Wednesday, July 30, 2008
One of those old-fashioned, I feel weak, wanna sleep, diarrhea-type viruses. Fortunately, there's been no retching, but if that would help the virus get outta town, I'd force it. I think that I have slept for 20 of the last 24 hours. And I've drunk, drank, whatever, a prodigious amount of water today.
It's not so much a PAINFUL thing as it is feeling totally run-down. On those occasions when I simply HAD to climb a flight of stairs, it became real work. I actually stopped to rest mid-flight once today. If I'm feeling this way tomorrow morning, it's off to see the doctor.
Being sick sure makes you appreciate being well and healthy. Or, it should. How quickly we take it for granted again when we flush the illness out of our systems. I'll try to have more gratitude, though the world be crashing around our ears.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Should anyone be surprised that someone finally took the Savage message to heart and started killing liberals and/or gays? Have you read or listened to some of Savage's filth? He's a borderline terrorist. Adkisson IS a terrorist.
Gay men have been victimized for years and years by men who are insecure in their own sexuality. And liberals have now been demonized for years by certain right-wing hatemongers. Liberals apparently want to destroy America. What bullshit. What does it say about this country that the top radio hosts daily deride an entire group of people (liberals)?
This nation was founded by liberals. We have a liberal democracy. We have a liberal constitution. Liberalism looks to expand personal freedoms while enabling and restricting the power of the state. The fact that liberalism has been demonized is a truly shameful trend in this nations history.
I think we all know that controversy and conflict "sells" on radio and TV. So we should not be surprised when less-than-stable individuals take the message to heart and act out. If you were to ask me, the purveyors of those sentiments should bear some responsibility. Short of legal action, they should, at the least, be ostracized and lose their jobs. Unfortunately, I have little doubt that they would replaced by another wave of hatemongers. FOX News itself is a haven for hate. I hope some of the family members of the dead and wounded in Tennessee will pursue civil suits against Savage, et al.
I'm sure that we'll hear calls from the right for personal responsibility, as in, Adkisson is personally responsible for his actions, and no one else. But not Hannity or Savage. Oh no. We have free speech in this country. You are free to be hateful, ignorant, greedy, whatever, and the right has it down to a science.
From the left, you hear denunciations of individual "conservatives" such as Savage, Coulter, Severin, Limbaugh, and Hannity. From the right, you hear wholesale denunciations of the entire concept of liberalism, forgetting that liberalism is the foundation for this nation. I still respect conservatism as a paradigm. It has a long history with some exceptional individuals in it. However, the whole movement has been captured by greedy hatemongers that, rightfully, should have no place in the marketplace of ideas. One can hope that the market will indeed be self-correcting and dispense with all this vitriol from these people, and that one day "true" conservatives will re-take their party away from the toxic individuals that are sullying its name.
Speaking of "true" conservatives, are we going to hear John McCain denounce this type of hatred?
Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, Sean Hannity on accused shooter's reading list
4-page letter outlines frustration, hatred of 'liberal movement'
By Hayes Hickman (Contact), Don Jacobs (Contact)
Police found right-wing political books, brass knuckles, empty shotgun shell boxes and a handgun in the Powell home of a man who said he attacked a church in order to kill liberals "who are ruining the country," court records show.
Knoxville police Sunday evening searched the Levy Drive home of Jim David Adkisson after he allegedly entered the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and killed two people and wounded six others during the presentation of a children's musical.
Knoxville Police Department Officer Steve Still requested the search warrant after interviewing Adkisson. who was subdued by several church members after firing three rounds from a 12-gauge shotgun into the congregation.
Adkisson targeted the church, Still wrote in the document obtained by WBIR-TV, Channel 10, "because of its liberal teachings and his belief that all liberals should be killed because they were ruining the country, and that he felt that the Democrats had tied his country's hands in the war on terror and they had ruined every institution in America with the aid of media outlets."
Adkisson told Still that "he could not get to the leaders of the liberal movement that he would then target those that had voted them in to office."
Adkisson told officers he left the house unlocked for them because "he expected to be killed during the assault."
Inside the house, officers found "Liberalism is a Mental Health Disorder" by radio talk show host Michael Savage, "Let Freedom Ring" by talk show host Sean Hannity, and "The O'Reilly Factor," by television talk show host Bill O'Reilly.
The shotgun-wielding suspect in Sunday's mass shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church was motivated by a hatred of "the liberal movement," and he planned to shoot until police shot him, Knoxville Police Chief Sterling P. Owen IV said this morning.
Adkisson, 58, of Powell wrote a four-page letter in which he stated his "hatred of the liberal movement," Owen said. "Liberals in general, as well as gays."
Adkisson said he also was frustrated about not being able to obtain a job, Owen said.
The letter, recovered from Adkisson's black 2004 Ford Escape, which was parked in the church's parking lot at 2931 Kingston Pike, indicates he had been planning the shooting for about a week.
"He fully expected to be killed by the responding police," the police chief said.
Owen said Adkisson specifically targeted the church for its beliefs, rather than a particular member of the congregation.
"It appears that church had received some publicity regarding its liberal stance," the chief said. The church has a "gays welcome" sign and regularly runs announcements in the News Sentinel about meetings of the Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays meetings at the church.
Owen said Adkisson's stated hatred of the liberal movement was not necessarily connected to any hostility toward Christianity or religion per say, but rather the political advocacy of the church.
The church's Web site states that it has worked for "desegregation, racial harmony, fair wages, women's rights and gay rights" since the 1950s. Current ministries involve emergency aid for the needy, school tutoring and support for the homeless, as well as a cafe that provides a gathering place for gay and lesbian high-schoolers.
The shooting began at 10:18 a.m. Adkisson was arrested minutes later after being restrained by church members.
The rest of the story is here.
