Saturday, February 28, 2009


CNN: A new national poll of Republicans indicates no clear front-runner for the next GOP White House nominee, but there does seem to be a clear gender gap. Twenty-nine percent of Republicans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Friday say they are most likely to support Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for the next GOP presidential nomination.
Right behind the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and well within the poll's margin of error, is former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. Twenty-six percent of those questioned say they are most likely backing Huckabee, the surprise winner of the 2008 Iowa GOP caucuses.
Twenty-one percent of Republicans polled say they most likely would support former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another GOP hopeful from the last campaign who may run again. Nine percent say they would probably back Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is considered a rising star in the GOP.
The poll's release comes as conservatives from across the country are gathered in the nation's capitol to attend the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of those from the GOP's right wing.
Those attending the meetings are voting in a straw poll for their favorite candidate for the next Republican presidential nomination. The results of which were Romney received 20 percent of the vote and Jindal got 14 percent. Close behind were Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who each received 13 percent of the vote.
The results were culled over two days from 1,757 of the party activists who came to Washington for the annual conference and filled out ballots on Thursday and Friday. Nearly 60 percent of the straw poll participants were between the ages of 18 and 25. More than half of the conference attendees this year were college students.
The choices in the poll were: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist; former House speaker Newt Gingrich; former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee; Jindal; Paul; Palin; Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty; Romney; South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, and "Undecided." There was also space on the ballots for a write in vote.


President Barack Obama wants to rescind a Bush administration rule that strengthened job protections for doctors and nurses who refuse for moral reasons to perform abortions, or supply contraception.
Under the rule, clinics, hospitals and other providers of healthcare would be required to certify that they would not fire a worker who has religious objections to providing any particular "health service." These could include multiple forms of contraception, including some birth control pills, IUDs and emergency "morning after" contraception.
The Bush administration instituted the rule in its last days, and it was quickly challenged in federal court by several states and medical organizations. As a candidate, President Barack Obama criticized the regulation and campaign aides promised that if elected, he would review it.
Federal law has long forbidden discrimination against health care professionals who refuse to perform abortions or provide referrals for them on religious or moral grounds, but the Bush rule goes one step farther.
The Bush administration's rule adds a requirement that institutions that get federal money certify their compliance with laws protecting the rights of moral objectors. It was intended to block the flow of federal funds to hospitals and other institutions that ignore those rights.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


On the afternoon of May 10, 2007, Blair Holt, a junior at Julian High School in Chicago, was killed on a public bus riding home from school when he used his body to shield a girl who was in the line of fire after a young man boarded the bus and started shooting.
To mark this ultimate act of heroism, Congress has named House Resolution 45 after his memory. The act is intended:
(1) to protect the public against the unreasonable risk of injury and death associated with the unrecorded sale or transfer of qualifying firearms to criminals and youth;
(2) to ensure that owners of qualifying firearms are knowledgeable in the safe use, handling, and storage of those firearms;
(3) to restrict the availability of qualifying firearms to criminals, youth, and other persons prohibited by Federal law from receiving firearms; and
(4) to facilitate the tracing of qualifying firearms used in crime by Federal and State law enforcement agencies
The act will also mandate the Attorney General to:
(1) establish and maintain a firearm injury information clearinghouse to collect, investigate, analyze, and disseminate data and information relating to the causes and prevention of death and injury associated with firearms;
(2) conduct continuing studies and investigations of firearm-related deaths and injuries; and
(3) collect and maintain current production and sales figures for each licensed manufacturer.
Although the gun totin' rednecks of the world will see this as phase one of an all out ban on guns, any level headed, intelligent citizen will see this for what it is, an all too long overdue attempt to keep guns out of the hands of minors, felons and the mentally ill. Obviously, I strongly urge its passage. Please write or call your Congressional representatives and urge them to vote "Aye," and not for an eye for an eye.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Think you have heard it all? The investment houses, the savings and loans, the banking industry and the auto industry, all sucking up to the government financial tit, so to speak. Well folks, you ain't heard nothing yet.
Think your 401K did badly last year? Well, if you didn't shuffle your money around to a money market (and if not, what were you thinking...the market was at 1400 for gawd sakes), it more than likely did. But your 6 figure 401K will rebound before you retire (hopefully), and you will recover the temporary setback well before you hit your sixties.
Others really took a hit in the market, like pension funds. Some have "defined contribution plans," the market rises and falls, and you take the profit, or take the hit. And these certainly bled over the course of the past year plus.
But that isn't the worst part, as heartbreaking as that is for many pre-retirement workers. The real issue is something called a "defined benefit fund." This plan guarantees you a certain amount of pension when you retire, a pre-set amount of retirement funds. The funds are still invested in various forms, including the market, only now the pension plan provider takes the profit, or the hit.
Made a lot of sense when you could throw a dart at a financial page, and come away with a winner in the market. The providers stood to reap major dollars in profits. In 2007, pension funds were at a surplus of over $60 billion dollars. Now? Try a $200 billion deficit.
In 2006, Congress passed the Pension Protection Act, which mandates that these pensions remain fully funded. Great bill but in actuality, of the 500 largest companies with pension plans, over 200 are nowhere even close to being fully solvent.
Still not seeing the big picture yet? Try this on out for size. The city of Vallejo, California filed for chapter 9 bankruptcy protection status due to its pension obligations.
Here's the big picture. These pension funds are staggeringly large. There are state, local and untold private numbers of pension plans. CALPERS the California plan for state employees is the largest public pension firm in the United States. Literally millions of state and government workers. They reportedly lost 28% of their value from January through October of 2008. But they could recoup some of these set backs and be OK, as long as they are not hit with a flood of retirees in the near future.
CalSTRS, the teachers pension fund, reportedly had over $400 billion in assets in 2007. They lost 20% of their value in three months of 2007 alone (they were investors of Lehman Brothers). In 2007, they were fully funded. Now, they are 66% funded.
They are not alone, and they are watching with delight at the governments willingness to consider huge stimulus bailout packages. The government tit is fully lactating and they have to be considering mozying up for some milk. For all of our troubles and for all of our concerns, imagine being a 30 year state employee about to retire. Kind of puts it all into perspective, doesn't it?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


