ther headlines speak for themselves.


Gulf Leak Spewing Five Times As Much Oil As Thought... Spill Exceeds BP's 'Worst-Case Scenario'... BP Chief: 'We'll Take Help From Anyone'

Billions of dollars generated by outdoor sports, commercial fishing and beach tourism along the Gulf of Mexico coast are at risk if crude oil leaking from a damaged well off the coast of Louisiana washes aground. BP Plc, which owns the well, says it is leaking five times faster than previously thought, spewing 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf.

The spill may threaten wildlife and seafood production in a state known as “Sportsman’s Paradise,” as well as in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida or Texas, said Robert Shipp, chairman of the Marine Sciences Department at the University of South Alabama.

Louisiana is the largest seafood producer in the lower 48 states, with annual retail sales of about $1.8 billion, according to state data. Recreational fishing generates about $1 billion in retail sales a year, according to the state.

The marshes also are home to 5 million migratory birds, along with alligators, turtles and other species.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Things in Europe Are Very Unstable - Scary Times Ahead?

As Simon Johnson reports:
This is not now about Greece (with 2 year yields reported around 20 percent today) or Portugal (up 7 basis points) or even Spain (2 year yields up 27 basis points; wake up please) or even Italy (up 6 basis points). This is no longer about an IMF package for Greece or even ring fencing other weaker eurozone economies.
This is about the fundamental structure of the eurozone, about the ability and willingness of the international community to restructure government debt in an orderly manner, about the need for currency depreciation within (or across) the eurozone. It is presumably also about shared fiscal authority within the eurozone – i.e., who will support whom and on what basis?
The drama continues following S&P’s slice to Greece’s debt rating (to junk status of BB+, a three-notch decline, which prompted a surge in 2-year bond yields to a Zeus-like 15%) and the two-notch decline to Portugal’s rating, to A- from A+. The Euro has bounced back this morning and the flight to higher quality German and French bonds has partly reversed course as the markets are swirling with speculation that the IMF is about to announce a stepped-up aid package (yet again!) and the ECB’s Trichet (“Mr. Euro” himself) is set to make a trip to Berlin to meet with German parliamentarians today.

It's Official: Greek Bailout Expanded To €100-€120 billion over three years (40 billion a year) according to Strauss-Khan, which would eliminate Greek funding needs for the next 3 years via a primed DIP funded by Europe and the US. German contribution to be no less than €25 billion. IMF role will likely be at least €25 billion if not more. At about 20% US contribution to the IMF, the US taxpayers just got hit with a $7 billion bailout fee to make sure French and German banks don't have to Mark-to-Bankruptcy their Greek exposure. This is definitely not a done deal: Germany's SPD says they will not vote for the aid, which according to preliminary rumors will make all eurozone member states subordinate creditors to the new "DIP" facility. All those buying this rally are assuming that Germans will go quietly with the new proposal even though they threw up all over the old "only" €10 billion demand. Oh, and wait until Greeks realize what the "austerity" terms of the new IMF package are.

Beyond the Theism/Atheism Divide

I came across a fascinating article today in the Huffington Post by John Thatamanil calling out faults in certain believes expoused by Atheist and members of religious groups.  (

In the article, Thatamanil points out that "the squabbles between fundamentalists and the New Atheists are especially tragic because left-leaning religious communities and progressive atheists cannot find each other in the midst of all the sound and fury. Cut off from a deeper dialogue that moves beyond antagonism, they fail to make common cause on behalf of a shared vision of ecological and social justice."

Thatamanil points out:
Too many atheists display the same aggression and smug self-satisfaction that they detest in their fundamentalist rivals. The tragedy is that the crossfire between these groups prevents robust alliances between modest liberal religious communities and humble non-dogmatic atheists on matters of real urgency.
What binds many atheists together is an unshakable conviction that they know everything there is to know about religion, namely that it is irrational bondage to immutable doctrine. No amount of counterevidence can convince such atheists otherwise. What irony! But where do they come by this knowledge about religion? Their expertise seems to be derived by virtue of sheer sentience alone.
By contrast, if a theologian were to broadcast her convictions about molecular or evolutionary biology without some years of careful reading and study, she would be met with jeering laughter and summarily dismissed. Why then are uninformed atheists who have never read in theology exempt from similar derision? Sadly, every pedant believes himself entitled to his unearned convictions about religion.
But perhaps most importantly:
But strong alliances are possible not only between Christians and persons from other religious traditions but also between religious communities and curious, open-minded atheists, especially those graced with genuine wonder at the mystery of existence. Deepening their shared appreciation for mystery should drive theists and atheists alike toward a disposition of humility.

Claimed by such humility, liberal theists and atheists can come to see that they have a great deal in common: curiosity, willingness to interrogate and revise fundamental convictions, reverence for life, and a deep sense of sorrow about the damage inflicted upon the body politic by militant fundamentalists, whether they be theistic or atheistic.
Common ground.  Common values.  It can be had without condemning our fellow man.

Update - Two Firms Agree to End Recission - Maybe

Within a day of House leaders calling on insurance companies to preemptively end the practice of rescinding plans when a patient gets sick, two major insurers have complied.

UnitedHealthcare, "has ended its limited use of rescissions effective immediately, except in cases of fraud or intentional misrepresentation of material fact," the company announced on Wednesday in a clear admission that it was engaged in the practice as a matter of policy.

On Tuesday evening, WellPoint agreed to end the practice. The law regarding rescissions officially takes effect on Sept. 23.

UnitedHealthcare also intends to comply with an additional request, the company said, and "will be instituting independent, external third party review in the near term" that would allowed patients whose coverage is terminated to appeal the decision.

One key question remains.  What exactly constitutes fraud or misrepresentation will continue to be subject to dispute. Does forgetting to note childhood acne give insurers license to rescind a policy?

Arizona Immigration Law - Good or Bad?

Well, they don't seem to Welcome everyone.

In late April, Arizona passed a sweeping and controversial immigration bill authorizing police officers to stop suspected illegal immigrants and demand proof of citizenship.  Its aim is to identify, prosecute and deport illegal immigrants.

The law has sparked a national uproar, with politicians, pundits and citizens weighing in.

