"Buy American" is Protectionism

. Saturday, January 31

Not three sips out of my first cup of coffee of the day and already my blood is boiling. As much as we'd all like to "Buy American" to support ourselves, did you know that our illustrious government has signed trade agreements that actually prohibit buying American products over imports?

This little pearl of wisdom is in the news today under the auspice of protectionism. Obama's stimulus plan includes "buy American" provisions that include US made iron, steel and manufactured products over imports. Canada and the European Union "will not stand idly by" if these measures are passed.

It seems that the arguments for buying US products for infrastructure improvements will create jobs here, something that is sorely needed and the loss of which is blamed on Bush's trade policies, of course. The argument against states that buying American at this time goes wholly against the "global economy" and the fear is that other countries would also implement protectionist measures. As it stands right now, the bill under consideration states, "none of the funds from the stimulus may be used for a project unless all of the iron, steel and manufactured goods used in the projects are produced in the United States." Obama, playing it close to the vest, has yet to speak on any trade issues.

Well folks, if we don't pull out of the crisis, the rest of the world won't anyway. Sure, everyone is struggling the world over, and the world is looking to the US to save the day. But, if the US doesn't save itself, it won't do much good for the rest of the world, and I'd much rather not have the US weaken itself to save the world and open the door for an overthrow of power. Let's just say that this ol' girl ain't ever gonna wear no damned burka!

It seems to me that it would be logical to take this opportunity to rebuild the system from the ground up. If every locale became as self-sufficient as possible, then the global economy could be rebuilt based on need first, then desire last. That sure would uncomplicate a ton of issues and tensions worldwide, and eliminate dealing with peoples with abhorrent practices just because they produce something (oil) that we depend on to operate when we could have been self-sufficient all along and remained strong in the world's eye.

That dependence on imported oil caused this crisis to begin with, bringing the US to its knees with soaring crude prices. With the US on its knees, the rest of the world buckled, including the Middle East. That kind of power needs to be eliminated, which can be done by not depending on imported products to fulfill necessary needs. There's no excuse in leaving our underbelly so exposed and vulnerable to domination like this.

Once again, I am so dissatisfied with the US government that operates solely for the purpose of protecting business instead of people.

Senator Oprah, Scrotums and Nipples

. Wednesday, January 28

Making the talk show circuit, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich said that he had considered offering Obama's empty senate seat to Oprah Winfrey. Thinking it through, he said, he figured it would probably be viewed as a gimmick and hence an insult to Oprah. Oh, but he was tempted since her considerable "bully pulpit" is quite broad with some senators.  As an aside, Blago said he wouldn't attend any of his scheduled impeachement heartings.

Pretty ridiculous stuff, wouldn't you say?

Did you know that playing a cello will not cause a swollen scrotum? No? Neither did I. Supposedly, by playing the cello, the instrument would ...um... rub, and cause a considerable amount of pain. The British Medical Journal published that little bit of wisdom back in 1974, and added it to "painful nipple syndrome" supposedly suffered by guitarists. Finally, they admit both physical afflictions are bunk. The good doctor, a psychiatrist, finally admitted to the spoofs after someone referred to her original release of the dangers of making music. Sounds like she just couldn't handle rock -n- roll.

I'd much rather laugh at the ridiculous than think about the dead LA family or the Texas baby's torture as an method of teaching manners. Some days, the news is just too depressing to pick through for very long.

Inbox: Breaking Eggs

. Saturday, January 24

A six-year-old boy told his father he wanted to marry the little girl across the street. The father, being modern and well-schooled in handling children, hid his smile behind his hand.

'That's a serious step,' he said. 'Have you thought it out completely?'

'Yes,' his young son answered. 'We can spend one week in my room and the next in hers. It's right across the street, so I can run home if I get scared of the dark.'

'How about transportation?' the father asked.

'I have my wagon, and we both have our tricycles,' the little boy answered.

The boy had an answer to every question the father raised.

Finally, in exasperation, his dad asked, 'What about babies? When you're married, you're liable to have babies, you know.'

'We've thought about that, too,' the little boy replied. 'We're not going to have babies. Every time she lays an egg, I'm going to step on it!'

Note: It is effective to teach alternatives instead of "just say no!"

Besides the Inauguration, Life Goes On

. Tuesday, January 20

While the world was watching Obama's inauguration, one little 8 year old boy took yet another trek to the nearby liquor store his mother and he always used to go to. This wasn't the first time the boy had come in without his mother, which was unusual. The mother was homeschooling her son, and they lived together in an  apartment complex in Romulus, MI since relocating there after Hurricane Katrina. Today, the boy tried to use his mother's credit card to purchase snacks, and the liquor store owner asked him where his mother was. "She's in a better place." The mother had died on Jan. 9 and the boy survived 10 days in the apartment with her, living on dried rice, butter and flour.

