Saturday, January 31, 2009

New Talking Head of RNC, Obama to Appoint Another Republican

Congragulations to Serena Williams for winning the Australian Open and her 10th Grand Slam win.

Shock and awe in the Gop: it just elected its first Black President too, Michael Steele, from Maryland. It took six ballots until a majority win, so there was a lot of cajoling and persuasion going on. It also signals that it will take a more inclusive and moderate approach, no more singing "Barack the Magic Negro" before each meeting. But it should make for interesting debates between Mr Steele and mr Obama... I wonder how some of our local right wing hacks like Amy Lathan will react: will she secede from the Republican Party?

Is this a good thing for the GOP, or is it just another in a long string of copycat acts of taking from the Democrats and saying proudly, look at us, we can do it too! Instead of watching at lot of backbiting, it has been suggested that now there will be blackbiting...

The big question, will Mr Steele actually be allowed to help form policy, or will he be a flunky like the previous GOP head, Mr Duncan? From the New York Times: "If history is any guide, Mr. Steele will be anything but a behind-the-scenes functionary, given that, with Republicans out of the White House and in the minority in Congress, the party has no dominant national figure.

Instead, he is likely to be, at least until the presidential race starts in two years, at the leading edge of his party as it makes its case against Mr. Obama.

“It’s time for something completely different, and we’re going to bring it to them,” Mr. Steele said. “We’re going to bring this party to every corner, to every boardroom, to every neighborhood, to every community. And we’re going to say to friend and foe alike: ‘We want you to be a part of us. We want you to be with us, and for those of you who are going to obstruct, get ready to be knocked over.’ ”

Offering a hint of the tone he would take as his party’s spokesman, Mr. Steele said the Republican Party had been unfairly caricatured by Democrats “and the media” as racist and insensitive to the needs of ordinary Americans.

“We have an image problem,” he said. “I think how we begin to correct that image problem is defining ourselves to the people of this country.”

“We’ve been misidentified as a party that doesn’t care, a party that is insensitive, a party that is unconcerned about minorities,” he said, adding, “Nothing can be further from the truth.”

But taking some of the wind out of the GOP sails, the Obama administration purposely leaked that another Republican, Judd Gregg from New Hampshire, would be nominated for a Cabinet position, to replace the embarrassment of Bill Richardson.

"If the senator accepts and is confirmed, he would be the third Republican appointee in Mr. Obama’s cabinet, after Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who also served under former President George W. Bush, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman from Mr. Obama’s home state of Illinois.

Mr. Gregg’s selection could also open the door to a significant shift in the balance of power in Congress. There are currently 58 Democrats in the Senate; the number would rise to 59 if Al Franken of Minnesota is seated after the court challenge to his race is completed.

If Gov. John Lynch of New Hampshire, a Democrat, replaced Mr. Gregg with a member of his own party, that would put the Democratic majority at 60 — a magic number in the Senate, because 60 is the number of votes needed to control the legislative agenda and block a Republican filibuster.

But there are no guarantees that Mr. Lynch will pick a Democrat: New Hampshire is a state that prizes its political independence, and Mr. Lynch is a moderate. Some analysts say the governor could turn to a well-regarded Republican — the name of Warren Rudman, a former senator from New Hampshire, has been mentioned — to serve as a kind of “caretaker senator” to fill out the remainder of Mr. Gregg’s term, which expires at the end of 2010."

Today's jokes:

"But it's not over, because Blagojevich could still go to jail. In fact, he'll be the first Illinois governor to go to jail since the last one, and the one before that, then there were a couple more." --Jay Leno

"Oh, boy, the Illinois senators were mad -- 59-0. Not only was he Blagojevich convicted, his hairdresser was given the death penalty." --Jay Leno

"So now, the lieutenant governor of Illinois will move up and he'll be sworn in. And Blagojevich still doesn't get it. Like when he heard the lieutenant governor was going to get his seat, he said, 'You mean for free?'" --Jay Leno

"As you know, President Obama has outlawed torture. Although, he said, 'After listening to Rush Limbaugh, maybe I was a little too hasty.'" --Jay Leno

"Ooh, it's getting nasty now between President Obama and Rush Limbaugh. In fact, Limbaugh told his radio audience he's not going to 'bend over' and grab his ankles just because Barack Obama is black. Well, you know, let's take race out of it for a minute. Now, honestly, regardless of who's president, do you think there's any chance in hell Rush Limbaugh could bend over and grab his ankles?" --Jay Leno

"President Obama says he needs nearly a trillion dollars to help kick start the economy. That's a lot of money. Do you realize with that money, you could give every man and woman and child in this country $3,300? Or you could buy shoes for everyone in South America for life. Or you could cover the New York Yankees' payroll for a season and a half." --Jay Leno

"And former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, is readjusting to life as a private citizen. God, you think after eight years of tense talks with hostile tyrants, she would have had enough, but no, today, she was on 'The View.'" --Jay Leno

"There's now growing proof that some of the relief money that was supposed to help victims of the huge earthquake in China was actually siphoned off by corrupt officials. In fact, one corrupt official, Chang Blagojevich, was arrested today." --Jay Leno

"On this date in 2002, President Bush, do you remember this, the axis of evil speech? Do you remember his axis of evil? Do you remember what the axis of evil was? Iran, Iraq, Dick Cheney. That was the axis of evil right there." --David Letterman

"Blagojevich was impeached today back there in Springfield. And he spoke in his defense at the impeachment proceedings, spoke for 47 minutes. And it really took its toll on the guy, because afterwards, they had to rush him to the emergency room at Supercuts." --David Letterman

"Oh, here's good news. I guess the House of Representatives has passed President Obama's stimulus package. And then I guess it goes through the Senate. And if that's passed, then that $800 billion, just disappears. Have no idea where it goes." --David Letterman

"You know it's interesting, when Bill Clinton needed stimulus for his package, he just called an intern." --David Letterman

"According to a new study, there's been an increase in the number of illegal Mexican immigrants living in Canada. Yeah. Yeah, you got the hand it to them. That must be some tunnel." --Conan O'Brien

"ABC says they will probably cancel the sitcom 'According to Jim,' which means Barack Obama's message of hope is already working." --Conan O'Brien

"Actually, Rush Limbaugh's stimulus package is just a package containing a big bottle of stimulants." --Craig Ferguson

"Blagojevich showed that a high-ranking politician in the United States can be disgraced without hookers or gay sex in a public bathroom and I think that's refreshing, right?" --Jimmy Kimmel

Friday, January 30, 2009

Goodbye Mr F***, Iraqi Candidates Killed

My brother-in-law is from Illinois. He came home last night chanting "that's three in a row!" On the tube last night I watched a reporter for the Chicago Sun Times say that one of the reasons the legislature voted overwhelmingly to impeach Mr Blagojevich is that there was too much attention on illegal activites, and they might be next. The concept of pay-to-play is an old and time honored tradition in Illinois, if not in American politics, one that just about every politician has done during their career. Even our city councilmen end up richer at the end of their terms than when they were first elected, so the reason that impeachment happened is because he got caught.

But, I'll miss his quirky, rapid fire delivery, and his comparing himself with every cultural icon we have, including poems, fiction, and film. don't cry for him, Illinois... Besides, they do things differently in Chicago. A 14 year-old boy put on a police uniform, received an assignment at a South Side police station and spent five hours in a squad car with an officer before being discovered. Then, the top brass couldn't explain how it happened, saying that they will investigate it...

Iraq is getting ready for provincial elections, with political parties emerging out of the sand dunes to vie for office. Campaign style is a bit different as two candidates, both women, have been killed. Many old school type of men still believe that women rate just above cattle and resent any signs of emancipation. Beatings in public occur frequently, as does the practice of throwing acid on a woman's face, and the men responsible are never brought to court, much less a trial.

The really bad news is being reported by the Associated Press, that the suicide rate of active soldiers has been rising for the last four years, with 2008 being the highest on record. Army Secretary Peter Geren gave this comforting quote: " Why do the numbers keep going up? We cannot tell you."

Back here at home, a Federal judge has denied a request to keep secret the names of donors to California's anti-gay marriage initiative, ruling that the state's campaign disclosure laws are intended to protect the public, not just a few Mormons and evangelical ministers...

