11/29/08

The wages of sin...

The Catholic Church seems to be increasingly taking the position that voting for The Obamessiah was/is a sin.

I have been unable to determine so far if it is a mortal sin or merely a venial sin. Perhaps this will be clarified later.

In Modesto, California, Father Joe Illo, the pastor of St. Joseph's Catholic Church, told his parishioners in a letter that they should go to confession before receiving communion, if they voted for Barack Obama:

"If you are one of the 54 percent of Catholics who voted for a pro-abortion candidate, you were clear on his position and you knew the gravity of the question, I urge you to go to confession before receiving communion. Don't risk losing your state of grace by receiving sacrilegiously."

Illo himself is unable to identify the degree of sin by casting a vote for The One:

"In Catholic teaching, you have to go to confession when you have committed a mortal sin," he said. "Now, what is a mortal sin? It's somewhat complex. No one can say, 'You committed a mortal sin.' I can only say, 'It's a grave matter.' It's my job to look after my parishioners.


A Greenville, SC priest told his parishioners essentially the same thing. He was supported by the Diocese. This guy was quite specific about the degree of sin involved in voting for Obama. Here is a copy of that letter:

Priest Calls Vote for Obama a Mortal Sin

The religious right, including the Catholic church, have really missed a bet with their hard-nosed anti-abortion position. Their intransigence allows for no dialog. Politicians who share Obama's views are, it would seem, in the same league as the Anti-Christ.

But do people like Obama encourage abortion? Does Planned Parenthood actually encourage abortion?

Will overturning Wade v. Roe really put a stop to abortions?

Actually, all it will do is return the option to the individual states. Even John McCain said that, several times during the campaign. Does anyone really think all of the states are going to go to a strict 'no abortions' position? It's been well over thirty years since the Wade v. Roe decision, and the most rabid of the Christian Right, combined with the full weight of the Republican Party, has been unable to achieve an overturn. One wonders just how hard the Repubs have really tried, and if the truth be known, it's not very...but that's another story.

Obama has supported increased prenatal support, and income support (why not? we're providing billions in the way of 'income support' to obscenely overpaid CEO's; why not spread some of that cash out to pregnant women?); paid maternity leave; greater access to effective adoption processes. Would that be more effective in reducing the number of abortions?

Meanwhile, the Religious Right continues to go nuts over the idea of condoms in the schools, of sex education in the schools, shrilly screeching about 'abstinence'. The fact of the matter is, they aren't reaching a lot of people with that 'abstinence' thing. They can't get people into the churches, and most people really don't want to hear their self-righteous crap about how others should behave.

Priests like Illo and the fellow in South Carolina, and the higher ups who support them, are just one of many, many reasons I got out of the Church of Perpetual Guilt a long, long time ago. That doesn't even touch upon the multitudes of Protestant pastors who thunder mightily from the pulpit about abortion, offering no solutions, offering nothing but hellfire and damnation while driving home the message that they and their ilk are the worst kind of self-righteous, judgmental, finger-pointing modern versions of the Pharisees.

Chilly

These little guys are hunkered down against today's cold wind, which is kicking along at about 18 knots. They are in a dead elm tree across the street. I'm not sure what they are:




Arabian illogic

The Ay-rabs are whining that the price of oil should be higher than it is right now.

The Saudi king says he thinks $75 a barrel is a fair price.

Really.

Where was that thinking earlier this year when it was over $140 a barrel?

The Middle Eastern thought processes and logic, or lack thereof, are a continual source of amazement.

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - Saudi Arabia's king says the price of oil should be $75 a barrel, much higher than it is now, but his oil minister indicated Saturday that no measures will likely be taken until OPEC meets again next month.

Saudi Oil Minister Ali Naimi said that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries will "do what needs to be done" to shore up falling oil prices when the cartel meets Dec. 17 in Algeria.

Naimi did not entirely rule out the chance that the cartel would slash output at a hastily convened meeting of OPEC members in Cairo Saturday, but he said the bloc needs to wait until the Algeria meeting to assess the impact of earlier production cuts.

His comments came after Saudi King Abdullah told the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Seyassah in an interview published Saturday that oil should be priced at $75 a barrel.

"We believe the fair price for oil is $75 a barrel," he said, without saying how the price could be raised.

The price of crude stood at about $147 a barrel in mid-July. On Friday, the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude for January delivery was trading at about $54 per barrel.

11/27/08

Obama and the Secret Service

The Secret Service is charged with protecting the president.

As a candidate, and now as the president-elect, Obama has had Secret Service protection for some time.

Everything else aside, one of the measures of a man, at least in the cop world, is how he, the guardee, the VIP, The Man, treats his protection/security details, and what they think of him. Obama seems to stand up well in this regard.

In a marked departure from some other Democratic presidents, Obama is 'widely liked' by his protection details:

New role for Obama's secret service detail?

Barack Obama had some fun with his Secret Service detail this afternoon at a BBQ in Eau Clarie, Wisconsin. “People ask me, ‘Why did you decide to run for president?’ - and I decided that the real reason is Secret Service protection for my two girls as they enter into their teenage years,” he joked at the casual affair.

At 7 and 10, Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia are a little young for dating, but in four years – or eight years – suitors are sure to come knocking.

When they do, Obama said he’d have one of the “mean looking guys with glasses” keep the teenage boys at bay. “They don’t crack a smile. They’re armed. They’re dangerous,” he said gesturing to the agents donned in suits, sporting sunglasses, and wearing ear pieces. As the candidate and crowd laughed, the agents looked on stone faced.

Obama has had Secret Service protection since May of 2007, and is widely liked by the three details that cover him. The candidate often plays basketball with the agents, and has invited them into his home for meals, including on Christmas Day and during the Super Bowl. Last year for his birthday, Obama’s three details presented him with a United States Secret Service watch that the senator wears daily.




11/26/08

CitiBank customer service

So, CitiBank has been bailed out by the taxpayers.

One might reasonably presume that some of those taxpayers are CitiBank customers.

CitiBank, having received piles of money and guarantees in the hundreds of billions of dollars from the government, has responded by hiking the interest rates on credit card accounts:

CitiBank tells cardholders to take a hike

and here is another one:

Citibank to raise interest rates

So what we have here is the Federal government holding down the taxpayers...or holding up the taxpayers...and letting CitiBank screw them not once, but twice. The Federal government is an accomplice to all this.

Another one under the wire...

While CNN and the rest of the mainstream media have been swooning over the Obamanomics team, an interesting little tidbit has floated to the surface.

This one has to do with Article I, Section 6 of the United States Constitution:

No Senator or Representative shall, during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time: and no person holding any office under the United States, shall be a member of either House during his continuance in office.

On the face of it, that means that the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is...unconstitutional.

That statement is not some bit of tinfoil hattery.

It has come up before, at least twice, in recent history.

Please examine the drama surrounding the appointment of then-sitting Senator William Saxbe to be attorney general. The clause cited above kicked in, and a very questionable bit of maneuvering took place to circumvent it.

Also examine the appointment by President Jimmy Carter of then-sitting Senator Ed Muskie to be secretary of state. That sure sounds familiar, doesn't it?

Another bit of slight-of-hand came about to make it stick.

So while the outright appointment of Hillary Clinton is unquestionably unconstitutional, you can bet your last dollar (make it quick, before AIG or CitiBank or one of the Big Three gets it) that 'the fix will be in' on that one, too.

The mainstream media is missing this one, and only one opinion piece in the LA Times seems to have brought it up. Any bets on whether or not you'll see it any time soon on CNN or MSNBC?

Meanwhile, for starters, see:

The Saxbe Fix

The Eunuch of the Treasury and the virgins of Tuscany

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said Tuesday it’s going to take some time for the financial markets and the economy to improve.

Speaking during a press conference to outline the Treasury and Federal Reserve’s plan to finance the issuance of non-mortgage asset backed securities in order to back lending to consumers and small businesses, Paulson said “it will take time to work through the difficulties in our markets and our economy, and new challenges will continue to arise.”


He said this as he announced that he - they - whatever - are pumping yet another huge chunk of tax dollars into saving the pirates and thieves who are running America's corporations. Whether this helps any of The Little People remains to be seen. CitiBank, run into the ground by 'the Rubin constellation' now being put together as The Obamanomics Team, is still laying off somewhere in the neighborhood of 75,000 people. Have you heard anything about that changing since the Feds gave the Rubin Crew the $300 billion guarantees? I haven't.

Happy Thanksgiving. Merry Christmas. You can bet that Robert Rubin and Chuck Prince the Third and Barney Frank and Chris Dodd and Frank Raines and all those bandits are going to be having a great Christmas. And all the while, half of America is going to be worshipping at the altar of The One, while CNN and most of the rest of the Mainstream Media is gushing all overthemselves over The Wonder Of It All.

Meanwhile, back to the kitchen, where I have a most delicious Salciccia Toscano with smoked Tuscany basil and other herbs, simmering away. We are going to have it over linguine.

