Archive for May, 2011

Jack Ass or Jack Scott? I'm told Jack Scott, seen here stepping into a trailer classy enough for city hall but not to live in. That's one sweet government building! (but trashy home)

For those who don’t know (and since the show was on MSNBC, that would be most people), Keith Olbermann use to have a daily bit on his show where he would name the “Worst Person In The World”.  Usually this was simply aimed at people Olbermann just didn’t like (which really could just about be anyone, but usually someone at Fox News), but sometimes he would use it to highlight a person who had taken some sort of egregious action.

But Olbermann is off the air now.  So there’s a void.  A void that should, nay, MUST be filled.  And I am just the person to do it!  So without further ado, here is my first nominee for the World’s (Not So) Funniest Blog’s World’s (Not So) Greatest Person In The World!.

The town of Cordova, Alabama was not hit by one but two tornadoes on April 27th.  As is the case with many communities in this state, that has left a good many of Cordova’s residents without a home.  Fortunately FEMA stands ready to deliver some temporary housing for these folks, an offer the mayor naturally gladly accepted…..wait…..actually the mayor said no.  That’s right, the mayor said no to temporary housing for the residents of his city.  He says that because the city has an ordinance banning single-wide trailers, he simply can’t allow it.

Wow!  Mayor Jack Scott is awesome!  Wouldn’t want trailers bringing down those property values, would you?  Sure, the town is basically just a big pile of debris right now, and some people are living in tents (I’m sure they are upscale tents though!).  But trailers are so redneck!  And one thing Cordova, Alabama is not is redneck!  The city HAS allowed a bank and pharmacy to move into single wide trailers and even the police department and city hall has moved into trailers.  You know, because it’s classy when it businesses or governments using trailers.

People who don’t know what’s best for the town, namely the citizens of Cordova, are pissed.  An estimated 2,000 of them (to put this in perspective, the town’s total population is only about 2,500) showed up at a town hall meeting to voice their displeasure and circulate a petition to remove the mayor.  Man, no good deed goes unpunished I guess!  It seems that the townspeople have gotten the idea that Scott is using this disaster to get the rift-raft out of town (namely the citizens of Cordova), seeing as the poor would be the most likely in need of help.  Um….duh.  Of course he is!  The poor?  Let them live on the street or get the hell out, because seriously, screw those guys!

Does Jack Scott feel guilty?  You bet your ass he doesn’t!  He says that if he allowed those temporary trailers to come in, they may become permanent!  Sure, other towns claim to have found a loophole around this dilemma by making the lift on similar restrictions temporary.  But you know what Jack Scott calls those people?  Suckers!  Because now folks are going to avoid those towns like the plague with their ugly trashy trailers.  Now those people are going to flock to Cordova so that they can go eat at such fancy 5-star restaurants as the Rebel Queen (no, I did not make that restaurant’s name up).

So congratulations, Jack Scott!  You are a revolutionary thinker!  Some people may call you jerk or idiot or assclown.  But I call you the World’s (Not So) Greatest Person In The World!

When told of his nomination for this prestigious award, an excited Jack Scott cited this man as his inspiration!

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Memorial Day is Monday.  While most Americans (and I include myself in this group) will mostly use the day as an excuse to enjoy a long weekend, whether traveling or just enjoying some good ol’ barbecue or hamburgers at home, we really should remember why the holiday was actually was actually created (no, it’s not about the barbecue or hamburgers!).  It is a time to reflect upon and remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service of this nation.  But I think it is also a great excuse for we, as a nation, to reflect on our current policies regarding the troops that we have deployed all over the world.

The House of Representatives had a vote this past Thursday that would have required the Defense Department to develop an accelerated plan to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and transition military operations to the Afghans.  I was really hoping it would pass, but of course it failed (probably didn’t matter, it would have never got through the Senate anyway).  But there at least was some cause for optimism, because the vote was actually close (204 to 215).  Twenty-six Republicans….gasp…..actually voted for the measure (I didn’t know Republicans were even allowed to vote for anything that might be construed as being for ‘less war’ without getting their party membership revoked!).

Polls show that most Americans want the Afghanistan operation to end earlier rather than later.  So why are politicians going against popular opinion?  Their convictions?  Maybe for some, but I think that’s doubtful for most.  I think the issue here is just because you have an opinion about something doesn’t mean that it’s a strong one.  I think the political math at play here is not what someone might say in a poll, but what they will do about it at the ballot box.  And I think for the most part, people really just don’t care, at least not enough for it to impact their vote.  Out of sight, out of mind.  Then add to that the fact that war is big business (our government doesn’t often oppose big business), and you get the result we got in the Afghan vote.