The law, which proponents and critics alike said was the broadest and strictest immigration measure in generations, would make the failure to carry immigration documents a crime and give the police broad power to detain anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. Opponents have called it an open invitation for harassment and discrimination against Hispanics regardless of their citizenship status.

President Obama criticized the law saying it threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”

Mexico’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it was worried about the rights of its citizens and relations with Arizona. Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles said the authorities’ ability to demand documents was like “Nazism.”

The Governor of Arizona said the law “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis we did not create and the federal government has refused to fix.”  Ms. Brewer and other elected leaders have come under intense political pressure here, made worse by the killing of a rancher in southern Arizona by a suspected smuggler a couple of weeks before the State Legislature voted on the bill. His death was invoked Thursday by Ms. Brewer herself, as she announced a plan urging the federal government to post National Guard troops at the border.

Dr. Doom - Euro At Risk - Spain Next

The LA Times is reporting:
Economist Nouriel Roubini, the famed Dr. Doom of the global financial crisis, doesn’t need much of a push to wax pessimistic. So the news Tuesday that Greece’s credit rating had been cut to junk status was like pitching him a softball right down the middle.
At a panel at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, Roubini worried that Greece’s financial woes -- and more important, the deepening fiscal problems of its European neighbors Portugal and Spain -- could batter global credit markets, disrupt the economic recovery and potentially tear apart the 11-year-old European monetary union.
“The reality is that what has happened in the last few months is the first test of the viability of the European market” and the euro currency, Roubini said, adding that the possibility of the European monetary union coming apart is “significantly rising.”
Roubini focused much of his concern on Spain, which in some ways is more troubled than Greece, he said. Spain’s unemployment rate, for example, is 20%, twice that of Greece. Both Spain and Portugal, he said, are uncompetitive in the international economy and will require a host of structural reforms.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Greek Debt Cut to Junk - Blind Panic.

You may not follow economic news much but this is huge.  The debt of Greece has been cut to "junk" status by Standard & Poor’s.  As reported by Bloomberg (
Greek two-year government note yields surged to more than 17 percent after Standard & Poor’s cut the nation’s credit rating three levels to BB+, or junk.
17% is an unheard of rate for a Soverign Nation. 

Portuguese, Spanish, Irish and Italian securities plunged and German debt rallied as investors sought safer assets after Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services cut Greece three levels to BB+, or junk, and lowered Portugal two steps to A-. Greek notes slid earlier as concern deepened that the nation will ask investors to accept delayed or reduced debt payments.
“We’re entering into a phase of blind panic,” said Orlando Green, an interest-rate strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in London. “Given the inaction of the euro nations to back Greece and to get things done quickly, we’ve found now this inaction has been a big obstacle. That’s not satisfying for the markets, and not for S&P either; hence, the downgrade.”
•We have updated our assessment of the political, economic, and budgetary challenges that the Greek government faces in its efforts to place Greece's public debt burden onto a sustained downward trajectory.
•We are lowering our ratings on Greece to 'BB+/B' from 'BBB+/A-2' and assigning a negative outlook.
•The negative outlook reflects the possibility of a further downgrade if the Greek government's ability to implement its fiscal and structural reform program materially weakens in our view, undermined by domestic political opposition at home or by even weaker economic conditions than we currently assume.
Keep up on this story.  At 17% Greece faces default and catastrophe.  But as I said yesterday, Greece may be a harbinger of things to come for States and Municipalities in the US.

Food For Thought

Thought Experiment: What would the reaction of the press and the GOP be if the Tea Partiers were Americans of Arab descent? Or just ordinary African Americans who gathered in the tens of thousands, angry, well armed and ranting incoherently about taking back the country?

Trees/Forest: There were well over 100,000 people, perhaps 200,000, gathered on the National Mall for the Earth Day rally. Even though there were ten times the number of people there than the Tea Partiers bussed in, they did not get one-tenth of the media coverage. Maybe they should carry guns instead of signs, to show they are serious.

The Disillusioned : Like all of the generations since WWII, young people are told that if they study hard, get an education and work within the system, good jobs and the American Dream would be theirs. As this year's graduates have discovered, this is a lie. They are graduating with immense debts and very dim employment prospects. They will not be setting off on a great adventure, they will be returning to mom and dad, defeated and depressed. Welcome to the world Wall Street, globalization, and the free market have created.

Home Prices - How has your City Fared?

According to S&P ( data through February 2010, released today for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, show that the annual rates of decline of the 10-City and 20-City Composites improved in February compared to January 2010. For the first time since December 2006, the annual rates of change for the two Composites are positive. The 10-City Composite is up 1.4% from where it was in February 2009, and the 20-City Composite is up 0.6% versus the same time last year. However, 11 of 20 cities saw year-over-year declines.

And from

Prices in Las Vegas are off a mind-blowing 55.7% from the peak, while prices in Dallas only off 6.0% from the peak.

Although the report wa sthe first to show an increase in three years, prices still decreased (SA) in 15 of the 20 Case-Shiller cities in February.

Struggling to Survive - A Harrowing Story.

For most of us, the story of the oil rig explosion in the Gulf is seen more for the horrific impact on the environment and a sad tale of the loss of life which these offshore workers face day in and day out. But there is also the more personal stories, like that of Oleander Benton, a cook on the rig that exploded off the Louisiana coast.

According to the AP, Oleander was sitting at a laundry room table with a friend when the lights went out. Then, there was the blast.

The Deepwater Horizon platform shuddered, debris fell from the ceiling and Benton hit the floor, as she had been trained to do. She scrambled through hallways littered with rubble, following a man in a white T-shirt.
"I could not see anything but that man. He just kept on saying 'Come this way, come that way.' It was like he was coaching me to my lifeboat, because I couldn't see," she said.
She made it across the sweltering, mud-caked deck to a lifeboat — one of 115 people to safely escape the platform after the explosion a week ago. Eleven others are missing and presumed dead.

Nightmares have haunted Benton since the explosion April 20. She remembers following the man who knew his way around the platform, which is about the size of two football fields. She stumbled as he led her to the deck.
"Mud was everywhere ... This was mud that was shooting up from the well. It was oily mud, real oily," she said.
The fire made the already muggy night almost unbearable. Benton's name was checked off as she boarded a lifeboat, then there was a roll call to make sure everyone was accounted for.
"It looked like it was taking forever to get that boat in the water," she said, but "I think that's just because I was so anxious to go."

