Saturday, February 28, 2009

James Dobson Not Really Gone, Nor is Newt Gingrich

"If you think you are rid of me in that respect, you are wrong." - James Dobson

Yesterday I went looking to buy the last copy of the Rocky Mountain News, but either I got up too late or they didn't distribute any here in Colorado Springs. The waitress at my nearby Village Inn said that the vendor only placed two in the machine that morning...

The venerable James Dobson announced that he is stepping down as patriarch of the Focus on the Family empire, letting the younger turks run the day to day operations and firing loyal workers. He will still perform his radio show and send out his newsletter as editor, but he also expressed that he wanted more time for being a grandfather. As we all know, grandparenting is more fulfilling than parenting, because you don't have to discipline them and you can send them back home when you get tired of them. Perhaps we can expect a new line of books?

Dobson has received most of his criticism for his forays into politics and trying to influence social policy, but he built his reputation on giving common sense secular advice to parents. He is a man full of contradictions and made enough money to explore each and every one, now feeling content that he can retire at the age of 72, instead of waiting until he is pulled off the public stage in a flurry of embarrassed apologies.

One of the most respected money men,Warren Buffet has put out his yearly state of the financial union in the form of a newsletter for Berkshire Hathaway, which is posting the worst losses in its history. If you are a financial wonk, it is must reading, otherwise the link I provided gives a good overview. He gives reasoning for his financial models in simple language that is fun to read: "Also blissfully ignored, he wrote, were the perils of relying on mathematical models devised without worst-case situations in mind. Too often, he wrote, Americans have been enamored of “a nerdy-sounding priesthood, using esoteric terms such as beta, gamma, sigma and the like.” Some skepticism about these models is overdue, he added.

“Our advice: Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”
 Solid advice anytime...

The CPAC conference in Washington has provided much fodder for the critics of the right wing wacko element of the GOP, which was well in attendance with folks like Michelle Bachman and Joe the Plumber. In contrast Mit Romney sounded moderate and well reasoned. I notice that Bobby Jindahl went to Disneyworld with his family instead...

The most curious is that Newt Gingrich is trying to resurrect his career, after being voted out by his fellow Republicans years ago. Instead of hypocritically espousing family values and creating illegal lobbying schemes to get Republican politicians rich, he is now trying to come across as the Wise Old Man of the Party. His pearls of wisdom so far have been Drill, Baby Drill, and the latest, that our problems come from a Bush-Obama economic spending policies.

Steve Benen, the Political Animal reports: "Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich received a hero's welcome at the Conservative Political Action Conference in D.C. yesterday, and proceeded to blast "the Bush-Obama big spending program."

It's a phrase Gingrich is clearly very fond of. Indeed, the ethically-challenged former Speaker seems really intent on connecting President Obama's economic policies to George W. Bush's. Two weeks ago, Gingrich had an op-ed in the Washington Times in which he used the phrase "Bush-Obama" four times in four paragraphs.

And while the phrase hasn't caught on as a conservative talking point, ol' Newt isn't giving up on his argument.

...Mr. Gingrich gave voice to the lingering ire many conservatives still harbor over the fiscal policies of the President George W. Bush, tracing the lineage of Mr. Obama's stimulus package and budget back to what he stated flatly were a string of "failed" spending and bailout plans hatched during the final months of the Bush administration.

I understand the point he's trying to get across. Bush increased spending, Obama is increasing spending. Bush's policies were a disaster for the economy, so Obama's policies.... It has a certain child-like appeal, just so long as no one thinks about it too much.

But the reason this isn't a compelling argument -- aside from the fact that it has no relation to reality -- is that Gingrich's point undermines the other Republican talking points. The principal complaint from the right about Obama's spending plans is that they're "radical." The spending is "unprecedented." The agenda represents "socialism."

And despite all of this, Gingrich nevertheless argues that Obama's spending "is more of the Bush-Obama continuity and represents more of the same instead of 'change you can believe in." So now we can add the Bush socialistic economy to the conservative Taliban insurgency. I'm so glad that not that many of my brain cells died after I turned 40, unlike Mr gingrich and his ilk...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Bush Drinking Again? Conservatives Get Their Groove On

Paul Krugman
Michael Kinsley
George Will

I was standing in line at the supermarket yesterday and happened to glance at the tabloid rack at the checkout counter. There was the Globe Magazine with its headline: Bush Suicide Drama

"JUST weeks after leaving the White House, depressed and paranoid George Bush is suicidal, insiders fear. In a blockbuster world exclusive, sources tell GLOBE the ex-President is boozing up a storm - and reveal why he is terrified of Barack Obama and his own wife Laura. Don't miss a single word!" Among the allegations were: "He's paranoid and deeply depressed." "Says Obama is "Out to Get Me." and my favorite, "Accuses Laura of DESTROYING him in tell-all book" No need to go out and buy it, there's not much more than contained in these headlines... Though, with all of the policy reversals and changes the Obama administration is doing to make things more honest and open, perhaps George can be allowed some drunken paranoia...

In an interview with the Washington Times this week,  the very conservative, very Republican Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman described the GOP as a narrow party of angry people, with the younger generation not as much concerned with being anti-gay, anti-abortion, and being Whites only.

The Political Animal comments: "Now, I've seen quite a few descriptions of the Republican Party of late, but "a very narrow party of angry people" is one of the more apt. Matt also noted that Huntsman's contingent also probably includes Charlie Crist and David Brooks, making up a reformist branch looking for a bigger, more inclusive party.

What's striking, though, is just how small the contingent is. Just a couple of weeks ago, 95% of the Republicans in Congress voted for a stimulus package that didn't include any stimulus. Rush Limbaugh said no one should criticize far-right Republican Bobby Jindal's national address, not because it was good, but because he's a far-right Republican. RNC Chairman Michael Steele is openly discussing the possibility of withholding support from Republican lawmakers who stray from the conservative line. A GOP leader in the House is openly discussing emulating the Taliban, and no one in the party denounced the comments. It's the Palin-Pence-Plumber Party.

Huntsman's perspective stands out in large part because most of the party isn't even willing to consider the possibility of veering from its current course."

And more comment on the CPAC conference in Washington:
"Yesterday, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, right-wing activist Cliff Kincaid suggested that "President Obama is a communist, then suggested Obama was not born in the United States -- to which the crowd cheered wildly."

It's a reminder that conservatives, anxious to reclaim their forgotten glory, haven't quite adjusted to the current political landscape.

I'm not at CPAC this year, but I've been fascinated by the reports from the convention. It's not just the breathtaking right-wing worldview -- though the ugliness and hatred is interesting -- it's also the fact that a lot of conservatives just aren't ready to face a new day. They liked the old day just fine, thank you very much, are content to stay there, even as the country moves forward.

What was the message on CPAC's first day? Government is still the enemy; Iran still wants to kill us; it's still a conservative country; tax cuts will still solve every problem; Democrats are still radicals; the media is still victimizing the right; and Republicans can still win if they shift from being a conservative party to an extremely conservative party."

I guess we will just have to wait for the old farts to die off, except these young farts are sounding too similar to the Old Ones. No wonder zombie movies are making a popular comeback. Slum love! Slum love!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Cabinet Working, Batman for Governor of New Mexico

Henry Kissinger
William Kristol

President Obama's Cabinet picks have wasted no time by plunging right into their jobs:

Attorney General Eric Holder toured Guantanamo and said that the detention center is a well-run, professional facility, with the guards making a very conscious attempt to conduct themselves in an appropriate way. But he'll still close it down. Our own Rep Doug Lamborn has introduced a bill aimed at stopping detainees from being transferred to the Supermax facility in Florence.

New CIA chief Leon Panetta is producing a new daily brief for the President, a report on the global economic crisis in addition to the ones on terrorist threats and national security issues.

Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano is looking into the action of Immigration agents who staged a raid in Washington state without her knowledge. She said that work site enforcement needs to be focused on the employers.

Ken Salazar has slowed down the expansion of oil shale development by reversing a decision made by the Bush administration in its last two weeks. He is also scrapping an initial 5% royalty rate because it's way too low. Conventional royalty rates on public land is around 18.8%.

State Senator David Schultheis, who represents Focus on the Family, has brought us national recognition and humiliation again. "Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when [Colorado] Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease "stems from sexual promiscuity" and he didn't think the Legislature should "remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior." The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to cast the lone vote against SB-179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House." So the pro-family guy is against testing to make sure babies are healthy because it stems from sexual promiscuity, even if the mother is married? This is a mentally unbalanced and sick, sick man...