In Knoxville, TN, a 56 year old man was found with third-degree burns to his face, and second-degree burns to his hands. The Fire Department had knocked on the door and broke in when they heard someone moaning. Inside, they found the man in the bathroom, horribly burned. The only fire in the entire place was one lit candle. They are baffled, and an investigation is on-going.

In a park in Boulder, CO, a woman was riding her bike and had to stop when she came upon a cow. The woman waited for the cow to cross, but the cow decided to knock her over and walk across her legs instead. Park officials put the warning out about the rogue cow.

A Raleigh, NC man found the domain, georgewbushlibrary.com had expired and bought it for $5. Yuma Solutions, a FL company, was in charge of the site and had let the domain expire. They then had to buy back the domain for a whopping $35,000.

My heart goes out to the little boy.

Best Seats in the House


The best seats in the house for today's inauguration aren't the VIP seats, but from the back of a horse. Why it took a new study to confirm results we've known for a long, long time, we'll never know. This study found that riding a horse eases back pain, improves confidence and emotional well being, and relieves stress. How? Well, it seems that the horse's movements that transfer to the rider mimic the body movements of a person walking.

Besides stating the ridiculously obvious, that the study's results were released today points more toward marketing genius than anything to do with riding a horse. It seems that tacking "Obama" onto any idea will generate interest and sales, an opinion that seems to be circulating the news today as yet another, painfully obvious happening.

So, if you want to be more confident, feel better and lose some of your stress, hop on a horse and head to the inauguration today. What you'll also find as remarkable benefits to doing so is that you won't be tired from walking miles to get to a place among millions of others who have done the same, but you'll be much taller and actually able to see more. But, beware. Not all horses can handle a crowd like that, most would rather be miles away from marching bands, and very few can tolerate flags, balloons or confetti. A spin and a buck will land you on the pavement, so be sure to bring your health insurance card. But hey, enjoy the ride!

Good Choice

. Monday, January 19

Think anyone will dig up muck on this choice?

MiTex - Top Secret No More

. Friday, January 16

What was a secret is no longer, as far as I can tell. I have to wonder whether this little tidbit of news flew under the radar, so to speak, when it began in 2006. Suffice it to say that I'm none too happy about being the last one to find out about it.

An American missile-warning satellite, DSP 23, that was monitoring whether Iran and North Korea were conducting deep space nuclear testing has quit working. So, the US is sending up two MiTex (Micro-satellite Technology Experiment) satellites to investigate.

In 2006, two of the MiTex satellites were sent up in orbit, circling each other and operating flawlessly. Analysts now say that if the MiTex satellites succeed in diagnosing the problem with the DSP 23, it will have a global impact because the technology could be used to take out an enemy orbiter.

If they are circling each other, they are not a danger, but if they are actually put to use they are? The former Center for Defense Information Director Theresa Hitchens said:

One cannot escape the fact that this technology, while potentially extremely useful in diagnostics of sick and ailing birds, also has tremendous potential for ASAT [anti-satellite] missions. It's stealthy, highly maneuverable, potentially lethal in more ways than one -- with potential kinetic, electronic or laser-killing payloads.
Hitchens is joined by the Union of Concerned Scientists in their angst about China finding out about this and complaining to the international community since they caught flack for their own ASAT missions. I never heard about that either.

The timing couldn't be worse in this little leak of information. It makes me wonder how many other little tidbits of information are known by the rest of the world and not us!

Gaza vs Israel Fought on Facebook

. Tuesday, January 13

In Turkey, demostrators are burning flags and shouting slogans outside a mosque in Istanbul. The same is happening in several other places as well. But, the most heated "war" is raging online on Facebook. One man, formerly of Israel but who now lives in the US, started an I-support-Israel group, and another man started an I'm-collecting-signatures-for-Gaza group. Both groups attracted attention from each other and Facebook, and include exchanges such as "Israel = killers," and "Maybe I'll wrap a towel around my head and beat my wife for peace in the name of Allah."

Issues such as security concerns surfaced while others say that because they are happening online, they aren't serious threats. Academics say that even ugly online exchanges facilitate communication and understanding. "The Internet removes the threat of physical harm and thus offers an unprecedented opportunity for the development of new ideas for conflict mediation."

Sure. In the meantime, we'll all keep our fingers crossed that Gaza and Israeli hackers don't go searching for that mystical computer system attached to the Big Red Button!

