Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Friday, December 24, 2010

Gardening Report

It may be December, but our Garden is thriving. Actually, it's thriving because it's December. We have eaten countless salads taken mostly from our plot. We focused on salad greens for our fall garden. Come springtime ... ooh, the possibilities.

Meanwhile, a few pics ...




Little Gem Lettuce!

Dark Lollo Rosa Lettuce!

Red Sails Lettuce!


Swiss Chard!

Collard Greens!


And the two pea transplants are doing fine.

Broccoli! Lord, the broccoli!

It may be Texas in December, but we have snowflakes in the Garden.

A side benefit of watering other people's plots is that they
invariably tell you to help yourself to some of their fruits and vegetables. So I don't mind watering for other people. At. All.

The Garden is going gangbusters. All 25 plots are taken, and most are exploding with vegetables. Very awesome. Happy holidays, everyone. Here's to a prosperous, peaceful and delicious 2011!

200 years

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last-minute gifts

Last Minute Gifts to Six Groups in Need of Help This Christmas ...a letter from Santa

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Ho! Ho! Ho! And a Merry Christmas to you all!

It's that time of year again and I've been so busy making Xboxes and E-readers and blankets with arms in them that I sometimes forget there are others like me doing good works but who are in need of some help.

These other "Santas" operate on a shoestring and need money to do their kind deeds. Unfortunately they can't do what I do to cover the cost of my operations. (I rent out my North Pole facilities to Superman eleven months of the year for him to use as his Fortress of Solitude.)

So Mrs. Claus, the elves, the reindeer and I are asking if you could make a last minute donation to one of the six worthy organizations I've listed below. Or do it as a gift in someone else's name and make that their Christmas present (thus fewer chimneys for me to go down. I know, I know, stop with the burgers in a donut bun.). These Santas will then turn around and use your money to create gifts greater than anything I could ever make in my workshop.

Here they are:

** The Innocence Project. Hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans sit in prison tonight having been wrongly convicted of a crime. They are 100% innocent and the system has the DNA samples to prove it. The Innocence Project is an amazing group that provides free attorneys and researchers who devote their time to freeing these innocent men and women. It's no mistake that human rights groups place the U.S. on their list of countries who throw the innocent behind bars. No country on earth (including China, with four times the population of the U.S.) has more people in prison than America. Please give to the Innocence Project so that those who've committed no crime do not spend another night in jail -- and so I don't have to spend so much time on Christmas Eve going through security when I make deliveries to them.

** The Bradley Manning Defense Fund. If I witness a crime while making my rounds on Christmas Eve, and I report it, I'm considered a hero. (Sometimes there's reward money!) Private Bradley Manning of the United States Army allegedly came across video of his fellow soldiers gunning down and killing in cold blood two reporters from Reuters and a group of Iraqis who were civilians. He apparently decided to report this crime to the American people. For this, he has been arrested and thrown into the brig -- where he has sat in tortuous solitary confinement for seven months. He is also believed to be the source of thousands of documents obtained by WikiLeaks which show the disgusting and immoral behavior of your government and Pentagon as they've prosecuted two illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is a true travesty taking place and it's being done in your name. Please contribute to his legal defense fund and please send him a holiday card at:

Bradley Manning
c/o Courage to Resist
484 Lake Park Ave #41
Oakland CA 94610

(See for how to mail things to him directly.)

** WikiLeaks. What more needs to be said? Frankly, in retrospect I'm GLAD they leaked my 2009 Naughty & Nice list -- especially the parts about the U.S. government. I know that may hurt a bit for those of you who are Americans, but trust me, it's good for you in the long run. What I do foresee in the coming year, though, is a battle for who controls the internet -- and those in power are going to find ways to clamp down and not make it so easy for all of us to share with each other so freely. (Another good group to give to that is helping to keep the internet free is Save the Internet.) From the Iraq War video to the proof that you're backing a corrupt government in Afghanistan to the fabricated cables sent to the Bush State Department from Havana about Mike's movie, WikiLeaks has performed an invaluable service. As long as they don't dig into what my elves do in the 11 months they're on vacation, I'm solidly behind WikiLeaks.

