Friday, April 30, 2010

The High Cost of "Drill Baby Drill", Part II- Where Are They Now?

Indeed Mrs. Palin...."How is it workin' out for ya?"

And for Michael Steele....Rudy Guliani...John McCain....and to Republican Governors Bobby Jindal (LA), Haley Barbour (MS), Bob Riley (AL), and newly minted independent Charlie Crist of Florida- are you still in favor of letting Big Oil use the Gulf of Mexico as their own personal cash register? The worst ecological disaster in more than 20 years, an oil spill 130 miles long and 70 miles wide has reached the coast line of Louisiana, and the first oil covered animals have been seen on shore. We can expect an area stretching from near New Orleans to Pensacola to be affected.

BP's platform exploded last week, 50 miles in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and sending the giant oil slick on a collision course with an area of the country called by some "The Redneck Riviera". The irony of the oil slick hitting and possibly devastating one of the most Republican areas of the country, states whose leaders (and many citizens) drank the GOP "Drill Baby Drill" Kool-Aide are about to find out....pardon the inconvenient truth. That is, offshore drilling has risks and unintended consequences- and in yet another tragic case greed won out over safety, and now an ecosystem is threatened with collapse by this spill. Some species may never recover, the wetlands may be polluted forever, and people who made a living from harvesting the Gulf and in tourism could find the extinction of their way of life by the time the weekend is over.

But where are THEY now? The "Drill Baby Drill Cheerleaders" have been strangely silent. That is, with the exception of Boss Limbaugh. Yes, Rush has a bizarre theory that President Obama had a hand in the creation of the oil spill. I won't even bother to try to explain it- his twisted "logic" makes my brain hurt.

A week or so ago I wasn't focused on offshore drilling. After all, the President proposed expanding offshore drilling earlier in the month. But that wouldn't be in by backyard. It would be in the Gulf, and along the Atlantic Coast off of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia. No need to worry in New Jersey.

And then came the BP-Gulf Disaster of 2010. And the reality set in that here in the Northeast we would not be immune to any potential oil spills that could occur in the South. Imagine this- an oil spill like the one in the Gulf is the size of New Jersey. What if a spill off the Virginia coast of that size were to hit New Jersey? The state's second largest industry, tourism, would vanish overnight- and the impact would be felt in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and possibly Pennsylvania.

We use the term "teaching moment" a lot, so it seems. The spill in the Gulf was the hardest of lessons. And the after the full impact is felt, we all need to ask...."Now what?".

Click here for a very well written blog entry on the oil spill and the "Drill Baby Drill" crowd by WABC TV's Bill Ritter.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The High Cost of "Drill Baby Drill"


Remember those wonderful days of yesteryear- 2008 to be exact- when "Tea Party" was something little girls did with their dolls and "birther" was just bad English? There was a new mantra being heard throughout Red State America and in the Presidential campaign.

Check the videos to refresh your memory.

Drill Baby Drill!

And drill they did. Oil companies continued to tell America, and the world, of the relative safety and efficiency of offshore oil drilling. We were (and still are) a nation way too dependent on foreign oil and weak on alternative sources of energy. And one of the reasons Barack Obama got the votes of environmentalists was his opposition to expansion of offshore drilling during the presidential campaign.

But something happened during the early part of 2010. The President caved. He decided out of the blue to allow and expand offshore drilling. That's right- he adopted the position of John McCain and Sarah Palin- he wanted to allow offshore drilling in a move that seemed to be designed to score political points with more conservative and independent voters.

And most progressive bloggers gave Barack a pass.....because we like him. Its that simple.

I'm as guilty as the next guy. But the 24 hour news networks, the guys who were supposed to be asking tough questions to the administration about this move, did anything but. Nobody seemed to ask if this decision would present even more dangers to the environment. The political angle was played backwards and sideways, with no thought given to any long term effects.

Click below to see an incredible montage from MSNBC and CNN about the President's decision. I think FOX was busy that day covering a Tea Party somewhere. Video fromThe Huffington Post.

Sometime tonight a massive oil spill will hit the Louisiana coast on or about the Mississippi River's delta. Its estimated that a broken well that exploded last week is spewing 5,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. BP's Deepwater Horizon was drilling in 5,000 feet of water 40 miles offshore last week when it blew up, with eleven crew members missing and presumed dead. Attempts to burn off the oil haven't been entirely successful, nor have any attempts to close the well. Its estimated that as many as 4.2 million gallons of crude oil could spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

And as I type this, the spill is about three miles from the coast of Louisiana. The governor of Louisiana is Republican Bobby Jindal- his state is facing an environmental disaster of epic proportions that will greatly cripple the shrimp and oyster industry, perhaps kill thousands of fish, pelicans, and various shore birds. Neighboring Mississippi and its resort beaches in Biloxi maybe effected as well. Its governor is Haley Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee.

I wonder if Governors Jindal and Barbour will be chanting Drill Baby Drill at any GOP functions anytime soon?

President Obama has said BP will pick up the tab for the cleanup of the spill. BP can cough up the dough, but they can't alleviate the cost- fisherman, sportsmen, and the tourist industry of the Gulf Coast will be suffering even more in these tough economic times.

It seems the President's decision to expand offshore drilling was more of a political one than an attempt to change our dependency on foreign oil. President Obama pulled an old political maneuver- co-opt the ideas of your opponents to take a few arrows out of their quiver. This week there was to be legislation proposed on climate change, a a bipartisan bill worked on for months by Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham. The legislation had the potential for more green jobs and could create new alternative sources of energy. But the uproar over the Arizona "Show Me Your Papers" Law meant the Climate Bill would be put on a backburner in favor immigration reform legislation. And the Climate Bill was never more necessary as it is now, for energy and for jobs.

Its time for the Obama administration to take another look at expansion of offshore drilling. Maybe the impending disaster in Louisiana is the canary in a coal mine, the wakeup call that will alert the administration and all of our citizens that any expansion of new drilling has to be re-examined. The real cost may outweigh any potential benefits.

In closing, take a look at the following memo from Washington DC.

WASHINGTON D.C. — The Department of the Interior’s Minerals Management Service (MMS) announced today that the 2010 Annual Industry SAFE Awards Luncheon scheduled for May 3, 2010 at the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) in Houston, Texas has been postponed.

The ongoing situation with the Transocean Deepwater Horizon drilling accident has caused the MMS to dedicate considerable resources to the successful resolution of this event, which will conflict with holding this ceremony next week.

The MMS will announce how the agency will proceed with the 2010 SAFE Award program during the next several weeks. The MMS apologizes for any inconvenience and thanks the organizers of the OTC for their understanding of our current situation.

As they life, timing is everything.

Looking Back On 1,000 Entries; THE STORY OF THE CARDIFF GIANT (July 23, 2009)

For some time I'd been thinking about reposting some of my personal favorite entries from this blog as kind of a "look back" at the first 1,000 articles. Some regulars may never have seen these, and a few of the entries may help to provide insights to something topical- hopefully. Though this blog deals with political issues, most know that I do branch out into other areas. The following repost is from last summer, July 23, 2009. Some comments on this blog ask the question, "How does (fill in the blank of a politician or media gasbag) get away with it?". I think in this entry you'll see clues to the answer. Most people have a belief system that cannot be touched or altered no matter what you do- a very religious person will hang on their faith, the conspiracy theorist will believe despite any conflicting evidence, and the guy who thinks that he was abducted by aliens will see little green men behind every event on planet earth. Let's take a look at one of the great hoaxes in American history, The Cardiff Giant. The bottom line with this story is that many people will believe a fraud to be true, even after the fraud has been exposed. And to paraphrase Yogi Berra, "nobody can stop 'em".