Ever since we set up the netting, the birds have not claimed a single fruit. I simply chose four 12" pots to serve as the four corners of the "cage." I filled each pot halfway with concrete and inserted a 7' pole in the middle of the wet concrete. When it dried, I had my heavy corner pot with a stiff pole in it. Everybody needs a stiff pole here and there.
It's going to take a really stout wind to knock these pots over. Like a hurricane. Hopefully not. Stringing the bird netting between the four poles was probably the most difficult part. It makes for a flexible cage, which can be nudged this way or that at will. And it's easy to get underneath it to harvest the fruit, or to water the plant.
Unfortunately, the two Big Boy plants have simply quit producing fruit. They only turned out two tomatoes apiece. The single, very productive Early Girl plant finally seems to be winding down. We have probably nabbed about 30 incredibly tasty fruits from the plant this growing cycle, and there are a few more still-green fruits yet to harvest. We got these Early Girl hybrid seeds from Ferry-Morse. After these last fruits ripen, we will probably pull up all three plants.
The yellow squash is growing along quite nicely. This is our first attempt with squash, and the seeds are from American Seed Co. The jury is still out, but...
...planted June 8, all five of the yellowneck plants have gorgeous yellow flowers that should begin producing squash very soon. The leaves have that same odd texture - rough and sandpapery - that the cucumber plants have.
Speaking of cucumbers, our second batch is flowering and we expect cukes to begin forming soon. This time, we have three healthy plants, as opposed to only one last cycle, so we expect big things this time. We planted the cukes, from Burpee Salad Bush hybrid seeds, on June 8 also.
Just because, on the same day, June 8, we planted some Park Seed Co. Red Sails lettuce. We grew this one very successfully last fall and winter. Normally a cool weather plant, I thought maybe I could still grow some for our salad if I kept it in the shade more than I typically would, to protect it from the heat. So far, so good. It's growing pretty well, even though it has been hot, hot, HOT around here lately.
As far as I can tell, and I do try to keep decent notes about what we grow and it's progress, we have NEVER harvested food from any of our plants in the time frame given on the seed packages. If the package says it will reach maturity in 45 days, it will take us 75. Or more. It's gotten to where I pay NO attention to the "maturity date" given on seed packets.
Our eggplant bush is continuing to produce prolifically, and I have never seen any other plant consume so much water. We've had so much eggplant that we've experimented with how to prepare it. So far, the wife's eggplant parmagiana is well in the lead. I have lost track of how many of the 2" to 4" fruits we have harvested off of this plant. Burpee's Fairy Tale Hybrid eggplant is a real winner. The fruit is firm and tasty, but again, preparation is key.
Speaking of prolific, nothing can match the basil. This awesome herb has flowered and flowered and flowered. And we have cut and cut and cut. We have so much basil we have been putting cut stalks in vases and using them for indoor flower arrangments and air freshener. Some of this basil + our tomatoes + mozarella + some balsamic vinaigrette = wow. You can get basil from practically anywhere, and even a retard like me can grow it.
One last note on foods: our Mariachi peppers are beginning to flower! The pic below is from yesterday and the white thing is a flower bud. I thought it might be a pepper, but today it bloomed into a small, pretty white flower and there are several other buds now on the other two plants. These Park seeds were also planted these June 8. That was a busy day.
Oh, speaking of seed companies, Gourmet Seed Company has some incredible variety. We aren't growing any of their seeds at the moment, but have some standing by. Check them out. Anyone have any favorite seed company to share?
The aloe plant below, a bridge between edible, ornamental and medicinal, has recovered very well ever since we transplanted it into a bigger pot.
And in the world of flowers, we are just days away - any day now - from one of the plumeria blooming for the first time. We have four different pots growing different kinds of plumeria, but I have no idea what type any of them are, as they were gifts from a co-worker, and she didn't know what they were either. But I just know it's going to have a heavenly scent.
And then there's the bougainvilla - BOOGIE! - totally going nuts and spilling red ... or crimson ... or ... what IS that color? Whatever it is, it's glorious. The flower petals are almost lighter than air, and the deck is often partially covered in loose flowers. When I try to scoop them up and toss them over the wall, the wind invariably picks them up and sends them swirling all over the place in all directions. It's a boogie storm!
That about covers the rooftop deck. We're doing all sorts of things to the four gardens in the front on street level, but at a pretty slow pace, because it has been so fucking HOT! More on those later. Later.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Naturally, it was a different Tech than installed the system Tuesday, so it took him awhile to understand our setup. End result: there was nothing he could do without me purchasing a 3rd receiver (for $150) and paying another $5 monthly fee. Oh, AND an extra charge to run a new line from the actual dish to the 3rd box.
So, obviously, the salesman that I initially spoke with lied to me in a few ways. He assured me that I would be able to get a DISH signal in EVERY plug that had been previously used by Comcast for cable TV. This turns out to be true ONLY if I allowed DISH to take over the entire wiring system. In my case, however, I wanted to keep at least one Comcast line to provide high-speed internet. The salesman assured me: no problem.
And so I ordered the system.
The installer had a Tuesday time window of 12p-5p. He arrived at 3pm, and after talking with me briefly, estimated that the install would take no more than three hours. In reality, it took almost six hours: he didn't leave till 8:45pm. All during the install, he assured me that I would be able to have the DISH signal in every plug that had previously carried Comcast cable, except the one that I was keeping aside for the Comcast internet signal.
It took me a couple of days to test every plug. I had gotten two DVR receivers, each of which could power another TV. So, two receivers = four TV's. BUT, the fifth and sixth plugs would have a DISH signal, but it would be mirrored from the third and fourth. No problem. In essence, you could watch four different DISH signals, but on six TV's. Two of those TV's would have to "mirror" what two others were watching. A bit of an inconvenience, but not a real problem.