** The Water Project. Over a billion people on this planet have no access to clean drinking water. Approximately two million children under age five are killed each year worldwide by a water-related disease. This is insane considering we have the technology and the people power to fix this in a very short time period -- if we wanted. The money from just one year of the Iraq War would pretty much take care of it. Sad, isn't it, how we're capable of so much more, of being so much better. The Water Project is a hands-on, boots on the ground organization that's digging wells and getting clean drinking water to the Third World. This is one delivery -- water for a billion people -- that just doesn't fit in my sleigh.

** Park 51 Islamic Community Center ("The Ground Zero Mosque"). Here's a tip: if there's anything that will get you a lump of coal in your stocking, it's hating people based on their race or religion. And I'm sorry to say, folks like that were out in full force this year. They even won themselves an election. Soon they will hold congressional hearings to out America's Kenyan-born Muslim president. (My team's already getting extra coal ready for Christmas 2011.)

Meanwhile in lower Manhattan, a group of people who happen to be Muslim want to build a community center. They asked the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan for help. They helped them. It was so nice it made me think I should branch out into Hanukkah and Ramadan. Then the haters showed up. But I believe Park 51 will win this fight. Please help them.

** Democracy Now. This great daily show presents the news we never get to hear on mainstream radio or TV -- especially at the North Pole, where for some reason the cable system only runs the Hallmark channel and Spike. Amy Goodman and Co. do an incredible job bringing the truth to the American public every morning. I listen to them and I support them. (And I support all efforts for non-profit, community-based radio stations. You can learn more about that movement at Radio for All.)

So give if you can. I know these are tight times for most people and you've got yourselves and your families to take care of. I hope this time of the year is going well for you and if not, then please know that there are many -- including me -- who care about you and yours. Working together, it will get better for everyone.

Finally ... those of you who don't have chimneys, could you possibly leave the door open this year? I don't like it any more than you do when I have to break in through your bathroom window.

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night,
(c/o Michael Moore)

Yeah, that's it! Give some money to one of these orgs in the name of one of your right-wing family members, instead of giving them a "gift" and be sure to tell your family member about it! Buzz!

Got his ring back

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Charity Navigator

Have you ever paused before giving some money to a charity and wondered about how effective that charity really is? Wondered about where the money actually goes? Wondered about how much overhead they have? Wondered if your money is going to be wasted?

Well, you can get some of the answers to those questions by consulting the Charity Navigator. These guys have done a lot of legwork investigating charities so you don't have to, and you can feel more confident in your giving.

As they say it:
Charity Navigator, America's premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America's largest charities.
Whatever else you do this holiday season, don't forget to share.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Charlie Sheen?

Who knew?

An independent investigation of 9/11? Oh, how radical. I never did really understand why there had to be so many Republicans on the commission, and so many Democrats, and the "Chairman" had to be a Republican. Why should an investigation of an event of such great magnitude be politicized?

I think this video is about a year old. And Charlie has been wading thru the muck lately, hasn't he?

Last time I checked, there was no statute of limitations on investigating historical events. Need to do it quick, though, before Cheney kicks the bucket (or has his death faked ... ho ho ho)

Krugman: Zombies

Just push the problems on down the road. Let someone else deal with them. Later.

When Zombies Win

When historians look back at 2008-10, what will puzzle them most, I believe, is the strange triumph of failed ideas. Free-market fundamentalists have been wrong about everything — yet they now dominate the political scene more thoroughly than ever.

How did that happen? How, after runaway banks brought the economy to its knees, did we end up with Ron Paul, who says “I don’t think we need regulators,” about to take over a key House panel overseeing the Fed? How, after the experiences of the Clinton and Bush administrations — the first raised taxes and presided over spectacular job growth; the second cut taxes and presided over anemic growth even before the crisis — did we end up with bipartisan agreement on even more tax cuts?

The answer from the right is that the economic failures of the Obama administration show that big-government policies don’t work. But the response should be, what big-government policies?
For the fact is that the Obama stimulus — which itself was almost 40 percent tax cuts — was far too cautious to turn the economy around. And that’s not 20-20 hindsight: many economists, myself included, warned from the beginning that the plan was grossly inadequate. Put it this way: A policy under which government employment actually fell, under which government spending on goods and services grew more slowly than during the Bush years, hardly constitutes a test of Keynesian economics.

Now, maybe it wasn’t possible for President Obama to get more in the face of Congressional skepticism about government. But even if that’s true, it only demonstrates the continuing hold of a failed doctrine over our politics.