"The American People Love To Be Humbugged"; The Incredible Story of the Cardiff Giant (July 23, 2009)

While writing a previous entry about the "birther" movemement I kept having the same recurrent thought; that there is a segment of the American population who will believe even the most ridiculous or improbable scenario. Birthers believe that Barack Obama was not American born, but is indeed Kenyan. When confronted with pictures of his birth certificate, with the raised seal, and with copies of his birth announcement from a local paper from Honolulu these people continue to say that both are frauds, hoaxes, and these documents are forgeries. They somehow forget that if these were truly forgeries, don't you think that (A) Hillary Clinton or (B) John McCain would have found out and used that to derail The Obama Express?

I personally think that birthers are of the same mentality who think WWE wrestling isn't scripted, and its on the level. They're not alone. We have conspiracy theorists involving the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing, Elvis Presley's death, Jim Morrison and Andy Kaufman faking their demise...and the granddaddy of 'em all, the JFK assassination

There's something in human nature....and in our American character....that really wants to believe in nonsense. Birthers are an example, so are the "Dittoheads" of Mr.Limbaugh. And its not a new phenomenon. PT Barnum figured it out a long time ago. Barnum once said, "The American people love to be humbugged". This was reportedly said when he was trying to sell the American people that his Cardiff Giant was the REAL Cardiff Giant, not the one that was being displayed in Syracuse, NY. Everyone knew that the Cardiff Giant was a hoax, a fake...but Barnum had people spending good money to see that he had the one and only AUTHENTIC fake. But I'm getting ahead of myself. I'll backtrack, and tell you the story.

It was October 16, 1869. On William A. Newell's farm in Cardiff, NY two workers were digging a well when they struck something hard. They dug up what appeared to be a 12 foot tall statue of a man....or was it a statue? Newell declared that The Giant was a petrified man. Soon he erected a tent around The Giant, and charged at first 25 cents a head to see the Cardiff Giant. Genesis 6:4 said, "There were giants in the earth in those days." And Newell played that hand in promoting The Giant- he was part of a race that walked the earth, because the Bible said so. The crowds were at first hundreds, and then thousands, as the God fearing folks from even hundreds of miles away heard the news and had to see the Cardiff Giant.

And of course, Mr. Newell doubled the admission price to fifty cents per person.

A group of Syracuse businessmen saw a cash cow when they saw one. They bought the Cardiff Giant from Newell for $37,500. This was probably more money than farmer Newell could expect to earn in a lifetime. The new owners moved the Cardiff Giant to downtown Syracuse, and raised the price of admission again. Business boomed downtown, and all was least for awhile.

Since the Giant was moved to a larger city and gained more notoriety, new questions arose about what the Cardiff Giant really was. A paleontologist from Yale, Othniel C. Marsh, decided to check it out. And to be "hit the fan".

Marsh noted that there were fresh chisel marks on the 12 foot stone man. This "petrified man" was actually only a few months old, probably cut from local rock in one of the area's quarries.

The news of this hoax broke....and a tobacconist from Binghamton named George Hull decided to come clean and tell the truth; for $2,600 he had a crude statue of a giant cut from stone....with the help and collusion of his cousin, William Newell....and then buried on Newell's farm. Hull was an atheist who got into an argument with a fundamentalist preacher who believed that every word in the Bible must be taken literally- even the passage about "giants" who once walked the earth. So Hull decided to show just how easy it is to fool Americans, particularly those who were entrenched in biblical dogma. And he wanted to make a few bucks on the hoax.

Now with the exposure of the fraud, the story should be over. But to borrow a line from a certain TV football analyst....not so fast, my friend.

The whole world knew the Cardiff Giant was a fake; but the crowds kept coming to downtown Syracuse to see it- and paying money to do so.

Its at this point that Phineas T. Barnum came into the picture. PT's American Museum in New York City had recently burned to the ground, and he needed to get some new exhibits for his next venture. He was a showman who displayed many "curiosities", more than a few of dubious origin. Barnum offered to buy the Cardiff Giant for $60,000. The owners of The Giant refused Barnum's offer.

After he was rebuffed in his attempt to buy The Cardiff Giant, Barnum decided to build his own replica of The Giant. Then he placed ads in various newspapers stating that his Cardiff Giant was the REAL Cardiff Giant In other words, his fake Giant was the REAL fake Giant, and the Syracuse fake Giant was a "fake" fake Giant.

When the owners of the Syracuse Cardiff Giant heard this development, one of them said, "Well, I guess there's a sucker born every minute". That quote is usually erroneously attributed to PT Barnum. The Syracuse group tried to sue Barnum, but the presiding judge threw the case out of court.

And still....people came to see the Cardiff Giant(s)....even to this day. Barnum's version is now at Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum near Detroit, while Hull's "original" is at The Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, NY.

Credits; much of the information for this entry came from The Museum of Hoaxes.. In addition the book Finding Oz by Evan I Schwartz was an inspiration to examine the topic. His book on the life of L. Frank Baum and the creation of The Wizard of Oz is great read, and a fantastic look at life in the 19th century, and how Baum's characters and stories were created and came to life. Check out the won't want to leave it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

1,000 Blog Entries; A Thank You!

This entry marks the 1,000 blog post since UT&MR began in September, 2008. Though augmented with entries from my old and discontinued Too Old To Rock & Roll, Too Young To Die blog and occasional links, most of the blog entries have been original material. Its been my pleasure to compose these for the readership.

At last glance we've had visitors from more than 140 countries, and are averaging about 400 views per day, with more than 300 new readers coming here per day. That's been an increase of about 400% since we've started this thing.

I thank each and every one of you who have taken the time to read and comment, and epecially to those who've helped spread the word to friends about what we're doing here.

It's on to the next 1,000!

Have a great one!

THE PACIFIC, Episode 7; The Taking of Peleliu

Welcome to my review and comments about the latest episode of HBO"s THE PACIFIC. To those who may be reading this blog for the first time, my practice is to watch the episode on Sunday on its first airing, and watch it a second time a day or so later before commenting.

The United States Marine action at Peleliu in September and October, 1944 is one of the forgotten battles of World War II. It was originally conceived to protect General Douglas MacArthur's flank while the US Army continued its retaking of the Philippines from the Japanese invaders. The airstrip on Peleliu was supposedly of value in MacArthur's campaign. As it turned out, it was never a factor in those actions; the Marines fought, suffered, and died on Peleliu in a two month long battle for a spec of land in the Pacific that in the end had little strategic value.

Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazello) and most of the other Marines fighting on Peleiu reach their breaking point. The days were either excruciatingly hot or are a torrent of rain. One of the more memorable scenes of Episode Seven was when Captain Haldrane talked to Sledge and the other men during a heavy rain, when he tells Sledge that he can't "dwell on it"- the loss of life and the horror he sees everyday. And then "The Skipper" tells his men to get some sleep, while the rain pounds and soaks them.

