31 March 2009

Sick Around America

This is a really good Frontline...

Please consider reading Healthcare Fairness (yesterday's post). Please take action! It's important!
Please email any responses you receive to healthcarefairness@gmail.com

30 March 2009

Healthcare Fairness

We the people of the United States of America deserve to be secure in our health and well being. As such, we have the RIGHT to low cost, high efficiency health care. Much like that which our Legislators and other elected officials enjoy.

Many of our elected officials seem to feel that we, the people, do not deserve the RIGHT to our health. As such, I respectfully request that they forfeit theirs.

Any elected official that feels that health care is not a RIGHT of all Americans, feels that our "for profit" health care system is fair, should be willing to live by the same standards as their constituents. They must forfeit their government supplied health care policies.


I would like my readers that agree with this idea to meet with/write to their elected officials. Letters to the editor/blog posts, etc.. are also encouraged.
If you do not know who your Senators or Representative is please click here.

It is important to make the letter personal. Make sure to include the fact that you feel they should forfeit their policy if they do not support universal healthcare. Explain your circumstances, why this issue is important to you. Many legislators will tell you that form letters get discarded fairly quickly into the "form letter" pile.

It is important that we convey the absolute necessity of this. We must bring equality into the health care process.

I would like to keep a record of those letters sent out, if you use e-mail, please consider a BCC to healthcarefairness@gmail.com Also, please forward any responses you receive to the same address.

  • Over 46 million U.S. citizens are uninsured. That number is growing every day with layoffs.
  • The average family policy cost exceeded $12,000 this year and continues to increase. Who has $1,000/mo plus the cost of medicine?
  • Low wage workers do not CHOOSE to be uninsured, it is not economically feasible.
  • The United States spends more on health care than other industrialized nations, and those countries provide health insurance to all their citizens.
  • Single payer healthcare would increase the competitiveness of U.S. companies on the global market.
EDIT********** Here's a sample of the letter I wrote to my Senators and Representative.

Senator Brownback,

I am writing to you to express my support for single payer health care. As our economy struggles, more and more of your constituents are joining the ranks of the uninsured.

As you can imagine, being without health insurance is a very scary thing. You wake up every day hoping that today isn't the day that something bad happens. You try every home remedy known to man - all because our healthcare system is broken. Personally, I have been forgoing medication for my chronic asthma for over six months, since losing my job.

It is very frustrating to hear members of your party talk about how health care is not a "right". We spend more money on healthcare than any other nation, yet people die because they can't afford access. There is something very wrong with that.

I have a proposal for you. If you truly believe that government provided healthcare is not the best way to answer our growing healthcare issue (not to mention global competitiveness), I ask that you publicly forfeit your taxpayer funded healthcare plan. Senators and Representatives have access to the best healthcare in the world - their constituents should too. If we can't have it, you shouldn't either.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Wichita, KS

29 March 2009

Health Care: A Call to Action

McClatchy Newspapers has released an article discussing how commercial insurers blacklist applicants based on even trivial health issues. That should be no surprise to any of us that have been or are currently uninsured.

Well this got me thinking....and it's often dangerous when I do that, so bear with me.

A good number of our elected officials seem to be against a single payer, nationalized health care - in fact, most of them are so beholden to big insurers that they refuse to even consider this "socialist" concept.

Since elected officials get to partake in a very nice insurance, tax payer paid plan, for life.
They must give it up.
Senator John McCain is a perfect example...he has been eligible for government sponsored health care for his entire life. Yet, he feels his constituents and the rest of us do not deserve that luxury? Now I realize his trophy wife could pay for whatever they needed...but that's not really the point.


Check back tomorrow for more details.

Response/Thanks from AKMuckraker @ Mudflats

This is a new post on the Mudflats, it looks like AKMuckraker will be continuing her good fight for the state of Alaska.

Thank You, from AKMuckraker.

28 03 2009

As I sit here writing, there is a strange mixture of wind, snow and volcanic ash swirling around outside my windows. It’s tempting to yell, “The sky is falling!” and at times it has felt that way. If you had told me last week that a State Legislator would send me a threatening email telling me he was going to out me, and reveal my real identity on his official legislative newsletter, I’d have thought to myself, “Never in a million years would someone be so foolhardy.” But once again I have overestimated the common sense of Rep. Mike Doogan. And here we are.

I have to admit this has taken a bit of getting used to. I’m not one to crave the spotlight, and I generally enjoy my boring little life. So, I’m needing a little time to regroup. Thank you all for the understanding, and indulging this naturally private and introverted blogger who normally posts pretty frequently. Public figures choose a public life. Private citizens don’t necessarily choose that. The possibility is always there for a pseudonymous blogger to become public, but we’d like to think that this would be at the time and in the manner of that person’s choosing….without the unwanted help of a State Representative, who is, after all, supposed to be working for us.