You must realize that it is important that the fresh tomatoes be crushed in the same manner as are grapes for Tuscan wine...that is, Tuscan virgins squish the tomatoes between their delightful toes. The basil, before it is hung up in the smokehouses of Tuscany, is rolled between the thighs of those Tuscan virgins, much in the same manner as are the fine tobaccos used in Cuban cigars. Though of course that is accomplished by Cuban, not Tuscan, virgins.

We proceed apace. Thank you, Lord, for what we have, and offer comfort and solace to those who are being screwed by corporate America and our beloved politicians.

11/25/08

Keepin' busy

"So they want to do something about all the run-down houses in town?" asked DinkyDau Billy.

"Some of 'them' do," Leece replied, "but not everyone sees that as the priority."

"What are they going to do?" asked Billy.

"I hope they start condemning the dumps and tearing them down," Tookie said, with considerable energy, "and they can start with 517 Lincoln."

"Dunno if they will do that," I said, "because after all, it's private property and one man's treasure is another man's trash. Besides, it's hard to enforce that stuff."

"Uh huh. Well, if it's too hard to enforce, why do they even bother having ordinances on the books? Why even bother with a court system? Why even bother with the effort?" Toot Sweet was feeling a bit testy, it would appear.

"Lotsa munny to be made sitting around coming up with reasons not to do somethin'," Billy shared.

"Well...I remember all those trashy trailers and those old beat up apartments or whatever they were, over in that 400 block of Grant," she said, "I had to ride by them on my bike on my way to the WipeOut."

"Yep. A lot of those were the holdings of Gutierrez the Slum Lord. You'd think the health department could have done something about all that," Billy said, "and good riddance to them all."

I remembered taking a number calls over there in the Gutierrez trailers. I have several chapters in the book on those calls.

"Hey. Hey. Last 'lection, didn't Rikhof say we should be gittin' volunteers to help build parks all over town?" Billy reminisced.

"Yes, I believe that is correct, Uncle Billy, " Tookie agreed.

"Yeah. Yeah. They kin git all them houses condemned and bulldoze 'em, and then convert the empty lots ta parks. Mini-parks. We kin name the parks after famous Democrats. It'll keep people busy and they won't have to be worryin' about their next stimulus check. Shoot. They kin donate them stimulus checks to the park program an git tax credits."

"Huh?" Toots was puzzled.

"Yeah. Yeah. You donates yer...oh...500 buck stimulus check to community support, and gits a 1,000 buck or maybe even 2,000 buck tax credit. Cuz the new green spaces'll bring in new bidness, so you gits the extra based on what they think the new bidness'll bring in. Oughta be at least a thousand, maybe more."

"And tax credits...next tax year, you get a gummint check for the thousand or two thousand or whatever it is."

"Yeah! You gots it! Think on it, dude! Lookit all that munny comin' down!"

I tried to visualize it. All I could see was something that looked like a ticker tape parade in Times Square. For the Obamanomics Team.

The Pinkerton Paper

Here ya go:

Obama should think twice about his economic team...oops...too late!

Here at Blogger Central, we have been less than enthusiastic about the Clintonistas and other party hacks that The Obamessiah has been appointing. It reeks and stinks of cronyism and Chicago political machine back-scratching and payoff.

James Pinkerton has been doing some digging. Here are a few exerpts about the Obamanomics Team:

Back in October, right here on FOX News, I noted that the CEO of Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein, was in the room when the bailout decision was made—a decision which, according to The New York Times, protected a $20 billion Goldman Sachs position with AIG. And, of course, Goldman Sachs is the Wall Street firm once headed by the Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. I compared that incestuous financial relationship to the Teapot Dome scandal of the 20s, but the Obamans don’t seem to agree.

Meanwhile, in the words of the Competitive Enterprise Institute economist Jon Berlau, Geithner means “More of the same… more bailouts, more lack of transparency in the bailouts, and more corporate welfare. … In choosing Geither, Obama might as well have nominated Hank Paulson to another term!”

So when Obama said today of the man he’s nominated to lead the Treasury Department, “He will start his first day on the job with a unique insight into the failure of today’s markets,” the President-elect was more right than he knew.


Geithner, like the rest of the Obamanomics team, has been up to his ears in the entire fiscal mess for a long time. He is part and parcel of it.

What America has done, by not paying attention to all the connections and by allowing itself to become mesmerized by the smooth glibness of The One, is give the keys to the kingdom to the very people who set the whole fiasco in motion, then blustered and bamboozled regulators and other whistle-blowers in to silence. Or, they shoved it all into the deep background.

That the Republicans allowed this to happen is a testimonial to why they do not deserve to be in charge. They are just too stupid and just too unfocused. They are venting their energies on useless Christian fundamentalist garbage while the Democrats, having sucked Fannie and Freddie dry, now prepare to help themselves to the really good stuff.

But there is one figure that looms above them all, a man who was once the boss to both Geithner and to Larry Summers (who was named today to chair the National Economic Council inside the White House) and is the leader of the dominant political-economic school of thought in the Democratic Party today. And that man is Robert Rubin, Treasury Secretary for Bill Clinton and currently the Chairman of the Executive Committee at Citigroup.

As The New York Times puts it this morning, “It is testament to former Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin’s star power among many Democrats that as President-elect Barack Obama fills out his economic team, a virtual Rubin constellation is taking shape.” A “Rubin constellation“—how ‘bout that?


How about that indeed. While CNN's 'political strategists' and 'political analysts' are gushing over The One's Obamanomics team, the reality totally escapes them:

Here’s a sobering assessment from an article in Sunday’s New York Times, “As chairman of Citigroup’s executive committee, Mr. Rubin was the bank’s resident sage, advising top executives and serving on the board while, he insisted repeatedly, steering clear of daily management issues.”

But as the Times noted:

“While Mr. Rubin certainly did not have direct responsibility for a Citigroup unit, he was an architect of the bank’s strategy. In 2005, as Citigroup began its effort to expand from within, Mr. Rubin peppered his colleagues with questions as they formulated the plan. According to current and former colleagues, he believed that Citigroup was falling behind rivals like Morgan Stanley and Goldman, and he pushed to bulk up the bank’s high-growth fixed-income trading, including the C.D.O. business. … Once the strategy was outlined, Mr. Rubin helped [former CEO Charles] Prince gain the board’s confidence that it would work.

And then, asked if he had made any mistakes at Citigroup, he answered, “I’ve thought a lot about that. I honestly don’t know. In hindsight, there are a lot of things we’d do differently. But in the context of the facts as I knew them and my role, I’m inclined to think probably not.” [emphasis added]


Meanwhile, Citibank has received over $300 billion in guarantees from the Federal government. As a result, there has been a 50 percent increase in the price of their stock.

So while Obama sets up his "Rubinesque constellation", and we shovel more and more money into the pockets of those who are actually responsible for the problem in the first place, let me ask you this:

What's in your wallet?

Wallet? Are you lucky enough to even have a job? And Obama, bless his heart, is telling us that he will allow the middle class to keep more of its own money.

Thankee Massa Barack, thankee suh.

Obamanomics

"So We the Taxpayer have bailed out CitiBank to the tune of billions and billions," noted DinkyDau Billy as he slurped a Holy Land Quickee's cappuccino, dunking leftover chocolate chip cookies while The Bicycle Lady sat at the other end of the table, watching the cookie-dunking.

"Yep," I agreed.

"And those guys who were in charge were all advised by Rubin, the Clintonista SecTreas," he went on.

"Yep," I agreed.

"And he was pulling down $17 million a year for this 'advising'," Billy continued.

"Yep," I agreed.

"And now The One has set up his 'economics team' with a bunch of Rubinesque clones," he said.

"Yep, though be careful with that 'Rubinesque'. Some people might confuse it with 'Rubenesque', which is a whole other ball game," I pointed out.

"Yeah. Yeah. Point is, the top dogs of the Obama 'economic team' all have strong ties to Bob Rubin, who has his fingerprints all over the CitiBank failure," he insisted.

"You have it exactly right," I said, "They might as well put Frank Raines in charge of economics over there, and Jim Johnson and all the rest of the blood-suckers who raped and pillaged Fannie and sodomized Freddie. They are all the same crew."

"So..."...

"How come We the People aren't noticing this?" I asked.

"Yeah. Yeah."

"Some of us are, apparently, but there's a whole bunch of Democrats who just don't care. Check today's opinion piece by Borger. For a 'senior political analyst' she sure is missing the boat on this," I told him, "she either needs to do her own research or fire the kids she has researching for her. This stuff isn't at all hard to find."

"But do you think she wants to find stuff like that? Fit it together?"

"Oh, of course not. There are political whores and there are media whores. I think Borger probably falls into both categories. Pass me another cookie. While you're at it, ask The Bicycle Lady if she wants one."

