December 20, 2008

PUT YOUR GUNS AWAY!

I am not going to take your money. Nor will 99.99999% of the Jews you meet. Sure, Madoff is Jewish. And he engaged in massive amounts of fraud.

But so did Ken Lay. And what was he? Born into a Baptist family.

Evil people are evil people, irrespective of religion. Don't single any Jew out as being evil as if being Jewish were a function of being evil. It runs contrary to all the gains that we've made as an enlightened society.

Tikkun olam, y'all. And shalom. It might not be in a language most Americans understand, but it's what is important.

December 12, 2008

New link on the 'roll

At the left you'll find a link to Robert Reich's Blog.



Reich was the 22nd Secretary of Labor, serving during the Clinton administration.

for post three hundred:

Blago
Blago Waggo
He's the greatest guy in history

From the
Town of Springfield
He's about to hit a chestnut tree



TPM has a timeline on the events leading up to Wacky Blaggy's birthday.

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, sad, nay, distraught as they may be about the departure of GWB from the White House, are titillated by Wacky Blaggy. Hopefully, though, the traction won't last eight years.

-rl

December 11, 2008

Worst prognostications of the year:

Foreign Policy has its top 10 list of worst predictions.

Once you look over the list, just savor for once how Liberals were mostly right this year, esp re: Jim Cramer and Bill Kristol.

And speaking of Kristol, what qualifications do you need to be a NYT columnist? Seriously? What?

-rl

December 10, 2008

Joe the Plumber: SAY IT AIN'T SO!

Joe says he felt "dirty" because of the McCain campaign.

Sure, confront Obama over something that's not true, then build a web of lies around you, and BLAMMO! John McCain is the bad guy? You bought into this, sir. At any given moment, you could have stopped and left. But no. A book and record deal later, you're talking trash about John McCain's campaign and how you felt dirty and used. How despicable and classless.

No one likes you. Seriously.

Signed,

Ohio.

Blagojevich (n), synonymous with:



I hope the reports of Rahm turning the dogs on this fool are true. Blagojevich deserves to have the big fat book thrown at him multiple times.

December 4, 2008

Housekeeping

Apologies to all five readers; I've been sick the last several days and pithy thoughts just aren't happening...

That said, I would like to note with sadness, and be the 121st person to do so, that Redhorse and the stable have called it le quits and have sent their horses out to the knackers, in the parlance of le pig. Redhorse was my opening into the dynamic blogging world that is NE Ohio. I met him a couple times, most memorably when I was on my way out of Ohio Learn and Earn. Redhorse invited me to some function that I actually ended up pussying out of going to, rather choosing to show up at MeetTheBloggers' meeting with Rep. Tim Ryan (OH-D) as my first actual foray into the not-so-skillfully woven, but beautifully executed, world of the interwebs. I am eternally grateful for his pushing me into this - otherwise blogginryan would have stopped long ago. I will miss his sharp and witty commentary about Ohio and national politics (plus Cleveland sports and occasional NASCAR). The NEOhio blogosphere is poorer without the stable.

As you may have noticed, I'd been counting the days since Paul Broun proved what a laughingstock he is - in case the average Broun observer hadn't previously noticed. I'm stopping with that. For now at least. There are too many other things to be worked up about than some stupid Congressman's nonsense; we face issues that are very real and not hypothetical kangaroo courts of Obama's doing... or whatever other analogy that Congressman Broun wishes to devise.

Heads of the Not-so-big-they're-tiny-actually 3 were in DC today pleading for more money. They made a spectacle of it, rolling into town with cars of high technology, hybrids, etc. All of this show, but I still believe that their words mean little; progress needs to be made and solid plans need to be set forth for the future of these companies. New car companies need to arise in this country to force these guys to compete for the domestic market. I'm sure there are stiff barriers to entry, because a car is certainly no easy machine to make, but it stands to reason that competition would help to trim the gooey excesses of crap from the Not-so-big-they're-tiny-actually 3.