In this stressful time, I have been absolutely overwhelmedby your messages of love and support. I have read every single comment on the blog, and at times I laughed, at times I was brought to tears of joy and grief, and at times I was stunned by the insight and clarity of your thinking and assessment of the situation. And I loved it all. Truly, you all gave me a soft cushion on which to ride this rocky road after being dragged out of my cave. For those of you who have sent emails, or messages on Facebook, I have not yet had the opportunity to read all of them, but I will.

I have not only appreciated the personal support for me and my family (and Brian the moose), but I appreciate that you all getthe big picture, and the most important issue, which is not me. The big picture, the thing that should outrage all of us, despite political party or affiliation, is this: an elected official in a position of power and authority utilized state resources to deliberately and with malice, knowing there would be negative consequences, impinged on the free speech and privacy rights of a private citizen.

Heartening as well, have been the emails and comments of support I have received from conservatives who love and respect the right to free speech as much as those further left on the political spectrum, and who also recognize the big picture. There have been messages of support from the conservative community that have made me hopeful for finding common ground, even with those with whom we thought it would be impossible. This is a good thing for all of us.

I am working on a new post. It was difficult to know quite where to begin. As a friend said, it’s a bit like losing your favorite instrument, and having to learn how to play a new one. But I’ve enjoyed some down time with family, and the challenge of learning to play this new and strange instrument and seeing what I can do with it. Because there’s no doubt, things are different. The next post will be one of my favorite kinds - a good story. We haven’t had one of those in a while. The ending is uncertain, but it’s one that should resonate with all of us.

Thank you, thank you again for your love and support. Even though I’m a “word person” I know I will never fully be able to express to you my deep and abiding gratitude for this community.


*I’ll be putting up open threads as they are needed when the comments get clogged.

*The site will be down for a couple hours tonight, while ServerGuy outfits us with a brand new server! Thanks ServerGuy!

And yes, I’ll always be AKMuckraker.


28 March 2009

Torture Investigation Finally!

Well, if we won't do it, I guess the Spaniards will!

Spanish judge accuses six top Bush officials of torture

Legal moves may force Obama's government into starting a new inquiry into abuses at Guantánamo Bay and Abu Ghraib

Criminal proceedings have begun in Spain against six senior officials in the Bush administration for the use of torture against detainees in Guantánamo Bay. Baltasar Garzón, the counter-terrorism judge whose prosecution of General Augusto Pinochet led to his arrest in Britain in 1998, has referred the case to the chief prosecutor before deciding whether to proceed.

The case is bound to threaten Spain's relations with the new administration in Washington, but Gonzalo Boyé, one of the four lawyers who wrote the lawsuit, said the prosecutor would have little choice under Spanish law but to approve the prosecution.

"The only route of escape the prosecutor might have is to ask whether there is ongoing process in the US against these people," Boyé told the Observer. "This case will go ahead. It will be against the law not to go ahead."

The officials named in the case include the most senior legal minds in the Bush administration. They are: Alberto Gonzales, a former White House counsel and attorney general; David Addington, former vice-president Dick Cheney's chief of staff; Douglas Feith, who was under-secretary of defence; William Haynes, formerly the Pentagon's general counsel; and John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who were both senior justice department legal advisers.

Court documents say that, without their legal advice in a series of internal administration memos, "it would have been impossible to structure a legal framework that supported what happened [in Guantánamo]".

When Nancy Pelosi took impeachment off the table, I knew the idea of holding the Bush administration accountable for their crimes was probably a lost cause. The current administration doesn't seem very gung ho to investigate either.


Torture is wrong. Period. There is no evidence that I can find of a "24" like instance where the world was saved by beating or waterboarding someone. In fact, Huff Post is linking to a Washington Post article regarding the "harsh treatment" of Abu Zubaida. No plots were foiled, time was wasted and we undermined our principals. Pretty sure that = EPIC FAIL!

Supporting AK Muckraker & the Mudflats

This is a copy of an e-mail I received directly from the Mudflats. Since my last post discussed the situation - I felt my readers might want this information.

Date: Sat, 28 Mar 2009 10:37:12
Subject: AKMuckraker "outed" by Alaskan Politician

Hi everyone,

You may recall that some time ago Rep Mike Doogan was sending some crazy emails to people who emailed him and AKMuckraker was one of the bloggers involved in exposing his craziness.

Apparently this did not sit well with Rep Doogan. He has been trying to find out who AKMuckraker was for several months now and he has finally managed to do it. He then sent out a message to people on his mailing list via his official legislative newsletter, advising them of the real name of AKMuckraker.

Whether or not people support AKMuckrakers opinions, it seems most people support her right to remain anonymous. We feel it is a right that everyone on the internet is entitled to - people make the decision for their own reasons, some because they have been cyber stalked in the past, some to prevent being cyber-stalked in the future.

This may be the first known case of an anonymous blogger being cyber-stalked by a politician determined to find out their real identity and out them, though!