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania -Capital of Pennsylvania - Bankrupt?

Bloomberg is reporting ( that Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, the sixth-most populous U.S. state, has been advised by City Controller Dan Miller that it should consider seeking Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection.

In my post on Greece I pointed out the precarious nature of municipalities in the US and now Harrisburg may be the next victim.
“It’s not good,” Miller said at the start of the hearing before a silent audience of about 20 that included city officials and union members. “Nobody wants to do it, but it’s there for a reason,” he said. “Maybe for the purpose of helping cities that are in the situation we are in now.”

The althernatives may be even worse for a cash-strapped City and for every-day working people already suffering to get by. 
Council members should consider asset sales and tax increases before heading to bankruptcy court, said Fred Reddig, the executive director of the state’s office of Local Government Services. He suggested following steps recommended in a recovery plan prepared by Management Partners Inc. of Cincinnati, a consulting firm hired to study the city’s finances as part of a state municipal support program.

Oil Spill Disaster - "Never Seen Anything Like This"

"We've never seen anything like this magnitude," he said. "The problems are going to be on the beaches themselves, that's where it will be really visible."  So reports George Crozier, oceanographer and executive director at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in Alabama, who said he was studying wind and ocean currents driving the oil.  He said Pensacola, Fla., is probably the eastern edge of the threatened area, though no one really knows what the effects will be.

Aaron Viles, director for New Orleans-based Gulf Restoration Network, an environmental group, said he flew over the spill Sunday and saw what was likely a sperm whale in the oil sheen.

"There are going to be significant marine impacts," he said.

According to the AP:
Concern Monday focused on the Chandeleur and Breton barrier islands in Louisiana, where thousands of birds are nesting.
"It's already a fragile system. It would be devastating to see anything happen to that system," said Mark Kulp, a University of New Orleans geologist.
The spill also threatened oyster beds in Breton Sound on the eastern side of the Mississippi River. Harvesters could only watch and wait.

If the oil continues oozing north, the white-sand beaches in Mississipi, Alabama and west Florida could be fouled.

In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal asked the Coast Guard to use containment booms, which float like a string of fat sausage links to hold back oil until it can be skimmed off the surface. Crews were trying to keep oil out of the Pass A Loutre wildlife area, a 115,000-acre preserve that is home to alligators, birds and fish near the mouth of the Mississippi River.

A fleet of boats and containment equipment was working to skim oil from the surface of the Gulf late last week. But a weather system that spawned deadly tornadoes in Louisiana and Mississippi and stirred up heavy seas over the weekend forced crews to suspend their efforts.

Coast Guard Petty Officer Connie Terrell said 32 vessels are waiting for conditions to improve to resume the cleanup. She could not say when they will be back at work, but she said 23,000 feet of containment boom had been deployed, 70,000 more were ready to go when the effort resumes, and another 50,000 feet were on order.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hope you are not planning on moving anytime soon.

Are you?

Take all the houses now on the market, add in all the houses the banks have on their 'to do' list, then add in all the houses that will most likely end up in foreclosure as the months go by. Divide by the going monthly sales and find there is a 9 year supply of homes waiting to be drive down housing prices.

Suppose sales really pick up. Up by 200% or 300%. Then there would only be a 3 year or 4 year supply of houses. 3 years to clear all of the houses, not including yours, which need to be sold.

Update on Oil Spill In Gulf

The oil spill already stretches across more than 1,800 square miles of water in the Gulf Of Mexico, according to the Coast Guard.  The oil is escaping from two leaks in a drilling pipe about 5,000 feet below the surface. The leaks threaten hundreds of miles of coastline in four states, with waters that are home to dolphins, sea birds, and prime fishing and tourism areas.

As of Monday afternoon, an area 48 miles long and 39 miles wide was covered by oil that leaked from the site of the rig, which was owned by Transocean Ltd. and operated by BP PLC.

It Pays BIG bucks to be Palin!

The  New York Magazine is reporting that ( over the past year, Palin has amassed a $12 million fortune and shows no sign of slowing down. Her memoir has so far sold more than 2.2 million copies, and Palin is planning a second book with HarperCollins. This January, she signed a three-year contributor deal with Fox News worth $1 million a year, according to people familiar with the deal. In March, Palin and Burnett sold her cable show to TLC for a reported $1 million per episode, of which Palin is said to take in about $250,000 for each of the eight installments.

Palin commands $100,000 per speech, putting her in the same league as fellow Speakers Bureau clients Colin Powell, George W. Bush, and Rudy Giuliani.

Love her or hate her, she is an interesting person.  She draws crowds like few others.  But even her admirers take issue with some of her new-found wealth and demands.  For example Palin’s $100,000 contract for the tea-party event—which drew fire from rival tea-party groups angry that Palin was cashing in at their expense—included $18,000 for private-jet travel for her and an entourage of five people, according to two people who’ve seen the contract.

Interestingly enough:
Though Palin may not like it, she makes money for Democrats and Republicans alike. Across the political spectrum, Palin is a ratings magnet. Whenever she appears on Fox News, ratings tick up by 10 to 15 percent. At MSNBC, she’s also a ratings phenomenon, albeit with opposite adjectives. Tina Fey’s reprisal of her Palin character in early April juiced Saturday Night Live’s ratings, beating prime-time programming, a rare feat. Online, right-wing sites like the Drudge Report frequently plug Palin headlines, while Palin’s presence at liberal outlets like the Huffington Post and Talking Points Memo routinely sparks hundreds of reader comments. During the campaign, people said she could be another Oprah, but now, in many ways, she’s bigger than Oprah, an empath for people who feel, rightly or wrongly, that America has forgotten them.
One of my interests is in "branding" and creating images for products and people.  Sarah Palin has created a very powerful brand and it is paying off.  Whether it will pave the way to the Presidency is, to me, a different question. Even the best of brands don't transcend all lines, and what may be commercially successful, may not seem presidential.

Financial Reform - Something on which We Can Agree.

