Saturday, January 5, 2008

Let's Talk Recession

Oh no, not the 'R' word! Say it ain't so, Joe! No, not that, anything but that!

In denial. The entire nation is in denial. Naturally Bush/Cheney are in denial, but then their entire 7 years has been in denial. Congress doesn't care either. No action on that at all.

I watched Mad Money with Jim Cramer on MSNBC last evening. He was dour, downbeat, and worried, most unlike himself. He knows. He sees the numbers, he watches the trends. The market lost 220 points yesterday and has lost 400 in the first days of 2008. He said that there might be 40 'good stocks' left if you want to hedge your losses. Maybe 70 at best.

What's wrong with us Americans that we keep our heads deeply buried in the sand like an ostrich? Can't we deal with reality? Ignoring the on-coming freight train doesn't make it stop. Are we too worn out to care anymore? Have we been conned too many times? Is that why we over-eat? Is food the soothing salve?

With Congress and Bush at the helm, we are a rudderless Ship of State with a tsunami approaching. But just turn on a sit-com and grab a bag of chips and all will be fine.

Right-wing Blogger Bob Frantz from WTAM Cleveland

Bob Frantz spouts his daily rant [his wannabe Limbaugh] to his 'thousands' of listeners throughout the Cleveland area on WTAM-AM radio. The ne'erdowell broadcaster has found his niche there after he was canned by WSPD here in Toledo. He still sports his devil-imaging facial hair, no doubt to scare off anybody who disagrees with his point of view. Bob will always be Bob.

I was told of his blog in an email recently and went over for a bit of nostalgia. His topic of the day was Agenda for 2008 Democratic National Convention

Bob is a right-wing Republican as if one couldn't guess. His 'agenda' has the usual rants against blacks, gays, Ted Kennedy, immigrants... you know, the whole agenda:

7:00 P.M. - Opening flag burning

7:15 P.M. - Pledge of Allegiance to U.N.

7:30 P.M. - Ted Kennedy proposes a toast to immigrant voters

7:30 - 8:00 P.M. Non-religious Prayer and Worship Service: Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton

Poor Bob, still fighting the 'liberal agenda.' Still as prejudiced as ever. Still a lousy debater. Speaking of debate, I challenged him on his blog about some of his comments but, ZAP! my comments were deleted.

Funny, he called me 'Mike Ferner.' No kidding. He said, "Ya, I know you, Mike. Mike Ferner the guy who..." and on with his raging lunacy against Ferner.

Poor Bob, delusional too.

Well, after only two days of my posting there, he cut me off. He now has the key to control: comment moderation. Comment moderation allows the blogmeister to 'review' the comments and then decide whether to post them. Most right-wing blogs have that, so that they can control the conversation.

Poor Bob, control freak.

You can look up his blog if you care to, but if you challenge his views, you won't see your comments. Bob likes it that way: it keeps him from having to defend his beliefs. I invited Bob to come over here and enjoy some freedom of speech. You know how those right-wingers enjoy freedom of speech.

How about your favorite topic, Bob: George Bush's wonderful preemptive invasion of Iraq? You know how you loved that, Bob. Tell us more about fighting them over there, about bring'n freedom [except speech] to those islamofascists, about spreading democracy.

You know the script, bob. Let it all hang out, Bob.

Friday, January 4, 2008

It's Huck! Praise Jesus.

Amen, brother. His first victory on his way to the White House, propelled by fundamentalist Christians. It doesn't matter much that he doesn't know much about foreign affairs, does it? After all, the naive George Bush didn't know Pervez Musharraf's name when asked. I bet he does now.

Praise Jesus, a preacher in the White House. That will be good: 'Love one another as I have loved you,' will be his mantra as he withdraws our troops from Iraq and chooses a foreign policy of peace and understanding throughout the world.

That would be refreshing. Perhaps Rev. Huckabee could appoint an Ambassador of Peace who would promote love between the nations of the earth.

With Jesus as his model, our nation would feed the hungry, clothe the naked, uplift the poor in spirit, bless the peacemakers and the merciful. I guess waterboarding would be stopped dead in its ugly tracks. No doubt the Military Industrial Complex would have to conduct bake sales for their weapons' systems. National health care surely would be one of the first objectives.

So much to do to repair the godlessness of the current administration...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Palace of the Sheik of Abu Dhabi

I just received several photos from a friend in Germany who vacationed in Abu Dhabi with his family. Here is the palace of the Sheik of Abu Dhabi:

It's good to know that the sheik has comfortable living quarters; after all, a man of his repute deserves the best. Here's a Wikipedia analysis of Abu Dhabi:

"As the wealthiest Emirate, Abu Dhabi is also considered the richest city in the world. Each of Abu Dhabi's 420,000 citizens is worth $17 million (AED 62 million), and more than $1 trillion is invested worldwide in this city alone. Yet according to CNN, "guest workers," who constitute the majority of the population, "do not share the wealth.""