"Yeah. Yeah."

The Obama economics crew

Well...

The Headless Chickens of Wall Street seem to have quit running around in blind panic, at least for a couple of days, with the announcement of "The Economic Team".

Here is an excerpt from a FoxNews article:

Timothy Geithner, Obama's choice for treasury secretary; Lawrence Summers, who will head the National Economic Council; and Orszag all have links to Robert Rubin, who as President Clinton's treasury secretary pushed for a balanced budget.

Robert Rubin. We've heard of him. Remember the Citi bailout? From yesterday? If not, here it is again:

Robert Rubin, after his stint as SecTreas under Bill Clinton, took his Golden Parachute not into Fannie and Freddie, but into CitiBank. At CitiBank, he has been pulling down at least $17 million a year serving as an advisor to...the CEO's of CitiBank. He was the chief advisor to Charles O. Prince the Third, the defrocked and shamed former CEO of CitiBank who absconded from the CEO-ship with his $38 million pay package intact. Rubin advised Prince's predecessor as well. Those guys were the ones who were at the helm of CitiBank while the current failure of the company was being set up. Having raped the company, they they took off for greener pastures. They "took the money and ran".

Meanwhile, 75,000 former and soon-to-be-former employees of CitiBank, victims of Rubin's advice, will be facing very grim holidays. So while Prince is sunning himself in the south of France or wherever he is hiding these days, sipping his fine wines and snuffling fine foods brought to him by his StepNFetchit staff, 75,000 of our fellow Americans are wondering how they are going to feed their kids, much less have anything in the way of a holiday season.

This kind of crap is why half of America's voters went for a socialist for the Oval Office.

No wonder the Headless Chickens are feeling better. They are seeing a gang that will pad their paychecks and take very good care of them.

Where that leaves the rest of us is anyone's guess, but so far, it doesn't look very good.

Hope and Change? This is Hope and Change?

Porches

"Hey! Hey!" shouted DinkyDau Billy, sliding his Ghisallo to a stop at the car wash by Our Lady of Perptetual Guilt, "howzit doon?"

"Pretty good," I replied, flipping the nozzle a bit so the mist covered Our Stalwart.

"Hey! Hey!"

It was just chilled enough so that the mist frosted his dreads. The sun defrosted him almost immediately. But the instant effect was like something out of a Brothers Grimm story. The Frost Beast or somesuch. Tookie would have loved it but she was busy over at the primary school learning to count beads or some other activity that would keep her and the country economically viable in the New World Order.

"Didja go to the meetin' last night?" he asked, in reference to the joint meeting between council and urban renewal.

"I did. It was interesting. You should have been there. They had ...cookies. Oatmeal raisin cookies. Chocolate chip cookies. Snickerdoodles."

Billy was inconsolate. He loves snickerdoodles. Me, I prefer the oatmeal raisin items and rather shamelessly snuffled same during the meeting.

"You like that alliteration, doncha?" he asked.

"Yes, I do. Anyway..."...

"I heard da mayah and Mistah Johnson support fixin' up old houses and such rather than payin' attention to First Street and downtown," he said.

"Ummmm...I dunno about that. I think pretty much everyone is in agreeance that downtown is pretty important. But the TID runs city limit to city limit, east to west and west to east and there's a lot of blight along First Street and at both highway entrances to the city. I think those are a much higher priority than a bunch of dumps scattered around town," I replied.

"Ain't a lot a them dumps outside the TID?" he asked.

"Yes, they are. I can think of several in my old neighborhood, which, come to think on it, isn't that far from the mayor's 'hood," I explained.

"Huh. What happened to The Front Porch?" he asked.

That was a good question. That project had to do with improving the aesthetics, among other things, of the town as seen from the AmTrak platform. It even included a sign so people would know where they were.

"That's a good question," I replied, "I don't know. Beverly Babb and her cohorts have those little decorative cardboard houses placed around town to gather donations. So far as I know, that's where it stands."

"Huh. Huh. Ain't that sumthin Urban Renewal could git into?"

"I would think so. By cleaning up some of the mess visible from the train platform...well, you would think that would be cleaning up blight and improving the economic environment somewhat. I don't know. That's another good question."

"I bin through some podunks in the rawest, poorest parts a the South, ya know. Comin' in on First Street from east or west is kinda like that," Billy observed.

He had another good point with that. From the west it didn't seem so bad. There were the empty Gibson's and old Ace, both of which often look like weed propagation laboratories, and the Gibson's in particular is looking quite rough. But then there's Fairview along the highway, and the WipeOut, which especially in the summer when it is full of patrons, looks pretty positive and presents well. Even the old Pickles, though having that bare industrial look, are at least cleaned up and in good repair for the most part. KFC looks like crap; that has to be one of their worst looking places. But the pickles people did a good job with the area along the highway and that can look pretty good.

"An' that Swartz guy has Pike's Park lookin' a lot better cuz they did a lotta work on it this past summer," Billy chimed in.

"Yes, that's true. It doesn't really look bad from the west unless you turn on Grant, or until you get past Pike's Park. Then it starts looking like a thousand other dumpy little podunks. There's nothing to indicate otherwise," I added.

Coming in from the east is another story. That's a study in small town urban blight.

"So you think Urban Renewal is on the right track?" Billy asked.

"I think so, so long as they keep the focus on First Street and the highway portals. Downtown is a given, I think. The disagreement seems to be over the rest of it."

"Got any chocklit cookies?"

"What? You think I took 'em home with me?"

"Dint the mayor say for someone to take 'em?"

For someone who doesn't attend a lot of meetings, Billy often seems to have an uncanny knowledge of what went on.

11/24/08

Joint city council/Urban Renewal board meeting

City council and the urban renewal board met this evening at the Senior Center.

There have been rumblings of discontent and discord, primarily from the Urban Renewal side, though after the problem was recently brought up at city council, the specifics of the discontent and discord and the specific speaker of same seem to have faded somewhat into the woodwork.

Nonetheless, after Mayor Don Rizzuto opened the meeting with some remarks about the roles of the two boards, and city attorney Phil Malouff explained some of the statutory responsibilities and limitations, things loosened up and the two boards began communicating quite productively.

City Manager Rick Klein amplified the relationship of the boards on some recent projects affecting both boards. Klein also announced a new half-million dollar grant from DOLA (Department of Local Affairs) for the improvement of curbs and gutters in the Tax Increment District. The Urban Renewal Authority draws its funds from the TID.

I agree with Councilman Bob Friedenberger and Urban Renewal Authority president Lynn Horner. They take the position that we should be improving First Street and the entrances into town, while the mayor and councilman Billie Johnson are more concerned about beat up houses within the city. They feel that the hospital and the college and other facilities sell La Junta. While that is true to some extent, consider that to get to the hospital or OJC from the west, you turn from the highway onto Grant Avenue, where the corner is occupied by that puke green abandoned liquor store, followed by an old A&W that was a blighted dump 20 years ago, followed by an empty lot that borders a house with a fence that is always clogged with trash and litter. It makes no difference that the Wipe Out and Potter Park are on the other side of the street; the damage is done.

Coming in from the east we have a bunch of run down buildings or cheap-looking steel shacks...and then there is La Junta Mill, which most days looks like it was abandoned sometime back in the fifties. That's a shame, because if that place were cleaned up, the railcar feed dump painted up, the broken windows and rotted frames replaced...it would actually look rather cool...especially that rail car up in the air.

So anyone coming into town gets this impression of...blight. A blighted little podunk. If you have no incentive to get off 1st Street and actually come into town, you will never know about the rest of it.

The meeting closed on a very cordial note. For much more detail on the meeting, please refer to Leece's article over on the T-D website. You won't read it here...only a guy with a death wish would scoop his wife...

Here we have Gene Mestas, Rebecca Goodwin, Bryan Bryant, and Karen Kelley listening to Rick Klein talk about the new half-million dollar DOLA grant.

Lynn Horner talks about his views of the Urban Renewal board's goals and projects.

Bob Friedenberger, Gene Mestas, and Rebecca Goodwin listen as Phil Malouff explains some of the legal relationships between the boards.

The banned SNL bailout skit

Update 11/24/2008:1150: We've exceeded the 100 downloads limit for YouSendIt. The link below is now inactive. Perhaps the most amazing things about this particular skit are: a) it was actually bi-partisan, which is fairly unusual for SNL; b) they actually take a couple of pretty good shots at Pelosi, Frank...and wonder of wonders, the owner of the Democratic Party, George Soros.

Original post:

This is the original skit, that had the - to some, anyway - offending words in the captions:

The issue involved the onscreen text displayed along with two of the characters in the sketch, Herbert Sandler, who’s been affiliated with some of the lending practices that brought down Wachovia Bank, and his wife Marion. The text that showed on screen under their names in the original skit was “People who should be shot.” It’s been removed.

This one is the original.You can download it here:

Banned SNL bailout skit

19 mb. Zipped file, in .wmv format. Plays with Windows Media Player.