It seems that we here in the US have become increasingly partisan. Right/left, liberal/conservative, republican/democrat.

But a new poll in the Washington Post shows that:

About two-thirds of Americans support stricter regulations on the way banks and other financial institutions conduct their business, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
It also shows that a slim majority - 52 percent - of all Americans says they trust Obama over the GOP on the issue, while 35 percent favor the Republicans in Congress. Independents prefer Obama 47 to 35 percent, with 16 percent trusting neither side on the issue.

But according to the Huffington Post ( GOP Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that he has 41 votes to block debate.

Let's hope that we can all agree soon on means to stop Wall Street from bringing us to the verge of financial disaster again.


Republicans Vote As Bloc To Filibuster Wall Street Bill... Single Democrat Joins GOP, Likely Voted No Because Warren Buffett Didn't Get Special Deal... Obama Releases Surprisingly Harsh Statement... Dems Plan To Force Another Vote This Week

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It is depressing to be Poor.

Boeing CEO Jim McNerney succinctly summarized a recent study by Northwestern University's Center for Labor Market Studies regarding unemployment rates for different income brackets:

The Center analyzed the labor conditions faced by income-grouped U.S. households during the fourth quarter of 2009.
In the face of one of the worst economic environments in memory, those in the highest income groups had nearly full employment levels, with just a 3.2 percent unemployment rate for households with over $150,000 in income and a 4 percent rate in the next-highest income group of $100,000-plus.
The two lowest-income groups -- under $12,500 and under $20,000 annually -- faced unemployment rates of 30.8 percent and 19.1 percent, respectively.

The study - published in February - notes that the poor are suffering Depression levels of unemployment:

Workers in the lowest income decile faced a Great Depression type unemployment rate of nearly 31% while those in the second lowest income decile had an unemployment rate slightly below 20% .... Unemployment rates fell steadily and steeply across the ten income deciles. Workers in the top two deciles of the income distribution faced unemployment rates of only 4.0 and 3.2 percent respectively, the equivalent of full employment. The relative size of the gap in unemployment rates between workers in the bottom and top income deciles was close to ten to one. Clearly, these two groups of workers occupy radically different types of labor markets in the U.S.

The study is subtitled "A Truly Great Depression Among the Nation’s Low Income Workers Amidst Full Employment Among the Most Affluent".

Its not just those lacking education, the level of unempoyment among recent College grads is the highest in history.

Let them eat cake!

42,000 Gallons of Oil Leaking Every Day - Damned if We do/Damned if We Don't

The Associated Press is reporting that the Coast Guard discovered Saturday that oil is leaking from the damaged well that fed a massive rig that exploded this week off Louisiana's coast, while bad weather halted efforts to clean up the mess that threatens the area's fragile marine ecosystem.

BP PLC, which leased the rig and is taking the lead in the cleanup, and the government have been using the remotely operated vehicles to try to stop the leak by closing valves on the well deep underwater. If that doesn't work, the company could drill what's called an intervention well to control the oil flow. But the intervention drilling could take months.
We in the United States (an now China and elsewhere) have an insatiable thirst for oil. We here in the US are the worse consuming more oil per person than anywhere else in the World. We must develop alternate energy sources not only to meet our future needs, but to stop the horrible effects of disasters such as these.

We are killing our planet. Ironic that the explosion was near to Earth Day. A not-so-gentle reminder of the importance of Earth Day and efforts to save our planet.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Palin - Bachmann & Goering - A Match Made in Hell

I recently uncovered the secret playbook for Palin & Bachmann. Boy do they have it figured out. First you scare people, call them un-American, say "we" need to take back the Country. And, then lie, BIG lies, the bigger the better. Death Panels anyone?

"Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany.  That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."
- Hermann Goering, Nazi Reichsmarshall
"If you must tell lies, make them as big as possible, the bigger the better. Then, even when they are proven to be lies, something will always remain of them."
Joseph Goebbels, quoting Machiavelli

Word of the Day - Recission - Russian Roulette With Your Life

There has been a lot of talk about "Obama Care" lately, with people on both sides of the issue.  However the story just published by Murray Waas in Reuters should scare you to death.

The story is about a two different women who discover each has breast cancer  Thereafter their insurance is promptly canceled due to "fraud."  The women paid their premiums on time.  Before they fell ill, neither had any problems with their insurance and initially believed their policies had been canceled by mistake.

As reported:

They had no idea that WellPoint was using a computer algorithm that automatically targeted them and every other policyholder recently diagnosed with breast cancer. The software triggered an immediate fraud investigation, as the company searched for some pretext to drop their policies, according to government regulators and investigators.

That "practice" is called Recission.  And it appears to be very wide-spread.  The report goes on to say:

That tens of thousands of Americans lost their health insurance shortly after being diagnosed with life-threatening, expensive medical conditions has been well documented by law enforcement agencies, state regulators and a congressional committee. Insurance companies have used the practice, known as "rescission," for years. And a congressional committee last year said WellPoint was one of the worst offenders.

Unfortunately even with new proposed health care legislation, this practice may not be over.  According to the report:

During the recent legislative process for the reform law, however, lobbyists for WellPoint and other top insurance companies successfully fought proposed provisions of the legislation. In particular, they complained about rules that would have made it more difficult for the companies to fairly -- or unfairly -- cancel policyholders.
If you think it can't happen to you, read the story of Patricia Reilling:

In April 2008, Patricia Reilling also was diagnosed with breast cancer. Anthem Blue Cross of Kentucky, a WellPoint subsidiary, paid the bills for a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

But the following January, after Reilling suffered a life-threatening staph infection requiring two emergency surgeries in three days, Anthem balked and refused to pay more. They soon canceled her insurance entirely.
Unable to afford additional necessary surgeries for nearly 16 months, Reilling ended up severely disabled and largely confined to her home. As a result of her crushing medical bills, the once well-to-do businesswoman is now dependent on food stamps.
Today she is on food stamps. She has taken her Social Security early, which means that when she is older, she will be eligible for fewer benefits. She buys clothes from consignment stores she once donated to. She recently got some part-time work as a copywriter, which she can do from home, but that barely pays for her drug prescriptions, let alone surgery.