Japanese soldiers are driven out of their fortifications by burning them alive with flame throwers. Marines are shot and blown to bits. The Japanese attack the Marines at all hours of the day, and especially at night when they generate near panic and terror. The battle goes on for weeks and months- the Marines are malnourished, exhausted, and near collapse. Some do snap mentally, and not only the young troops; the grizzled World War I veteran Gunny Haney is among those who succumbs to the sight of death and destruction he saw daily.

This episode dealt heavily with the moral ambiguity men in combat feel. After awhile the combatant starts to feel a certain loss of humanity, sometimes wishing for his own death to be quick and relatively painless, while dealing with death he has caused as a fighting man. Sledge starts to go over to a point of darkness; after the death of Captain Haldrane from a sniper's bullet, Eugene was sitting with Snafu, when Sledge decides to take the gold out of a dead Japanese soldier's teeth. Snafu, who has done the same on occasions, stops Sledge, telling him that the dead man has too many germs. In reality Snafu is telling his friend in a subtle way that he, Snafu, has crossed over to a darker place; he doesn't want Sledge to do the same.

In a moment of dark comic relief of sorts a Marine goes into a cave to relieve himself when he is attacked by a sword wielding Japanese; he chases the Marine, pants down, to the area where the rest of the Marines are. The Japanese soldier is shot and killed, but not until the poor young Marine makes a "deposit" in his own pants, to the amusement of the troops watching and laughing.

At the end of the episode the island is captured, and Sledge and the others are evacuated to Pavuvu. At Pavuvu the Marines are given orange juice by female Red Cross workers. Sledge and Snafu stop and get some juice, and the exhausted men pause to look at the beautiful young women pouring the refreshments. They are told to move on by a fresh looking first Marine officer in a clean pressed; the worn out Sledge turns and gives a cold stare to the officer who got the message- leave him alone, he and the others have lived through hell.

Joe Mazello did a subtle and convincing job in his portrayal of Eugene Sledge; the character seemed to age 10 years in the span of two. We first saw Sledge as a teenaged boy at home in Alabama. When we left him, as he was swimming naked in the ocean at the end of the episode, he was now a world weary veteran, forced to grow up hard and fast. He personified the story of tens of thousands who went off to war not far removed from childhood, and who returned as men.

On a small sidebar plot, we saw John Basilone (Jon Seda) on a bond tour in front of an organization that appeared to be Shriners, with actress Virginia Grey in tow. We later see Basilone at a driving range, flanked by dozens of reporters. Basilone started hitting bucket after bucket of golf balls, into the night, to a point where his hands started to blister and bleed. All the time Basilone is shown to have mental flashbacks to Guadalcanal, and to the the death of his buddy Manny Rodriguez.

Basilone's story will continue in Episode Eight, as the United States starts to zero in on the Japanese home islands.

But first they must take the last stepping stone, a small island within range of the Japanese homeland.

Iwo Jima.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Statewide Walkout In New Jersey High Schools

In what may be the first actions taken in protest of budget cuts to New Jersey's public schools, thousands of students walked out of their classrooms today. The walkouts are a response to cuts of $820 million in school aid by the administration of Republican governor Chris Christie.

Old Tappan High School graduate Michelle Lauto organized the walkout on the Protest NJ Education Cuts-State Wide School Walk Out on Facebook. As of this writing, there were more than 18,000 "confirmed guests", and another 15,000 responded that they "may be attending" the day's walkout.

It was a statewide event; WCBS TV in New York has three video stories plus a a detailed account of the walkouts in Englewood, North Bergen, and Newark.

Below, video from a protest in Atlantic County

And here, a home video from the walkout in Willingboro.

In a video report from WCBS's John Slattery, Governor Christie took no questions about the walkouts while making an appearance in Newark today. When reporters pursued him to get a statement, the reporters found themselves locked in a room while Christie was scurried away by his staffers.

According to the FACEBOOK page, some students found exits blocked by teachers or principals, and some participants are facing detention or suspension. Some walkouts were total busts, others were effective beyond belief.

But the bottom line seems to be this is the first counter punch thrown at the Christie administration. And it came from the kids, New Jersey's high schoolers. Too often we pigeon hole teenagers as being apathetic and irresponsible. But this is a case where they saw the power of civil disobedience. And they also learned that in doing so there are consequences- and harsh words and condemnations by some- for their actions.

Arizona"s New Immigration Law; The Tale of Two Soldiers

Yesterday CNN ran a story and video about Pfc Jose Medina, a Mexican born soldier in the United States Army about to be deployed to the Middle East. Medina was raised in Arizona- and came to the United States legally. He always told those who asked where he was from that he was a proud resident of Arizona.

That is, until now.

The new Arizona immigration law which gives law enforcement the power to ask anyone suspected of being in the country illegally to produce proof of citizenship or legal residency has Medina feeling wounded and ashamed of the state in which he grew to manhood.

His loyalty to his country remains unwavering.

In the video below he tells his story.

While watching Medina yesterday I thought about another soldier. His name was Thomas Coady; Thomas served in The Grand Army of The Republic- the union- during the Civil War. I first knew of Thomas when I went for a walk in The Cuyahoga Valley National Park, between Hudson and Peninsula, Ohio, about ten years ago. Near the welcome center was a graveyard, Mater Dolorosa Cemetery in the park itself. Walking around it I noticed all of the buried were Irish. On a later talk I had with a park ranger I was told that the Irish, who first came to dig and build the Ohio and Erie Canal in the early 19th Century, were buried here because they were Irish and they were Catholics; Hudson was a prosperous community of Congregationalists, many of whom were involved in the Underground Railroad. There was the first irony; white Protestants working to free black Southern runaway slaves, yet treating white immigrant Catholics like second class citizens.

But there was even more to the story when I got to Thomas Coady's grave, which he shared with his parents. His death occurred on April 27, 1865- weeks after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. I spent sometime finding out what happened to this man.

Digging around the internet I found that Thomas Coady was probably taken prisoner in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and was sent to hell on earth- the Confederate POW camp at Andersonville. He managed to survive, and was being shipped home along with 1,700 former prisoners on the steamship Sultana. The Sultana departed New Orleans, and made stops along the way, dropping off former prisoners along the way. She was already overloaded, with the prisoners and other Federal troops, and perhaps as many as 100 cabin passengers. By law her maximum capacity was 376, including crew. She probably held more than 2,000.

After leaving Memphis before midnight on April 26,1865 there was an explosion- the boilers that had been straining under the heavy load exploded, killing up to 1,900 people on board. No exact figure was ever determined because some bodies were never found.

And Thomas Coady, a man who fought for the Union, but was an outcast in his home state because of his ethnic background and religion, died that day as well.

I told Coady's story because its as relevant today as is that of PFC. Jose Medina- the more things change, the more they stay the same. We're told this mantra regarding the Arizona immigration law- it will not include racial profiling. To that I say...come on, get real. Who are the people who will be looked at, blond blue eyed guys who look like they could have been in ABBA?

I don't think so.

It takes a unique individual to decide to fight for one's country while feeling like an outcast in one's hometown or state. There are few like today's Jose Medina, or Thomas Coady of almost two centuries ago. How many of us would be willing to make the same sacrifice if we or are loved ones were the veiled target of a law that in reality subjects particular elements of our people to undo scrutiny?