It’s also worth pointing out that everything the right said about why Obamanomics would fail was wrong. For two years we’ve been warned that government borrowing would send interest rates sky-high; in fact, rates have fluctuated with optimism or pessimism about recovery, but stayed consistently low by historical standards. For two years we’ve been warned that inflation, even hyperinflation, was just around the corner; instead, disinflation has continued, with core inflation — which excludes volatile food and energy prices — now at a half-century low.

The free-market fundamentalists have been as wrong about events abroad as they have about events in America — and suffered equally few consequences. “Ireland,” declared George Osborne in 2006, “stands as a shining example of the art of the possible in long-term economic policymaking.” Whoops. But Mr. Osborne is now Britain’s top economic official.

And in his new position, he’s setting out to emulate the austerity policies Ireland implemented after its bubble burst. After all, conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic spent much of the past year hailing Irish austerity as a resounding success. “The Irish approach worked in 1987-89 — and it’s working now,” declared Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute last June. Whoops, again.

But such failures don’t seem to matter. To borrow the title of a recent book by the Australian economist John Quiggin on doctrines that the crisis should have killed but didn’t, we’re still — perhaps more than ever — ruled by “zombie economics.” Why?

Part of the answer, surely, is that people who should have been trying to slay zombie ideas have tried to compromise with them instead. And this is especially, though not only, true of the president.

People tend to forget that Ronald Reagan often gave ground on policy substance — most notably, he ended up enacting multiple tax increases. But he never wavered on ideas, never backed down from the position that his ideology was right and his opponents were wrong.

President Obama, by contrast, has consistently tried to reach across the aisle by lending cover to right-wing myths. He has praised Reagan for restoring American dynamism (when was the last time you heard a Republican praising F.D.R.?), adopted G.O.P. rhetoric about the need for the government to tighten its belt even in the face of recession, offered symbolic freezes on spending and federal wages.

None of this stopped the right from denouncing him as a socialist. But it helped empower bad ideas, in ways that can do quite immediate harm. Right now Mr. Obama is hailing the tax-cut deal as a boost to the economy — but Republicans are already talking about spending cuts that would offset any positive effects from the deal. And how effectively can he oppose these demands, when he himself has embraced the rhetoric of belt-tightening?

Yes, politics is the art of the possible. We all understand the need to deal with one’s political enemies. But it’s one thing to make deals to advance your goals; it’s another to open the door to zombie ideas. When you do that, the zombies end up eating your brain — and quite possibly your economy too.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

DADT repealed

Well, lo and behold, the Congress finally did something meaningful by repealing the silly and counterproductive "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law, passed almost 20 years ago in Bill Clinton's first term as President.

Republicans had been blocking the repeal, as they have been blocking almost every single piece of legislation during Obama's presidency. I am sure that we are now going to hear a steady chorus of how Obama has gotten his mojo back, and how Obama is relevant again, and how December was a very good month for Obama. Hogwash.

I know that the Republicans have thrown every roadblock possible into Obama's agenda. Still, the Democrats COULD have revised the filibuster rule at the start of Obama's term, or after the first year. But no, for some reason, they chose to keep the filibuster rule as is, allowing the Republicans to block everything. Only NOW, when the Democrats have lost the House, and virtually nothing of merit will now emerge from there, are Democrats talking about revising the filibuster rules, NOW THAT IT WON'T EVEN MATTER!!

Obama's big Wall Street and health insurance reforms? Pitiful and weak.

Wall Street is left in charge and nothing is done to regulate derivatives, one of the big causes of the meltdown. No caps on interest credit card companies can charge? Pathetic. No cap on how much health insurance companies can increase rates? Weak. No public option to keep the health insurance companies honest? Figures.

How about that backroom deal Obama made with drug companies to disallow re-importation of drugs from abroad, or the agreement not to bargain collectively to reduce Rx prices? Shameful! Sure, Obama, give away the farm, and then brag how important the legislation is? Give me a break. I am no longer convinced the guy is even a Democrat.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Replace Obama

Are there any real Democrats out there? I mean, tough Democrats with a backbone?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walk Score

The "Walk Score" of my address scores an 85, which is in the "Very Walkable" category.

It's true enough. There are around 50 bars, restaurants, cafes and nightclubs within a five-block radius of the house.