And $35 billion. Or more? Really?

Let there be a pyre and a phoenix rise anew from the ashes of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

-rl

November 24, 2008

The Count! Now with heat!

Our heat has finally been turned on! So much for trying to make it through the winter w/o having to get it turned on.

Anyway, Stephen Colbert's Christmas Special was awesome. Toby Keith's song, I must sadly admit, was pretty loltastic... and Willie. Well, Willie was Willie, and Willie is as Willie does, that's what my mama always said. John Legend's nutmeg song was also chuckletastic on lollerskates.

Anyway (2), Geithner for SecTreas is interesting; that the choice "inspires" the market is a little off-putting, though. I mean seriously, I could bottle farts and sell them for ripe profit in order to inspire the market. I want the man to inspire us to change, to get us off the free-market-free-for-all that got us here.

Doesn't seem like that will happen, judging investor response.

It has been

14

days since Paul Broun proved himself unworthy to serve in Congress.

LaFountain for Congress 2010.

Not really. :-/

-rl

November 21, 2008

Okay - the fix-up

I think Ohio Senator George Voinovich (R) is on the right track with pursuing an auto bailout deal, if only for the people of Ohio...

Why?

Ohio Jobless Rate hits 7.3% in October, which is a climb from 5.7% in October 2007.

So here are the meat and potatoes:


A potential compromise emerged this week, with Republican Sens. George Voinovich of Ohio and Kit Bond of Missouri working with Democratic Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan. They proposed allowing automakers to borrow $25 billion for short-term needs from the retooling fund, but they would require repayment fairly quickly. And automakers would have to prove to the Commerce Department that they had viable plans.

Then, with proceeds from the companies' repayment, along with possible gains from automakers' stock the government owned, the fund could be replenished -- and its original intent of pushing the industry toward greater fuel-efficiency could be honored.


It's a start. And it's not carte blanche. Union reform needs to be added.

It has been

11

days since Paul Broun proved himself unworthy of a spot in Congress.

LaFountain for Congress 2010.

Not really. :-/

-rl

November 20, 2008

Creativity:



Woot.

The *BRR* Count!

It's crazy weather today... cold this AM and now looking at a shade temp of 66 degrees. Nuts.

I know some people down here are looking left and right for the final horseman of the apocalypse following the election of Barack Obama, so when the Dow inches below 8000 and then plows further down the day after, my ears go up.

That said, still no signs of a Barackalypse. Do you hear that, Congressman Broun?

NONE.

It has been

10

days since Paul Broun proved himself unworthy of a spot in Congress.

Phtooey.

-rl

November 19, 2008

Big problems in little Athens

I've been keeping my eyes peeled on the Banner-Herald's count of crime incidence in Athens, thanks to their nifty crime tracker on OnlineAthens.com. Maybe I'm paranoid because of the particular part of town we live in or maybe it's something where I hear bad news and thus feel bad news. In any case, the feeling isn't good.

Oh, and the crime map? I Can Haz Bite Out of Crymez?

It has been

9

days since Paul Broun proved himself unworthy of a spot in Congress.

LaFountain for Congress 2010.

Not really. :-/

-rl

November 18, 2008

The Count

It has been

8

days since Paul Broun proved himself unworthy of a spot in Congress.

LaFountain for Congress 2010.

Not really. :-/

True Dreams of Wichita

A church in Wichita, Kansas, is asserting that America has a Muslim president and it is sin.

Shouting Match Over Church's Obama Sign

Exodus 20 is the 1st statement of the decalogue in the 5 Books of Moses (using Christian terminology for this bit, y'all.) Exodus 20:3, for those who don't know, is: You shall have no other gods before(besides) me.*

I mean, I get it, but no. Fact of the matter is, Barack Obama is a Christian. Remember the Rev. Wright pot that was stirred in the primaries? Christian. I'm sure everyone who read my blog knows that Obama is Christian, so I don't know why I'm going on about it, but Barack Obama is a Christian. Not a Muslim.