The United States must protect its borders, and it must reform immigration policy. The Arizona law signed last week is a step back to another century.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Tea Party Comes To Town

Its happened in my backyard. Practically.

As reported in this morning's Home News Tribune, Tea Party activists had a picnic in Babbage Park, North Brunswick, NJ yesterday despite the cloudy and rainy weather. About 50 people were there, most of whom appeared to be Republicans. From what I gather at least one of the attendees was Republican candidate for Middlesex County Sheriff, Keith B. Hackett, as well as Republican candidates for county freeholder and North Brunswick township council.

Also among those who were at the picnic was African American Barbara Summers, who in the past has been a guest on Glenn Beck's show on FOX NEWS.

She is reported to have said the following....

“The tea party people are not racist. I'm here. I'm very, very militant and I would never stand for that. I feel welcome when I come here."

It was never disclosed in the article how many of the other 50 attendees were members of ethnic minorities.

Some of the things they allegedly talked about were the size of government, healthcare, and taxes. But the article points out President Obama was not the most mentioned individual at the picnic. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was.

Quoting one attendee (by the HOME NEWS TRIBUNE)....

"If we look at our governor, I compare him to George Washington.He made it to Trenton. We got to get the rest of the troops there."

Hmmmm. Don't you think its a bit premature? Comparing a governor who's been in office only three months to the man who beat the Hessians at Trenton, the British at Princeton and Yorktown, survived brutal winters with his troops at Valley Forge and Morristown.....and just happened to be elected as our first President?

Get that space on Mount Rushmore ready.

What if the Gov was magically transformed to George Washington? What would that look like?

How about.........

Finding the uniform was the easy part. The powdered wig? Well....they just don't make 'em like they used to. Thank goodness for PHOTOSHOP.

Click here to read more about the Tea Party picnic in North Brunswick.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Ben Stein- "He (President Obama) Is So Right On This One It's Not Even Close"

Most know Ben Stein as an entertainer, comedian, pitchman, and political and economic commentator. And in another lifetime Mr. Stein was a speechwriter for Republican Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford.

But today on CBS Sunday Morning Ben Stein threw his support to President Barack Obama and the reform package the administration wants for Wall Street reform. And Ben has some choice words for the Wall Street me, it ain't pretty.

There's one thing a wise man will never do....mess with Ben Stein's money (da-dum).

Watch CBS News Videos Online

And I thought the following would be of interest as well. On Face The Nation Bob Schieffer was joined by author Michael Lewis (THE BIG SHORT) and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. They talked about the Wall Street reform package....and bemoan that so little has changed since the collapse. Also, Friedman takes the President to task for not pushing (and putting on a back burner) the proposed climate change bill, which did have some bipartisan support. Sadly, it may all about political posturing.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

A very interesting morning on CBS....and more enlightening than the usual Sunday morning political food fights.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

On FACEBOOK- Idiocy On The Left Breeds Copycat Idiocy On The Right

Do you need more proof that political discourse in this country has sunk to a level most of us have left behind us in the fifth grade?'s some more.

My cousin sent me an email alerting me to the existence of this group on FACEBOOK.

Here's what they're all about.


I find the group not only mean spirited and ugly, and at the least very unfunny....what's worse they're uncreative and hypocritical. Check out this editorial from THE STAR-LEDGER in New Jersey. It deals with a memo sent out by the Bergen County Education Association, a local affiliate of the New Jersey Education Association, to its membership.

"Dear Lord: This year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays . . . I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."

My next question for the professional Obama haters....what, no Billy Mays?

The NJEA's comments about NJ Governor Chris Christie also appeared on the New Jersey Teachers United Against Chris Christie's Pay Freeze. According to another report by the Star-Ledger, one poster- a teacher- wrote "never trust a fat f_ck", referring to New Jersey's rather large governor.

Alright ladies and gents....anyone who's ever visited this blog doesn't have to be a member of MENSA to realize that I am a fan of President Obama, and not one of Governor Christie. The old adage of two wrongs don't make a right has once again been demonstrated by a bunch of angry and over the top "educators" who should know better and a over a million dopey wingnut types who didn't have the brains to realize that the "joke" they're laughing at was once directed at a Republican.

Bottom line....GROW UP! Wishing the death of another human being, particularly two of our elected officials....its childish. And its unAmerican.

What's gained by this level of incivility? Nothing at all. The other guys just become more entrenched in their beliefs that the other side is the personification of all what's wrong with our country and our society. The level of name calling and finger pointing has in itself become a very unfunny politcal version of PUNKED or JACKASS.

It doesn't matter if the so called joke was directed at Barack Obama or Chris Christie....its in bad taste, its offense, its wrong. There is no excuse, there is no explanation.....its all about "they started it". There's a few hundred thousand "adults" who should have their computer time taken away by Mom and Dad until they're eligible for Medicare.

There's a whole lot of people on both sides of the political spectrum who should be ashamed of themselves.


Friday, April 23, 2010

NFL Draft 2010; Just Call Me A Football Geek

I'll fess up- I'm one of those (slightly) overweight middle aged guys who lives for the NFL Draft. Part of this passion comes from following the local NFL teams (Jets and Giants), and also seeing how my brother's teams (Browns and Eagles- he's a Jersey transplant now living in Ohio) make out in this big bucks crap shoot.

The 2010 NFL Draft has really become a creature of television- the first round was broadcast last night, live from Radio City Music Hall (minus The Rockettes) with a slew of potential first round picks on hand to hear their names called- hopefully. In addition, a who's who of NFL greats were on hand, including many Hall of Famers. The place was packed with loud and rowdy fans, and being held in New York there was a heavy presence of Giant and Jets fans...and nobody does loud and rowdy better than Jet fans, with the possible exception of "Agle" fans from "The City of Brotherly Love".

Was it over the top? To borrow a line from a certain former governor, you betcha.

But its a big event and a celebration of America's game. The season never really ends in the NFL. It goes from pre-season to regular season to playoffs to Super Bowl to NFL Draft mock drafts to the REAL NFL Draft to hanging out at the shore in the summer, drinking beer and eating shrimp, and counting the days until NFL training camps open.

And a second reason for watching the draft is to see where my beloved Rutgers Scarlet Knights will end up....and a couple of guys made history yesterday. But I'll talk about that later.

Rounds two and three start at 6 PM today (Friday) and the final four rounds will take place on Saturday. What was once a one day closed door affair in the 1970's is now a three day extravaganza; kind of a Woodstock for football fans.....we must be in heaven man.

Without further ado, here's a few comments about the 2010 NFL Draft.

Sam Bradford- I felt good for the former Oklahoma quarterback and former Heisman trophy winner for his #1 overall pick to the St. Louis Rams. Most people were saying "good for you" when he decided to come back for his senior year, and then many of the same people said "What did I tellya?...he should have come out early" when Sam was injured in 2009, shortening his season and seeing the Sooners fall short of expectations. He'll be tested in St Louis, which should be improved but are a long way from being a contender.