The fifth plug on the 1st floor mirrors just fine, but the sixth plug on the 4th floor was dead. The installer had cut that wire and cannibalized it to carry the DISH signal from the actual dish to the distribution box, without telling me.
With the service call today, now they tell me that, if I want to get a DISH signal on the 6th TV, I would have to BUY another receiver ($150). AND pay another $5/month for the signal. AND pay for the extra installation. Bait and switch.
So, the initial salesperson lied to me, even though I tried to be meticulously specific about what I wanted and my home's setup. The installer lied to me as he was installing the system. I'm sure the installer was starving and wanting to get home after that marathon install, and if he had told me what he had really done on the 4th floor, I would have been upset and made him stay longer to try and fix it (which would have been technically impossible, I learn later).
Bottom line: salespeople will tell you just about anything to close the sale. Big duh, there, huh? CAVEAT EMPTOR, even when you THINK you understand what is going to happen.
What I will eventually do is NOT buy another receiver, but instead purchase an over-the-air antenna for that TV on the 4th floor. About the only time we want to watch that TV is when we are working out on the treadmill, so the amount of use it gets does not justify a $150 purchase, plus that extra $5/month.
Besides all the lying, we're pretty happy with the signal and the channels on DISH. We're not all that DISH-appointed.
One other thing. When I took in the DVR box to Comcast to terminate our TV service (and keep the internet), the Customer Service Rep took an extra minute to look through her computer and found me a special promotional rate of only $29.95/month for my high-speed internet service. I had discovered that if you have ONLY internet service from Comcast, they hit you with an extra $15/month. If you bundle internet service with another one of their products (TV, phone or alarm), you get a price break on the internet.
So I was prepared (not happy to, but prepared to) spend $55/month on my internet line, but she found me a deal for $29.99/month for six months. I told her thank you very much for going that extra mile for me, a customer who was moving away from her company. Her extra effort will leave me more inclined to go back to Comcast at some point in the future.
If you ever find yourself in my shoes, ask the CSR if there are any "special deals" available, to help to retain you as a customer. You might get lucky. And it never hurts to be nice to those CRS's. They face all sorts of angry, stupid people all day long.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
Credit Card Scam
Snopes.com says this is true. See this site - http://www.snopes.com/crime/warnings/creditcard.asp
This one is pretty slick since they provide YOU with all the information, except the one piece they want.
Note, the callers do not ask for your card number; they already have it. This information is worth reading. By understanding how the VISA & MasterCard Telephone Credit Card Scam works, you'll be better prepared to protect yourself.
One of our employees was called on Wednesday from 'VISA', and I was called on Thursday from 'Master Card'. The scam works like this: Caller: 'This is (name), and I'm calling from the Security and Fraud Department at VISA. My Badge number is 12460. Your card has been flagged for an unusual purchase pattern, and I'm calling to verify. This would be on your VISA card which was issued by (name of bank). Did you purchase an Anti-Telemarketing Device for $497.99 from a Marketing company based in Arizona ?'
When you say 'No', the caller continues with, 'Then we will be issuing a credit to your account. This is a company we have been watching and the charges range from $297 to $497, just under the $500 purchase pattern that flags most cards. Before your next statement, the credit will be sent to (gives you your address), is that correct?'
You say 'yes'. The caller continues - 'I will be starting a Fraud investigation. If you have any questions, you should call the 1- 800 number listed on the back of your card (1-800-VISA) and ask for Security.'
You will need to refer to this Control Number. The caller then gives you a 6 digit number. 'Do you need me to read it again?'
Here's the IMPORTANT part on how the scam works. The caller then says, 'I need to verify you are in possession of your card'. He'll ask you to 'turn your card over and look for some numbers'. There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security Numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, 'That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?' After you say No, the caller then thanks you and states, 'Don't hesitate to call back if you do, and hangs up.
You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the Card number. Bu t after w e were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card.
Long story - short - we made a real fraud report and closed the VISA account. VISA is reissuing us a new number. What the scammers want is the 3-digit PIN number on the back of the card Don't give it to them. Instead, tell them you'll call VISA or Master card directly for verification of their conversation. The real VISA told us that they will never ask for anything on the card as they already know the information since they issued the card! If you give the scammers your 3 Digit PIN Number, you think you're receiving a credit. However, by the time you get your statement you'll see charges for purchases you didn't make, and by then it's almost too late and/or more difficult to actually file a fraud report.
What makes this more remarkable is that on Thursday, I got a call from a 'Jason Richardson of Master Card' with a word-for-word repeat of the VISA scam. This time I didn't let him finish. I hung up! We filed a police report, as instructed by VISA. The police said they are taking several of these reports daily! They also urged us to tell everybody we know that this scam is happening.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
"The fact is we had four years of failed policy. We were losing. We were losing the war in Iraq. The consequences of failure and defeat of the United States of America in the first major conflict since 9/11 would have had devastating impacts throughout the region and the world." --forgetting the war in Afghanistan, which was launched in October 2001, CBS News interview, July 21, 2008
"We have a lot of work to do. It's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border." --referring to a border that does not exist, ABC News interview, July 21, 2008 (Watch video clip)
"I was concerned about a couple of steps that the Russian government took in the last several days. One was reducing the energy supplies to Czechoslovakia." --referring to a country that no longer exists, Phoenix, Arizona, July 14, 2008
"Maybe that's a way of killing them." --responding to a report that $158 million in cigarettes have been shipped to Iran during Bush's presidency despite restrictions on U.S. exports to that country, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, July 8, 2008
"Americans have got to understand that we are paying present-day retirees with the taxes paid by young workers in America today. And that's a disgrace. It's an absolute disgrace and it's got to be fixed." --on Social Security, Denver, Colorado, July 7, 2008
"That's not too important. What's important is the casualties." --on when U.S. troops will return from Iraq, "Today," NBC, June 11, 2008
"I will veto every single beer, um, bill with earmarks." --speaking at the National Small Business Summit, Washington, D.C., June 10, 2008 (Watch video clip)
"Well, basically, it's a Google." --on how he's conducting his VP search, Richmond, Virginia, June 9, 2008
"We should be able to deliver bottled hot water to dehydrated babies." --Kenner, Louisiana, June 3, 2008 (Watch video clip)
"I'm glad to have his endorsement. I condemn remarks that are, in any way, viewed as anti-anything. And thanks for asking." --after being asked by George Stephanopoulos about receiving the endorsement of Evangelical pastor Rev. John Hagee, who has made a number of controversial remarks, including calling Catholicism "The Great Whore" and blaming Hurricane Katrina on gays.
