Thursday, December 30, 2004

Jerry Orbach

So sad to hear about Jerry Orbach's death. Loved Lennie Briscoe, but also loved the man's Broadway career (and I'm not a Broadway fan, but that's another post). I can hear him singing this (from "The Fantasticks"):

Deep in December it's nice to remember
altho you know the snow will follow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
without the hurt the heart is hollow.
Deep in December it's nice to remember
the fire of September that made us mellow.
Deep in December our hearts should remember
and follow.

US Aid Pales in Comparison to Other Countries

I wasn't going to post again this year, because I wanted to leave my last post as the one about buying blue in 2005. But this is just so frustrating, I have to write about it.

President Dimwit, clearing brush in Crawford (how much goddamn brush is there on that ranch?), took 4 days to make a statement on the tsunami tragedy, and that only after international criticism. The US is pledging $15 million, with another $20 million in loans. Our dipshit press keeps reporting it as $35 million, but that's not exactly true. And we are sending some military ships with supplies, etc.

But look at what other countries are pledging (these are just dollar figures; most countries are also sending food and other supplies):

Spain $68 million
Japan $30 million
Britain $28.9 million
Germany $27 million
France $20.5 million
Australia $19.5 million
Denmark $15.5 million

The population of Australia is 20 million people. The population of the US is 294 million. The US contribution is about 9 cents per person. The Australian contribution is about $1.35 per person.

Here's a good post from Juan Cole about how Bush could've garnered some major support in the Islamic world with a more magnanimous response to the tsunami tragedy. And another about what an idiot Bush is (like you needed to be told).

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Buy Blue

Make a resolution to buy blue in 2005!

Support companies who support progressive politics. Here's another place to find them.

Buy Blue's list of where companies are spending their PAC money is temporarily down right now for fine tuning. Choose the Blue notes that Amazon, Yahoo, most retail stores (Kmart, Walmart,Target, JC Penney, Saks, Sears give most of their PAC money (like upwards of 70%) to Republicans. Not good. I was really surprised by Amazon -- I thought Jeff Bezos was cooler than that. Note that Google gives all of its PAC money to Democrats.

Read this article for more on the buy blue campaign. You'll find out that Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Fruit of the Loom, Coors, Marriot, Holiday Inn, American and Continental airlines, Home Depot, and Circuit City give all or almost all of their PAC money to Republicans. Companies supporting Democrats include Costco, Hyatt Hotels, NetFlix, JetBlue, Bed Bath & Beyond, Starbucks, and Barnes & Noble.

Not all companies have PACs, so you won't find them all. But look before you spend and buy blue! Personally, I have a Sam's Club membership, but will switch to Costco as a result of having this knowledge.

Soc Sec Wins Investment Game

Interesting story -- this guy took all the payroll taxes he paid into Social Security, tracked down the return the Social Security Trust Fund earned for 45 years, and then compared the result with what he would have gotten had he been able to invest the same amount of money over the same period in the Dow Jones Industrial Average (including dividends).

Guess what? The Social Security investment won out: $261,372 versus $255,499, a difference of $5,873.

Also, keep in mind that "under Britain's privatized pension system, so many retirees are doing so poorly at this moment that a commission warned this fall that widespread poverty among the elderly may be returning, which could require massive new government spending." This is also true in Chile.

And remember, its not really privitization anyway -- its destruction.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Canadian Newsmaker of the Year

Time Canada's Newsmaker of the Year is Maher Arar. Don't know who he is? In 2002, US officials detained Arar at JFK, alledging that he was involved with al-Qaeda (he is, by all reports, a mild mannered, hard-working engineer and naturalized Canadian citizen). Arar was secretly deported to Syria, where he was held without charge and tortured for more than a year. He's been fighting the system that did this to him since his release. Interesting choice, especially as it relates to Time in the US picking C Plus Augustus as its Man of the Year.