We are not certain at this stage but it is possible that Rep Doogan has broken the law, and there may be legal action that AKMuckraker can take. Whether or not AKMuckraker chooses to do that is another question and one I am sure she will consider this carefully over the coming days.

You can read posts from bloggers on this subject via the following links -

We also have a thread on this on the forums, where you can feel free to add your comments.


Updates and possible calls for action will be posted in that thread, so make sure to check it regularly.. We will also try and keep up with links to posts on the subject - and possibly media stories.

You may find it difficult to access the mudflats blog and forums over the next few days - especially if the mainstream media pick up this story - until we move them to a server with a larger capacity. This will cost us around $200 a month but we feel that the demand for accessing the sites over the next few weeks will make it difficult for the usual mudflats readers to keep up to date, so we are biting the bullet and hoping that people will assist with donations.

You can donate to AKMuckraker via the paypal buttons found on both the blog and the forums.

You can also email messages of support to AKMuckraker at akmuckraker@yahoo.com - be aware that a lot of people are doing so at the moment so you may not get a reply but we feel it is important to let AKMuckraker know that she is supported.

On behalf of The Mudflats Team.


This email is being sent to all members of The Mudflats forums, even if you have chosen not to receive announcements. We apologise if you did not wish to receive it. We felt this was important news that all would want to be alerted to.


27 March 2009

Freedom to Blog?

Have you noticed the blogger backlash?

(h/t to agingdiscodiva.com for the picture)

Amanda Terkel from Think Progress was harassed by a producer from the O'Reilly Factor after Terkel reported her differences with O'Reilly. The fact that she dared to disagree with the "mighty" Falafel Bill meant that she deserved to be followed two hours from her home and accosted (on camera, mind you).

Well now, somewhat more disturbing news comes out of Alaska (I expect crap like that out of Bill O'Reilly). A blogger who rose to prominence during the first days of the nomination of Gov. Sarah Palin to the Republican ticket, has been outed by a Democratic State Representative.
Rep. Mike Doogan apparently became somewhat obsessed by the opinions and popularity of the blogger who went by AK Muckracker and the blog The Mudflats.

Rep. Mike Doogan, courtesy of AKDemocrats.org

AKM's sin was posting a criticism of Rep. Doogan for being dismissive and snarky in e-mail responses to constituents. AKM had wanted to remain anonymous because Alaska is apparently like a giant Peyton Place with oil. We all know that Palin has been accused of punishing poltical foes - so it does not go against reason that it might be a good idea to keep your identity private. Especially, if you are getting 64,000 hits (increasing throughout the campaign) a day talking about her. This blogger has decided to take a bit of time to decide what the future holds for the Mudflats. (Warning - the server has been a bit flaky, lots of concerned people).
****Edit: This is a bit of the background on the "investigation" and personality of Rep. Mike Doogan, courtesty of Progressive Alaska.

Honestly, isn't this why most of us choose to blog? The idea of passing on a bit of knowledge or perspective to someone else? AKM was in the right place at the right time to shed some much needed light on the Palin situation. The information AKM has provided on the Mt. Redoubt eruptions and the Chevron tank farm was something I wasn't hearing anywhere else.

I'm sure there are a lot of us that might be a bit concerned if what could have been just a flame in the comments, ends up as a knock at the door. I think the fact, that in this case, it was an elected official makes this even worse.

How do you feel? Do Bloggers have a right to anonymity? Or are bloggers Neo-Journalists and should have to disclose who they are?

If you care to voice your displeasure with Rep. Doogan:
Ph: (907) 465-4998
Or (800) 689-4998
Fax: (907) 465-4419
AK State Capitol
Room #112
Juneau, AK 99801


26 March 2009

The Peanut Problem

Salmonella. A dirty, insidious disease - it didn't care if you are eating $10 a jar fancy hand ground peanut butter or snacking on a package of Austins Peanut Butter Crackers. At least that was the case over the last few months. Over 700 people have been sickened. At least 8 have died across the country. Why? Because a company made a conscious decision to release products on the market that could be contaminated.

When the story first broke most everyone thought this was just a horrible accident. However, soon it came to light that this story had a clear villain. Stewart Parnell of the Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely, Georgia. Mr. Parnell disregarded time tested safe-guards in favor of more production.

"Stewart Parnell hailed from Lynchburg, Va., and had aspirations for his new acquisition. Workers wilted under pressure to produce.

“Under the old boss, we’d do 100,000 pounds [of nuts] a week and he’s happy,” said Bobby Mallard, 59, a production line supervisor with 17 years at the plant. “But Stewart ran a bigger operation. He preferred to get out 100,000 pounds a day.”

Parnell dispensed with filling small jars and cans, preferring 30-pound boxes that could be cranked out quickly. He added a granulation line, which produced small chopped nuts to be used as a topping or ingredient. And in 2004, the company heralded the introduction of its own peanut butter.

Producing larger volumes and more products, Peanut Corp. enticed food giants such as the Kellogg Co., Sara Lee and King Nut. Annual sales jumped 66 percent, from $15 million in 2005 to $25 million last year, according to business researchers Dun & Bradstreet."