Speaking of mentally unbalanced people, Joe the Plumber was in Washington hawking his new book: "Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream", Samuel J. Wurzelbacher — aka "Joe the Plumber" — stopped by Americans for Tax Reform Wednesday to review President Barack Obama's Tuesday address before Congress and offer his own thoughts on American politics and current events.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Wurzelbacher, who campaigned alongside Sen. John McCain during the 2008 campaign, did not have many nice things to say about Obama's speech and stimulus proposal.

"I believe he's taking America down the wrong path," Wurzelbacher told
POLITICO. "So far every step he's taken I pretty much disagree with." Wurzelbacher has been pondering a run for Congress and said, "If I became a congressman I would literally bang people's heads together and probably get in a lot of trouble." 

About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats set up hopefully in the basement of a downtown Border's bookstore to hear Joe speak. Joe addressed them from behind a lectern and with a microphone, but that seemed unnecessarily formal.

At least a few of the 11 didn't actually show up for Wurzelbacher, but were in the store anyway. One was reading "Dreams From My Father" upstairs and thought it was an amusing coincidence that "Joe the Plumber" was in Borders at the time. Wurzelbacher was scheduled to speak and sign books for three hours. He left after 55 minutes when no one else showed up."

Hopefully this guy can finally take a hint and stay home in Ohio. The only reason I can think that stories like this are being reported is to totally trash this guy and show what a mental midget he is, something we've known for quite awhile now...

And, for some more wacky news, actor Val Kilmer, who always sounds like he's talking through a mouth of uncooked oatmeal, is going to run for governor of New Mexico! Ahhhh, the egos of actors, thinking that they are more than mere mortals.

"The owner of a sprawling, 6,000-acre ranch near Santa Fe, N.M., Kilmer first signaled that he was seriously thinking about a bid shortly after the November election, when he outlined his reasoning to New York Post columnist Cindy Adams.

He told her, “It’s been my home 25 years. I really love my state. Poor, hardworking, decent people: Native Americans, carpenters, artists, expats mixed in with hundreds of the world’s smartest physicists at Los Alamos. I’ve always thought of myself as functioning as a candidate for them.”

He added, “I know I’m not yet qualified for the job. It’s not like I need fame. If that’s what it’s all about, I wouldn’t live in New Mexico. But I don’t want to be a train wreck. I have to see if people will put up the money for my run. I have to think about putting my acting on hold. Being famous as a movie actor is one thing, but they take no prisoners in politics. I have to think what this might do to my kids.”

Late night jokes that are not reruns:

"President Obama gave his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress tonight. Obama focused on the three most critical things he wants Americans to understand: first, that the economy is in a lot of trouble; second, that the road to recovery won't be easy; and third, that it's all President Bush's fault." --Jimmy Kimmel

"We begin tonight in Washington, where Barack Obama has most likely just finished his address to the nation, no doubt shocking observers with his call for a global Christian crusade. I don't think anybody saw that coming. And he also introduced the poverty relief program that included a plan to, this is interesting, lift the societal taboos on eating adorable animals. He actually ended his speech tonight with the phrase, 'We're coming for you, kittens. And we're bringing the A-1.'" --Jon Stewart

"So, why did Obama go to Canada? [on screen: Obama, speaking from Ottawa, at first says it's 'a great pleasure to be here in Iowa,' before correcting himself quickly]. He went to Canada on the first trip because he can mess up there! It's Canada. It's the diplomatic equivalent of a preseason game." --Jon Stewart

"All in all, Obama spent, and this is true, seven hours in Canada. Ranking his first diplomatic trip on our 'How Long Americans Stay in Canada Scale,' above a firecracker/prescription drug run, and just below an underage Montreal bachelor party." --Jon Stewart

"So, while Obama faces many challenges, he himself still presents a challenge to the Republican party. How will they be able to counter his unique popularity and message of change? Perhaps they'll do it with their new selection for GOP chairman Michael Steele. ... What is it about Steele that's got Republicans so excited? [on screen: Newt Gingrich saying he'll bring 'energy and drive' to the GOP, and Ron Christie saying the fact that he's black is 'a bonus']. What? That is true, I mean, when has being black not been a bonus? But I think they prefer to be called 'bonus Americans.'" --Jon Stewart

"Tonight is President Obama's first address to Congress. I'm TiVo-ing it, don't tell me who won. I certainly hope he was a little more optimistic than he has been [on screen: Obama's past dire warnings about the economy]. It's all part of his plan to stimulate the economy through sales of Paxil." --Stephen Colbert

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama's Speech, a Grumpy Schwarzenegger

Maureen Dowd
Dana Milbank
E J Dionne Jr

Did you watch President Obama's speech to the Joint Session of Congress last night? There can be no question that this man is one of the greatest orators in American history, and he makes it seems so effortless. He gave us an explanation of where we are and what he plans to do to get us out of the mess without condescending or trite remarks. It was inspiring and gave you hope that we could actually do it. If he can pull off even one fourth of what he promises to do our country will be a lot better off for it.

Personally, if he can change the way that government does business, turn it into a transparent, honest, and responsible organization, then I will be utterly amazed. Over the past 40 years the right wing has perverted the idea of limited government into one that tries to destroy government. Too many people were appointed or hired into agencies where they tried to subvert those agencies, rendering them useless. So Obama is now going over the budget line by line, getting rid of programs that don't work, getting rid of obstructionist employees who were politically appointed, and possibly saving a few trillion dollars in the process. This is stuff that was only paid lip service in the past. Also, healthcare is the 800 lb gorilla in the room that everyone has been trying to ignore, and its high time that we start a national debate on how to make it work.

The polls afterwards showed an 80-92% in favor of what he had to say, which leaves a very bitter, hardcore 8% of nattering negative nabobs untouched. 

Lousiana's Governor Bobby Jindahl gave the Republican response. This was his opportunity to impress a national audience, hopefully to be further groomed as a contender in 2012. Unfortunately, anyone would look like an amateur after Obama's speech, and Mr Jindahl gave a really fake performance, with forced smiles that were out of synch with his text, and a speech that clearly was written before even knowing what Obama was going to say. So, it was a canned response, and, as the Political Animal reports: "On one of the cable networks, viewers were told that Jindal was "almost childish," and this "was not Bobby Jindal's greatest oratorical moment." The network? Fox News." Because the response didn't have one new idea in it, just the old retreads that have been uttered over and over and over again, Bobby Jindahl came across as John McCain lite, and it may have ruined his chance at more public exposure. People who know Mr Jindahl swear that he isn't such a brain dead party hack, unlike our own Doug Lamborn, who is one.

Myself, I think that it was Sarah Palin's people who slipped in one of her and John's old speeches to sabotage Mr Jindahl. Go Sarah! Go Sarah!

The The Daily Beast  reveals that California's Arnold Schwarzenegger at times has thought about dropping out of the Republican Party. Most of the fights he's had in the legislature have come with fellow Republicans, he seems to be able to work with Democrats because of his moderate views. "If GOP legislators were willing to support their own governor’s agenda, Schwarzenegger now would boast a record of accomplishment that would put him in the first rank of California governors, right up there with Earl Warren and Pat Brown. Instead, commentators here routinely dismiss Schwarzenegger as a Gulliver tied down by legislative Lilliputians—“an amateur governor,” as the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Walters recently put it, who couldn’t turn political opportunities into substantive change.

How did the marriage between Schwarzenegger and his party go bad? The truth is that it was never much of a marriage. Schwarzenegger’s criticism of Republicans pre-dates his entry into political life. At first, however, many Republicans loved the actor’s image so much that they didn’t pay attention to his words."

