Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fox News Destroys CNN & MSNBC 3Q 2009 Cable News Ratings

They didn't win the quarter. They WON. Whatever fox is doing, they are getting bigger and whatever CNN and MSNBC are doing, they are losing viewers. I deplore Fox and everything they stand for. They are the "lyin' liars" that Al Franken talked about. A couple of them are real wackos. But people seem to like wackos. They like liars. The public act like lambs going to the shed to be slaughtered when they believe that crap.

Face it, YOUR friends, and YOUR neighbors all watch Fox. When Lou Dobbs moves to Fox, his show will be in the top 10. America has been sold a bill of goods and they bought it. Additionally, not only is Fox responsible for this bill of goods, but the so called mainstream media are at least equally responsible for repeating the nonsense and lies that are spewed daily from the right-wing wackos. And they still have the balls to say that there is a left-wing, liberal bias to the media. Disgusting.  Fox won, we lose.

What a country we live in.

3Q '09 _LIVE+SD_ P2+ ranker -

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Start

The first (unauthorized) campaign poster for my friend Kevin Langley.  Mr. Langley believes in limited government, has a strong libertarian bent, and is for lowering taxes not just for the rich, but for all.  While we do not agree on all the issues, I support him because of his intelligence, his love of history, and the strength of his character.  As of yet I know very little about his platform and talking points, but I do know the man.  I know he is running to make a difference.  I trust him to represent me from the left as much as he would someone from the right, and to give every issue that comes before him, a thorough review before making a decision.

Garden State Advantage

As the longer days of summer continue to shine in the rear view mirror and the shorter days of fall and winter loom ahead, I am reminded of one of the best reasons to live in the Garden State, our homegrown fruits and vegetables!  The "buy fresh and local" trend seems to be more popular than ever. There are plenty of good reasons for this. Many people site the positive impact on the local economy by keeping dollars circulating within the community. Also a belief in knowing the source of the food you serve your family enables you to choose food grown by farmers who avoid or reduce their use of chemicals and pesticides. Knowing that the produce you put on the table has not had to be transported far thus leaving a less heavy carbon imprint on our environment is important too.
There is no question that these are all good reasons to buy local, but the best reason is that locally grown food is fresher and tastes better.
I was introduced to Pete's Produce in Westtown, PA through an article I read in the Philadelphia Inquirer.  It focused on a special corn grown at Pete's called Mirai.  It was supposed to be sweeter and tastier than any corn the food editor had ever eaten.  No one else grew this corn so Pete's was the only place to get it.  The drive is nearly an hour from my house.  That's a long way to drive for corn.  I might also add at this time that tomatoes are my favorite fruit and sampling heirloom varieties is a passion.
Deciding to take the trek, I arrived and noticed a bin in front of the stand with about ten varieties of heirloom tomatoes, each one a different shape and size.  I was in heaven, but which should I choose?  In the end, I chose about 2 of each.  Keeping them straight after I got home was another issue.  Then I moved inside and found the corn.  It looked pretty much like any other corn.  How can you tell whether corn is tasty and sweet or not until you actually eat it?  You can't, so I had to take a chance.  I picked up about a dozen and a half of the mixed yellow/white variety called Mirai.  I found some other veggies, made my purchase, and went home.
Wow!  Instant corn nirvana!  It was the tastiest and sweetest corn I had ever eaten.  My mistake?  Not buying enough so that friends and family could all have some too.  The heirloom tomatoes were equally impressive although I have still not found the variety like my Pop Pop's of yore.  To this day the memories of taking two slices of white bread with slices of his delicious tomatoes, little mayo, and a pinch of salt, make my mouth water.
Go out and visit Pete's or find your own local produce market, buy a bunch of fresh veggies, take them home and eat them, and remember one of the best reasons to live here!
By the way, two excellent places to buy produce, and my favorite local markets are Camp's Produce and Lillian's Market, both on Rt.47 in Port Elizabeth just south of Millville.
Remember, the long days of summer are running out and it's time to get it while the getting's still good!

Independent GOP Thinker

Texasoilfinder writes "It seems the entire state of South Carolina has gone nuts. Is it even safe to go there if you don't have a gun rack and a Klan sticker in your back window? I have an Obama bumper sticker, can I expect to be shot upon crossing the border?"
Probably not such a silly question when you take into account the likes of Rep. Joe Wilson's (R-SC) outburst "You Lie!" directed at President Obama during his recent address to the joint session of congress, and recent townhall meetings in the state where people came armed, and held up black-face signs of Obama shouting "We just want our country back!"
It seems not all South Carolinians hold such a backwards view of things.  McClatchy News writes a piece on a South Carolina Congressman that I had not heard of before, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC).  It seems that while holding strong conservative values, Rep. Inglis is not afraid to call the truth, the truth, which ever side it falls on. He seems not afraid to show his indepence, witnessing a recent townhall meeting in which he was booed for telling folks to stop watching Glenn Beck because he trades on fear.
Describing himself as a self-avowed technology geek who battles for hydrogen powered cars, Inglis says his re-election bid next year and indeed, the Republican success will help determine the future of the party.  "We get to help define what the republican party will look and sound like," Inglis said.
Mr. Inglis has the backing and endorsement of Senator Lindsey Graham.  But up to now, other South Carolina congressional leaders have not followed suit.  Read the interesting McClatchy story here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

New Jersey Motorsports Park

I attended my first race last Sunday at the New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersesy.  The track had been talked about for about five years and after getting a lot of approvals, and attending many town meetings and satisfying some, but certainly not all local objections to noise and environment,  were allowed to finish Phase I construction last year.  There are two main tracks, the smaller Lightning Raceway, and the larger Thunderbolt Raceway.  They also have a very cool go-kart track where people can rent go-karts or bring their own, and race.  It's a pretty big operation sitting on a lot of land next to Millville Regional Airport.  See the pic below from the air.  (Click on it for a bigger picture.)