Reilling waits hours to be seen by a doctor at a clinic, if she can be seen at all. "The thing I didn't understand about going poor is that your time no longer has value to others," she says.
What a sad statement about our society where we make people believe that "going poor (means) your time no longer has value to others."

There but for the grace of God go I.

Should our right to health care be dependent on a computer algorithm?

Poison Pill - A Whole New Meaning - Pharma's Money Grab

From hcrenewal blog:

Now, as reported to date only on the PostScript blog, a US government report on problems with active pharmaceutical ingredients made in China has appeared.

A new report (pdf) by the U.S. China Economic and Security Review Commission stresses the safety risks to Americans posed by pharmaceutical ingredients made in China.

According to the report, issued by a group that advises Congress on the economic and trade implications of U.S.-China relations, found that the U.S. is the number one destination for Chinese pharmaceutical raw material exports – a $2.2 billion business each year. The U.S. relies heavily on Chinese products not only for over-the-counter drugs but for active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) found in prescription drugs.

And the report makes clear that China has neither the will nor the systems in place to monitor its exports.

Read that again. The basic materials going into your prescriptions medicines may be unsafe. There is no way to know. No one is checking to make sure that your medications are safe. What you think you may be taking to keep you healthy and productive may kill you.

What many Evangelicals and Atheists Share in Common

I write often about my issues with organized religion and my own views which are more akin to atheism. I just read a very interesting article by Skye Jethani, an ordained pastor, who calls out many of the actions taken by the Religious Right with which I have also had issue and discussed in this blog. On Huffington Post Jethani writes (

The common criticism levied on atheists by evangelicals is that they are prideful -- seeking to live "above God" with no regard for his existence or instructions. Atheists, the argument says, have given up on a theistic universe in favor of a humanist one -- a world in which purpose and truth are fluidly defined by the individual or at best one's community.
I often write how I believe we should all be humanist, caring for one another. It is not that I seek to live above the notion of this said "God", just that the principles of Christianity and other religions are founded on being good to your fellow man.  I agree with their messages of kindness and goodness but completly object to how it is distorted and used as a weapon.

Jethani further writes:

But evangelicals should take no delight in pointing out the speck in the atheists' eye while a log remains firmly lodged in our own.
But in their attempts to conform the United States' law and society to God's commands, these culturally crusading evangelicals have exchanged the Gospel of Jesus Christ for a Gospel of Morality. And in the process many of my evangelical sisters and brothers find themselves guilty of the very sin they peg on atheists -- seeking a position of authority above God.
Gospel of Morality.  The interesting thing about morality, is that it is largely defined by the individual, what they deem moral and what they do not.  In a previous post I wrote how people pick and choose which passages in the Old and New Testament which they will follow, i.e., how many ignore the provisions which say you shall not eat shellfish?

Jethani highlights this same hypocrisy:

Countless evangelical teens have been taught that if they abstain from sexual activity before marriage God will bless their sex lives after the wedding. Evangelical parents clamor for "biblical" parenting methods guaranteed to result in moral, obedient children. And I've counseled a distraught business owner in my church who believed that if he gave generously to Christ's work, God would prosper his company.
The problem with this "life under God" view of the world, apart from the obvious fact that it doesn't work, is that it is predicated on fear and control rather than love. What drives many who buy into such an approach is not love for one's Creator, but a desire to control God as a means of survival and advancement. Whether an ancient culture sacrificing a virgin in the volcano, or contemporary conservative evangelicalism, the "life under God" view inevitably results in human attempts to control the divine through ritual, morality, and dogmatic manipulation of others.
Just the other day I wrote about this, how Hurricane Katrina was purported to be "God's Wrath." The concept that many religious leaders preach is absolutely predicated on fear and control rather than love. My fight with the Religious Right is that they use religion not for love for one's Creator but as a means to control God as a means of survival and advancement.

And most importantly Jethani states:

The great irony is that while claiming submission to God, those advocating a life under God are actually seeking control over him through their religiosity. Pray X, sacrifice Y, avoid Z, and God's blessings are guaranteed. They have reduced God to a predictable, controllable, even contemptible formula. Some evangelicals condemn the atheists for exalting themselves over God without realizing they are guilty of the same sin by other means.
His article is well worth the read.

Skye Jethani is an ordained pastor, managing editor of Leadership Journal, and the author of The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity. He blogs at

Friday, April 23, 2010

At what point does it become a crime against humanity?

The New York Times is reporting ( that "[t]he longest-serving bishop in Belgium resigned Friday after admitting to sexually abusing “a young man in my close entourage” many years ago, becoming the latest cleric to quit in a spreading abuse scandal."

And what is the Church's response?

Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard said:

“We are aware of the crisis of confidence his resignation will set in motion,” Archbishop Léonard said. But he stressed that the Catholic Church in Belgium was determined to “turn over a leaf from a not-very-distant past when such matters would pass in silence or be concealed.”
It seems the church is more concerned with public relations than with the harm to these children. There should have been an unqualified apology and not some self-serving statement about how much better the Church is in not concealing these crimes.

Was this artist trying to tell us something?

Glee - Madonna - Irrational Exuberance!

I don't watch much TV. I am a news junky though. I hate most reality television. Frankly I have enough to deal with my own hollow reality like getting myself to the gym or trying to learn to cook or getting my dog George to stop pooping in this one corner of the house (any suggestions???), much less watching someone's pretend reality.

(One question. Does Fox news count as news or as bad reality TV or just pure fiction?)

Seriously, these bachelor/batchelorette shows are promoting such shallow values. What is a kid to learn from watching these people line up 30 possible " loves", then slowly widdle them down. Should anyone get married when they meet this way? (If you really care about the "sanctity" of marriage, then this should be on the top of your list to stop!). It's like watching marriage by firing squad. Now that would be interesting, if you don't get chosen you get shot. Let's show just how desperate dating can really be.

If I want humor I will just read Perez Hilton calling these people out for who they are. (Yeah I occasionally read Perez for escapism. At least the guy calls it like he sees it.) Imagine Perez as the anchor of your local news - yellow hair, pink pants - that is true Technicolor.