Click here and input your address and check out your score. It ain't perfect, of course. Even though my address scores an 85, the map doesn't list several of the restaurants that I KNOW are in the area.

It's a cool tool, but needs some work. My work address in downtown Houston scores a 94, in the "Walker's Paradise" category. Well, OK, as long as you're walking on a weekday, during the workday. On the weekend? Downtown ain't so great. During nighttime? Even worse, and more dangerous. There is still a large number of vagrants roaming the downtown streets at night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

More important than ever

Even if Obama does happen to betray Democratic ideals at damn near every opportunity, Media Matters for America is doing excellent work at keeping an eye, and a truth detector, trained on Fox News. It's just a little bit shocking that we have an entire network (Fox) devoted to tearing down one side at any cost. I mean, I'm all for free speech, but Fox is getting ridiculous. Fox is letting Glenn Beck get away with ... murder.

Dear Friend,

Glenn Beck and his chalkboard have managed to accomplish a lot in the past year.

Unfortunately, those achievements amount to a steady record of indoctrinating his audiences with viciously violent and fear-mongering diatribes. Media Matters for America has consistently pushed back with around-the-clock correction of his outrageous conspiracy theories and blatant lies.

In the coming year, we need to push even harder.

Will you help fight violent rhetoric and fear-mongering with a tax-deductible contribution to Media Matters for America?

Over the past year, Glenn Beck's rhetoric has risen to new, extreme heights. His rap sheet of violent rhetoric and fear-mongering includes:

  • Asserting that "violence will come. And violence will come from the left. Violence is part of the plan." He accused the Left of "setting up another Oklahoma City" and claimed that progressives support "armed insurrection."
  • Claiming that "We are headed towards a thugocracy." Glenn Beck has likened the Obama administration and progressives to Mussolini, Stalin, Nazis, Al Qaeda, and vampires. He insists that a cabal of radicals who hate the country is operating out of the White House.
  • Equating unions for TSA employees to a "private army" for Obama. Beck also said unions have "raped" police and fire fighters, and that violence is a "self-fulfilling prophecy" of labor unions.
  • Describing progressive policies as murderous, apocalyptic and conspiratorial. Beck called a proposed food safety bill a "perfect storm" that was about "control and eventually starvation." He called net neutrality a "hostile takeover" and said health care reform amounted to "pulling the plug" on seniors.

Day after day, Beck irresponsibly describes individuals and organizations as threats to America -- painting a target on their back.

We need your help to combat Glenn Beck's emotionally manipulative and hateful stage act. His aggressive rhetoric has come too close to creating real, serious consequences.

This past year, Beck devoted significant airtime to vilifying the progressive Tides Foundation, tying the relatively obscure nonprofit organization to money laundering, the indoctrination of children, and the Weather Underground.

Enter Byron Williams. After engaging California Highway Patrol officers in a 12-minute shootout in July, Williams revealed he was attempting to "start a revolution by traveling to San Francisco and killing people of importance at the Tides Foundation and the ACLU." It was of little surprise that he also referred to Glenn Beck as his "schoolteacher":

"Beck would never say anything about a conspiracy, would never advocate violence. He'll never do anything ... of this nature. But he'll give you every ounce of evidence that you could possibly need."

Despite Tides CEO Drummond Pike's pleas to Fox News to hold Beck accountable for his unhinged hate speech, Beck continued his Tides demonization and Fox News did nothing. Fox News contributor Sarah Palin responded by announcing: "I stand with you, Glenn."

There is no end in sight for Beck's baseless and paranoid vitriol, despite the dangerous consequences that have already resulted from it. Fox openly supports Beck's hateful and violent rhetoric, and that's why we to fully prepare for an intense upcoming year.

Will you help fight violent rhetoric and fear-mongering with a tax-deductible contribution to Media Matters for America?

We are extremely grateful for your past support as we continue the fight in 2011 and beyond.

David Brock
Founder and CEO
Media Matters for America

5 problems

Below are five problems with the "tax deal" that Obama agreed to with the Republicans. It's a stinkin' deal. I am starting to wonder ... will Obama change parties and run as a Republican in 2012? Why not? He's sure acting like one, and he seems to hate his Democratic base.

Top 5 Problems with the Tax Deal

Problem #1: The deal is a stealth attack on Social Security.