For additional thoughts on this, see "What Happens Now?"

Plot Thickens Between US and Iran


The AP reports this morning that Iran has arrested four Iranians and accused them of involvement to topple the Islamic government. Supposedly, these four have been working with US financial and congressional backing. Iran is saying that the US has been promoting a revolution in its country with the help of its own "intellectuals." The New York Times reported that Bush refused Israel bombs because "he had authorized covert action to sabotage its suspected atomic arms development."

Perhaps it's because I'm still working on my first cup of coffee of the day, or maybe it's because this AP article reads like a summary of a poorly constructed conspiracy theory, but I noticed that it is nowhere else across this morning's wires. I'm missing something with all these broad accusations flying around.

Keep your eye out for me, and let me know if you see anything more on this, please. I'm on assignment for the next few days and won't be able to watch for updates.

KKK Sons of Dixie: Don't Piss Off the Wizard

. Saturday, January 10

On Friday, Nov. 7, Cynthia Lynch's bus from Tulsa, Oklahoma arrived in Slidell, Loisianna. She was disabled due to mental illness, had no friends, and had applied to the Sons of Dixie, headed by the Imperial Wizard Raymond "Chuck" Foster. She was brought to Foster's rented compound in Bogalusa, and her initiation began. Her head was shaved, everyone wore the white, pointed hoods, and she pledged her loyalty to the Klan among the burning torches.

Leading his Klan of disciples to a campsite in a little town called Sun, the ceremony ended the next day. Lynch asked Foster for a ride back into town so that she could catch a bus back to Tulsa and was refused. She asked again, and Foster pushed her to the ground. She got up to approach again, and Foster put a gun to her chin and pulled the trigger. After she fell to the ground, Foster rolled her over, took out a pocket knife and cut into her back to find the bullet that hadn't left her body.

Foster's disciples include his 20 year old son, and recruits other twentysomethings via a web site. Police quickly rounded everyone up and charged Foster with second degree murder. Hearings begin in Feb.

Lance Hill, executive director of the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University said, "In the rural white south, there's a sense that they've become marginalized, and are politically irrelevant to national politics. Taking up those robes and rituals of the Klan can be seen as an act of defiance," he says, adding, "That's a dangerous turn, because that kind of hopelessness can lead to more extremist and violent acts of desperation."

The rising white supremest tensions are attributed to the economic crisis, a steady flow of immigrants, and Obama's election. "I think there's a perfect storm coming together, and we're at a very worrying moment," says Mark Potok, editor of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Report, which tracks hate crimes in America.

See: A Klan Initiation Murder: A Backlash to Obama's Victory? 


. Friday, January 9

A special edition of Spiderman hits stands on January 20, Inauguration Day, featuring Barack Obama.

To Spiderman, Obama is the "nerd-in-chief," and uses superpowers to save the day when an imposter tries to take Obama's place. On the cover, Spiderman asks Obama, "Hey, if you get to be on my cover, can I be on the dollar bill?"

Marvel editor Joe Quesada thinks the reason Obama is a fan of the comic hero is because Spiderman believes that with power comes responsibility.

"As president of the United States, I think that's a credo that he should live by."

Hard Up Down Under

. Thursday, January 8

I couldn't resist this bit of odd news from Sydney, Australia. It seems that there is a "sex burgler" on the loose. A man has broken into three adult shops to stead a blowup doll named Jungle Jane. He takes these dolls out back of the stores, blows them up and has sex with them. He then leaves his 'victims' in the alley. So far, police have collected DNA samples, fingerprints, and photos of each crime scene. But, the burgler is still on the loose. One sex shop owner said, "It's totally bizarre. It's a real concern that someone like that is out on the street." Well, maybe the guy is test driving before purchasing -- ? Maybe the shop owners should consider a Jungle Jane rental program... Yuck.

Mule's Fire Alarm Saves Owner

. Tuesday, January 6

Meet Lou the mule from Tennessee. On New Year's Day, right after his supper, he started acting up and braying like crazy. It was such a loud racket that his owner, 63 year old Jolene Solomon, went outside to find out why the mule was misbehaving so. When she turned around, she saw that her house was burning. She called 911, then she and Lou watched her house burn down to the ground while waiting for the fire department. Now quite aged, Lou was purchased by Solomon's father years ago to help around the farm. Solomon plans to rebuild and return to live where she has lived all of her life. Thanks to Lou for saving her life.

Heeeere's Johnny!