Today's jokes:

"President Barack Obama gave his first sit-down interview as president to an Arab TV network. He's reaching out to the Arab world. In fact, he even made a cameo appearance on one of the biggest sitcoms in the Arab world, 'How I Met Your Mullah.'" --Jay Leno

"And people are still talking about Michelle Obama's inaugural outfit. You know, I saw the designer on one of the cable shows and he said he didn't even know that Michelle was going to wear his design. He said he was watching the inaugural ball on TV and was surprised to see her wearing it. On a related note, the designer of Aretha Franklin's hat said he was also surprised when he saw Aretha wearing his design on her head because he originally designed it as a tote bag." --Jay Leno

"And my favorite politician -- Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- was on the 'Today' show yesterday. And he compared himself to Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi. Really? You see his hair? I think he's more like Skippy from 'Family Ties.'" --Jay Leno

"Hey, earlier this week, all the e-mail service in the White House completely collapsed. No e-mails coming in, no e-mails going out. Everything had to be written down on paper by hand. It was like if John McCain had been elected president. " --Jay Leno

"And freezing cold weather in Washington this week. The roads are so icy, Al Gore almost didn't make it to his global warming speech today." --Jay Leno

"Al Gore told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee the Earth is in grave danger from global warming. But is this the best time to try to convince people that global warming is real, in the middle of a blizzard? He should come back in August when the air conditioner is broken, come out with a panting dog, and then maybe people will listen." --Jay Leno

"And the 'Wall Street Journal' reports that Bill Clinton made $4.7 million last year in speaking fees from foreign countries. And they say this will cause a conflict for Hillary as secretary of state, but Bill has vowed not to cause any problems for her. And believe me, when Bill Clinton makes a vow to Hillary, you can take that to the bank." --Jay Leno

"Hey, did you see that a woman recently gave birth to eight babies? And out of force of habit, John Edwards went back into hiding." --Jay Leno

"And a new study finds that it takes humans 30% longer to lie than it does to tell the truth. See, that's why political speeches are so long." --Jay Leno

"Hey, there's a new HBO documentary out about Ted Haggard. Remember him? He was the preacher that got caught with the male hooker? Well, this new film focuses on Haggard's relationship with his wife. I believe it's called 'He's Just Not That Into You.'" --Jay Leno

"President Obama still has not gotten used to the White House, apparently. This is true. Today, on his way into the Oval Office, he tried to mistakenly open a window that he thought was a door. That's true. Yeah. White House employees said at first it made them laugh, then a wave of nostalgia washed over them." --Conan O'Brien

David Letterman's Top Ten Things Overheard At The Meeting Between Barack Obama and the Republicans

10. I miss the Clinton administration when we'd meet at Hooters.
9. Can we wrap this up? I've got tickets to the 4:30 "Paul Blart: Mall Cop."
8. Smokebreak!!
7. You fells really need to take it easy on the Old Spice.
6. Mr. President: Don't misunderestimate the Republicans.
5. Another smokebreak!
4. What was the deal with Aretha Franklin's hat?
3. About that tax the rich stuff -- you were joking, right?
2. Sir, it's refreshing to have a chief executive who speaks in complete sentences.
1. Senator Craig's offering his stimulus package in the men's room

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Palin in 2012, Rush Limbaugh's Stimulus Plan

In China, the owners of the plant that produced tainted milk protein powder that was responsible for the deaths of six children were sentenced to death. In America, the Georgia owners of the peanut processing plant that is responsible for the deaths of eight people from salmonella may get a fine and a slap on the wrist. Worse, records show that the plant shipped out peanut paste even after it knew about the salmonella taint. Perhaps we should move this case to a Chinese court...

Sarah Palin in the news! A Conneticut group formed a committee to draft Sarah as a Presidential candidate in 2012, and registered with the Federal Elections Committee. Once you are in the database, it seems that no amount of clicking on your file will delete it, and so Ms Palin is listed as a candidate for President in 2012... In response, Sarah has formed her own exploratory committee to see if her candidacy is viable, Sarapac.

Sarah also had dinner with Barack Obama, and even issued a self serving compliment:
"I applaud President Obama's focus on alternative and renewable energy," Palin writes, "and here in Alaska we've joined the effort: I have asked Alaskans to focus on obtaining 50% of our electric generation from renewables by 2025. In the meantime, we must not abandon oil and gas explora
tion and development. In fact, Americans should demand the cooperation of the major oil producers so that Alaska's vast supply of clean natural gas can be brought to market. Alaska stands ready to positively contribute to the nation's markets and energy needs." It looks like the contract to ship Alaska"s natural gas to Canada has fallen through, and she is drumming up support for a pipeline to somewhere in the USA...

In Davros, Switzerland, is a yearly economic summit meeting that focuses on the global situation, and is the rock festival for economists and world policy wonks. Both leaders of Russia and China were critical of how the US has dealt with the meltdown. The Wall Street Journal reports: "The Russian leader mocked U.S. businessmen who he said had boasted at last year's Davos meeting of the U.S. economy's fundamental strength and "cloudless" prospects. "Today, investment banks, the pride of Wall Street, have virtually ceased to exist," he said...

While Mr. Wen never named the U.S., his critique of its failings was as sweeping as Mr. Putin's. The financial crisis, he said, was "attributable to inappropriate macroeconomic policies of some economies and their unsustainable model of development characterized by prolonged low savings and high consumption; excessive expansion of financial institutions in blind pursuit of profit" -- and other excesses."
Also, the head of Dell Computers, Michael Dell, offered Mr Putin help in solving its IT problems, hoping for a nice, fat contract. Mr Putin replied, no thanks, the trick is, that we don't have an IT problem...

The GOP leadership is now in retreat for the next few days, so any more wrangling over the stimulus bill will have to wait until Monday. This gives free reign for the Democrats to talk trash about them through the weekend. The new Republican talking head, Rush Limbaugh, has published his version of what the stimulus should be:

"So let's look at how the vote came out, shall we? Fifty-three percent of voters in this country -- we'll say, for the sake of this proposal, 53 percent of Americans -- voted for Obama. Forty-six percent voted for Senator McCain, and 1 percent voted for wackos. Let's give the remaining 1 percent to President Obama, so let's say that 54 percent voted for President Obama and 46 percent voted for Senator McCain. 

"As a way to bring the country together and at the same time determine the most effective way to deal with recessions, under the Obama-Limbaugh Stimulus Plan of 2009, $540 billion of the one trillion will be spent on infrastructure as defined by President Obama and the Democrats. The remaining $460 billion, or 46% that voted for Senator McCain, will be directed towards tax cuts, as determined by me," Limbaugh said. He added that he would cut the capital gains and corporate tax rates.

"So Obama gets $540 billion to spend his way. The other people of this country who did not vote for his way get $460 billion spent the way they would like it spent. This is bipartisanship! This is how bipartisanship really works," Limbaugh said.

Limbaugh says businesses need tax cuts to hire people; and he says reducing or eliminating the capital gains tax would encourage investment. "And once Wall Street starts ticking up 500 points a day, you watch what happens to the rest of the private sector."

If you want to use the American economy as guinea pigs in a lab experiment, this is a nice idea. The current bill already has about 40% tax cuts, so Rush is just blowing hot air. Also, the supply side marketing philosophy has just proven that its ideas are insane and created this mess we are in right now. So he's not coming up with anything new or creative, just retreading stale ideas. Yes, tax incentives are nice, but they won't take effect until this time next year. If my company is about to go out of business now and I have to lay off all of my workers and close my plant now, I need something that will save me right now and carry me over until that tax break next year. And it won't hire back any of the hundreds of thousands who currently have lost their jobs...

Also, I don't think people will be investing with Wall Street firms anytime soon. I wouldn't trust my money with any firm that gave out a huge bonus or run by a Bernie Madoff or long time CIA operative John Thain. Mr Thain's history goes back to the 1960's setting up dummy investment companies for the CIA, along with his friend, George HW Bush...

Because is erratic in publishing each day's jokes, I offer some older economic ones that hold up well:

"The federal government announced today that the recession ended back in November of 2001. It ended two years ago! Be sure to pass that on to all your unemployed friends. So you know what that means? The past twenty months of job layoffs, corporate bankruptcies and declining stocks, those were the good times. We should have been living it up." —Jay Leno

"Yesterday Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he would be willing to serve another term. Greenspan said, 'Where else would I get a job in this economy?'" —Conan O'Brien

"Democrats were quick to point out that President Bush's budget creates a 1 trillion dollar deficit. The White House quickly responded with 'Hey, look over there, it's Saddam Hussein.'" —Craig Kilborn

"President Bush unveiled his new economic stimulus plan this week. It was reported that if the plan passes, the president himself would save $44,000 in taxes, Dick Cheney would save $327,000, and you could afford to take the whole family down to Burger King to pick up job applications." —Tina Fey, on Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

"President Bush's economic plan will create 2.5 million new jobs. The bad news, they are all for Iraqi soldiers." —Craig Kilborn

"According to a new study, bad economic times can actually be good for you because people tend to exercise more and eat better. This is not a recession, this is the Bush Health Care Plan." —Jay Leno

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stimulus to Pass, Socialistic Smearmongers

Sportcaster Al Michaels came up with a good idea. We don't need to close Guantanamo after all. When we get done processing the current batch of terrorists, we can use it to house our criminal CEO's.