The deal will lower the payroll tax—the tax that funds the Social Security trust. This is a trap for Democrats. Republicans have been coming after Social Security for years and this cut is the biggest threat to the vital program in decades. It will cut one-third of Social Security's funding this year alone and when we need to restore the payroll tax back to its current level, Republicans will cry "tax increases" and could gut it permanently. 1

Problem #2: For nearly one in three workers, it's a tax increase.

Nearly 50 million working Americans—including all workers making less than $20,000 per year—and millions of federal, state, and municipal workers will see their taxes go up because of the deal.2

Problem #3: The deal has not one but TWO millionaire bailouts.

In addition to extending all the Bush income tax breaks for the top 2%, the deal will slash the estate tax. If Congress did nothing, next year the estate tax would be 55% and apply to everyone inheriting $1 million or more. But the deal reduces it to 35% and only people who inherit more than $5 million will have to pay. This second bailout will give a gigantic tax giveaway to a few thousand of the richest families in the country and add hundreds of billions to the national debt.3

Problem #4: Unemployment help is insufficient and inadequate.

While the deal extends unemployment benefits for another 13 months for people currently receiving it, millions of unemployed workers who've struggled the most and been out of work more than 99 weeks—since the giant Wall Street banks wrecked the economy—will get no help at all under the deal.4 It's a gamble that there will be jobs in the next 13 months when the insurance runs out, but the tax cuts will go well beyond that. Better to just pass a stand-alone unemployment extension to help all struggling Americans.

Problem #5: Tax giveaways to the rich are a terrible way to create jobs.

Tax breaks for the rich are the least efficient way to create jobs and help the economy grow. In fact the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says extending all tax cuts would lower unemployment only 0.1% to 0.3% over the next year5 and that the cost of the tax deal would be $900 billion over the next five years.6

1."Tax Cut Deal A Hidden Threat To Social Security," The Huffington Post, December 8, 2010
2. "Obama-Republican Deal Could Mean Tax Hike For One In Three Workers," The Huffington Post, December 10, 2010
3. "Estate tax deal: worst part of a bad tax compromise," The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
4. "Unemployment benefits: Extension won't help '99ers'," The Christian Science Monitor, December 7, 2010
5. "The Deal," Paul Krugman, The New York Times, December 7, 2010
6. "CBO score shows tax plan ups deficit $900 billion in 5 years,", December 10, 2010

I mean, WTF!? To get another 13 months of unemployment compensation you give massive tax breaks to the richest Americans AND a huge reduction in the estate tax AND a 2% reduction in payroll taxes? Where in the hell did a reduction in the payroll tax come from? Is Obama trying to kill Social Security like the Republicans? Obama is supposed to be smart?

This looks like one of the worst deals ever, unless you're rich, then you should love it, especially if you don't give a shit about anyone below your income level. This is truly pathetic, and as the link above indicates, this deal does nothing for the "99'ers" that have already exhausted their unemployment compensation.

And there is Obama, ranting at his own base for not praising the deal? WTF is this shit? The story should have listed six problems with the deal. #6 would be Obama himself. Can we find a REAL Democrat please? This crap is getting old.

Trickle down

and they still believe it!

Monday, December 13, 2010

You have to laugh

Obama is finally standing his ground, and telling the Dems to fuck off. I kinda wish the Republicans would go ahead and impeach this clown and let us get a real Democrat in there. That is, if there are any left.

The Week's Best Late-Night Jokes

"It looks like the Bush-era tax cuts for the rich will continue, due to a strong Republican leader, Barack Obama. Today Obama changed his slogan from 'Yes we can' to 'Yes, we caved.' It's so bad for him, now Democrats want to see his birth certificate." —Jay Leno

"President Obama has agreed to extend the Bush-era tax cuts. Because if there's anything we need, it's an extension of the Bush era." —David Letterman

"Great. Let's extend the policies of the guy who gave us the greatest recession in the history of the planet." —David Letterman

"President Obama has reached a deal with Republicans to extend the Bush tax cuts, in exchange for extending jobless benefits. Republicans in Congress say they're thrilled with the tax cuts, while Democrats leaving Congress say they're thrilled with the jobless benefits." —Jimmy Fallon

"So it's Bush tax cuts for two more years, and then it'll be up to President Palin." —David Letterman

"Part-time Governor Sarah Palin shot and killed a reindeer on last week's TV show. And that was her Christmas special. Took her three shots. Well, she's rusty. Last thing she brought down was John McCain." —David Letterman