Proper heating was not assured, cleaning was an afterthought, all that was important was filling more and more orders. Instead of destroying products that tested positive for Salmonella, it was common for the company to send out a separate sample.
"It’s not possible, however, to “retest away a positive result,” said Charles T. Deibel, president of Deibel Labs, one of at least two used by Peanut Corp. “If you tested 50 samples for a given lot and 49 of those were negative and one was positive,” Deibel said, “that one positive must trump the 49 negatives.”
Unfortunately, that's exactly what happened. On September 26th, 2008 a tanker truck filled with 45,000 pounds of contaminated peanut paste was unleashed on consumers and manufactures.

Today we find out that in addition to rodents, roaches and other disgusting stuff - the plant had a leaky roof.

"The leaky roof is suspect because there’s one thing needed most for salmonella to grow, spread and thrive: Water.

Some theorize that when it rained, water could have entered the plant and multiplied any existing salmonella or even introduced the salmonella into the plant.

“That is a likely culprit for the problem,” said Michael Hansen, a senior scientist at the watchdog group Consumers Union."

These are the people that we are trusting to create our food?

Photo Courtesy of the AP

Why is this man not in jail? Why is he not being prosecuted for knowingly endangering millions of us and killing eight? It seems to me that our country is very hesitant to bring criminal charges against business who make horrible decisions (Ford Pinto, anyone?).

The sooner we started holding some of these "business" men responsible for the havoc they cause, the better. Greed is not an admirable trait. Being rich at the expense of ethics is not something to aspire to. That's how we ended up in this mess.


25 March 2009

Department of Redundancy Department

Apparently, the Kansas House has decided that the people need to vote to add an amendment to the state Constitution affirming the right to own guns.

Honestly, what is wrong with our legislature? We have serious problems to address and they debate this, giving breaks to a Christian license plate and more unnecessary restrictions on abortion. It is a blatant case of political pandering.

For all my gun nut readers...no worries, NO ONE is coming to get your guns, unless you're a felon or nuts (by the way, you really don't NEED an AK-47). The NRA just wanted to raise some $$$, I'm sure you'll get a really nice card at Christmas.

Seriously, who sets the agenda for the Legislature? They really need a handler, someone to keep them on track and doing things that actually make a difference (in a good way! Like raising the minimum wage like they did today. Not by trying to defund Planned Parenthood - you tools!). These sort of hot button issues should really be reserved for times when they don't have real work to do (so, yes I mean never).

How do these people keep getting elected?

24 March 2009

Drug Testing, Really?

Today the Kansas House passed HB 2275, this bill has an amendment that would require that recipients of “cash” assistance submit to random drug testing. Now KansasJackass and Bagyants have covered this issue a bit today, but well I figure my readers may not be the same and I feel like there is more to say. And since, I'm currently on unemployment – it's probably just a matter of time before they come for me.

This type of activity is nothing more than economic profiling. People are poor, obviously they are on dope, right?

According to the Drug War Chronicle, six states (not including Kansas) have taken up this issue. Their justification is the 1996 Welfare Reform Act that authorized these tests. Michigan instituted a drug testing law in 1999 for all Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) applicants. Three and a half years later,the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that this type of blanket testing without probable cause violated the 4th Amendment protection against unlawful searches and seizures.

"This ruling should send a message to the rest of the nation that drug testing programs like these are neither an appropriate or effective use of a state's limited resources," said the ACLU Drug Policy Litigation Project head Graham Boyd at the time.

According to the ACLU's now-renamed Drug Law Reform Project, which had intervened in the Michigan case, the other 49 states had rejected drug testing for various reasons. At least 21 states concluded that the program "may be unlawful," 17 states cited cost concerns, 11 gave a variety of practical or operational reasons, and 11 said they had not seriously considered drug testing at all (some states cited more than one reason).

Random drug testing of welfare recipients has also been rejected by a broad cross-section of organizations concerned with public health, welfare rights, and drug reform, including the American Public Health Association, National Association of Social Workers, Inc., National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, National Health Law Project, National Association on Alcohol, Drugs and Disability, Inc., National Advocates for Pregnant Women, National Black Women's Health Project, Legal Action Center, National Welfare Rights Union, Youth Law Center, Juvenile Law Center, and National Coalition for Child Protection Reform."

Even considering all this information our “wonderful” elected officials decided to spend even more valuable legislative time on doing stupid things that will probably either be vetoed or struck down by a court later. We should all be proud.

This little jewel in the Fiscal Note on the bill...just makes me realize how insane these people are.

