Archive for December, 2010

Random Thoughts To End The Year

Posted: December 28, 2010 in Miscellaneous, Politics
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Random image that has nothing to do with anything.

  • Does anyone else believe that had Congress been as successful getting things done in the previous two years as they were in the “lame-duck” session that the Democrats would not have suffered the losses they did in November?
  • It’s pretty clear that there are Republicans that only care about tax cuts for the rich and corporations.  Republicans refused to do anything until the tax cuts were extended for the richest Americans.  Then all of a sudden enough of them became cooperative to get some stuff passed.  The 9/11 first responders bill was dead in the water until it was decided that instead of paying for it by closing corporate tax loopholes, foreign company fees would be used instead.  Then suddenly it became acceptable.  For all the principles that Republicans often talk about, protecting influential people and entities from taxes is priority one.  And two and three.
  • I’m not sure that the Obama and the Democrats shouldn’t have scuttled health care reform.  I fear that what has been passed is flawed, and that Republicans have been so successful characterizing the reform as socialism that no politician is going to want to touch health care reform again for quite a while.  It may have been better to have set aside health care reform, maybe go ahead and get the tax bill done, and then worked on other items with the hope that success could lead to greater majorities and the opportunity to pass the right health care reform bill down the line.
  • Many young people get their news from Jon Stewart.  With his 9/11 first responders episode, he showed why.  Sarah Palin may actually be right with her nickname “lamestream media”.  She is probably wrong about the reason.
  • I wish we could get snow every Christmas.  Much of the south actually saw snow on Christmas day, and it just seemed right.
  • Christmas Vacation is better than A Christmas Story.  Yeah, I said it!
  • If the straw on your water bottle literally freezes as you run, perhaps it is too cold to run outside.  Sweat that freezes instead of evaporates is probably another good sign that it’s too cold.
  • College football needs to figure out a way to get its championship game played without having to wait more than a month after the finish of the regular season.
  • Heck, for that matter, I would like to see the January 1st bowl bonanza return.  It’s not really that the number of games on New Year’s Day has changed that much (there are six versus maybe eight in yesteryear).  But back in the day, those bowl games would make up about half of the total, which meant they were all really good bowl games.  Now we have something called the Ticketcity Bowl, a bowl played in the Cotton Bowl that’s not the Cotton Bowl.  What the heck is that about?  But I guess that’s the kind of thing you get when you have 35 bowl games.
  • There are some real losers in this world.
  • Fortunately, I am confident that good, decent people vastly outnumber the losers.
  • It’s hard to figure out a way to end a random thought post.
  • Um…Happy New Year!

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Senator Jon Kyl (R - AZ)

Filibusting a bill that will provide 9/11 first responders with medical monitoring and treatment for all that crap they breathed in that day and the days and weeks that followed?  Don’t we as a nation owe that to them?  That certainly was not a normal ‘all in the line of duty’ type of event.  But Republicans can’t even allow this to come up for a vote?  Really?  Why?

OK, the bill has been budgeted for $7 billion.  That’s a lot of money, no doubt.  But to put it perspective, that amount of money would make up about 0.2% of the total national budget.  In comparison, what was the cost of the bill to extend the Bush-era tax cuts?  The tax cuts that had to be extended for everyone, including millionaires and billionaires, or else they would suffer or something?  The one that had to be done now, before ANYTHING else?  Estimated to be $858 billion.

Still, $7 billion is not insignificant.  So I can see the Republicans point, we shouldn’t pass such a bill if it’s not going to be paid for.  Oh wait?  It IS paid for.  The bill would also close a corporate tax loophole that allows companies to avoid taxation by funneling profits through foreign subsidies.  Frankly this is something that should be done anyway, but funding the health care for the heroes of 9/11 is a pretty darn good reason.  How could there be any real opposition to this bill?  These are the kind of bills that you would expect to get 80 votes in the Senate, you know, like the bill that extended the tax cuts for the millionaires.

Ah, but that is the rub, isn’t it?  When there is trouble for millionaires, big corporations, or whatever influential entities, Congress can get stuff done!  Need a bailout?  Done.  Want to keep your tax rates low?  Sure, we can work something out.  But when it comes to helping out Joe the firefighter?  No, we have to take a principled stand against government waste and fraud!  Especially if it means that corporations may actually have to….gasp….pay the money they owe in taxes just like the rest of us.  Forget that!  Joe sure didn’t give us as much money as Goldman Sachs!  What did Joe ever do? (besides breathing in toxic crap to help out those in need after this nation was attacked…pfft, big deal)

Speaking of getting stuff done and not getting done, I see that the media is finally catching up on this issue.  Why did it take a fake news program on Comedy Central to wake up the media?  A comedienne (Jon Stewart) shouldn’t have to take the lead on this!  Hey, media, come here, I have a secret for you.  Come closer.  A little closer.  Almost there..just a bit more.  OK, here’s the secret:   I DON’T CARE WHAT WAS IN MILEY CYRUS’S BONG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Our media is pretty useless.

Anyway, Republicans, you got to keep the tax cut.  Can you drop the filibuster now?  Nobody is even asking you to support this measure if you don’t want to.  Vote no.  But let’s have the vote.  Isn’t that what we do in democracies?