Oh yeah, and Moses was addressing the Israelites. Christians are not Israelites. Y'all don't want to bother keeping the other laws of the Torah, why bother with those ten?

Even if Obama were a Muslim, bear in mind that per tradition, they also worship the G-d of Abraham. Wait, you're telling me they don't teach that in the creationist schools of Kansas? NO WAI! Yes, Virginia, Isaac and Ishmael were half brothers. Ishmael and Hagar... yeah. Remember that in Genesis? I'm sure you do.

Same G-d.

-rl

*Translation from New Revised Standard Version of the Holy Bible, 2004, Hendrickson Publishers

November 17, 2008

Jumping across the partisan divide

Ayn Rand may have feared it, but John McCain is working with Barack Obama and President-elect Obama's transition office has a statement:


“At this defining moment in history, we believe that Americans of all parties want and need their leaders to come together and change the bad habits of Washington so that we can solve the common and urgent challenges of our time. It is in this spirit that we had a productive conversation today about the need to launch a new era of reform where we take on government waste and bitter partisanship in Washington in order to restore trust in government, and bring back prosperity and opportunity for every hardworking American family. We hope to work together in the days and months ahead on critical challenges like solving our financial crisis, creating a new energy economy, and protecting our nation’s security.”


I am truly happy to see that John McCain and Barack Obama are working together. It need to be done - the brightest minds in Washington and from all over the nation and world to help solve the problems that we dug ourselves into. This will be about compromise and not unilateral action. And we may have to slow ourselves down so that the compromises that need to be made are made.

Throwing money at the problem does not solve the problem. Sitting down and reviewing all of our options, taking appropriate action, and being generally thoughtful will help mitigate damage. Both McCain and Obama know that. GM, Ford, Chrysler, don't deserve to be saved, at least not in their current forms.

Why?

They've run their business models into the ground. It's truly their fault. Writing a blank check to them won't solve squat. Unions, companies, and the government need to sit down and have a painful talk about the realities of the American automobile. We need to be able to produce quality in quantity in order to be competitive. All the big three have put out recently are quantities of shit. Believe me, I own one. As such, I bear responsibility in this mess, for further enabling the poor business practices of GM. There needs to be a major shakeup in how they do things. Efficiency, business growth, and environmental stewardship, are among the top for both manufacturers and unions.

We made our mess. Let's get about to cleaning it up.

In your face, Ayn Rand.

November 15, 2008

Rain...

I love the sound of rain just pattering on the windows and roof. It's been awhile since we've had a solid day (maybe two) or rain. Last night there were several thunderstorms that rolled through, including one that arrived when my car decided it was a good idea to break down on Inglewood Ave.

Well, that's not entirely accurate... but that's when the car's rolling came to a halt.

As a reminder of why I've been upset the last couple of days, the Daily Show lands a fairly good commentary:



Congressman Broun, for the good of the 10th Congressional District, step aside.

November 13, 2008

ABH Editorial Board opines on Broun's perceptions of a nascent American reich

Editorial: 'Hitler' remark makes Broun irrelevant in D.C.:

Congressman Paul Broun, who represents Northeast Georgia in the U.S. House of Representatives, is a man so bereft of original ideas and so incapable of reasoned thought that, less than a week after being returned to Washington by the electorate, he's been reduced to comparing this nation's incoming Democratic president to Adolf Hitler.

And what is it, exactly, that newly chosen President-elect Barack Obama has done that places him - in Broun's mind, at least - in a league with the most vilified figure in modern history, a man responsible for the deaths of millions of human beings?

Well, it's the fact that Obama has proposed an expansion of this country's national service effort, a call to community service aimed at boosting this country's security by working to improve its infrastructure, do a better job educating its citizens, and help those citizens stay healthy. An Obama campaign document readily available on the Web, "The Blueprint for Change: Barack Obama's Plan for America," offers up additional details on the president-elect's community service proposal.

