Monday, December 29, 2008

Uh-oh ... Something Is Wrong Somewhere!

My apologies for the lack of regular posts over the past week. For reasons clearly above my threshold of understanding, my high-speed internet connection has not been working and I have been relegated to dial-up. It is so painfully slow that it has been almost impossible to check my Google Alerts for newsworthy blog fodder, let alone maneuver through the actual posting process.

My computer-savvy son-in-law will get me back up to speed when he returns on Thursday from a holiday visit with his family in Canada. In the meantime, my best wishes for the New Year, for which there is indeed reason for hope and optimism. Haoli Makahiki Hou.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Sitting On Top Of The World

A tasty excerpt from a recent column by Garrison Keillor

We threw the dice and we won the jackpot and elected a black guy with a Harvard degree, the middle name Hussein and a sense of humor - he said, "I've got relatives who look like Bernie Mac, and I've got relatives who look like Margaret Thatcher."

The French junior minister for human rights said, "On this morning, we all want to be American so we can take a bite of this dream unfolding before our eyes."

When was the last time you heard someone from France say they wanted to be American and take a bite of something of ours? Ponder that for a moment.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Twenty-Seven Days ... and Counting!

A month ago, Bush & Co. gave $150 billion to AIG and many billions more to the Wall Street bankers with no strings attached.

Then last week they gave a measly $15 billion to be divided between Chrysler and General Motors, but only after a public beating up of their executives, squeezing still more concessions out of their workers, and demanding a full report on how they’re going to turn the entire industry around in 90 days.

And now – did you see yesterday’s Associated Press story? – the bankers won’t tell us what they did with the money!

Folks, the lunatics are running the freakin’ asylum!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

From the Mouths of Readers Oftimes Come Gems

One of my favorite web sites for items and discussions about government and politics is
Obviously, there has been a lot of discussion there recently about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. There was a funny, and probably incisive comment about the beleaguered governor posted there the other day from someone identifying himself as an Illinois native:

If someone told me, “Hear about Blogo? He dressed himself up as Elvis, highjacked an Air Yugo flight from O’Hare to Belgrade, and is now living under the protection of Serbia. And he’s formed an exploratory committee for 2016.”

I’d pause for a minute and say, “Yeah, that sounds right.”

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Forgiveness: The Difference Between Left and Right?

The announcement that Rick Warren, the conservative evangelical pastor at the Saddleback Church in California, will deliver the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration has prompted howls of anguish and outrage from liberals and gays.

My first thought was, why are these folks surprised? For over a year during the campaign, Obama repeatedly said he would work for a less-divided, more inclusive country. What a freakin’ nerve! He’s doing what he said he would do!

The uproar also serves to illustrate a basic difference between folks on the right and those on the left.

If a Republican candidate turns out to be a dud (Dubya) or an embarrassment (Palin), most conservatives will grind their teeth, clench their jaws, and vote for them anyway.

But if a liberal even thinks that you might be straying from the left's ideological line, he’ll scream bloody murder and throw you out of the boat.

Sheesh! No wonder we Democrats have so damn much trouble winning elections!


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Truman or Obama ...Some Things Just Never Change

To say that my paternal grandparents were rock-ribbed Republicans would be an understatement.

In June of 1950, I was sitting in the parlour of their house – yes, that’s what they called it – watching a Red Sox game on what was then their primitive television set. Suddenly, the game was interrupted and a man appeared on the screen. He said the North Koreans had invaded South Korea and that President Harry Truman was about to address the nation in this hour of crisis.

My grandmother was in the next room – the "sitting room" and, yes, that’s what they called it – reading one of her paperback detective novels. I called to her to come into the parlour and watch the president on TV.

“There is nothing that damn Democrat has to say that interests me,” she snapped.

I thought about my grandmother this morning when I opened the CNN web site and saw that TIME magazine has named Barack Obama “Person of the Year.” Then I noticed the CNN poll, which asked the question …

Do you agree with Time's choice of Barack Obama as Person of the Year?

Well, of course! I mean, who else??

Then I checked the results. Of the 100,000 people voting, 30% don’t agree.

I’m quite sure Grandma Loomis wouldn’t either.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

An Astute Observation On the Past Eight Years

"When the government is run by a political party committed to the belief that government is always the problem, never the solution, that belief tends to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Key priorities are neglected; key functions are privatized; and key people, the competent public servants who make government work, either leave or are driven out.”