"Sarah Palin shot a reindeer on the last episode of her show. You don't typically see politicians shooting reindeer to death two weeks before Christmas." —Jimmy Kimmel

"Between the made-up words and wildly shooting at anything with four legs, Sarah Palin is turning into Elmer Fudd." —Jimmy Kimmel

"On Sarah Palin's next show she gets together with Kate Gosselin and her kids. This may be the biggest meeting of media whores since Michael and Dina Lohan got together to conceive Lindsay." —Jimmy Kimmel

"WikiLeaks supporters have hacked into Sarah Palin's credit card information after she criticized Julian Assange. Sarah said she's very upset, and hopes all suspicious charges to her account can be refundiated." —Jimmy Fallon

"According to WikiLeaks, the airing of American TV shows in the Middle East is helping to stop Islamic extremism. That's right. The terrorists watch our reality shows and realize they've already won." —Conan O'Brien

"The WikiLeaks founder is being sought by Swedish authorities on charges of sexual assault. He says, if he's arrested, he'll release a poison pill of encoded documents, including ones about UFOs. Arrest him. I want to hear about the UFOs." —Jimmy Kimmel

"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was in court today, and when the judge asked for his address he said he didn't want to give out that information. Well, everyone has a right to privacy." —Jay Leno

"Julian Assange was arrested by British authorities. Our secrets are safe as long as no one else figures out how to use the Internet." —Jimmy Kimmel

"President Obama's pledge to have the most transparent administration in history has come true. Thanks to WikiLeaks." —Jay Leno

"'A Charlie Brown Christmas' was just on. According to a recent poll, most Americans think Charlie Brown is a Muslim." —David Letterman

"Because of a printing error, a billion new $100 bills have to be destroyed. They're going to burn $100 billion dollars — just like they did with the last stimulus program." —Jay Leno

"Nigerian authorities are charging former Vice President Dick Cheney on a bribery scandal that involves Haliburton. That's when you know you're bad, when guys in Nigeria are accusing YOU of running a scam. Cheney has offered to be hooked up to a polygraph, as soon as he's unhooked from the defibrillator." —Jay Leno

"Nigeria has issued an arrest warrant for Dick Cheney. Good luck serving that this time of year. Cheney's up in Whoville, stealing Christmas." —Jay Leno ‎

"The season wouldn't feel the same without people going out of their way to be offended by nothing." —Jon Stewart on the "War on Christmas" ‎

"Legislation was enacted in 1993 designed to allow gay people to serve in the military as long as they told their colleagues that the ripped, topless and be-jean shorted fireman that they had in their foot locker was cousin Rico." —Jon Stewart on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"

"The Republicans might be willing to allow homosexual men and women to die for their country, once anyone earning over $500,000 a year is allowed to park in handicapped spaces and be addressed as 'Guvner' in an English accent." —Daily Show correspondent John Oliver on Don't Ask Don't Tell

Sunday, December 12, 2010

True USA

True USA ... by population ... ok, fine, give the deserted western states an equal voice in the Senate, but why must it be a 60% hurdle in the Senate, when it's 50% in the House? Our government has become a joke. And it's gonna get worse.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bernie for 12

The video below shows the very first 12 minutes of Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) "very long speech" in the U.S. Senate today in opposition to the tax cut deal between Obama and the Republican leadership.

While I agree with everything Bernie says in this clip ... I have to say ... how about a little bit of EMOTION here, Bernie? Perhaps he was trying to save his strength and pace himself for a long speech, but there is this time-tested tactic of garnering extra attention when you RAISE YOUR VOICE and SHOW SOME EMOTION! I can only hope he got a little more revved up further in to his talk, but the first few minutes is when you might really wanna grab 'em, nomesane?

But he's the only one saying it, which is a fucking disgrace ... oy

Reduce the debt?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Giving Pledge

Another 17 billionaires have joined Warren Buffett's and Bill Gate's effort to give away at least half of their fortunes to charity either before they die or upon their deaths.

It's vaguely reminiscient of Ralph Nader's latest book, "Only the Super Rich Can Save Us Now" (which my local library still has not carried).