"Federal law prohibits the use of random drug testing in determining eligibility for Food Assistance and Medical Assistance. The Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services(SRS), the agency that administers the programs affected by this legislation, states that other public assistance programs to which HB 2275 could be applied are Temporary Assistance for Families, General Assistance, and Child Care Assistance. The agency also states that in Child Care Assistance, federal law stipulates that the primary beneficiary is the child, not the parents. HB 2275 would require these children to submit to random drug testing." (My Emphasis Added)


23 March 2009

In Remembrance

My mom had been sick for sometime when she was finally got a diagnosis in December 2000. She had been dismissed by doctors as unhappy, hormonal and stressed. A cough and various "female" symptoms was all she had...it took months before someone finally ordered a chest x-ray. By that time, it was too late.

Two days after Christmas 2000, my mom was diagnosed with Lung Cancer.

For three agonizing months, she tried everything chemotherapy, experimental chemotherapy, after it was apparent that the stage III cancer had spread to distant lymph nodes, she was started on radiation. It was miserable, she was miserable. If we would have known how it all would end, I'm sure our decisions would have been a bit different.

On March 23, 2001, Melody Ann Whisler Teter left us. She was 43.

Obviously, this is supposed to be a political blog and well, even death is political.
Cancer funding in this country is substantial, but so are the death rates of certain cancers.

As you can see from this chart, Breast Cancer research far exceeds the other cancers on this list. This is a testament to the powerful lobbying efforts of the Komen foundations and others like it that have been a force for getting money for their cause.

I guess what bothers me is that we are spending the least on the deadliest cancer (by incidence) on this list. Lung Cancer kills more people every year than Breast, Prostate, Colo-Rectal and Pancreatic Cancers COMBINED! Yet it received only $1,151 per diagnosis, compared to $3,104 for Breast Cancer. It only received $1,529 for each death, compared to $13,989 for Breast Cancer.

Lung Cancer is almost always diagnosed in advance stages, there are currently no screening tests that catch it in its early stages leading to extremely high death rates.

It doesn't have to be this way. We must find a way to increase funding. How do you think the inroads were made against Breast Cancer...massive funding, it still gets massive funding.

If you'd like to help in the fight against Lung Cancer, please consider a donation to the Lung Cancer Alliance.


Is It the Word "Choice" They Don't Like?

Haymarket Riot, Courtesy of Library of Congress.

I've been trying to get to the bottom of the Employee Free Choice Act. Everything I've heard about it suggests that it's a weakening of workers' rights, just cleverly titled.

So what's the deal?

Is it the end of secret ballots? Is it a great leap for workers' rights? I'll let you decide.

Current law: 30% of employees must sign a card certifying their wish to unionize. At that time the employer has the right to either accept the union or request a secret ballot to certify the wishes of the workers to organize. If a secret ballot is requested, a majority of the workers must agree to unionize. If that happens, the National Labor Relations Board will certify that the union will the representation for the workers for collective bargaining. (Courtesy of Wikipedia, it was the most concise explanation lol)

EFCA: If enacted, the NLRB would certify a union for bargaining if the majority signed union cards. Now, employees could request a secret ballot, if 30% agree to it.

On this point, it seems that it shifts the decision to the workers, which in theory should make it easier to unionize. Now as far as the secret ballot thing, it seems like they are splitting hairs. The “card check” has always been a part of it, so why is it an issue now? As I understand it, the difference would be instead of a 30% card check triggering a secret ballot at the employers' request, now a 50%+1 card check would result in a union, unless 30% of the employees' requested a secret ballot.

So maybe that isn't the real issue, maybe they are using it as a distraction for something in the bill that they really don't want. Ya know, preying on the fear of workers thinking that they wouldn't have the protection of secrecy if they agreed to unionization.

Let's see what else is there, according to the EFCA Exposed:

  1. It opens the workers, not wishing to sign up publicly, to intimidation.

  2. It mandates harsher penalties on companies, based on highly subjective judgements.

  3. It damages American business by implementing mandatory mediation if an agreement is not reached 90 days after union certification, and mandatory arbitrations 30 days after that.The majority of federal arbitrators have never written a labor contract in their lives and most have come from academia or government jobs. Yet they will be setting the wages, hours and benefits structures. (Emphasis Added)

Now the AFL-CIO says that they are just trying to punish the companies that refuse to bargain, fire employees for even talking about a union (Wal-Mart for example), and simplifying the certification process.

I really don't know what to think about all this. To me, it seems like the “secret ballot” thing is a red herring. What they are really concerned about is the bargaining and the penalties. Seeing as the American people are not exactly in a forgiving mood when it comes to perceived greedy businessmen, it was a brilliant maneuver.


21 March 2009

Who's Side is Shimon Peres On?

As is required by law, I open my post with "Go Gonzaga!"

President Obama recently recorded a video message for the people and the government of Iran.

If you haven't seen it or at least read the transcripts, here is the video:

I applaud this action and truly hope some good can come of this situation with Iran. The official responses from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah have been of the "don't tell us, show us" variety, however, we have no idea what could be transpiring on the back channels. Obviously, they have to keep the strong, hardline stance with their people looking on anxiously. It is also possible that they really plan to keep the hardline stance, it's hard to tell. There is a lot of bad blood there.