Paul Krugman
New York Times
Sept. 1, 2008


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Items From the What-the-Hell-Are-They-Thinking Department

The obsessive die-hards who insist that Barack Obama is not legally entitled to be president and his Hawaii birth certificate is a fake had a set-back the other day when the United States Supreme Court refused to hear their case.

The birth certificate is genuine, of course, but the issue may not yet be resolved. According to Honolulu Advertiser columnist Dave Shapiro, “the conspiracists who brought the suit say they’ll appeal to the high tribunal on their home planet.”

Most Hawaii citizens are down on our Republican governor, Linda Lingle. She stepped into deep kukae (that’s Hawaiian for doo-doo) by declining to attend the National Governors Conference two weeks ago where most of the other govs met with Obama to ask for federal help with their states’ budget shortfalls.
Hawaii has a budget crisis, too, but Lingle has already taken bold steps to address it. For instance, she’s not giving State employees the traditional half-day off on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, a gesture that will please Republican ideologues, piss off 53,000 public employees, and not to a damn thing to fix the problem. Senators Shelby and McConnell (see previous post) were doubtless her inspiration.

Friday, December 12, 2008

About Bail-Outs and Loans and Speaking With Forked Tongues

I don’t know if helping the auto industry is the right thing to do or not. It does appear, however, that the government loan may not go through and, unless Bush acts with money already approved, many thousands of autoworkers will likely be losing their jobs.

Several things about this mess bother me.

GM and Chrysler were asking for a loan of 14 billion dollars, while the Bush Administration gave $150 billion to AIG. That’s ten times what the car companies asked for!

Opposition to the automakers loan comes from Republicans in the Senate. The most vocal of these are Senators Richard Shelby of Alabama (top) and Mitch McConnell of Kentucky (bottom). Note, please, that both of their states are home to huge auto plants run by foreign automakers like Toyota and Volkswagen. To attract those companies, Alabama and Kentucky offered big tax incentives because of the jobs they would provide.

And that begs the question: Why is it OK to give up tax dollars through incentives to create jobs in Alabama and Kentucky, but not OK to use tax dollars for loans that will save jobs in Michigan and Ohio and Indiana and Illinois?

Could it be because the southern autoworkers are not unionized, while those working for GM and Chrysler are members of the United Auto Workers? Well now… there’s a thought!

With unmitigated gall (because they know it to be untrue), Senate Republicans continue to lay much of the blame for the financial problems of GM and Chrysler on the wages being paid to the union workers. In fact, when you combine wages and bonuses, the non-union workers in the South are making slightly more that the union folks working for GM and Chrysler.

It would appear that Shelby, McConnell et al have seen an opportunity to damage or even break the United Auto Workers, and are willing to let many thousands of union families pay the price to do it.
Merry Christmas, y’all.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Some Smart People Need a Little Help To Stop Being DUMB!

Hello, my name is John Thain.
I’m chairman of Merrill Lynch.
We lost $11 billion this year.
It could have been a lot more,
but I’m awfully smart.
So I want a $10 million bonus to thank me for doing such a good job.
Oh, wait! I'm hearing cries of outrage
from very important people.
Suddenly I feel your pain.
I guess I won’t take any bonus this year.
(But don't worry ... you can really thank me next year.)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wow! The Illinois Governor Gets Really, Really Busted!

When was the last time a law enforcement official marched up to a governor’s mansion at 6:30 in the morning, knocked on the door and said “You are under arrest”? That’s what U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald did this morning to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on charges, among many others, of trying to peddle the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

Several things about this astonishing bust deserve mention.

Of course, the accusations are shocking, but I have also been dismayed by the number of Republicans – pundits, bloggers and emailers – who are saying that this means Obama, too, is corrupt. And, far worse, there are people so blindly partisan that they are openly hoping that is the case.

As a matter of fact, there is indeed an Obama connection. According to political insiders from Chicago, Blagojevich approached Valerie Jarrett, one of Obama’s closest advisers, offering the appointment to her in return for a sizable payment. The word is, she immediately went to Obama’s chief-of-staff, Rahm Emanuel, and they blew the whistle on Blagojevich. Presumably, this will eventually come out in the trial. (The Obama haters will be so disappointed!)

Also worth mentioning: the U.S. attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, is the very same guy who prosecuted and nailed Dick Chaney’s right-hand man, Scooter Libby. When that happened, Fitzgerald was shrilly attacked as an over-zealous and out-of-control prosecutor. (Shhhhhh. Listen ... Hear any of that talk now?)

There’s a really interesting twist to this whole sordid business: What comes next? How is Illinois going to get a new U.S. senator? Legally, only Blagojevich can make the appointment. And who in their right mind would accept that appointment?