I had never been to a race course before so really didn't know what to expect.  There are different stands for people to sit on at different vantage points along the tracks.  There's the start/finish line where they wave all the flags, turn one where you see the cars slowing down from the straight-a-way, taking the turn fast, then speeding up to the next turn, and a couple of other stands.  Pretty cool for a newbie racing fan.  They also have cycle races where you see the cycles tilt on their sides taking the turns with the racers legs seemingly touching the pavement.  It seems like they have a first class Park with a clubhouse, rows of open garages where you see the guys working on their cars, a new restaurant, vendor tents selling all kinds of things, and more.  Plans are for a Phase II and Phase III in the future which will have villas for people to rent, a hotel, more restaurants, you get the picture.
We were there to see a race of classic Ferraris from a couple decades ago to the present race each other.  (See the pic below, click on it as well)  We walked around, explored the flavor, and decided to watch from turn one.  We had a good vantage point from there.  The cars were loud, but not crazy loud.  They did roar past and you could feel it in your stomach.  The Ferrari I liked best was the oldest, a hemi I think it was called.  It finished in 3rd place.  It was cool to watch faster cars pass the slower ones.  I think they paced my favorite a couple of times.  The race itself only lasted about half an hour, shorter than I thought.  But for a family to spend several hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon,  it was a good experience.  I would like to go back.

For those thinking about going I know they have several differnt kinds of races, depending on car make, classics, cycles, and others I probably don't know.  We got tickets from a friend who had them and paid almost nothing but I think generally they range from $25-$50.
One more thing;  a couple of weeks ago I had another friend that told me that it was just a mattter of time before they brought in some NASCAR races, but had another friend tell me that the track built was just below NASCAR standards so I don't know.  I do know that when they were getting approvals, NASCAR racing was pretty much not in the equation.

Inaugural video from last July below.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The start of the trouble with banks?

Just a follow up quote to my story about banks and my grandfather.  I don't mean to imply that I believe in it word for word but I do believe it has relevance today and some truth.  When you see who wrote it you can't blame me for being any more a revolutionary than he was.

"I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous than standing armies...If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of currency...The banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of their property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their Fathers conquered" - Thomas Jefferson 1743-1826.

I presume Jefferson was moved to say this because of the Bank of England's attempt to control the financial systems of the new world and thus Jeffersons warning of what would happen if banks here became too powerful.

Bill'O vs The Congressman

Does this post and others like it go against my standards?
As someone who cannot tolerate Bill'O and his drivel, this 5 minutes was pretty good.  I should also say I like Barney Frank and think he is a smart and shrewd politician.  Having said that, the reason I posted it was because of the interaction between them.  Bill'O seems smug and mouthy.  Frank seems a bit off-put and anxious.  Taking into account Bill'O's smugness and mouthiness, and Franks "put-offness" and anxiousness, this time they struck a balanced accord in their dialogue.  I thought it was amusing.
Don't watch this if you have 5 minutes of your life to do almost anything else.  Don't watch this unless you hate Bill'O and love Frank, or hate Frank and love Bill'O.
I know this is media garbage at the highest (lowest) level and I am promulgating it, I do feel guilty about that. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

What would Grandfather do today?