"Make it a hundred...That would be fine with me." -to a questioner who asked if he supported President Bush's vision for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq for 50 years.
"I'm going to be honest: I know a lot less about economics than I do about military and foreign policy issues. I still need to be educated."
"Well, it's common knowledge and has been reported in the media that Al Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran. That's well known. And it's unfortunate." -before correcting himself by saying Iran was training "extremists," not Al Qaeda (Watch video clip)
"I will conduct a respectful debate. Now, it will be dispirited -- it will be spirited -- because there are stark differences. I am a proud conservative, liberal Republica-- conservative Republican...Hello? Easy there." (Watch video clip)
"I am a illiterate that has to rely on my wife for all of the assistance I can get." -after being asked whether us uses a Mac or a PC (Watch video clip)
"The issue of economics is not something I've understood as well as I should. I've got Greenspan's book."
"It's not social issues I care about."
"Fuck you! I know more about this than anyone else in the room." --to Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), during a testy exchange about immigration legislation.
"There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today." --prior to visiting a Baghdad market while being flanked by 22 soldiers, 10 armored Humvees, and two Apache attack helicopters.
"You know that old Beach Boys song, Bomb Iran? Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran." (Watch video clip)
"I had something picked out for you, too - a little IED (improvised explosive device) to put on your desk." --to Jon Stewart.
"Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be. We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives." --on the Iraq war.
"I think I'd just commit suicide." --in October 2006, on the prospects of the Democrats taking back the Senate in the November election.
"No, I'm calling you a fucking jerk." --to fellow Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, when Grassley asked "Are you calling me stupid?"
"Only an asshole would put together a budget like this ... I wouldn't call you an asshole unless you really were an asshole." --to Budget Committee Chairman and fellow Repulican Sen. Pete Domenici, during a Senate budget hearing.
"I would rather have a clean government than one where quote First Amendment rights are being respected, that has become corrupt. If I had my choice, I'd rather have the clean government."
"I am sure that Senator Clinton would make a good President. I have no doubt that Senator Clinton would make a good President."
"There's no doubt in my mind that we will prevail and there's no doubt in my mind, once these people are gone, that we will be welcomed as liberators." --on the Iraq war, "Hardball" interview, March 24, 2003.
"We're going to prevail and we will win and it'll be one of the best things that's happened to America and the world in a long time 'cause it'll reverberate throughout the Middle East." --on the Iraq war, "Meet the Press" interview, March 3, 2003.
"I said, 'The nice thing about Alzheimer's is you get to hide your own Easter eggs.'"
"At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." -to his wife, Cindy, after she playfully twirled his hair and said "You're getting a little thin up there," as reported in the book The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter (Watch spoof video)
"Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father." --at a 1998 Republican fundraiser.
Original link here.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
If you are a fascist-loving autocrat, and/or wealthy, and/or a torture-loving warmonger, and/or a hater of American democracy or America itself, Bush has been a big, big success.
Just take a look:
When Bush "took" office, oil was $28/bbl. Recently it's been hovering around $150 bbl. Very good for his oil buddies.
He stole two Presidential elections, and got away with it! How is that a failure?
9/11 allowed them to usher in a surveillance police state as the "people" sat idly by, drooling in fear. Well-played!
He successfully turned his unable-to-prevent-9/11 administration into the only people that can "keep us safe."
They kept us safe from bargaining for group discounts on drugs and importing US pharmaceuticals from Canada, which would have saved the public a lot of money. Instead, it's a big success for Big Pharma. Who do you think Bush works for, after all? The little guy? Hahaha.
The Bush tax cuts lavished tons of free cash on the wealthy. If you're rich and have no conscience, you're probably pretty happy about that.
On the other hand, the Democrats did stop Bush from privatizing Social Security, so there's one failure for you, Nancy. And Bush did fail to prevent an increase in the minimum wage. And, and, he failed to maintain a Republican majority in Congress, so maybe you're onto something after all, Nancy.
Back to reality, Bush reneged on his campaign promise to control carbon emissions. Big success for the big polluters.
He has certainly succeeded at delaying any governmental action on global warming, at least in this country.
They resurrected Iran-Contra figures and put them back in positions of power. Big success for the criminal class and people who still pathologically idolize Ronald Reagan.
Bush successfully prevented anyone from paying a political price for revealing the identity of a CIA agent (Valerie Plame), by pardoning Scooter Libby. Where's the failure, Nancy?
Most of our governments regulatory agencies have been downsized, stripped of funds, and emasculated. Big success if you hate the gummint tellin' you how to do yer bidniss.
They dragged the Iraq war out until after Bush leaves office. Big success for bloodthirsty, hatemongering warmongers, and all lovers of corruption everywhere
He has succeeded in running up the biggest debts in history.
He has succeeded at convincing the public that Republicans "support the troops," while cutting veterans benefits at every turn. Brilliant.