"The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. And though all these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.
In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.
Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here."
And with that, President Obama went about talking to the American people in general terms, about his vision for the recovery process he envisions for our nation. He was charismatic, he was engaging and uplifting, he was extremely positive, glowingly optimistic, and he was extraordinarily generous to his Republican counterparts, and especially the previous administration who gave us eight of the worst years on record in American history. In short, President Obama hit it out of the park, and everyone could see it.
Despite his conciliatory nature of his address to Congress, the conservative base, went onto the attack mode with their new minority darling, Governor Jindel of Louisiana. Trouble was, he misquoted Obama with an absolute falsehood.
Jindel stated...."A few weeks ago, the President warned that our nation is facing a crisis that he said 'we may not be able to reverse.' Our troubles are real, to be sure. But don't let anyone tell you that we cannot recover -- or that America's best days are behind her." In fact, Obama stated that if his economic recovery plan were not passed, "we may not be able to reverse" the current economic crisis.
Governor Jindel had his moment tonight. His moment to transcend the white male dominated party power base of the Republican party, and usher in a new era of inclusion. This was Jindel's opportunity to represent a party who little or no use for him before the American people elected a black man. He had his moment, such as Obama had his moment at the Chicago Democratic convention. Only Obama took advantage of his moment to gain national prominence, Jindel struck out swinging. Struck out swinging at air, based on a false premise and a mis-quote.
If you did not watch the address, you can read the full address here.
It is well worth the read. For example, this is what Obama said about the educational system and the call to arms the President called upon the American people........"It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American."
A ground breaking address to Congress by a President who steps out of the box on a consistent basis, and will continue to do so as he becomes more comfortable in the job.
One has to wonder how much he could accomplish had he not had the misfortune of following George Bush and his merry band of deficit spenders, the very people now complaining the remedy to their poor performances will actually cost money. What incredible gall.
And while Obama took great steps to unify and bring together, Jindel and the conservatives started running for office.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Most of us are wondering when the economy will reach the bottom. Many of us are wondering whether we will still have a job when it does. But for some businesses, the recession has fallen into their laps with a boom......boom times that is. While many retailers are either closing stores, or closing down completely for fallen sales, repair businesses are trying just to keep up with their business.
While in better times, many items are considered disposable as the cost to repair them is nearly one-third the cost of a new one, these days of watching our pennies make repair a viable and desirable option. This is true with electronics, and especially television repair centers these days where business is never better. Same goes for vacuum cleaner repair shops and car mechanics as well. While the auto dealerships are largely deserted, the service bays are full to capacity, as we try to milk another year or two out of our aging vehicles.
Another business seeing a resurgence of sorts is the local shoe repairman, known as cobblers. Never has a resole or re-heel been so in demand as we carefully weigh the cost of replacement dress shoes versus the cost of repair. While there will not be a flood of young people wanting to learn the trade, these older craftsman can bring your expensive dress shoes back to life for a fraction of the cost of new ones. Many shoe repair shops have been dying out, the ones still in operation are experiencing sales volumes unheard of for generations.
Needing a new suit or party dress? Experts say the best place to go shopping for them is in the back of your closet. And so brings us to another resurging business, the neighborhood tailor. Alterations on older clothing is in demand, especially since many Americans have become health conscious and have larger clothing needing taking in. Although not many will be willing to admit it, alterations on older clothing can save a pretty penny over the cost of new.
Nothing in the back of the closet? You guessed it, the last business seeing an influx of customers due to the economy is the local thrift shop. Or more to the point, the thrift shops outside of your neighborhoods, lest you be seen coming in or going out of them. This is especially true of thrift stores near affluent communities, where the rich will donate expensive clothing items just to make room for the latest styles and fashions. If you are willing to swallow a little pride, and pick through other peoples hand-me-downs, the thrift store experience can actually be the best bargain in town, especially if all the item needs is a little dry cleaning.
Other changes in patronage due to the faltering economy? How about a run on old fashioned board games as a cheap form of entertainment, or a visit to the local library as opposed to the expense of purchasing a new book. Got a vacation coming up? Local parks and recreation departments are reporting an increased interest in camping sites, one of the most economical vacation weeks any family can spend, as long as you already have the equipment.
Want more growth industries due to the economy? How about cheaper all you can eat buffets, charitable food banks, and yes, the $1 menu at your local drive thru are all reporting increased activity. But the king? The 99 cents or less store phenomenon that took hold a decade ago, and isn't going anywhere....but up, and I don't mean in price.


