Saturday, January 30, 2010

I Can't Buy What?!?


The US is the world's largest arms dealer. We recently announced a $6.4 billion arms sales to Taiwan. It seems to have pissed off the Chinese. Is that a problem? Besides the Chinese hold much of our debt, it could be a problem for the US military.

It seems that China is the only place where we can get
permanent magnets is critical to enabling control of aircraft and more specifically cruise missiles guidance systems as well as the Joint Direct Attack Munition or JDAM bomb.

How about that! Foreign interests are the only people we can buy a critical component for the control of our aircraft and some of our most sophisticated weapons.

Maybe we have taken free trade globalization a little too far?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Activist Judges

There has been a lot written about the recent Supreme Court decision on Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission that invalidated parts of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act. Some people agree with the decision and some people don't.

But what is not being asked is where did the Supreme Court get the power to decide if something is unconstitutional?

Ask 100 people on the street, and probably 99, if not 100, of them will answer the Constitution. They will be wrong. Article 3 of the Constitution defines the Judicial Branch. No where in there is the Supreme Court given the power to decide what is constitutional and what is not.

Well then, where did it come from? It came from a Supreme Court decision. Yes! They gave the power to themselves. It came from Marbury v. Madison in 1803. This case made them the ultimate power in deciding constitutional adherence.

Thomas Jefferson, founding father and president at the time, was not happy. He knew the intent of the writers of the constitution. Hell, he knew the writers of the constitution! This is what he had to say at the time.

"To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem [good justice is broad jurisdiction], and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves."
—Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:277

"Despotism of an oligarchy"

Have we reached that condition?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Are We A Nation Of Dodos?


CNN has just released a poll which shows that nearly 3 out of 4 people (21% most, 24% nearly all, 29% nearly half) believe that nearly half or more of the stimulus money has been wasted. 63 percent of the public thinks that projects in the plan were included for purely political reasons and will have no economic benefit.

Joe Klein at Time Magazine has commented about this poll. He points out two important facts:
  1. The largest single item in the package--$288 billion--is tax relief for 95% of the American public.
  2. The next highest amount is $275 billion in grants and loans to states. This is why your child's teacher wasn't laid off...and why the fire station has remained open, and why you're not paying even higher state and local taxes to close the local budget hole.
That's right. The two largest items, totaling $563 billion, or about 72% of the total stimulus package was for tax cuts and for money to the states so that they would not have to raise your taxes or cut your services.

Where was the "party of tax cuts" on this legislation? Well, no republicans voted for it in the House and only 3 voted for it in the Senate. So, what does this mean? When the republicans talk about tax cuts, they really mean tax cuts for the rich. When it comes to tax cuts for 95% of Americans, the hard working Americans who go to work every day, they are absent.

Look at their actions, not their words.

Joe Klein ends his article with the following statement:
"It is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens. It is impossible to be a citizen if you don't make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government. It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you're a nation of dodos."

Are we a nation of dodos?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Save Our Democracy

Alan Grayson has introducing five bills as part of his “Save Our Democracy” Reform Package (H.R. 4431-4435).

There are five separate bills. They are:

The Business Should Mind Its Own Business Act (H.R. 4431)
A 500% excise tax on political contributions and expenditures.

The Public Company Responsibility Act (H.R. 4435)
Prevents publicly traded companies from making political contributions.

The End Political Kickbacks Act (H.R. 4434)
Prevents for-profit companies that receive money from the government from making political contributions.

The Corporate Propaganda Sunshine Act (H.R. 4432)
Requires publicly traded companies to disclose monies used to influence public opinion (other than services and products).

The Ending Corporate Collusion Act (H.R. 4433)
Applies anti-trust laws to PACs.

Do these bills have a chance to become law? I have my doubts, particularly given the make-up of the current Supreme Court. Does that mean we shouldn't try? Hell NO! It is time to strike back.

We now see the republican plan. Since they cannot legislate from Congress, the way the Constitution intended, they will legislate from the Supreme Court, something they have constantly campaigned against.

I wonder if they can spell hypocrisy?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Pathetic State of Affairs

Let me make this very easy for you.

Here is the video:



Can't watch the video? Here is the text of what he is saying:

Forty-seven million Americans are without health insurance. Why? Because they can't afford it.

And what's Washington's solution? Require people to buy private insurance with the government providing a subsidy to the health insurance companies.

