Friday, January 30, 2009

Giuliani: Wall Street Bonuses at the Expense of Tax Payers are Good.

Yesterday, reacting to a New York State Comptroller report showing that Wall Street banks doled out $18.4 billion in bonuses in 2008, President Obama denounced the practice as “shameful.” “That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility,” Obama said emphatically. The same day, the Congressional panel overseeing the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recommended that financial regulators revoke bonuses for executives of firms seeking government help.

Appearing this morning on CNN, however, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani stridently defended the practice of enormous bonuses untethered to actual performance, warning that ending the tradition “really will create unemployment”:

GIULIANI: I remember when I was mayor, one of the ways in which you determined New York City’s budget, tax revenues, was Wall Street bonuses. Wall Street had a billion, two billion in bonuses, city had a deficit. Wall Street had 15 to 20 billion, New York City had a 2, 3 billion surplus. And it’s because that money gets spent. … It does have a reverse effect on the economy, if you somehow take that bonus out of the economy. It really will create unemployment. It means less spending in restaurants, less spending in department stores. So everything has an impact.

TPJ: Count Orlok speaks again (I think Giuliani looks like the vampire in Nosferatu) and is revolting as always. Giuliani doesn't suck blood but rather sucks the sanity out of the middle-class and money out of our pockets. What a crock of shit. These Wall-Street fat cats make enough money from their yearly salaries that they of course spend. Count Giuliani wants you to believe that a millionaire won't spend money unless they have a million doller bonus each year.

Bullshit in a chef's salad, Mr. "Noun, a verb and 9/11." These whales spend practically enough money for one lunch at Spagos to stimulate the entire New York City economy--with or without bonuses. Ghouliani is acting like without these bonuses these poor Wall Street high-rollers won't still live lavishly. Pure, grade-A, high octane, extremely flammable bull shit. As someone on the Think Progess board aplty put it:

So.. bonuses for the people who’ve run the economy into the ground… no tax relief for the people who are actually doing the work. And they wonder why they lost the election….

TPJ: I like Senator Claire McCaskill's idea that none of these CEO's should make more than the president of the country ($400,000) while accepting federal bailout dollars. If the Republicans don't go along then all their talk about being "fiscally responsible with tax payer dollars" will fall on deaf ears and lead to them being embarrassed in the next election yet again. They still just don't get it even after a landslide election. If they keep acting like this they'll end up being the modern day Whig party and that's fine with me.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Do Republicans Want to See the Economy Fail?

So President Obama meet with the House Republicans because they felt that they weren't being adequately let into the process. They wanted to talk to the president to maybe improve the new rescue package more to their liking, fine. We Obamacrats are willing to listen to different views and find a compromise.

However, House Minority Leader John Boehner dropped a turd into the bipartisan punch bowl even before Obama had a chance to meet with them by saying to his colleagues, "Don't vote for the bill!!" Even before they even had a chance to talk about changes to the bill!! He made this announcement just one hour before the meeting--nice move asshole.

What does that tell you about the current batch of Republicans and what they are more interested in--politics. Because if the House GOP leader really wanted to come together in these uncertain economic times to help move America forward you'd think that he'd at least wait until they had their meeting. They can go ahead and be obstructionists on stimulating an dying economy if they want to be the political desert for 40 years.

I don't think they realize the gravity of the situation here. It makes me wonder if the Republicans even want to see a successful stimulus package. Consider economist Paul Krugman:

As Krugman says, Republicans hate the New Deal and really don’t want this stimulus package to work. They want this even at the cost of dragging this downturn on for some period of time. Limbaugh has even said as much too. This is because if a large government purchase led stimulus works a second time, it will more than clearly dispatch the continual politically motivated drivel Republicans spout about the New Deal. They can no longer point to only World War 2 as the savior of the American Economy in the 1940s when things were clearly on the mend in the 1930s.

If a second New Deal works, and clearly economists from all sides (yes, even Martin Feldstein) believe that government spending in this case can do it, Republican radicals can no longer try to dismantle the successes of the New Deal–especially Social Security–under the guise of anything other than tearing the fabric of the safety nets away from millions of Americans. I hope, as economists, we continue this public discussion. I, for one, will not shut up about it.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Closing Gitmo.

Cheers to President Obama for closing down the Guantanamo prison. It had become the symbol of everything America should not be about. It had also become a symbol of everything that Bush did to destroy America's image abroad and closing it is a symbolic gesture as much as a realistic one to show the world that America has corrected its course. So now the Republicans are in a frenzy about what to do with these prisoners upon closing Gitmo but it seems pretty simple to me.