Surprise? By the way, here's a trivia question to ponder: how much U.S. debt is owned by this sheikdom? Second question: is the sheik on a first-name basis with Dick Cheney?

Oil, The Dollar, and the Grand Scheme

The Grand Scheme is unfolding well. Oil closed at $99 a barrel yesterday after rising above that magical $100. Why the rise in the price of crude? China is now the 2nd greatest consumer of crude, just behind us. They will overtake us, the experts tell us, in 2010. But that's not the only reason for the rise: it's the shrinking value of the dollar. As its worth dilutes on world markets, the price will naturally rise as oil is configured in U.S. dollars.

Some predict $4 at the pumps by the end of February. Surely this will be the death knell for the American economy. Will the so-called middle class become enraged? Apparently their fuse is hard to ignite, rolling with each new tidal wave that strikes at them. Yet one has to wonder how they will fare with a Tsunami like the collapse of the dollar and the market. The market lost 220 points on the first day of trading yesterday, an indication of how the year will develop. Those who collect data say that the first few days of the market's new year has an 82% chance of closing the year in the same direction.

As oil has been historicaly our society's glue: what has this administration and this Congress done about alternative energy in the past 7 years? All talk and no show. Of course, with former oil men Bush and Cheney at the helm, who would have expected anything alternate? I hearken back to that very secret energy meeting held in early 2001 hosted by Dick Cheney. Too bad that meeting was not taped; if it were, no doubt Cheney would have destroyed it.

We Americans have been cast as stooges. Stooges, no kidding! We have allowed ourselves to be fed and led like sheep by two oil men for the past 7 years, years that saw the price of crude go from $28.66 in January of 2001 to $99 in January 2008. Raise your hand if your think that this was part of the grand Cheney scheme.

No doubt Cheney has been getting congratulatory phone calls throughout these 7 years from the energy industry, especially from the oil execs. Of course, big coal has not been treated too shabbily either. The grand scheme has been highly successful. I'm thinking fascism. Raise your hand if you suspect that as well.

Another full year and 17 days left for more of the grand scheme to unfold. Of course, the people-sheeple are so beaten-down that they will adopt bunker mentality and wait it out, if they can. They and we will be broke, financially and spiritually. The once proud bastion of our democracy, the middle-class, will have been reduced to a huddled mass, a whimper. The fat-cats, however, will be smiling with the success of the Grand Scheme.

Toledo Mayor Has New Toady Girl

Toledo's mayor, Carleton S. Finkbeiner, has a new toady girl on council that helped his other toady become Council president. Lindsay Webb had her arm twisted by the mayor and broke her promise, casting her vote for newly-elected Mark Toady Sobczak. The mayor appealed to his usual Republican bloc of votes plus independent Mike Collins who, along with Webb and Sobczak gave the mayor just what he wanted.

As a result, the nasty A-team, B-team political war continues to rage in Toledo politics. Finkbeiner, who has run as a Republican and independent, ran and won as a B-team Democrat, a faction that grabbed the leadership of the local Democratic Party. Sobczak was the only remaining B-team Democrat on Council, but with the coalition of the Republicans and Lindsay Webb, they are back in power.

With all of the problems facing the city of Toledo, the city does not need a political spat between Council and the mayor, but that is exactly what it is ahead for the beleaguered city. Once again, Carleton Finkbeiner proves that he is the master of divisiveness. Lindsay Webb will have lots of explaining to do to her constituents.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Vote Suppression: Vote-Caging 101

There were few comments on my earlier post that defined 'vote caging' and so I decided to smack-face it here. From Wikipedia:

defined: A caging list is compiled through a direct-mailing technique:a political party sends registered mail to addresses of registered voters. If the mail is returned as undeliverable - because, for example, the voter refuses to sign for it, the voter isn't present for delivery, or the voter is homeless - the party uses that fact to challenge the registration, arguing that because the voter could not be reached at the address, the registration is fraudulent. Then, a political party challenges the validity of a voter's registration; for the voter's ballot to be counted, the voter must prove that their registration is valid.

victims: Voters targeted by caging are often the most vulnerable: soldiers deployed overseas, those who are unfamiliar with their rights under the law, and those who cannot spare the time, effort, and expense of proving that their registration is valid.

operation: On the day of the election, when the voter arrives at the poll and requests a ballot, an operative of the party challenges the validity of their registration. Ultimately, caging works by dissuading a voter from casting a ballot, or by ensuring that they cast a provisional ballot, which is less likely to be counted.

examples: For example, in the United States Presidential Election of 2004, the Republican Party employed this process to challenge the validity of tens of thousands of voter registrations in contested states like Florida, Nevada, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Greg Palast wrote an article called Raging Caging which gives several examples of how both the press and Congress is in denial of this tactic. SourceWatch also has an extensive article on this vote-suppression tactic with a large list of links on the topic. BlueTideRising has more information plus an article that cites the Kansas Republican Party as being 'proud of its caging efforts.'