Cheat Sheet - The Daily Beast: "Looks like Bank of America will have to find a new way to scrape together a profit: Getting ahead of credit-card reform in the U.S. Congress, the bank joined J.P. Morgan in overhauling overdraft fees and practices that have been criticized by consumer-protection agencies. Reversing course, Bank of America said it will cap the fees on customers who overdraw their accounts, and it will not charge any fee on overdrafts of less than $10 in one day. It will limit to four the maximum number of fees per day, from a pervious cap of 10. The bank will also allow customers to opt out of overdraft protection, meaning that they’ll be turned away at the register rather than given a negative balance and a fee."
Over the past year witnessing the financial crisis, I have thought a lot about manufacturing, corporations, and banks.  My grandfather, who immigrated to South Jersey around World War II was the stimulus of my thoughts.  He came here like a lot of other people with nothing.  He was a janitor in a public high school probably for over 30 years earning not much more than minimum wage.  He busted his back to provide for his family.
He also believed in the stock market.  His guru was Warren Buffett.  He often talked about the shares he owned in Buffett's company -  Bershire Hathaway, and how proud he was to own them.  For those who don't know, Bershire Hathaway shares A were worth at the time about $60,000 each, and shares B worth about $5,000.  Grandfather saved little by little and bought shares of many companies.  Before his death, grandfather had, through ownership of stocks, properties, and interest earning cash held in banks, had amassed over a million dollars of wealth. 
The stock companies that grandfather invested in all had one thing in common, they made something or they sold something of value.  One smarter than me could access value to the assets, inventory, and future sales and predict future value of the corporations.
During the 90's I noticed grandfather investing more in banks.  It was clear to him that bank stocks were on the rise and a place to put your money.  At first I didn't think too much about it, but later I thought, what do banks make?  What do they sell?  What dollar amount could one put on their inventory?  Not much, I thought.  Fast forward 15 years and you see that banks were overvalued.  Because of changes in the laws passed by democrats and republicans alike, banks were allowed to buy, sell, rebundle, and trade huge portfolios of real estate.  Now I understood what grandfather was thinking.   How could you not invest in these huge corporations?
But today, I think my original thoughts about banks were correct.  A bank is where you put your money to save.  They pay you interest on that savings.  They also loan money for people to buy property and cars, and for businesses to expand, make payroll, etc.  Banks get cheap money from the fed, lend it out, and make money by charging a higher interest rate than they paid the fed.  The idea also works for banks and their credit card departments.
Somewhere along the way banks were allowed to become vultures and parasites that preyed on individuals and small businesses that depended upon them for their future. Today banks stand in front of the vault between you and your money with their grubby, dirty fingers outstretched for you to pay the toll.  Want a credit card so you can exist on the grid in today's society?  That will be 30% interest please.  Do you want a checking account with us so that you can pay your credit card bills on time?  That will be $20.00 per month if your balance falls below $500.00.  Did you bounce that check because when you went to the bank to make the deposit on Friday (payday)  you arrived at 6:01, and they were closed; don't worry just pay us $35.00 and we'll forget about it for now.  Oh, by the way, the interest we now pay you on your savings account is 1.5%.
There's more.  Banks don't really make all their profits by strangling the consumer like a loan shark.  Some banks make money from the buying and selling of credit default swaps, whatever the fuck they are.  Theorhetically they are supposed to provide the bank with enough capital to satisfy FDIC requirements so that if there is ever a run on the money, well we all know how that played out. 
To be fair, I know some local bankers who don't operate like this.  They are fair minded, community based people who care about their neighbors.  But these small local banks are not the ones I'm talking about.  I'm talking about the ones deemed "too big to fail."  Citibank, Bank of America, Capitol One, AIG.  Oh wait, AIG is not a bank, they are an insurance company.  Why do we treat them like one then?  Anyway, AIG is too big a corporation to fail and too big a corporation to  talk about in a post about banks.
To conclude the story, "What would grandfather do today?"  He would probably still have been invested in banks and would have lost a bunch of money like many others.
The moral?  Grandfather was wrong about his belief that the big bank corporations were worth the billions and billions of dollars worth of value that people put on them. They don't make anything.  They don't sell anything.

Blue State New Jersey

A recent poll done by Public Policy Polling surveyed 500 likely New Jersey voters on 9/11-9/14.  The margin of error is +/- 4.5%.  There were 20 questions that comprised the poll and I've only included the last 3 results for classification.  The question that surprised me was the first result below:
  • Do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States?  Yes - 64%, No - 21%
  • Who did you vote for president last year?  McCain - 46%, Obama - 48%
  • Are you Liberal?  19%,  Moderate?  52%,  Conservative?  29%
  • Are you a Democrat?  39%,  Republican?  33%,  Independent?  28%
"These findings are in no way unique to New Jersey.  But it's a reminder that high levels of extremism are in no way limited to the South."
That is what surprised me.  I had seen and read the stories about the "birthers" and how unhinged they seemed, but thought they mainly resided in Dixie States.  The poll authors further pointed out that they had polled 5 other non-southern states and that New Jersey was the one with the least "birthers."  Is it our schools that have failed us? Or is it the mainstream media that has facilitated this nonsense day after day after day, and NO, I do not mean just Glenn Beck.

Read the complete poll here

Crossposted from DAPost @The Daily Journal

"Tea Party" Leader Melts Down On CNN: Obama Is An "Indonesian Muslim Turned Welfare Thug" (VIDEO)

"Tea Party" Leader Melts Down On CNN: Obama Is An "Indonesian Muslim Turned Welfare Thug" (VIDEO): "--Number of months we've been in recession: 20
--Number of months stimulus has been in effect: 5

--Number of job losses per month when Obama took office: 600,000
--Number of job losses last month: 219,000

--GDP decline when Obama took office: -6%
--GDP decline last quarter: -1% (and probably positive growth right now)

--Dow Jones when Obama came into office: 8000
--Dow Jones now: 9600"

View from the Net

He seriously is having a bad day, woke up on the wrong side of the bed, read the papers, got depressed, and then, HE HAS TO ROOT FOR THE DETROIT LIONS! 
(I may not be too far from him with the Pats! :)

The main target, in my view, for any Progressive Movement; they're the
reason our Country isn't the great Nation it is capable of being.
30% of the gross, that insurance companies generate, is used to compensate it's top CEO's and other's at the top of the pay scale.

