A Historic Day That America Could Have Lived Without…Is Another One Coming?

A late lunch on Monday allowed me to catch the live vote from the House of Representatives on the cable news channels as the compromise measure for the bailout of our financial institutions was taking place.  One by one as the members of the House voted, Wall Street kept watch.  In a smaller box on the TV screen the numbers of the Dow were being monitored.  Down and down they fell to over 700 before climbing again, and hanging around 500 for a period of time in the afternoon.  In the final minutes of the trading day, as we all know, the bottom fell out and the market closed 777 points lower, the largest point loss of any day in history.  That translated into a $1.1 trillion loss in the market.

Some of my readers on Monday took exception to my anger…..and yes it is OK to be angry and pissed…. over the fact that some in our country have put us on this road that we now must travel.  I am not the only one that spent a chunk of the afternoon stung by disbelief as CNN and MSNBC broadcast the news that only kept getting worse.  To see the brokers on Wall Street standing and watching the same newscasts as I was, knowing that they were as perplexed and justifiably angry as I was, provided no comfort. 

We have all lived with a high degree of anxiety on a daily basis over these last eight years.  From a most curious election outcome in 2000, the terrorist attack on 9/11, the American invasion of Iraq, and now to the economic calamity has produced an electorate with more pessimism than anything else in our daily outlook.  It is very unsettling.   This is indeed a sad state of affairs for what we are led to believe is ‘the greatest nation in the world’.  This afternoon it felt like we were slipping fast, and were totally out of control.  Even those who swore an oath to deal with the complexities of the nation seemed unable to stand up to the winds of uncertainty.  It left many Americans justifiably nervous.

For me to write that it did not have to be this way goes without saying.  The actions, or lack of them over the past few days in Congress with bailout legislation, coupled with the greed and ethical lapses that have plagued so much of our society over the past decade, makes me very aware that we are on the wrong track as a nation. The fact that we are now all facing uncertain times due to the lack of strict regulations, and the absence of sober reasoning over the financial affairs of the nation should make us all angry.  Those who chide us for being angry might just be ashamed of their role in creating the problems we face.

When we wake up on Tuesday we will face the news of bad market reports from the other side of the world.  And we should brace ourselves for a rocky ride that might lead to more historic moments, none of which we will greet with enthusiasm.

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Never Over-Estimate The Intelligence Of The American Electorate

The latest defense of my long held view about the basic nature of the American electorate is provided by an outstaniding article in Newsweek magazine. 

Pithy writing from Sam Harris makes for a must read.

The point to be lamented is not that Sarah Palin comes from outside Washington, or that she has glimpsed so little of the earth’s surface (she didn’t have a passport until last year), or that she’s never met a foreign head of state. The point is that she comes to us, seeking the second most important job in the world, without any intellectual training relevant to the challenges and responsibilities that await her. There is nothing to suggest that she even sees a role for careful analysis or a deep understanding of world events when it comes to deciding the fate of a nation. In her interview with Gibson, Palin managed to turn a joke about seeing Russia from her window into a straight-faced claim that Alaska’s geographical proximity to Russia gave her some essential foreign-policy experience. Palin may be a perfectly wonderful person, a loving mother and a great American success story—but she is a beauty queen/sports reporter who stumbled into small-town politics, and who is now on the verge of stumbling into, or upon, world history.

The problem, as far as our political process is concerned, is that half the electorate revels in Palin’s lack of intellectual qualifications. When it comes to politics, there is a mad love of mediocrity in this country. “They think they’re better than you!” is the refrain that (highly competent and cynical) Republican strategists have set loose among the crowd, and the crowd has grown drunk on it once again. “Sarah Palin is an ordinary person!” Yes, all too ordinary.

We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter’s microphone, saying things like, “I’m voting for Sarah because she’s a mom. She knows what it’s like to be a mom.” Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

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Sarah Palin Thinks “Men And Dinosaurs Coexisted On An Earth Created 6,000 Years Ago “

One of the many reasons we need intelligent people to again live in the White House is so that science can again be respected, and not undermined at every turn.  During the last eight years the lack of curiosity, and intellect from President Bush, and much of his administration, has been embarrassing.  And if we are not careful if could even get worse with Sarah Palin.

The Los Angeles Times has a story today that will send every science teacher, and all the students into hysterics.

Soon after Sarah Palin was elected mayor of the foothill town of Wasilla, Alaska, she startled a local music teacher by insisting in casual conversation that men and dinosaurs coexisted on an Earth created 6,000 years ago — about 65 million years after scientists say most dinosaurs became extinct — the teacher said.

After conducting a college band and watching Palin deliver a commencement address to a small group of home-schooled students in June 1997, Wasilla resident Philip Munger said, he asked the young mayor about her religious beliefs.