Another Recommendation

In addition to this, I love this CD. It is hysterical, and touching, and good music, and all that. Lately, all I have been listening to (besides my friend Jerry's great Christmas collections that he puts out every year -- sorry, not available for purchase) are these two CDs and this one.

Bush Wired? Or Wearing Medical Device?

Interesting contention here that the mysterious bumps in Bush's clothes are a medical device -- a defibrillator. Says its all linked to family history of various illnesses and goes back to when Bush choked on the pretzel, or so the official story went. That episode may have actually been a mini-stroke, which might explain the deterioration of Bush's speech (long-time observers claim he didn't have these problems when governor of Texas). I'm not big on conspiracies (I just don't think people can keep secrets) but I do think something is wrong with Bush that is being kept quiet. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time (FDR, anyone?).

A Book We Should Read?

Don't know, haven't read it -- but it sounds interesting.

When America Was Great: The Fighting Faith of Postwar Liberalism

Add it to the list:

What's the Matter with Kansas?

Don't Think of an Elephant

Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich - and Cheat Everybody Else

Scalia and Fascism

Interesting perspective by the uber-observer of Republican fascism, David Neiwart, on how Scalia's fascism is becoming more and more public.

Priorities, Priorities

US aid (so far) to help victims of tsunami disaster: $15 million

Cost of Bush's inauguration: $30 to 40 million, not including security

(source: Atrios)

Respect of the international community: priceless

Friday, December 17, 2004

Yes, You Youngin's Will Get Social Security

I hear people under 40 say this all the time: "I know Social Security won't be there for me when I retire."


This is the result of 20 or 30 years of Republican meme planting.

Read this -- Kevin explains that there is no Social Security crisis, even for the youngest workers.


I laughed out loud when I read this on advises the soon-to-depart to stick a note on the fridge to brief those left behind—husbands, wives and in-laws—about the horrors in store for them.


Here's a thought I can't get out of my head today:

When did lying become a moral value?

Because if Bush was elected because of his resonance with voters on moral values (which is in itself a bold-faced lie) and Bush is to his core a liar, then lying must have somehow become a moral value.

Just a thought.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

No Crisis

Remember -- there is no Social Security crisis. Bush does not want to reform it -- he wants to destroy it. Consider this from the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

"For these reasons, it would be better to rely on the actual numbers than accept president bush’s claims about social security. the official numbers tell a very different story. The social security trustees report shows that the program can pay all scheduled benefits through the year 2042, with no changes whatsoever. even after 2042, the program would always be able to pay a higher benefit (in today’s dollars) than what retirees currently receive, although less than the full scheduled benefit.

The non-partisan congressional budget office did an independent investigation of social security’s finances and came up with an even brighter picture. They found that it could pay all benefits through the year 2052 with no changes whatsoever. furthermore, according to both sets of projections, the changes required to keep the program solvent through its entire seventy-five year planning period are smaller than the changes made in any of the decades from the 1950s to the 1980s.

If people knew the truth about social security’s finances, then there would be no support for President Bush’s benefit cuts and privatization plan – that is why proponents of privatization have worked hard to spread fear about social security’s financial health."

I'm Back

Sorry for the dearth of posts. I was on vacation last week (although working at my second job full time) and didn't post. Plus I had a hair coloring crisis last week that really upset me; its amazing how some salons seem to think that its OK to do what they want to your hair, rather than what you ask for. Then, this week, while I am back at work, I am busy looking for another job (anticipating that mine will go away after the first of the year due to a merger), figuring out what is happening to my son (the jailed one, remember?) and trying to keep my daughter from the meltdowns and other crises that affect middle schoolers.

Plus, I haven't had much I felt like posting about. The Kerik hoo-hah is hysterical -- you know by now that there is no nanny. That's a totally made up story to keep the media off track from the real story of his mistresses, love nests, mafia connections and other unsavory crap. Bush's policies continue to sicken me. Speaking of made-up, the supposed crisis of Social Security is just that -- supposed. Keep in mind that Bush doesn't want to reform Social Security -- he wants to destroy it.

