Monday, November 24, 2008

Random Thoughts on a Rainy November Night

A few things this blogger thinks about while recovering from political overload.
Warning: sensitive readers may find a few of these ramblings disturbing.

  • Go Saints Go! The New Orleans Saints really need this win against the Packers. Games like this one are the reason I LUV MNF. These days I just skip the intro. :-)
  • I think that everyone who loves football is happy for both Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre but Tony Kornheiser really has to stop wearing his man-crush for Favre on his sleeve.
  • Also on the subject of football, a sociopath designed the BCS Standings in order to torment football fans into thinking that we're too stupid to understand the system. The rating system makes no sense to anyone in football and I'm sure that fans everywhere would have no problem with seeing it abolished by an executive signing order. If President Bush would sign the order now and lock the BCS Standings creator in Guantanamo he could still save his legacy.
  • A final thought on football. I hope that the Philadelphia Eagles aren't imploding. I'm not a big Eagles fan but I was really looking forward to Thursday night's game against the Cardinals. Maybe the Detroit Lions will be entertaining. LOL Can you say thank God for trytophan?
  • Moving on. I guess that my boycott of the series "24"is over, at least until Jack tortures someone again. Maybe the show's writers have found redemption.
  • I've actually spent nearly three whole days without hearing the name of the Governor of Alaska. Of course, I was mostly watching football, movies and home improvement shows. In fact, I completely tuned out any news on politics. There's only so much a person can take of the "What will Hillary Do?" and "Why the government should or shouldn't bail out the auto industry." From time to time a person just has to jump off the merry-go-round and block out the noise.
  • I'm going to spend most of my time between now and Inauguration Day researching all of the issues for which I'm going to hold the President-elect and the 111th Congress accountable. And I do plan to hold their feet to the fire.
  • Can someone read my 3,000+ emails to me while I sleep? And while they're at it, shred my snail mail.
  • I really like the new site design of It reminds me that I need to do a full holiday site overall for my badly neglected main site PointofView316.
  • Plants really do respond to classical music.
  • When am I going to find time to mail Christmas cards and bake pies?
  • I promise to never let another political campaign consume a year of my life.

Yeah right.

Have A Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Friday, November 21, 2008

PA Legislature's "Let Them Eat Cake Syndrome"

While every major utility in Pennsylvania is hiking their rates, corporations are freezing wages, mortgages are adjusting upwards, and the average citizen is struggling to make ends meet, the Pennsylvania State Legislature is giving themselves a pay raise. Political activist Gene Stilp refers to this as the "let them eat cake syndrome". I call it the "screw you, as long as I get mine" approach to governance.

Mario F. Cattabiani Inquirer Staff Writer reports:
HARRISBURG - Despite a growing budget deficit, the very real prospect of tax increases, and unemployment rates not seen in years, Pennsylvania lawmakers are about to get a raise.

Come Dec. 1, base salaries of state House and Senate members will increase 2.8 percent, or $2,152, to $78,315. Legislative leaders will see even more of a pay bump.

The extra cash comes courtesy of a law that legislators passed in 1995, setting in motion annual cost-of-living adjustments, or COLAs, for themselves and other elected state officials, including the governor and judges.

The legislature replaced the COLAs in 2005 with raises of 16 to 54 percent but, after widespread public outcry, rescinded them later that year and returned to the COLAs.

Gene Stilp, a longtime Harrisburg activist who challenged the 2005 raises in court, scolded lawmakers for continuing the COLAs, especially in such tough economic times.

"The legislature is continuing with its let-them-eat-cake syndrome," he said. "Maybe the citizens need a guillotine."

Through the first four months of the fiscal year, Pennsylvania is digging a deep budget hole, with revenue trailing projections by 7 percent, or $565 million. The state is expected to end the fiscal year between $1 billion and $2 billion in the red.

Gov. Rendell said Wednesday that he was seeking new spending cuts on top of the $300 million already made, and that he could not rule out a tax hike next year. Rendell, whose salary is set to increase $4,806 in January, to $174,956, added yesterday that he was considering forgoing his raise and having his cabinet do the same.

Asked whether the legislature should also consider the option, Rendell told reporters that he needed to work with lawmakers in the final two years of his administration, "so I am not sure I want to necessarily beat them over the head, especially when you guys are all too willing to do it for us."

Legislature to Order Study on Drilling in NC

excerpt from:
Legislature to order study on drilling

Senate Leader Marc Basnight said he and House Speaker Joe Hackney will appoint a commission to study the potential benefits and risks of drilling for oil off the coast of North Carolina.

The legislature has no power to stop the federal government from authorizing offshore exploration, and federal officials have asked for public comment on drilling off the coast of Virginia.