First we could try them in military courts and then if convicted incarcerate them in military prisons such as Ft. Levenworth. Or we could put them in our super max federal prisons but predictably many Republicans say they won't take them in their state because they are terrorists and what happens if they escape. Well I'd like to make a few points regarding their fears.

Our prisons successfully house some of the worst murderers in the world among them serial killers, which is what terrorists are. We sell ourselves short in thinking that we can not lawfully incarerate these guys without a secret prison and use of questionable tactics. How often do prisoners escape--especially form super max prisons such as the one in Colorado where I live and I would have no problem as a Coloradoan having some of these guys incarerated here. I have faith in our police and justic system employees. And when the rare prison break out occurs it usually isn't long (maybe a few days at most) before the fleeing fellons are caught.

We can do this--we are Americans and we have overcome so many challenges that were much more difficult than what do we do with a couple hundred terrorists. Terrorists are nothing more than glorified criminals and our prison system is more than capable of handling them. Terrorists are still subject to human limits and being cuffed and shackled with leg chains prohibits them from escaping just as much as with "regular criminals." It's not like terrorists have super powers, which would enable them to easily escape but the Republicans would have you believe that these terrorists are like the evil triplets in the Superman movies.

The other thing is that some European countries have said that they would take some of these prisoners.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Let the Obama Era Begin!!!

It's only "Day one" for President Obama but I already feel as though America is back and ready to move forward and put the Bush years behind us. It's like moving forward after an abusive relationship. Bush held us all hostage and treated us like pawns to be used and manipulated for his imperial, reckless and extremely divisive aims.

It's also like having an out of control boss (Bush) who throws the entire company up into chaos until the board of directors (the American people) fired him and brought in new boss (Obama)--one who is calmer, yet commanding in a confident but not arrogant and narcissistic way. Under Bush we never knew what was coming next and It always seemed like disaster was possible everyday under "W."

President Obama gives respect and thus commands respect in return, whereas Bush tried to get respect through force and that brought about anything but respect. It's a new day and I hope that we all give the president (I love saying that knowing it's Obama now as prez) some time to clean up after the pile of doodoo that Bush left behind. The Republican Party's mascot is an elephant and cleaning up after an elephant is a big job--lots of shit. He deserves some patience from us the American people. We must realize that Rome wasn't built in a day and while we all have expectations undoubtedly not all will be realized but that isn't necessarily the fault of Obama. We have limited resources right now and thus we must prioritize.

My favorite picture of inauguration day yesterday was when NBC news put up a split screen with the inauguration on the left and the Bush moving vans on the right in front of the White House. It was almost as if the entire country was giving him a big "push" out the door yesterday. We were anxious to move on--rebuild our lives and let you crazy Texans have him back. I've had three bad experiences with Texas now, including Bush--what's wrong with you guys down there??? Is it the heat? Don't get me wrong I do like a few things out of Texas but mostly I've had bad experiences with the state.

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Friday, January 16, 2009

No Purple Hearts for PTSD Soldiers.

WASHINGTON, D.C. - After months of evaluating the criteria, Defense Department officials have decided against the notion of awarding the Purple Heart to military members who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lainez explained, "PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event." It is not, she said, "a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an outside force or agent."

"The Purple Heart recognizes those individuals wounded to a degree that requires treatment by a medical officer in action with the enemy or as the result of enemy action where the intended effect of a specific enemy action is to kill or injure the service member," she continued.

James: This is ridiculous!! Anyone with PTSD (or who knows someone with PTSD) knows that it is very much a "wound" because it has traumatized and altered your normal brain functioning. As for it being an intended effect by the enemy? Of course it was an intended "effect" as the enemy is looking to incapacitate the soldiers in anyway possible.

We all know that many of the militants in the Iraq war are terrorists and the main goal of terrorism is to create terror and a person traumatized by PTSD is very much terrorized. A physical wound is often (not always) easier to heal and so I would say that PTSD is in some cases worse than a traditional physical wound.

What they seem to be saying with this decision is that those who suffered a mental health trauma during the war haven't sacrificed as much as those who were wounded in a traditional way. This sends a terrible message to our troops about mental illness, which is something that is already still taboo in the military.