What I didn't expect to see is Israeli President Shimon Peres to chime in and attempt to undercut the work of our President.

President Obama in his address said:
"In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. […] The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right — but it comes with real responsibilities."
In contrast the message from President Peres:
“[I suggest] you don’t listen to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad, it is impossible to preserve a whole nation on incitement and hatred, the people will become tired of it. […] I think that the Iranian people will topple these leaders…these leaders who don’t serve the people, in the end the people will realize that.”
While I can see the point that Peres is trying to raise, I have to question the timing. The closest ally of Israel is extending an olive branch to the sworn enemy of Israel. So what does the President of Israel do? Put out a statement DIRECTED at the people of Iran and basically tell them that they should overthrow their government. Yeah...great plan, well great plan if you really have no interest in a lasting peace.

Lets pretend for a second: Obama's message gets through to the Iranians and their people. Relations are worked out, nuclear facilities are inspected by the IAEA and Iran accepts Israel's right to exist and comes back to the table with the rest of the grown-ups.
Now obviously, this is like the ultra-best case scenario (and is probably not completely realistic). Now think about who loses under such a scenario? Israeli politicians that ensure their jobs on the conflict with the Palestinians and the threat of a nuclear Iran.

The timing of this statement from Peres was not a mistake, this was completely calculated. So who are they trying to sabotage, the Iranians or us?

20 March 2009

AIG and other madness

First let me say, I am enjoying my fill of all day basketball. This is my favorite time of year. I just wish some of the underdogs would have pulled off the upsets, that's always the best part of the tourney (looks like I wrote this too soon! Thanks to Cleveland State and Siena!). If you are looking for some good ball on Monday, be sure to check out Davidson vs. St. Mary's. Two of the nation's best point guards (Steph Curry and Patty Mills).

On to more "important" issues.

AIG and it's corporate overlords have soaked the American taxpayer for vast amounts of money. Then we find out that they are giving/have given millions of dollars in bonuses to the same dumbasses that had got them into the position in the first place, including several that had left the company. I want that job please...oh wait, any one that makes under $250,000 a year couldn't possibly do that job. So obviously, they have to pay them an assload of money to keep them around.

In response, the peasants have been threatening pitchfork complete protests, there are tours of AIG executives homes, and the House has passed a bill that would tax the bonus amounts of companies receiving bailout funds at 90% on amounts higher than $25,000. Now, I'm all for punishing these guys, in fact I feel like the general tax rates on people making a lot of money should be higher than they are (with no loopholes). However, I question the Constitutionality of this bill. In some respects, I wonder if House members realized that this wouldn't pass Constitutional muster, but got the benefit of a feel good vote to show their constituents. Bills of attainder are prohibited under our Constitution and I really don't know how this wouldn't fall into that category. Frog-march these guys out, hold a trial and take their money, I'm okay with that, but the idea of writing a tax law with the specific purpose of taking money from a specific group scares me, no matter how much they deserve it. Obviously, the best answer would have been to write it into the contracts that I'm assuming they had to sign in order to take the money, but of course that wasn't done. Seems like maybe we need to get some contract lawyers in Congress and in the Treasury. I am happy that this Wall St. debacle has caused some talk about the out of control nature of CEO compensation and the unbelievable discrepancy between CEO pay and average worker pay. These are very important issues. When you have companies that will give CEOs and other executive-types bonuses but are laying off workers...that is a severe problem and should be addressed.

Gordon Gecko was wrong, Greed is not good.

Facebook Responses

Since I haven't received any comments on here, I wanted to share the discourse on Facebook (yes, I use that word loosely...lol)