Tim Tebow- There are two trains of thought in the NFL draft. One is you draft your needs, the other is you draft the best player available. Many consider Tim Tebow to be the greatest college football player of all time. There are questions about his footwork and delivery; when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos at #25 overall as the second quarterback taken, many asked why. The Broncos have Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn as their two quarterbacks. Most observers say this....the reason Tebow was drafted is because head coach Josh McDaniels LOVES Tim Tebow. Maybe a guy of Tebow's character and with his leadership skills is just what is needed to finally escape from the large shadow of John Elway's legend. Tebow's a hard kid not to like; call him the "anti Rothlisberger".

Jimmy Clausen and Colt McCoy The question here is why these two quarterbacks were not first round picks, particularly the former Notre Dame signal caller Clausen. Some have said there are personal issues with Clausen; he has been called "a brat" by some, while his former Irish teammates think he's a great leader and love the guy. As for former Texas quarterback McCoy, some question his size....the last time I checked Drew Brees of the world champion New Orleans Saints is about McCoy's size. He seemed to work out, didn't he? Both Clausen and McCoy will be drafted early tonight in the second round.

A Whole Lot of Oklahoma Sooners - DT Gerald McCoy (Bucs), OT Trent Williams (Redskins), and Bradford- that's three of the first five picks from Oklahoma. Add to that TE Jermaine Gresham (Bengals) as #21 overall and that's four Sooners in the top 21. How did those guys ever lose a game?

The Big 12 In the Draft In addition to the four former Oklahoma Sooners, five other Big 12 players taken in the first round, the most notable being Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh going to the Detroit Lions as the second overall pick. For all the deserved hoopla about the SEC being the greatest conference in college football, the SEC landed seven, only second best in the first round. Still, to have half of the first round dominated by these two conferences was pretty impressive. And there will be many more to come over the next two days.

RU Rah-Rah! Two Rutgers players taken in the first round. I've been a season ticket holder since 1990. It wasn't that long ago that Rutgers only had five guys in the NFL. OT Anthony Davis (#11) went to the 49'ers and DB Devin McCourty (#27) was drafted by the Patriots (much to the anger of the Jet fans in attendance). Rutgers had a first round pick for the first time in its history last year with Kenny Britt....and they've doubled it in a year. Watch out Oklahoma....we're making our move.

Jets and Giants The Giants picked DE Jason Pierre-Paul (15) from South Florida, who played only one year of Division 1 football- his first two years were at two junior colleges. He is athletic, and has a huge upside...but could be a gamble. The Jets took Jersey guy DB Kyle Wilson (29) who played at Boise State. Wilson is from Piscataway...and the question was, how did he get away from Rutgers. Today on WFAN Rutgers head coach Greg Schiano said that during a recruiting visit Wilson indicated that he preferred to go to college out of state. He seems like a solid pick for the defensively minded Jets and head coach Rex Ryan.

Piscataway High School, New Jersey Yesterday two alums were first round picks, Anthony Davis and Kyle Wilson. And last year fellow alum Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State) was the first round pick of the Saints. Forget these Heartland and Florida and Sunbelt high schools....the "Home Office" of America's High School Football is in Central New Jersey, USA.

Well that's about it....I'm going to take a break, then watch some more draft. And when I'm not doing that, I'll be in my usual spot tomorrow watching Rutgers Spring Game.

Just a football junkie I suppose.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010!

Yes, today is Earth Day 2010, and belated greetings.

I did my share to beautify the the neighborhood....five bags of weeds and clippings.

OUCH! My aching back!

Now stop bugging me. I want to watch the over the top 2010 NFL Draft!

(Anthony Davis and Devin McCourty, Come on down!)

Talk you later!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

'Show some guts!' protesters tell Ill. lawmakers in rallying for tax increase - WQAD

A PRO tax increase protest erupted in America's heartland when "SAVE OUR STATE" protesters marched on Illinois' state capital, Springfield on Wednesday, April 21.

The 15,000 protesters yelled for Democrats in the Illinois statehouse to "Show Some Guts".


And more on this story from The Washington Post

The PACIFIC, Episode Six; The Fight For Peleliu Continues

Above- Joe Mazello as Eugene Sledge

Peleliu is sometimes called "the forgotten battle" of World War II's Pacific theater. Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa are part of our collective American historical psyche. But it was at the two months long battle from September to November, 1944 that the Japanese strategy had shifted from trying to overwhelm the Americans and the allies with "human wave" attacks to allowing them to land and then trying to inflict as many casualties as possible, even if it took the life of the last Imperial Japanese soldier.

With Part Six of The Pacific the character emphasis starts to shift away from Bob Leckie (James Badge Dale) and towards Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazello). The episode began in Mobile, Alabama. Its late at night in the aristocratic Sledge household, when a car pulled up- the butler told Mrs. Sledge that its a man in uniform. The dignified Southern lady's face instantly turned to one awaiting sorrow; she's sure that the man in uniform was coming there to tell her that her son had been killed in action.

All are relieved when the young Marine turned out to be Sid Phillips, who came for a visit. Sid told them that Eugene is in good hands with the First Marine Division- all are good men, and he thought Eugene would be in good company.

Eugene and his comrades were on Peleliu. After being fired on by artillery from the hillside, the Marines had to cross the airfield to get to higher ground. On the airfield hundreds of Japanese were waiting to cut them down. Water was scarce, and the temperatures exceeded 100 degrees. In a scene that resembled a kind of Holy Communion, Sledge, Snafu, Oswalt, and the other Marines shared what little water they have left by drinking from the same canteen before their run across the airfield....some of them would not get out of the situation alive.

The run across the airfield resulted in heavy casualties; among those killed was Oswalt. Leckie's pal Runner was seriously wounded. In order to save his buddy Leckie ran back across the airfield to find a corpsman and a radio. Leckie was knocked unconscious by a bomb blast. Hours later he awakens on a hospital ship (at the end of the episode he was reunited with Runner).

While spending the night in a secure area, Sledge admitted to Captain Haldane about how scared he was crossing the airfield. Haldane told the Sledge that the only Marines who weren't scared were either crazy or dead. Sledge had gained the trust of the combat veterans, including the battle hardened Snafu, who started calling Eugene "Sledgehammer". While approaching an entrenched Japanese mini-fortress, the Marines spend the night, trying to keep it quiet to avoid a Japanese bayonet attack while most of them are sleeping. One Marine started screaming and thrashing about, and wouldn't be order to save the others a Marine hit the guy on the head with a shovel, a blow that kills him. Sledge rationalizes the next day that it had to be done...if the man wasn't silenced, all of them could have been killed.

Sledge and his comrades watched Captain Haldane ride off to attempt to get a change of orders; they didn't have sufficient numbers to overtake the Japanese stronghold, and an attack would have led to needless and unacceptable casualties.

On board the hospital ship we see Leckie and Runner, reunited and wounded, both sailing out of the South Pacific, and probably out of the war.


Once again for those who may be reading my comments for the first time, I always watch an episode of THE PACIFIC twice. On the second viewing I start to make notes on anything that stood out, and look for little things that I should have picked up on in the first look, but didn't.

John Basilone (Jon Seda) was no where to be found in Episode Six. But he will be back, probably in Episode Seven and almost certainly in Episode Eight.

And in Mom always told me that she had a cousin who died in the Pacific theater during World War II. I always thought he died at Iwo Jima, but that was wrong.