I have not been drawn to most network shows in a long time. HBO still is great - "True Blood", the days of "Six Feet Under", "Tell Me You Love Me.' " Flight Of The Concords" Those are great shows. But otherwise, where is the originality, the spunk? Most formulaic sitcoms suck in my opinion. It is like we are just programmed to laugh at the right time.

Jerry Seinfeld "created" a lousy new reality show in my opinion, "The marriage ref." I expect more from him. Let's put celebs on stage and make fun of "middle america" trash people. It is mean spirited and not funny at all. I bet Madonna regretted doing an episode of that crap. It made her seem very pedestrian. It seemed very beneath her potential such as the brilliant usage of her brand in GLEE. Heart, artistry entertainment, brilliance.

And even if a show starts out with promise it all too often looses sight and becomes a caricature of itself. (Lost started out very interesting and then just became ... lost).

Just when I was about to give up, along comes Glee. If you haven't seen Glee you should. In some ways it is the most unexpected show from the brilliant Ryan Murphy who created Nip Tuck. It a musical show with a mismatched bunch of kids trying to navigate high-school. It's a John Hughes movie (Breakfast Club) merged with all of the musical exuberance of the movie Fame.

Let me preface this by saying I am not a big musical movie buff. I doubt I could name any of the "Greatest Musicals of All Time" (well, probably a few). Moulen Rouge was awesome. I still sing "The Hills Are Alive With The Sound Of Music" in the shower.

But what makes Glee brilliant is that it presents an unabashed look at people with real issues and real concerns, interposing these with the angst of coming of age in high-school. It has the geeks, the popular kids, the athletes and the cheerleaders but it also includes, disabled kids (handicapabled as Sue calls them), a gay kid, a pregnant teen (Dianna Agron - is she the most smokin new actress in town or what? I think I'm in love) and a host of other interesting characters.

These kids deal with real issues, real problems all the while signing in a heightened reality that is pure bliss.. And the song list transcends all ages.

This past week, the Glee cast did Madonna. Madonna is both controversial and as much cemented in modern culture as Jesus. She may have done more for mankind with her message of "Open Your Heart". She is loved and hated. Her music is never going away, and as Glee showed to us all, full of messages of hope and inclusion. Glee used all of the big M's best messages, tolerance, acceptance, self love, etc. It might be the best television episode I have ever seen.

attn: ryan murphy and glee producers:

Imagine the Glee casting doing: David Bowie music for an episode:

under pressure
let's dance
modern love
rebel rebel
young americans
golden years

The Psychiatric Drugging of Children - A Must Read

What are we doing to our children? 

In an article by Evelyne Pringle ( she writes:

Of all the harmful actions of modern psychiatry, "the mass diagnosing and drugging of children is the most appalling with the most serious consequences for the future of individual lives and for society," warns the world-renowned expert, Dr Peter Breggin, often referred to as the "Conscience of Psychiatry."
We're bringing up a generation in this country in which you either sit down, shut up and do what you're told, or you get diagnosed and drugged," he points out.
Read that again - We're bringing up a generation in this country in which you either sit down, shut up and do what you're told, or you get diagnosed and drugged.

The sad thing, is it is true.  Somewhere, our schools, have lost patience with our children.  We put them on mind-altering drugs, but for what reason?  It seems that the only real reason is to make them easier with which to deal.  Drug em and shut them up.

Is this really necessary?

Some Assembly Required

Do you read the site Some Assembly Required? (  You should.

Each day, the site takes some of the top news and links to the stories while adding their own take on the story.  Its irreverent and brilliant. 

Check it out.

Beware of Greeks Bearing Gifts - California Part Deux

I had a very interesting dinner last night with someone from Greece and it got me thinking.

The people of Greece are facing a horrific calamity; the prospect of sovereign default (bankruptcy). Bloomberg reports today ( that Greece has requested the aid of the European Union and the IMF to help resolve its debt crisis; however, are Greece or the EU ready for the consequences?

Greece has a problem, they spend more money than the government takes in (sound familiar to all of us in the US). A lot more. The base cause is reported to be, among other items, a too generous pension/retirement system, too many public employees and a lax tax system.

Typically, the IMF imposes strict austerity measures on any government which seeks its aid. It does not appear that the citizens of Greece are ready to accept such measures and will riot and strike.

The EU will have to deal with this as well as problems in other member Countries, including, Ireland, Portugal and Italy. The breakup of the Euro is not out of the question.

Here in the United States, we often look to such issues abroad with some level of detachment. While we sympathize with the individuals and worry about the overall impact on the global financial system, for many, it just doesn't seem to have any direct impact. The US is like an island, we share a boarder with Mexico (largely unpopulated, and seen more as an issue for immigration than anything else) and a boarder with Canada (a country with which the US has established such a level of homogeny that we view each other more like we do our own States than foreign Countries). So, it is not unexpected that we have a level of detachment form such events.

However, the very same issues plaguing Greece are also tearing apart our States and Municipalities. Throughout the US, various States and Municipalities face a crisis on a magnitude never before seen with deficits approaching 40% to 50% of the prior years budgets.

Much like with Greece, there are no easy fixes. And much like with Greece, one of the biggest issues facing the States and Municipalities are how to deal with bloated pension costs and systems where public employees have benefits which are far greater than those offered in the private sector.

I am not against public employees. It has simply become a question of whether we can afford to maintain the current system. The answer increasingly seems no.

Then, what will we in the US do? Tax receipts, on both a State and National level, continue to either decline of remain weak. For States and Municipalities, absent pay outs or aid from the Federal Government, this will be a catastrophe. And, much like with Greece and the other member EU states, how will the States where budget problems are not as great feel about bailing out their neighbors? And will the employee's in the bailed out states agree to austerity measures? So far the answer seems to be no. Across the US, teachers and other public employees are picketing and demonstrating to stop budget cuts. In some instances this may be laudable, but at what point do public programs and expenses become too much?

We may soon find out.

So we all need to watch Greece with a heightened interest, not only because we are concerned about the Greek people, but because their problems may be our own.