You posted a link
Petra at 9:51pm March 19
I actually remember exactly what i did that night of March 21. Praying for the safe return of my husband which was at that night 6 years ago sitting on the border in a Bradley waiting to get the order to cross into iraq. I do not agree with this statement!!!!
Nicki at 9:54pm March 19
I guess my point would be that he should have never been in that position. Period. And it's important that we understand fully how it happened, so that it never happens again.
Petra at 10:00pm March 19
Most people do not understand what it means to serve your country!!! We in the military do it on a daily bases and get very offensive by these kind of statements !!!!!
Tiffany at 10:00pm March 19
I think people for get why we are over there!! and we should be thankful for the people everywhere serving us and our country!
Petra at 10:01pm March 19
and find it very offensive
Petra at 10:04pm March 19
you know nicki instead of posting these far left statements WHY DON'T YOU THANK A VET!! BECAUSE OF A VET YOU ARE ABLE TO POST THESE STATEMENTS
Nicki at 10:04pm March 19
You can be thankful and appreciative of the service and sacrifice of the troops without supporting the war. I have never supported this war and I'm not really sure how trying to make sure that troops are not put in the position of fighting an illegal, immoral war can be considered offensive. That is not my goal. They should have never been sent there in the first place. No Coalition blood should have ever been spilled in Iraq, especially under dubious circumstances.
Richard at 10:04pm March 19
A statement against the war or disapproval of an administration is not necessarily a statement against members of our armed forces or the "idea" of America. I ask people to calm down and attempt to consider this for a moment :)
Daniel at 10:10pm March 19
Calm down my ass. I'm 4th generation military and I take offense to anyone that tells anyone they shouldn't say what is on their mind. If you don't like what someone has to say, no matter WHAT that may be, speak your peace and move on, if that doesn't satisfy you I suggest you take a flying leap at a hole in a donut. Nicki is just as entitled to her opinion as some moron that accepts orders on blind faith and ignorance and I for one have always been taught to respect the person and NOT the uniform.
Tiffany at 10:11pm March 19
and what do you think would have happened if they didn't?!?!? they came to our land and not killed but murdered how many americans!! we didn't ask for them to come do that and we aren't a country that just sits back and lets innocent americans be murdered!
Nicki at 10:11pm March 19
Daniel at 10:14pm March 19
I want to know Tiffany. How many people have to die, on both sides, to satisfy your blood lust? Do you think we can just sling bombs until a solution presents itself? Grow up. Escalation isn't a solution, its an escalation.
Tiffany at 10:14pm March 19
oh thats right we just went over there to have fun in the freakin sun!!!
Richard at 10:15pm March 19
Didn't ask for it? Maybe many of the individuals that were killed didn't, but as a government... sorry, our foreign policy for decades has been asking for something to happen eventually! Do you honestly think that if someone poked at us as a nation and tried to dictate a new way of life to us for decades that we wouldn't (at the very least) have a group of individuals within our ranks that would lash out at the said offender?
Daniel at 10:16pm March 19
No we went over there to manufacture another shadow enemy that would justify elevated defense spending and keep cold war era defense contractors in business. And how does supporting the troops always equal sending them to get shot at? I support the troops' need to come home! Something the "patriots" seem to not want.
Tiffany at 10:17pm March 19
oh you right i don't know what i'm talking about DANIEL. I want to know if you have been ther or know someone who has?!?!?!
Daniel at 10:17pm March 19
Oh no... I'm sure the british thought we were completely justified in our "insurrection". One man's terrorist and all that. lol.
Richard at 10:18pm March 19
Nicki at 10:18pm March 19
The former President who you seem to admire so much, has said that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. The war was perpetrated on false pretenses from the start. We continue to waste money and lives on both sides over a lie. There were no weapons of mass destruction, Saddam had no link to the Al Qaeda terrorists...
They used the fears of Americans just like you to justify something that should have been unjustifiable.
Daniel at 10:18pm March 19
I have a copy of thriller from saudi arabia in my bookshelf right now. What does that have to do with making an informed decision? Nothing. And no, you don't know what you're talking about.
Nicki at 10:21pm March 19
My point for my blog if you read the whole thing, was that I question whether our losses have been worth it. I don't think they have. That is nothing against those that have served, that lays at the feet of those that sent them there.
Tiffany at 10:22pm March 19
ok well I have some of my very best friend going back for the 2nd time you bet they are happy to go so we here in the USA stay safe!!
Daniel at 10:22pm March 19
As a matter of fact, the average soldier on the ground in Iraq right now has no idea what is going on. Are you really so deluded? You think the government even bothers telling these men what they're fighting for? I'm sorry you feel the way you do, and I would ask you RESPECTFULLY to educate yourself.
Nicki at 10:23pm March 19
I have family who has served there, and I hope they always return safely. But I think we need to be honest, this has a whole lot more to do with their safety than ours. If we were truly concerned about the safety of average stateside Americans we would have stayed in Afghanistan and finished the job we started there. Where's Osama?
Daniel at 10:24pm March 19
Why don't you go?
Richard at 10:24pm March 19
That's nice and I wish them a safe return. I honestly don't feel any safer than I did on Sept. 10 of 2001 though. If anything, I fear my own government more than I ever feared that the terrorists would come and blow up my local Wal Mart next!
Tiffany at 10:24pm March 19
here they are serving us and all you all want to do is undo what they have done!! you are only thinking of your self!!
Tiffany at 10:25pm March 19
i am talking to one now and he said the one's he killed were hurting/ trying to hurt our troops!!
Richard at 10:27pm March 19
And you aren't? I like to think that I'm actually stepping back for a second and thinking all sides through. Taking a shot at envisioning the "greater good" for lack of a better term.
Nicki at 10:27pm March 19
They are serving a military industrial complex that has very little to do with us. How exactly am I being selfish? By having an opinion that is different than you find acceptable? I don't want your friends or my family to die for a war with no meaning. That's it. No one should have lost anyone in this farce, let alone 4500+ someones.
Nicki at 10:28pm March 19
Tiffany, if someone invaded Wichita, would your Dad fight? It's the same thing.
Daniel at 10:31pm March 19
Are you really that ignorant Tiffany? Tell me this is an act. You sound like a 10 year old trying to understand why people would hurt each other. I have no time to waste debating foreign policy with a juvenile. Have fun listening to your Lee Greenwood records and believing everything you're told. Goodnight.
Tiffany at 10:35pm March 19
ok well i'll leave you with your our thinking! but lets just say i'm so happy with the changes the new pres. is making!!! I don't and you all shoud try moving over there stay for a while.... see what its like!!
Tiffany at 10:39pm March 19
no i'm not but i'm guessing you are daniel!! my friend sai if you go pick up a history book and the key is to read it would tell you!!and thats something you will never UNDERSTAND!! thats right from him DANIEL!!
Nicki at 10:39pm March 19
That's always the last bastion isn't it? If you don't like it move...excellent strategy. I guess I would ask the same thing...if our cause is really so noble there, why haven't you signed up, why hasn't your husband?
I mean a war that was supposed to take months, pay for itself, we were going to be greeted as "liberators" has lasted SIX years. Do you remember them telling us that? How can you not feel betrayed? That is what this post is about. The dereliction of their duties by our leaders, the deception and the massive propaganda effort that it took to wage this war, should make any American ill.
Nicki at 10:41pm March 19
What exactly in history explains this? And don't let your friends do your thinking for you, that's how this crap happens. Group think is not healthy.
Tiffany at 10:46pm March 19
you know people are ment for different things nicki, I've do things here in the us to help. untill any of us go over there we will never know, but I am going by every one of my friends that has been over there ( one is going back his chose) they are happy to go back to better serve the USA.
Tiffany at 10:48pm March 19
and yea you can really put a time line on war!!! for real think about it. go talk to a VET ask him about it, i bet you will come back knowing a few things!!!
Nicki at 10:49pm March 19
That is great and that's their choice, they signed up. My position is that they should have never had to choose that position. And honestly, the argument over the policy and decisions that led to war really has nothing to do with the troops on the ground. I'm arguing background, because it's been six years. Our troops should be home with their families. You cannot fight a war of ideas with guns.
Nicki at 10:51pm March 19
Go talk to the Iraq War Veterans against the War and see with they say. If they didn't want a timeline on it, they shouldn't have bolstered that the war effort would only take months and pay for itself. Now your great-grandchildren will be paying for it.
Tiffany at 10:51pm March 19
i'm talkiong to him and yes he is telling some stuff but 95% is me! and i would rather think to gether then like that!! at least he is speaking for KNOWING by being there!!!!
Tiffany at 10:53pm March 19
all the one's I know want to be there, ITS THERE JOB!!! they are happy to stand behind the US!!!
Nicki at 10:53pm March 19
Without saying anything regarding 9/11 because that isn't true. Why are we there?
Tiffany at 10:56pm March 19
i'm off to bed. to you both you should really think about all this and go talk to some vets!! love ya nicki your still my cous:) when it comes down to it every one can think what they want its america:)
Nicki at 10:58pm March 19
So putting them in harm's way is okay without good cause because it's their job? Remind me never to work for you. Well, it's time to watch the rest of the basketball game. Enjoy your evening.
Daniel at 10:59pm March 19
"How fortunate for governments that the people they administer don't think."
Amy at 12:37pm March 20
Why I am just learning that you have a blog? I signed up to follow....I love dashboard and that it lets you follow!
Nicki at 12:41pm March 20
Yeah, I've had like three different ones from time to time. A blogger that I read a lot suggested that the best way to become a good blogger is to blog everyday, so I'm trying. I haven't publicized it that much, at least not within the family, ya'll already think I'm a godless heathen...so no need to reinforce it. LOL