To celebrate the big guy, here are some vintage Arnold jokes:

"In a speech this week, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said America needs to work together to conserve oil. Then Arnold lit a cigar and drove over the crowd in his hummer." --Conan O'Brien

"As Schwarzenegger found out, the trouble with getting voted in as a joke, sooner or later, the joke gets old." --"Daily Show" commentator Lewis Black

"California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's popularity has been slipping in recent months as residents slowly begin to realize they elected Arnold Schwarzenegger to be their governor." --Tina Fey

"Republicans went from Arnold Schwarzenegger last night to Dick Cheney tonight. It's like, Arnold's like the picture in the dating service ad, and Dick's the guy who shows up." --Jay Leno, on the Republican convention

"In a shocking announcement, Governor Schwarzenegger said he supports changing the constitution to allow people like him to run for president. I'm shocked he would want that. Do you think he can win? Well, you know, it's interesting, he has Ronald Reagan's appeal as an actor and George W. Bush's difficulty with the English language. And, let's not forget, he's got a little Clinton in there too, so he could win." —Jay Leno

"Arnold Schwarzenegger has announced he will refuse his $175,000 salary and will work for free. I believe he will be worth every penny." —Craig Kilborn

"Arnold Schwarzenegger was sworn in as the Governor of California. He put one hand in the air, the other hand on the Bible, which is a good start — at least we know where his hands are now." —Jay Leno

"Immediately after Arnold was sworn in, Gloria Alred jumped in: "While you have your hand on the Bible, I’d like to ask you a few questions." —Jay Leno

"More problems for Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. California Attorney General Bill Locklear has suggested a special toll free number be set up for women to call in allegations about Arnold's past. I have a better idea — why not make it a 900 number and charge $1.99 a minute. We'll pay off $33 billion dollars right there." —Jay Leno

"Bush joked last week during his meeting with Schwarzenegger that they are both sometimes accused of misspeaking the language. Mr. President, he's from a foreign country." —Jon Stewart

"On Thursday in California, President Bush met privately with Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger. What did the pair talk about? Neither is sure." —Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

"Arnold Schwarzenegger announced he is going to ask President Bush for help with the budget. What better way to deal with a $38 billion deficit than get advice from a guy that created a $450 billion deficit." —Jay Leno

"In his first news conference after being elected governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger promised to clean house in Sacramento. He also threatened to molest the energy crisis, and date rape the deficit." —Tina Fey, Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update"

"Time was, our leaders were all veterans of World War II, the Korean conflict or even the struggle for civil rights. But now, with the election of Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and Arnold Schwarzenegger in California, it is clear that the next generation of political leaders will all come from the movie 'Predator.'" —Stephen Colbert, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Out of Iraq and Into the Fire, Immigration Solution

President Barack Obama will announce later this week that he plans to withdraw troops from Iraq by August 2010. 30,000 to 50,000 troops will remain to do the dirty work the Iraqi police will be too squeamish to do, er, they will be there for training purposes...

Although good money is bet that Afghanistan and Pakistan will pick up the slack and be the black hole we keep pouring our money into, there are a couple other areas where we might find ourselves sending in troops to help train and stabilize the area. Those pesky ex-Russian satellite states keep trying to mess with each other, so we may be vacationing in Armenia and Georgia sometime soon.

Topix reports: "The Armenian-Georgian conflict over Samtskhe-Javaheti a Georgian region populated by ethnic Armenians is heating up the relations between the two states.
Georgian political scientist, Mamuka Areshidze noted that if the government of Armenia allows the conflict to break out in the Georgian region populated by Armenians, and Karabakh scenario to be repeated, this will become political and economic suicide for Yerevan.
Armenia which is already in a conflict with Azerbaijan over the Azerbaijani region of Karabakh should have common sense and not support another such breakaway region said European expert on the South Caucasus, Amanda Akcakoca."

But my money is on Mexico! We are a $28 billion source of revenue for the drug cartels who have established operations in over 230 American cities. They are causing so much violence and killing off police and Army officers, that the country is in serious trouble. We may have to go and invade Mexico, perhaps annex it. This would be a solution to the illegal immigration problem: if all Mexicans become Americans overnight, then there is no more illegal immigration, we will have to relabel it something else. I will be getting some bumper stickers ready to market:
- We Are All Americans Now - 
- Viva Obama! - 
 - Mr Tancredo, Tear Down Those Walls! -

"State and federal governments have sent millions of dollars to local law enforcement along the Mexican border to help fend off spillover drug crime. But investigators believe Arizona and Atlanta are seeing the worst of the violence because they are major drug distribution hubs thanks to their webs of interstate highways.

In fact, drug officials have dubbed Atlanta "the new Southwest border," said Jack Killorin, a former federal drug agent and director of the Atlanta region's High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force.

El Paso, population 600,000, is only a quarter-mile away from Mexico's Ciudad Juarez, which has seen open gun battles and 1,700 murders in the last year. But El Paso remains one of America's safest cities, something Cuthbertson said is probably a result of the huge law enforcement presence in town, including thousands of Border Patrol and customs agents.

In the past year, more than 5,000 people have been killed across Mexico in a power struggle among Mexico's drug cartels and ferocious fighting between them and the Mexican government. The cartels have established operations in at least 230 U.S. cities, according to the Justice Department's National Drug Intelligence Center.

Payne said the U.S. and Mexico are working together to pressure the warring cartels. Payne cited the extradition of high-level drug suspects—four members of the Arellano Felix cartel in Tijuana were brought to the U.S. in December—and the capture or killings of several other top cartel leaders across Mexico in the past year.

"We have to make sure that we attack these criminal organizations at every level so that we are safer not only in Mexico and on the Southwest border, but here in the rest of the country," Payne said.

While some Americans may feel victimized by the spillover of violence, others are contributing to it. Americans provide 95 percent of the weapons used by the cartel, according to U.S. authorities. And Americans are the cartels' best customers, sending an estimated $28.5 billion in drug-sale proceeds across the Mexico border each year."

Just Jokes

Family emergency day, I'm running people to doctors, will try and post something this evening... so now it's just the jokes:

"The whole cast of 'Slumdog Millionaire' came out to see the Oscars. 'Slumdog' won best picture, which everyone seemed to know was going to happen. It was the big favorite going in. They're saying the only way it could have possibly lost is if it had picked Sarah Palin as a running mate." --Jimmy Kimmel

"It is our first show back since the Obama administration. Or, as Rush Limbaugh calls it, 'End Times.'" --Bill Maher

"But I've got to tell you people, I'm a little nervous tonight. We started 16 years ago with 'Politically Incorrect' in 1993, moved over here to HBO with 'Real Time' in 2003. In all those years, I've never done a monologue where the president wasn't either a horny hillbilly or an illiterate dumbass. ... This is challenging, and it hasn't quite set in that Obama is president. I'm still writing 'F**k George Bush' on my checks." --Bill Maher

"Well, he's had quite an opening. Been a month in office -- he signed the stimulus bill, he closed Guantanamo Bay, ordered the planning of our withdrawing from Iraq -- it's like he's spraying the country with a giant can of 'Bush Be-Gone.'" --Bill Maher

"Yeah, he just this week signed a $787 billion stimulus bill, he proposed a $250 billion housing rescue package. He's been in office a month, and he's dropped a trillion dollars. Is that black enough for you?" --Bill Maher

"But what a task this guy has. He's got, on the one hand, to tell the people the truth. And on the other hand, try to lift our morale. Bill Clinton said today, you know, come on, lift morale, get out there and sell the hope thing, you know, that hope shit you've got. And both sides of the aisle are saying this. We have finally found something Democrats and Republicans agree that the president needs to do: lie." --Bill Maher

"And he does, because, I mean, some of our nations largest banks have been described this week as 'dead men walking.' The New York Times says they are insolvent, and here's the thing. Nobody will say the names of the banks, because you say the names, their stock will tank even worse. But here's a hint: one of them rhymes with 's**tty bank,' and the other rhymes with 'skank of America.'" --Bill Maher

"I'll hold my powder to the end, but really, it is a bad sign. I tried to withdraw $60 yesterday, and my ATM said, 'you know, I've got to move some things around.'" --Bill Maher

"These banks are hurting. I opened a new account, and the lady asked me for a toaster." --Bill Maher

"No, but it's hurting everyone all over. You heard about this, the Oscars are going to be a lot less gaudy this year. The Oscars, where I'm a presenter this year ... in the category I should have been nominated in. ... No, my money is on 'Slumdog Millionaire,' which is also what I call my broker" --Bill Maher

"The Oscars are kind of a special time in Hollywood. It's a time when celebrities take a break from worshipping Barack Obama and take some time to worship themselves."

"The new chairman of the Republican party, Michael Steele, says that he wants to bring a greater Republican presence to the urban setting. Yeah. Well, there's already a Republican presence in the urban setting. He's called the landlord. He comes around every month."

"Our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in China. She met with a group of children today. And she told them, 'You kids are doing a great job making those pantsuits. They're really fantastic.'"

"And listen to this. While she was in China, she also managed to get a pirated copy of the movie 'The Watchmen,' which hasn't even come out yet. They already have it. She bought it on the street. Fantastic."

"And at his trial this week, the Iraqi journalist, remember the one who threw his shoes at President Bush, remember that guy? Well, he said he rehearsed the attack for two years, rehearsed it for two years, even videotaped himself doing it. Well, how embarrassing is that? Guy practiced for two years and he still missed?"