OHIOANS PAY ATTENTION! Caging is going on right now in all 88 counties of our state. The lists of voters is very easy to obtain. The Ohio GOP paid less than $300 to get a CD of every registered voter in every county. You can too: go to the Lucas County Board of Elections with $3 and it is yours. Every voter, their address, their party, and their precinct.

Here in Lucas County, the GOP is focussing on Wards 2, 4, 8, 10, 13, 14 and 17, the wards with the highest percentage of black and Hispanic voters. It's a no-brainer. The work could be done by one person in a week or less. It's simply voter-targeting in a dastardly spin.

WHAT TO DO? Contact the Ohio Democratic Party:

Ohio Democratic Party
340 East Fulton Street
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Via Phone : 1-877-OHIO-DEM (toll-free)

email at this link

There will be an exam at the end of this course: November 4, 2008. I hope you [and Ohio] pass.

Why is America Awash in Alcohol?

It is an all-too familiar scene here in America- a drunk driver slams into a van killing 5 members of a family. The drunk driver walks away. It happened in Toledo this weekend. A 24-year-old whose blood alcohol was 3 times the legal limit drove the wrong way down an expressway ripping the side off of a van carrying 8 members of a family. [Blade photo]

These stories are rare in Canada and Europe but common here in America. Why do we have a love affair with the bottle? Why do we advertise alcohol on sports programs and why are alcohol decals on NASCAR race cars?

Europe has some of the most strict drunk-driver laws anywhere. There are no second chances in Germany. German law deals harshly with driving under the influence. Violators may lose their license on the first offense and must pay high fines for such an offense.

German youth understand these strict laws and learn these laws well as they apply for driving privileges. Unlike loose American driving-tests, German youth must pass very difficult tests. A German driver’s license costs about $1500-2000, after a minimum of 25-45 hours of professional instruction plus 12 hours of theory, and such a license is good for life. They understand the enormous responsibility of sitting behind the wheel of an automobile.

Here in Ohio, one often sees a yellow license plate with red letters on a car. The owner of the car has been charged with multiple DUI offenses and has served time in jail and paid fines. The loose sentencing by judges seems to indicate how tolerant we Americans are of drunks. Of course, many judges are no doubt 'drinkers' themselves. Note the multiple words we Americans have for alcoholics.

Is our Alcohol problem related to the fact that we Americans view ourselves as self-reliant people, freedom-demanding folks, residents of the land of the free and home of the brave? We crack down on crack but crack open the bottles of booze.

In 2006, an estimated 17,602 people died in alcohol-related traffic crashes—an average of one every 30 minutes. These deaths constitute 41 percent of the 42,642 total traffic fatalities. Of these, an estimated 13,470 involved a driver with an illegal BAC (.08 or greater). [link]

Perhaps we Americans are in a constant state of depression. That's something folks will quickly jump all over. Not me! Nobody I hang with! Well, if not, then why is alcohol the most common anti-depressive drug of choice? Go ahead, tell me about that...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Thoughts as the Old Year Passes

Another full year of Bush and Cheney
Makes the entire year gloomy and rainy.

A year plus nineteen is too long to abide
With Cheney and Bush along for the ride!

The thought of that smirk
On the face of that jerk
Will surely drive me berserk!

On twenty January 2009
Rejoice! the end of the swine.
Eight years of lies and cunning deceit
Lord help us- this we cannot repeat.

When the reign of terror finally is over,
And they all leave, even rover:
All lights go on to illuminate:
Every room we must fumigate!

Burma Shave.

Monday, December 31, 2007

3,900 Flags Presented to the Wives and Children at the Funeral

Close to 4000 American military men and women have lost their lives in the George Bush War. The sad story will be told a few years from now that the sacrifice these families endured was not needed. It was all a grand neocon scheme of the rich and powerful fought by the lowly peasants. An enduring theme throughout the ages of mankind.
[photo by Aaron Thompson]

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Whither Ohio? Or, Wither, Ohio.

'Caging.' Remember that word. It is as important an issue as voting itself. Caging.

The years 2000 and 2004 were very important dates for America and Ohio. Ohio was a dud. Ohio could be a trifecta by November 2008. Ohio failed the nation and produced the ugly Bush/Cheney coup of democracy. Unless Ohioans are extremely vigilant, the ugly mess might continue.