They hung Hussein and killed both of his sons. Surely that made a lot of people get a woody and chant "USA! USA!" Bush successfully demonstrated what can happen to you if you don't "play ball" the way the U.S. wants to play ball.
He has successfully kept the boogie man of "terra" front and center by not capturing Osama. Big win for the police state.
By allowing torture (in obvious violation of the Geneva Conventions), he demonstrated that no one can tell America what to do, and he successfully trashed us in the eyes of the rest of the world.
Bush has successfully kept the Presidential papers of Reagan and Bush Daddy secret.
Bush has succeeded in building an iron, impenetrable cage around any information that he considers executive privilege.
He has successfully made the Democrats look like gutless, powerless wimps. (Granted, this one wasn't too difficult.)
Two of three of the "Axis of Evil" are arguably under control, and as Meatloaf said, "Two outta three ain't bad." At what cost? At what cost liberty?
There are radical right-wingers installed deeply in all levels of the Justice Department and it will take years to weed them out. Big success if you hate the little guy.
Oh, and Bush has successfully avoided being impeached, thanks in no small part to you, Nancy. "Total failure" Nancy? Do you think we're all idiots like George does?
(CNN) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Bush "a total failure" on Thursday, among the California Democrat's harshest assessments to date of the president.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says "I disapprove of Congress' performance in terms of ending the war."
"God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States -- a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject," Pelosi told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in an exclusive interview.
The comments came two days after the president sharply criticized Congress over what he described as relative inaction over the course of the legislative term. At the White House on Wednesday, Bush noted that there were only 26 legislative days left in the fiscal year and said Congress would need to pass a spending bill every other day to "get their fundamental job done."
"This is not a record to be proud of, and I think the American people deserve better," Bush said. In the interview, Pelosi said the president was in no position to criticize Congress and brushed aside the criticisms as "something to talk about because he has no ideas."
"For him to be challenging Congress when we are trying to sweep up after his mess over and over and over again -- at the end of the day, Congress will have passed its responsibility to pass legislation," she said. iReport.com: Why isn't impeachment on the table?
But Pelosi's comments come as a new Gallup poll registers the lowest level of congressional approval among Americans in the polling organization's 30-year history of conducting that survey.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The major oil companies are just now getting no-bid contracts to re-enter Iraq, some 30 years after Hussein nationalized oil production and took it away from the majors. We ALMOST have unrestricted access to all that oil again. Mission ALMOST accomplished, George!
Son, nephew of Iraqi leader killed in U.S. raid
Americans say the pair were not meant to be the targets of attack
By RICHARD A. OPPEL JR. and ALI HAMEED
New York Times
BAGHDAD — American Special Operations forces shot to death the son and nephew of the governor of Salahuddin province during a raid on Sunday in the northern city of Bayji, the latest in a series of operations that have resulted in the deaths of civilians or close associates of Iraqi government officials.
The governor, Hamed al-Qaisi, threatened to resign and said he would suspend cooperation with U.S. officials.
The shootings come at a sensitive time in negotiations over the terms of a new security agreement. The most contentious obstacle has been an Iraqi demand that U.S. troops no longer be immune from Iraqi criminal laws.
Iraqi and U.S. officials offered sharply different accounts of the attack on Sunday in Bayji, 120 miles north of Baghdad, though the deputy provincial governor said U.S. officials had already apologized to both him and al-Qaisi, who was traveling in Turkey.
the rest can be read here.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
With all the "confusion" over Obama's religion, wouldn't it be interesting if Obama were to convert to Buddhism? OhmiGod the fundies would have an aneurism. Imagine the possibilities.
I consider myself a Humanist/Atheist, and Buddhism is about the only "religion" that I would even consider converting to. If I had to. We still don't HAVE TO have a religion in the United States, do we?
Ran across these 10 Lessons from the Dalai Lama. There is some added commentary here.
“Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.”
“When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.”
“When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.”
“Spend some time alone every day.”
“Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”
“Share your knowledge. It is a way to achieve immortality.”
“Open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values.”
“Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.”
“A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.”
“Be gentle with the earth.”
We've been pissed at Comcast for awhile now, and have been surveying the market out there.
DIRECT TV, the other satellite system out there, is really heavy on the sports packages. Indeed, their current offer is contingent upon you purchasing the NFL Sunday Ticket, which is pretty absurd to me, as I have not watched an NFL, or college, or even flag-football game in years and years.
Bottom line: we will have four TV's hooked up to DISH, with their Ultimate HD package, so we will be paying about $5 more per month for DISH as we were with Comcast, but getting quite a few more channels, and having two more TVs than before hooked up to the system.
Ah, more channels. Now THAT'S a mixed blessing. We don't watch half the channels on Comcast right now, and soon we'll have even more channels we don't watch. But none of the TV systems out there make it easy to purchase channels a la carte. I would much PREFER to pay for ONLY those channels that I actually would want to watch. But no....all or nothing.
The DISH salesdude told me that by getting only two special boxes, those two boxes can control four TV's. So you pay for only two boxes instead of four. The guy tells me, "We're always looking for ways to save our customers money." Oh, really!?? Then how about true a la carte? Well, we don't really offer that. Yet.
Allegedly, those two boxes transmit radio frequencies to control the other two TV's. And how do the other two TV's receive that wireless signal? He could not answer that. Finally he said the Installer will set up the other two TV's to receive the wireless signal. That's still a big question mark. A wireless device needs to have some kind of wireless card or receiver inside it to receive the wireless signal, at least according to my old-school mind. We'll see...
We'll finally get Free Speech TV and Link TV, two channels that Comcast has refused to carry. Looking forward to that. And we'll now get Showtime in place of Cinemax. Looking forward to watching the "Weed" programs too.
And it will be interesting to see what happens when we get our first rainstorm. Will we lose the signal? Some DISH friends say yes, you will, others have said no, you won't.