"Archaeologists are going nuts in this town because they found the preserved skeleton of a 10,000-year-old mammoth while digging near the L.A. County Museum of Art. Of course, people all over the world are stunned. L.A. has a museum of art? What? And Larry King is furious. He thought he was the oldest thing in L.A. Apparently not." --Jay Leno

"President Obama took his first foreign trip as president today up to Canada. He met with the prime minister to discuss one of the greatest threats facing our nation today -- Canadian geese." --Jay Leno

"Secretary of state Hillary Clinton was in Japan this week, where she had kind of an awkward moment. I guess she saw a couple of sumo wrestlers and said to the Japanese prime minister, 'Oh, you have interns here, too.'" --Jay Leno

"Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi met with the Pope this week. After the meeting, Pelosi asked for the Pope's blessing, and he agreed. But there was an embarrassing moment when the Pope asked her to close her eyes. Pelosi said, 'You know, I can't. They don't really close.' " --Jay Leno

"Airports all around the country now are switching from metal detectors to those high-tech scanning machines that show a naked image of your body. And this is raising a lot of privacy concerns, especially among women. The good news? Airport security guys now are paying attention 100%." --Jay Leno

"Hey, at 7:00 a.m. this morning, California finally passed a budget. We have a budget in California. The impasse was finally broken when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger threatened to make a sequel to 'Kindergarten Cop.'" --Jay Leno

"Well, we have a budget, so now we Californians can get back to doing what we do best -- buying homes we can't afford and letting murderers go free." --Jay Leno

"Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, owes $70,000 in taxes, but listen to this. She's blaming it on Alex Rodriguez's cousin." --David Letterman

"Luckily, Sarah Palin can see the IRS from her house." --David Letterman

"Are you excited about the Academy Awards? There is a film in the Best Documentary category about Vice President Dick Cheney and his relationship with the Saudis. And you know what the name of that one is? 'Lawrence of Arrhythmia.'" --David Letterman

"There's a new study that says that in America, rich people are ruder than poor people. This is shocking because I didn't know America had any rich people left." --Craig Ferguson

"One of the largest Swiss banks is revealing its secret client list to the IRS Look at the headline: 'Swiss Bank to Reveal Secrets.' The story is in The New York Times so you know it's partially true!" --Craig Ferguson

"President Obama made his first trip abroad today. He visited Canada, and let me tell you something: If Obama can finally mend our relationship with Canada, well then we'll know this guy really is on to something." --Jimmy Kimmel

"Yesterday, Eric Holder, who is our first African-American attorney general, told the Justice Department that when it comes to race, America is a 'nation of cowards.' You know, he's right. I will admit that there are certain things that I would be afraid to say to a black person, like, 'Hey, Queen Latifah, you aren't all that.'" --Jimmy Kimmel

David Letterman's Top Ten Things Overheard at Kim Jong Il's Campaign Headquarters

10. How do we improve perfection?
9. Maybe it would help your likability if you stopped killing people.
8. Remind voters there have been no Godzilla attacks on my watch.
7. After promising nuclear Armegeddon, throw in a folksy, "You betcha!"
6. Remind people you come from Pyongyang just like Kim Jong-Lincoln.
5. Korean food again?
4. Maybe we should hire a new chairman and move Kim to 10pm.
3. Get a load of that bodacious booty! (Sorry, that was overheard at Kim Kardashian's house).
2. With 0% of the precincts reporting, you've won in a landslide.
1. Hillary's running against me?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Stimulus, Shimulus,It's the Biggest Tax Cut Ever...

Paul Krugman

"You commie, homo-loving sons of guns. I did not expect this," - Sean Penn

This morning robocalls will be going out to Republicans from the Democratic Congressional Committee, telling them that the largest tax cut in American history, $282 billion, was passed by the Obama administration without any help from the Republican Party. The major difference is that these cuts are aimed at middle and working class families, not the top down tax cuts that were favored during the past 8 years. It seems to be taking the wind out of the sails blown by Republican complaints...

There are 22 Republican governors who, in theory, are opposed to any help from the stimulus package, and may not take part of the monies. California's governor said that he would gladly take their rejected shares... Louisiana's Bobby Jindahl may be backing himself into a corner by saying that he doesn't want the part that will extend unemployment benefits. He has one of the poorest states with close to 10% current unemployment, and he is going to reject the one part that will have direct benefit to those unemployed. It is pure political posturing on his part, he is seen as the best candidate for President in 2012 at this point, but this gamble may well blow up in his face in support for him in Louisiana...

In hosting a governor's conference breakfast at the White House this morning, Obamawent off script and responded: "I think there are some very legitimate concerns on the part of some about the sustainability of expanding unemployment insurance. What hasn't been noted is that that is $7 billion of a $787 billion program. And it's not even the majority of the expansion of unemployment insurance," Obama said. The president added, "If we agree on 90 percent of this stuff, and we're spending all our time on television arguing about 1, 2, 3 percent of the spending in this thing, and somehow it's being characterized in broad brush as 'wasteful spending,' that starts sounding more like politics. And that's what right now we don't have time to do."

Obama went on to say, "I will always be open to honest disagreements, and I think that there are some legitimate concerns that can be raised on a whole host of these issues. You're responsible at the state level. If the federal government gives you something now, and then two years later it's gone, and people are looking to you and starting to blame you, I don't want to put you in that position. You need to think about how this money's going to be spent wisely.

"What I don't want us to do, though, is just get caught up in the same old stuff.... There's going to be ample time for campaigns down the road. Right now, we've got to make sure we're standing up for the American people and putting them back to work."

The NY Times reports that: "The Obama administration will begin taking a hard look at the financial condition of the country’s 20 biggest banks this week to judge whether they could hold up even if the downturn worsens further than policy makers already expect.
These reviews of the banks’ books, known as “stress tests,” are heightening a dilemma for Obama aides about how candid they should be about the health of banks like Citigroup and Bank of America. The tests are expected to take several weeks."

And the Financial Times has further analysis: "The lack of clarity in the US Treasury’s plan to deal with the financial system is hardly unexpected. The administration is just one-month-old, and the specifics of this crisis, like many of its antecedents, are unique. As the plan becomes more specific, we can hope that the administration will be able to educate the public, including the supposed friends of free enterprise, that any plan for dealing with the banks must include the failure of those that are truly and deeply insolvent.

In getting to this next stage, there are lessons from past crises, of which there have been no shortage over the last several decades. The good part of the current plan is that the US government will inspect the banks (which of course should have been earlier; we are, after all, spending more on bank supervision than at any time in world history). But the plan is not specific on how government supervisors, or stress testers, will evaluate the portfolio of banks.

However, there is near unanimous consent among informed observers that a number of banks, including a number of very large banks, are clearly insolvent. Resolving large banks is especially difficult, and President Obama made a fair point when he said that other countries, such as Sweden, were able to deal with their banking crises by government takeovers and reprivatisation in part because of the small number of banks and their country, not to mention the greater degree of political consensus in their society."

New Investment Definitions

These terms have been redefined to fit current circumstances:

CEO - Chief Embezzlement Officer.

CFO - Corporate Fraud Officer.

BULL MARKET - A random market movement causing an investor to mistake himself for a financial genius.

BEAR MARKET - A six to eighteen month period when the kids get no allowance, the wife gets no jewelry, and the husband gets no sex!

VALUE INVESTING - The art of buying low and selling lower.

P/E RATIO - The percentage of investors wetting their pants as the market keeps crashing.

BROKER - What my broker has made me.

(S&P) STANDARD & POOR - Your life in a nutshell.

STOCK ANALYST - Idiot who just downgraded your stock.

STOCK SPLIT -- When your ex-wife and her lawyer split your assets equally between themselves.

MARKET CORRECTION - The day after you buy stocks.

CASH FLOW - The movement your money makes as it disappears down the Toilet.

INSTITUTIONAL INVESTOR - Past year investor who's now locked up in a Nuthouse.

MOMENTUM INVESTING - The fine art of buying high and selling low.

'BUY, BUY' - A flight attendant making market recommendations as you step off the plane.

FINANCIAL PLANNER - A guy who actually remembers his wallet when he runs to the 7-Eleven for toilet paper and cigarettes.

CALL OPTION - Something people used to do with a telephone in ancient times before e-mail.

YA HOO - What you yell after selling all you owned to some poor sucker for $240 per share.

WINDOWS - What you jump out of when you're the sucker that bought Yahoo for $240 per share.

PROFIT - Religious guy who talks to God.

And so it goes.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Trickle Up Economy, Mike Coffman, Messin' With Texas

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," - Eric Holder

"I ain't afraid of al-Qaeda, but I am afraid of Al Cracker" - Chris Rock

Tidbits from The Trickle Up Economy by Dave Gilson:

George W Bush, whom Time dubbed " the CEO President" now receives $196,700 annual pension.