Is it too soon to assess the progress of the Obama administration? While it may be too early to form an enduring opinion, it is obvious to most of us that the first month of the administration has traveled a very rocky road. While Obama had formulated his "team of rivals" very early on, it was quickly realized that the "team of rivals" turned out to be a "gang that couldn't shoot straight," leading to a series of gaffes and embarrassments, especially considering many of Obama's candidates propensities to avoid paying their due taxes, and warranting federal investigations.
Recently, Obama was quoted as saying "sometimes during the campaign, the rhetoric gets heated and magnified." And while he was referring to his views on global trade, and specifically NAFTA, which he tore to shreds during the campaign, his quote can be applied to many areas where the "most liberal Senator in Congress" has backed away from his campaign stump speeches.
The closing of Guantanamo Bay talk during the campaign has all but gone away, since the only alternative is to transport the criminals and try them on American soil, with calamitous potentials. AbuGhraib is back in operation with a new name. "Getting our troops home" has morphed into "ship their asses to Afghanistan." Even his call for bi-partisan support was abandoned when it came to the stimulus package. Instead of seeking compromise on a recovery package the conservatives could support, he found three conservatives willing to support him, and rammed home the largest socialist package in the history of the nation.
Are all these of these observations necessarily bad? Clearly the answer is no, but it does mark a beginning fraught with issues, which hopefully will not symbolize a pattern of behavior on the part of the administration. Karl Rove came out in the Washington Post expressing worry that the Obama administration seem to be making it all up as they go, a quasi "shoot from the hip" gang, and he does bring out some valid points to support it.
Is that fair? Should we really expect him to be proactively navigating the country through an enormous collection of Bush / Clinton landmines he has inherited? No, but he has produced his share of Clintonesque circus like drama for the first 40 days.
No need to panic, he has done some very intelligent moves in his first month. For good or bad, he has responded to the economy with a stimulus package. He has filled his cabinet with a diverse and experienced bunch; at least the ones who could pass the muster. And, he has devoted his attentions to domestic issues, despite his recent trip to Canada. Obviously, the man is aware of his shortcomings.
In my opinion, the best initiative he has adopted has been his foreign policy team of Clinton, Holcomb and Mitchell. And they were deployed to the Middle East and Asia virtually from day one (Ok, day twenty). We are dealing with Israel, we are dealing with Iraq and Pakistan, and for her first trip, Clinton avoided the usual fluff visits to Europe and went straight to Asia. While this doesn't exactly rival Coretta Scott King's visit to Memphis after the death of her husband, it does show where Obama's concerns lie, and his awareness of the correct priorities of the world scene today.
While the Obama first days may not measure up to FDR's legendary (and largely overblown) first 100 days, he is staying afloat. One thing Obama could learn from FDR's first 100 days is FDR's passion for a balanced budget (until a World War forced him into Keynesian deficit spending levels). Although Obama shares FDR's empathy for the poorer classes (and the redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor), he has not shown FDR's policies of taking from "one pocket and putting it into another." FDR, fixated on a balanced budget, would not give anything to one sector without taking away an equal amount from another, a redistribution of spending of sorts, a very wise economic policy to be sure.
Do I (we) ask too much from a new administration? Yes, and it will get even more difficult for Obama as he addresses issues in the future. FDR largely had complete control of Congress to the extent they would vote overwhelmingly in his favor, seemingly without even reading the bills. Contrast this with what Obama has inherited, a largely argumentative and divided conservative base in Congress, to the point that many conservatives are not even hoping Obama succeeds (Limbaughism). And this does not bode well on the Obama agenda he must rapidly address.
He has pushed through a stimulus bill, but next up has to be the following....foreclosure preventions, bailing out the banks and making them healthy again, what to do with the automakers, a 2010 budget and beyond, improving oversights on the credit reporting industry and minimizing the risk of these so called "credit default swaps," and most of all, inspire his nation, and the world.
How long will the Obama honeymoon last? So called experts say two years. I don't think so. They don't realize the lack of patience, and fear that has spread across the nation. I give him 6 months before he starts taking major hits from the experts, and the press. Not to mention the conservative base hoping to gain back control of Washington in four years. In many ways, they are already running for office, which will pose a deathblow of logjams in Congress. Lets hope they do what is right for America and concentrate on doing their jobs, rather than keeping their jobs.
And that is the world....."The World According to Kimba." Thanks, as always for reading.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Once a crutch for the most needy, food pantries have responded to the deepening recession by opening their doors to “the next layer of people” — a rapidly expanding roster of child-care workers, nurse’s aides, real estate agents and secretaries facing a financial crisis for the first time.
Demand at food banks across the country increased by 30 percent in 2008 from the previous year, according to a survey by Feeding America, which distributes more than two billion pounds of food every year. And instead of their usual drop in customers after the holidays, many pantries in upscale suburbs this year are seeing the opposite.
Experts said that chronically poor people tend to adapt to the periods where money is scarce by asking for support from friends or tapping into social services, but that working-class people who suddenly lose jobs or homes often find themselves at sea, unsure how to navigate the system or ashamed to seek help.
It is those people who, over the last several months, have started arriving in growing numbers at food pantries, which are often the first tentative step for those whose incomes are too high to qualify for government assistance. (Many pantries have a no-questions policy, though they might determine how many bags of groceries a customer can receive by the number of people in the household.)
These are people who have never had to ask for help before, and they could easily be your neighbors, or the parents of your children's class mates. Whereas in our parents generations communities were just that, a circle of neighbors and friends looking out for each other; today's communities are far more cloistered and aloof.
We frequently don't know if our neighbors are saints, or mass murderers, and some times they are. It is astounding the number of instances in modern times that criminals, deviants and psychopaths of all sorts can completely assimilate into our bedroom communities....until they snap. And with that wonderful potential, along with our busy lives, home theatres, and total exhaustion have resulted in complete neighborhoods of strangers.
So what is the solution, get a little nosy into the affairs of your neighbors? Not hardly. The answer is to actively support your local food banks, and churches who offer assistance to the needy.