Another horsewhipping is required...

This time for the incompetent moron who is the CEO of CitiBank, one Chuck Prince the Third. The only good thing about this story is that Prince has already been canned, having been deep-sixed late last year. Of course, he still got his $38 million pay package as he went out the door, which is far more than you can say for the 75,000 CitiBank employees who are about to go on the dole.

This clown had been sucking down millions upon millions in salary and bonuses, yet back in September last year - that's right, just over a year ago - this Clown of Capitalism 'discovered' that CitiBank owned about $43 billion in mortgages. Now, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, and our President-elect, and Nancy Pelosi and all the rest have been working overtime to convince you and the rest of the American taxpayers that it's all Bush's fault...but that's not true. Remember back in the earlier days of the Cold War, when the Rooshin Commie propaganda was referred to as "The Big Lie"?

The smoke and mirrors our new Gang of Four are wielding is the new "Big Lie". And while We the People, or at least a really significant number of us, are buying that nonsense, people who run these big corporations know better. Chuck O. Prince the Third appears to have known better.

"Is the bank alright?" he asked, when discovering these 43 billion little factoids last year. Implicit in that statement is the obvious knowledge that all that mortgage paper was not a good thing. But think about it. Here is the guy who is running the show, clueless about something as significant as questionable holdings of that magnitude. And that guy he asked? Well...now we are getting into the real dirt. That weasel either didn't know (more incompetence) - or didn't state (surely there is criminal negligence there) that the losses the bank was then beginning to bleed were at least 50 percent higher than indicated.

But wait! It gets better!

Who do you think is advising this collection of Clowns of Capitalism?

None other than a former Secretary of the Treasury, one Bob Rubin. Rubin is not a Republican. He is not part of the Bush regime. Nope.

He was SecTreas under...Bill Clinton...and he took his Golden Parachute, not into Fannie and Freddie, but into CitiBank, where he has been pulling down at least $17 million a year as a senior director of CitiBank. He was advising Chuck Prince. He was also advising Chuck's predecessor.

And...today's headlines have us bailing out this gang of fiscal thugs. Once again, we the taxpayers are left holding the economic barf bag, while people like Rubin, Prince, and all their friends kick back and take life easy, rolling in their millions and laughing all the way to their off-shore banks.

11/23/08

Good things II

The La Junta First Church of the Nazarene hosted a community Thanksgiving service Sunday evening. La Junta's First Presbyterian Pastor M.J. Romano and 1st Naz Pastor Brian Williams get ready to launch the service:



While here is the community choir:



With a very well-attended Pie Social following the service:



Leece will have more on this in the T-D in the next day or so.

Good things I

We went to Rocky Ford today to get some info on, and take a few photos of, the ChristmasChild operation.

It was doing very well.

Here is some information about Operation Christmas Child:

Operation Christmas Child

For more information, contact Leece at the T-D: 384.8121. She will have an article in the T-D next week with more photos and more info.

or contact your local church. If your church is not participating for whatever reason, contact the La Junta First Church of the Nazarene: 384.4723.

Workers inventory cartons of Christmas Child boxes before loading them onto a truck for shipment.

Powah to da Peep?

We were sitting inside The Holy Land Quickee's. It was nippy outside as the sun was just past down. We were sipping hot cappies after a brisk ride to Rocky Vegas via 266.

"So...how many retractions did da Peep finally end up printing?" asked DinkyDau Billy.

"You mean in connection with the accident out on US 50 last week?" asked Leece.

"Yep."

"I think two," chipped in Tookie, "I saw two. Maybe there were more. So much for being in tight with all the public safety outfits and the railroad and everyone else between Los Angeles and Sodom-on-the-Potomac."

"Well...perhaps we'll be treated to some real insight over the Sugar City dustup?" asked Billy.

"Dunno. After that big screamfest she got into with the people in Ordway, they may be hanging some effigies from lightpoles and that sort of thing," Tookie snickered.

"Well...that's part of the price of being a hard-hitting, two-fisted, on-top-of-it-editorialist and news reporter," mused Leece,"some people just can't handle The Truth As It Is Revealed By The Fourth Estate."

"I dunno," observed Toot Sweet,"it seems to me that yellow journalism today is the same at it was way back when Joe Pulitzer and Billy Hearst were going at it."

Ain't that the truth. We sat there contemplating the complex role of the Fourth Estate in modern society.

11/22/08

The letter

From the Boss:

As the CEO of this business that employees 140 people, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barrack Obama will be our next President, and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way.

To compensate for these increases, I figure that the Clients will have to see an increase in our fees to them of about 8% but since we cannot increase our fees right now due to the dismal state of our economy, we will have to lay off six of our employees instead. This has really been eating at me for a while, as we believe we are family here and I didn't know how to choose who will have to go.

So, this is what I did. I strolled thru our parking lot and found 8 Obama bumper stickers on our employees' cars and have decided these folks will be the first to be laid off. I can't think of a more fair way to approach this problem. These folks wanted change; I gave it to them.

If you have a better idea, let me know.

Sincerely,
The Boss

Why Obama is really small potatoes...

...in the long run.

Well...first thing, he is only the President. He cannot enact legislation by himself. Even 'executive orders' are tied up with those checks and balances. Even with a Democratic majority in the Congress, he will still have to deal with the little agendas, efforts at personal aggrandizement, power plays, and egos of the Pelosis, Franks, Dodds, and all the rest of the Big Shots, who, though they are political power players, have shown themselves to be pathetically small-minded people.

This is really why he is small potatoes:

NIC 2025 Project

The document can be downloaded in PDF format by right-clicking on either of the links in the page.

11/21/08

"Mr. Obama, take my senator, please..."

Mr. Obama, take my senator, please

That's from Chris Coffey, who is, of course, one of those unwitting tools of the Republican establishment.

When Senator Clinton ran for Senate in 2000, she promised economic revitalization for New Yorkers living north of New York City and its suburbs. She even went so far as to promise 200,000 new jobs for the region. New Yorkers believed her and gave her a chance.

200,000 new jobs! Wow! They must be in Fat City in upstate New York...not...

Eight years later, and Hillary Clinton still hasn’t created 200,000 jobs. In fact, Upstate New York has lost 20,000 private sector jobs while manufacturing jobs, once the life-blood of Upstate, have declined by 24%.* Obviously, she did not fulfill her pledge to New Yorkers.

It is difficult to discern exactly what [Clinton] has done since taking office, other than run for higher office, but it is clear she lacks the competence or the political will to energize the New York economy.

I can't wait to see all the great things that woman is going to do for us as Secretary of State.

Hope and Change...

The Turkey Interview

Well, Sarah Palin pardoned one turkey and then gave an interview while another turkey was being...prepped...for Thanksgiving in the background.

The turkey interview

Naturally, this is being held up as another example of what a whackjob Palin is.

People are aghast. Shocked. Disbelieving.

"How can she give an interview like that!"

"What is she thinking!"

"Turkey killer!"

"Eeeeewwww...how disgusting!"

and much, much worse.

I guess Thanksgiving turkeys pop into the universe nicely and cleanly packaged, and probably already roasted.

Those Big Macs entered into this world as frozen patties.

Same thing for those Outback steaks.

Welcome to the real world, goofballs.

BTW...that isn't a 'grinder'.

11/20/08

Another Pig snuffles at the bailout trough

Now it's mass transit.

The mass transit people pulled off a kind of Ponzi scheme, or perhaps a shell game, involving leased rail cars and tax write-offs.

Now that has come home to roost, and the stupid sleazebags are running out of money. It also involves, and this should come as no surprise...AIG:

AIG had guaranteed deals between transit agencies and banks under which the banks made upfront payments that the agencies agreed to repay over time. But AIG's financial problems have invalidated the company's guarantees, putting the deals in technical default and allowing the banks to ask for all their money at once.

In Metro's case, the regional transit agency could face up to $400 million in payments, the system's chief financial officer, Carol Kissal, said in an interview yesterday. One bank, KBC Group of Belgium, has told Metro that it needs to pay $43 million by next week. Metro officials confirmed the details but declined to name the bank.

Transit agencies have met with the Treasury Department to request federal help. The government could back the deals instead of AIG, or it could change tax policy to help the banks and keep them from demanding payments.

Treasury spokesman Jennifer Zuccarelli declined to comment, except to say, "Treasury is aware of this situation."


When last seen, the Metro execs were off to Washington to see if they could get their share of the pie.

I really think our good friends out at CBR should be looking at this. There apparently is no one who can't be bailed out with your tax bux and mine.

The Democrats and the tanking economy

Here is a very good article from the Wall Street Journal:

A capital message

Some excerpts:

One problem is that this is an especially bad time to have a Presidential transition. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has more or less announced that he's done making major policy calls, save for an emergency. He understandably -- if a little too loudly amid a panic -- wants to leave the field to the new Administration. Yet President-elect Barack Obama has seemed in no hurry to assemble an economic team, or perhaps he simply hasn't been able to settle on one. With nerves as taut as they are, picking an HHS Secretary before a Treasury chief is a rookie mistake.