A wound to the brain via a psychological trauma is just as debilitating as a non-mental trauma wound--just ask the loved ones of veterans who have come home only to take their life due to mental health problems. Do they get a medal when they commit suicide? I don't think so as far as I know (but they should) and no one hears about their tragic death. We sweep that stuff under the rug and don't talk about it.

Every soldier who dies of suicide whether back home or still in the theater of battle should get a Purple Heart posthumously if they don't already. We all know that the war they served in had something to do with why they killed themselves so their loss should be recognized by the government and the American people through a Purple Heart. It's not like giving away more Purple Hearts will break the bank but maybe they want to give away fewer to up the value or something sick like that. Who the hell knows with these people.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Gibbs: Obama to End Don't Ask, Don't Tell Policy.

The "Don't ask, Don't tell" policy was silly in the first place. It was a policy implemented by then President Bill Clinton to try and settle the gays in the military issue. However, what it did instead was create a pseudo reality where everyone knew that gays were in the military and probably knew a few but no one was allowed to talk about it.

Well it appears that finally we have a president with a maturity level above that of a 12 year old in Barack Obama. According to his soon to be press secretary Robert Gibbs, Obama is committed to ending the DADT (don't ask, don't tell) policy, which will allow gays to serve openly and proudly. It probably won't be the first item on the agenda Gibbs says (the economy will dominate) but the policy will be changed while Obama is in office.

But don't wave your rainbow flag too hight just yet as Congress will have to sign off on the change. That said, Obama has just about the best Congress to work with on this change as he could ever have. It couldn't come at a better time either because our military numbers have thinned out over the course of the Iraq war and we need every able bodied man and woman willing to serve.

Uneducated people seem to think that gays have no control over their sexuality and will jump on any man or woman that walks past them or who showers with them. It's absurd and insulting to say the least. The military has strict rules on sexual interaction and so whether one is heterosexual or homosexual shouldn't matter. If people break the code of conduct then they should be kicked out but there is nothing that says gays are unable to contain themselves sexually any less than heterosexuals.

As I said up front, it was an absurd policy to begin with because when you are getting shot at on the battle field you're probably not concerned if he/she is sexually "straight." You're more concerned if he/she can shoot straight.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Joe the Plumber Goes to Israel.

Remember Joe the Plumber? Well his plumber's crack is back!!! Joe the Plumber is over in Israel right now working as a war journalist for some right-wing internet TV outlet on the conflict with Gaza. He claims that he wanted to give people an unbiased view of the affair. Yeah, you mean like him being a correspondent for a conservative outlet online??? Because we all know that conservatives would never be biased--especially one who was basically a paid prop of the John McCain campaign.

Well he said today that journalists shouldn't be in a war zone but--wouldn't that mean Joe that you're violating your own wishes? Great, so now that we have that settled, Joe how about you put down the microphone and go fix some of the plumbing in the rubble that is (correction, WAS) Gaza.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gay Marriage Opponents Hypocritical.

Supporters of the ballot measure that banned gay marriage in California have filed a lawsuit seeking to block their campaign finance records from public view, saying the reports have led to the harassment of donors.

TPJ: Yes, no one should have to receive threats for one's opinions but gays have put up with worse threats, more often and for a longer period of time. The anti-gay marriage crowd wants nothing less than to be able to finance their discrimination without having to show their face. It's cowardly and hypocritical as they have been harassing donors who did support Prop. 8 or the gay community in general for years:

"Were you to elect not to donate comparably," they threaten, "it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage...The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to but have given to Equality California will be published. It is only fair for Proposition 8 supporters to know which companies and organizations oppose traditional marriage."

TPJ: I suspect the reason that they want to do this is to avoid ANY criticism and bad publicity for taking their position. I think they are using the few cases of threats as an excuse to gain annonimity so that they won't have to face any unpleasant reactions or repercusions to their views. It's easy to oppose someone's rights if you can avoid being detected. They should have to back up their cause with the same openness and transparency as the gay community and its supports do. If they don't like the negative reactions/consequences (within the law of course) to their discriminating cause then they shouldn't get involved in the first place. They want to hate but not be hated back!!

As I mentioned above, the gay community and its supporters have bravely stood out in the open to demand their basic human rights and stayed strong in the midst of horrific retributions. So if the anti-gay crowd believes in their cause so much then let them stand openly in the gladiator's arena too. I firmly believe that the gay community can take the heat and threats better than the non-gay community because gay's are use to it and because their very lives, happiness and dreams are being attacked. When your very identity is questioned and oppossed it puts your back up against the wall, you are cornered and must fight, stay strong and be brave if you are ever going to get the rights that non-gays take for granted.