In 2007, the top 5 firms paid out $39 billion in bonuses, even as their shareholders lost $74 billion... Those firms have since received $60 billion in federal bailouts.

In the first 3 quarters of 2008, finance, insurance, and real estate companies spent $343 million on lobbying.

60% of CEOs surveyed in November said they expected to let workers go in the next 6 months.

In their 2007 benefits package, Wells Fargo executives received as much as $20,000 apiece to put towards "personal financial planning."

In September, the Treasury Department quietly - and unlawfully - nullified Section 382 of the tax code, giving banks a tax windfall of as much as $140 billion. The move may be worth $25 billion to Wells Fargo alone.

Former Secretary of State Mike Coffman is a rising star in the state's GOP, especially since he was recently elected to Congress. The fly in the ointment that he seems desperately trying to pick out and fling in the trash, is a recent complaint for ethics violation during the last election by Colorado Ethics Watch: "Attorneys for former Secretary of State Mike Coffman filed a lawsuit in Denver District Court to halt the Independent Ethics Commission (IEC) hearing, scheduled for March 6. The March 6 hearing would finally determine whether Coffman committed official misconduct and ethics violations when he was Colorado's Secretary of State. Coffman's court filing claims that the IEC does not have jurisdiction over this case and that the case should therefore be dismissed.

Just last week, the IEC rejected this same argument and agreed with Ethics Watch that Amendment 41 requires the commission to enforce the standards of conduct allegedly violated by Coffman, including standards contained in state personnel and elections statutes and misdemeanor criminal statutes."

Since we seem to get many of our attitudes here in Colorado from our larger neighbor, the Great State of Texas, here is a short history of its influence on national politics, taken from the Washington Post  "Texas oil money has been a reliable backbone of the conservative movement... The first George Bush was never conservative enough for most oilmen, but then many considered him a Yankee carpetbagger to begin with, about as much a Texan as Winthrop Rockefeller was an Arkansan. The younger Bush, however, was the real deal, an actual Texan wildcatter who shared the Big Rich's values and views pretty much across the board. Hunt and the others never knew George W., but they would have loved him.

"And now, well, it's over. The Bush administration's bonfire of the inanities has made being a Texan something you don't brag about. None of the East Coast Texans I know want to talk too much about their heritage these days -- surely a first. Nationally, about the only Texas oilman who can still make waves is T. Boone Pickens.

"I'll miss all those Texans around Washington. The big boots, the big belt buckles, the big talk, the vaguely horrified look on the faces of network correspondents forced to do standups amid the cow pies and convenience stores ringing the Crawford White House. You think Joe Biden is gonna wake up one morning and shoot a load of buckshot into a Texan's face anytime soon? Ah, good times."

To further celebrate Texas, here are some vintage Tom Delay jokes:

"Tom DeLay announced he will not seek re-election and is giving up his seat in Congress. He said that he wants to concentrate now on not having to give up his seat in prison." --Jay Leno

"Tom DeLay will still get to collect over a million dollars in congressional pension money. This is what's so great about Congress. It is the only place in the world where robbers get to keep the money." --Jay Leno

"Tom DeLay announced he will not run for re-election. However, he said he will still continue to serve the people of his state by making them license plates." --Jay Leno

"I'm going to miss him, too. Another classy move from a classy guy. The man who stood tall even as his staffers dropped like laundered nickels from an Indian casino slot machine. ... He's doing it right folks -- going out at the top of his game in the middle of a criminal investigation." --Stephen Colbert, on Tom DeLay

"Indicted Congressman Tom DeLay announced that he will not run for re-election as House Majority Leader but that he will run for re-election to Congress. So apparently he thinks he's too corrupt to be a leader, but not too corrupt to be just an ordinary congressman." --Jay Leno

"The Republicans are in trouble. Bill First, the Senate leader, is under investigation, Karl Rove is about to be indicted, Tom DeLay was indicted twice in one week. You almost feel bad for how screwed this guy is, because usually when someone wants to beat this kind of a rap, the person they bribe is Tom DeLay." --Bill Maher

"We're learning more and more about Tom Delay. ... He was nicknamed, 'Hot Tub Tom,' got kicked out of Baylor for drinking and ... became a wild party animal who drank 10 martinis a night, or as they call it in Washington, a Kennedy." --Jay Leno

"Today a Texas grand jury indicted House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme. This is the most embarrassing thing to happen to the Republicans since yesterday." --Jay Leno

"Tom DeLay said he had a new priority in life -- outlawing prison rape." --Jay Leno

"Remember when Republicans, like Newt Gingrich and Bob Livingston, when they got in trouble it was for sex scandals? See Tom DeLay is in trouble for money. Or as Republicans would call it -- this is a return to traditional values." --Jay Leno

"Tom DeLay is in a little bit of trouble. He says he didn't know that lobbying groups were illegally funding the trips he took all over the world. Don't you love this? When ever these guys are running for office they always tell us how smart they are, how knowledgeable they are, how they know what's going on. As soon as they get caught doing something wrong 'I'm an idiot. I didn't know what was going on.'" —-Jay Leno

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Homecoming Queen a Real Drag, War on Drugs

Joe Scarborough

A prominent Muslim scholar in Saudi Arabia has warned that those using alcohol-based biofuels in their cars could be committing a sin. - Christian Science Monitor

" Your two languages seem to be bad English and redneck" -Stephen Fowler

Just to show you that some folks have a sense of humor and are not afraid of diversity, here is a story about George Mason University's newly elected homecoming queen. Somehow, it reminds me of my own experience of going out in New York with my girlfriend and her friends. It involved a lot of drinking, beginning at the Hotel Pierre, and ended up in the Village at a basement transvestite karaoke bar, where I met the famous Holly Woodlawn...

"George Mason University senior Ryan Allen dresses in drag and doesn't mind being called a queen - homecoming queen, to be exact. Allen, who is gay and performs in drag at nightclubs in the region, said he entered the homecoming contest as a joke, competing as Reann Ballslee, his drag queen persona.

"I was very touched by how Mason was so supportive through the whole process of allowing a boy in a dress to run for homecoming queen," Allen said in a phone interview. "It says a lot about the campus that not only do we have diversity but we celebrate it."

The senior from Virginia's Goochland County won the pageant Saturday at a sold-out Homecoming basketball game against Northeastern University. Large portions of the crowd cheered as Allen, wearing a gold-sequined top, accepted the tiara and the Ms. Mason 2009 sash."

This morning's Rocky Mountain News had an article on the rise of medical marijuana use in Colorado, and if there's, duh, any fraud being perpetrated by applicants. Of course, state officials were nervous when they realized that all 5,000 applicants were under the age of 32... so they are thinking of tightening the application process. I'd link to the article but whomever does the online edition provided a dead link, perhaps they were partaking of the pain medication and forgot what they were doing?

I'm a firm believer in the use of medical marijuana, especially for people dying of cancer who are in pain 24/7, and for old folks who are chronically depressed because they are very, very old. In each case, to be able to ease pain and suffering is a mercy.

The Christian Science Monitor reports on the latest state to decriminalize: "Massachusetts is not the first state to decriminalize marijuana possession – 12 others have done so. But it is the first since the 1970s to eliminate criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of the drug, even for repeat offenders.

"There were changes in this direction between 1973 and 1978, but then that movement just stopped, and stopped dead," says Peter Reuter, a professor of public policy at the University of Maryland and the former director of the Drug Policy Research Center at the RAND Corp. "It revitalizes a reform movement that had put laws like this on the back burner."

The law makes possession of an ounce or less of pot a civil offense punishable by a $100 fine (with minors required to attend a drug awareness program). At issue are the specifics. Some opponents, including many law enforcement officials, say the law is poorly written and nearly unenforceable. These complaints are accelerating efforts in towns and cities across the state to enact ordinances governing "public consumption," which the law's defenders fear might edge toward recriminalization."

The scary side to the US War on Drugs is that there has been so much violence lately in Mexico, that the state may become destabilized, devolving into a bunch of warlord fiefdoms similar to Somalia. We are going to have to dome serious rethinking and overhauling of our hypocritical attitudes because we are the world's number one consumer of illegal drugs and are indirectly responsible for much of the world's criminal activity.

"About 6,600 Mexicans were killed in fighting involving drug gangs last year, and alarms are going off in this country. The U.S. Joint Forces Command, former drug czar Barry R. McCaffrey, former CIA director Michael V. Hayden, former House speaker Newt Gingrich and any number of analysts have speculated that Mexico is crumbling under pressure from drug gangs."