This morning President Obama gave a short pep talk for his stimulus package after meeting with some business leaders. The tone was conservative, saying that the hope relies on American businesses. He did not take questions from reporters, but he did come down off the stage to shake people's hands. Pat Buchanan's reaction was: "Was that Barack Obama or Ronald Reagan?"

Later today there will be a vote on the stimulus bill. It's expected that every Republican will vote against it. Dana Millbank reports in the Washington Post: "Forecasts call for no more than 12 Republicans to vote for Obama's stimulus plan today, and "it's closer to zero than 12," said Rep. Fred Upton (Mich.), one of a dozen Republicans invited to meet with Obama staff chief Rahm Emanuel at the White House last night. Rep. Roy Blunt (Mo.) chuckled when asked whether Obama had won his vote. Rep. Dan Lungren (Calif.) laughed. Rep. Dan Burton (Ind.) guffawed.

Last week, Obama ushered in the post-partisan era. This week, it looks as if the post-post-partisan era is already upon us. "I don't expect 100 percent agreement from my Republican colleagues," the president said after his House GOP meeting.

"We might not even get 50 percent agreement," he amended two hours later, after his session with Republican senators."
Republicans are trying to distance themselves from this package without offering concrete alternatives. Most of their concerns have already been accommodated into the package, so its all posturing from here on out, giving themselves some wriggle room if it doesn't work.

What's worse, is that the ignorant right wing element is trying to brand Obama and his policies as being socialistic, as if that word will strike fear in the hearts of Americans. This was cynically started during the campaign by planners like Grover Nordquist to brand Mr Obama with a negative association, and evidently being continued after the election.

Because they couldn't use blatant racist arguments to create the fear of a Black man out of a church-going, loving father of two girls, they used other negative statements that were made up, like hanging out with terrorists and this socialism thing. Talking points are made and distributed to Party hacks and encouraged to make the arguments in public. When making a statement, always use these other negative words in conjunction, Marxist and fascist, to bring up the image of Russia and China under military Communistic rule, and the fear of despotic dictatorship. Oh yeah, throw in that it's un-American and that Obama doesn't love this great country of ours because he is not like us...

You will hear it on talk radio, on television, in newspapers,and see our local Party loyalists like Bob Beauprez and Amy Lathan talking shrilly and condescendingly. And it will continue until the next smear is developed and distributed. Its an extension of dirty politics that the old-school right wing is so good at, and why people have gotten so tired of being manipulated. It also sets up a false crisis so that people will give money to Republican think tanks and policy institutes that were set up to fleece rich folks. Here's hoping that this really gives way to the young turks with good ideas taking over the GOP away from the old, old, old dinosaurs gnashing in the agony of their death throes... they are having a retreat this week to determine the path their party will be taking in the near future. Again, I have not been invited...

Whew, now for the jokes:

"Al Qaeda has unleashed a stream of verbal attacks against President Obama, calling him names and saying his policies will all end in failure. Well, who do these people think they are, Rush Limbaugh?" --Jay Leno

"President Barack Obama has given his first sit-down interview since he took the oath of office. He gave it to an Arabic television network, which seems kind of strange. I mean, if Barack Obama wanted to give interview to a network that's not seen in the United States, why not go with NBC?" --Jay Leno

"Actually, a lot of Arabs are upset with the interview because it preempted their most popular TV show, a Palestinian sitcom called '30 Rocks.'" --Jay Leno

"President Barack Obama has also signed an executive order officially banning torture in the United States. There goes Dick Cheney's retirement, huh? What is he supposed to do now?" --Jay Leno

"Oh, last night, we talked about how Citigroup took $50 million of the bailout money we gave them and bought a corporate jet. Well, Citigroup now says they were not going to take possession of the jet. They said they're going to lose money on it because they put a huge deposit on it, but they now realize it was a mistake. They said this is the most overpriced jet since Brett Favre." --Jay Leno

"And on 'Good Morning America,' Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he considered offering the vacant Senate seat to Oprah Winfrey, but changed his mind when she wouldn't give him a car." --Jay Leno

"Well, it looks like that prison, that detention center, in Guantanamo Bay is being closed. And people say, 'Well, what are you going to do with all those folks who are down there, all those suspected terrorists and thugs and goons and nasty, awful people?' We're going to bring them up here to the Ed Sullivan Theater and put them in the audience." --David Letterman

"But listen to this. They're closing Guantanamo. That's how bad things are, ladies and gentlemen. That's how bad the economy is. You know it's tough, you know the economy is bad, when even the terrorists are being laid off." --David Letterman

David Letterman's Top Ten Ways Rod Blagojevich Can Improve His Image

10. Star in new television series, "America's Funniest Haircuts."
9. Quit politics and become a fat, lovable mall cop.
8. Start pronouncing last name with Jerry Lewis-like "BLAGOOOOYYYYYJEVICH."
7. Offer a senate seat with no money down, zero percent interest.
6. Team up with John Malkovich and Erin Brockovich for hot Malkovich-Brockovich-Blagojevich sex tape.
5. Change his name to Barod Obamavich.
4. Safely land an Airbus on the Hudson River.
3. I don't know ... how about showing up for his impeachment trial?
2. Wear sexy dresses, high heels and say, "You Betcha!" a lot.
1. Uhhh...resign?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

CITI Grounded, Hillary to Meet with Russians

While the news today is focused on the ongoing debate over the stimulus package, the Obama administration is getting business done in other areas. 

CITI has been told not to take delivery on their new 45 million dollar jet, that it was rather tacky of them to get caught. Guess they'll have to make do with their two old jets... What bothers me most is that almost every large company that is receiving bailout funds are not changing the greedy part of their corporate cultures. They need to enroll in a 12 step program because of their addiction to flaunting unjustified wealth. It's clear that the whole financial products industry needs to be overhauled from the ground up, especially when the former heads of the stock exchanges are being caught in fraud and chicanery. Take Madoff out of house arrest from his 7 million dollar apartment and put his butt in the sleaziest jail we got...

Obama went on Arabic television to tell them that Americans were not their enemies. And to prove it, he was sending them James Dobson to hold as hostage...

Hillary Clinton will meet with her Russian counterpart before an economic summit in April. CNN reports: "Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his U.S. counterpart, Hillary Clinton, will meet before an April world financial ministers summit, he said Tuesday.
"I agreed with Hillary Clinton that we would meet before the G-20 summit due on April 2 in London," Lavrov said during a Moscow news conference.

He and Clinton spoke by phone this week, as did Russian and U.S. presidents Dmitry Medvedev and Barack Obama, the Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported. Medvedev and Obama agreed to conduct a bilateral meeting soon.

"Both conversations were constructive," Lavrov said. "Both parties confirmed their interest in restarting Russian-U.S. relations."
So, now Sarah Palin can see both Russia and Hillary from her front porch...

Today's jokes:

"President Barack Obama has signed an executive order officially banning torture in the United States. You know what that means? ABC may be forced to cancel 'The View.'" --Jay Leno

"After lots of discussion and intervention by the Secret Service, Barack Obama will be allowed to keep his BlackBerry, but his use of it will be limited. So I guess it's gonna be on Verizon." --Jay Leno

"Actually, it's a special BlackBerry, built just for him. They're calling it a 'BarackBerry.' This is true. It doesn't even have a battery. Runs entirely on hope." --Jay Leno

"And as you know, Barack Obama has become known as the first wired president, because of all his high-tech skills. And I think he showed that during the inaugural address, especially when he said, 'By working together, we can turn our enemies into our BFFs." ... Best friends forever." --Jay Leno

"Here's some interesting gossip. The New York Daily News says that Michelle Obama didn't wear her wedding ring to the inaugural balls because it didn't match her outfit. See, women can do that, huh? Imagine a guy trying to get away with that. A guy comes home, he's not wearing his wedding ring. 'Where's your ring?' 'You know, it clashed with my shirt.' Please, please." --Jay Leno

"Caroline Kennedy withdrew her bid to fill New York's vacant Senate seat. You heard about this? According to some reports, she dropped out because of marital problems. How bad is your marriage when it keeps you from replacing Hillary?" --Jay Leno

"Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, his impeachment trial is scheduled to begin on Monday. You know, so, it looks like Illinois is going to break even. They have one politician sitting in the White House, the other one sitting in the big house. It's a wash, pretty much." --Jay Leno

Monday, January 26, 2009

Year of the Ox, Rod's Bad Hair Week

Whenever I can  remember, I try to link to Paul Krugman's opinion pieces because its like having Economics for Dummies explained so that even I can understand it. It's essential that we understand what the Obama administration wants to do with a trillion dollars of our money; look what happened when we just trusted what the Bushies told us, that it was all under control. In fact, this economic crisis has just brought down the government of Iceland, and many of our allies are on such shaky grounds that they are not happy with us right now...