Meanwhile, investors are watching Congress and what they mainly hear are demands to raid the Treasury's $700 billion bank rescue fund for a mortgage bailout, or an auto bailout; or promises to spend several hundred billion dollars more under the guise of "fiscal stimulus." What Americans don't hear is anything that would encourage investment or risk-taking.

And here is a pretty good summation:

No doubt many Democrats figure nothing that happens before January 20 is on their watch, so they don't need to worry. But the deeper the economic fall, the harder the road back. The world could use a signal from Mr. Obama that he favors policies to put private capital back to work, not merely to grow the government.

Remember that business of taxing the rich?

If you were 'rich', and you knew the incoming President was gunning for you (sorry about the 'gun' reference, considering Mr. Obama's anti-2nd Amendment sentiments)...would you leave your munny where it was or would you be pulling it out and moving it overseas? Moving it to where it would be safe from The People's Republic of America?

Isn't that at least in part what is happening now?

This is a Democratic Congress. They do not want to make a decision that can blow up in their faces and leave them holding the bag. Of course, they are already holding the bag, a bag that stretches, like one of those cotton-picker's bags we used to see field hands dragging along, all the way back to the signing of the Community Reinvestment Act, and the subsequent Democrat fingers reaching into our pockets from the safety of Fannie and Freddie. Try getting any Democrat to admit that, and see what happens. Talk about denial. So then, what we have is the Democrats up to their ears in the cesspool of causative factors for all this, but managing to come out of it smelling like roses. All they have to do is let it continue to sink. Doing nothing is almost always politically safe. Of course, in the meanwhile, we have more layoffs, more foreclosures, more failures, but all that can be blamed on Bush.

Michael Ramirez has another good cartoon here:

Piracy

More layoffs

Word is leaking out of CBR that more staff has been laid off and more layoffs are in the works. So far, 15 more staffers have reportedly been shown the door.

Little if any info is forthcoming, other than from those who have been laid off or who are in the process of being hung out to dry. It looks like any 'official' version of what's going on will be in the form of those canned 'press releases' where they tell you only what they want you to hear, and where Questions cannot be asked.

That may serve them well for their own purposes, but it does not engender a great deal of trust. In fact, most reactions to those press releases involve references to bovine diarrhea. Meanwhile, rumors continue to abound, including rumors that the place is going to shut down.

Does a private corporation have a 'trust' responsibility to the community?

Of course they do. They draw their workforce from the community. The community is not asking for trade secrets or proprietary information. It's just asking for some of that famous downhome 'cowboy up' forthrightness. Given the overall economic situation and the approaching holidays - there is nothing like a rash of lay-offs just before Thanksgiving to give one pause for thought about the management of a company - that doesn't seem too much to ask.

Thyme Square

We went there for lunch today and had the soup and salad bar. At first it seemed a bit pricey, particularly since a drink is extra.

However, the salad veggies were fresh, and the soups were good. We both tried the clam chowder (New England style) and I tried a bit of the cheese and broccoli soup. Both were very good. We also had baked potatoes.

They've done a good job with the...decor. It's roomy, bright, airy. I don't particularly care for latticed tables but they are sturdy and well-made, and the chairs were comfortable enough.

There was a fair-size crowd, too, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.

The staff was quite friendly.

Over on the grill side, we chatted with a few people who gave good reviews on the burgers and sides. The prices didn't look too bad. It too was clean, bright, roomy, and airy. Very pleasant.

They also have a meeting room. It is not readily apparent. It's all the way in the back. So a club or other group could meet there for lunch.

Error! Error! Error!

Geek45 correctly points out that Seven of Nine was not in ST:TNG; she was in ST:V (Star Trek: Voyager).

They all look the same after awhile. Sort of.

What is a 'financial institution'?

One of the things that is driving the current economic pukery is the lack of trust between We the Little People and the Big Shots that are supposed to be running the show. The Big Shots are either so far out of touch with reality, or so busy running for cover and sucking up everything they can while leaving the little guy out in the cold...who in his right mind would trust anyone in a suit?

The Big Three showed up at the Congressional hearings to beg for money. They arrived by private jet. How does that sit with you?

We're paying out billions through a clown of a Secretary of the Treasury who cannot even define what makes up a 'financial institution'. How does that sit with you?

We paid out billions to AIG, and they promptly went on vacation to places 99% of us here in The Smile Hi City and The Holy Land only read about in travel magazines or see on travel shows on TV...and that only if we still have jobs and can afford cable. How does that sit with you?

Will any of us have jobs by New Year's Day? Much less Inauguration Day and the advent of The Brave New World?

I'm not betting on it.

Are you?

11/19/08

Gutless pukes

"So the Congress, the Congress controlled by the Democratic Party, can't seem to find the balls to just pass the automakers' bailout, huh?" asked DinkyDau Billy.

"Looks that way," Leece said, not even raising an eyebrow at Billy's somewhat colorful comment.

"So they're going to take off, go home on vacation, a long vacation, and dump it all in Dubya's lap?"

"That's about it," Tookie agreed.

"Do they really think they can pass the buck so easily?" he asked.

"Of course they do. They'll probably get away with it. Everything from the economic meltdown to venereal warts is Dubya's fault," she replied.

"What a bunch of mealy-mouthed, gutless, spineless pieces of..."...

"Say...Billy..." Leece quickly interrupted, "would you like a refill for your cappie?" It had cooled off considerably and we were now slurping cappies at The Holy Land Quickee's.

"Don't mind if I do," he said.

"I thought you were against the bailout," she continued.

"I am, but they ain't," he told her, "they were the ones who was whinin' so much about it last week, how we gots ta bail 'em out cuz so many jobs depend on it."

"But a great many people, voters, are dead set against it," Tookie pointed out.

"Which is why they figure they can pass it all off on Dubya and go home and stuff themselves with turkey and come back next year fatter if not smarter, fatter if not more honest."

He had that right.

Circles of Hell

We were watching reruns of STNG. Jeri Ryan was in the episode as Seven of Nine.

"So...I gotta ask," asked DinkyDau Billy, "is the name 'Seven of Nine' a play on words, from Dante's Inferno? Rodenberry was known to make references, some quite subtle, to earthly religions in his shows."

"Good question," Tookie replied, "I'm not sure. She is Borg, but she was born human. Would you not consider that a human consigned to the Borg collective would not be in one of the circles of hell?"

We sat there thinking different things. I was wondering, "How does a second grader come up with this stuff?"

"The seventh circle is the one reserved for the violent, the violent against people and property, suicides, and blasphemers against God," she went on, "I don't think that fits someone who is involuntarily assimilated."

"Good point. I agree," interjected Leece, "I'm thinking that given the circumstances of her assimilation, the First Circle would be more likely. So while Roddenberry may have been making reference to Dante, I doubt that he intended it to apply to Seven of Nine."

Tookie and Leece nodded sagely. Tookie licked her spoon, which she was using for her strawberry cheesecake ice cream. Blue Bunny, of course. We had splurged and gotten the good stuff, figuring we might as well fly high before the entire country went belly up. We were no longer optimistic. There were too many pessimists in charge. There were too many incompetents making all the decisions. Or maybe not incompetents. Just plain old crooks. A crook in a suit may be genteel, suave, and polished, but he's still a crook. Or maybe just a moral coward. The Eunuch of the Treasury came to mind, as did the Big Three executives jetting around begging for money. I wondered if they had gotten down on their knees before Pelosi. It seemed to work for Paulson.

"But I do think that most CEO's and a lot of other Big Shots are going to end up in the last four Bolgia of the Eighth Circle," Toot Sweet observed.

We all agreed. Yep. That sure did fit. And hopefully sooner rather than later.

"There's going to be some disappointed people in the Sixth Bolgia, too," Billy tossed in. "Quite a few church people, I think."

The Sixth Bolgia of the Eighth Circle of Hell is reserved for Hypocrites. He probably had a point.

Tookie had fetched Leece's copy of The Inferno. It was part of the Saunders/Birk Divine Comedy boxed set. It had a number of very nicely done color plates, which she was looking through.

"This is pretty cool", she said, "This plate depicts the Falsifiers in the 10th Bolgia, which is the repose for all sorts of Falsifiers. I think these guys right here are Dodd, Frank, Raines, Johnson...and I think this one might be Pelosi."

It sure looked that way to the rest of us.

Mountain View

There is a very nice Mountain View today; it's a beautiful, bright day and you can see everything..."on a clear day, you can see forever."

The church gossip

I know that Christian churches don't have gossips, since gossiping is sinful behavior, but just for the sake of literary exercise, suppose there was a church that actually had a gossip:

Mildred, the church gossip, and self-appointed monitor of the church's morals, kept sticking her nose in to other people's business. Several members did not approve of her extracurricular activities, but feared her enough to maintain their silence.

