Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Musings 104--The World According to Junior

If you tune in to the State of the Union address tonight, you will most probably be bored to tears. But, I have nothing else to do since the paint on my walls is already dry.

George W. Bush does not have a clue as to the real state of the union. He has never had a real job and has never had to dig for his next meal. His views are the most single-sided of any President I have ever seen. The world according to junior is that the economy is moving along and that unemployment is low. Tell that to the 30,000 General Motors folks that lost their jobs, or to the 8,000 Kraft workers who soon will lose their jobs.

**Quick note: Do a drinking game and take a belt after every time he uses the word "god" or "9-11." You could be drunker than a monkey before the halfway point of the speech.

Look, it comes down to this simple equation: Most Americans got a 2% or 3% raise in earnings last year. Health care costs have risen 35%. Do the math. We ain't no better and most of us are going into the hole. Junior Bush doesn't notice this cause he don't have to live on a budget. Take a look at the growing federal deficit.

I'm going to tune in for comedy relief. It is always juvenile to make fun of folks dumber than you are...well, that is what I'm doing anyway. It is either that or play the drinking game, and I can't afford booze. Have you priced that stuff lately?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Musings 103--Bush is above the law.

It is ever more apparent that President Bush thinks that he is far and away above the law. It is also apparent that his idea of truth is different than the truth that most of us learned at our mother's knee.

When he was running for re-election in 2004, Bush jr. was asked about spying on citizens. He went on and on about how even he had to go to the FISA court (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) to get permission to wiretap. Now it seems he was not telling the truth--because he did not have to go to the court. He just broke the law and did it anyway.

The amazingly ironic part of all this is that Senator Mike DeWine, R, OH, introduced a bill in 2002 that would have given Bush jr. all the power he wanted. Plus, it would have then been legal. Bush jr. and his merry band of neocons said no to DeWine's bill. (See Link)

A logical person must then assume that if Bush jr. didn't want a bill that would have made his domestic spying legal; then, he must have wanted to intentionally break the law. Following this to the conclusion; if Bush jr. wants to break the law of the land intentionally he is also breaking his oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Thus, he should be impeached by the Congress.

It is just that simple, but then so is he.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Musings 102--Democracy on the March?

So our president is fond of saying that democracy is on the march in the Middle East. Well, he sure is right.

A long time ago, I learned the lesson that one should be careful what one wishes for. Frankly, I've never been a real fan of democracy anyway. I have Scottish roots, so anything bigger than a clan or tribe is too big for me.

Bush jr. got his wish today. The people voted and the Palestinians elected Hamas, the guys who blow people up, as the ruling party. Now the hardliners in both Palestine and Israel are overjoyed. They can go back to killing each other. For some reason, people of peace always have a hard time in this life. Go figure!

Now, I am not much for making predictions, but I will make one just the same. I predict that Iraq will go much the same way...eventually. It is a very true statement that folks deserve the government that they elect.

I would have never thought that we would have ever elected a President that is too dumb to speak a clear sentence. I would have thought that the process would have weeded him out. Boy was I wrong.

The longer I live, the stranger and stranger things get. Personally, I think it is all Rod Serling's fault. He came up with the Twilight Zone, but we have to live in it.


Newsflash: Marshall University defeated West Virginia University last night in basketball. This proves that God, instead of intervening in the Middle East, is on vacation. I hear he will be back some time before Valentine's Day. He will be attending the Super Bowl, so look for miracles. You heard it first here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Musings 101--What the hell did he say?

President George W. Bush was in Florida last February and he was touting his social security reform plan. He gave a speech and took unscripted questions from the audience. (See Link)

I know that it is a year old, but since Mr. President is now spying on Americans, I feel that his answer is very revealing:

THE PRESIDENT: Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculate, for example, is on the table; whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered. And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to what has been promised. Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, as opposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect. In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those -- if that growth is affected, it will help on the red. Okay, better? I'll keep working on it. (Laughter.)
Yes, sir.

Q How do you like these hard questions?

THE PRESIDENT: You know. You watch my press conferences? (Laughter.) Please don't encourage him. (Laughter.)

All right then...if George jr. can't explain his social security plan better than that, how the hell do we expect him to explain that he was spying on American citizens.

I was a high school teacher for 30 plus years and I had dimwits that could verbalize better than Bush jr. They say he has an MBA from Harvard...that is what they...say.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Musings 100--A Matter of Choice.

Having a history as the only living breathing liberal republican on the planet, I have decided to look at the abortion issue one last time. From this point on I will not venture any opinions on said issue--unless I change my mind.