Update:  Zero hede is reporting:

As Bloomberg reports: "ADEDY, the Athens-based federation representing the more than 500,000 Greek civil servants who have seen wages cut this year, said the move signaled a new and “barbaric attack,” and called a protest rally for April 27 [yep, another day of strikes and rioting]. Another demonstration has been set by the opposition Syriza party for today in Athens. "This is a premeditated crime against Greek society,” Alexis Tsipras, the head of Syriza said in an e-mailed statement. “The majority of the Greek people are being tossed helplessly in the tempest of insecurity, unemployment and poverty.” He called for a referendum on the decision to seek IMF support." So here we are, and neither Germany nor Greece really wants the bailout So who the hell is benefiting from all this theater? Why, the major banks, of course, and a few politicians who are, and tried and true Chris Dodd fashion, are merely their lackeys for life. We are now convinced that there will be a government overhaul, hopefully peaceful, but most likely violent, in Greece in the next 3 months if the IMF bailout in fact occurs. We wish we could say the same thing about the United States.
Riots, Public Demonstrations, Violence.  Coming soon to a theater near you (I mean you California, Illionois, New Jersey, etc.)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Hate & Bigotry - God Bless The Children - Catholic Church Hypocrisy

The following is an article I did a while back, but since I just started this blog I wanted to include it.  It is still very relevant.

By now, many of you have heard the story of the Boulder School District and their decision to expel a child because his parents were gay ( Actually they said they expelled him because his parents were "living in open discord with Catholic teaching".

I find this reprehensible not only because it seems contrary to the notion of a "Catholic" church but because it is antithetical to the very foundation of America, that we are all to be judged on our own merits.

After reading the article I had some thoughts. -"living in open discord with Catholic teaching"- well, what does that mean?

What about children whose parents are divorced? Aren't they living in open discord with the teachings?

And we don't even need to ask about kids whose parents are living with someone other than a spouse. Clearly they are not living in accordance with Catholic teaching. And what of parents who have affairs? By all means get ride of those kids.

And what of parents who use contraceptive devices? It would be easy to tell. Just assume any women who does not have a child at least every 2 years is clearly doing something. Out with those kids as well.

What about parents who eat meat on Friday? Oh, wait. That only applies during lent. But still, if the parents are eating meat, get ride of those kids now.

When I see things like this it makes me beg to ask, "where is the compassion, the charity, the love of your neighbor, forgiveness." In the story of Jesus, he had a prostitute as one of his closest disciples. I assume that is not "in accordance with Catholic teaching" yet somehow he was able to get along with her. I guess we know better now than Jesus could know.

When Popes of years past had mistresses and children by them, the Church didn't see fit to excommunicate them. But we know better now.

A good friend of mine has a child that has cerebral palsy. The Catholic schools won't allow him to go to school there (his family is very Catholic). Too much trouble to try and teach him.

Roseanne Barr recently posted some very harsh words directed at the Catholic church.  But I wonder if we shouldn't demand even more!  She said:

The pedo priests are trying to cover up the number of LITTLE GIRLS they have molested too, as if that doesn't matter as much as what happens to boys. Trust me, the number of girls raped and molested by priests is at least double the boys. They are trying to cover it all up so that they can end up purging gay priests, and laying the blame on them. The fact is pedos like to rape both boys and girls, and only a small number of pedos are exclusively into male children. I am starting to think that any parent who takes their kids to catholic churches from now on should lose custody. Taking your kid where you know sex offenders hang out is inexcusable!!!

Earth Day - Celebrity Poseurs - We all Need to do More!

Earth Day is here ( Happy 40th Birthday. What is Earth Day? Is it relevant?

Wikipedia states that (

Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in held on April 22, 1970. Earth Day is celebrated in spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere. Earth Day Network, a group that wishes to become the coordinator of Earth Day globally, asserts that Earth Day is now observed on April 22 on virtually every country on Earth. World Environment Day, celebrated on June 5 in a different nation every year, is the principal United Nations environmental observance. Many communities also celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of environment-related activities, the first of which occurred in Philadelphia in 1970 (starting April 16 and culminating on Earth Day, April 22.)

What could be bad about inspiring awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment? With all the talk about Global Warming, floating islands of trash in the oceans, etc., Earth Day would seem to be more relevant than ever.

We live in a planet with limited resources. Yes, Earth is vast and has plentiful resources, but for far too long it seems we have simply taken advantage of that without regard to the consequences. Earth Day is in part a recognition of that.

But even those that promote an Earth friendly attitude are not without fault. The Daily Beast had an interesting take about Celebrity "Earth Day Poseurs." (

The bottom line is we can all do more.

But there are still amongst us, those that deny global warming and fail to see the danger in peak resources.

Doesn't it strike you as ironic that all too often these same people are conservative, right-wing, evangelicals? Is it because they only care about the here-after? What about the here and now? What about the quality of life of our children.

No one among us can solve the World's problems, but each of us should, as part of our own moral obligation, take whatever steps we can to make the Earth a better environment for us all.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Birthers - The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

If the hate and venom coming from the "Birthers" wasn't so crazy and insane, I would have to laugh at their stupidity.  However, their statements show just how dangerous they are. At the "Birther's" site ( they state that Obama is the "domestic enemy to the Constitutional Republic of the United States of America!"

I am not positive what the "Constitutional Republic of the United States of America" is, but I would bet most Birthers don't understand the differences between a "democracy" and a "republic". It seems that Birthers are happy to ignore facts and certified statements (see and instead believe in falsehoods and propaganda.

CNN and Anderson Cooper did a great show on this issue tonight ( It is shocking how so many people are willing to believe that some massive conspiracy exists (starting 47 years ago?) to have a foreign-born black man elected President. If the President wasn't black would we be having these discussions? As Anderson pointed out, did anyone ask where Presidents Bush and Clinton were born?

Fearmongering must stop!!  Overt racism  must stop.

Right-wing zealots love to quote Jefferson - "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants".  They hardly seem patriotic and in fact, they seem to be the tyrants.

God must be PISSED! - or - Were Mayan's right about 2012?

I just watched the movie 2012 the other night (I like disaster movies). The movie seemed a little over-the-top with its cities falling apart and all. I actually laughed at the movie; not what I think the producers intended.   Nevertheless, I watched it to the end, even though I was bored because I wanted to see the Archs float.