But what benefit are we getting here?  The Afghan government that we support is clearly not even close to a “Western-style” democratic government. Osama Bin Laden, the guy we were after in the first place, is dead.  The number of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan is less than hundred, and may be even fifty or lower.   Is the military an effective tool in establishing a democracy?  Is our goal to kill or capture every last Al Qaeda member?  Even if that is a realistic goal, is using 100,000 troops to capture or kill 50 to 100 men a good return on the resources deployed?

Even beyond Afghanistan, what are we getting for our continued deployment of 50,000 troops in Iraq?  Or whatever the number we have to do whatever the heck we are trying to do in Libya?  Or for that matter, the 28,500 in South Korea (didn’t the “red scare” end?)?  I mean, for goodness sake, we still have over 50,000 troops in Germany and over 30,000 troops in Japan as a result of a war that ended over 65 years ago!  Why do we still have troops in these two countries???  I’m pretty sure those two countries are back on their feet now, and the chances of a return of the Axis powers approximate somewhere in between jack and squat (and I work in actuarial services, I evaluate risk for a living, so I’m quite sure my jack and squat estimate is professionally accurate!).

So this Memorial Day, please remember those that have given everything (and their families) in serving in our military.  But also, let’s think about how we are using our military, and the cost of those services.  Here are some statistics.  Ask yourself, is it worth it?

  • $685,100,000,000 – amount of money budgeted to the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2010
  • $781,000,000,000+ – estimated amount of money spent on the Iraq War since 2003
  • $417,000,000,000+ – estimated amount of money spent on the Afghanistan War since 2001
  • $750,000,000+ – estimated cost of money spent on Libya War since March (I wonder about people who are so opposed to foreign aid because we “can’t afford” it, but support the foreign war efforts that cost so much more.)
  • 4,454 – number of U.S. military deaths in Iraq
  • 100,000+ – estimated number of U.S. military wounded in Iraq
  • 150,000 – 1,500,000 – estimated number of war-related Iraqi civilian deaths
  • 1,595 –number of U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan
  • 10,000+ – estimated number of war-related Afghan civilian deaths

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Pleasant Grove prior to the April 27th tornado.

Pleasant Grove after the April 27th tornado.

I got the opportunity to help in the tornado cleanup efforts yesterday.  Words will not do justice of what I saw, but I will try, and I also have a few other comments I want to toss in:

  • The area was working in yesterday is a small community just west of Birmingham called Pleasant Grove .  The amount of damage and destruction in this little town is indescribable.  You would go through one neighborhood and think ‘wow, it doesn’t get any worse than this’.  Then you would hit another neighborhood and realize that you were wrong.  Another thing that strikes you is just how widespread the damage is.  We are not talking about just a neighborhood or two.  This is just blocks and blocks of major damage and complete destruction spread over miles and miles.
  • At one location where we were working, there was a big ravine in which on the other side was woods.  If you looked over to your left, everything was as thick and alive as ever.  Then when you looked over to your right where the tornado had clearly made its path, nothing but a few fallen trees and stumps that were left behind.  It was an amazing contrast.
  • At this same location, houses were just destroyed.  Not damaged.  Destroyed.  The particular lot we were on, the debris was not where the house once stood.  It had been blown down the hill into a wooded area behind here the house used to be.  As you are cleaning up, when you are picking up things like plaster, wood, insulation, etc., that is one thing.  But then you start finding personal items like clothes and books and it really hits you that somebody lived here.  This was somebody’s home.  It has to be such a tough thing for the victims to go through.
  • Ten people died in Pleasant Grove that day.  Looking at the town, it is just amazing it wasn’t a whole lot more.  Once again, working on this particular lot, I thought there was no way somebody could survive this.  Yet the owner was there, very much alive.  She and her family had gotten into a vehicle in the carport that was somewhat built into the ground.  There were two other vehicles.  Those had been destroyed.  As near as I can tell, she had somehow gotten into the only location where the family could have survived.  Miracle is a word that is used too often, but it was the word that I uttered when I heard the story.  I don’t know how else you can describe it.
  • There is a LOT of work that still needs done.  I’m hoping that all the surrounding communities can sustain the effort.  (Supposedly the clean-up effort “ends on June 4th” at Pleasant Grove according to the Pleasant Grove city website.  I have a hard time believing all the debris will be moved to curbside by then, and wonder what the contingency plan is.)
  • It really is a small world: (1) An older gentleman that I was riding to a work site with mentioned that his ex-wife lived in Pleasant Grove.  As we were going, we turn on a street, and he says she lives on this street.  Turns out, we were assigned his ex-wife’s next door neighbors yard.  Turns out his estranged son was there.  He even came out to help us work.  How cool is that?  (2)  Another older gentleman I met were chit-chatting while waiting for our next assignment.  He asks me where I was originally from.  I try to decide which larger city that I think he might have heard of, Memphis or Jackson, Tennessee, because I’m from a small town nobody has ever heard of.  I decide to roll the dice and see if he has ever heard of Jackson.  He says, “Yeah, my wife is from Trenton, Tennessee”.  What?!!!  That’s the exact small town where I grew up.  A little town of less than 5,000 people.  What are the odds of that?
  • I have to thank the folks at Mountain Chapel United Methodist Church for letting me join them to work.  You will not find a harder working group than this bunch.  I was just trying to keep up.  Also, big thanks to the local Pleasant Grove church (sorry, I’m not 100% sure of the name of the church and I don’t want to get it wrong) that served the volunteers the hot lunch.  The food was so good and plentiful!  And thanks to the folks that were handing out the cold water and snacks out in the field.  It’s really been great how the local organizations and churches have stepped up to the plate volunteering in this time of need.
  • Not stepping up, the city of Birmingham government.  Apparently a pissing contest between the city council and the mayor has erupted over how to handle the cleanup in areas hit within the city limits.  C’mon folks, I know squabbling is often what you do best, make a decision and get somebody working!
  • I was listening to the radio and a FEMA representative was on and there was an implication of some frustration with FEMA from the Pleasant Grove community.  Further research turned up a town meeting with FEMA where residents were venting about claim rejections.  I was listening to the rep. on the radio saying that “denial” letters were really “need more information” letters.  I couldn’t help but wonder if they aren’t really “denial” letters, why not remove denial from the language.  A Google search reveals that this has been a misunderstanding that has been happening for years.  It’s understandable, I don’t think it’s intuitive when you ask for assistance and get deny to just turn around and ask again.