Perhaps this is the (rather absurd) answer to all of the budget crunches afflicting cities and states across this once-great nation of ours. Since our government seems incapable of doing much of anything except give more and more money to the rich, perhaps the rich (several of whom continually say that they don't need any more tax breaks) can give it back to those who really need it. A really absurd situation.

Thank goodness for people with consciences. It's good to know that greed is not the be-all and end-all of these people. (Are there any hedge-fund managers on the list?)

More U.S. billionaires pledge to give away wealth

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Another 17 U.S. billionaires, including Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz, have pledged to give away at least half their fortunes in a philanthropic campaign led by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

A total of 57 billionaires now have joined The Giving Pledge, which was launched by Microsoft founder Gates and investor Buffett in June. The campaign announced the new pledges in a statement late on Wednesday.

Gates, his wife Melinda, and Buffett have asked U.S. billionaires to give away at least half their wealth during their lifetime or after their death, and to publicly state their intention with a letter explaining their decision.

The Giving Pledge does not accept money or tell people how to donate their money but asks billionaires to make a moral commitment to give their fortunes to charity.

"People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?" Zuckerberg, who gave $100 million in September to the beleaguered public schools of Newark, New Jersey, said in a statement.

"With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts," he said.

In addition to Zuckerberg and Moskovitz, the world's youngest billionaires, pledges were made by AOL co-founder Steve Case, financier Carl Icahn and Michael Milken, a former Wall Street executive who went to prison in the early 1990s for securities violations.

Morningstar Chief Executive Joe Mansueto, businessman Nicolas Berggruen and private investor Ted Forstmann also are among the new billionaires to take the pledges.

"In just a few short months we've made good progress," said Buffett, who made his fortune with insurance and investment company Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

"The Giving Pledge has re-energized people thinking about philanthropy and doing things in philanthropy and I look forward to many more conversations with families who are truly fortunate and whose generosity can and will change lives," he said.

Along with speaking to about a quarter of the wealthiest people in the United States about The Giving Pledge, Gates and Buffett hosted a dinner with Chinese billionaires in Beijing in September in a bid to promote a culture of philanthropy in China. The pair plan to visit India in March.

Forbes magazine said the United States is home to more than 400 billionaires, the most of any country.

Individual Americans gave more than $227 billion in 2009, according to the Giving USA report by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, down just 0.4 percent from the previous year despite the U.S. recession.

Buffett pledged in 2006 to give away 99 percent of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and family charities. Bill and Melinda Gates have so far donated more than $28 billion of their fortune to their foundation.

The full list of billionaires and their letters can be seen at


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Odious Tax Deal

I'm going to be pragmatic about this latest defeat of the majority Democrats at the hands of the minority Republicans. After all, there are simply no tacticians or statesmen of a high caliber currently in the Democratic Party. The rich win again, as usual.

Voting for an Odious Tax Deal
Published: December 7, 2010

Liberal Democrats are in revolt at the tax deal that President Obama struck with Republicans on Monday, and it is not hard to understand why. By temporarily extending income tax breaks for the richest Americans, and cutting estate taxes for the ultrawealthy, the deal will redistribute billions of dollars from job creation to people who do not need the money.

But the Democrats should vote for this deal, because it is the only one they are going to get. Mr. Obama made that case — strongly — on Tuesday, summoning an eloquence that is often elusive, as it was on Monday when he first announced the deal. Without this bargain, income taxes on the middle class would rise. Unemployment insurance for millions of Americans would expire. And many other important tax breaks for low- and middle-income workers — including a 2 percent payroll tax cut and college tuition credits — would not be possible.

If angry Democrats blow up the deal, they will be left vainly groping for something better in a new Congress where they will have far less influence than they have now. The middle class and the unemployed would be seriously hurt.

The president, and particularly Congressional Democrats, might not be in this bind if they had fought harder against the high-end tax cuts before the midterm elections. But that moment has passed. The real responsibility for what’s wrong with the tax deal lies with Republicans. They coldly insisted on the high-end tax cuts at all costs, no matter the pain they might inflict further down the income ladder or what staggering cost they might impose in years to come.

President Obama was right to use the metaphor of hostage-taking to describe the Republicans’ tactics. Using the parliamentary rules of the Senate, 42 Republican senators threatened to raise middle-class taxes if Democrats let tax cuts expire on the richest 2 percent of Americans. That left the White House and the Democrats little room to maneuver. “I think it’s tempting not to negotiate with hostage-takers, unless the hostage gets harmed,” Mr. Obama said at his news conference on Tuesday.