For Broun, that plan somehow translates into, as he noted in a Tuesday story from the Associated Press, "exactly what Hitler did in Nazi Germany, and ... exactly what the Soviet Union did. When he's (Obama) proposing to have a national security force that's answering to him, that's as strong as the U.S. military, he's showing me signs of being Marxist."

Our congressman went on to say, "We can't be lulled into complacency. You have to remember that Adolf Hitler was elected in a democratic Germany. I'm not comparing him (Obama) to Adolf Hitler. What I'm saying is there is the potential of going down that road."

Congressman Broun was of course comparing Obama to Hitler, a comparison that his denial only served to reinforce. And then, Broun compounded his non-denial denial by subsequently offering a non-apology apology on an Augusta radio station, using the smarmy and ultimately meaningless line, "I apologize to anyone who has taken offense at that."

Broun's high dudgeon at Obama's call for a broadened commitment to public service in this country was apparently motivated by a misunderstanding - willful or not - of a speech the president-elect delivered during the campaign. Speaking in Colorado on July 2, Obama said, "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

In Broun's mind - and, in fairness, across much of the blogosphere - those lines presaged some intent on Obama's part to establish a jackbooted security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on the United States. However, Broun - and a legion of others, judging from Internet postings on the July speech - conveniently ignore, or are unaware of, other segments of the speech in which Obama outlines his plans for the "national security force."

"People of all ages, stations and skills will be asked to serve," note transcripts of the speech, which deviated from Obama's prepared text. "Just as we must value and encourage military service across our society, we must honor and expand other opportunities to serve, because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but it also depends on the teacher in East L.A. or the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans, the Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, the foreign service officer in Indonesia."

That's hardly a Hitlerian plan for subjugating the people of the United States under totalitarian rule. Unless, of course, you're Congressman Paul Broun.

As long as he was pulling stunts such as trying to get girlie magazines off PX shelves, or using taxpayer dollars to send out campaign literature, Broun was a mildly amusing political sideshow. But this latest episode in Broun's tenure, which has already earned him rebukes from Georgia's two U.S. senators - who, like Broun, are Republicans - will reduce him to irrelevance in Washington. That will, in turn, leave the people of Northeast Georgia with no representation in the House of Representatives. Thanks a lot, "Congressman" Broun.


I gotta say, the ABH's Ed board has it right on the money with this:

As long as he was pulling stunts such as trying to get girlie magazines off PX shelves, or using taxpayer dollars to send out campaign literature, Broun was a mildly amusing political sideshow. But this latest episode in Broun's tenure, which has already earned him rebukes from Georgia's two U.S. senators - who, like Broun, are Republicans - will reduce him to irrelevance in Washington. That will, in turn, leave the people of Northeast Georgia with no representation in the House of Representatives. Thanks a lot, "Congressman" Broun.


He might cry and whine about being marginalized, but it's his own fault that he's been reduced to a position where the best he can do is grandstand more frequently and more annoyingly than Dennis Kucinich. And he will do nothing for NE Georgia. Who will want to work with him? I'd applaud President-elect Obama if he tried to work with Congressman Broun, because working with someone who more or less explicitly called you a Marxist, communist, and a Nazi in the same breath makes you a bigger person than I. Congressman Broun, you are an embarassment to the Congress, an embarassment to Georgia, and an inept diplomat of any kind. Do us all a favor and step aside for someone who can actually be diplomatic, work to solve problems and not create more, and best serve the people of northeast GA.

LaFountain for Congress 2010

Again, not really. :-/

-rl

November 12, 2008

Paul Broun has supported Blackwater

And another reason to prove to you that Paul Broun is a spineless punk:

Broun supported letting Blackwater employees be above the law

So to recap, to Paul Broun private military forces are bad except when they are Blackwater. Then they are good. And above the law.

I wonder if he's on the take...

LaFountain for Congress 2010. Woot.

Not really. :-/

-rl

Why do I live in GA?