"As the debate over President Obama’s economic stimulus plan gets under way, one thing is certain: many of the plan’s opponents aren’t arguing in good faith. Conservatives really, really don’t want to see a second New Deal, and they certainly don’t want to see government activism vindicated. So they are reaching for any stick they can find with which to beat proposals for increased government spending."

Many folks of conservative philosophical ideas want to see Obama and his policies fail. Not because it would be good for our country, but because they think that it would then help their ideas come back into ascendency. Or, in Rush Limbaugh's case, its one big ego stroke that rivals an Oxycontin high... But, Mr Obama's ideas had better work because we have all ready tried the others and they haven't done squat. If they don't work either, our government and economy will come crashing down, martial law will be declared, and I wonder which former ally will try to take us over...? Meanwhile, in the real world, 43,000 more jobs will be laid off: 20,000 jobs at Caterpillar; 8,000 at Sprint Nextel, 7,000 at Home Depot and 8,000 from the expected merger of Pfizer and Wyeth.

Elections will be held next month in Israel, Iraq, and Venezuela. We know what Israel has done to beef up the incumbent party, hopefully violence and assassinations in Iraq will not escalate. In Venezuela, Hugo Chavez is asking that term limits be repealed, to allow him to run for office indefinitely, because he thinks of himself as a mini-Fidel.

It will be the year of the Ox in the Chinese calendar, and astrologers have predicted that it will be an inauspicious year.

Good old Rod Blagojevich will not be sitting before his impeachment hearings at the Illinois State legislature, instead he will be talking to as many news outlets as he can playing up the victim's role. This spectacle will go one all week, or as long as he can get exposure, maybe quoting a poet or two, maybe even saying that he was going to appoint Oprah for Senator... He already assumes that he will be impeached because it's not a fair process, and that he will not step down until they drag him kicking and screaming... which may happen.

Now, here are some time tested Rod Blagojevich jokes:

"This is what politicians do whenever they get in trouble. Early this morning, embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich invited several ministers into his home this morning. Well, first, he prayed with them. And then, you know, out of force of habit, he tried to take up a collection." --Jay Leno

"Hey, you probably saw this on the news. A very embarrassing moment at the Illinois State Capitol today. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich attended the opening of the nativity scene. And when the three wise men showed up with gifts for the baby Jesus, Blagojevich demanded half the loot." --Jay Leno

"Yesterday was Governor -- is it Blagojevich or Bla-son-of-a-bitch? -- it was his birthday. You know what sign Blagojevich was born under? 'For sale.' I believe that was the sign." --Jay Leno

"People close to the case talked about Blagojevich. They said that he was willing to do anything for money. That's why he was going to sell the Senate seat. See, that is so wrong. You know, in this country -- let me tell you something. If you want money, you do what everybody else does, okay? You go to Congress and you demand a bailout. That's what we do." --Jay Leno

"Rod Blagojevich was arrested for trying to sell a seat in the Senate to the highest bidder. Isn't that crazy? Yeah. And folks, if convicted, he could wind up in prison, where his seat will be sold to the highest bidder." --Conan O'Brien

"Let me tell you something. You know, you don't buy a Senate seat in this country. You take up donations. You go out. You lie to the American people. You make promises you are never going to keep. That's how you get to be a United States Senator." --Jay Leno

"We're not kidding about this economy, which is so bad that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had to mark down the price of a Senate seat 40%." --David Letterman

"It was a very stupid thing to do. Especially since the last governor of Illinois is currently in prison for exactly the same kind of thing. And not only that, think of it, you're in Chicago, you have Barack Obama's seat for sale, don't you go directly to Oprah? Who would pay more for Barack Obama's seat than her?" --Jimmy Kimmel

"Shocking news out of Illinois today. Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested on corruption charges, including the allegation that he was selling Barack Obama's vacant senate seat. Now, I personally am surprised Obama even needed a seat. I thought he just levitated." --Stephen Colbert

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ted Haggard Today, Ted Haggard Jokes

Here is a link to a lengthy article on Ted Haggard, written by the Washington Post. Instead of focusing on the cheesy manipulations of the press by the current New Life pastor, Brady Boyd, it gives a summary of the upcoming HBO special on Haggard, and tells where his life is now. More importantly, it gives voice to his wife, Gayle, who may have a more compelling story to tell, on how she sought to find the man she thought she knew as her husband, and to forgive him.

"Now Haggard, 52, is back in the public eye, his lanky frame leaning forward on an easy chair in a penthouse suite of the Universal City Hilton as he flogs "The Trials of Ted Haggard," a documentary by Alexandra Pelosi that debuts on HBO Thursday. The striking woman on the couch to his right is his wife, Gayle, still with the pastor despite everything -- the scandal, their exile to the desert, and the continuing mystery of her husband's sexuality -- because she found in the teachings of Jesus the grace to forgive, vs. the "downward spiral" of judgment and hate.

Haggard came to the same place by an alternate route.

"My spiritual life was wonderfully empowering for me in the midst of the struggle. But it wasn't the solution," he says.

"I needed a therapist."

Its obvious that Ted Haggard is still struggling to integrate feelings that he had compartmentalized, setting up a classic polarization where he bounced from one extreme to the other, but he's also been graced with the support of his family. That's certainly more than you can say for the church that he founded, that is still making all of the wrong choices and casting stones instead of learning to forgive. You know, practicing the Christian thing... After reading all of the articles on the whole homosexual tempest in the papers, I've come to the conclusion that its much ado about nothing. I'd rather sit down and have coffee with Ted and his family than listen to a sermon by Brady Boyd, who doesn't seem to be the sharpest crayon in the box...

Out of the 10,000 membership of New Life Church, there are many who feel that they have forgiven Ted, and wonder why he is doing his dirty laundry in public. They say that he helped write the by-laws of the church, and that he would do the same to anyone else who violated those by-laws. No turning cheeks here... Maybe we can all apply to the church for some "compassionate assistance"... 

To celebrate, here are some dated Ted Haggard jokes:

"Ted Haggard, the minister who was caught with a gay prostitute, has just finished a three-week sex addiction program. He says he is now 'completely heterosexual.' Haggard says he will prove he is completely heterosexual by having sex only with men who are completely heterosexual" --Conan O'Brien

"I have some sad news for the gays, as they're referred to. Unfortunately, they have lost one of their own this evening -- Ted Haggard, the evangelical preacher, who as you know, was caught doing meth and f**king dudes. The Denver Post is reporting that he is now 'completely heterosexual.' ... People say how did they ... turn this clearly gay man into a heterosexual? It's very simple. You know when you were a kid and your father caught you smoking. Then he decided to make you smoke a carton. Ted's been a busy boy." --Jon Stewart

"Reverend Ted Haggard, president of the 30 million member National Association of Evangelicals, resigned his post this weekend after admitting to a three-year relationship with a gay hooker. Oh, and he also used and purchased crystal meth. Because if you're the head of a gay-hating organization and you're having a gay affair, why not go nuts?" --Jon Stewart

"Haggard was exposed by a male escort named Mike Jones, who said he was troubled by the hypocrisy of Haggard's public support for a Colorado initiative to ban same-sex marriage. And you know you're in trouble when you've ceded the moral high ground to a drug-dealing prostitute." --Jon Stewart

"This is a good rule for life: Look for whoever is the most against anything and you can almost guarantee they are that something they are against. The guy who devotes his life to fighting gay rights is gay. The guy working to pass the laws against child pornography is sending sex messages to teenage interns." --Jimmy Kimmel

"The leader of a Christian group has resigned after allegations surfaced that he frequently paid a man for sex. People are shocked because this guy's always been a critic of gay marriage. In defense, the Christian leader said, 'Hey, it's not like I married the guy.'" --Conan O'Brien

"Ted Haggard, the leader of the largest evangelical organization in America, resigned because a gay male prostitute said that he and the reverend had been having lots of meth amphetamine-fueled sex. Now the reverend did the Christian thing earlier this week and denied it. Now he says, 'Okay, I did hire a gay male prostitute, but only for a massage.' To which Mark Foley said, 'I'm even calling this one b***sh*t." --Bill Maher