Abortion is the act of taking a fetus from its host. In the case that we are all familiar with, the host is called a mother. There are good abortions and bad abortions. The Christian right would never agree with such a statement, but it is none the less true.

In nature, when something goes wrong, the host naturally aborts the fetus. We use to raise cattle and horses. We saw it all the time. From our view point, a cow losing a calf cost us money, but the death of both the cow and calf cost us much more. The death of the cow was a lot worse. You could always make another calf, but the loss of a cow reverberated far into the future.

Now I am not saying that women and cows are the same. But I am saying that natural abortion happens and that it is a good thing. If the human female had no way to abort a fetus that was dead, then the female would die. Hence, even the pro-lifers would probably agree with natural abortion. They probably call it "Gods will," but it is the same thing.

I have also seen the time that we had to have a vet take the life of a calf to save the life of the mother. Likewise, there are times when a baby has to be aborted to save the life of the mother. Now here is where some on the religious right lose their bearings.

There are religious organizations that believe that the baby should be saved above the life of the mother. Such folks believe that the birth of a baby is the most important thing in the world. This is not a belief of which I ascribe. I personally think that the mother is more important than any baby. It comes down to one's personal belief, or...I dare say...choice.

No baby should ever be aborted as the last gasp of bad birth control. However, there are circumstances that come into play that make choice a necessary option. Here are six reasons to ponder if you are against choice:

(1) Choice does not mean pro-abortion. It means there is a choice. You can choose not to have an abortion or you can choose to have an abortion.

(2) A babies' life is no more precious than that of the woman having the child. Medical doctors should be able to present facts to loved ones who can make the choice based on the best information available.

(3) Each and every woman should have the right to choose what happens to her body. A bunch of men who cannot become pregnant should not be in a position to tell a woman what she can do with her body.

(4) Pro-choice is the opposite of anti-choice. Folks that are not pro-choice are against you choosing and they want to choose for you.

(5) Maybe not all children should be born. Ask yourself this question, "If your daughter was raped, would you want her to have the baby?" If you answer "yes" then you have not thought out the consequences. A child created by a violent act cannot be a gift from God; plus, the mental health of the mother forced to carry such a child to term would be highly suspect. I wouldn't want my daughter or wife to go through that--would you?

(6) Quality of life is another factor of whether an abortion might be the right thing. If a child is severely handicapped, it might be in the best interest of the child and the parents to chose to terminate the pregnancy. Again, it should be a choice. Not all parents can raise a retarded child. Those that think they can, should do so. Those that know they can't, should not.

Basically, it is just the common sense that we all have in our hearts if we are good people. I cannot chose what is best for you, and you cannot chose what is best for me. Thirty-three years ago last Sunday, the Supreme Court ruled on Roe versus Wade. It has been the law of the land, and it has withstood the test of time.

Like I said at the outset, this is my last time to write on this subject. Of course, I could choose to change my mind. I have a choice.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Musings 99--All about the numbers

Figures don't lie, but lairs sure figure...at least that is what I have always believed. Keep this in mind as I present the following numbers.

2,222--The number of U.S. soldiers killed since the start of the war on terrorism...as of January 18, 2006.

16,420--The number of soldiers wounded since the start of the war on terrorism.

8 to 10 per cent of nearly 12,000 soldiers from the war on terror treated at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany had "psychiatric or behavioral health issues." (See Link)

28,069 - 31,651--The number of estimated dead Iraqi's since the war began.

8--The number of years between the two bombings of the twin towers in New York City.

4--The number of years since 9-11-2001.

4--The number of years yet to go before we equal the time between the two twin tower bombing. Also, this was without a Homeland Security Agency in place. Thus, when the Bushies take credit for making us safer, we should consider the bad guys time frames of the past. Maybe we aren't safer...ask me again after the 8th year.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Musings 98--Death of a real American Hero

Maybe it is because I'm getting old and cranky, but I get tired of hearing people being called heroes when they are just doing their jobs. Heroes go above and beyond, and, many times, are unpopular in what they do. Heroes often aren't around after they do their heroic acts due to the fact that they risk all and usually lose all by doing such an act. As far as I know, there is no job title of "hero"--except for Batman and Superman of comic book fame.

On January 6, 2006 a genuine American Hero died. His name was Hugh Thompson and he passed from the scene quietly and without the world taking much notice. Real heroes tend to leave us this way. (See Link)

In 1968, Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson was a helicopter reconnaissance pilot flying over the villages and hamlets of South Viet Nam. On March 16, 1968, Thompson and his two man crew were flying over the village of My Lai. They noticed that there were a lot of bodies lying around and that there was no fire coming up at them from the ground.