Mom told me he was with the Marines at Peilelu, and was killed by a sniper. So I had a cousin who died in combat in that little piece of hell, one who was killed years before I was born. I know he is buried somewhere in South Jersey.

I think I owe it to him to find out where.....and to pay him a visit this Memorial Day.

Quick Hits 4/21/10 Video Edition- Gun Guys Gone Wild, NJ Guv Hits The Big Time, and Stewart vs. Goldberg

There were several topics I made a mental note of yesterday that I wanted to touch on a bit later. So Im modifying the "Quick Hits" format for a video presentation, with some comments thrown in as well

(1)Yesterday I was about to do some political commentary regrading the news of the day, and I had the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW on in the background, just catching up on the people, places, and things that were relevant on the day. All was well until she presented her third segment, which consisted of the concurrent Pro Second Amendment rallies in Virginia and Washington DC. I have no problem with these pro gun advocates showing up in mass in a peaceful demonstration, though I am an advocate of gun control. They have a right to freedom of assembly, as guaranteed in the Constitution. I do have a problem with the timing of the rallies, held on the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh. Though organizers contend that it was in remembrance of Patriot's Day (when the first shots of the American Revolution were fired at Lexington and Concord in 1775), the failure of these gun rights advocates to recognize that holding rallies on the day a fanatic- and fellow Second Amendment zealot- decided to wage war on his own country and murder innocent men, women, and children was to say the least problematic to me, and probably to many other Americans.

Even more disturbing were some of the voices on the Right who refuse to see that actions and words do have dire consequences- among them Limbaugh, Hannity, Bachmann, and The NEW YORK POST- some of whom suggest that President Bill Clinton was responsible the Oklahoma City bombing because of the handling of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians at Waco in 1993 by the Feds. And to see Congressman Paul Broun addressing a Second Amendment rally attacking the federal government- of which he is part- I found more than disturbing and incredibly hypocritical. Mr. Broun might want to take a look at the city he lives and works in, Washington DC, where hundreds of thousands of Americans are denied equal representation in the House and in the Senate because of an oversight by our Founding Fathers- further proof that not even they were infallible. Perhaps Paul Broun, Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, and all others on the Right turning over stones to find misuse of the federal government should start looking under their noses.

By the time the Limbaugh segment of this video came around, I was so angry I turned the TV off....but I took a look at it this morning. Here it is, ladies and gents...a segment of the RACHEL MADDOW SHOW that made me want to blow my brains out.

And by the way....I am a gun owner, but never a gun nut.

(2) It only took New Jersey Governor Chris Christie a couple of months in office to make Keith Olbermann's WORST PERSONS list. And from the adversarial posturing this formal federal prosecutor has done in his first few months in office, somebody should remind him- he's a governor now, not arguing a case before a jury trying to show that the Other Guy deserves to be punished with a lengthy prison term.

While Christie continues to attack the spending practices of cities, towns, and boards of education.....not to mention the Federal Government and the previous Corzine seems that the staff payroll under this "cost cutting" Republican fiscal conservative has actually increased under his watch.

For all of his bluster of "shared sacrifice" his payroll has increased from the Corzine administration by $600,000.

From The Home News Tribune- a publication that endorsed Christie's election in 2009- is part of the response of his administration.

They accused Corzine of planting staff in other departments so his own staff's payroll would look smaller. They noted the need to staff the new lieutenant governor's office. And since Christie is married, his wife receives two aides as well.

Fair enough, perhaps. But in the end, even using the administration's own numbers, Christie has still increased the payroll of the governor's staff by about $600,000, with a higher average salary and more six-figure salaries among the employees.

That doesn't sound like shared sacrifice to us.

Also, when Christie was confronted by reporters after voting in yesterday's school budget vote, one of his counter attacks was "shoddy reporting" by the ASSOCIATED PRESS.

Below....Chris Christie makes his entry as #3 on the WORST PERSONS list.

(3) And finally....after all of this heavy lifting, its time for a laugh. Last week Jon Stewart told Fox News to "go f%#k themselves". And on THE O'REILLY FACTOR Fox mouthpiece Bernard Goldberg got mad, and then decided to get even. Bernie called out Jon, more or less calling him a no talent Jay Leno clone who gets away with using the "F Bomb".

But of course....Goldberg only provided more material for Jon, who gave us this classic counter attack; be patient the last couple of minutes are set to music.

A quick edit.... I removed the video because of a problem with the html; BLOGGER wouldn't save it. But if you want to see Jon Stewart at his best, check out Bernie Goldberg Strikes Back on COMEDY CENTRAL"s Daily Show page

That's all folks! I'll be back later.

Just one more edit.... While on COMEDY CENTRAL I checked out Stewart's interview with John O'Hara, one of the founders of the Tea Party movement....and it was an eye opener. O'Hara came across as an articulate and fiscally responsible concerned citizen- and a conservative libertarian- who seems to be as disaffected by most Republicans as well Democrats, and was able to state his case minus the angry rhetoric and finger pointing.

THE DAILY SHOW is far from being a news program, but there are many times when it can be of more benefit than the 24 hour news machines. Both Stewart and O'Hara were able to sit, talk, and laugh while O'Hara stateed his case about his movement being more than just about angry middle aged Obama hating white guys and assorted wingnuts.

Maybe their movement should showcase him more often and ask Bachmann, Palin, Broun, and all of the assorted other loudmouths to stay home and watch the proceedings from the friendly confines of their rec room couch.

One last, I really mean it this time.....The usual suspects at Fox are going bonkers about Jon Stewart mocking them. To get a feel for what is being said (and comments by Fox news supporters), take a look at the latest YouTube videos tagged "Jon Stewart". He certainly struck a nerve.

A job well done Jon!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Karen Gillan -Who's In The Tardis With The Doctor?

Q- Who's Karen Gillan?
A- The Doctor's companion.
Q- Who?
A- That's right!
Q- What's right?
A- Who!
Q- I wanna know! Who's Karen Gillan?
A- THE DOCTOR'S friend!
Q- What Doctor?
A- Who!
Q- What's the Doctor's name?
A- No....WHO!!!!!

Sorry about the Abbott and Costello revisited routine...sometimes I can't help myself.

Anyway...I'm in one of those moods when I want to veer away from social commentary and politics (to save my sanity). I was deciphering my GOOGLE Webmaster Tools, checking out how many people are logging on to this blog, what they are reading, and what they are looking for. And some times I find some bizarre info about this UT&MR appearing on searches for people I have never heard of. It happened several times this past monthly cycle...and I apologize to all of the guys logging in looking for pictures in the altogether of (insert your favorite hottie) because Hugh Jee don't play that!

Last week the name "Karen Gillan" popped up in my stats....and I had no clue who she was or is. Around midnight on Saturday I put on BBC America to check the newest episode of Dr. Who- it was time for a new Doctor, #11, played by Matt Smith.

And playing his latest companion, Amy Pond, was the young (22) Scottish actress Karen Gillan.

I could be wrong....but I don't believe the Doctor has ever had a red haired companion. It's about time.

Here's Karen's interview on one of those British "chat shows".

For the favorite Doctor was Tom Baker, and companion Elisabeth Sladen as Sarah Jane.....

Yep...I really am THAT OLD!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Oklahoma City Bombing + 15; Remembering And Comments

There are days of our lives when something so shocking happens that many of the details are etched in your mind for the rest of your life, the date is something you can't forget, and the question "where were you when (fill in the blank)?" is always applicable.