"Drugs? Nude massages? Is it getting to where you can't tell the Protestant clergy from a Catholic priest?" --Bill Maher

"Over the weekend, Haggard released a statement saying he's a deceiver and a liar. See to me, I think it's way too soon to announce you're going into politics." --Jay Leno

"Pastor Ted Haggard ... has compared his gay sex scandal to John Kerry's botching of a joke last week. You think they're the same? To be fair, they both involved a slip of the tongue." --Jay Leno

"Pastor Ted Haggard, who has close ties to the Bush administration, has resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals after a gay male hooker said he had a three-year paid relationship with him. In fact, this is such a huge crisis for Republicans they are now offering John Kerry $1 million to tell another joke." --Jay Leno

"They say (Haggard) used church funds to pay for the male prostitute. That's like robbing Paul to pay for Peter." --Jay Leno

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ted Haggard Redux, Paranoid Colorado Republicans

Ahhh, geez. Every time that Colorado Springs is in the national news, its over something sordid and embarrassing. Ted Haggard is the subject of an HBO documentary airing later this month, and he has interviews on Oprah and Larry King scheduled. This ticked off a young man who was involved with Ted while he was top pastor at New Life Church, membership over 10,00o people and a tax free gravy train for the current pastor Brady Boyd. Instead of waiting for the young man's public statement, Mr Boyd went ahead and gave an interview with the Associated Press.

"Boyd said an "overwhelming pool of evidence" pointed to an "inappropriate, consensual sexual relationship" that "went on for a long period of time ... it wasn't a one-time act." Boyd said the man was in his early 20s at the time. He said he was certain the man was of legal age when it began.

Boyd said the church reached a legal settlement to pay the man for counseling and college tuition, with one condition being that none of the parties involved discuss the matter publicly.
Boyd said a Colorado Springs TV station reached him Thursday to say the young man was planning to provide a detailed report of his relationship with Haggard to the station. Boyd said the church preferred to keep the matter private, but it was the man's decision to go public.

Anticipating criticism of the settlement with the former church volunteer, Boyd said Friday that it was in the best interests of all involved. He would not name the volunteer or the settlement amount.
"It wasn't at all a settlement to make him be quiet or not tell his story," Boyd said. "Our desire was to help him. Here was a young man who wanted to get on with his life. We considered it more compassionate assistance — certainly not hush money. I know what's what everyone will want to say because that's the most salacious thing to say, but that's not at all what it was."
He said that "secondarily, it's not great for our church either" that the story be told. Boyd said Haggard knew about the settlement two years ago."

So Ted had other gay relationships, well, duh. He has had others in the past, is going to have more. The trick is to see if he can integrate it with his family life, if all parties can be accepting of it as a lifestyle. What is interesting is that New Life Church paid the kid not to go public with his story so that it wouldn't embarrass a hypocritical church, and now those agreements are being broken for the sake of 15 minutes of fame. New Life should have disbanded years ago. By  banning their founder instead of practicing Christian acceptance, and fostering a climate where violence and death can occur, Brady Boyd shows what can happen once you let the lizards take over...

So, Barack Obama has ordered the closing of Guantanamo. The question is where those folks will go if they have been tried and convicted. Nobody has approached the state of Colorado if they would be willing to house any of them. A television station asked the governor if he would be willing to consider taking any of them and he said yes, he would.

Suddenly, our Republican lawmakers are having a hissy fit, passing around and signing petitions to protest this non-event. The Rocky Mountain News reported this hysterical quote: "The type of terrorists these would be, I'd be ill at ease if I lived in Florence or Canon City or Pueblo West," said Republican Sen. Ken Kester of Las Animas. "I don't think we need 200 or 300 terrorists in Colorado. They will infiltrate the other convicts that are there."

Is this part of a talking points list made up by the state RNC, or did they all have this drug induced fantasy at the same time?

I'd like to suggest that these guys stop trying so hard to be the opposition, it just makes them look foolish and tools like Ken is doing. Save your energy for something real, when it actually happens.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Early Morning Stimulus...Sasha and Malia Dolls!

Breaking news! The company that produces beanie babies have just put out two new dolls, Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia, but they are not supposed to look like them. Yeah, right.

Michelle Obama was not amused: "We believe it is inappropriate to use young private citizens for marketing purposes," a spokeswoman for the first lady told Crain's

A Ty spokeswoman had told Crain's the dolls were created with the Obama daughters in mind, but the spokeswoman Thursday said the dolls "were not designed to look like any living person."

"Somehow there was a misunderstanding," the spokeswoman said.

Boy, it seems like you now have to get up mighty early in the morning if you want to keep current with events that are shaping the news. Most newspapers are written the night before, with many international items from the wire services being several days old before settling down in a daily template. Why, Illinois Governor, Rod Blagojevich, has given three news conferences already, each one increasingly more inventive and paranoid.

Early this morning Republican leaders met with President Obama and got to express their concerns with the upcoming economic stimulus bill, then both parties had short press conferences. The emphasis Republicans wanted to make was not to throw money away on short term goals, no pork projects, and more help for small businesses. Unfortunately, they keep harping on tax credits, which won't really do much to help. If I have a store and nobody is coming in to buy my stuff, and I can't pay any bills, having a lower tax rate won't keep me afloat. If I am manufacturing goods, but nobody is ordering them because nobody is buying them at the stores, a lower tax credit won't pay my employees or buy the raw materials I need. So, even though 850 billion dollars will be allocated, many family run businesses will still go bankrupt and our manufacturing base will still decline.

Even Starbucks has closed 600 stores and the computer industry is laying thousands off. Microsoft announced that it will lay off 5,000 people, with Intel announcing it will lay off 5-6,000, and Advanced Micro Devices eliminating 1,100 jobs. However, Apple did sell 22.7 million ipods...

CNN reports that in today's morning news conference: "President Barack Obama had harsh words Friday for companies that have engaged in lavish, frivolous spending while receiving taxpayer dollars from the $700 billion federal bailout package.

During a White House meeting with the joint congressional leadership, the president said he had seen reports "over the last couple of days about companies (receiving) taxpayer assistance (and) then going out and renovating bathrooms or offices or in other ways not managing those dollars appropriately."

Moving forward, the president said, it would be necessary to pass reforms ensuring the kind of "oversight, transparency, accountability that's going to be required in order for the American people to confidence in what we're doing."
This, of course, was in response to news items like the CEO of Merrill Lynch, John Thain, had given 3-4 billion dollars in bonuses while it was being bought out by Bank of America, and that he had spent millions on his office, including $86,000 for an area rug. I think he took his status as Overlord too seriously, and B of A fired him.

Thain was a former head of the New York Stock Exchange, and former chief operating officer at Goldman Sachs. I don't see how these firms can stay in business. Would you invest in them knowing your fees were buying a new $100,000 commode for the boss? No way to tell if you are investing in another Ponzi scheme or not, or if your stocks are worth the paper they are printed on, especially if the major players are now hiding their dollars under the mattress...

Today's jokes come courtesy of Jay Leno. The others just weren't that funny last night.

"And during his inaugural address yesterday, President Barack Obama said, 'Millions of Americans have lost their homes and some of us who still have homes have their mother-in-laws moving in with them.'" --Jay Leno

"And there was a stumbling during the reading of the oath, when the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, forgot the words for a second and then he got them in the wrong order. See, how typical is that? Barack, just a second before he takes over, the Republicans get one last screw up in there." --Jay Leno

"No, apparently the chief justice stumbled on the word faithfully. But to be fair, a lot of people in Washington have trouble with any version of the word faithfully." --Jay Leno

"The total cost of the inauguration was $170 million. They say this is the most of the expensive celebration since that last AIG retreat on our bailout money." --Jay Leno

"And yesterday had the largest gathering of celebrities for any inauguration ever. In fact, there were so many celebrities and politicians together, it broke the old record set by the Betty Ford Clinic." --Jay Leno

"Oh actually, you know who gave the shortest inauguration speech in history? George Washington, whose speech was just a couple minutes long, which makes sense because, remember, George Washington couldn't tell a lie, right?" --Jay Leno

"And the show 'Dancing With the Stars' trying to get Cindy McCain on the program. How about that? Not to be outdone, John McCain's been offered a part in the show 'Bones.'" --Jay Leno

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Hamas also Will Ceasefire, Iranian Ship found with Rockets

Some very interesting things have been happening in the world while we were watching the Obama inauguration. Hopefully, the newspapers will pick up and expand on them.

Turkey has gotten Hamas to call a ceasefire. Not only has Israel withdrawn to leave rubble and ruin in its wake, but no more missiles will officially be launched during the stated time of the ceasefire. Meanwhile, those industrious Palestinians have started re-digging out those smuggling tunnels...