She made a mistake, however, when she accused Elmer, a new member, of being an alcoholic after she saw his old pickup parked in front of the town's only bar one afternoon. She emphatically told Elmer (and several others) that everyone seeing it there would know exactly what he was doing!

Elmer, a man of few words, stared at her for a moment and just turned and walked away. He didn't explain, defend, or deny... he said nothing.

Later that evening, Elmer quietly parked his pickup in front of Mildred's house... walked home... and left it there all night.

Culture wars

Here is a very good opinion piece from "850 Words from Relevant":

We’ve been known for boycotting Disney, decrying the Teletubbies and rallying behind pet legislation. Christianity and the culture wars have been synonymous now for a long time. When it comes to media attention, Christians most often seem to get it for something we’re against. The last few decades of the Church seem to be ones in which we’ve taken an adversarial relationship to the culture around us. We’ve spearheaded protests, boycotts and letter-writing campaigns. If Christians are against it, we’ve done a decidedly good job of making the public aware of it. It seems we have made it our mission to loudly denounce those things in society that don’t match our worldview, and find ways to pressure the culture into rejecting them. As such, evangelical Christianity has developed a reputation in society for being angry, boorish and self-righteous.

Yet, should Christianity be engaged in these culture wars? Is it our lot to remake the world in God’s image? The answer is, of course, a resounding yes. It is absolutely our role to stand against the tide of culture and to be a clarion voice for God in the midst of darkness. The problem is, we often go about it all wrong.

Without a doubt, we are called to stand apart from culture. Paul admonishes us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). The life Christ calls us to is one of being countercultural, and of spreading the Kingdom of God throughout the culture around us.

What does it mean, though, to be countercultural? Does it mean that we organize protests or pen invective letters to the FCC for some sitcom’s latest grievous offense? If we follow the standard Christ set, it is a much deeper calling than that. When Christ speaks of being countercultural, it looks so much more revolutionary and bizarre than merely fighting for legalistic ideals. The picture Christ paints is of a peculiar people who confuse the culture around them by being so utterly different. Whereas our society worships status, we are to be servants to all. When the culture tells us we have to seek fortune, we hold material goods lightly and give all we have to the poor. If prevailing public opinion says that we should lie to get ahead, we cherish honesty and keep any oath we take. Where cynicism and pessimism pervade those around us, we are agents of constant hope and tireless faith.

Ultimately, though, the absolute most countercultural role a Christian can take is that of truly loving our enemies rather than treating them to our usual show of angry saber-rattling. This is hard for a people who have spent so much time viewing those who would tear down God’s Kingdom with such vitriol. But Jesus did not suggest this—He commanded it. He told us: "You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:38-42).

This is a revolution born not of anger or discord, but of unmitigated love. It is one that confounds culture by showing resilient mercy and charity at times when it makes the least sense to do so. How would society be impacted if, instead of staging counter-protests when we disagree with a group of pro-abortion demonstrators, we showed up and served them in humility and love? What kind of reputation would we gain if we quietly showed love to our homosexual neighbors instead of putting signs in our yard touting our political views on their relationship?

Are we at war with the culture? Yes. But we’ve been fighting the wrong battle. Ours is not a war of taking shots at things we deem offensive to the public sensibility. It is one of standing against the tide of selfishness, wrath, vainglory and cynicism that surrounds us. It is a battle of refusing to be swept up in the idea of consumerism. Of fighting the concept that we should avenge every wrong done to us. Of taking up arms against our culture’s mindset that the rich, famous and powerful are to be admired and the poor despised. This is a war of loving our enemies, praying for those who persecute us and speaking God’s abiding truth with genuine compassion for those whose ears it falls upon. Now is not the time to back away from a fight. It’s time to actually engage the true enemy.
Author: RELEVANT


Speaking of 'culture wars', Focus on the Family just came out with its 'approved' list of stores. Those that are 'Christmas-friendly', those that are 'Christmas-negligent' and those that, in The Judgment of the Most Righteous, He Who Sitteth at the Right Hand, the Self-Annointed....Doc Dobson...are 'Christmas-negative.'

"Real" Christians, of course, will not shop at places like Old Navy (on the latest Dobson hate/hit list). After all, would Christ shop there? Of course not. Christ would be working, like Doc Dobson, to drive them into bankruptcy and then dance on their corporate grave. That must be true, because that is what Christians do, isn't it? Remember the fit "Christians" like Dobson threw over Walmart's "Christmas-negative" position awhile back? Remember the threats of boycotts? So. Now that Walmart and others have "re-embraced" Christmas so sincerely and genuinely (the threat of losing money is so...spiritual...don't you think?) they are back on the Dobson "approved" list. There is nothing like a genuine coming to Christ to fill one with warm fuzzies, especially when it is accompanied by the "cha-ching" of "pro-Christian" cash registers. And Dobson and those of his ilk wonder why people flee the so-called "Christian" churches...

"850 Words from Relevant" is a newsletter published by Relevant magazine. You can subscribe to the magazine and/or the newsletter here:

Relevant Magazine: Covering God, Life, and Progressive Culture

The $700 billion tow

Michael Ramirez' $700 billion tow job

Boy howdy but he hit that one on the head, hey wot?

Meanwhile, listen to this Republican stooge of the auto industry go on about how that $700 billion 'isn't your money'.

It belongs to the auto industry.

We can only thank the lucky stars above that this clown failed of re-election. Unfortunately, there are entirely too many like him, still in both houses of the US Congress. And the Republicans wonder why they lost:



He says it's all because of the credit crunch.

Nonsense. It's because the people who bought and paid for him aren't making cars that people will buy.

But the bottom line..."It isn't your money...".

It belongs to Hank Paulson.

Speaking of the Eunuch of the Treasury, here is an interesting letter to him by the CEO of a financial institution. You may recall during the recent Congressional hearings that Paulson said he 'couldn't define what makes a financial institution'. Isn't that an incredible statement for a Secretary of the Treasury? Isn't that an incredible statement from a man to whom we have given free rein over $700 billion, to give away as he sees fit?

Here's the letter, which was originally posted on Michelle Malkin's "Take your bailout and shove it". One can only wonder if you can get car loans at this bank.:

November 3, 2008

Mr. Henry M. Paulson, Jr.
Secretary of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary Paulson:

As I reflect on the financial crisis that has gripped our nation, I feel compelled to write to you.

Government action was clearly needed to help shore up the nation’s financial institutions. I applaud you for taking quick action. However, I am gravely concerned with the actions that have been taken and their long-term implications for both our industry and the impact these measures will have on the moral fiber of our future leaders.

First, the rescue was more of a bailout. Its results will have made the large institutions larger and harder to manage and regulate. Secondly, as the system is repaired, these institutions which took such actions to bring the system down will be rewarded with new capital and clean balance sheets at the taxpayers’ expense. Meanwhile, financial institutions such as UMB will be penalized for operating with sound principles. Our first order of business is to protect our depositors’ liquidity. As a result of your actions, those who abused the system get stronger and those who protected their shareholders’ interest and those of the Deposit Insurance Fund will pay the price.

Lastly, I think it is inappropriate to use taxpayers’ funds to inject into healthy private enterprises. What message are we sending our future leaders? Is there no reward for doing the right thing? It seems there is only penalty. The reward seems to be for the reckless.

I believe that under a new administration, the CPP will become a political issue. I am afraid the new capital being used to shore up balance sheets and make acquisitions will not be looked upon favorably, as its original intent was to free up liquidity for extending credit.

Please while you go about the hard work of repairing our nation’s financial system, do not overlook the opportunity to restore dignity and respect for sound and responsible business principles.

If you don’t stand up for the good guys, who will?

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours very sincerely,

Mariner Kemper

Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
UMB Financial

11/18/08

Cheney Y Gonzales

"So, whaddya think about the Dick Cheney/Al Gonzales indictments?" asked DinkyDau Billy, as we walked along Road CC. Billy had run over a huge goathead and had suffered an almost instantaneous flat. He was having a 'purist' moment and had removed his thorn-resistant tubes and tire liners. We were all paying for it, as he had also forgotten his flat kit.

"Well, the presiding judge hasn't signed the indictments yet," pointed out Tookie. She was sort of riding her Hot Rock along, using her feet to push along the ground rather than pedaling.

"They seem to be kind of strange," observed Leece, "how can you be charged with assault without having physically taken part in the action?"

"Good question," replied Tookie, "I'd like to see the Texas statute they are citing."

"The presiding judge has thrown out several other indictments from this grand jury," noted Leece, "and the whole thing reads like something out of a bad rewrite of a 'Dukes of Hazard' episode. They're all being indicted and un-indicted down there. It's a circus."

She was right.