Don't know where to help? Try this web site (link). They have been serving the needs of the resources impaired for years now. Still not convinced? try these statistics on for size....according to the USDA, there are 35 million Americans without the resources necessary to get enough food for their tables, and that is one in eight. Yes, 1 in 8 Americans need assistance with our nations abundant food resources, and only 12% of them are homeless. They are increasingly like you and me, and they need our help. Need one more push? Last year, the L.A. Regional Food bank serviced over 156,000 clients a week. A week. And of those, 27% were children, and 15% were elderly. Let's get involved.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


In April, an extraordinary auction will provide an unprecedented look into the private world of Michael Jackson. More than 2,000 items, ranging from personal effects and costumes to pieces from Jackson's private art collection as well as fittings and furnishings from his Neverland ranch, will be up for sale at a four-day public auction at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.
At auction will be the most astonishing collection of objects ever seen in a celebrity home. "It seemed as if everything he owned was made of bronze and marble and gold," said long time celebrity auctioneer Michael Doyle, who catalogued the sale items, as well as determining their value, in a two month painstaking process.
Jackson surrounded himself with regal finery. There were suits of armour, display cases of custom-made crowns and an ornately carved throne with red velvet upholstering in his bedroom.
Currently housed in a nondescript warehouse on the outskirts of Los Angeles, the famed gates of the Neverland ranch now sit against a wall. The interior of the warehouse is littered with the ornaments that once decorated the grounds. There are bronze statues of frolicking cherubs, replica marble busts of Roman emperors, a huge statue of Prometheus that used to sit on a skull near the entrance. On shelves there are child-size diesel-powered race cars that used to zoom around the grounds. There is a Pope-mobile-style electric buggy fitted with tinted windows and stereo system. Another buggy has the King of Pop's face painted on its bonnet.
The sale also includes vintage video game machines, as well as Jackson's collection of 18th- and 19th-century art. There are books about Disney, the Three Stooges, Peter Pan and Alfred Hitchcock, as well as a collection of black history books, including the autobiography of Malcolm X. Then there is a selection of his own stage costumes, dating back from the days of the Jackson 5 through to the present. There is one of the fedoras he wore in the video for Billie Jean; a pair of trousers so studded with diamanté that they feel as heavy as chain mail; there are customised military jackets, featuring insignia surely acquired on his global travels - including badges from the Royal Air Force and the Thai Narcotics Bureau.
And all at bargain rates. Own a piece of history, or just pick up an item or two to complete a room in your castle, the Jackson auction will certainly be a real circus. Some might even say it will be a real "thriller."