What a pathetic state of affairs that our national government cannot respond to the needs of the people and must first respond to the needs of Wall Street and the health insurance industry and their stock prices.

I am going to continue to fight for single-payer. And I'm going to continue to try to get in the final legislation a provision which will protect the rights of states to be able to move forward with single-payer health care plans of their own.

It is time that we broke the chains, which the health insurance companies have on our political process. It's time that we have a government that we can call our own. And it's time that Congress respond to the needs of the American people first, and recognize that health care is a basic right in a democratic society.

Can't read english? Try Babel Fish. It will translate it into another language -- hopefully one you can read.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Weiner's Words

Anthony Weiner makes some pretty good statements regarding the health care bill tonight on Countdown. Listen to them here.

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

Monday, January 18, 2010

Is It Time To End The Filibuster?


Is it time to end the filibuster? I say yes!

First a little history. Nothing is said in the Constitution about filibusters. The House and Senate set their own rules and that includes the filibuster. The House doesn't have it. The Senate does, but it can be stopped (cloture) with a vote of 3/5th of the Senate (60 votes).

It wasn't always that way. Initially, both the House and Senate followed the common practice of the time. Debate could be stopped with a simple majority vote. In 1806, the Senate modified their rules and removed the provision to bring a motion to end debate. No other provision was put in place to end debate. Hence the possibility of a filibuster was created. Members could continue to debate without end to block a vote on a bill.

It was first used in the 1830 by Democrats who sought to prevent a Whig-supported bill involving the Bank of the United States from coming to the floor.

In 1917, the Senate (Democratic majority) changed the rules (Rule 22) so that two-thirds of the members of the Senate could vote on “cloture” to end a filibuster and bring votes to the floor. The new rule was first applied in 1919 when the Senate invoked cloture to end a filibuster against the Treaty of Versailles.

In 1959 (Democratic majority), Senate rules were slightly modified to allow for cloture with 2/3 present as opposed to 2/3 of the entire Senate.

In 1975 (Democratic majority), Senate rules were again changed to the current 3/5th of the Senate lowering the number of votes required to end a filibuster from 67 to the current 60.

The filibuster is a rule, not a law. The Senate can do whatever it wants to. I say it is time to go back to a simple majority to end debate. The other option is to put a time limit on debate, but I like the majority vote better.

The Senate is set up to give individual states equal power. Each state get two votes, unlike the House where the number of representatives is based on population. By allowing a minority the power to prevent a vote on a bill gives excessive power to the minority.

It is time to re-balance the scales. The Democrats have been the ones to do it in the past, and they should be the ones to do it now.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fox Gets A Three-fer

Hannity, Beck, and O'Reilly -- a Fox News trio, last night's Worst Persons.

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



Fox commentators are an embarrassment.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Don't Hate Me Because...

... I live in Southern California.

Here is what I saw while out walking the dogs this afternoon.



Yep! An ice cream truck. Here it is the middle of January and the ice cream trucks are out. Of course it was sunny and about 75°F also.

Please don't hate me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Roxxxy - Emphasis on XXX

“She can't vacuum, she can't cook but she can do almost anything else if you know what I mean.”



Elizabeth over at The Middle of Nowhere recently told us all about the ideal woman named Aiko. Now, here is her sister, the bad one in the family, depending on your point-of-view. She is Roxxxy the Sex Robot.

Roxxxy is a life-size rubber doll that's designed to engage the owner with conversation rather than lifelike movement. The dark-haired, negligee-clad, life-size robotic girlfriend comes complete with artificial intelligence and flesh-like synthetic skin. Standing five feet, seven inches tall, the doll weighs 120 pounds, comes with five “personalities”, and is “ready for action”.

She has several different personalities such as Wild Wendy, who is outgoing and adventurous, Frigid Farrah, who is reserved and shy, a young unnamed doll with a na├»ve personality, “matriarchal kind of caring” Mature Martha and S & M Susan, who is geared for more adventurous types.

She can even talk about football.

Ladies -- you have not been forgotten. There is a male version in the planning named Rocky.

The Millioniare's Club

This figure is from a Wall Street Journal article about the bonuses that the 9 banks that received TARP funds gave out in 2008.


It shows the number of people at each bank who received bonuses of 1 to 2, 2 to 3, and 3+ million dollars in 2008. Remember, this is the year (under Bush) when everything went to hell. Yet, the banks that needed to be bailed out still found it within their hearts to reward nearly 5,000 people with bonuses of more than ONE MILLION dollars each.