12/19 UPDATE:  Just to give credit where credit is due, eight Republicans joined the Democrats to repeal DADT yesterday.  Good for them.  It remains to be see how long it will take the others to feel ashamed about being on the wrong side of history, if they ever do.  I am kind of miffed that defense secretary Robert Gates says that they would “begin planning” the necessary actions to carry out the change in policy.  Isn’t preparedness suppose to be the military’s thing?  Are you telling me they didn’t see this coming, if not now, eventually?  I think even most opponents of repealing DADT knew this day would come.  So you would think there would already be a plan.  But whatever, as long as the new policy gets implemented, it will be a good thing.

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You about ready to do some kissing?

Wondering what to get for that person that already has everything they want (at least, everything that is within your price range)?  Annoyed that you have to get a gift for your boss, the boss that makes much more money than you do?  Frustrated that you are stuck in a store playing Nostradamus trying to figure what you can buy that the person you are giving the gift to will at least not hate so much that they take it back to the store?  And better yet, stuck in a store with hundreds of other people trying to figure out that exact same thing?  Could there be a better way?  No, kidnapping your loved one’s boss and putting a bow on him/her is not a better way! (Though it may be very appreciated!)

How about making a donation to charity on the behalf of this someone you care for (or in the case of the boss, someone you are forced into buying a gift for)?  The saying goes that it is better to give than to receive.  But the last time I checked, a gift can’t be given without someone receiving a gift.  Why not make sure that beneficiary is someone who truly needs it, while still showing that special someone (or boss) that you care?  I am sure that person would really appreciate it (I dare that boss to say that giving to charity is a bad gift!).

Fortunately, there are many charities that make this sort of gift easy.  Here are just a few:

  • Toys For Tots
  • The Make-a-Wish Foundation
  • My Two Front Teeth – really cool concept, you literally pick a specific underprivileged child to sponsor and buy them a specific Christmas gift off of their wish list (and you can do it on the behalf of someone else)
  • Heifer International – you pick an item to give to a hungry family, such as a flock of chicks or goats, with the idea that the family can learn to raise the livestock for both food and income and eventually pass off the offspring and training to others in need.
  • UNICEF

Of course there are many others, probably including the favorite charity of yours or the person you are sending the gift to.  Wouldn’t it be nice to celebrate Christmas in such a way that is truer to what the spirit of Christmas is supposed to be and not the huge commercialized marketing event that it has become?

This idea is not original, especially in the sense that I’m the first one to have come up with it.  Truth be told, it never even occurred to me until my friend Lael mentioned it during a discussion a we were having a year or two ago about Christmas gifts  and how sometimes those go wrong.  But I am not above stealing a good idea from others, and this is a good idea.  For such a good idea, I don’t think it is being done often enough.

If you have already done your Christmas shopping this season, no worries!  There will be other Christmases, other occasions, other opportunities.   And there will probably (unfortunately) always be people in need.  But if we would do more things like this, maybe we can start making more of a dent!

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Wow, it sounds like we had our own version of Ocean’s Eleven right here in Birmingham (well in its own Birmingham type of way)! This actually occurred very close to where I live.

From the Birmingham News website:  Six People From Six States Charged After Group Robbery Of Birmingham Service Station

Six people from six different states are charged with robbery after a holdup at a south Birmingham service station.

A group went into the Chevron on John Carroll Drive just before noon on Friday. They began plucking items from the shelves, and stuffing them into their pockets, police said.

When the owner saw what was happening, he tried to stop them, said Birmingham police spokesman Sgt. Johnny Williams Jr. The owner confronted a man as he was trying leave the store.

The man shoved the owner to the floor, and a brawl erupted. All of the other robbers began to hit and kick the owner, Williams said.

A store customer followed the group, and summoned police to a nearby hotel. He was able to tell them the group’s location.

Those arrested and charged with first degree robbery are Broderick Johnson, 21, Mobile; Thurmon Polk, 20, Detroit; Michigan; Velvet Farmer, 18, Cleveland, Ohio; Howard Washington, 27, Los Angeles; Makesonji Dieudonne, 20, New Rochelle, N.Y.; and Keenan Jefferson, 33, Chicago, Illinois.

Let’s compare and contrast:

Location:

  • Ocean’s Eleven: Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Farmer’s Six: Birmingham, Alabama

City’s Nickname

  • Ocean’s Eleven: Sin City
  • Farmer’s Six: The Magic City

Criminal Mastermind:

  • Ocean’s Eleven: Danny Ocean
  • Farmer’s Six: Velvet Farmer (pure speculation on my part, meaning I’m totally making it up.  But Velvet Farmer?  C’mon now!)

Scene Of The Crime:

  • Ocean’s Eleven: The Bellagio, The Mirage, and MGM Grand
  • Farmer’s Six: Birmingham’s version of the Kwik-E-Mart

The Objective:

  • Ocean’s Eleven: Scoring the biggest heist in history
  • Farmer’s Six: Scoring some Twinkies

I’m starting on the screenplay right now!  I’m going to be so stinking rich!

Seriously, how in the heck do six folks from literally all over the country end up in a cheap hotel in Birmingham and deciding to rob snacks from a convenience store?


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