Basnight, a Manteo Democrat, said he strongly opposes drilling, because he said it would provide a relative pittance of oil while risking damaging or destroying the costal ecosystem and economy.

"If the study were to come back and say we have this incredible find and it is larger than anything man has seen, I'd have to look at that," Basnight said.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

EPA Proposal Would Ease Clean-Air Rules for National Parks

This is a terrible blow for the environment and everyone who loves nature and our national park system.

EPA Proposal Would Ease Clean-Air Rules for National Parks

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 19, 2008; Page A06

The Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing new air-quality rules that would make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and other major polluters near national parks and wilderness areas, even though half of the EPA's 10 regional administrators formally dissented from the decision and four others criticized the move in writing.

Documents obtained by The Washington Post show that the administration's push to weaken Clean Air Act protections for "Class 1 areas" nationwide has sparked fierce resistance from senior agency officials. All but two of the regional administrators objecting to the proposed rule are political appointees.

The proposal would change the practice of measuring pollution levels near national parks, which is currently done over three-hour and 24-hour increments to capture emission spikes during periods of peak energy demand; instead, the levels would be averaged over a year. Under this system, spikes in pollution would no longer violate the law.

In written submissions, EPA regional administrators have argued that this switch would undermine critical air-quality protections for parks such as Virginia's Shenandoah, which is frequently plagued by smog and poor visibility.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Practical Pursuit of Political Peace

Can Obama really keep his friends close and his enemies closer?

Only if the America people keep them all honest.

Time will tell but for now, as the song goes, let's give peace a chance.

Headzup: After Prop 8, James Dobson Asks WWJF?

I guess that we all have to have a sense of humor about these things.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Strange Twist Indeed

Andrew Malcolm of the LA Times is reporting that Focus on the Family, the conservative evangelical group founded by Dr. James Dobson, is laying off 200 employees.

Malcolm reports:

    "It's the second time in recent months the influential group that does so much mailing it has its own ZIP code has released workers from its mountainside headquarters in Colorado Springs. The latest cuts leave the national organization with about 950 employees from a onetime high of some 1,500.

    The cutbacks come after Focus, formerly headquartered in California until 1991, spent a reported half-million dollars to successfully support Proposition 8 in the Golden State, overturning a state court decision to allow same-sex marriages.

    After opposing John McCain in 2007 for restrictions on nonprofit political activities in his McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform law and Rudy Giuliani for his abortion support, Dobson endorsed ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee late in the Republican primary season this year.

    But faced with the choice of McCain or Democrat Barack Obama, Dobson eventually said he would personally support the Arizona senator because the Illinois senator posed such a threat to family values. Since Obama's victory, Dobson has worried online about the direction of the country."

Dr. Dobson was so worried about an Obama presidency that Focus on the Family published and distributed the now infamous "Letter from 2012", a fictional vision of the world after four years of an Obama administration. A letter which the Matthew25 Network, this blogger and millions of non far-right wing, fundamentalist Christians found to be "filled with doomsday projections, is fearmongering of the worst kind - a sensationalist fiction with almost no basis in reality."*
Readers of this site's companion blog, "Get the Facts & Get Involved" may recall the post asking readers to respond to Dr. Dobson's message.

Needless to say I sent my response and, in turn, received the following reply from Focus on the Family (which in all fairness I'll reprint in its entirety):

    Response (Jonathan Bartha) 10/29/2008 02:46 PM

    Thanks for your e-mail. It was good of you to offer your candid reaction to Focus on the Family Action’s "Letter from 2012 in Obama’s America."

    We’ve heard from many people who found this resource helpful; some, like you, have disagreed with our approach. While critics of this document accuse us of engaging in "sensationalist fiction," it’s vital to underscore that we are not claiming to make definitive predictions on what a Barack Obama presidency would produce.

    However, as the "Letter from 2012" makes evident, every scenario outlined in this piece is plausible based on recent documented events, court rulings, the Democratic Party’s stated agenda, and Senator Obama’s voting record and campaign promises.

    We invite you to re-read the introduction of the letter which clearly states that we are neither employing unfounded "fear tactics" nor speaking out with mean-spirited intent. On the contrary, we’ve posted a reasonable projection of what *could* occur with a Senator Obama presidency and a Democratic-controlled Congress. Of course, we hope and pray that none of the possible outcomes described in "Letter from 2012" come to pass.