The total money given out in bonuses for these 9 banks in 2008 was almost 33 BILLION dollars. That's a lot of money. How much? Well, a billion is 1,000 MILLION. So, 33 of them is 33 THOUSAND MILLION DOLLARS. If each person got 1,000,000 dollars, then 33,000 people would have received 1 million dollars each. What could you do with 1 million dollars?

Here are some more interesting statistics from the article.
  • Six of the nine banks paid out more in bonuses than they received in profit.
  • One in every 270 employees at the banks received more than $1 million.
  • The nine firms in the report had combined 2008 losses of nearly $100 billion.
  • The government injected $175 billion into the firms through its Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)
OK, let's see now. The banks lost $100 billion. (About the 1 year of healthcare reform.) WE (us taxpayers!) gave the banks $175 billion. (Roughly 2 years of healthcare reform.) That's $75 billion more than they lost. Then, they turned around and gave $33 billion in bonuses.

It look to me like WE (us taxpayers!) gave out the $33 billion in bonuses. Otherwise, the banks would have only needed $142 billion in bailouts.

When are the banks going to say "Thank You!"?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Too Big To Fail?



I came across this video at The Candid Blogger's blog. I don't really know who this guy, Walter Burien is, but I think he is a bit of a kook. I don't understand all that he is talking about (and I am not going to take the time to figure it out now), but he brings up a couple of interesting points, primarily about the ties that local governments, pension funds, and the federal government have to big insurance companies. These are ties that I have not heard much about, if anything, in the news or on the blogs.

The government mandates that insurance companies maintain large reserves of money so that they can pay off in the event of major disasters. Local governments (retirement funds, rainy day funds) invest lots of money in insurance companies because they are "safe investments". The insurance companies, in turn, buy government investments (treasury bonds, etc.) at rates higher than they pay to their investors.

What happens if insurance companies fail? They will try to cash in their government investments? Big run on the government treasury? Local governments will try to pull their money out of the insurance companies? Will they get it? Are we looking at a potential meltdown of government entities if big insurance companies fail? Are they too big to fail also?

I'm just asking?

Friday, January 8, 2010

Move Your Money

tburcher talks about it over at RealityZone; A New Era ?. The website for it is moveyourmoney.info. If the "Two Big To Fail" banks don't want to loan money, then take your money out of them and put it in your local community bank. The same deposit guarantees apply and they will loan money to the local community.

While you are here, watch this video.

Arguing With Wingnuts

I came across this picture over at Bad Astronomy . Phil Plait was posting about " a goofball antiscience promoter" that was misquoting him, but I think it applies to political wingnuts as well.

This is what they do when you present them with facts. Enjoy.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cheney Evil?


What?!? You don't think the Big Dick is evil? Take a gander at what George Washington over at Washington's Blog has to say about him. This man (?) has been doing evil for the last 30 - 40 years. He belongs in jail.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Grayson vs Cheney


This just in from TalkingPointsMemo. It's no contest. Check out Grayson's comments on Cheney in the video below.



I think he has Cheney nailed. It is always about the money with republicans. If he doesn't keep his name in the news, no one will buy his book. Reminds me of another republican wingnut.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Bestsellers


I was looking at the LA Times Bestsellers list this morning and noticed the following:

Fiction: #1 The Book of Genesis Illustrated by R. Crumb

Non-Fiction: #5 Going Rogue by Sarah Palin

A book of the bible as fiction and Palin's book as non-fiction.

Some people would thing the LA Times got things backwards, although I suspect that many believe that these two books are either both fiction or both non-fiction.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks


Nikki, our German Shepherd, is not really an old dog, more like middle aged. We don't have a doggy door, so when she wants to go outside, she scratches at the door, gently but hard enough so that we can hear it. If that doesn't work, she will come over to one of us and bark, softly.

Mrs. Critter hung some bells on the door nob for Christmas. Nikki has learned that ringing the bells with her nose is a more effective way to get the door opened than scratching at it. The bells are a little louder and we react to the novelty of her ringing them quicker.


"The disposition of noble dogs is to be gentle with people they know and the opposite with those they don't know...How, then, can the dog be anything other than a lover of learning since it defines what's its own and what's alien."
-- Plato