Palin told him that “dinosaurs and humans walked the Earth at the same time,” Munger said. When he asked her about prehistoric fossils and tracks dating back millions of years, Palin said “she had seen pictures of human footprints inside the tracks,” recalled Munger, who teaches music at the University of Alaska in Anchorage and has regularly criticized Palin in recent years on his liberal political blog, called Progressive Alaska.


Stein said Palin displayed only hints of her fundamentalist Assembly of God upbringing when he first backed her for a nonpartisan run for Wasilla City Council in the early 1990s. But in 1996, when Palin ousted Mayor Stein with the aid of pink-colored antiabortion mailers and busloads of Christian grass-roots activists, she grew more overt about her plans, he said.

She combined her staff meetings with prayer sessions, Stein said, and upset the town’s chief librarian by asking what the process would be for banning books. According to Stein, bans were never carried out only because “the library director was horrified and stood up to her.”

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America Suffers As House Republicans Kill Bailout Bill Because Of Partisan Speech


Dow Drops 777 points…biggest point drop in history.

Americans lost $1.1 trillion today in the market.

Let me get this straight.

The national economy is suffering, and no one doubts the serious crisis we are experiencing today.  Yet when it came time to vote on a compromise financial bailout bill House Republicans say that a mere political speech on the floor by Speaker Pelosi was the reason that they could not produce enough votes to pass the needed measure.  In a briefing after the bill was defeated Representative Cantor held up a copy of the printed speech Pelosi delivered and argued that her words made GOP votes for the compromise disappear. 

Over the past several days I have noted the lack of leadership and short-sightedness by both political parties in relation to this needed bailout bill.  But nothing is as striking or maddening than the shameful display by House Republicans who thought partisan politics was more important than casting a vote to right the economic ship.

Regardless of anything the Speaker said, should not the love of country and placing economic priorities above political ones been the only way to proceed?

Today House Republicans did not think so.

“I guess the Republican leadership is so weak John Boehner couldn’t deliver 50 percent of the votes,” sneered Rep. David Obey (D-Wis.) “I thought these were big boys.”

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Tina Fey As Sarah Palin On Saturday Night Live Was SOOOOO Funny

Tina Fey has an absolute knack for impersonating Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate.  And as you will see here Tina Fey only needed to use Palin’s own words as parody.    I hardly think it has ever been easier to write a Saturday Night live skit.

See the entire skit here.

FEY AS PALIN: “Like every American I’m speaking with, we’re ill about this. We’re saying, ‘Hey, why bail out Fanny and Freddie and not me?’ But ultimately what the bailout does is, help those that are concerned about the healthcare reform that is needed to help shore up our economy to help…uh…it’s gotta be all about job creation, too. Also, too, shoring up our economy and putting Fannie and Freddy back on the right track and so healthcare reform and reducing taxes and reigning in spending…’cause Barack Obama, y’know…has got to accompany tax reductions and tax relief for Americans, also, having a dollar value meal at restaurants. That’s gonna help. But one in five jobs being created today under the umbrella of job creation. That, you know…Also…” 

Now watch Sarah Palin  from the CBS Evening News.

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Financial Bailout Deal Good News For Country

I am pleased that there is finally a deal that will allow $700 billion to be injected into the financial sector to assist in, among other things, adding liquidity to the credit system again.  It is time to get this deal to the floor of Congress and have a responsible vote of approval. 

As it stands now the issue of providing insurance for troubled financial instruments is listed as only an option that the Treasury need to consider.  As it should be.  I am hoping that that this is not a requirement in the final bill, and that left as an option the Treasury Secretary will simply dismiss it, as Treasury already stated they would do as it is not a real remedy.

Officials said that Congressional staff members would work through the night to finalize the language of the agreement and draft a bill, and that the bill would be brought to the House floor for a vote on Monday.

The bill includes pay limits for some executives whose firms seek help, aides said. And it requires the government to use its new role as owner of distressed mortgage-backed securities to make more aggressive efforts to prevent home foreclosures.

In some cases, the government would receive an equity stake in companies that seek aid, allowing taxpayers to profit should the rescue plan work and the private firms flourish in the months and years ahead.

The White House also agreed to strict oversight of the program by a Congressional panel and conflict-of-interest rules for firms hired by the Treasury to help run the program.

The administration had initially requested virtually unfettered authority to operate the bailout program. But as they moved toward clinching a deal, both sides appeared to have given up a number of contentious proposals, including a change in the bankruptcy laws sought by some Democrats to give judges the authority to modify the terms of first mortgages.


Among the last sticking points was an unexpected and bitter fight over how to pay for any losses that taxpayers may experience after distressed debt has been purchased and resold.

Democrats had pushed for a fee on securities transactions, essentially a tax on financial firms, saying it was fitting that they contribute to the cost.