    It might be beneficial to provide some additional background on our mission to help you better understand our reasons for engaging in the public policy realm. We have no interest in partisan politics; rather, we care deeply about the sanctity of human life, the value of marriage, and the preservation of religious freedom. Dr. Dobson has espoused these crucial issues since he launched Focus on the Family in 1977 and has always encouraged people to consider them at the ballot box. Despite what the Matthew 25 Network and other pro-Obama action groups may say, we contend that Senator Obama’s record *significantly* differs from the pro-life and pro-family policies that many Christians hold dear. Some may label this "fearmongering" -- we call it a sobering, rational assessment based on actual events documented in the letter.

    It might be helpful for you to read a concise summary of four key points that motivate us in our actions:

    1) Senator Barack Obama’s record is well outside the mainstream. For example, he was rated the most liberal United States senator by the National Journal_ in 2007.

    2) A Democratic president, House and Senate has significant implications for pro-family policies. The Wall Street Journal has stated that this election will usher in "one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history" if the Democrats control the White House and possess congressional majorities, including a filibuster-proof Senate. This type of unchecked power, not seen since 1965, demands that voters critically examine the policies advocated by the Democratic Party.

    3) Senator Obama’s commitment to causes championed by extreme liberal groups such as Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), both of which have endorsed him, are a source of great concern. Earlier this year, Senator Obama pledged that if elected president, he would advocate for and sign the "Freedom of Choice Act," which would repeal virtually every federal and state law regulating or limiting abortion -- including parental involvement laws for teenagers, late-term abortion bans, and limits on public funding of abortion. He has also indicated that he will make it a priority to repeal the "Defense of Marriage Act," which allows states to restrict marriage to one man and one woman. In addition, he backs other HRC-supported initiatives including the passage of "hate crimes" legislation and the "Employment Non-Discrimination Act". Similar legislation has penalized Christians who hold a biblical view of sexuality.

    4) Senator Obama’s stated appreciation of United States Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, and David Souter -- along with his votes against the nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito -- indicate he would appoint judges with a judicial philosophy detrimental to pro-family causes.

    On a final note, organizational endorsements of political candidates wed groups to their candidate in a way that may not lend itself to an honest critique of that individual’s weaknesses. As you’re likely aware, the group behind the Matthew 25 Web site endorsed Senator Obama for president.

    Again, thanks for writing. We hope this response has helped clarify our perspective and explained why we feel the Matthew 25 Network’s version of "choosing hope" without a sober look at the troubling elements of Senator Obama’s candidacy is misguided. Grace and peace to you.

    Jonathan Bartha

    Focus on the Family Action

Well I believe that the majority of Americans made a "sobering, rational assessment based on actual events" when they cast their votes of November 4th. Now it seem that the Focus on the Family organization has to make an equally sobering, rational assessment" and evaluate the cost of fearmongering and what it means to 200 employees and their families.

Ironically, I agree with the idea on focusing more on our families. I believe that an organization which helps families succeed helps the nation succeed. We should all focus more on helping families with adequate housing, jobs, food, clothing, health-care, education, safety and spiritual growth. But when you consider that Focus on the Family spent $500,000 on tearing some California families apart when they could have spent that money on helping their neighbors in Colorado you have to view the announcement of 200 layoffs as a strange twist indeed.

* from "Respond to Focus on the Family Action's "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America"

Monday, November 17, 2008

OpenCongress Launches My Political Notebook

One of my favorite internet political tools is I refer to this site constantly for information on members of Congress, the status of legislation and how various issues are being covered in the blogosphere. OpenCongress also provides tools that allow me to share bill status with readers of my blogs as well as with friends and fellow bloggers.

Today, OpenCongress introduced a new feature called My Political Notebook which I think that you might like.

The following is from the OpenCongress team:

Hi everyone,

As Congress returns today for its last session of the year, we are excited to announce "My Political Notebook". It's a new way to save and share your favorite political content, from OpenCongress and around the web.

"My Political Notebook" allows you to create a personal page of everything you're following in politics: news articles, blog posts, web videos, important files, and more. You can add content with one click using a handy bookmarklet for your web browser, or directly from pages on OpenCongress.

For example, one of the biggest issues in the news is whether Congress will include a bailout of the Big Three Automakers in a new economic stimulus package. "My Political Notebook" gives you a way to collect the best info about this developing story in one place, add your own notes & tags, and share it all with your friends.

To read more about "My Political Notebook", visit our blog announcement today ::

To jump right in and see it in action, check out the notebook of our lead blogger, Donny Shaw ::

Finally, our friends Jay & Ryanne of recently made a great video tutorial on how to use OpenCongress to track all the bills and issues you care about::

This week is Congress' last chance until January to take action on the economy, so there's a lot at stake. On this story and others, "My Political Notebook" gives you a new place to save and share what's really happening in Congress. Let us know what you think!

-David + the OC Team

Remember it's our job to get the facts and stay involved.