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Don't do it, Barack, it's way too risky. Remember the circus days, you don't want this. You'll have her husband in the spotlight, and she will be taking on her own agenda. He has made way too much money since his Presidency and he'll never release his Presidential library donor list. Bad risk, Mr. President-elect, don't do it.
Well, here we are in February, and who is perhaps the only cabinet appointee who hasn't reigned drama down on your newly elected head? Sailed through the confirmation process. Appointed a career diplomat to deal with Pakistan, Afghanistan and the rest, then talked a political legend into being chief special envoy to the Middle East, with an emphasis on Israel.
Held five press conferences, and is planning her first trip abroad as SOS already. And not the usual patty cake visits to England, France and Lichtenstein. She's going to Asia. OK, not exactly like Coretta going to Memphis after the assassination of Dr. King, but she is going to Japan, and China, and possibly India. She is going for the gold.
And you haven't heard a peep out of Bill. Released his library donor list, and by the way, apparently paid his friggin' taxes. How's that for a cabinet appointee surprise? Bill and Hillary Clinton, the riskiest of all choices, turns out to be your best choice. Ready from day one. And not one shred of drama between them.
While the rest of your appointed kangaroo court are turning out to be a badly written soap opera. Do you think your extensive vetting process should have included if they were up for special criminal investigation (Richardson), or unable to say they paid all of their taxes (Geithner), or are in such a bad way with their financial portfolios and tax evasion cases, they had to step down before being pushed out (Daschle, et al.). Maybe some these appointees should have done what Bill did and release his records, or at least given you a heads up.

OK, Mr. President, you got a victory, your stimulus package has cleared its way to your desk. But you and Emanuel need to tighten up your administration, and stop with the daily gaffes and political embarrassment. You need to get organised, and you need to move on past these setbacks.
Ask Bill and Hillary, they will know what to do.
And that is the world.....
"The World According to Kimba"
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


1. If you go anywhere and there's a line (besides the unemployment office), the stimulus is working.
2. If you go to the food bank and there isn't a line, the stimulus is working.
3. If people stop adopting pets from the dog pound for meat, the stimulus is working.
4. If your local grocery store got Velveeta off their shortage list, the stimulus is working.
5. If you go to a restaurant, and see someone leaving a tip, the stimulus is working.
6. If your local prostitute stops accepting food stamps as payment, the stimulus is working.
7. If the collection plate on Sunday has any paper on it at all besides an IOU, the stimulus is working.
8. If you stop keeping Jack's value menu committed to memory, the stimulus is working.
9. If one of your credit cards no longer declines, the stimulus is working.
10. If your 12 year old starts sneaking into your wallet again looking to steal money, the stimulus is working.
11. If you start turning up your nose at Spam again, the stimulus is working.
12. If you start shopping at Costco on Sundays to actually buy something, and not to feed your family lunch, the stimulus is working.
13. If you get off the freeway and the man holding up a sign that says "will work for food" isn't your dry cleaner, the stimulus is working.
14. If you start feeling bad about beating the shit out of a girl scout for her cookies, the stimulus is working.
15. If the Obama cabinet starts paying off their back taxes, the stimulus is working.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Scott Wheeler, the executive director of The National Republican Trust PAC was recently quoted as saying...."Republican senators are on notice." "If they support the stimulus package, we will make sure every voter in their state knows how they tried to further bankrupt voters in an already bad economy."
All but three heeded his warning. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania were the three GOP senators who voted for the bill Tuesday, and while all three were deep into the process of negotiating the particulars of the Senate bill, only Specter is up for immediate reelection, in 2010.
This is not the first time Specter has gone against the party grain and voted his conscience, which has made him a legendary figure on the Senator floor with the Democrats, but not necessarily the most popular man in any conservative caucus. Specter's decision to vote for the stimulus bill has irked many Republicans in his home state and may have virtually guaranteed a primary fight.
Speaking Tuesday, Specter said his vote has resulted in a flood of negative phone calls to his office and predicted it would lead to a tough primary battle. "I have no doubts about the political disadvantage," he said. "[I'm] losing a lot of political skin about this and I've got a primary battle coming up in about a year. ... It means I'll have to raise a lot more money." (hint, hint???)
The PAC's pledge came the same day another conservative group launched a series of robo-calls in Pennsylvania and Maine, urging constituents to call their Republican senators and demand they stop supporting Obama's stimulus package. And, for the record, according to a recent national poll, only 32% of republican voters are in favor of the stimulus package.
Delaware-based Let Freedom Ring on Tuesday began making 100,000 robo-calls in Pennsylvania and 50,000 in Maine, according to Colin Hanna, the group's president. "Would you be willing to contact your senator, Arlen Specter, today and tell him to vote no on the Obama tax and spend plan?" the Pennsylvania call asks, before providing a phone number for Specter's Washington office.
And the Democrats desperately need those three votes for the final version, which will be a merging of the House and Senate passed versions. Collins is already barking like a dog over the "size" of the package, which was first negotiated at $780 million, but has become larger in the Senate, and President Obama wants even more added, like the re inclusion of the school building funds.
And while Specter is a well seasoned veteran of the Senate wars, and the feelings of power some votes can give you, Snowe and Collins of Maine are having career years of sorts; they certainly have never been as popular, or under more pressure. Should even one of these three fold to PAC pressure, the first Obama initiative will go down the tubes, with the Geithner banking package to go down next. Not the start Obama was looking for, especially in his first 100 days, traditionally the best time to get something accomplished for an incoming President.
You might not like his every vote, both the fact remains that for all of his faults, Arlen Specter is his own man, which is a true rarity in American politics today. And the Obama nation remains desperate for his leadership and his ability to keep his colleagues from Maine in line. Even if it costs Spector his job in 2010. And, if past history holds, his real competition will be from a fellow Republican, as the Democrats will certainly not target his seat as a thank you for his support.