Thompson landed his chopper and immediately saw that he had landed in a real live nightmare of destruction. He saw American soldiers shooting unarmed civilians at point blank range. Men, woman and children were slaughtered by U.S. troops led by Lt. William Calley. (The army said that 20 civilians were killed in search and destroy mission, but it was later shown that as many as 500 civilians probably were massacred at My Lai.)

Thompson looked over and saw a group of civilians huddling in a bunker. He asked Lt. Calley how he planned to get them out, and Calley said "with a grenade."

Now knowing that the situation was completely out of control, Thompson, who had set his helicopter down between the troops and the villagers, ordered his two crew members to fire their M60 machine guns on any American troops that tried to kill the remaining villagers.

There was, no doubt, a test of will between Lt. Calley and Warrant Officer Thompson, but the firing stopped. Thompson and his men then waded into ditches of mud, blood and gore and got out as many survivors as they could find. They then flew these survivors to the hospital.

The army covered up the story for two years. Lt. Calley was the only soldier sentenced to prison. He served three years of a life sentence before being let out on appeal on the instructions of President Richard Nixon.

Hugh Thompson testified before Congress and was called a hero by some and a traitor by others. The army and the Congress could not get past the fact that he had ordered his men to fire on other soldiers. Even though they did not fire a shot and won the game of stare down with Lt. Calley, there were those in the military and Congress who declare Calley a hero and Thompson a traitor.

Thomson said in an interview, years later, that he was glad that Calley's troops had stopped firing and that he and his men had not had to fire on other American troops. All those years later, he still felt it had been the right thing to do.

A long time ago a journalism teacher of mine said, "If you suspect an injustice, can you help but seek it out?" Hugh Thompson made a decision in the heat of the moment that made him a hero in the eyes of all who care about right and wrong--even, I dare say, in the eyes of God.

President George Bush and VP Dick Cheney could take some lessons from Hugh Thompson about right and wrong.

Hugh Thompson died of cancer at the age of 62.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Musings 97--Miscellaneous stuff

I should be happy that Tom DeLay will not be the House Majority leader anymore. I'm really not because it is so sad that the Republican Party picks such sleazy people for leadership roles.

The rebublicans came to power as corruption fighters. Now it is hard to find a member of the GOP not covered in some kind of scandal. Now it looks like Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist will be next. Oh, Woe!

Alito seems to be the best we get for judge, so let it happen and focus more on the Abramoff scandal.

Pat Robertson is as corrupt as anyone in congress. He has made money off of fear and by taking advantage of tax free exemptions to religious concerns. He also made money off the hurricane Katrina deal by having one of his tax free concerns on the FEMA web sites. Years ago he shipped mining equipment to Africa aboard his humanitarian aid airplanes. Bad Pat, bad Pat!

Jack Abramoff was on the Bush transition team when King George came to power. Now the Bushies are saying, "Jack who?" It is kind of like saying "Ken who?" when Kenneth Lay went down for Enron. Lay was a partner in the drilling business that George Jr. had before he got in baseball. With friends like the Bushies, who needs enemies?

Apparently, the NSA wiretapping goes in all directions. Rumor has it that a CNN reporter was wiretapped...in the name of national security, of course.

I guess it comes down to the fact that this President of the United States does not want to answer to anybody. In short, he is a King, and the King can do no wrong. Didn't we fight a revolution over something like that...against a fellow named George?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Musings 96--DeLay and his Russian buddies...

It was not that many years ago that we were neck and neck in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Today, we are supposedly partners with the reformed communists that once had visions of world domination.

Tom DeLay, R, Texas, is now neck deep dealings with the powerbrokers that have put Putin in charge of the once "evil empire." Yes sir, old Tom, who advocates family values and is in love with the religious right, is firmly affixed with an organization called "The U.S. Family Network." It sounds just like the name of a group that DeLay would want to be affiliated with. The only problem is that "The U.S. Family Network" is a front company that Jack Abramoff uses as a lobbying front. (See Link)

Now it is all over the news that Jack Abramoff is a corrupt guy. He has taken millions of dollars of monies from the American Indians to aid them in their goal of not paying taxes on their casino earnings. "The U.S. Family Network" was funded mostly by shadow corporations set up by Abramoff. One of the main contributors to the these corporations and "The U.S. Family Network" was Russian oil and gas executives.

It seems that DeLay's former chief of staff, Edwin Buckham was the organizer for "The U.S. Family Network. It is from conversations with him that the Russian connection is made. According to the Washington Post's R. Jeffrey Smith: "The former president of the U.S. Family Network said Buckham told him that the Russians contributed $1 million to the group in 1998 specifically to influence DeLay's vote on legislation the International Monetary Fund needed to finance a bailout of the collapsing Russian economy."