The New Holiday Diet or How to Drive Millions of Americans from the Thanksgiving Table

Just when you thought that your Thanksgiving holiday was safe from family arguments over politics, the spirit of Leland Gaunt is saying "not so fast."

The Alaska Dispatch is reporting that "starting Thanksgiving, an ad campaign kicks off to thank Sarah Palin for all she’s done for the nation, an effort led by Our Country Deserves Better, a political action committee that's pumping Palin as the next president."

No, this is not a joke.

Somewhere in the middle of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, one of the football games or maybe even a program remembering JFK, you may suddenly be affronted by an ad thanking Sarah Palin ( not former POW, decorated war veteran and US Senator, John McCain) for all that she's done for this nation. And John McCain thought that purchasing 30 minutes of airtime prior to a World Series game was outrageous.

This is Thanksgiving we're talking about. The biggest family gathering day of the year. The day that some families struggle to get through in peace.

We might have been spared this, if the McCain campaign had just let her make her concession speech. But now we can only consider ourselves warned and
stock up on Pepto Bismol.

Does this group really think that this is going to help Sarah Palin's political career or are they just trying to advance their own agenda? Whatever their intent, running these ads during a holiday season to an American audience that has endured a nearly two year presidential campaign and wants to move on with getting this economy back on course runs the risk of making Sarah Palin look like the "ego-maniacal whack job" that her detractors are trying to portray.

Of course there is a potential upside to airing these ads during the Thanksgiving holiday. They're certain to make millions of Americans pass on those second helpings.

Thanks Amanda for the warning.

Our Country Deserves Bitter
by Amanda Coyne for The Alaska Dispatch

Thought you might be able to eat your turkey and pie and ‘tators without the Thrilla of Wasilla making an appearance? Winking at your men through the pixels? Her perfectly lipped-lined lips forming sentences that need some sort of decoding machine to decipher?

Thought that maybe you might be spared the notion that we should have Gov. Sarah Palin to thank for anything but saving the country from the “real America?"

You know, those real, angry Americans who, on the whole, are white and look very well fed and who drive expensive gas-guzzling SUVs and have costume-built rooms in their basement to store their designer guns. The ones who yelled “Kill Him” at Palin’s rallies, and the ones who brought their cute little stuffed animals with them when she spoke.

Those cute little monkeys.

Think again. Word has it that Palin makes these folks feel good about their anger, even though it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how she does it, or even, what they’re angry about.

Most of those angry people are also disorganized, which makes all that anger a little menacing. Mostly, they’ve resigned themselves to communicating on chat rooms (more on that later) and calling into talk radio to yell about Obama being a Muslim and the anti-Christ.

But there’s at least one group out there that’s angry, and also has organizational structure and money. On Thanksgiving, they’re rolling out a national campaign to thank Sarah Palin for all she’s done for this country. The California-based group, a political action committee, is called Our Country Deserves Better.

The group wants to thank Palin for being an “articulate, straight-forward and uplifting champion of common sense conservative ideals.”

Joe Wiezbicki, the PAC’s coordinator, told The New York Times that his group has raised a couple of hundred thousand dollars for the commercials.

During the campaign, Our Country Deserves Better was one of the few shadowy groups that defied John McCain’s pledge not to bring up Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Wright. They spent more than a million dollars on television ads in battleground states doing just that. They also ran ads questioning Obama’s patriotism, linking him to all sorts of terrorist groups, etc, etc…

It’s hard to say if Palin really understands what kind of rough beast her candidacy has borne. People get along fairly well in Alaska, even when they don’t. But her new “base” has no intention of getting along. And they’re thankful that now that they’ve got her as their figurehead, they don’t have to.

Related posts:

A Few Weeks in Castle Rock

Clinton Rally for GA Dem Jim Martin Scheduled for 4PM Wednesday

About that Clinton rally: 4 p.m., Clark Atlanta University | Political Insider

Monday, November 17, 2008, 12:40 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

We now know the place and the approximate time of the Wednesday visit by President Bill Clinton on behalf of Jim Martin, the Democratic candidate in the U.S. Senate runoff.

The place is Vivian W. Henderson Gymnasium at Clark Atlanta University — which bespeaks a strategic emphasis on turning out African-American voters on Dec. 2.

Doors open at 4 p.m. No word yet on when the actual program starts — last week's Saxby Chambliss rally opened at the same time. But former Republican presidential nominee John McCain didn't show until 5:30 p.m.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Move to Begin Oil Drilling off Virginia Coast - North Carolina Probably Next

excerpt from: | Feds move on Virginia oil drilling

by Barbara Barrett, Washington Correspondent
WASHINGTON - The federal government on Thursday made its first move toward oil and natural gas exploration off the coast of Virginia -- just northeast of the Outer Banks.