Saturday, February 7, 2009


As the world economies continue to slide, many prudent Americans seek ways to cut back and save money wherever they possibly can. This new found "American austerity" has resulted in many new phenomenons, such as a dramatic increase in stay home family nights, staying local vacations, home laundry vs. dry cleaning, cooking in as opposed to eating out, even a resurgence in board games and a meteoric rise in public library patronage.
And while this is understandable and wise, our "knee jerk" reactions to the press coverage of the gloom and doom economic period, especially by those lucky enough to continue to remain gainfully employed, continue to slow the economy, and feed the current economic down slide. Of course this is nothing new in the American culture, the medias ability to create changes in behavior and "wag the dog" conditions through their writings. My personal financial condition (at least my personal income) has remained unchanged through these hard times, but as I monitor the current economic condition, I continue to make cuts and sharply reduce spending as a result.
And in doing so, I feed the down slide and help to put my fellow mans employment in jeopardy.
While I do feel a slight twinge of guilt for my actions, whether beneficial to the overall economy or not, I have yet to feel any overwhelming sense of an economic upturn, or any positive signs of the governments ability to stimulate the economy, or create jobs. And until I can regain some fiscal confidence, some semblance of optimism, I will continue to make the cuts I feel are wise.
I am sure I am not alone. So, I ask you, how are you coping with this economic downturn? Has it made you more austere in your expenditures? Has it allowed you to turn inward and reevaluate what you consider important in your life? I realize no one is suddenly churning butter, or keeping goats in their back yards, but I am confident you have made adjustments in your lives. Click on the word "comment" below, and lets start a dialogue on how this economy has changed your habits, and your perspectives.

Friday, February 6, 2009


While Democratic Senate leaders struggle to negotiate with Republican moderates over an acceptable stimulus package, new unemployment numbers released today noted that the loss of nearly 600,000 jobs in January made it the single worst month for job loss in 35 years and that 3.6 million people now have lost their jobs since the recession began.
These numbers demand action," Obama said. "It is inexcusable and irresponsible for any of us to get bogged down in distraction, delay or politics as usual while millions of Americans are being put out of work. Now is the time for Congress to act."
He warned that "if we drag our feet and fail to act, this crisis will turn into a catastrophe." The American people "did not choose more of the same in November," he said. "They did not send us to Washington get stuck in partisan posturing, to try to score political points. They did not send us here to turn back to the same tried and failed approaches that were rejected. . . . They sent us here to make change, with the expectation that we would act."
To get this passed in the Senate, Democrats would need all fifty-eight Democratic votes (which includes Kennedy, who is in shape to vote), and two moderate Republicans to reach the magic sixty mark. Most of the disagreement between liberals and conservatives involve any discretionary spending which would not create jobs, or directly stimulate the economy, and the democratic leaders have pulled some of the most egregious spending portions of the bill. (It bears noting the true definition of stimulus: "Something causing or regarded as causing a response." Of course in this case the response they are looking for is an increase in spending, which will create jobs, etc. etc.)
To garner support among the states, Obama is set to travel to two economically hard hit areas in the nation, Elkhart, Indiana and Fort Meyers, Florida, both measuring mid-eight perecentages in unemployment at the end of December 2008, and these numbers certainly grew in January of 2009.
Why does a stimulus package dedicated to stimulate the economy and create job growth at this critical hour need to be "sold" by the president, and is almost universally disapproved of by the conservatives? take a look at some of the good and bad pork proposals the package contains, and you decide where to cut in order to gain acceptance, and rapid implimentation....