We pushed our bikes into the Holy Land Quickee's parking lot, and went into the store for some ice cream. It was a really beautiful evening. We couldn't believe how nice it was this late in the year.

Gorlick's out?

So it would appear.

Mr. Obama has apparently selected Eric Holder, former Deputy AG under President Clinton, as his first choice to be his Attorney General.

Holder doesn't have near the baggage as we see with Gorelick. In fact, at first glance, the only stink seems to be his role in the infamous pardon of Marc Rich. Rich was/is a commodities broker who did a lot of running from the IRS. In fact, he was a fugitive, albeit one who with his billions was a 'fugitive in comfort' when Clinton pardoned him. As if that wasn't enough, Denise Rich, the fugitive's then estranged wife, was a high-dollar donor to Bill Clinton's campaign(s). In other words, the deal, like so many others, stinketh greatly.

Holder admits now that he should have given more attention to what was a snap answer to his views on the pardon. He said at the time that he was "neutral, leaning towards favorable" on the deal, and Clinton later said this influenced him considerably in granting the pardon.

Holder was a prosecutor in DoJ, in the Public Integrity Section. He did a good job prosecuting Democrat John Jennrette, a slug who was exposed when the ABSCAM rock was turned over. He also supervised the end of the prosecution of Chicago Democrat Dan Rostenkowski, whom we have already discussed. President Reagan appointed him an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of Washington, DC, from which he resigned to accept appointment as the US Attorney for Washington DC under Clinton.

Holder opposes the death penalty. We have that in common. I am not sure why he opposes it, but I oppose it because there are too many errors in the judicial system. In Illinois alone, for example, there has been about a 6% exoneration rate among death row inmates. That is enough of a question, in my opinion, to at least hold it in abeyance if not do away with it altogether.

OTOH, he supported the Washington DC handgun ban that was challenged in District of Columbia v. Heller. Given Mr. Obama's rather virulent anti-firearms position, supporting Holder's nomination is an assault against the Second Amendment. I can't go along with that.

But at least he doesn't seem to be an outright self-serving weasel.

Cheney and Gonzales indicted

Vice president Dick Cheney and former AG Alberto Gonzales have been indicted by a south Texas grand jury.

The charges stem from alleged abuses suffered by prisoners in the Willacy County federal detention centers.

Like...wowsers.

The old saying is 'well, you can indict a ham sandwich'...the truth of which is apparent to anyone who has ever attended a preliminary hearing. A PH is similar to a grand jury in that it is basically deals with probable cause, and that is what we get from grand juries.

Despite that oversimplified explanation, it would seem that this might be a bit more difficult to brush off than complaints about Halliburton and so on.

Stay tuned...

Obamanian campaign promises

Investors' Business Daily has put together a list of campaign promises made by Mr. Obama. As IBD says...let's see where we are with this in four years:

Taxes

• Give a tax break to 95% of Americans.

• Restore Clinton-era tax rates on top income earners.

• "If you make under $250,000, you will not see your taxes increase by a single dime. Not your income taxes, not your payroll taxes, not your capital gains taxes. Nothing."

• Dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes.

• Give American businesses a $3,000 tax credit for every job they create in the U.S.

• Eliminate capital gains taxes for small business and startup companies.

• Eliminate income taxes for seniors making under $50,000.

• Expand the child and dependent care tax credit.

• Expand the earned income tax credit.

• Create a universal mortgage credit.

• Create a small business health tax credit.

• Provide a $500 "make work pay" tax credit to small businesses.

• Provide a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to families.

Energy

• Spend $15 billion a year on renewable sources of energy.

• Eliminate oil imports from the Middle East in 10 years.

• Increase fuel economy standards by 4% a year.

• Weatherize 1 million homes annually.

• Ensure that 10% of our electricity comes from renewable sources by 2012.

Environment

• Create 5 million green jobs.

• Implement a cap-and-trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

• Get 1 million plug-in hybrids on the road by 2015.

Labor

• Sign a fair pay restoration act, which would overturn the Supreme Court's pay discrimination ruling.

• Sign into law an employee free choice act — aka card check — to make it easier for unions to organize.

• Make employers offer seven paid sick days per year.

• Increase the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2009. (This is one of my favorites. Go have a chat with any local small business owner, and ask him/her how many employees will be laid off in order to comply with this promised mandate. If you have only so much coming in,then only so much is available for pay for your workers. If you have to give more of that to the workers, then that means that some of the workers will have to go. That's an interesting form of 'sharing the wealth')

National security

• Remove troops from Iraq by the summer of 2010.

• Cut spending on unproven missile defense systems.

• No more homeless veterans.

• Stop spending $10 billion a month in Iraq.

• Finish the fight against Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaida terrorists.

Social Security

• Work in a "bipartisan way to preserve Social Security for future generations."

• Impose a Social Security payroll tax on incomes above $250,000.

• Match 50% of retirement savings up to $1,000 for families earning less than $75,000.

Education

• Demand higher standards and more accountability from our teachers.

Spending

• Go through the budget, line by line, ending programs we don't need and making the ones we do need work better and cost less.

• Slash earmarks.

Health care

• Lower health care costs for the typical family by $2,500 a year.

• Let the uninsured get the same kind of health insurance that members of Congress get.

• Stop insurance companies from discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.

• Spend $10 billion over five years on health care information technology.

11/17/08

"A priceless resource..."

The John Fisher Hose Company, whose volunteers form the bulk of our EMS and firefighter personnel, is a priceless resource, as one young lady found out Monday evening.

The driver of this 2001 Dodge Stratus was westbound between La Junta and Las Animas when for unknown reasons she ran off US 50, rolling the car once.

Volunteer EMS people and volunteer firefighters from the Hose Company worked with our full-time La Junta Fire Department personnel to extricate the driver and transport her to AVRMC.







More "Hope and Change"

The latest buzz from the NYT has Mr. Obama considering Jamie Gorlick for the position of Attorney General.

Gorlick is the worst kind of Democrat scab. Plain and simple. No sense in sugar-coating it.

She served as Deputy AG under Clinton. That was the number two position in the Department of Justice.

Among her other non-accomplishments, she supported the banning of strong data encryption. She favored 'escrow keying', which means that anyone who uses data encryption - businesses, private individuals, etc - would be required to file the encryption key with an 'escrow holder'. The government would then be able to use that key to examine any encrypted data.

How does that sit with the 4th Amendment?

Gorlick is also the builder of the so-called '9-11 wall' cited by then Attorney General John Ashcroft, as the chief structural cause for the 9-11 attacks. You can read Gorlick's original memo on that, right here. Gorlick sat on the 9/11 Commission as a member, and after Ashcroft threw a serious down-home fit over the conflict of interest there, Gorelick recused herself. The 'Gorelick Wall' was the main reason investigators were denied access to the computer of Zacarias Moussaoui. You remember him. He was...the Twentieth Hijacker...and he was already in custody on some other immigration charges. But the 'Gorelick Wall' denied them access to his computer.

Then, in 1997, despite having no accounting or financial experience whatsoever, she was appointed Vice President of....wait for it...here's the drumroll...Fannie Mae. Yep. She was right up there at the top with Franklin Raines, another Clintonista.

Together, they managed to work up a $10 billion - yes, 'billion', not 'million' accounting scandal, and all the while the Democrats were screaming that the regulators were besmirching the 'excellent' work Raines was doing. See the YouTube in previous posts.

In March 2005, Gorlick was quoted by Business Week:

"We believe we are managed safely. We are very pleased that Moody's gave us an A-minus in the area of bank financial strength -- without a reference to the government in any way. Fannie Mae is among the handful of top-quality institutions."

A year later the accounting scandal broke and regulators were accusing Fannie Mae of 'accounting irregularities' that led to at least $9 billion in improperly accounted funds.

In 1998, Gorlick received $780,000 in connection with falsified financial transactions. This is the deal that allowed the top Fannie Mae execs those multi-million dollar bonuses.

Yeah, that's just who we need as top dog in the Justice Department.

Eminent domain

Eminent domain has once again reared its ugly head:

Condemning a landmark

Developers want the Pueblo city council to grant the power of condemnation to the Pueblo Urban Renewal Authority.

They want to tear down Patti's Restaurant, which has been in business for more than 70 years, and three other properties, to make room for a "multi-million dollar retail and commercial establishment."

Nobody is looking at condemnation as a first choice, but DeRose [the developer] told council, "We're going to need the vision that says: ‘We're going to get criticized. We're going to have problems. But if we can't work out our arm’s-length deals, we're going to use condemnation.' This deal can be blown up very quickly by individual landowners who don't share the vision."

Developers and politicians are very good with 'vision' when it comes to other peoples' property.

We didn't, and don't, support eminent domain with Pinon Canyon. That isn't good enough for the ranchers, who responded to our commentaries about looking for some kind of compromise with insults about how we have never worked for anything that mattered and are clueless about such things. So our attitude turned into 'screw 'em; let the Army have 'em for lunch for all we care' and remains so to this day.