The U.S. Department of Interior issued a call for public comments as it begins to consider the potential environmental effect of offshore drilling. The environmental work is the first step in opening 2.9 million acres of waters to a lease sale scheduled for 2011. The area under consideration is at least 50 miles offshore.

The agency's move will be followed closely by environmental groups and states in the Southeast, along with business groups eager for more energy development.

"In some ways, North Carolina is the next place after Virginia that ... the federal government would like to go," said Michael Gravitz of Environment America, a coalition of state environmental organizations. "Virginia is the first chink in the Atlantic Coast armor."

To submit a comment to the US Dept of the Interior go to:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

You Can't Beat This for Hypocrisy

During his 2002 Georgia Senate race, current US Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) ran the following political ad about his opponent, disabled, decorated Viet Nam war veteran former Senator Max Cleland.


Due in part to this ad Saxby Chambliss won that election in what most media outlets reported as a "surprise upset".

Here's how PBS' NewsHour reported the Chambliss win:

" The victory follows a heated campaign characterized by ugly campaign ads during the race's final weeks. One Chambliss ad, according to the Journal-Constitution, attempted to portray Cleland's procedural votes on setting up the proposed Department of Homeland Security as opposition to the president's efforts to defend the homeland.

Sen. Zell Miller, a fellow Georgia Democrat, appeared in a Cleland spot to defend his Senate colleague.

'It's disgraceful for anybody to question Max Cleland's commitment to our national security,' Miller said. Pointing to Cleland's record in the Vietnam War, during which he lost both legs and an arm, Miller said 'Max Cleland is my hero,' and his 'opponent should be ashamed.'

Chambliss backed a version of the homeland security legislation that would set aside employee union rules to allow President Bush to hire and fire federal workers in the new department. Cleland supported a version more favorable to those unions, which contributed heavily to his campaign, the Journal-Constitution reported.

Cleland consultant Karl Struble told Cox News Service the Chambliss ads used 'some of the ugliest stuff I've ever seen,' including 'using pictures of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein ... They're taking lying to a new art form in that race.' Chambliss media consultant, meanwhile, said Cleland's ads are 'so over the top negative' that they seemed designed to disgust uncommitted voters and keep them from the polls, Cox News Service reported.

On the issues, Chambliss and Cleland also sparred over a potential move to allow workers to direct some Social Security payments into private investment. Cleland was against such a move; Chambliss supported it. They also differed on health care and the president's economic plan."

Of course by 2002 the Republicans were honing their craft and knew that a smear campaign could be effective even if the target was a decorated war veteran. After all, in the 2000 Republican presidential primary, a highly effective smear campaign was waged against former Viet Nam POW and war hero Arizona Senator John McCain.

So in 2002 CNN quoted Senator John McCain as saying the following when heard about the ad that the Chambliss campaign had run against a fellow war veteran:

"I'd never seen anything like that ad. Putting pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden next to the picture of a man who left three limbs on the battlefield -- it's worse than disgraceful. It's reprehensible."

And who did Georgians send to the Senate in 2002? It seems that it was a man who never met a corporate lobbyists that he didn't like.


Now it's 2008 and Senator John McCain, who during the course of this year's presidential campaign reminded us time and time and time again of his war record, is traveling to Georgia to help his "friend" Saxby Chambliss win a run-off election against his Democratic opponent Jim Martin.

You Simply Can't Beat This for Hypocrisy

Sen. Chambliss one young voter ( and millions like him) are determined to shine a light on this hypocrisy and encourage Georgia voters to go to the polls on December 2nd and elect Democrat Jim Martin.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

From Euphoria to Postpartum Blues

As I told fellow blogger Charles Amico earlier today, a week after the election I'm experiencing a form of political postpartum blues.

For nearly two years I, and millions of my fellow Americans, blogged, debated and sometimes argued about a day that has now come and gone.
And now that we've made our cases and either celebrated or licked our wounds, it's time to face the hard cold reality ahead.

If the US presidential campaign was
a very long and very difficult pregnancy and Election Day represented the birth of a "new day in America" then I see the year ahead as being the equivalent of late night feedings, diaper changes, teething, and caring for a colicky, if not downright sickly, baby.

Like all new parents, the majority of Americans are overjoyed, hopeful and anxious to capture every moment of the new political baby's life. Even the overseas relatives are caught up in the joy of the blessed event. However, now that things are settling down it is clear that while the parents were completely distracted a few family members were helping themselves to everything in the house that wasn't nailed down.

As the Washington Post reported yesterday, the US Treasury Department conveniently found a way to slip a few dollars out of the household piggy bank and slide it under the table to the banking industry.