Finally, take a look at the extensive allegations against Blagojevich. They are so egregious, so brazen, so just-plain-dumb that you have to wonder if this guy has both oars in the water. Let’s hope the prison psychiatrists can figure it all out … over the next 20 or 30 years.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Doing What He Promised Causing Obama Problems

I was watching one of the cable news shows earlier today and the subject was how some liberals are upset with Barack Obama because of the people he’s named to his new cabinet.

Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State?

Retired Marine General James Jones as National Security Advisor?

And keeping Bush’s Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, for God’s sake??

Dammit, Barack, when are we going to see some fire-breathing lefties? We better start seeing some of the change you promised us!

Have I got this right? These folks are ready to abandon ship because Obama is doing what he said he would do through the entire campaign – try to end divisive ideological politics and work for consensus?

Hey, if that isn’t a change, what the hell is??

Friday, December 5, 2008

They're Serious: Palin for President

In a CNN poll released today, 32 percent of Republican voters think Sarah Palin should be the party’s nominee for president in 2012.

OK, seriously now … what the hell are you people thinking?

Here’s what the candidate you prefer had to say about nuclear (not newk-yoo-lur) war:

“Nuclear weaponry, of course, would be the be-all, end-all of just too many people in too many parts of our planet, so those dangerous regimes, again, cannot be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons, period.”

And here she is on the subject of Africa:

“My concern has been the atrocities there in Darfur and the relevance to me with that issue as we spoke about Africa and some of the countries there that were kind of the people succumbing to the dictators and the corruption of some collapsed governments on the continent, the relevance was Alaska’s investment in Darfur with some of our permanent fund dollars.”

During the campaign, she extolled the virtues of John McCain, describing him as “… somebody very, very committed to policies that I believe will progress this country in the right direction.”

Honest to God, if I have to listen to more of that semi-coherent babbling over the next four years, I will progress myself right into the loony bin, screaming all the way.

As a Democrat, I should be rejoicing at the mere thought of Palin-for-President. But I can’t. I am dumbfounded that so many of my fellow citizens could seriously present this arrogant, ignorant, calculating, shallow, inarticulate, immature, incurious, uninformed, hypocritical and disingenuous person as the best your party has to offer our country.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Iraq: Getting In and Getting Out.

Revisionist history. Did you see the clips of the Bush interview when he declined to speculate if he still would have invaded Iraq had the intelligence reports said there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction there? Or the clip of Karl Rove saying Bush would not have invaded if only that pesky intelligence had been accurate?

One small problem: While some intelligence said Iraq had WMDs, there was also plenty saying there weren't any there. But those reports were filtered out by Dick Chaney and George “Slam Dunk” Tenet, later the recipient of a Medal of Freedom. (He looks a bit embarassed, doesn't he?)

And something to remember us by. A new agreement signed by both the U.S. and Iraqi governments, sets a deadline for getting our troops out of there … out of Iraqi cities and towns by the end of next June and out of the country completely by the end of 2011. I guess, by that time, the only thing left in Iraq will be the embassy we’re building which, last I heard, is going to cost us nearly a billion dollars. Oh, well ... easy come, easy go.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Today’s Employees Have No Idea …

Have you visited a typical office lately? Things are pretty informal, with employees dressing casually, and many working flexible hours or even from home. Smart employers not only pay well and provide lots of benefits, they also look for ways to make the work experience fun. If you don’t, you lose good employees. (We used to have afternoon pingpong tournaments on the conference room table.)

One of my very first jobs right out of college was working for the Hartford Fire Insurance Company in Hartford, Connecticut.

Companies like that had informal but rigid protocols that governed the careers of young men working for them. (I say “men” because, with very rare exceptions, careers open to women employees in those days were as stenographers and typists and secretaries. Period.)

Sure, an ambitious guy had to work hard, but it was much more important to kiss up to your bosses and observe all the rules, many of which were unwritten.

For instance, the higher you went on the corporate ladder, the more conservative you were expected to dress. Young male executives wore dark suits, white shirts, subdued ties (no bold patterns or bright colors), and black or dark brown shoes. Long hair or beards? Never!

One guy I knew played by the rules in every way but one: He wore bright red socks to work almost every day. I finally asked him about it. “I’m waiting to see,” he said, “if anyone will actually be chicken shit enough to complain about the color of my socks.”

No one ever did. But they fired him anyway.

That was in 1962. That was also when I moved to Hawaii. And I haven’t owned a suit in almost 30 years.