An American warship has stopped a ship rented by Iran carrying rockets, headed for Gaza. It has been towed to Egypt to be searched with fine tooth combs. I don't know if this will spark more than an oops, you caught us apology.

Swiss newspaper Tribune de Geneve has reported: " that Muntadar al-Zaidi, who has been in custody in Iraq after hurling shoes at U.S. President George W. Bush during a mid-December press conference, has asked for asylum in Switzerland.

In the Arab culture, the sole of a shoe is the ultimate insult; it is considered rude even to show the sole of your shoe to another, let alone throw it at them.

The report (translated here) quotes his lawyer, Mauro Poggia as saying al-Zaidi fears for his safety in his Baghdad prison. 
Even if al-Zahid is released, he faces the inability to get a job, and possible other repercussions. Despite this, he has, however, been hailed as a hero by many. That still does not give him much comfort. "

In China, two people have been sentenced to death for selling 600 tons of melamine laced protein powder, which caused the deaths of six children and 300,000 others to fall ill.

In Japan, exports fell to a new low in December, and auto maker Mitsubishi will join Toyota in stopping manufacturing for a few weeks. There is also a huge recession happening in South Korea, leading North Korea to issue aggressive statements.

And, the saddest news: the UN reports that over 2,770 people have died from cholera in Zimbabwe. The President, Robert Mugabe, has denied that there is a problem and nobody in the government is allowed to do anything to help. The upcoming rainy season will bring rising water levels and will make the situation worse. Also, there is little education being done in the rural villages, where it has now spread. From the BBC: "Traditionally in Zimbabwe whenever someone dies they usually bring the body to the village of origin for funeral and burial and many times, unfortunately, bodies are not disinfected," 
"Everybody touches the body and everybody cries on the body and they get infected as well."
He added that the lack of awareness and the difficulty of getting to clinics meant that those dying of such an easily treatable disease was growing."

Finally, some more late-night humor:

"You know, it's really fascinating to watch this peaceful transfer of power. Because we're the envy of the world that we're able to do this. I only hope Conan and I can do it just as peacefully." --Jay Leno

"In fact, John McCain said he was so moved by today's events, he suspended his campaign again." --Jay Leno

"Well, did you all see Obama's speech? He said America is finally ready to lead again, to which Bush said: 'Hey, I'm sitting here! Hello! I'm still here!'" --Jay Leno

"Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts made a mistake during the swearing in of Barack Obama. That's the second mistake the Supreme Court has made with a president, if you count the time they declared Bush the winner." --Jay Leno

"I think Barack Obama missed the perfect opportunity to balance the budget today. Did you see those thousands of port-a-potties? Make them pay toilets, we'd have a surplus by tomorrow."

"And it was cold. It was so cold in Washington, it felt like Hillary's inauguration." --Jay Leno

"It was so cold, Al Gore led a prayer for global warming." --Jay Leno

"All the living ex-presidents attended the swearing-in ceremony. But did you see this? Bill Clinton got the biggest response from the crowd. Did you see that? Yeah. Yeah, apparently, thousands of women yelled, 'That's him, officer!'" --Conan O'Brien

"Barack Obama is the new President of the United States, our 44th. As our first African-American president, Obama fulfills the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, and as our first Hawaiian president, he fulfills the dream of Don Ho." --Jimmy Kimmel

"Now, a lot of people thought I didn't want Barack Obama to be president, that is not true. I just didn't want him to be president of America. I thought he could do a great job in Nicaragua. If I am sad, it is only for the Nicaraguans. Lo siento, mis amigos. Lo siento. But this man is now our president, and as an American, I pledge to support him unconditionally, for as long as he remains popular." --Stephen Colbert

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration, the Day After...

Yesterday was spent watching the pagentry of the Inauguration, the parade and parties and Balls, which harken back to the previous century. Not a bad way to begin a new Presidency... 1.8 million people gathered together to watch Barack Obama be sworn in as President, 1.8 million American flags waving in happiness. More importantly, no fights broke out and no arrests were made.This alone, is a major change.

Even more amazing was that people stopped and listened to his Inauguration speech, and afterwards, so many people gave heartfelt and intelligent analysis to the media. More than any other person in recent history, Barack Obama made you feel good to be an American. I've listened to the speech about four times already, and it does get better with each listening.

Unless you were ex-President Bush, who got some boos when he was introduced. Then, he had to sit and listen to a speech that had some criticism of his administrative policies, and watch a huge crowd wave flags and cheer enthusiastically in front of him for someone else. Or listen as the crowd spontaneously broke out singing " na na na na hey heey hey goodbye..." as you were walking away...

The justices of the Supreme Court didn't get any applause, either. I'm not sure what it says when the Obama daughters, Sasha and Malia, get a better welcome than the Supreme Court.

My sister's granddaughter didn't get a chance to see anything because her teacher at Russell Middle School thought their science lesson for the day was more important.

Rahm Emmanuel issued an order to all government agencies not to implement any of the last minute policies that Bush enacted until his group could review them. And Mr Obama asked the folks at Guantanamo to suspend the current ongoing trial until further decisions to be made.

John McCain is going to be the point man, acting as liason between the Obama White House and the Republican members of Congress. I like how he is not considered an enemy and that his leadership in the Senate will be used for the forces of good, not evil.

Finally, here's what may be the last joke about the Bush Administration. I hope to find many more jokes for Obama in the future.

             How the Bush Administration Changes a Light Bulb

How many members of the Bush administration does it take to change a light bulb?

1. One to deny that a light bulb needs to be changed;

2. One to attack the patriotism of anyone who says the light bulb needs to be changed;

3. One to blame Clinton for burning out the light bulb;

4. One to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of light bulbs;

5. One to give a billion dollar no-bid contract to Halliburton for the new light bulb;

6. One to arrange a photograph of Bush, dressed as a janitor, standing on a step ladder under the banner: Light Bulb Change Accomplished;

7. One administration insider to resign and write a book documenting in detail how Bush was literally in the dark;

8. One to viciously smear #7;

9. One surrogate to campaign on TV and at rallies on how George Bush has had a strong light-bulb-changing policy all along;

10. And finally one to confuse Americans about the difference between screwing a light bulb and screwing the country.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

44th President Barack Obama

I watched the inauguration this morning, the turnout was estimated at two million people showing up and cheering as Barack Obama was sworn in as the next President of the United States. As always, he gave a good speech, one that will be quoted from and dissected in the days to come. More important for myself, was learning that Mr Obama is a fellow left-hander...

Barack Obama has become a symbol of hope to many Americans, beyond being the first Black man to become President. Its hope that the way we do politics in this country is changing, the way that we do business will change, and the way that our military will perceive their role will change. It's going beyond Democratic ideologies or Republican ideologies, changing into a pragmatic ideology that finds solutions that will work. Think of Congress as an idea buffet...

The last few years have been too stressful because we have built for ourselves a culture composed of fear. The incidents on 9/11 shocked us and filled us with grief; Mr Bush then set us on the course of two wars to combat terrorism, which did nothing but create more fear and caused thousands of many needless deaths.

Morgan Spurlock, in his book, Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? gives us the statistics that during the time period "from the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 through 2005, about 3,200 American civilians died in terrorist attacks, 2,973 of them on the single day of September 11, 2001. In that same period, in round numbers:

. about 700,000 Americans died of heart disease
. roughly 600,000 Americans died of cancer
. nearly 500,000 Americans died in car accidents
. about 200,000 died in homicides
. nearly 150,000 died after falls
. almost 40,000 people drowned
. and more Americans were killed by police officers -almost 4,000 - than by terrorists."

Politicians, and especially the Republican Party dominated by the right wing ideology, have used that fear to keep people distracted, cowed, and obedient. It has also kept donations flowing into right wing policy institutes and other foundations set up to siphon off our money. And, as Mr Spurlock states: "the government hasn't just kept us in a panic; the government itself has been in a panic."

So, its time to change from the way we have been conducting government for the past 20 years, roll up our sleeves, and figure out how to get ourselves out of this fine mess we have gotten ourselves into. And I say this with all due respect to Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

MLK Day, Malia Steals the Show

Happy Martin Luther King Day, the one federal holiday that Congress had to be coerced and cajoled into making... I like how Barack Obama has tried to make it into a day of service, a day of action along with reflection.

I was in college the day the MLK was assassinated. By the reaction from the black guys on campus, I thought for sure there was going to be race riots and a lot more killings. It was one thing being young and thinking you have no prejudices, to suddenly being aware how thin that veneer really is, walking around and being the target of animosity just because of the color of your skin. I like to think we, as a people, have made progress since then, but deep down I have this fear for Barack, because we are still seriously flawed.