As Amit Paley reported in his article " A Quiet Windfall for U.S. Banks":
" The financial world was fixated on Capitol Hill as Congress battled over the Bush administration's request for a $700 billion bailout of the banking industry. In the midst of this late-September drama, the Treasury Department issued a five-sentence notice that attracted almost no public attention.

But corporate tax lawyers quickly realized the enormous implications of the document: Administration officials had just given American banks a windfall of as much as $140 billion.

The sweeping change to two decades of tax policy escaped the notice of lawmakers for several days, as they remained consumed with the controversial bailout bill. When they found out, some legislators were furious. Some congressional staff members have privately concluded that the notice was illegal. But they have worried that saying so publicly could unravel several recent bank mergers made possible by the change and send the economy into an even deeper tailspin.

"Did the Treasury Department have the authority to do this? I think almost every tax expert would agree that the answer is no," said George K. Yin, the former chief of staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the nonpartisan congressional authority on taxes. "They basically repealed a 22-year-old law that Congress passed as a backdoor way of providing aid to banks."

The story of the obscure provision underscores what critics in Congress, academia and the legal profession warn are the dangers of the broad authority being exercised by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. in addressing the financial crisis. Lawmakers are now looking at whether the new notice was introduced to benefit specific banks, as well as whether it inappropriately accelerated bank takeovers.

Meanwhile, those mischievous children over at AIG were once again proving that they simply can't be trusted with the cookie jar.

Craig Harris reported the following for The Arizona Republic:

" Days before American International Group received its latest government bailout on Monday, the troubled insurer hosted a $343,000 conference for independent financial planners at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak resort in Phoenix.

The company said sponsors picked up roughly 93 percent of the tab for the Nov. 5-7 conference, but the spending still drew the ire of a member of Congress and raised questions about how AIG should be operating when it is under such intense scrutiny.

The Phoenix conference was at least the second time since September the company was involved in a six-figure event at a resort. A spokesman Monday said the company has canceled more than 160 meetings or conferences in the past month.

AIG said it decided to host nearly 150 financial planners at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak event because of the valuable training they received and the revenue they produce."
Ok, at the risk of seeming obtuse, can someone explain to me why if these guys are producing so much revenue US taxpayers are bailing out their company. Just a question.

Not to be outdone by anyone, the rich relatives over at Exxon made their own bit of history when they announced their 3rd quarter profits.

CNNMoney reported just a few days before the election:
"Exxon Mobil Corp. set a quarterly profit record for a U.S. company Thursday, surging past analyst estimates.

Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500), the leading U.S. oil company, said its third-quarter net profit was $14.83 billion, or $2.86 per share, up from $9.41 billion, or $1.70, a year earlier. That profit included $1.45 billion in special items.

The company's prior record was $11.68 billion in the second quarter of 2008.

The latest quarter's net income equaled $1,865.69 per second, nearly $400 a second more than the prior mark."

Maybe we should ask Exxon to pick up the tab for AIG.

And finally, membership definitely has its privileges. Christmas came on Monday night for credit card giant American Express when the US Federal Reserve granted their request to become a commercial bank. Now AMEX too can get a slice of the $700 billion bailout pie.

Oh well, so much for election euphoria, I think a dirty diaper needs to be changed.

Christianity, Politics and Gay Marriage

Now that the seemingly never-ending US presidential campaign has ended, I can pick up on a series which I started last February on the relationship between Christianity and politics. And having still not learned to avoid the deep end of the pool, I'll plunge head first into a discussion on the recent vote on California's Proposition 8 - a state constitutional ban on same sex marriage.

As I stated in my post addressing the abortion issue, I believe that Churches have every right to teach the tenants of their faith and parents should continue to instill their values in their children. However, people of faith should stop letting people with political agendas manipulate them. Gay marriage is without a doubt an issue that Karl Rove and the political right used to manipulate the conservative, evangelical, Christians and win two elections for the GOP and now pass Proposition 8.

If I understand correctly, on the one side of this issue you have the gay community which is simply asking that the government (not the Church) to legally recognize their committed relationships in the same manner that it recognizes heterosexual committed relationships, (36% of which end in divorce). While on the other side you have conservative, evangelical Christians who believe that if the government allows gay people to marry it will destroy the institution of marriage which has somehow survived Henry VIII, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Britney Spears.

Isn't it ironic that the Christian bible clearly indicates that God is not thrilled about divorce but you don't see ballot propositions advocating banning divorce.

Yes, I too was taught that God destroyed Sodom because of homosexuality. However as a woman I've always had a bit of a problem with the details of those events:

"Now the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he rose to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground. And he said, “Here now, my lords,please turn in to your servant’s house and spend the night,and wash your feet; then you may rise early and go on your way.”