Throughout time, man has worried about and predicted the end of time. I was raised Catholic and know all about The Book of Revelations. It may happen, but I just can't understand the premise that God sends floods and storms and locusts to punish his people. This just doesn't seem to reconcile with the idea of a benevolent and all loving God. And if God did send his only son to be crucified on the cross, why would he turn around and send Katrina to flood New Orleans?

Disasters happen all the time. I live in California and we all wait any day for the "Big One." So if we know that it might happen at any time, is it fair to say its God's punishment? Isn't that like saying its not fair I got wet when I stood outside in the rain.

Some disasters are not as easily anticipated. But does that mean they are a punishment or just not what we expected?

In the last several months we have seen a number of earthquakes and now volcanic eruptions.

The Huffington Post is reporting that (

Scientists fear tremors at the Eyjafjallajokull (ay-yah-FYAH-lah-yer-kuhl) volcano could trigger an even more dangerous eruption at the nearby Katla volcano – creating a worst-case scenario for the airline industry and travelers around the globe.
A Katla eruption would be 10 times stronger and shoot higher and larger plumes of ash into the air than its smaller neighbor, which has already brought European air travel to a standstill for five days and promises severe travel delays for days more.

So now we have been warned. It could be catastrophic for many people, their lives forever changed. It could cause food shortages in Europe, bankrupt farmers in Argentina, New Zealand and elsewhere who depend on air travel to see their products. We should all do what we can to help those who suffer, as a moral obligation. But I don't see how it should be called punishment, because time and again, those that suffer the most are those less fortunate. The poor invariably suffer the most. Are they being punished because they are poor?  I just can't believe that... but then I don't believe in God.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Adopt a Pet - Save Your Life!

Adopt a pet and it will have you asking who saved who!

I was having lunch and then went to a store in Malibu to look at shirts I really don't need to buy. Just a lazy Sunday, enjoying the beautiful beaches in Malibu. As I walked out of the store, I noticed a group of people around a small cage. I hadn't noticed the sign when I came in, but they were having a pet adoption. A local rescue group had set up a tent and had a couple of dogs that they were trying to have adopted.

Who can resist a cute dog? Not me! So, I went up to see the dogs; it was a raggedy collection. Some old, some young, some cute, some a little worse for the wear. But amazingly enough, there was only one left who had not be adopted. He was George. There IS love at first sight!

George is this cool, smart, little Chihuahua mix. He bonds to me immediately. They said George had been in a shelter for the maximum and if he wasn't adopted he would be put down. He looked up at me with those puppy eyes and put his nose in my arm pit.

In that instant I realized I had to adopt George. He was (and is) pure love.

Everywhere I go, everyone I meet, they all want to say hello to George. They ask me what "breed" he is. They tell me how cute he is. They want to play with him. He is very happy now and I am much happier for having him.

Gay Marriage - Conservative Republicans' Hypocrisy

I write the following diatribe not for my personal gain but for all of our citizens.

Read this not for me…but for your fellow man!

I am perplexed.

One of the founding principles of the Unites States is that all men are created equally!

While from history we know that the understanding of this concept has matured over time - the right of persons other than property owners to vote; the right of women to vote; that slavery is immoral and illegal; that persons of different races and faiths may marry - it has done so while expanding, rather than contracting the idea of what freedom and equality means.

One of the other founding principles is that we should not subvert the rights of a minority based solely upon the opinions of the majority!

THIS very fundamental concept was the basis of our idea of separation of church and state. America was formed in large part because the majority wanted to deny the right of certain of its members from practicing the faith, which they chose.

I am not a gay activist; I am a human rights activist.

Yet I stand dismayed and discouraged that once again we as a people have refused to believe in equality for all and for the protection of the minority.

Yes, Maine has done what California and other states have done. It has taken away a right, the right of two consenting adults to express their love and marry, based on the views of a voting majority.

And what is the generally perceived basis of this majority? That they "are preserving the sanctity of marriage." This is where I become confused and perplexed. How does the expression of marriage between two consenting adults ever lessen the sanctity of marriage?

The absolute hypocrisy of many who raise this argument is startling. How many married people cheat on their spouses? In the last year alone we have witnessed as countless, ultra-conservative, "family-values" politicians have been caught to be flagrantly cheating on their wives. It is the ultimate hypocrisy that those most outspoken as to the "sanctity of marriage" and their opposition to gay-marriage, have admitted that they cheated on their spouses!

The rate of divorce is currently in excess of fifty percent. Where is the sanctity of marriage being observed there? There is currently an initiative in California to ban divorce. Certainly all those who believe in the "sanctity of marriage" will be wholeheartedly supporting this initiative.) (Not!) Perhaps we should also reinstate the laws against adultery. Surely those two initiatives would do more to preserve the "sanctity of marriage" than voting to deny two loving people the right to marry.

Even if you disagree with me as to anything I have said before, I will add one note of caution.

We as a people should tread very lightly whenever the two fundamental principles expressed above, equality and the protection of the minority, are limited. How would you feel if we became a nation of radical Islamics and declared that we must follow the literal interpretation of the Koran? (Which is just as much fiction as our bible written by man for man to control man.) Should women be stoned for showing their faces in public? That is what the Koran says. Well guess what the bible says, "And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination” Leviticus 20:13

Which we know man has interpreted this to say gays will burn in hell. But the bible also says it is an abomination to eat shellfish. How many of you will burn in hell for eating shell fish? I did get a rash from shellfish once.

Jesus as Commander in Chief

Comparing war with the crucifixion of Jesus is tantamount to a sacrilege!

One is about pure love the other is about killing. The teachings of this man, "Jesus" are about PEACE not WAR!

Wars fought in the name of religion are usually the most barbaric.  Consider the Crusade.

War is not the idealized depiction that one sees from World War II.

Can anyone truly say that those invaded in Iraq are now living in peace?

Wars today are mostly fought by the underprivileged - members of our society who are exploited by the government to help impose political and religious ideologies.

How many among you reading this diatribe have sons or daughters fighting, “So others may live and dwell in peace, happiness and freedom.”

It is pathetic people are using religion to justify wars.

Jesus was all about peace.

If there is a “heavenly father”…I can’t imagine he’d believe war is the way to peace.