CNN interviewed Barack Obama last Friday about the historic significance of the upcoming inauguration:

"You can think about what Washington, D.C., was like 50 years ago or 60 years ago," when the city was segregated, Obama said, "and the notion that I now will be standing there and sworn in as the 44th president, I think is something that hopefully our children take for granted. But our grandparents, I think, are still stunned by it, and it's a remarkable moment."

When asked about the deep emotion that many blacks will feel at his swearing-in, Obama said, "Well, I'm going to try to keep it together." But at the Democratic convention in Denver last August, he said, "there was a moment at the end of my convention speech where I talk about Dr. King and what he accomplished. And the first time we practiced it, I had to stop. I started choking up, because, you know, when you start thinking about is not just your own personal journey. But you think about all the women who walked instead of riding the bus, out in Montgomery and Birmingham, and what a moment like this would mean to them."

Remarkably, he said, "some of them are still alive."

He was referring to boycotts of city buses in Alabama when blacks had to give up their seats to whites.

Obama also spoke of his visit last weekend to the Lincoln Memorial with his wife, Michelle, and their daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10. He said Sasha noted of Lincoln's second inaugural address, "Boy, that's a long speech. Do you have to give one of those?"

Obama told her that his speech Tuesday might be even longer.

"At which point then Malia turns to me and says, 'First African-American president. Better be good,"' Obama said.

Political Jokes

Here are some of the latest jokes from the late night tv shows, compiled by I had been looking for good jokes, but most sites were not that good. I may keep on doing this every Sunday, a blog version of the funnies. Enjoy.

"I tell you, it's cold all over the East Coast. And did you see those blizzards all over the place? The whole country was so white the Republicans thought they were back in charge again." --Jay Leno

"Incoming press secretary Robert Gibbs said President-elect Barack Obama will allow gays to serve openly in the military. So the days of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' are over. Actually, that's not quite true. Congress will continue to use the phrase when referring to the bailout money. 'Don't Ask Us What We Did With It, We're Not Going To Tell You Where It Went.'" --Jay Leno

"And at his confirmation hearing, Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder said as far as he is concerned, waterboarding is torture. And Treasury secretary nominee Tim Geithner said, 'So is paying taxes.'" --Jay Leno

"As you may have heard, Tim Geithner, who's been chosen to be our next secretary of the Treasury didn't pay $34,000 in federal taxes from 2001 to 2004. But to keep the nomination afloat, he paid it this week, plus another $8,000 in interest. So that's $42,000 the US Treasury made just like that. You know what Barack Obama should do now? He should appoint Willie Nelson to the position of Commerce secretary. What does he owe, $28 million?" --Jay Leno

"Here's how cold it is outside. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was selling seats in his hair." --David Letterman

"President-elect Barack Obama plans to close Guantanamo, you know, the big holding center, the big prison, the interrogation center in Cuba. He is going to close that down. And Dick Cheney - I thought this was interesting - Dick Cheney said, 'Oh, fine, sure, I'm going to buy it and turn it into a vacation home.'" --David Letterman

"Bush will leave January 20th. Yes. Will it never get here? Cheney, meanwhile, said, "I'll leave when I damn well feel like it." But that's another story." --David Letterman

"But I want to tell you, it's so cold. It's so cold that Sarah Palin shot herself a brand-new coat." --David Letterman

"I think I have the perfect solution to this cold. I was thinking about it today. Let's swap countries with Mexico. Everyone who lives there moves here and vice versa. You want it so bad, you can have it. --Jimmy Kimmel

"President Bush has four days left in office, and he made his farewell address to the nation this evening. He was very gracious regarding Barack Obama. He said Obama offers hope to the nation. And I thought this was nice. He actually went shopping with Laura and personally picked out the bag he's going to leave Obama holding." --Jimmy Kimmel

"President Bush will soon be gone from the White House, but he's not going to fade away. He's only 62 years old and he says there are still plenty of challenges to fail to meet, there are still goals to fall short of, and people to disappoint." --Jimmy Kimmel

"And the Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, gave his annual State of the State address this morning. And while you might think that after five years in office, he has run out of cute references to his own movies. But he most certainly has not, because he made reference to Conan's sword in today's speech. All that's left is for him to tell the Board of Education about 'Kindergarten Cop,' right?" --Jimmy Kimmel

"Well, folks, tomorrow night, President Bush will give his farewell address to the nation. Or, as the White House is calling it, a very special episode of 'Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?'" --Jay Leno

"Barack Obama says one of the first things he'll do as president is sign an executive order closing down Guantanamo Bay, to which President Bush said, 'Hey, well that's nothing. I've closed down factories, car dealerships." --Jay Leno

"Anyway, a spokesman for Barack Obama says the prisoners that are released from Guantanamo will either be sent back to their home countries or enter the New York City cab driver training program." --Jay Leno

"Barack Obama also says he wants to bring a sense of accountability to Washington. I've got a better idea. Why don't you bring some accountants to Washington, okay? Tell us where the hell our $750 billion went!" --Jay Leno

"Speaking of that, the new Treasury secretary nominee, Timothy Geithner, has come up with a plan to lower taxes. Don't pay them!" --Jay Leno

"In a last-minute complication to what looked like an otherwise smooth path to confirmation, Timothy Geithner, President-elect Obama's nominee for the secretary of Treasury admitted that from 2001 to 2004 he failed to pay $34,000 in Federal tax. Fortunately for him, this is not his field of expertise. You know, he's just nominee for Secretary of the Treasury!" --Jay Leno

"A Democratic spokesman called the issue today 'an honest mistake.' How come, in Washington, the only time anyone is honest is when they make a mistake?
Well, you ever notice this? Whenever politicians don't pay their taxes, 'Oh, it's an honest mistake.' Huh? You know what they call it when you and I don't pay our taxes? 'Exhibit A for the prosecution.'" --Jay Leno

"President Bush, appearing on Fox News Sunday morning, confirmed that he is planning on writing a book. Bush admitted he'll use a ghost writer. Well, sure, if it's about his Presidency, it's going to be a horror story. He'll need a ghost writer." --Jay Leno

"And yesterday morning, on the 'Today Show,' they did a big story about Barack Obama's mother-in-law moving into the White House. Basically, they believe she'll be a big help to the family. Not as big a help as it would have been to have Bill Clinton's mother-in-law living in the White House." --Jay Leno

"And health experts are now concerned that the bad economy may be causing Americans to gain weight. They call it 'recession pounds.' Really? Recession pounds? Have these people been to a shopping mall in the last ten years? Either that theory is dead wrong or we've been in a recession since 1985, okay?" --Jay Leno

"And the adult film industry, better known as the porn industry, has asked Congress for a $5 billion bailout. They say they're going to use the money to make more fuel efficient porn." --Jay Leno

"Five billion. You know, between the porn industry and Congress, I don't know who's screwed more people." --Jay Leno

"Neiman Marcus announced they are cutting 400 jobs. See, I knew this would happen when the Republicans took away Sarah Palin's campaign credit card.
Yesterday, Tony Blair was given the Medal of Freedom by President Bush, but there was an awkward moment. When President Bush found out that Cherie Blair was a barrister, he said, 'Oh, you make coffee at Starbucks.'" --Jay Leno

"Cold, isn't it, ladies and gentlemen? It was so cold today people were throwing shoes at Al Gore." --David Letterman

"Osama bin Laden will not go away. There is a brand new bin Laden tape, and they've authenticated it. They know it's a recent tape because bin Laden describes Salma Hayak as 'smokin' hot' on the Golden Globes." --David Letterman

"One week, and Barack Obama will be the new President of the United States. I'm telling you, things are really starting to look bad for Hillary." --David Letterman

"Today is the ninth anniversary of my quintuple bypass heart surgery, or as Dick Cheney calls it, 'a routine checkup.'" --David Letterman

"President Bush is busy saying good-bye to everybody. Last night he was on Larry King, and I think tomorrow he's making a farewell lasagna with Rachel Ray.
Bush is getting nostalgic. He says he's not sure how he will feel on January 21st, but I think I kind of know how the rest of us will feel." --David Letterman

"Last night, Larry King interviewed President Bush, and Bush told him, 'My favorite color is blue and I love enchiladas.' Unfortunately, Bush was answering the question, 'What was your greatest achievement as President?'" --Conan O'Brien

"President Bush has been giving Barack Obama a lot of advice. They've had a few meetings and he's giving Obama advice. Yeah. President Bush has told Barack Obama that his biggest challenge will be an enemy attack. Specifically, Bush told Obama to keep your eye on Hillary." --Conan O'Brien