And they said, “No, but we will spend the night in the open square.”

But he insisted strongly; so they turned in to him and entered his house.Then he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread, and they ate.

Now before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom,both old and young, all the people from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may know them carnally.”

So Lot went out to them through the doorway, shut the door behind him,and said, “Please, my brethren, do not do so wickedly! See now, I have two daughters who have not known a man; please,let me bring them out to you, and you may do to them as you wish;only do nothing to these men, since this is the reason they have come under the shadow of my roof.”

-- Genesis 19: 1-8(NIV)

I don't know about you but if I had been one of Lot's daughters I would not have been too thrilled with my father after that comment. Offering up your virgin daughters to a mob of horny men is not exactly my idea of God pleasing behavior.  And that's the point of this post. Sometimes the people who are so sure that they are pleasing God may be missing the point.

I'm not a theologian, politician or gay. I'm not trying to change your religious beliefs. I only ask you to consider this.  If you are a Christian you were taught that God gave Moses ten commandments. Obviously, these were the ten laws that God thought were important enough to put in writing. Yet our society breaks these rules willy nilly without the fear that society is going to come to an end.

On the other hand, the religious and political right has convinced large segments of the public that our nation will suffer the same fate as Sodom if we allow gay marriage. Even though the bible clearly states that God would have spared Sodom if there had only been ten righteous men to be found.

So ask yourself was it really homosexuality that destroyed Sodom or was it the fact that there weren't ten good people left in the city.

The bottom line to the vote on Proposition 8 is that those who voted Yes did so out of a belief that gay marriage would "destroy" marriage. And based on that belief they threw their gay daughters and sons out into the streets.

Related Posts:

Christianity, Politics and the Issues

Christianity, Politics & Abortion

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Georgia On My Mind - Politically That Is

It's time for election monitors to mobilize and head to Georgia.

excerpt from:
Ga. Senate race may end up in spotlight |

By Jim Tharpe

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Well-polished political celebs and teams of scraggly ground troops from both major parties could invade Georgia over the next few weeks if the U.S. Senate race between Republican Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin ends up in a full-blown runoff.

Thousands of votes —- including many paper ballots from Fulton County —- were still being counted late Wednesday, and neither Chambliss nor Martin had broken the magical 50 percent mark required by state law to declare a winner.

The sleep-deprived candidates were still in campaign overdrive the day after Tuesday's cliff-hanger election, even though the state cannot officially call a Dec. 2 runoff before next week when votes are certified.

Chambliss was hoping that a last-minute surge of still-to-be-counted votes would put him at 50 percent plus one. Martin was confident the outstanding votes wouldn't significantly change the outcome of Tuesday's election.

He declared the runoff under way.

Obama wins North Carolina - Go Tarheels!

WBTV 3 News, Weather Sports, Traffic, and Programming Guide for Charlotte, NC |
Obama wins North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - President-elect Barack Obama has won North Carolina, adding 15 electoral votes to his wide victory and a symbolic triumph in a state that hadn't voted for a Democrat in more than a generation.

The Associated Press declared Obama the winner Thursday after canvassing counties in North Carolina to determine the number of outstanding provisional ballots.

Yes We Did! - A Commentary by Marianne Williamson

" America has had a non-violent revolution.

As long as there are historians writing about the United States, this moment of fundamental re-alignment of our national purpose will be remembered, poured over and analyzed. It will be seen as one of the shining points along the evolutionary arc of the American story. Yet it will never submit itself to being summed up nicely in a little package that reason alone can understand."

-- Marianne Williamson

About Barack Obama
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

OH, Now It All Comes Out - Final Thoughts on Sarah Palin

You know that I don't watch FOX News but when I saw this video I had to post it.

While Sarah Palin was traveling across America citing her "executive experience" and demeaning "community organizers" and John McCain was proclaiming that Sarah Palin was ready to lead, McCain/Palin campaign staffers knew that she couldn't name the nations involved in the North American Free Trade Agreement and that Africa was a continent.

Ok, she's not the only person who is a little ignorant about Africa. Sadly. But not knowing the names of the nations involved in NAFTA.

(hint: there's only three)

Now Sarah's buddies in the not-so-liberal media are sharing stories about how Sarah emerged from the shower wrapped only in a towel and how Sarah was on a coast-to-coast shopping spree.

Oh well, Sarah's tough. She certainly doesn't need an East Coast, big city, liberal to say that this sounds a little like Adam blaming Eve for the fall of man.

I'm sure that Elizabeth Hasselbeck and Cindy McCain will call FOX News on their misogyny.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

2008's Versions of the "Hanging Chads"

Innovation |

By Andrew Heining | 11.04.08

Hardly any Americans will pull a lever or punch out chads this election day. But that doesn't mean the problems of the past are gone. 