A $2 billion earmark to re-start FutureGen, a near-zero emissions coal power plant in Illinois that the Department of Energy defunded last year because it said the project was inefficient.
A $246 million tax break for Hollywood movie producers to buy motion picture film.
$650 million for the digital television converter box coupon program.
$88 million for the Coast Guard to design a new polar icebreaker (arctic ship).
$448 million for constructing the Department of Homeland Security headquarters.
$248 million for furniture at the new Homeland Security headquarters.
$600 million to buy hybrid vehicles for federal employees.
$400 million for the Centers for Disease Control to screen and prevent STD’s.
$1.4 billion for rural waste disposal programs.
$125 million for the Washington sewer system.
$150 million for Smithsonian museum facilities.
$1 billion for the 2010 Census, which has a projected cost overrun of $3 billion.
$75 million for “smoking cessation activities.”
$200 million for public computer centers at community colleges.
$75 million for salaries of employees at the FBI.
$25 million for tribal alcohol and substance abuse reduction.
$500 million for flood reduction projects on the Mississippi River.
$10 million to inspect canals in urban areas.
$6 billion to turn federal buildings into “green” buildings.
$500 million for state and local fire stations.
$650 million for wildland fire management on forest service lands.
$1.2 billion for “youth activities,” including youth summer job programs.
$88 million for renovating the headquarters of the Public Health Service.
$412 million for CDC buildings and property.
$500 million for building and repairing National Institutes of Health facilities in Bethesda, Maryland.
$160 million for “paid volunteers” at the Corporation for National and Community Service.
$5.5 million for “energy efficiency initiatives” at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration.
$850 million for Amtrak.
$100 million for reducing the hazard of lead-based paint.
$75 million to construct a “security training” facility for State Department Security officers when they can be trained at existing facilities of other agencies.
$110 million to the Farm Service Agency to upgrade computer systems.
$200 million in funding for the lease of alternative energy vehicles for use on military installations.
There is a reason why the stimulus package is over 650 pages, it is chucked full of Democratic initiatives which they couldn't get through in the past. Some good, some bad...well maybe not bad, but if the spending will not create jobs and stimulate growth, shouldn't it be requested through the normal channels (a straight up and down vote)? Just from this list alone, I would cut over 2.7 billion dollars in spending (listed in blue), and I am being overly generous. Obviously, this package needs some massive trimming, and some refocusing on the goals of the bill. Then, lets get on with it.
UPDATE: SATURDAY NIGHT What actually got cut
• $3.5 billion for energy-efficient federal buildings (original bill $7 billion)
• $75 million from Smithsonian (original bill $150 million)
• $200 million from Environmental Protection Agency Superfund (original bill $800 million)
• $100 million from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (original bill $427 million)
• $100 million from law enforcement wireless (original bill $200 million)
• $300 million from federal fleet of hybrid vehicles (original bill $600 million)
• $100 million from FBI construction (original bill $400 million)
Fully eliminated
• $55 million for historic preservation
• $122 million for Coast Guard polar icebreaker/cutters
• $100 million for Farm Service Agency modernization
• $50 million for Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service
• $65 million for watershed rehabilitation
• $100 million for distance learning
• $98 million for school nutrition
• $50 million for aquaculture
• $2 billion for broadband
• $100 million for National Institute of Standards and Technology
• $50 million for detention trustee
• $25 million for Marshalls Construction
• $300 million for federal prisons
• $300 million for BYRNE Formula grant program
• $140 million for BYRNE Competitive grant program
• $10 million state and local law enforcement
• $50 million for NASA
• $50 million for aeronautics
• $50 million for exploration
• $50 million for Cross Agency Support
• $200 million for National Science Foundation
• $100 million for science
• $1 billion for Energy Loan Guarantees
• $4.5 billion for General Services Administration
• $89 million General Services Administration operations
• $50 million from Department of Homeland Security
• $200 million Transportation Security Administration
• $122 million for Coast Guard Cutters, modifies use
• $25 million for Fish and Wildlife
• $55 million for historic preservation
• $20 million for working capital fund
• $165 million for Forest Service capital improvement
• $90 million for State and Private Wildlife Fire Management
• $1 billion for Head Start/Early Start
• $5.8 billion for Health Prevention Activity
• $2 billion for Health Information Technology Grants
• $600 million for Title I (No Child Left Behind)
• $16 billion for school construction
• $3.5 billion for higher education construction
• $1.25 billion for project based rental
• $2.25 billion for Neighborhood Stabilization
• $1.2 billion for retrofitting Project 8 housing