If you can help out, we in this state would appreciate it: How You Can Help

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Is Ronald McDonald Out of a Job?

I’ve got a theme here. 🙂

  • Donald Trump announced he wasn’t going to run for President even though the country so badly needs it and he was so going to win.  He just loves business too much (and by business, I can only assume he means being host of a crappy reality TV show).  That’s really too bad.  I was looking forward to him firing Congress members who didn’t agree to vote for his policies.
  • Mike Huckabee also announced he wasn’t going to run for President (even though he also was so going to win, but it was his heart you see.  It just wasn’t in it.  As it turns out, his heart really likes that Fox News salary.)  Huckabee is a tough guy to figure out.  You would see him on The Daily Show and while you may not agree with him, he seemed like a reasonable, nice guy.  But then you would hear some of the things he would say at other places, like talking about President Obama growing up in Kenya.  Oh, and being behind children educational videos like this:

Creepy.

  • So a guy named Jerome Corsi released a book this week.  The book’s title?  Where’s The Birth Certificate: The Case that Barack Obama is not Eligible for President.  Awesome timing!  (On the other hand, maybe it IS awesome timing, the book is currently #15 on the Amazon Top 100 list as I write this and rising.)   Meanwhile, Obama’s campaign team has started selling t-shirts and mugs with “Made In the USA” and a picture of Barack Obama’s birth certificate on it.  Clever fundraising tool.
  • So what are you guys planning on doing on the last day of the world’s existence?  Harold Camping says that day is Saturday.  (Actually it’s the beginning of the end.  Those of us who are not saved get to enjoy hell on earth for 5 months before God ends it all.)  Sure he has said this before.  But how likely is it that he will screw up twice?  So this is it, we need to decide what to do.  I say party because there ain’t no party like an end of the world party because an end of the world party don’t stop (until the world ends).  Interesting, even though the world is ending, Camping’s organization will still be more than happy to take your donation to add to the millions they already receive.  Maybe you actually CAN take money with you when you’re dead!
  • A group wanted McDonald’s to ditch Ronald McDonald because they feel it is wrong to promote unhealthy food to kids.  McDonald’s rejected that proposal (big shock I know!).  You know, I get what the group is saying.  I do.  But I really don’t think the occasional trip to McDonald’s is the primary cause of the weight problem with kids (they aren’t the solution either like they want to claim).  It’s what they and the rest of us eat all the rest of the time.  So maybe there should be a focus on the reason behind that.  How about focusing on the government food subsidies that make junk food cheaper than healthy food?  Just a thought.

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See, he's broke.

I thought the Democrats were suppose to be the party that stands up for the working man and the downtrodden.  So where are they getting off trying to take money from the poor in the country?  And when I think poor, I think multi-billion dollar oil companies.  Really, who needs more help in this country than those guys?  A tycoon has got to eat, right?  How can you expect that to happen on the paltry $10.7 billion that Exxon earned in this quarter for example (the CEO only make over $20 million a year)?  I guess it’s going to be rice and beans for them.