The Dashboard is very cool and you're on my "friends and family" blog list.
Amy at 12:50pm March 20
I just noticed that! YEAH now we are linked, thank you blogger! And in speaking for myself, as your cousin, I don't think you're a godless heathen! You're my family, and I accept you and love you just for who you are, even if I don't agree with it (politically speaking). Spirited debates help to stregthen each other. AND KNOW THAT I PRAY FOR YOU so that you won't always be godless! :) I'd like to hang out with you in heaven some day Nic!
Donald at 1:00pm March 20
Wow, I just read all this, Nicki, you were using to many big words!
Andrea at 1:30pm March 20
I am not going to get into saying a million different things on here because I am not sure how I feel about the war. I haven't really figured out exactly where I stand on what has happened, but the one thing that bothered me was that Tiffany was saying to listen to the people that have been there, and I agree, except that you need to listen to all... Read More the people who have been there. Try this link out http://ivaw.org/ Not everyone over there thinks they should be. I know you mentioned them earlier Nicki but it kind of got passed right on over. I thought it would be a good idea for people to be able to see what they have to say themselves.
Dustin at 5:45pm March 20
I think i know how to make this easy on everyone. If you are for the war you are a blood thirsty nazi. However if you are against the war you hate the soldiers, god, and you like to spit on old people. I think I finally figured out a away to piss everyone off =P