Thursday, February 5, 2009


First it was Richardson, who accepted a cabinet position knowing full well he was under investigation at the time for awarding a large New Mexico contract to a huge political donor. Now, the Mensa class of 2009, Daschle, Geithner and Killefer, all knowing they were a tax invasion bomb waiting to detonate. Daschle accepted the use of a donated car, which is taxable. Geithner knew he owed back taxes ($34,000.00), and made the government wait until he was nominated to get their just dues. And Killefer was the winner of a $946.69 tax lien on her home in 2005 for failure to pay unemployment compensation tax on household help.
And whatever momentum the Obama administration had garnered post-inauguration grinds to a halt as the new president struggles to get the vetting process egg off his face. "This is a self-induced injury that I'm angry about, and we're going to make sure we get it fixed," Obama said on ABC's "World News."
Would it have so wrong for these clowns to come clean during the vetting process? Here Obama gets elected on the promise of an ultra clean administration, and three paces out of the starting gate, he has to endure the explanations, and forced resignations from these mathematical geniuses. They say the first 100 days are the most critical for getting something done, and the Obama machine is definitely sputtering. A failed vote on his stimulus package, and he will be left with nothing to hang his hat on; only the upcoming expectations of the next gaffe(s) from his Vice President, who already has had to issue three apologies for his loose wise cracks.
The other day, a car was spotted sporting a bumper sticker that read, "Don't blame me....I voted for McCain / Palin." If recent events are any indicator of the next four years, my car will be wearing a Clinton sticker again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Google unveiled its new mobile location tracking service, Google Latitude, on Wednesday. Google Latitude, if you haven’t heard, lets you have your location monitored and shared in real-time with your friends, family, or whomever you choose. Once you sign up, GPS satellites and cell towers watch your whereabouts. They pull location data from your laptop or smartphone, then pinpoint you on a pretty little Google Map as you go about your day.
While Google Latitude isn’t the first mobile location tracking service to hit the market, it may be the first with the potential for mainstream and widespread adoption. Here is a short video produced by Google.

With Google Latitude, you can:
See where your friends are and what they are up to, quickly contact them with SMS, IM, or a phone call, and maintain complete control over your privacy. You can sign up to put Google Latitude on your phone, PC, or both.
From your mobile phone - View your friends' locations and status messages and share yours with them. (Supported phones)
From your computer - View your friends' locations and status messages on a full screen even without a compatible phone or data plan. Click here to see your friends from your PC.
My question is, what if your spouse asked you to "accept her invitation," or your employer (after all, it probably IS their company supplied phone), or should you disregard the privacy of your children, and force them to sign up? And, can you be signed up without your knowledge?
And then there is the obvious question, what's next, a chip implant in all newborns (it isn't that far fetched, kids imbed all kinds of things under their skin these days at a tattoo parlor)? Nothing, but nothing is as simple as it seems anymore.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This is not offensive, this is a training exercise to see how long our Olympic swim team can hold their breaths. So he smokes pot. Big deal, so has Clinton, Obama, and Bush II. We need to get over this crazy preference of alcohol to pot. As long as people do not operate a car impared, what is the difference? A gateway drug to other drugs? Sure it is, because you made it illegal along with heroin and cocaine. So, if you want some for home use, you go to a dealer, who also sells harder drugs.
Pot needs to be grown commercially, sold over the counter and taxed. The last time I saw the box score on the "war on drugs," we were getting our asses kicked. We need to stop making criminals out of people who prefer to smoke rather than getting drunk, which makes you more impared, and violent (at least for some). You do not see pot smokers on skid row, but you sure do see alcoholics.
Let's stop sending the money spent on pot to Mexico, Columbia and elsewhere, when we need the money, and tax revenue at home. They are going to buy it anyway, so why not regulate it like we do alcohol, tobacco, or the rest of the harmful products that we currently have legalized?
And get off Michael Phelps (if the picture is in fact him, and not some big hoax).