From's joke archive, are some classic George Bush quotes. Read 'em and weep:

"One of the very difficult parts of the decision I made on the financial crisis was to use hardworking people's money to help prevent there to be a crisis." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009

"I'm telling you there's an enemy that would like to attack America, Americans, again. There just is. That's the reality of the world. And I wish him all the very best." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009

"In terms of the economy, look, I inherited a recession, I am ending on a recession." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Jan. 12, 2009

"I guess it's OK to call the secretary of education here 'buddy.' That means friend." --George W. Bush, Philadelphia, Jan. 8, 2009

"So I analyzed that and decided I didn't want to be the president during a depression greater than the Great Depression, or the beginning of a depression greater than the Great Depression." --George W. Bush, Washington D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

"People say, well, do you ever hear any other voices other than, like, a few people? Of course I do." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 18, 2008

"I've abandoned free market principles to save the free market system." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Dec. 16, 2008

"You know, I'm the President during this period of time, but I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived in President, during I arrived in President." --George W. Bush, ABC News interview, Dec. 1, 2008

"I've been in the Bible every day since I've been the president." --George W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2008

"He was a great father before politics, a great father during politics and a great father after politics." --George W. Bush, on his father, George H.W. Bush, Washington, D.C., Nov. 12, 2008

"Yesterday, you made note of my -- the lack of my talent when it came to dancing. But nevertheless, I want you to know I danced with joy. And no question Liberia has gone through very difficult times." --George W. Bush, speaking with the president of Liberia, Washington, D.C., Oct. 22, 2008

Friday, February 20, 2009

Jobs, Earmarks, and Arlen Spector

Paul Krugman
Eugene Robinson
Michael Kinsley

"Yesterday, President Obama signed the stimulus bill in Denver, Colorado. He picked Denver because our debt is now a mile high." --Jay Leno

The sad truth is that the economic stimulus package may not have much affect on unemployment figures. Many of the jobs that will be created will not be for permanent employment, and if you were laid off from a company that went out of business, it won't help that company start back up. Too many large companies and state and local governments are going to be laying off thousands more workers to meet budget shortfalls, so it will be getting worse over the next couple of years before it gets better, if at all...

And, as we have to cut back on law enforcement, expect to see a rampant rise in petty crimes along with a whole lot of depressed, embittered people who have to suddenly live on the edge. Domestic violence will rise too as the shame of not being able to provide for our families translates into anger and lashing out at the ones we love the most. I hope that every church steps up and begins running soup kitchens and donating food and clothing to down and out parishioners instead of whining if gays can touch each other...

The Associated Press reports that 100 lawmakers were involved with the lobbying business of PMA Group in securing earmarks for campaign contributions: "Former-Rep. Mark Udall, D-Eldorado Springs (and elected to the Senate last fall), and Reps. Ed Perlmutter, D-Golden, and Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, on the list of those who secured earmarks -- either individually or with others --and also received campaign contributions from the PMA group's political action committee or its employees."

As I explained a couple of days ago, this is business as usual and how earmarks work nowadays. Every single earmark goes through a lobbyist, who is paid an outrageous amount of money, who then gets the Congressman to vote for an earmarked program or to write it into some other bill, in exchange for a campaign contribution. Earmarks account for about $11 to $14 billion of the budget annually, so the lobbyists are making millions of dollars in profits, and the lawmakers didn't have to work very hard for those contributions.

This is a process that was started in the 1970's, and perfected by Republicans like Newt Gingrich, Tom Delay, and the lobbyist Jack Abramoff. It is still going strong today, and everything from grants for University research to bridges to nowhere goes through this process.. The reason we are beginning to hear about these scandals is because of the change in administration. The groups that are supposed to monitor are now being allowed to do their jobs, and I imagine that we will be hearing a lot more, and hopefully get and end to this dishonest practice. Or better yet, make them all donate their profts to help pay off the national debt...

The SEC, who had been accused of not being able to see its way out of a paper bag, has announced a new enforcement chief. Robert Khuzami has spent years in Manhattan prosecuting insider trading, ponzi schemes, and other financial crimes. He comes to the SEC from Deutsche Bank. Again, expect to see more news of crooks who have bilked people for their money for over the past eight years and got away with it because the Bush administration felt that looking the other way was supportive of business.

The Political Animal reported this interesting story about Arlen Spector and his support for the stimulus package: "Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), who broke with his party to support President Obama's stimulus package last week, said before the final vote Friday that more of his colleagues would have joined were they not afraid of the political consequences.

"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today," said Specter, "one of my colleagues said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' My Republican colleague said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' I said, 'Are you going to vote with me?' And he said, 'No, I might have a primary.' And I said, 'Well, you know very well I'm going to have a primary.'" [...]

"I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation," he said.

Asked how many Republican lawmakers we're talking about here, Specter said it's a "sizable number."

Ahh, I almost forgot, the late night jokes:

"As you may have heard, the state of California is broke. So you're looking at massive state layoffs now because the legislature hasn't been able to come up with a budget. The state is $42 billion in the hole. You know, I'm no financial expert, but if you have no money and no prospects of making money and you owe $42 billion, you're way beyond putting yourself on a budget, O.K.? I think you're looking at faking your own death at this point." --Jay Leno

"President Obama, today, outlined his plan to deal with the mortgage mess and the housing crisis. The good news -- he thinks he's found a solution. The bad news -- it involves arson." --Jay Leno

"And the idea of nationalizing banks is becoming more popular with some lawmakers and economists. They say they're leaning towards the Swedish model for banks. You know, I've got a better idea. How about opening banks with all Swedish models." --Jay Leno

"Well, here's the latest on the bailout. Democrats may have to bail Senator Roland Burris out of jail." --Jay Leno

"More bad news for Senator Burris. Now, the Chicago Sun-Times is calling for his resignation. Remember, he was appointed by Governor Blagojevich. Now he could be in trouble for perjury and for giving conflicting statements in his testimony about campaign contributions. See, that's the trouble with politicians. They think the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth are three different things." --Jay Leno

"In a new ranking of U.S. presidents by 65 historians, President Bush came in fifth from the bottom. And here's the bad part -- the margin of error was five." --Jay Leno

"In an interview with Fox News, Gov. Sarah Palin's daughter, 18-year-old Bristol Palin -- remember Bristol Palin, who had the baby? Well, she talked in the interview. She said, 'A year ago, I never would have thought I would become a mom or that my mom was going to be chosen to be a vice presidential candidate.' Oddly enough, both things happened because some guy failed to take the proper precautions." --Jay Leno

"Good news and bad news for Sarah Palin. The bad news is that the IRS says she owes thousands of dollars in back taxes. The good news is that she now qualifies to be in Obama’s Cabinet." --Craig Ferguson

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hip Hoppin Gangsta Rappin Repubs

George Will
E J Dionne
Dana Millbank

The West is politically reactionary and exploitive: admit it. The West as a whole is guilty of inexplicable crimes against the land: admit that, too. The West is rootless, culturally half-baked. So be it.” - Wallace Stegner

This flu makes my whole body hurt, the Denver Post reported that 5 children have died from it so far in Colorado. Thinking is a chore, so I'm curling up with my cat whether he like it or not, time to start paying me back for all of that tuna...

From the Political Animal: "That the Financial Times has a headline that reads "Greenspan Backs Bank Nationalization" is truly a sign that we live in strange, strange times."

Also: "Newly elected Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele plans an "off the hook" public relations offensive to attract younger voters, especially blacks and Hispanics, by applying the party's principles to "urban-suburban hip-hop settings."

The RNC's first black chairman will "surprise everyone" when updating the party's image using the Internet and advertisements on radio, on television and in print, he told The Washington Times.

Steele said the party needs "messengers" who can capture a "region" made up of "young, Hispanic, black, a cross section." He added, "We want to convey that the modern-day GOP looks like the conservative party that stands on principles. But we want to apply them to urban-surburban hip-hop settings.... [W]e need to uptick our image with everyone, including one-armed midgets."

Steele went on to explain his public-relations vision, saying, "It will be avant garde, technically. It will come to table with things that will surprise everyone -- off the hook."Asked if he imagines a cutting-edge approach, Steele replied, "I don't do 'cutting-edge.' That's what Democrats are doing. We're going beyond cutting-edge."

Raise your hand if you think Michael Steele has the foggiest idea what he's talking about

From the Washington Post: "I did not mean to kill the leader of the occupation forces," Muntadhar al-Zeidi said, speaking clearly and forcefully from a wooden cage before a packed courtroom. "I was expressing what's inside of me and what's inside the Iraqi people from north to south and from west to east."