In the end, lawmakers and the administration opted to leave the decision to the next president, who must present a proposal to Congress to pay for any losses.

Officials said they had also agreed to include a proposal by House Republicans that gives the Treasury secretary an additional option of issuing government insurance for troubled financial instruments as a way of reducing the amount of taxpayer money spent up front on the rescue effort.

The Treasury would be required to create the insurance program, officials said, but not necessarily to use it. Mr. Paulson had expressed little interest in that plan, and initial cost projections suggested it would be enormously expensive. But final details were not immediately available.

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Book Banning Week Takes On Added Meaning This Year With Sarah Palin On GOP Ticket

“Do your parents know you are reading this book?”

That question from Mrs. Tunks, a middle school teacher of mine, was as close as book censorship ever came my way.  I still recall the stair steps in my old schoolhouse where she pointed at my copy of “The Throne Of Saturn” by Allen Drury, and while looking at it sounded her prudish alarm, though for what reason I could never understand.  Other than the fact is was 600 pages, and ‘kids’ were not supposed to read anything other than the Nancy Drew series, provides no real explanation for her remark.  The fact my parents encouraged me to read, as it kept me interested in all sorts of things, did not seem to settle her skeptical mind as to why that book would intrigue me.  A space adventure between the United States and the Soviet Union was high drama for my 6th grade mind, and I guess for lots of adult readers as well, or it would never have been published.  I finished that book, and kept Allen Drury as a writer I have long enjoyed into my adult years.

Today the hard copy edition of that book sets on my shelf as not only a reminder of a good read, but also to underscore a long held belief of mine.  No one should be censoring reading material for libraries, or as in the case above, inquisitive minds. 

This week, September 27-October 4, is Banned Books Week, and it takes on more importance as Sarah Palin, the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate who attempted to have books censored while mayor of Wasilla, Alaska might actually be elected to a national office.  The idea that  someone who strives for one of the nation’s highest offices, would attempt a chilling display of book censorship at some point in life, and finds no remorse about it is stunning.

The books that Sarah Palin seemed to find offensive were ones such as “Daddy’s Roommate” that took a humane approach to the issue of homosexuality.  But when one looks at the titles of those that have drawn the ire of some ‘concerned citizens’ around the nation, it is easy to see why there is no room to allow censorship to have any chance to win.  Not even in Wasilla with Sarah Palin.  Why should someone like Ms. Palin have any right to deny someone else the right to read a book, or have a copy of a book placed in a library?

Limiting ideas and stopping the flow of information is so very foreign to me.  Every educated person understands the slippery slope that censorship creates, and the harm that it does to both individualism, and society as a whole.  The fact that some churches, such as Christ Community Church of Alamogordo, New Mexico, had an actual book burning in 2002as a reaction to the release of a Harry Potter book may seem just weird to most people.  But for me the fact that anyone would even suggest such a thing in the 21st century in America is frightening and most alarming.  To know that people actually attended is numbing.

I am shocked by the Republicans for endorsing Sarah Palin, and trying to downplay her shameful role of banning books in Wasilla.  If we do not stop at every instance the act of censorship we will find that we are on that slippery slope where others like Ms. Palin will always find some topics not to be ‘safe’ or ‘pure’ enough to be placed on the local library book shelves.

The list below are the books from this past year (2007) that have gained national notice as ones that have frightened the pathetic ones who wish to censor for the majority.  Look at the list, and then work to prevent censorship, or stop those who promote censorship, from ever winning.

The “10 Most Challenged Books of 2007” reflect a range of themes, and consist of the following titles:

1) “And Tango Makes Three,” by Justin Richardson/Peter Parnell
Reasons: Anti-Ethnic, Sexism, Homosexuality, Anti-Family, Religious Viewpoint, Unsuited to Age Group

2) The Chocolate War,” by Robert Cormier
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Violence

3) “Olive’s Ocean,” by Kevin Henkes
Reasons: Sexually Explicit and Offensive Language

4) “The Golden Compass,” by Philip Pullman
Reasons: Religious Viewpoint

5) “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” by Mark Twain
Reasons: Racism

6) “The Color Purple,” by Alice Walker
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language,

7) “TTYL,” by Lauren Myracle
Reasons: Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

8) “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” by Maya Angelou
Reasons: Sexually Explicit

9) “It’s Perfectly Normal,” by Robie Harris
Reasons: Sex Education, Sexually Explicit

10) “The Perks of Being A Wallflower,” by Stephen Chbosky
Reasons: Homosexuality, Sexually Explicit, Offensive Language, Unsuited to Age Group

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Saturday Song: Statler Brothers “Bed Of Roses”

This video goes back at least 25 years, and features a standard from the ever popular Statler Brothers. 

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