Of course, September 11, 2001 is a date most of you reading this can recall in detail, as is November 22, 1963 for you born prior to and old enough to remember the murder of President Kennedy in Dallas. Of course, the aging Greatest Generation (like my Mom and Dad) can tell you everything about December 7, 1941, down to what the weather was like that day.

April 19, 1995 was a day that didn't change our world forever the way the dates I mentioned above did; what it did do is shock Americans because of its needless and outrageous carnage and shook any vestiges of American innocence; it was day the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was blown up by fanatical militia member Timothy McVeigh with an assist from co-conspirator Terry Nichols. The death toll was 168 people, most employees in the building; 19 little children under the age of six were among the victims. They were attending a day care center in the building.

April 19, 1995 was a special day in our family; it was my maternal grandmother's birthday. Grandma turned 88 that day- we planned a small celebration with cake and a special meal for dinner. She was unable to travel at that point, and she was starting to show more advanced signs of dementia. I cut some of activities short that day, and spent the morning with her, making sure she had a good breakfast and was able to see her birthday cards.

It was sunny and cool that day (much like today). While spending the morning with Grandma I put on the TV, and began watching a documentary on HBO. That program was a segment of Shoah, which was about the Holocaust, told by middle aged and elderly people who survived extermination. If you've decided to follow the link to the IMDB page about Shoah, it will tell you documentary is over nine hours long, and it is emotionally draining. After watching for about an hour and a half, I did feel like I had been through a ringer; I decided to change the channel. On what was supposed to be a joyous day, I felt a need to escape from the horrors of a half a century before.

So I started channel surfing, and stopped at CNN. It was just after 11 AM. Minutes after escaping depictions of the horrors perpetrated by Nazi Germany I was witnessing death and destruction courtesy of our own home grown fanatics. Shocking, sickening, maddening- blind hatred of American government had taken 168 lives and seriously wounded many more. The ultimate horror was seeing first responders taking the broken lifeless bodies of little children out of the rubble.

I remember thinking "what kind of goddamn monster could have done this?" And like many, my first thought was of international terrorists, like the ones who attempted to blow up the World Trade Center with bombs in 1993; Muslim extremists must have done this.

But hours later, a crew cut twenty something young man was arrested and made to take a perp walk before TV cameras and the press- the boos were loud, and I think that even the most dispassionate and objective reporter watching Timothy McVeigh walk by could have been overcome by rage to want to strangle this twisted being.

There he was, Tim McVeigh. He could have been the kid working at the hardware store, or your plumber, your auto mechanic, the guy who sits next you in church.

Looking back on those days its remarkable how little things have changed regarding the harsh rhetoric heard directed towards the government; in fact, it seems to have intensified, and has become more mainstreamed and better funded. The advent of the internet has organized extremist groups to a degree unimaginable in 1995.

But to me what is most disturbing is that all too often the "fanners of the flames" are not merely the usual AM radio gasbags or FOX NEWS "pundits". Some of those who seem to be doing their best to delegitimize the Obama administration and reduce them to the level as "The Others" are elected members of Congress and some who are seeking elected office; Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachmann, Steve King, and Paul Broun...birthers, deathers, truthers, icons of the Tea Party Movement. These people, and others like them, are exercising their rights to speak freely but in doing so too often speak irresponsibly...and the unrest they stir may have dire consequences. The militia movement has doubled, so have gun sales, and so have the lies that this President is a socialist who will strip America of its freedoms.

Its getting scary again. And I hope to God we never have to experience another Oklahoma City.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

George Washington racks up late fees at NY library | Odd Headlines |

From the time we were little kids we were told that The Father of Our Country could not tell a lie, had a thing about cutting down cherry trees, and liked to throw silver dollars across the Potomac.....probably the first case of money being wasted in The District.

But George Washington had a lot more in common with Everyman than we were ever told.

Old George, it seems, did something that many of us have done in the past.....he took books out of the library, and ran up some pretty hefty late fees.

It seems President Washington borrowed books from the New York Society Library; they were due for return on November 2, 1789. As of this writing, they're just a bit overdue.

Hey....what's a mere 220 years? And now we know something else about George Washington- if Katy Couric were to ask him what he read he'd at least be able to give us an answer.

READ MORE....from Odd Headlines |

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Goldman Sachs Debacle Explained In A Way Even A Financial Idiot (Like Me) Can Understand

For months now Main Street has been railing against Wall Street. The little guys who saw their life savings and stock portfolios tank in the Crash of '08 know how it happened.

The big questions were (1) Who was going to be held accountable? (2) Will the government step in and do something to force accountability? (3)And finally, why has it taken so darn long?

Yesterday something did happen. The Security and Exchange Commission sued Goldman Sachs and VP Fabrice Tourre alleging fraud in the marketing of the ABACUS 2007-AC1 securities.

To get a a chronological snapshot of what happened, here's a time line, taken from the business section of The Los Angeles Times.

May 2006 -- Henry M. Paulson resigns as Goldman chairman to become Treasury secretary.

April 2007 -- Goldman Vice President Fabrice Tourre creates ABACUS 2007-AC1, a security based on high-risk subprime mortgages.

2007 -- Goldman traders begin betting against the mortgage market.

2007 -- Goldman Chairman Lloyd Blankfein receives a $68-million compensation package.

September 2008 -- Hit by the financial downturn, Goldman becomes a bank holding company so it can access federal funds more easily.

October 2008 -- Goldman receives a $10-billion taxpayer bailout from the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program.

June 2009 -- Goldman pays back the TARP money plus 23% interest.

November -- Blankfein says in an interview that he is doing "God's work."

January -- Goldman announces a record quarterly profit of

$4.9 billion.

April -- The Securities and Exchange Commission sues Goldman and Tourre, alleging fraud in the marketing of the firm's ABACUS 2007-AC1 securities.

Leading Off The PLAYLIST- Nick Drake

On a whim last night I started playing the music of a long dead singer- songwriter from the 1970's, of whom the majority may have never heard, and for all practical logic could not be considered a success during his brief lifetime.

But Nick Drake has become a sort touchstone artist and influence for following generations of performers; among those who cite Drake's work as an inspiration are Peter Buck, Robert Smith, Kate Bush, and The Black Crowes.

And listening to the three pieces leading off this blog's PLAYLIST, I can hear a bit of John Mayer as well.

Nick Drake ( 6/19/48- 11/25/74) was only 26 when he died of an overdose of a prescription antidepressant; he recorded only three albums, none of which was a commercial success; Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970), and Pink Moon (1972). Yet with the passage of time Drake is considered one of the most influential British musical artists of the last 50 years.

Until fairly recently I knew little of Nick Drake; I was aware that he did work with members of one of my favorite groups, Fairport Convention and opened for them in some concerts, and that Richard Thompson played on some of Drake's compositions. Additionally Joe Boyd, Fairport's producer, also worked with and produced Drake.

Drake was a shy, withdrawn, introspective man who granted few interviews and didn't like to perform live. And you could say that his was a short and sad life. But you could conclude that Drake's brief career transcended time, and perhaps he has gained a kind of immortality through his music and his personal story. And now with this wonderful tool called the internet, Nick Drake's music can touch and be explored by new audiences for generations to come.