Same deal with Patti's. That's a family business that has been around for a long time and has a large contingent of loyal customers. Eminent domain is not the first choice; it shouldn't be a choice at all. The best thing to do is if the politicians start making noise about eminent domain so some developer can make a pile of money on the deal, then vote the politicians out. Show them the door. This thing doesn't even have a flag attached to it; there is no argument at all that it has to do with national security in any way; at least some argument can be made for Pinon Canyon in that regard. Nope. It's just about money.

Vote 'em all out.

Much suffering and privation...

Goldman-Sachs announced this weekend that their top seven executives will not receive bonuses this year:

No bonuses

It seems the execs came up with the idea of sacrificing all on their own:

Goldman Sachs’s (GS) top seven executives will not receive bonuses for 2008, a spokesman for the firm told FOX Business.

The executives made the request of the board’s compensation committee, and the board on Sunday approved the request, the spokesman said.

The list of executives includes CEO Lloyd Blankfein, who in 2007 earned $68.5 million in cash and stock; as well as David Viniar, the chief financial officer; Co-Presidents Jon Winkelreid and Gary Cohn, who earned more than $65 million each last year themselves; and Vice Chairmen Michael Evans, Michael Sherwood and John Weinberg.

“Our senior officers decided on this course of action because they believe it to be the right thing to do,” the Goldman spokesman said.

This means that the seven will be eligible only to receive their base salaries of $600,000 each, according to The Wall Street Journal.


Note those bonuses they hauled in last year. Upwards of $65 million. Each.

Goldman-Sachs' stocks are down nearly 70% this year.

Does anyone out there believe that if We the Taxpayer were not on the verge of lynch mob justice with these robber barons they would have foregone their haul?

I don't.

So they can take that "it's the right thing to do", which makes it sound like they have some vestige of morality somewhere in their cash-basis hearts, and stick it very firmly where the moon don't shine.

It's almost enough to move one to become a socialist.

11/16/08

The First Apology

The other day Emanuel's dad, Benjamin, did an interview with an Israeli newspaper "Ma'ariv" about whether his son might have some influence over U.S. - Israeli relations.

"Obviously he'll influence the president to be pro-Israel, Emanuel-the-Elder was quoted as saying. "Why wouldn't he? What is he, an Arab? He's not going to be mopping floors at the White House."


Since then, "Rahm-bo" Emanuel has apologized to various and sundry Arab organizations, including ex-Congresscritter Mary Rose Oakar. Oakar is the president of the American-Arab Anti-discrimination Committee.

Benjamin Emanuel is a former operative of the Irgun, a terrorist group by any standard.

As Rich Galen says over on "Mullings", it would appear that the 63 page questionnaire for Obama Administration wannabees does not apply to Rahm-bo. The questionnaire leans heavily on areas that could cause 'embarrassment' to the Obama regime.

It would seem that having a dad who was an Israeli terrorist, who makes politically incorrect comments, is not a bar. For some people.

Also drawing from Rich...while the Arabs are incensed over the washing floors comment, we can only hope that the guy who really does wash the floors in the White House was not insulted by being called an Arab. Unless he is an Arab. In which case...well...never mind.

The Big Three, the UAW, and Hyundai

Here is a good article from After Market News, from last year:

UAW Losing Pay Edge: Foreign Automakers' Bonuses Boost Wages in U.S. Plants as Detroit Car Companies Struggle

Some excerpts:

The UAW is losing its edge in pay compared with non-unionized U.S. assembly plant workers for foreign companies, even as Detroit automakers aim for deeper benefit cuts to trim their losses.

In at least one case last year, workers for a foreign automaker for the first time averaged more in base pay and bonuses than UAW members working for domestic automakers, according to an economist for the Center for Automotive Research and figures supplied to the Free Press by auto companies.

In that instance, Toyota Motor Corp. gave workers at its largest U.S. plant bonuses of $6,000 to $8,000, boosting the average pay at the Georgetown, KY, plant to the equivalent of $30 an hour. That compares with a $27 hourly average for UAW workers, most of whom did not receive profit-sharing checks last year. Toyota would not provide a U.S. average, but said its 7,000-worker Georgetown plant is representative of its U.S. operations.


UAW is getting on average $27 bux an hour. To do what? Pound autobody parts into misalignment with rubber sledgehammers?

And this:

Ron Harbour, president of Harbour Consulting and the publisher of a respected ranking of plant efficiency, said domestic overtime is dropping because of improved quality and recent production cuts.

"Because there was so much overtime for so many years, they got used to that level of pay," Harbour said. "And it built the economy around here that's collapsed so much -- second homes, boats, snowmobiles and all of that."

Toyota's bonuses are comparable to the record profit-sharing checks earned by Chrysler and Ford workers in the late 1990s. That puts the pay of Toyota's workers ahead of that of UAW workers for the first time, said Sean McAlinden, chief economist for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor.

But when massive profits rolled in, Detroit executives squandered them, he said.

"There were certainly years back then at the profit peak of the truck boom when we could gaily march out the door and buy Volvo, or Jaguar, or Saab -- brilliant moves -- with our truck profits, rather than invest in hybrids," McAlinden quipped about GM's and Ford's spending decisions.


And here is an interesting tidbit:

Hyundai Motor Co. pays its U.S. production workers less than other automakers. Wages at its Alabama plant start at $14 an hour and grow to $21 an hour after two years on the job, according to a January 2004 company release. Hyundai declined to say whether those wages have increased since then.

But the UAW's Casteel, who is working to organize autoworkers in southern states, said the UAW's recruiting strategy of comparing union and nonunion checks doesn't work in less-developed parts of the South. In Alabama and Mississippi, for instance, the U.S. Department of Labor says wages average less than $11 an hour.

"If you start looking at where they put these plants, they go out to the most desolate places you've ever been in your life," Casteel, an Alabama native, said of foreign automakers. "And they make sure there are no other competitive wages with any other industry. You'll drive through these piney woods for an hour and all of a sudden you run upon this major manufacturing facility."


Isn't that why companies move out to places like The Smile Hi City? Isn't that why DeBourgh and Lewis are here? They couldn't afford those unionized contracts, so they jumped ship for down these parts. So. We had people who weren't making much of anything who are doing a lot better now working for DeBourgh and Lewis...and those companies are doing a lot better now because they don't have to deal with unionized slugs who go on strike if they don't get their paid breaks.

Perhaps we should contact Hyundai and see about setting up a plant here.

A dinosaur

From FoxNews:

Sens. Richard Shelby of Alabama and Jon Kyl of Arizona said it would be a mistake to use any of the Wall Street rescue money to prop up the automakers. They said an auto bailout would only postpone the industry's demise.

"Companies fail every day and others take their place. I think this is a road we should not go down," said Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee.

"They're not building the right products," he said. "They've got good workers but I don't believe they've got good management. They don't innovate. They're a dinosaur in a sense."


That's exactly right. Yet the Democrats stand ready to shovel $25 billion of our tax bux down that rat hole.

The Democrats are the ones who have gnashed their teeth, rended their garments, dressed themselves in sackcloth, and dusted themselves with political ashes as the have decried how poorly the Republicans have done regarding alternative energy sources. To a considerable degree the drama was unnecessary; it's fairly obvious they have a point. They have also inflicted Al Gore upon us, jetting about the globe leaving huge carbon footprints all over the place...but that's another story.

A large part of that lack of response to finding alternative energy is directly attributable to the incompetent 'management' of the so-called 'Big Three' automakers. And, with the albatross of the UAW hung 'round their necks, a union that has no sense of reponsibility whatsoever as they continue their unending mantra of 'me...me...me...it's all about me...'there is little hope of any of that changing.

Yet now the Democrats want to bail out the automakers.

Why?

It has nothing at all to do with economics. Nothing.

It has everything to do with politics:

At least two Republican senators support an automaker bailout — George Voinovich of Ohio and Kit Bond of Missouri. But if the Republicans are seen as neglecting an industry that inevitably collapses, they risk lasting political problems in Midwestern industrial states that can swing for either political party.

Obama won most of the manufacturing states in the presidential race, including Ohio, a perennial battleground, and Indiana, which had not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964. Obama easily won Michigan after Republican John McCain publicly pulled out weeks before Election Day.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said automakers are working to adapt to a changing consumer market, but they need immediate help to survive the nation's current economic crisis.


Carl Levin is kept in office by the UAW. He is bought and paid for by the UAW.

And then we have this corker:

"The House is ready to do it," said Democratic Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "There's no downside to trying."

Barney Frank. The same self-serving weasel who saw no downside to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as he and his party tapped that cash cow dry:



No downside, he says.

Of course not. Barney Frank has his Congressional retirement and he has his lifetime free medical care in this nation's best medical institution, all on your dime and mine. He and his cronies can continue to give away your money and mine and there is nothing you can do about it. Nothing.