Throwing his shoes, fastball style, at the leader of the free world was not, Zeidi argued, a crime.

Zeidi, 30, who is charged with assaulting a foreign head of state, posited that Bush's Dec. 14 trip to Baghdad was not an official visit by a foreign dignitary because he arrived to the country without prior notice and didn't leave the Green Zone, which at the time was still under American control.

"I am charged now with attacking the prime minister's guest," he said stoically, making his first public remarks since the incident. "We Arabs are famous for being generous with guests. But Bush and his soldiers have been here for six years. Guests should knock on the door. Those who come sneaking in are not guests."

Roughly an hour into the hearing, Presiding Judge Abdul Amir al-Rubaie announced that he would postpone the proceeding until March 12 to seek an opinion from the Iraqi government about whether Bush's swan song visit to Baghdad was, in fact, an "official" one.

Late night jokes:

"And, you know, you got to admit, President Obama gives great speeches. Like, today, instead of just saying, 'Oh, from North to South,' he said, 'From the windy plains of the Dakotas to the sunny skies of Arizona.' That sounds so much better than, 'From the sleaze ball criminal element of Wall Street to the broke-a@# beaches of California.'" --Jay Leno

"And there are a lot of new taxes coming. California state legislators want to solve our state's giant deficit by taxing marijuana. Meanwhile, Oregon wants to increase a tax on beer, while New York wants to tax Internet porn. You know what this means? By the end of spring break, this whole thing could be paid for." --Jay Leno

"Well, here's something I learned on the Discovery Channel. Researchers say that animals actually plan for the future. And I think it's true. For example, do you know that most animals sold all their stocks at the end of 2006?" --Jay Leno

"And one of the hardest hit businesses in this failing economy is plastic surgery. Fewer and fewer people are getting plastic surgery. How ironic is that? The one time you really need a smile on your face, you can't even afford to get it." --Jay Leno

"I tell you, the economy's in bad shape. It is in such bad shape that today, three stock brokers tried to kill themselves by eating peanuts." --Jay Leno

"And California? that's no day at the beach either. Oh, California, I tell you. Today, I saw Governor Schwarzenegger dyeing his hair with an orange Sharpie. 'You godda get da color back in dere.'" --Jay Leno

"And in Venezuela, a referendum passed that will allow Hugo Chavez to keep running for president indefinitely. So down there, it will be kind of like what Ralph Nader does here." --Jay Leno

"And police in Mexico found a pickup truck with side panels and bumpers that were made entirely of cocaine. Police got suspicious when the guy had a minor fender bender and claimed $2.5 million in damages." --Jay Leno

"A new study says that the bad economy can lower testosterone levels in men. Scientists say at this rate, by the end of the decade, Ann Coulter could be a woman!" --Craig Ferguson

"According to the 'Financial Times,' Barack Obama, they're saying, is moving towards Swedish models of banking. A president moving towards Swedish models? That hasn't happened since the Clinton Administration." --Craig Ferguson

"I'm very worried about the economy. Hopefully, our problems will be over soon. And I think they will be because today, President Obama finally signed the stimulus bill, which is supposed to create 3.5 million jobs. It'll fund new roads and new bridges. They've even put aside $8 billion for new trains. I smell Vice President Joe Biden. He loves trains." --Craig Ferguson

"President Obama today signed his trillion dollar economic stimulus bill into law. The spending package passed through Congress with almost no Republican support, but Obama says he's still focused on bringing real bipartisanship to government. He even went so far as to send every Republican in Congress today a jar of peanuts, which I thought was nice." --Jimmy Kimmel

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blatant Rip Off My Brain is Dead

Maureen Dowd
Kathleen Parker

Sorry, I'm sick today, got the flu... so, here are the jokes.

"Happy Presidents' Day, everybody. As you know, the banks were all closed today. I understand a few are expected to open tomorrow." --Jay Leno

"Presidents' Day, of course, the day we honor presidents Washington and Lincoln. And Saturday was, of course, Valentine's Day, the day we celebrate President Clinton." --Jay Leno

"Congress passed the biggest spending bill in US history: $787 billion. The newspapers said today not one politician in Washington has read the bill, to which President Bush said, 'See, nobody reads that stuff! Who says I have no legacy?'" --Jay Leno

"Hey, you see this? In a new ranking of US presidents by 65 historians, President Bush came in fifth from the bottom. Of course, Bush was thrilled. That's better than he did in high school." --Jay Leno

"After withdrawing his name for commerce secretary, Sen. Judd Gregg said he hoped he was just embarrassing himself and not President Obama, to which Joe Biden said, 'Don't worry about it. I do it all the time.'" --Jay Leno

"Well, more problems with the Democrats. Republicans are now calling for the new Illinois Sen. Roland Burris to resign after he apparently lied to investigators about talking to Rod Blagojevich's brother about campaign money. Rod Blagojevich has a brother? How bad is his hair? Geez!" --Jay Leno

"Last week, an American satellite collided with a Russian satellite over Siberia. And Sarah Palin said she could see the collision from her house." --Jay Leno

"Everybody has got Fashion Week fever in New York City, where they had a big 50th anniversary tribute to Barbie. Can you believe that Barbie has been around 50 years? During that time, they have had Preppie Barbie, Wedding Barbie, and Republican Running Mate Barbie." --David Letterman

"Here's something exciting. Hillary Clinton, our secretary of state, is on her first big round the world trip. She's visiting Asia, including a stop in China, where she is trying to do something about those leaky takeout food cartons." --David Letterman

"Yeah. Hillary is in Asia, Bill is in heaven." --David Letterman

"A new poll of historians just came out. And the poll has named former President George W. Bush one of the ten worst presidents of all time. But on the bright side, Bush was selected second best president named George Bush." --Conan O'Brien

"This is weird. Yesterday, one of President Obama's top advisors said that choosing cabinet members is not like picking 'American Idol.' Yeah, mainly because the 'American Idol' contestants have paid their taxes." --Conan O'Brien

"Marvel Comics has come out with a special edition comic book where Spider-Man and Captain America go back in time to watch Abraham Lincoln deliver the Gettysburg Address. It's true. Yeah, so this story finally answers the question, what would happen if Michael Phelps ran Marvel Comics?" --Conan O'Brien

"Today, of course, a very solemn day in America. We celebrate presidents past by getting a good deal on mattresses and big-screen TVs." --Craig Ferguson

Top Ten Things Hillary Clinton Wants To Accomplish On Her Trip Overseas 

10   Exchange U.S. dollars for currency that's worth something

9    Win respect defeating Japan's top-ranked sumo wrestler

8    Shift world's perception of America from "hated" to "extremely disliked"

7    Personally thank all of her illegal campaign donors

6    Three words: stylish Indonesian pantsuits

5    Visit burial site of revered Chinese military leader, General Tso

4    Get drunk with that Japanese finance minister guy

3    Convince China to switch from lead-tainted products to mercury-tainted products

2    Catch Chinese screening of Benjamin Button entitled "The Strange Adventures of Freaky             Grandpa Baby"

1    Pick up carton of duty-free smokes for Obama

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Baiting Socialistic Republicans, Spending Stimulating Earmarks

Eugene Robinson
Michael Kinsley

"You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point." - Michael Steele

Boy, we sure live in a silly world, and this world of politicians is especially weird and perverse. I want to do some stories on the Democrats, such as Nevada's Senator Harry Reid bringing home $1.5 billion in pork projects, or California's ex-Governor Grey Davis laughing his butt off at Arnold Schwartzenegger, but the really out there stories come from the right wing of the Republican Party.

During the Presidential campaign Republican strategists thought that labeling Barack Obama a Socialist would strike fear into the hearts of voters. It seemed to work on the Southern redneck contingent quite well, and became a regular talking point with radio talk show hosts. The verbal trick here is to say it with a sneer on your lips like you had just tasted raw crow...

The TARP and auto bailouts were also cast as socialism, forgetting that they were a Republican plan pushed through by Democrats in deference to George Bush and Henry Paulson. Now, we have Republicans, who have identified themselves with the terrorist group Taliban, actually promoting a socialistic idea, the nationalization of banks. Bloomberg News reports: "Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, who sits on the Senate Budget Committee, said he wouldn’t reject the idea of nationalizing U.S. banks.

“I’m very much afraid that any program to salvage the banks is going to require the government,” the South Carolina senator said today in an interview on ABC’s “This Week” program. “I would not take off the idea of the nationalizing the banks.”  
I guess its time to rethink the platform of limited government... and nationalizing a bank is actually a first step in getting its affairs in order to sell it off, as in bankruptcy...