The oil guys were at a hearing this week to make their case.  They say that they are being unfairly singled out.  I couldn’t agree more.  Other industries may perhaps argue that the fact that the oil industry gets these special tax breaks in the first place is unfairly singling out this one industry for special consideration.  It’s almost as if the oil industry is spending millions and millions of dollars to buy influence in Washington.  But that’s hogwash!  Remember, these guys are just barely managing to get their billion dollar ends to meet.

So let’s hope the Republicans defeat this (conventional wisdom is that they will).  We as a nation have enough going on without having to start a charitable drive to help out the would-be starving oil company CEO’s.  As a precaution, I usually throw in a few extra dollars when I buy gas so they can have it.  They sure do need it a lot more than I do!  Once this goes down in flames, we can focus on the issues that matter.  Like why rappers are being invited to the White House?!  Or whatever random stuff spews out of Donald Trump’s mouth this week!

(In all seriousness, I think we need to clean up a lot in our tax code.  No more big breaks to big industries with big lobbies.  Put everyone on the same equivalent tax footing.  The Republican’s stance of no tax hikes on anyone ever ever is just not going to work.  We can’t pay for the government that people want with the tax revenue we get now.  People only support the ‘do it all with spending cuts’ methodology because they think that cutting foreign aid and NPR from the budget will balance it.  All the polling in the world is not going to make that true.)

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President Barack Obama released his long-form birth certificate this week.  Shockingly it turns out he was born in Hawaii.  Less shockingly, the birthers continue to question Obama’s legitimacy.  Some of the things listed below I found researching the internet.  Others I just made up.  Can you tell the difference between actual questions raised by the birthers and questions that I just made up?

  • The Constitution says “No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President;…”  What?!!!!!!  Obama’s birth certificate says he was born in 1961.  The U.S. Constitution was adopted in 1787.  Based on my misinterpretation of the Constitution, that means Obama is ineligible!  In fact, based on misinterpretation, only Joe Biden can be eligible for President, he’s the only person old enough!
  • Obama’s father was not an American citizen.  Based on my misinterpretation of the Constitution, that means Obama is not a natural-born citizen of this country because both parents were not U.S. citizens and therefore Obama is ineligible to be President.
  • Hawaii was not a state until 1959.  Clearly, you have to be a natural-born citizen of one of the 13 states around when the Constitution was ratified.  Therefore Obama is not eligible.
  • And really, no one considers Hawaii a real state anyway.  Am I right?
  • I can clearly read the signature of the attending physician, David A. Sinclair.  Proof that this is a forgery!  Everyone knows that a real physician’s handwriting is illegible!
  • Obama’s father race is listed as “African”.  That’s today’s political correctness.  He would have been listed as “Negro” if the certificate was legitimate.  Sure, his dad actually was African, but it would be lunacy to think that has anything to do with it.
  • When presented with the news that her late husband Dr. Sinclair delivered Obama, she said “I had no idea.”  Ah ha!  Don’t you think if Sinclair had actually presided over the delivery of the President of the United States, he would have mentioned that to his wife?  You know, something like “Guess what, the President was born today.”
  • The “B’s” on the birth certificate match perfectly.  No typewriter can do that.  None of the other letters match, further proving my point.  Why would Obama’s people create a perfect forgery except for the “B’s”?  Just leaving an Easter Egg to poke a stick at the birthers!
  • Obama is hiding his Occidental College records because he is too dumb to get into an Ivy League school.  Only a stupid person could come up with Obamacare.  It must have been because he is black.
  • Forget the Occidental College records.  I want to see Obama’s Kindergarten report card!  What is he hiding?  That he was unable to play well with others?  He didn’t know “how many”?
  • Obama registered as a foreign student at Occidental.  I discovered this on April 1st.  Hmm, April 1st, that day has some significance…I just can’t remember what?  Oh well, not important.  Obama, just know that I am no fool!
  • Speaking of school records, Obama should also release his “permanent record”!
  • Obama’s social security number starts with 042.  That’s a Connecticut number.  He has never lived in Connecticut.  The only possible explanation is that Obama either has made the number up, or he has stolen someone else’s identity!
  • William Ayers gave Barack Obama his false identity.
  • Barack Obama is a current citizen of Great Britain.  Or of Kenya.  Or both.
  • CIA DNA tests prove that Barack Obama was actually adopted.
  • Barack Obama was a terrorist anchor baby.
  • Obama was raised by communists.
  • Obama funneled weapons to the Taliban while he was in college.
  • What?  The Taliban didn’t exist then?  Fine, Obama started the Taliban.

You know, it’s hard to out-birther the birthers.  In fact, one claim I made above that I thought I was making up is in fact something actual birthers have claimed brings the legitimacy of the birth certificate into question.

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