Why is this- MORALLY CORRUPT- business practice allowed to continue!!!!
It is WRONG!!!!!
But, for some reason (REACTIONARY POLITICS), it is portryed as the- AMERICAN WAY;
the sysmtem left to us by- "the FOUNDING FATHERS";

I'm about SICK of it!!!!!

Because- I have to root for the "Detroit Lions",

and the mix of that,

with today's political atmosphere,

leaves me ILL.

Tom Delay's Lesson

Tom Delay may have gotten some dance moves for his appearance on Dancing With the Stars after watching this clip of Ricky Gervais on the original Office-UK!

Maybe Brzezinski is Half Right?

As was pointed out to me earlier this week, the Israeli - Arab conflict is about politics. It is about territories and government. It is not about religion. The Muslims and Jews don't really have all these problems about the opposite religions but about where they live and who governs them. To this day I don't understand why the US has to be involved in every freaking thing Israel decides to do or not to do. They are a soverign country. We are too. We are not siamese twins who have been seperated.

To me it is insanity to bomb Iran at this time. How many wars do the war-mongers want to be in? How many can we afford with life and treasure? Iranian President Mamoud Ahmadinejad is a complete napoleon idiot who should probably be put out of his misery. But bombing the country and building another 50 years of hate for all of us does not seem the prudent thing to do.

Let's see, we screwed up Afghanistan, we screwed up Iraq royally, now, let's see if we can help Israel screw up Iran.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Public Option

Cocktail of the Week: "A cure-all to bridge ALL sides of the health care debate.

Promising universal coverage for what ails us, the Public Option’s sweet syrup has to defend itself against the heady debate between tangy grapefruit juice and spicy ginger liquor. Just be careful not to add too much Swedish or (gasp!) Russian vodka to the oft-revived elixir that has engaged mixologists on both sides of the aisle—failure to appeal to conservative palates may keep this vital prescription unfilled. Fortunately, the soft distortion of absinthe is there to help us patiently await approval.

Absinthe Alibi

1 oz. Vodka

1 oz. Ginger Liqueur

.5 oz. Le Tourment Vert absinthe

2 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice

.25 oz. Simple Syrup

5 mint leaves

Glass: Tall


- Place mint in the bottom of the serving glass (tall glass) and lightly bruise the mint with a muddler (do not smash like a mojito).

- Fill glass with shaved ice (ideal) or ice cubes.

- In a shaker, shake remaining ingredients and strain into the serving glass.

- Garnish with a grapefruit peel and mint sprig.

Reprinted from The Daily Beast

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Flowers for Vickie

Welcome Home Sis!
When I see you appear through the exit doors of customs my heart will be racing with excitement. It'll be nice to be able just to talk face to face about the smallest non-important things that we really don't do when on the phone or in emails. It will be fun just to listen to you telling me everything that's been going on with you, and me telling you the same. What I'm trying to say is that I missed you and can't wait to see you.   Have a safe flight and I'll see you tomorrow.  Love you, David
Okba, I'm looking forward to seeing you on Saturday!  See you then.

Posted by Picasa

Sarah Palin Chronicles

I've not commented about Sarah Palin before because it's become pretty clear that she is becoming more and more irrelevant and capable of succeeding in only one thing, firing up the right-wing base of her party. Let's be honest, she was not a successful Alaska governor: After serving just two and a half years, she resigned to be able to "influence her party in other ways." That pretty much showed her being ineffectual at leadership in her state. She was not successful in her bid to become vice president: She appeared unprepared, unimpressive, and more importantly, unqualified.

Upon further reflection, she has been successful in one more area. She has managed to instill a fear in the American public. Her point being, "Be afraid, be very afraid of supporting this president and any of his left-wing socialist ideas."  Although she didn't invent the term "death squads", she did put it out there in a way that took hold.  A new poll indicates 41% of the public believe there is some merit to her story.
So she is a bloggers dream, unending stupid comments coming from a woman probably not qualified to be dog catcher in your local town. However, I resist a long rant about her because she is what brings this country down - negative, untrue discourse that serves no purpose.  I will refrain because I don't want to go and shoot myself. However, a new tell-all book soon to be released by former Bush speechwriter Matt Latimer has the following quote: (If true, priceless)

Matt Latimer Book: Bush Knocked Other Pols While President:
"But Bush was perhaps most critical of vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin:
'I'm trying to remember if I've met her before. I'm sure I must have.' His eyes twinkled, then he asked, 'What is she, the governor of Guam?' [...]
'This woman is being put into a position she is not even remotely prepared for,' he said. 'She hasn't spent one day on the national level. Neither has her family. Let's wait and see how she looks five days out.' It was a rare dose of reality in a White House that liked to believe every decision was great, every Republican was a genius, and McCain was the hope of the world because, well, because he chose to be a member of our party."

Czarist Nonsense

If Senator Hutchinson is suggesting that appointing czars is an affront to the constitution, I would point out that the appointment of czars has been going on since 1933 with President Roosevelt who had 12 czars and 19 political appointees.

President Bush had 35 czars and 45 appointees, and President Obama has 31 czars and 33 appointees. Assuming these positions are appointed at the beginning of an administration and last throughout their length of term, I don't see our current president as doing anything different.