One thing I just discovered, after agreeing to install DISH, is that, if you only have high-speed internet with Comcast (and don't also have TV or their phone service), Comcast bumps up the rate by about $15/month. Bastards. So, we might actually KEEP Comcast for TV, but cut it down to only Basic Service, so that we can pay less for the internet. The DISH salesdude said that the coax wire could carry BOTH the DISH signal AND the Comcast signal, which I find hard to believe, but I'll check that with the Installer.
If I could just go to AT&T's U-Verse system, I could actually save some real money. Don't get me started on AT&T again. I have discovered that the U-Verse product does not carry FSTV or LinkTV, so ..... You can't always get what you want.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Michelle Obama was raked over the coals for her comments about not being very proud of America until recently. Why, how dare her?! Who could NOT be proud of America?! Forever and always AMEN! Oh, sure, we've had our share of stumbles along the way: the Palmer Raids, Japanese internment, Rocky Flats, the Tuskegee experiments, just to name a few, but we're number ONE! Or were number one.
And now this...
I recently discovered this book, "Slavery by Another Name" by Douglas Blackmon. (cute play on the name there, Doug)
If true, it's yet another sordid saga from our glorious history. The kind of history you just don't get in school. I remember hearing "stories" about this years ago, but had no "confirmation" until now. I do wonder how many blacks were caught up in this despicable system? Blackmon says hundreds of thousands. We'll probably never know. Does anyone wonder why a large percentage of blacks don't trust the US Judicial system?
Slavery by Another Name:
The Re-Enslavement of Black People in America from the Civil War to World War II
Author: Douglas A. Blackmon
The Age of Neo-Slavery
In this groundbreaking historical expose, Douglas A. Blackmon brings to light one of the most shameful chapters in American history—when a cynical new form of slavery was resurrected from the ashes of the Civil War and re-imposed on hundreds of thousands of African-Americans until the dawn of World War II.
Under laws enacted specifically to intimidate blacks, tens of thousands of African Americans were arbitrarily arrested, hit with outrageous fines, and charged for the costs of their own arrests. With no means to pay these ostensible “debts,” prisoners were sold as forced laborers to coal mines, lumber camps, brickyards, railroads, quarries and farm plantations. Thousands of other African Americans were simply seized by southern landowners and compelled into years of involuntary servitude. Government officials leased falsely imprisoned blacks to small-town entrepreneurs, provincial farmers, and dozens of corporations—including U.S. Steel Corp.—looking for cheap and abundant labor. Armies of "free" black men labored without compensation, were repeatedly bought and sold, and were forced through beatings and physical torture to do the bidding of white masters for decades after the official abolition of American slavery.
The neoslavery system exploited legal loopholes and federal policies which discouraged prosecution of whites for continuing to hold black workers against their wills. As it poured millions of dollars into southern government treasuries, the new slavery also became a key instrument in the terrorization of African Americans seeking full participation in the U.S. political system.
Based on a vast record of original documents and personal narratives, SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME unearths the lost stories of slaves and their descendants who journeyed into freedom after the Emancipation Proclamation and then back into the shadow of involuntary servitude. It also reveals the stories of those who fought unsuccessfully against the re-emergence of human labor trafficking, the modern companies that profited most from neoslavery, and the system’s final demise in the 1940s, partly due to fears of enemy propaganda about American racial abuse at the beginning of World War II.
SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME is a moving, sobering account of a little-known crime against African Americans, and the insidious legacy of racism that reverberates today.
...and Bush needs to just STFU and get the hell out of town. The markets need to fully realize that this disastrous punk is headed out the door, and he'd better not drop a few bombs (on Iran) on his way out. I've never seen such a partisan political hack as Bush in my time on Earth. Everything is political with him, while claiming it's not. And thinking back on all the lies he told to get elected, and all the wool he pulled over honest conservatives eyes, it's disgusting. Yes, Virginia, there are some honest conservatives (a few), but Bush has (hopefully) poisoned the well for conservatives so badly that the Democrats will likely have a landslide and a long reign.
Area home sales decline for 10th straight month
While home prices in other big cities continue to take their lumps, the Houston area is holding its own.
The median home price reached a high point in June, rising 1.3 percent to a record $162,000, according to the Houston Association of Realtors.
Compare that to the results of a recent survey, which showed price declines in all 20 metropolitan areas it tracks.
"We're not in a fire-sale kind of market," said Steve Barnes, president and chief operating officer for the Houston region of Coldwell Banker United, Realtors. "People don't have to sell at any price."
There was one sour note, according to the Realtors: Sales fell for the 10th month in a row.
No one can point to a single or dominant reason, but experts say prices have stayed on an even keel because they never saw rapid price appreciation in the first place. And Houston continues to benefit from a strong energy economy that's fueling a vibrant relocation market.
Area home sales, which have been dropping since the fall and were off 15 percent last month, are returning to levels seen earlier this decade when the market was considered healthy.
Still, demand has slackened as the local market continues to feel the effects of tougher lending standards and skittish consumers worried about the economy.
As a result of the subprime mortgage meltdown, lenders have been requiring borrowers to provide extensive income documentation and put more money down for a home loan.
And banks have started reacting to the recent financial woes of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
"With the episode over the weekend, a lot of lenders are backing off making loan commitments until they know if they can sell them themselves," said economist Jim Gaines of the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University.
Even though sales were down last month in all price categories except the very lowest, real estate agents who work in close-in, high-end neighborhoods, and those near the city's cluster of energy companies, said business is brisk.
"Relocation activity is huge right now," said Amy Bernstein of Bernstein Realty.
Housing inventory in places like Tanglewood, Memorial and Katy is down, causing prices to rise, she said.
Last week, Natalie Costello and her family closed on a four-bedroom house in the Memorial subdivision of Frostwood.