It's caging and the voting machines. Period. Not too complex to understand, at least for Republicans. The Democrats apparently are slow learners, very slow. They are way too naive, many paces behind the GOP. And if the Dems don't get it early in 2008, the game's over for America.

Here's a primer:

Voting machines- a machine to cast and count votes. Or, in the 21st century, only the first half applies. The GOP is way ahead of the Dems on technology, way ahead! Recall this name: Diebolt, associated with Diebolt Voting Machines. We talked about them last semester, do you recall? That, dear students, was only phase 1 of a concept known as vote manipulation. Can you imagine what the new technology has produced in that field? That 'touch screen' method with a paperless trail provides easy opportunity for a little technical hankie-pankie. 'Gosh, a computer error wiped out 1200 votes. Sorry.'

Caging- not animals, but people. Specifically minorities, blacks preferred. The term has made its way to Wikipedia: Caging is a term of art in the direct mail industry, as well as a term applied to a technique of voter suppression. A caging list is a list or database of addresses, updated after a mailing program is completed, with notations on responses received from recipients, with corrections for addresses that mail has been returned undelivered from, or forwarded onward from. Obtaining a CD of the voters in a county is simple: pay $3 and it's yours. I have one for Lucas County, October 2006. Every name, every address, phone numbers, precinct number and, best of all, party affiliation. A prize possession of every GOP county party chair in the state of Ohio.

Right now, print-outs of every voter in 'certain' voting precincts across Ohio lie on GOP Headquarter desks. Only certain precincts, you know. Special precincts. Here in Lucas County, the letters are no doubt already addressed and stamped to the 'folks' in 14-C, 8-E, 17-D, 2-B and 4-E. It doesn't take too many brains to identify the correct ward and precinct. The 'caging' is up and running throughout Ohio.

What is Ohio's Democratic chairman, Chris Redfern, doing about all of this? Will he be 'surprised' after Ohio goes into the GOP column next November? Gosh, who could have known? Is he awake yet from his long slumber since the '06 election? Is he still basking in those victories, believing that every thing's OK here in Ohio? Drop him a note to see if his address has been caged.

All Ohioans ought to read this article, Will Ohio Be the Next Ohio in 2008? on the need for optical scanning machines in every precinct in Ohio by November 2008. Optical scanners with two paper trails: the original paper filled out by the voter plus a printed summary of each vote.

No doubt the GOP are already spinning the accuracy of the touch screens as well as the 'expense' of changing to a new system.' Right, the expense.

Bottom line: Will Ohio Be the Next Ohio in 2008? Could be in Democrats and independents sit back and click their ruby heels and wish...

Ouachita Baptist University

Ten to one: bet you never heard of it. It's the largest industry in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. That's a clue. Some of its more famous alumni are: Sharon Evans - Miss Arkansas 1967 Helen Rose Gennings - Miss Arkansas 1968 Donna Jo Connelly - Miss Arkansas 1970 Lisa Stevens - Miss Arkansas 1984 Beth Anne Rankin - Miss Arkansas 1994 Lauren Davidson - Miss Arkansas 2002 Lacy Flemming Miss Arkansas 2004. No doubt they were cheerleaders too: Go Ouachita!

Other alums include Eva Ware Barnett - composer of "Arkansas," Arkansas state anthem
Shelley Breen, Heather Payne, Denise Jones, and Terry Jones (singer) of Christian pop music group Point of Grace.

Still more: William Miller - professional football player in the Canadian Football League and the USFL. Nell I. Mondy - biochemist and international expert on the potato; Augustus Albright - noted outdoorsman and conservationist, former Arkansas Gazette columnist; Cotton Cordell - inventor of the world's best-selling fishing lures; Cliff Harris - former All-Pro Dallas Cowboys safety; Tommy Patterson - former NBA forward for the Baltimore Bullets; TJ Bingham - Former NFL player.

I bring this college to your attention because, if he is successful in his presidential aspirations, Ouachita Baptist University will become a household name across the land. Yes, by now you have guessed it: Mike Huckabee is a grad of this esteemed university, Bachelor of Religion. He did very well there, one of the top academic graduates, edging out Miss Arkansas for top honors.

In a comment yesterday, someone said that Huckabee is just a Jimmy Carter.

That hit me like a brick, so I researched Huckabee and found his educational history which also includes attending Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas where he dropped out after one year.

Jimmy Carter, on the other hand, attended Georgia Tech and Jackson State University but graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelors of Science in Physics, finishing 58th out of 820.

Not that attending a prestigious university necessarily turns out competent graduates. After all, George W. Bush is a Yale grad.

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