Please check out wikipedia for a list of presidential czars and appointees from 1933-present.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Monday, September 14, 2009

Football Time

In 15 minutes the New England Patriots will kick off their season.  The other teams have played yesterday and today, only two games remain.  Locally, the Eagles won by a big margin but ole' McNabb may be hurting with his cracked rib.  Dallas won in a big way so all is calm around here.
But my big game is almost starting.  Will New England go all the way?  Will we see pass after pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss?  Dare I even mention the "und***" word?  No I surely will not.  I'm just sayin' I'm excited and hoping for the best.  Go Pats!

Will I write before the game as if I'm a complete idiot?  Will I be sitting in the chair during the 4th honestly just hoping for a win?  Maybe.  You gotta admit that this is why sportscasters call TB one of the top come-back QB's of all time.

Pats 25  Bills 24   9-14-2009
Brady 378 yds, 2 TD 1 it
Ben Watson 2 TD

Pats looked rusty first 3 quarters.  Mid-way through the 4th Pats were down, needed two scores.  Brady led 2 successful very late drives.  Bills looked good off and def, not quite good enough tonight but coulda won the game. Pats defense has a ways to go, as well as offense.  Mulroney had a good game.
Next week in New York against Jets, important division game.

You Can Dew-it

Taegan Goddard seems to think getting health care reform passed is stronger than it seems and Sullivan explains the realities.

Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:
"Despite the theatrics over health care reform, Andrew Sullivan says President Obama will ultimately get a bill through Congress.
'Obama has a solid majority and can achieve all this with Democratic votes alone. So why is he in such trouble? Partly it is that this kind of reform rightly stirs scepticism, and Obama has allowed a hapless and divided Congress to take the lead, muddying the message. Partly it is that the hard right is becoming more and more extreme and its fears have eclipsed the hopes of Obama's supporters. But the most critical part, in my view, is the public understanding that after two massive bank bailouts and a vast stimulus package, with two still-intractable wars, the US cannot afford even the modest 10-year trillion dollar package Obama is proposing. And Obama's inability to cut spending while the economy is so fragile means he is constrained from offering fiscal reassurance.'

'So, tactically, Obama is on the defensive. Strategically? Again, he is stronger than he now appears. When the health insurance bill is passed and elderly Americans are not rounded up into concentration camps and granny isn't subjected to euthanasia, and when many uninsured people gain a peace of mind they have never felt before, and people become able to change job without fearing loss of insurance, the Republican scare tactics may come to seem absurd.'"

Debtors Revolt

This is one we should all be able to get behind, right or left.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Today's Comedy Quote from one of the Original Divas

Burn, Baby, Burn!
"Love is a fire. But whether it is going to warm your heart or burn down your house, you can never tell" - Joan Crawford

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Time Lapse Round One - Sean Stiegemeier

Time Lapse Round One from Sean Stiegemeier on Vimeo.

A really cool, beautiful video.  Mr. Stiegemeier, a videographer told me that this was about 50 seconds of a music video that he hopes to have completed in about a month.  Check it out at that time on Vimeo.

Can't Glen Beck catch a break?

David Frum, speech-writer for George Bush and editor of the New is only the latest from the right now not to come to Glen Beck's defense.  What's going on here?
GOP Surrenders to Beck’s Mob Rule:
"Glenn Beck is not the first to make a pleasant living for himself by reckless defamation. We have seen his kind before in American journalism and American politics, and the good news is that their careers never last long. But the bad news is that while their careers do last, such people do terrible damage."
"The ultimate happy ending of the story should not however close the page on this appalling episode of broadcast recklessness and political cowardice. We conservatives are submitting our movement to some of the most unscrupulous people in American life. This submission disgraces conservatism, discredits Republicans, and damages the country. It’s beyond time for conservatives who know better to join us at NewMajority in emancipating ourselves from leadership by the most stupid, the most cynical, and the most truthless."

Friday, September 11, 2009

Moore's Beach

Moore's Beach on the Delaware Bay, Delmont, NJ. Desolate and isolated. Washed out in a storm many years ago.   Very hard to get to now, but beautiful.  Click on the pic.Posted by Picasa

Moore's Beach Road

On a cold, windy day.Posted by Picasa

Don't make me wash your mouth out with soap

In a column today at Media Matters, Jamison Foser furthers my assertion that the mainstream media generally don't make the point of informing the public about whether something is the truth or not. Case in point? The story about Representative Joe Wilson's (R-SC) interruption of President Obama's address to the joint congress calling him a liar, because he said that illegal aliens would not be covered in the health care proposals.