Computerworld is reporting on issues with touchscreen voting machines in key battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Virginia. The malfunctioning machines caused some polling places to resort to back-up paper ballots, and in some cases those ran out.

Though touch screen machines seem to get the most attention, a marjority of the nation's counties are using optical scanning machines. These require voters to fill out a paper card that's fed into a scanner. A No. 2 pencil isn't required, but the process isn't hassle-free.

Reflections on Voting -- 11/4/08

It really doesn't get better than this.
About Election Day
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

A Day to Remember

I'll always remember:
  • great moments in the lives of of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King and, Robert F. Kennedy
  • watching my first Super Bowl with my Dad
  • my first pet
  • watching man walk on the moon
  • being baptized
  • my first kiss
  • the end of the Viet Nam war
  • my first vote
  • the space shuttle Challenger explosion
  • the day my Dad passed on
  • the day I finally knew that I was in love :-)
  • turning 40 - Ugh!
  • 9/11/01
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Hillary Clinton's win in the New Hampshire Primary
  • and Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008
Yes I have thousands of other memories good and bad. Great moments in sports, history, science and my personal life. But only a few of those events have been life changing, inspirational and transformational.

No matter how it ends, today will have been one of those days.

Joe The Plumber Vs. CNN's Rich Sanchez: "You're Asking Me Insane Questions"

Joe The Plumber's 15 minutes of fame are up.
About Video On HuffPost
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Spend Election Day with Coffee, Twitter and Me, of course

Well, not just with me but with thousands of fellow voters including my friends on Twitter and the Political Voices of Women.

But before I continue I'd like to congratulate the Pittsburgh Steelers for their win over the Washington Redskins on Monday Football by the score of 23-6. And if tradition follows, we can all wish the incumbent party farewell.

Thank You Steelers. You've done your part now the rest of Pennsylvania has to do theirs.

I'll be blogging from Pennsylvania and will share a little of my visit to the polls with you. Afterwards, I'll be following the day as it unfolds by live blogging on Twitter. And thanks to a lot of terrific code writers, makes it really easy for you to report on conditions from your poll place.

" Millions of Americans will go to over 200,000 distinct voting locations and using different systems and machinery to vote. Some voters will have a terrific experiences, and others will experience the same problems we have been hearing about for years - long lines, broken machines, inaccurate voting rolls, and others will experience problems that we haven’t heard about before. That’s why a new citizen-driven election monitoring system called Twitter Vote Report ( was just launched.

Using either, iPhone, direct SMS, or our telephone hotlines, voters will have a new way to share their experiences with one another and ensure that the media and watchdog groups are aware of any problems.

And YOU can help! Be a citizen journalist! Submit a report about conditions at your polling place.

Four ways to submit reports to Vote Report:

  • Twitter: include #votereport and other tags to describe the scene on the ground
  • SMS: Send text messages to 66937 (MOZES) starting with the keyword #votereport plus other hash tags
  • iPhone: We have a Twitter Vote Report iPhone app in the App store!
  • Phone: Call our automated system at 567-258-VOTE (8683) to report about conditions, using any touch-tone phone

And if you would like to talk to a human to report bad conditions you’ve observed, please call our partner 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

As news outlets and blogs will report on Election Day stories, is an invaluable resource for thousands of voters to get immediate help. From questions like “where do I vote” or “how do I make sure that my rights are being upheld,” Twitter Voter Report augments these efforts by providing a new way for voters to send text messages (aka tweets) via cellphones or computers which will be aggregated and mapped so that everyone can see the Nation’s voting problems in real-time.

Imagine a nationwide web map with pins identifying every zip code where Americans are waiting over 30 minutes to vote or indicating those election districts where the voting machines are not working. Collectively we will inform each other when the lines are too long and ensure that media and watchdog groups know where problems exist.

For more information, go to The complete list of tags or keywords that you can include in your reports is listed there. And please help to spread the word — send this to everyone you know!

So get up early, grab some coffee, go to the polls and then tweet thousands of your fellow voters.

Good Luck and Happy Election Day!

P.S. See you at the polls Pennsylvania :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Help Light Up The Election

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
6:00am - 11:00pm
Everywhere in the USA

No one should have to worry about their safety or feel intimidated when going to the polls.

So on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4th please light up the election by leaving on your outdoor lights. Your lawn post, porch light, saved jack-o-lantern or Christmas lights can help light the way to the polls.

Just remember to use energy efficient lights.

Thanks and Happy Voting

Click here to RSVP for Light Up The Election

What's Your Reason?

Quote of the Day

Just VOTE!