. Monday, January 5

Oops, I mean Obama. Freudian slip, I'm sure. President-elect Obama arrived at Andrew's Air Force Base yesterday, and though the article didn't exactly say, that sure looks like Air Force 1 to me. The haughty excesses tend to raise my hackles. Now that Obama is in Washington to meet with Congressional leaders to discuss his economic stimulus plan, it's time to keep a close eye on the news. Though it's much easier to scan headlines and pick up the stories that drop out as soon as they drop in, I get the feeling that reporters will be sneaking little tidbits into major stories, and burying them amongst the puff and fluff. Call it reporter's intuition if you like. That's what I'd do if it were my beat.

Haughty, presumptuous, assuming and egomaniacal are the words that came to mind when I read, "To revive the world's largest economy, struggling amid global financial turmoil, the incoming White House economic team hopes to create three million jobs -- 80 percent of which will be in the private sector." Forgive my cynicism, but Obama intends to dictate what privately owned businesses do?

No, his solution isn't exactly that straight forward: "The president-elect hopes the tax break for people earning up to 200,000 dollars a year that also includes a one-year tax credit for companies that hire or rehire more people -- worth some 40-50 billion dollars -- will help "create or save" three million jobs by 2011." When people - and businesses - are so strapped for cash today, the last thing that they are going to do is loosen their purse strings when things remain iffy. A tax break just won't do it.

The excesses are astounding. Bush has planned a Wednesday lunch and invited Jimmy Carter, daddy, Bill Clinton and Obama to join him. Five US presidents in one place, and only for lunch. I wonder who is paying for the plane tickets and all the security?

There's a push-me, pull-you going on between exiting and entering presidents, however. Obama asked that he and his family stay in the White House's guest residence they call Blair House. Uh oh, it's booked, says Bush, so Obama et al is staying at the luxurious Hay-Adams Hotel instead. Oh, the insult. I wonder who is paying that tab since it probably requires booking an entire floor and massive amounts of security in itself.

Our government just isn't experiencing the economic crisis that the rest of us are.

Increase in Gas Taxes is Milking a Stone

. Friday, January 2

I must be in way over my head here, because I just don't understand this. Trace my steps with me and see if you can point out where I'm wrong here. The biggest market is the consumer market, right? If production is cut back, then people lose jobs. When people lose jobs, there is no longer money in the consumer's pocket. No money in consumers' pockets mean even more production cutbacks and job losses. And that means no more money to spend, right?

Now, it was only a few months ago that this drastic squeeze on the Everyday Joe and Jane was ignited by the price of oil, reflected in the price of gas. With fuel costs through the roof, consumer goods prices went through the roof along with it. God knows that the greedy bastards won't take a cut in the outrageous profit they are already making, so consumers pay the price 100-fold. Worrying about getting to work and putting food on the table, consumers cut back on spending. Less spending leads to production cutbacks to job losses to even less spending. All sorts of things collapse around this scenario besides the consumer product market, like housing and credit, yada yada yada ... except for gas companies. They come out smelling like a frakking rose.

Not being entirely stupid, OPEC magically cuts back prices on a barrel of oil, and once again, gas companies are still smelling quite rosy because, though there is some reduction at the gas pump, it's not near the percentage in drop of the price of crude. Is it a relief to consumers? Only a little. It's too little, too late you see, because fewer people have jobs and can't pay for anything, let alone gas. The greedy bastards bit the hand that feeds them way too often. But, they're still the rosy ones.

So, in its infinite wisdom, the powers that be decide that the best way to make up for many driving a lot less is to increase the taxes on gas and diesel! Short-sighted as usual, ignorant of cause and effect, and projecting what they think lies ahead (remind you of futures?) they decide to squeeze the consumer even more. They rationalize by saying it's the consumers that use the roads, so they should pay for it. Well, the roads are still the major part of the country's infrastructure, and those big ass trucks tear up roads far more than passenger vehicles. Not only will the price of gas go way up again, but so will the prices on food!

Then, in more infinite wisdom, someone pipes up and calls it like he sees it, that it's a carbon emission tax and not a gas tax. Turns out that the trucking industry loses close to $8 billion a year due to bottlenecks and traffic jams! My question then becomes "why should we pay for a road system that is so poorly designed that it can't handle the traffic?" It don't work. Period.

Think tanks be damned. Some commission does a study, so what. They look at things in terms of growth only. In a finite world, isn't it obvious that growth can only go so far? The reality is that the rich bastards now have all the money there is, and there's no more to be had. The idiots don't realize that as soon as they have all the money, it's worthless.

Sorry, Charlie. It's time you learned what the rest of us have known all along: As much as you'd like it to be otherwise, you can't get milk from a stone.