"First is the media's reluctance to "take sides" in factual disputes (which is, in effect, siding with the incorrect claim) and their apparent belief that rudeness is a greater sin than lying. Scores of news reports covered the controversy over Wilson's shouted claim that the president was lying when he said proposed health care reform would not apply to those who are in America illegally -- but they focused on the breach of decorum rather than the question of whether Obama or Wilson was correct. (Independent, nonpartisan observers like and have made clear that Wilson was wrong; Obama was not lying.)"
"It's obvious how this is going to play out. Before too long, polls will show a large minority -- maybe even a majority -- of Americans believe that Democratic reform proposals will provide subsidized insurance for people who are in the country illegally. And when that happens, Howard Kurtz and MSNBC will be gobsmacked. They'll wonder how this can be, when the media was so aggressive in reporting on Wilson's false comments. It'll never occur to them that the problem is their focus on the rudeness of Wilson's comment rather than the falsity of the comment; that they are to blame for doing a lousy job of fact-checking Wilson's comment while giving it priceless attention."
"Now, what happens when the media refuse to call a lie a lie? Right: It encourages politicians to behave badly and lie. The negative consequences are mitigated, and it gets them attention. Given the way the media covers these things, it isn't surprising that people who oppose health care reform feel comfortable lying and being disruptive. Why wouldn't they?"
Truth matters. If putting two pundits with opposite viewpoints on the air and giving them equal time to get out their talking points passes for reporting the truth, the people listening suffer.

A Referee @a Ballgame & a Drunk in the Stands

In my first post I indicated that I was a blogging novice and would try to incorporate pics and videos into my blog. Easy with the pics, but harder with the vids. I found out that I had to upgrade my Adobe Flash Active X Content. I did, and here's the result.

I chose Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" because in the header of my blog I indicated that I would post news, commentary, and comedy. I have not posted any comedy for a while so I thought it was time. Special Comment is funny. Notice the style with which Keith moves his head from one camera to the next, then back to the first. Also notice his expressions and the way he takes himself way too seriously. Finally, the subject, Representative Wilson is a clown who should be called out. Go get him Keith! Watch Wrong-Way Wilson:

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

An Intelligent, Thoughtful, Honest Conservative

A very interesting blogpost written by conservative Conor Friedersdorf at The American Scene.

"Unlike some in the media, I don’t regard the grassroots on the right as uniquely insane. I’ve done enough reporting at that level to know that most Americans on the right and left are reasonable people acting in good faith. The right’s fringe problem at this moment in time is one that elites have created as much as any crazy fringe righty. Outfits like Fox News, people like Glenn Beck, talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh — these outfits deliberately play on the worst impulses of the conservative base, stoking their paranoia and misleading them about reality, all for the sake of bigger audiences and greater revenues. That ought to outrage anyone who actually respects the grassroots, and has their best interests at heart."

And a thoughtful comment:

Elites Are the Problem -- But That Doesn't Mean What You Think Politics The American Scene: "All good in theory. But I think you’ll find that the harsh reality is that if it comes down to a choice between insane elites like Beck and smart conservatives who are unwilling to compromise their sincerity, the grassroots will pick Beck. You can laud the grassroots all you want. But if you go after Limbaugh or Beck too hard, I think you’re in for a surprise. They will not laud you in return.What you miss is that the worldviews of people like Limbaugh and Beck are entirely self-aggrandizing and self-sealing, and their listeners are far more loyal to them as people than they are to any particular set of policy principles. Try to argue with them on facts or even ideology, and you’ll lose every time.", Me, & An Important Story

I think I joined some time in 1997. Moveon was a grass roots organization that was started to urge the legislators and the people, to just move on from this Clinton impeachment stuff and get back to running our country and making it better. It was coordinated through email campaigns and telephone calls. It was not a monster, left wing club trying to change the world, but a common sense organization trying to say to the country, "let's get on with it." I remember that we did have some success. I'm not sure if our emails and calls really pushed many legislators into moving on, but the movement did bring to light to the country, the absurdity of the political right wing nutters whose only motivation was to bring down a president who they hated and did not vote for. I am proud of what we accomplished.

Today, we have much the same atmosphere. We have a president who was elected with a large majority of people who felt it was time for change from the disastrous 8 years of a lying, morally corrupt, anti-rule of law, anti-constitution scaredy cat president and administration. We waited our turn, worked hard, and elected our president. But the atmosphere is once again of the right wing nutters saying and doing outlandish things to scare and move the country in their direction. That's their right. But if they want to be the party of fear, lies, and NO, then the media, and everyone of us who have a brain, has an obligation to speak out, let the truth be told, and fight for the things that the majority of people believe in, and the reason that we elected this president.

Health care reform is a good example of this. While polls show that the majority of people do favor some type of reform and the majority favor some type of public option, the facts have been hi-jacked again by the right. We have stories of seniors being told that they would have to go before death panels to determine how they want to die. We have the birthers movement who decided that the president is not a citizen therefore cannot lead us. We have corporate sponsored, right-wing group vigilantes go to town hall meetings where people are there to discuss the issue, and whose sole purpose is to shout them down and disrupt the meetings. We have people showing up at those meetings armed with loaded guns to show their support of the second amendment but perhaps more honestly to scare people. It is frightening.

To show another side of the story, Todd Gitlin posting @Talking Points Memo tells about a candlelight vigil held in Central Park, some old, some young, talking about their health care horror stories. Read "Enough Lamentation"

"I think the tone was a mistake. There was more bemoaning than indignation, more personal testimony than resolve to fight for a good (not perfect) bill. The pageant of human suffering has the capacity to move people, but not to fire them up, not to convince them to turn out again, not to make demands of their recalcitrant legislators. To me, the parade of victimhood chronicles said of the reformers: we're losers. It wasn't just too bland for New York. It whimpered.