Costello, a senior finance manager for BP, is being transferred here from the Chicago area. She considers herself lucky because she was able to sell her house there within a month.
"We are moving from an area where the real estate market has softened considerably to an area where the market is really robust," she said.
Foreign buyers investing
According to the most recent Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index, all 20 metropolitan areas tracked posted annual declines, as prices rolled back to levels last seen in August 2004.
The index, which does not include Houston-area data, fell by 15.3 percent in April versus a year ago.
Not only are relocations fueling sales, but foreign buyers from Asia, Mexico and the Middle East are investing here because the dollar is so favorable from their perspective, said Beth Wolff of Beth Wolff GMAC Real Estate.
"More expensive homes in better neighborhoods have held their value," she said.
But the overall decline in sales isn't likely to end soon.
At the end of June, the number of listings expected to close within the next 30 days was down 21 percent, signaling another drop, according to the realty association, which tracks properties sold through the Multiple Listing Service.
Sales of homes priced between $80,000 and $150,000 fell the most last month. Once largely driven by subprime lending, that segment of the market dropped 25 percent.
One segment doing well
"We're not out of the woods," Michael Levitin, the association's chairman and principal of HTownRealty.com, said in a statement. "However, the Houston real estate market continues to show positive indicators that others around the country consider enviable."
One segment of the market posted exceptionally strong gains in June.
Sales of homes priced below $80,000 were up 29 percent.
That could be the result of an influx of investors buying low-cost homes here to rent to those who can't qualify for mortgages.
HomeVestors of America, a national franchise that specializes in trading real estate, said Houston was the second-best U.S. market for property investing in the second quarter of the year. Dallas was ranked highest.
The story, with charts and graphs, can be found here.
Monday, July 14, 2008
As Ben Franklin said: In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria.
In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. Coli) - bacteria found in feces.
In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.
However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, Whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.
Remember: Water = Poop.........Wine = Health.
Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of shit.
There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm doing it as a public service.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Obama could turn out to be worse than McCain, much worse. No one doubts that he is brighter and more charismatic than the irritating senator from Arizona. And no one underestimates his Pied Piper ability to galvanize crowds and stir up national pride. But what good is that? Obama works for the same group of venal plutocrats as Bush; a fact that was made painfully clear just last week when he voted to approve the new FISA bill that allows the president to continue spying on American citizens with impunity. Obama is a constitutional scholar; he understood what he was voting for. He was sending a message to his supporters that they don't really matter; that what really counts is the small gaggle of powerful corporatists who run the country and believe the president is above the law. That's what his vote really meant.
What we need is someone with enough guts and moral fiber to shake up the political establishment, put an end to the wars and covert operations, and clean up Wall Street.
Obama has dazzled the media with his easy manner and his savoir faire, but he's not the right man for the job. He has surrounded himself with ex-Clintonistas who will continue the global onslaught with even greater ferocity than Bush, although much more discreetly.(After all, this is the empire's A Team) And just like Clinton, who bombed the bejesus out of Belgrade for 87 days without batting an eye; Obama will keep the war machine chugging along at full-throttle. No thanks.
What the world really needs is a five or ten year break from the United States; a little breather so people can unwind and take it easy for a while without worrying that their wedding party will be vaporized in a blast of napalm or that their brother-in-law will be dragged off to some CIA hellhole where his eyes are gouged out and his fingernails ripped off.
As Bill Van Auken points out in an article on the World Socialist web site, Obama may turn out to be the point-man for reinstating the draft:
Obama has "lamented the failure of the Bush administration to issue “a call to service” and “a call for shared sacrifice....There is no challenge greater than the defense of our nation and our values,” said Obama. We “need to ease the burden on our troops, while meeting the challenges of the 21st century," which, according to Obama, will require an "increase US ground forces by 65,000 soldiers and 27,000 Marines.'" ("Obama continues lurch to the right on Iraq war and militarism" Bill Van Auken)
Is that why the political establishment is so enthusiastic about Obama, because they need a better recruiting sergeant than the uninspiring McCain?
Two weeks ago the WSJ ran an editorial that summarized Obama's metamorphosis in an article titled "Bush's Third Term":
...the rest of the article is worse. This whole "move to the center" bullshit sorta reminds me of the "same 'ol" political habits that we've been seeing over the last...oh...forever. Further increasing the size of our military, which I have heard Obama suggest, is certainly not my idea of "change." At all.
We're beginning to understand why Barack Obama keeps protesting so vigorously against the prospect of 'George Bush's third term.' Maybe he's worried that someone will notice that he's the candidate who's running for it.
Most Presidential candidates adapt their message after they win their party nomination, but Mr. Obama isn't merely 'running to the center.' He's fleeing from many of his primary positions so markedly and so rapidly that he's embracing a sizable chunk of President Bush's policy. Who would have thought that a Democrat would rehabilitate the much-maligned Bush agenda?
101 Reasons to Vote Against John McCainEvery day, tune in to hear a new reason NOT to vote for John McCain in November! We'll then list them here - send them along to all your friends!
#68: John McCain flip-flops on immigration. First he applauded a clear route to citizenship, now he's changed to a "fences-first" stance.
#69: John McCain gives us double-talk on Iraq. He says on the one hand, we gotta keep it going with no timetable. Then, more recently, he says we'll balance the budget by winning the war in Iraq and getting the troops home.
#70: John McCain represents the third term of Karl Rove. Steve Schmidt is the latest person to be at the top of the campaign - another name involved with McCain who worked closely with Karl Rove.
#71: John McCain is taking money from Swift Boat veterans. In 2004, he called them dishonest and dishonorable.
#72: John McCain flip-flopped on swiftboat veterans. In 2004, he condemned the swiftboat veterans, now, he endorses them, with Bud Day back on the scene.