The Post article continues: "There is no evidence DeLay received a direct financial benefit, but Buckham's firm employed DeLay's wife, Christine, and paid her a salary of at least $3,200 each month for three of the years the group existed. Richard Cullen, DeLay's attorney, has said that the pay was compensation for lists Christine DeLay supplied to Buckham of lawmakers' favorite charities, and that it was appropriate under House rules and election law."

However, it should also be noted, DeLay met with Marina Nevskaya and Alexander Koulakovsky of the Russian oil firm Naftasib nine month before $1 million donation was made.

Also in the Post article is this tidbit of a paragraph: "A former Abramoff associate said the two executives 'wanted to contribute to DeLay' and clearly had the resources to do it. At one point, Koulakovsky asked during a dinner in Moscow 'what would happen if the DeLays woke up one morning' and found a luxury car in their front driveway, the former associate said. They were told the DeLays 'would go to jail and you would go to jail.'"

But, of course, if you can hid it deep enough--who would know? Er...that is until you get caught and people start to dig.

Stick a fork in Tom DeLay. He is just about done.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Musings 95--Miracles don't happen in West Virginia.

After watching CNN and MSNBC for several hours last night, I went to bed at about 1 a.m. thinking that 12 of the 13 miners that had been trapped for 41 hours had been found alive. I should have known better--miracles don't happen in West Virginia.

Our printing business is in Huntington, WV. There is not too much deep mining in our area anymore. Most of the deep mines that are still in existence are dotted throughout the state. Mountaintop removal has become the latest way to dig for coal. It is much safer to the humans involved, but it scars the earth and makes the green people angry.

Back in the early part of the 20th century, there were bunches of coal mines to our southwest in Mingo and Logan Counties of West Virginia. One of the best movies ever made on the coal miners and unions of our region is called "Matewan." If you haven't seen it, give it a view.

Coal miners have been going underground and dying there for years. When I was a kid, you would hear of cave-ins all the time. In the last couple of decades, that has not been the case due to mine safety and government regulations.

When they said on CNN last night--and to be fair, CNN was only reporting what the happy people at the local church were saying--that the 12 miners were found and that they were alive, I felt that maybe the days of large losses of lives was really over for the coal mines. I mean, they saved those guys in Pennsylvania, didn't they.

There were all kinds of folks running around and saying that their prayers were answered. They were calling it a miracle. Only a miracle of Jesus, said one enthusiastic lady, could have saved the 12 miners. Many had their hands in the air and were giving thanks to God.

Well, we all should have remembered where we were. Miracles don't happen in West Virginia. They only happen on 34th Street in New York City, and since the Twin Towers went down, maybe not even there.

Suddenly, like all fake miracles, the truth came out that all were dead except one young man. Twelve dead and one still breathing. Shock, sorrow and anger replaced happiness and joy. People who had their faith renewed now found it shaken.

There was to be no miracle in West Virginia this night...or...was there? For the family of the young miner, who is clinging to life at WVU Medical Center, maybe that was the miracle. But, then again, maybe not. Maybe the grim reaper just overlooked him. This is, after all, West Virginia and miracles don't happen in West Virginia.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Musings 94--Credit Card payments to double

Welcome to 2006! For most of us this will be a watershed year. You know what a watershed is, don't you? It is a kind of thing that if you live through, you will become stronger. If you don't, you drown. Yea!

The credit card companies have been pressured by the government to raise their minimum payment amount from 2% to 4% of the unpaid balance. Basically, your payment just doubled. If you were living hand to mouth, then, you are now going to go hungry. (See Link)

If you have a $10,000 balance on your credit card and have been paying 2% or $200 per month, you will now may be paying $400--that is 4%. Now I have not heard a peep out of the news media on this, but it is true and if you are carrying credit card balances; then, get ready to take the hit.

The good news is that you pay down your debt faster and save on interest. The bad news is that it will kick the shit out of your budget. There is not much you can do except tighten your belt and get on with life. This is the government way of reducing debt. Maybe I should say the Bushie way of reducing debt. Plus, the credit card companies changed the bankruptcy laws so that most of us can't get rid of our unsecured debt. You see, they knew that there are a lot of folks who live from paycheck to paycheck. They, meaning the credit card companies, did not want to get caught out on a limb so they got the bankrupt law changed in 2005 so they can kick the consumer in the privates in 2006.

Have a happy new year. It is just beginning.

Free Web Counters
Website Counters