"The tone was far too much Me-Me-Me, I Suffer, not nearly enough We Have a Right."

"Please do not tell me I lack compassion. Don't get me started on my own medical chronicles. After 60 years of successful crackpot attacks on "socialized medicine," an outraged citizenry needs to speak up as a citizenry, not as a ward."

It's now or never time to get fired up, show that health care for all is a right, not a privledge, and speak up as an outraged citizenry.

Monday, September 7, 2009

View from your window

The tallest building in the world, Burj Dubai

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Blame the Media

The mainstream media are almost as contemptable as the insurance companies, as far as reporting the health care story. President Obama and the democrats have made many mistakes regarding the reform bill but nothing excuses the media for the way they have reported it.

It's all about ratings. On television, "news reporters" only requirement is to offer both sides of the pundits equal time. There is not an attempt to report truths or untruths. I think Walter Cronkite would be embarassed by his former colleages and should have spoken out against them before he died. From the beginning of the Clinton administration until now the media has sunk lower and lower, with Fox News leading the other media down the hole. They are as responsible for bringing down this country without its reporting of facts, as the republicans have been in spreading continuous lies. I don't know if there is any hope for our country. Sadly, I guess this is the reality of today's "news".

Friday, September 4, 2009

James Zogby: Ramadan 2009: America and Islam

James Zogby, the pollster who seemed to get the Clinton administration just right, and widely credited with polling our true values at the time, is "proud of our country." So am I. Despite what some of our friends on the right seem to think, we can still be the country that celebrates diversity and justice for all. 'Eid Mubarak.

James Zogby: Ramadan 2009: America and Islam: "In many ways, this is a unique country. One of our most enduring qualities is our openness and the absorptive character of our national identity. Despite the persistent rantings of some bigots, no one religion, ethnicity or culture defines us or limits who can be one of us.
America possesses an alchemy, of sorts, with its remarkable capacity to transform people and itself. With citizenship you get more than a passport and the right to vote--you become American. And that is not all, because, in the process, America becomes changed. As each new wave of immigrants has come to our shores and become Americans, the very character and definition of the country and its culture has changed. Look at our food, listen to our music, see our style--in all of these are the threads woven from the many diverse peoples who have come to make up the rich and diverse nature of America today."

California to Investigate High Rates of Claims Rejections

No sooner had I posted that private insurers already do come between you and your doctor and that they often reject claims for coverage thus resulting in denying coverage and leading to the single most reason for individual bankruptcies in the country, BUT even resulting in death, that I came across this. Look at the numbers: In California from 2002 to 2009, 22% OF ALL CLAIMS WERE REJECTED. To reiterate the insanity of this argument below, learn that PacifiCare rejected nearly 40% of ALL CLAIMS during this time. Is that what the fucking wacko's are protesting? You gotta' read it to believe it. Click on the link.

California to Investigate High Rates of Claims Rejections: "Six of the state’s largest insurers rejected 45.7 million claims for medical care, or 22% of all claims, from 2002 to June 30, 2009, according to the California Nurses Assn.’s analysis of data submitted to regulators by the companies.
The rejection rates ranged from a high of 39.6% for PacifiCare to 6.5% for Aetna for the first half of 2009. Cigna denied 33%, and Health Net 30%."

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Medicare: Supersize it, keep it, or dump it?

Is it time to supersize it, keep it just the way it is, or dump the medicare program? I've argued that I think we should move to a single payer program similar to medicare. To achieve universal coverage we could start by lowering the medicare enrollment age from 65 to 55. In two or three years we should lower it again to 45 then later to 35, etc., you get the idea. In ten years we could have everyone covered. During that time, we would have to spend our energy and brainpower to lowering the costs of running the program. I like the idea of a bi-partisan commission directed to look at ways of making the program streamlined, correcting instances of waste, and generally finding ways to save money. This commission findings would then be presented to the congress to vote either up or down on the cost saving proposals. No cloture, no amendments, just up or down. This could be done perhaps every two years.

Additionally, most people have heard that medicare cannot sustain today's costs without increasing revenue into the system. Adding everyone in the country isn't by itself going to lower those costs right away, or raise revenue. Now, a portion of your payroll taxes are taken out to pay for medicare for our seniors. I propose dropping those taxes. (Tax cut!) One way to increase the revenues taken in for medicare would be for people to be required to "buy medicare." Just like today when part of your salary is taken out to pay the premiums for health care for private insurance companies, that would go into the medicare fund to pay for it. Everyone needs to buy in. Younger, healthier people who would use the system less would subsidize the elderly who could still get their free, or almost free medicare. (Can't take away a benefit!) The poorest of us, who could not buy insurance under any plan would also have to be subsidized. Eliminate medicaid. (Cut a government program!)

What some people may not be aware of is that on a cost basis medicare has far lower administrative costs than private insurance. Keep in mind that polls show that medicare and the VA system generally have higher approval rates than private insurance. Currently medicare has approximately 5-6% administrative costs. It is a government run program and as such, there is no profit built into this percentage. Private run insurance plans have an approximate 25-30% administrative and profit cost.