#73: John McCain is a tax cheater. Cindy McCain failed to pay property taxes on time - that is not the type of responsibility that we want in the White House.
#74: John McCain is an opponent of helping rail transit. When he chaired the Senate Commerce Committee, he opposed public financing of Amtrak - a service very important in this day of high fuel prices.
#75: John McCain's healthcare plan would not help Americans. It would tax your healthcare benefits and leave working families at the mercy of big insurance companies.
#76: John McCain is a fear monger. Adviser Charlie Black suggested another terrorist attack would help McCain and the Republicans win.
#77: John McCain is more of a game show host than a candidate, offering up gimmick after gimmick. First it was the gas tax holiday, but now - he wants taxpayers to give $300 million to whoever develops the next new electric battery. Too bad the Japanese are already five years ahead of the US in developing the next generation battery.
#78: John McCain does not have a good environmental record. The League of Conservation Voters gave him a zero rating when it comes to pro-environment votes.
#79: Cindy McCain criticizes Michelle Obama for not "always" being proud of her country. Guess what - John McCain said the same thing.
#80: John McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy. Out of 899 graduates, he was ranked 894.
#81: John McCain uses scare tactics. John McCain accuses Barack Obama of having a "September 10" mentality. We've heard this before from George W. Bush. Republicans have NO problem using September 11 for political gain.
#82: John McCain is in favor of offshore drilling for oil. Of course, this is AFTER he was opposed to it. Drilling for oil off the shores of the United States WON'T ease the gas burden.
#83: John McCain was part of the Keating Five. John McCain was part of the five Senators who were tied to dirty deal with Charles Keating.
#84: John McCain doesn't support prisoner's rights. The Supreme Court has ruled in favor of Gitmo detainees. John McCain says that the ruling "concerns" him.
#85: John McCain doesn't care about women's interests. He wants to overturn Roe v. Wade (among other things) - Planned Parenthood gives him a zero lifetime voting record on women's issues.
#86: John McCain won't repeal George Bush's tax cuts. This is another issue that he has flip-flopped on, and his plan will continue to put this country into a deeper budget deficit.
#87: John McCain agrees with Bush's illegal wiretapping policy outside of FISA. At one point he did disagree with Bush on the subject, but he flip-flopped and now supports the President.
#88: John McCain doesn't know anything about the economy. He himself said he doesn't know as much about it as he should.
#89: John McCain voted with George Bush 89% of the time through his administration. Just more proof that if he's elected, it's more of the same.
#90: John McCain is a fake campaign finance reformer. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) presented this reason during his in-studio visit, and believes McCains back-room dealings need to be exposed.
#91: The Supreme Court. John McCain himself has said he wants to appoint clones of Alito and Roberts to the high court. With that, Roe v. Wade and other important decisions will go right out the window.
#92: His bad "comb-over," that he won't admit to. He won't just be honest and admit he's balding - what else won't he be honest about?
#93: John McCain supports the war in Iraq. He stated he would stay in Iraq for 100 years.
#94: John McCain will be nothing but a third term of George Bush. He wants to continue the same policies that have failed for the last eight years, as Barack Obama pointed out.
#95: John McCain is too old to run the country. He'll be 72 this year. Back in 2000, he admitted to PBS's Jim Lehrer he's too old to be President!
#96: John McCain does not support the GI Bill. He's against giving our veterans full scholarships to college upon returning from service.
#97: John McCain has bad judgment related to the people he cozies up to. He was endorsed by, and was good friends with John Hagee - it took him three months to reject the endorsement! What other type of people might he get close to when he's president?
#98: John McCain doesn't know Shiite from Shinola. Even Joe Lieberman corrected him when he mixed up Shiites and Sunnis.
#99: John McCain doesn't want to change anything about our relationship with Cuba. He is attacking Barack Obama's willingness to meet with Raul Castro.
#100: John McCain will try to stir up war with Iran. We've seen this with his recent exchange with Barack Obama, saying we shouldn't talk - we should just bomb, bomb, bomb Iran.
#101: John McCain's connection with Lobbyists. Special Interests, Special Interests. Ouch. The prime connection is Thomas Loeffler - who resigned from McCain's campaign because of his lobbyist connections.
Go to the list here. And be sure to check back for a new reason every day.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
How about a bold move, Barack? We all want "change" right? Even McCain tries to adopt the "change" mantra now and then, but any thinking person can see that, in many ways, McCain is not really McSame, but is "McWorse" than Bush. How about choosing Ralph Nader as your Vice-President?
Many Democrats and those further left agree with a whole lot of what Ralph Nader has to say, but don't like Nader because he refuses to run as a Democrat, seems like an egomaniac spoiler (what politician is not an egomaniac?) and just takes votes away from Democrats.
Most would probably agree that the Green Party was born of frustration with the Democratic Party. If the Dem Party were vigorous, forward-thinking and truly open to innovation, the Greens would be Democrats.
I know that Nader is not running as a Green this year. Cynthia McKinney (ex-Democrat) is the Green nominee this year. So Nader is unencumbered.
Obama would not be stealing the nominee of any party by selecting Ralph as his V-P. Of course, were Obama to choose Nader as his V-P, I suspect that Nader would insist that Obama adopt some of Nader's points, if not most. If not all. And the likelihood of that happening is about the same as me being an alien from Gamma 4.
Still, what a way to heal some of the factions in the Democratic Party. Talk about unity. It's disappointing, but not totally unexpected, to see Obama drifting away from some of his previous stands, doing that apparently obligatory dance towards the "center," whatever the hell that is. Further from Nader's views, to be sure.
Choosing Nader and adopting some of his planks would be tremendously exciting and energizing.
Nader's website is here.
I mean, how many of these issues, from Ralph's website, do you agree with?
Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, things continue to spiral downward...