This is about peoples' lives but for many anti-gay people I wonder if they even know what they are doing other than because their pastor told them to protest. I don't think many or most of the opponents have even thought about the other side and what their cause de jour means to the personal lives of their fellow human beings. Gays know all too well about the other side having to deal with the ignorance and bigoted views all around them all the time. Being a minority they clearly know all about the heterosexual community and their way of life much more than the other side knows or cares to know about theirs.

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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Biblical Exodus and Egyptian Records.

I saw a show on the History Channel the other day about the Biblical exodus. It was fascinating but I do not believe for a second that it actually happened. It is quite the story--plagues, parting of the Red Sea, water turning to blood, food falling from the sky and the execution of all Egyptian male first born children. Here are some of the things I learned from the show. Some of it I knew before and some I didn't:

It's a story that has endured for ages, which is critical to three of the main religions in the world and is known in many cultures. Except one--Egypt herself. That's right, there isn't so much as a word in the Egyptian annals about the exodus. Not only that but there isn't even any record of the Jews being slaves in Egypt!! And there is little to no evidence that Jews were even living in Egypt at all. In addition, there is no evidence of a mass habitation of people in the Sinai desert.

Now, you'd think that the Egyptians would have something to say about such an amazing series of events that occurred in and around their country. Especially being the most powerful empire at the time and being extremely meticulous record keepers. Some claim that the Egyptians didn't want to record the exodus because it was embarrassing yet the records are full of other embarrassing moments in Egyptian history. Everything from civil revolts to famines and scandals.

It makes for a great story and great movies but it most likely never happened. At best (like most of the Bible) it is a story with a tiny grain of truth embellished over time like most legends and myths. Not unlike historical fiction works of today like, "The Da Vinci Code."

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Civilians Taking the Brunt of Gaza Conflict.

The civilian death toll in Gaza increased dramatically today, with reports of more than 40 Palestinians killed after missiles exploded outside a UN school where hundreds of people were sheltering from the continuing Israeli offensive.

Elsewhere at least 12 members of an extended family, including seven young children, were killed in an air strike on their house in Gaza City. The bodies of the Daya family were pulled from the rubble of a house in Gaza city's Zeitoun district after it was hit by two Israeli missiles. The dead included seven children aged from one to 12 years, three women and two men. Nine other people were believed to be trapped in the rubble.

Hours earlier, three young men – all cousins – died when the Israelis bombed another UN school, the Asma primary school in Gaza City. They were among about 400 people who sought shelter there after fleeing their homes in Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza.

TPJ: I am the first to defend Israel's right to defend themselves but I think it is time for this invasion to stop because of the high number of civilians casualties. Israel made their point that they won't put up with rockets attacking their people and I don't think anything good can come from pushing further into Gaza and continueing this excessive violence. Another terrible aspect to this civilian violence is that the hospitals are running out of life-saving drugs so the wounded who might otherwise survived are daying due to a lack of medicine. Food and other resources are running out as well, which deepens the humanitarian crisis.

I support Israel's right to defend themselves but they have made their point and a ceasefire should be instituted. Hamas must stop launching rockets into Israel and the civilians in Gaza must urge them to do that if they want to see an end to these civilian casualities. Let the dust literally settle and see if talks can accomplish something. As much as I want to see Jews live in peace I want the same for the Palestinians. Especially the civilians and absolutely the children. Surely Israel can stop for a few hours at least to see if something can be worked out diplomatically and allow humanitarian groups access to Gaza.

A cease-fire is needed too because as things get worse and more civilians die in Gaza the more risk there is that Hezbollah in Lebanon will launch missiles into Israel. The last thing we need right now is a second front of fighting, which could easily set the greater region afire.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

Post-Traumatic Holiday Fatigue.

I'm sure the Valentine's Day crap is already up in the stores. With the M&M's that don't taste any different but for a "limited time" you can "enjoy" them in pink--not that I hate pink. I actually quite like it but I feel like a lab rat being tested to see if I'm happier when I eat the regular multicultural ones or when I eat the pinkos. Why can't we just merge all of these holidays? We could have a Santa Claus Vampire who eats nothing but ham and turkey, washes it down with champagne and has a fire cracker coming out of his ass!! And we could call it..."Saturday."

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