The question is "What does your private insurance plan do for you?" From what I can see, they market their plan, get you to join, collect your premiums, and then disburse those premiums to doctors and hospitals minus their administrative and profit costs. They also decide who gets what operation and who gets dropped from the plan. Currently, they do come between you and your doctor thousands of times a day. If we could eliminate the approximate 15-20% profits, maybe medicare could afford to pay doctors and hospitals a bit more. I don't see the value in having a middle man take profits out of our premiums before they are paid out. To be sure, for profit insurance companies are rightfully so out for one thing: to increase dividends and shareholder value for their investors. There's nothing wrong with that but with health care seeming to bankrupt the country, we don't have to follow this path. So my proposal is to supersize it.

There are others who want to keep medicare the way it is. They believe that we should have a public option or co-ops that would either add a new bureaucracy to our government in the form of a public insurance utility, or a co-op of groups getting together to negotiate better prices from drug manufacturers, hospitals, and doctors. I think there are some merits to these plans but they fall short of the goal of coverage to everybody and cutting costs substantially. Theoretically, who would have more leverage negotiating prices for health care than a medicare program with 310 million people? You may remember that when the Bush administration passed the prescription drug benefit for seniors there was a debate about allowing the government to negotiate with drug manufacturers for lower prices, and even talk about importing drugs from Canada where they pay less for some reason. What a horrible slap in the face to the American people that was. There are rumors today that President Obama has done the same thing for savings of $80-100 billion. If true, his is an even bigger slap in the face because he is the president who has run on reform.

Lastly I bring up the "dump it" option. If you've been paying attention to the town hall meetings this summer, you will know that many of the concerned citizens attending these meetings have been seniors. Seniors tend to vote regularly, therefore politicians pay attention. Polls indicate that seniors are the least likely to favor health care reform. They really don't want to change anything. We've seen video with them saying "health care reform is socialism", "Obamacare will ruin us", "the government is taking over society in the worst way I've seen in my whole life". But of course the kicker to all this is "But DON'T TAKE AWAY MY MEDICARE". They have been lied to by the death panel movement, the birthers movement, almost every republican (save Olympia Snowe), and the main steam media. It's reminiscent of the Harry & Louise commercials during the Clinton administration and the swiftboats for veterans commercials during the Kerry campaign. Free speech allows you to lie about something even to get something else accomplished (stopping health care reform) but it's up to the news media to report the truth. In the end if seniors can't see that health care reform as something good for the country and they don't like socialized medicine, then they really should not have medicare and should voluntarily not use it, or dump it as I say.

Finally, I don't see how this Judeo-Christian founded country of ours doesn't see the humanity or the morality in all of this. As a young Christian, I was taught in church that Jesus fed the poor, that he clothed them, that the stairway to heaven was paved not by those who spent the most, but by those who did good deeds for their fellow man (society). Do no good Christians think it is morally wrong to let people go bankrupt in this country because they cannot pay their medical bills, or worse yet, to let people die because they could not get treatment for their illness or their insurance company would not approve their claim?

Speak up! For if we do not address this now, in ten years it will be far, far worse and the scenario of seniors losing their medicare through the reality of not being able to pay for it will not be a dream but will come true. Change is hard for all of us. We need to be able to give a little to get a little. To be clear, I believe universal health care is a right, not a privilege in our rich country.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Over the top? Definately. Mostly true? Yes

Interesting read from Brian Ross @The Huffington Post
Brian Ross: Apparently, You CAN Fool All of the People All of the Time:
A sad, but true account of how the nutters on the right have spread fear, lies, and name calling into the discussion about healthcare reform and the president. For those family and friends who aren't sure or don't believe me, click on the link. It's why I'm so passionate about this, this time around, and why we all need to fight for the truth.

"Obama is a fascist, socialist, commie pervert who will spread Nazistic Communist Socialism throughout America by way of his black helicopters on loan from the UN and he is not really the president, being a foreigner and all, now is he?
Health care is the first major test of the better-educated center attempting to take the country's future back from the largely ignorant, largely Southern fringe who were manipulated by a handful of smart and ill-intended Republicans and their puppeteers from the Big Money special interests into doing their bidding over the last twenty years.
They use conventional media outlets and the Internet to try to retain control of the power that largely white, largely Northeastern power brokers have enjoyed for more than two centuries, by energizing scared white folk afraid of losing their grip on power to the black 'foreign' guy in the White House."

National Security Adviser Says President Obama Is Having Greater Success Taking Terrorists Out of Commission Than Bush Did

Perhaps Dick didn't get the memo?

Responding to criticism from former Vice President Cheney that President Obama is making the nation more vulnerable to terrorism, the president’s National Security Adviser, Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.), told ABC News in an exclusive interview that actually the reverse is true: President Obama’s greater success with international relations has meant more terrorists put out of commission.
ABC News Exclusive: National Security Adviser Says President Obama Is Having Greater Success Taking Terrorists Out of Commission Than Bush Did - Political Punch

Recent Posting

I fell a couple of days ago on the sidewalk in front of my house. I'm OK but it hurts to type. It's getting better and I've got some drafts almost ready to go. Thanks for your concern, David