Some of the provisions won by the president could act as a new stimulus to the economy, particularly the extension of the unemployment benefits for 13 months and the cut to the payroll tax, though the full stimulative effect is uncertain. The cut only applies to wages and salaries up to $106,800 — people who really need it.

There remains much to dislike in the package, including the pressure that its deficit spending will create to cut important programs in the years to come. Mr. Obama was clearly not thrilled at the compromises he had to make, and neither are we. But at least he acted in what he believed are the best interests of the country.

When are the Republicans going to step up and do the same? There is no legitimate national interest in opposing the New Start nuclear arms treaty with the Russians, which most military and foreign leaders agree would make the world a safer place. There is no legitimate national interest in clinging to the discrimination against gay members of the military, which the Pentagon’s leaders want to end. There will be no sound economic reason to make the tax cuts for the top 2 percent of taxpayers permanent in two years.

The only reason for Republican recalcitrance on these issues is to deny the Democrats an accomplishment, to stymie Mr. Obama’s re-election and appeal to the most retrograde elements of the party’s base.

President Obama will face a liberal whirlwind for the compromise he made on taxes. It is time for Republicans to show that they are strong enough to take on their base for their country’s benefit.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Joan's Studio Sale

Some friends are having a special sale this coming weekend, December 10-12. Check out the ad below. If you click the ad, will it get larger?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Dangerously Funny

Finished another book, this one "Dangerously Funny: The Uncensored Story of the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour" by David Bianculli.

It's a very entertaining, up-close look at the history of Tom and Dick progressing from their earliest days through their TV show to the present day.

I remember a few images from the show when it was on the air:
the tiffany stage, Pat Paulsen and his hang-dog run for the Presidency, the Beatles appearances, The Who, The Doors, and Pete Seeger singing "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy."

It seemed like we never missed a show, which is a little surprising, looking back, because my father turned out to be such a staunch Republican. But we also watched most of the Bonanza episodes, so I don't really know how we did that, as both shows were on at the same time, and during those years there was no such thing as a VCR. Something had to lose out.

I knew that the Smothers Brothers were a little controversial at the time, but I really missed a lot of the political commentary. Too young, I guess. Watching some of those episodes these days, it's striking how tame much of it seems.

At the end of the book, Tom says he'd like to do another TV show. I'd love it. They could really let loose these days. Wish I owned a network.

Pretty good review of the book here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

December Stargazing

Keep lookin' up!

Stargazing Summary

The longest nights of the year offer bounteous time for skywatching. Even if your outdoor time is limited to early evening, there is plenty to see. Orion is in splendid view, already peeking into view as night falls, with the brilliant stars of the Winter Circle looping around orange Betelgeuse. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, shimmers icily in the south, with perhaps a glimpse of the second-brightest star, Canopus, farther south. December also features the year's best eclipse.

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Radio Program Highlights

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December 1-5: Hot and bright. The Moon scoots past Venus this week. The planet blazes as the brilliant "morning star." Despite its beauty, though, it's a place you wouldn't want to visit -- a celestial version of hell.

December 6-12: The little guys. One of the reasons Pluto isn't a planet any more is the discovery of a larger object beyond it. That spurred astronomers to create a new category of object: dwarf planet. We'll have details on several of them this week.

December 13-19: The final frontier. The planet Vulcan may not exist, but chips of rock known as vulcanoids may, and we'll tell you about the search. We'll also talk about a step toward "shields" for space explorers. Join us for a trek through the solar system.

December 20-26: Holiday skies. The week gets off to an impressive start with a total lunar eclipse, segues into the winter solstice, and ends with some beautiful encounters with the Moon. Spend some of your holiday week with StarDate.

December 27-31: Moon meanderings. The Moon passes by the giant planet Saturn early this week, then slips past the star Spica and the planet Venus -- the brilliant "morning star." Join us this week for details on the Moon's meanderings across the sky.

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News From The Observatory

Texas Astronomer Wins Japanese Physics PrizeAstronomer Eiichiro Komatsu of The University of Texas at Austin has been awarded the 25th annual Nishinomiya-Yukawa Memorial Prize for physics. Komatsu, director of the Texas Cosmology Center at the university, is being honored for his studies of the early universe as a member of NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) science team.

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