I want to ignore John McCain whining on the news channels lately, and keep my thoughts of him when he gave that elegant concession speech. Too bad it's turned into bitterness.
One of the best ideas that John McCain tried to popularize was the need to stop the use of earmarks. It resounded better among the public than it did among his fellow Congressmen, who love earmarks because it is the smell of money to them yet the smell of rotting pork to the rest of us. Every project has money passed from the client through the hands of lobbyists to the politician, usually in the form of campaign contributions. 

During the last 20 years, Republicans sought to make the lobbying industry into a conservatives only playground, culminating in Grover Nordquist's K Street Project, which aimed to force businesses to behave as conservative loyalists. The recent Jack Abramoff scandal put an end to their dominance and showed how it has corrupted politicians, that is, if you think of bribery, drugs, and prostitution as something  corrupting. Then, its just business as usual...

Now that the Democrats are solidly in power, the lobbying industry is seeking to embrace change you can believe in: "Lobbyists heading into the Obama administration have captured plenty of attention lately, but the revolving door also is spinning the other way as the president’s former aides cross over to the dark side: K Street.

The latest news is that the political director for Barack Obama’s campaign, Matthew Nugen, is joining Ogilvy Government Relations as a “strategic adviser.” His announcement follows that of Bryan Cave’s hiring of Jeff Berman, who directed Obama’s national delegate operation, and former Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Tom Daschle’s ignominious return to the law and lobbying shop Alston & Bird.

To be sure, it’s a turn of the revolving door that’s slower and quieter than the movement from K Street to the new administration, where lobbyists are required to obtain waivers and sign ethics pledges before taking their jobs."

Late night jokes from last Thursday:

"Well, it's Thursday. You know what that means? Another Obama Cabinet member nominee has quit." --Jay Leno

"Michigan Congressman John Dingell has set the all-time record as the longest serving member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He's been there 19,421 days. That's the longest a member of Congress has ever been in one place well, if you don't count federal prison." --Jay Leno

"I tell you, the economy is in bad shape. In fact, airlines are now charging extra if you want peanuts without salmonella." --Jay Leno

"Happy birthday to Abraham Lincoln, who was born 200 years ago today. And to mark the occasion, former Vice President Dick Cheney, earlier today, went into a theater and shot a guy." --David Letterman

"Don't you have a feeling it's going to be a long time before we have a vice president who shoots a guy in the face? Just doesn't happen that often." --David Letterman

"John McCain's in the news. This week, Sen. John McCain sent out an e-mail to his supporters announcing that he’s running for re-election in 2010. Yeah. Isn't that incredible? John McCain knows how to use e-mail." --Conan O'Brien

"It's a great day for America, everybody, but a very tough day for the President. Another Obama Cabinet pick has withdrawn his name from contention. Obama 's nominees are dropping faster than babies out of that octuplet mother." --Craig Ferguson

"It's Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday, and to honor the occasion, the U.S. Mint is releasing a new penny that shows Lincoln's house. That's appropriate because that's about how much a house is worth these days." --Craig Ferguson

Monday, February 16, 2009

Key to Iraqi Peace May Be Through Iran

Paul Krugman
E J Dionne

First, you might want to send a Thank-You card to George Bush or the RNC for their economic policies of the last eight years. Their versions of tax cuts helped someone, but it turned out to not be me or you. Paul Krugman reports: "Last week the Federal Reserve released the results of the latest Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial report on the assets and liabilities of American households. The bottom line is that there has been basically no wealth creation at all since the turn of the millennium: the net worth of the average American household, adjusted for inflation, is lower now than it was in 2001."

On to our friends, the Iraqis. Election officials have revealed that during the recent provincial elections, only a little bit of fraud occurred. This is a positive thing, they are being more honest than American officials. From the NY Times: "Iraqi election officials said Sunday that some fraud was committed in virtually every province during local elections Jan. 31 but that it was not widespread enough in any of them to require a new vote. I guess we could always offer our officials from Florida and Ohio to show them how to rig it properly...

The bad and violent news is that the religious civil war is continuing unabated, with these recent reports: "A bomb attack on pilgrims in Iraq has killed at least six of them and wounded as many as fifty. The attack took place in the city of Karbala as Shia Muslims marked one of the most important dates in their religious calendar.

There have also been attacks in the northern city of Mosul, still regarded as a stronghold of al-Qaeda fighters. Four police were killed by a car bomb in the centre of Mosul, while a Sunni politician was shot dead by gunmen." 

"At least 32 pilgrims have been killed by a female suicide bomber south of Baghdad, Iraqi police say. Sixty-five people were also injured in the attack in Iskandiriya, 40km (25 miles) south of Baghdad. The blast targeted Shia pilgrims, many of whom have been travelling south to the city of Karbala to take part in an annual religious ceremony.

It is the third day of attacks on Shia pilgrims, with dozens killed in Baghdad and Mosul.
The Iskandiriya attack happened despite increased security along the route."

Soon, there may be talks between the US and Iran. This is a good thing, and was a totally 
blown opportunity by the Bush administration, who labelled them as part of the Axis of Evil after Iranian intelligence delivered so much false information on WMD's and Iraq through Ahmed Challabi. Played them for chumps...

There are many Iraqi ties to Iran, and any lasting peace in the region will have to come with the help of Iran, like it or not. Robert Dreyfuss points out that many of the Shiite exiles who were installed in government by the US invasion in 2003 had lived for decades in Iran, where they built friendships with the religious establishment. The ruling Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq and its Badr Brigade militia were created by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the council still receives much of its funding from Iran.

Iran also has strong ties to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who lived in Tehran for part of his exile years, and to Moqtada al-Sadr, the rebel cleric whose 60,000 strong Mahdi Army is a potential; force in Iraq's civil strife. "When you tell the Americans about this, they don't believe it..."

The Persians are paranoid of being surrounded by so many Arab nations, and want to be recognized as a major player in the region's politics. They also could have a calming effect on groups like Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as the various Talibans in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is a problem with drugs like opium now in Iran, where there wasn't much of one before. 

The fact that Iran has responded favorably to President Obama and now is open to talks as equals signals a change of mind by the ruling Mullahs. And with the changes that the Saudi King recently made, it seems that the pendulum of the whole region is swinging away from right wing extremism, just like in the USA.
Just as an aside, the largest group of Iranians living outside of Iran is in Los Angeles. It's often called Little Tehran...

Now for some old late night jokes on the war in Iraq:

"The Bush Administration said there will be a delay in restoring a newly elected democratic government in Iraq. However, they said the delay will not be as long as the one we have had in this country." —Jay Leno

"The Pentagon said this week that the war in Iraq has cost $20 billion so far. The breakdown is operations: $10 billion; personnel: $6 billion; getting Bush re-elected: priceless." —Bill Maher

"Today, President Bush announced he's been mispronouncing the name of Iraq all along. He said it's actually pronounced Syria." —Jay Leno

"Now there are reports from Baghdad that officials are taking bribes for favors, giving jobs to their relatives, taking money under the table from contractors. You know what this means? The war is less than a week old, and already they have an American-style democracy." —Jay Leno

"For the first time the people of Iraq are united. Today on CNN I saw a Kurd, a Shiite and a member of the Republican Guard coming together to cart off a big screen TV." —Jay Leno

"All over Baghdad, Iraqi looters have been breaking into banks and walking out with millions of dollars in Iraqi money. As a result, they now qualify for President Bush's tax cut." —Conan O'Brien

"The military said we'll be able to confirm Saddam is dead with DNA testing. Apparently we have a sample of his DNA. So Monica Lewinsky is working for the CIA?" —Jay Leno

"We have an important decision to make now about who controls Iraq. You know, that's a critical question, because it's who we're going to be fighting in five to ten years." —Jay Leno

"In Iraq, the U.S. military's whack-a-mole approach to killing Saddam Hussein may have finally paid off. ... The bombs destroyed the area and left behind a 60-foot crater, or as coalition forces prefer to call it: a freedom hole." —Jon Stewart

"War continues in Iraq. They're calling it Operation Iraqi Freedom. They were going to call it Operation Iraqi Liberation until they realized that spells 'OIL.'" —Jay Leno

"There was another war-related casualty today. The French were injured when they tried to jump on our bandwagon." —Jay Leno

"President Bush said the other day the war is not about timetables. It's about winning. Hey, it worked in Florida." —Jay Leno

"CNN said that after the war, there is a plan to divide Iraq into three parts ... regular, premium and unleaded." —Jay Leno