About the only thing I'm reallly excited about is the extended edition of Return of the King. This is the first year in 3 that I will not have a Lord of the Rings movie to see multiple times in the theatre. So this DVD set will have to do. I watched some of the special features over the last two nights -- these are the best special features ever and are really worth watching. The stunt team's haka tribute to Viggo Mortensen on his last day of principal filming was amazing. I hope to have time on Saturday to watch the actual movie with the new footage. I usually don't get all that excited about extended editions, preferring the pacing of the theatrical versions. But with this one it was clear the editing was rushed and there are so many important scenes missing from the theatrical version. I will even sit through yet another mocking of the Gimli character to see scenes I want to see, such as Aragorn using the palantir, Faramir and Eowyn's courtship and the Mouth of Sauron.

I don't know how often I will be posting overthe next couple of weeks, but I am back.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

More Embarrassment

Thank goodness for Henry Waxman. At least he's a grown-up. He seems very committed to exposing what morons the current administration really are. His latest is looking at the absolute failure of teen abstinence programs. The lies and prejudice in the materials used in this program are absolutely unbelievable.

Here's some more of his good stuff -- he must have a great staff:

Iraq on the Record, a collection of 237 specific misleading statements about the "threat" posed by Iraq made by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice.

Bush administration's War on Science

Bush administration's penchant for secrecy


It is so embarrassing when President C Plus Augustus goes to another country and makes a dumb-ass frat boy joke.

(from the WaPo): The president said "the reception we received on the way in from the airport was very warm and hospitable, and I want to thank the Canadian people who came out to wave -- with all five fingers -- for the hospitality."

Where are the grown-ups?

Highly Recommended

I love this CD -- "Call It What You Like," by Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu. Obviously, its Hawaiian music. If you like chant or indigeneous music, you will love this. He has such a great voice and nearly every song is a joy to listen to. And what you may think of as Hawaiian music is not at all what this is.

I was flipping channels one night and stumbled on a documentary on PBS called "American Aloha." Its about 3 hula masters who live on the mainland (more Hawaiians live on the mainland than in Hawaii). I only saw the part on Ho'omalu and thought he was just great, so I went on a quest for his CD. After reading more on the doc, I found out that he is part of a "back to our roots" movement in hula which rejects the commercialized ukelele strumming hula most of us know. I did not know until later that Ho'omalu also did two songs for Disney's "Lilo and Stitch," a film I saw and own and like -- I guess I just didn't pay attention to the music.

Anyway, my quest for the CD. I work at a bookstore that sells CDs and is in fact the number one seller of Hawaiian music in the country (not my store, the chain). The one CD we had in our store had been purchased in late October, so I attempted to order it and was told by one of the managers that it could not be ordered. So I ordered it from Amazon and paid $16.99. Yesterday, I found the CD in my store, obviously the replacement for the one sold in October. Our price is $15.99 and I would've been able to use my very generous employee discount to buy it! Man, was I unhappy to find that CD!

But it is really great music -- I listen to it all the time. Give it a try.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I Agree

"There is, in fact, nothing about religious opinions that entitles them to any more respect than other opinions get."
-- H.L. Mencken in 1929

Election Irregularities

A good read on election irregularities of the U.S. variety.

Pretty Outrageous

CBS and NBC have refused to run an ad by the United Church of Christ that promotes the church's acceptance of gays.

The reason -- and this is the kicker -- according to CBS is "Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

So because the president has indicated he might propose an amendment banning gay marriage, CBS doesn't want to ruffle his feathers by airing an ad saying the UCC welcomes gays.

Josh has lots more.

I Can't Believe I Did This

I sweated for 3 weeks about whether or not I should apply for a job out of town. I finally decided to do so. I wrote the cover letter, compiled the references, tweaked the resume and emailed it this morning. Just now, I saw a typo in the first line of the cover letter. I am taking this as a psychological slip that indicates that I really do not want to leave the town I live in. Oy.