After the three Nick Drake songs leading off the PLAYLIST, Dream Academy's "Life In A Northern Town" follows; in its initial release the band dedicated the song to Nick Drake.

For more information visit

Friday, April 16, 2010

AFL-CIO NOW BLOG | Limbaugh Lies About Big Branch Mine: No, Rush, It Wasn’t Union

Rush Limbaugh, aka "America's Great White Gasbag", once again has demonstrated that he's not about to let the truth stand in the way of his version of the story.

Limbaugh has alleged that the United Mine Workers failed to protect their members, whom, he claims were among the 29 miners killed in the blast at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, owned and operated by the Massey Energy Company.

But here's the problem with statement....Upper Big Branch was NOT a union mine.

When challenged about his claim about Upper Big Branch being a union mine, click the video below to hear what Rush Limbaugh said, in his own words.

Alright, Massey did rehire 85 miners in the case mentioned in 2009.

But here's the was at the Cannelton mine, which is not even in Raleigh County, where the Upper Big Branch mine is located.

Even Fox News got that point right. Rush Limbaugh didn't.

And even if that was the is the onus put on the UMWA for Massey running an unsafe mine? What kind of twisted logic is that?

And calling it logic of any sort is a stretch.


Some Commies!- The Obamas Made $5.5 Million in 2009

My previous post featured once and future (and former SNL) airhead Victoria Jackson playing her ukulele and singing a ditty called "There's a Communist Living In The White House".

Well....if there is a commie, living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue it must be news to the President of the United States and The First Lady- President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle made $ 5.5 million in 2009, according to their joint Federal Income Tax return.

The Obamas paid $1.8 million in Federal Income Tax. Most of their income was generated by book sales. The First Couple donated $329,000 to 40 different charities, with the largest donations of $50,000 going to CARE and The United Negro College Fund.

Additionally, the the President donated his his $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize to 10 charities.

The Obamas actually overpaid their 2009 taxes by $8,287 in 2009. The overpayment will be applied to their 2010 income taxes.

Alright- the last time I checked a communist was a person who adhered to the concept of communism, which is defined as ....

1 a : a theory advocating elimination of private property b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed
2 capitalized a : a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics b : a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production c : a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably d : communist systems collectively

Some of the President's critics- many of whom can be found in the most extreme elements of the Tea Party movement- claim that Mr. Obama is a Communist. The President made $5.5 million last year mainly in book sales.

So I propose this....Mr. Obama's next book should be titled "How To Make Millions In Your Spare Time As A Stay At Home Commie". He can even sell it on QVC or HSN. Heck, maybe even ShopNBC- they're the sister network of MSNBC, with all of those tree huggin' pinkos looking for new ways to destroy the fabric of American society.

All kidding aside....when was the last time you saw ANY millionaire wearing a tee with Marx on it? And I don't mean Groucho.

If  Mr. Obama's a communist, then I'm an astronaut....I mean, I can see the moon from my house.

Wow....that remark was so PALIN!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Former SNL'er Victoria Jackson- "There's A Communist Living In The White House"

About twenty years ago Victoria Jackson became a familiar figure on Saturday Night Live portraying a generic ditzy blond.

Now, she's morphed into a second career....ditzy blond Tea Bagger.

Victoria was at the Anti-Tax Tea Party rally in Washington today, and performed for the crowd. Here she is, courtesy of Ed Schultz and The Ed Show on MSNBC

I think Miss Vicky is gearing up for another phase of life....maybe public office is next. Bachmann, least Victoria used to get paid for saying dumb stuff, and she knew it was dumb.

Until now.

The Pacific; Episode Five- Peleliu

First, I'd like to apologize to the many readers who have been following my comments on HBO's The Pacific for the delay on this post- I'm just knee deep in spring cleanup, and a bit swamped right now. By far, The Pacific and its characters have been the most popular topic on this blog with the readership for weeks, and I thank you all for dropping by read my remarks and feelings about each chapter of this amazing series.

Chapter Five could be divided into three parts. The first was about John Basilone (Jon Seda), now involved in a war bond drive with Hollywood star Virginia Grey (Anna Torv).....and involved in a tryst in a hotel room as well. Was that an actual incident? I haven't found any evidence....but then again I didn't look very hard. But I'll tell you this- the producers of The Pacific went so far as to contact Robert Leckie's widow to get a picture of her wedding dress. When she gave them a black and white photo they asked her what color the dress was, demonstrating their commitment to accuracy. So if they say that Basilone and Virginia Grey (pictured left) were an item ever so briefly, that's good enough for me.

Basilone is a reluctant celebrity, but seems to be handling it well. His brother George comes to visit in the hotel lobby, and John tells George (now a Marine) in no uncertain terms- don't try to be a hero. Older brother John told George that he doesn't have to prove anything.

The second part of the story moves on to the rat and land crab infested island of Pavuvu where Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazello) joins the Fifth Regiment along with Oswalt and Leyden. The combat veterans they meet give the new guys a cold shoulder, and they end up bunking in another tent. Sledge meets up with old boyhood buddy Sid Phillips, who is about to rotate back to the United States. Also on the island is Bob Leckie(James Badge Dale), who in a theological discussion with Sledge tells of his doubts of the existence of God. Sledge asks Leckie what he believes in, Leckie answers "Ammunition".

Finally, the Marines are transported to Peleliu, and on September 15, 1944 they hit the beaches of the coral atoll which is heavily defended by Japanese. The Marines sustain heavy losses, and Sledge, in his first combat, experiences the horror of war for the first time. Among the casualties is Leckie's buddy Hoosier, who is badly wounded in the thigh. Peleliu has an airfield that must be taken from the enemy, and there are many more Japanese on the island than anticipated. Operations felt that the island could be taken in a couple of days; it took two months. Temperatures in the daytime regularly hit 110 degrees, and there was little potable water for drinking.

One of the more horrific scenes of the episode was when Snafu and Sledge begin to have some chow, and Snafu puts his can down and goes to a dead Japanese soldier a dozen yards away. Snafu then starts taking out the dead Japanese soldiers gold teeth with his knife.

The episode ends with the Marines contemplating the next day's action on Peleliu.

A couple of random notes.

When I first read that the Battle of Peleliu was going to be spread out over three episodes I thought..."You've got to be kidding".

But after seeing the episode twice, and reading up on the background of the action, it was entirely appropriate, and even necessary. Battles in the Pacific theater were unalike those in Europe and North Africa in that very often there was no retreat and no surrender, so the battles lasted weeks and months instead of days. By stretching Peleliu out over a two week three episode span the viewer gets a better sense of what these guys were up against.

And even though it was the second time I saw Episode Five, my heart was racing and thumping in the brilliant scene of the landing craft approaching the beach at Peleliu...I've seen many war movies over the years, but the recreation of the amphibious landing was brilliantly staged, and so realistic it was scary. Thank God it was not in 3D.

The chilly reception Sledge and his buddies got from the veterans was typical of what many experience in the service. I was on the receiving end during my tour, and I dished it out when I was one of the "old guys". Looking back on it now, it seems silly and if Airman Jones or Airman Babcock have dropped in and are reading this, I apologize for being such a boorish pain in the ass way back when.
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