"President Bush has declared an advanced state of emergency in DC from Saturday until Wednesday to allow for extra security for the inauguration. Apparently, the President obtained information from a very reliable source that on Tuesday an unidentified black man is plotting to break into and actually live in the White House for at least four years." --Jimmy Kimmel

"By the way, it seems fitting to me that President Bush would leave Washington, DC, in a state of emergency on the day he leaves office." --Jimmy Kimmel

"The President was on 'Larry King' last night for one last hard-hitting interview before he packs up and tries to find his way back home to Texas. King asked the President if he personally lost money in the stock market. Bush said he has no idea because all his money is in a blind trust managed by a Nigerian prince who's about to collect a huge inheritance." --Jimmy Kimmel

"I like that the President doesn't know where his money is. If he doesn't know where ours is, he shouldn't know where his is either, right?" --Jimmy Kimmel

Saturday, January 17, 2009

State and Local Budgets

The State of Colorado has to trim over $600 million from its budget. The worst case scenario is to lop off 10% across the board, which would save $800 million. The next year after this one is predicted to be even worse. Because the budget year runs from July 1st to June 31st, legislators have less than six months to jiggle around items for the chopping block. Dire stories will be printed in the next couple of months saying how everything from meals for homebound senior citizens to jail cells for stone cold murderers may be affected.

New State Gop Senate Caucas leader, Josh Penry, after paying lip service to protesting any new energy development regulations, let the Senate know where the main emphasis will be for the Republicans in the coming year. The emphasis is on infrastructure and they want to get a quick start on it, borrowing from the rhetoric of Barack Obama. It's a good plan, one that has been neglected and definitely should have been done yesterday.

"A day earlier, Penry had joined House GOP leader Mike May, of Parker, in announcing a proposal to fund Colorado's critical transportation infrastructure needs without new taxes or onerous fees. The plan would make use of existing equity in government assests, such as buildings, to borrow the much-needed cash to repair and maintain Colorado's roads and bridges. Penry and May pointed to many other state and local governments who used the same to fund large capital construction projects.
"Under the arcane rules of our budget, our roads and bridges receive the last dollar of General Fund when times are good, and they are the first funding victim when times turn bad," Penry said. "Let’s not use a bad economy as an excuse for continuing to treat our roads and bridges as a second-class budget priority."

I hope it works because the roads here are badly maintained, and the repair jobs I've witnessed here have done nothing to improve the road problems, all cosmetic patches and sprayed tar which buckle up during the first snow and surface contractions. Its soo bad, I wonder if we haven't imported road crews from Texas to be in charge...

The larger municipalities are being hit harder, with Denver facing a $56 million dollar gap, and Colorado Springs down to a measly $6 million deficit. Still, it could affect anything from efficient staffing of police patrols to ticketing massage parlors and people who can't remove snow from their sidewalks. What may be needed is a lesson in how to prioritize, to win brownie points with the people who essentially are paying your salaries. Instead, the usual whipping posts like the bad old teacher's unions, or labeling people and programs as socialistic, or government being too large will be trotted out for public flogging, which we can expect from old school diehards like Bob Beauprez... 

A while back the governors submitted a wish list and plea to the Federal government for financial help. Reporters were gleefully amazed that there was a huge list of pork projects attached, and had fun publicizing some of the more blatantly weird ones. A stripped down, amended list has not been resubmitted, which makes me wonder how serious theses states are about balancing their budgets. Luckily for us, neither ex-Senator Ted Stevens or Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich were involved.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tidbits from the Daily Beast

The Daily Beast takes news articles and publishes condensed versions so that you can pretend to know what is going on in the world each day, or happen to get into intense conversations around the water cooler. Since its one of the links I like, featured on the left hand side of the blog, I am being lazy and copying from their daily cheat sheet.

First up, is the fact that Barack Obama and his wife Michelle went out to dinner last night instead of staying home and listening to Bush's farewell speech. I don't know if that is a plus or minus for them, as his speech was pretty tepid and boring.
From CBS News: "So much for listening to both sides of the aisle. President-elect Barack Obama didn't tune into President Bush's farewell address to the nation last night. He and his wife Michelle were dining out at the Equinox restaurant in D.C. as Bush wished him luck, noting his inauguration on Tuesday as "a moment of hope and pride." The Obamas left their temporary residence at the Blair House just across from the White House mere minutes before Bush's speech began. A host at Equinox said Obama watched a TV at the bar for "a minute or two" but it's not known what he was watching and Obama's team hasn't responded to inquiries. Maybe he DVR'd it..."

Second, is the fact that North Korea's most glorious leader has chosen his successor. Good, he can die now knowing that the country may be in the hands of another insane meglomaniac. After all, it seems to run in the family...
From the Times of London: "North Korea, meet your next dictator: According to intelligence sources in Seoul, the ailing Kim Jong Il has chosen his youngest son, Jong Un, to rule the country when he is gone. Jong Un, thought to be no older than 24, is the son of Kim’s third and favorite wife and was educated in Switzerland. Thought to be an unlikely pick because of his youth, Jong Un will inherit a moribund economy, difficult foreign policy situation, and an agricultural crisis. At least now the frail Kim will have a vigorous son to stand by him at “Dear Leader” photo ops."

Last up, is a tidbit on one of our favorite world wackos. I haven't figured out yet if he is playing the fool on purpose so it will reflect badly upon the real leaders of Iran, or if he is just another clueless politician thinking that he is not in over his head...
From the Washington Post: "Firebrand Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is trying a new tack: Speak softly and carry a big nuclear program. In a press conference yesterday, Ahmadinejad said he'd give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt before branding him as the next Great Satan. "We will wait and see what his administration will do," he said. One potential snag in this outbreak of good feelings, however, are reports today that Iran may be sneaking in supplies for building advanced ballistic missiles from China and evading sanctions designed to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons."

Have a nice day...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Maybe Another Ceasefire Will Happen Soon

Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is on her way to the US to sign an agreement to help stop the smuggling of arms into Gaza, and another minister is going back to Cairo to talk to Hamas. It looks like a ceasefire is in the works, with a more permanent solution to follow. If this gets resolved before January 20, do you think the whole thing was purposely orchestrated?

The Jerusalem Post reports: "Although details of the potential cease-fire agreement are still fluid, the basic parameters are an immediate end to the fighting followed by an IDF withdrawal after it becomes clear Hamas has stopped firing rockets on Israel.

Once Israel pulls out, Egypt - together with technical and logistical assistance from the international community - will establish a mechanism to stop arms smuggling. This will be augmented by the agreement between Israel and the US.

The next step will be indirect talks through the Egyptians regarding the opening of the Gaza crossings and the release of kidnapped soldier St.-Sgt. Gilad Schalit. According to Israeli officials, what still needed to be worked out was a timetable for the IDF withdrawal, as well as the duration of the cease-fire.

In addition, according to various reports, certain disagreements have emerged regarding some arrangements. For instance, on the question of the Rafah crossing, both Israel and Egypt want to see it opened under EU monitors, with a Palestinian Authority presence, and not Hamas. Hamas, however, is demanding a presence as well.

As to the Philadelphi Corridor, Israel was interested in a significant international presence, while both Egypt and Hamas were opposed.

Hamas officials told Egypt they were prepared to accept a one-year truce, with the possibility of subsequent renewals, provided that Israel withdrew all troops from Gaza within five to seven days and all border crossings were immediately opened, diplomatic sources said. They also sought international guarantees that the crossings would stay open, the sources added."

There are two major groups of Hamas, one based in Damascus, and the other decimated in Gaza.

Osama bin Laden's taped message had more resonance in the Middle East, and shows why there has been a surge in al Qaeda recruiting. UPI reports: "Muslims are united in sympathy for you after what they have seen and heard," bin Laden tells the Palestinians, adding that extremist fighters in Iraq and Afghanistan "are also being bombarded by the same aircraft, and they lose their dearest family members in the same way that you have."

It is not just bin Laden who sees this sympathetic connection as a key to the success of his project, according to Marc Sageman, a psychologist who has studied the radicalization process now widely understood as the key to extremist recruitment.

The sense of "moral outrage" created by "large moral violations globally such as … Muslims being killed in Gaza right now" is a key factor, Sageman told a conference at the Cato Institute in Washington this week.

"This is not about what people think, but how they feel," said Sageman of radicalization, adding that the outrage "activates a sense of collective identity" that can be exploited by extremist recruiters, or lead to so-called self-radicalization, for instance on the Internet.

"It has to be framed a certain way," said Sageman. "The frame right now is very simple: This is a war against Islam.

"This is going to cause a problem," he concluded."