The original story: Broun ties Obama to Marxism

The followup: Broun's back on Obama

Nazism? SERIOUSLY? Do you know what you're comparing to? SERIOUSLY?

As a Jew, I demand an immediate apology. As a decent human being, I demand Broun's immediate resignation.

November 11, 2008

Seriously?

Obama operatives leaking details of the Bushbama meeting? Seriously? Can you not come up with a storyline more creative than that, Matt Drudge?

November 7, 2008

Questionable timing

Florida High School Keeps KKK Founder's Name

Fox News and the fine people of Jacksonville, FLAHDAH, remind us that the fight ain't over.

By the way, for once this isn't a criticism of Fox News. Shocking, no?

O_o

I live in the South. I hear racial tension. It's mostly crap like this.

Srsly. Wtf.

Twitter + other

I've added a Twitter to my sidebar...

hmm. I had to clean up the code a bit. Twitter.com is also registering a spectacular fail right now. Hmm. Web 2.0, I'm not impressed. O_o

I'm thoroughly flummoxed by some of the letters to the editor in today's Banner-Herald. I imagine the Journal-Constitution may be little better. As I said to my asst manager today: I love Athens, but that does nothing to take away that this is Georgia.

She agreed.

November 6, 2008

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"

Since the right bourgeosie is apparently messing itself, believing that the election of Obama will bring about Marxism, communism, socialism, and the decline and decay of American society (if 8 years of Bush wasn't enough for their satisfaction), I've set myself to reading:



Perhaps my greatest failure as a student of political science was to never read the Communist Manifesto in full. I actually made myself read most of Adam Smith's "Wealth of Nations" (amongst other equally dry and dull things) when I was a freshman and actually understood some of it. I will also consider Smith's vision of early capitalist society and perhaps some old ideas will give us new answers to consider. All options need to be presented in order to make the best decisions. No single-minded person will properly address the issues of our day.

That being said, I am garnering some uncomfortable looks from people with my Marx...

... maybe it's those people who are suggesting that Obama should be shot (because he doesn't want to pay higher taxes on his $800k annual income... my friend's boss in LA.) Ahem, anyway.

Yeah, a supposedly "educated" person did suggest that.

We've got a way to go yet.

-rl

November 5, 2008

Georgia results

Maps from CNN

Georgia, Senate Race:



Georgia, Presidential Race:




-rl

Neiman Marxist indeed

HuffPo gots da juicy scoop from Newsweek

Highlights:


NEWSWEEK has also learned that Palin's shopping spree at high-end department stores was more extensive than previously reported. While publicly supporting Palin, McCain's top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family--clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent "tens of thousands" more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast," and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.


Giggity goo. Mavericky Jane Six Pack right there goin' rogue on ya.

A Call to Power! or "Yes, we can" becomes "Yes, we must"

I suppose saying "Congratulations" to Senator Obama would be a little egotistical of me, expecting him and Senator Biden to thank me personally would be even moreso... anyway, congrats Senators Obama and Biden. What was unimaginable in the minds of most over a year ago is now a reality for America. We should rightly be proud of this, I know I am.

However what has gotten us to this point, the collapse of Wall Street banks, the collapse of the housing market, the global crisis of credit, and overall economic malaise afflicting the nation and the global still stands very real. Over the next two months, you will be able to construct a battle plan to go into your first 100 days so that at the very least we will have the leadership our nation has been lacking for the last eight years.

Yes, we can.

You have been ordained by the American people to lead.

Yes, we must.

We have problems. But as it goes, "There is nothing wrong with America that can't be fixed by what is right with America." Use the government to perform the good of the public, and not the good of your selves like the current administration.

Yes, we will.

I have faith in you, Senators Obama and Biden. You are two brilliant minds who are articulate and strong, who know the great force of good that a properly working government can do for its people. A government needn't be the nanny state that George Bush would rail against yet (inadvertently?) create in order for good to come from it. Nor must it necessarily impose excessive taxes in order to meet those goals. A government that works efficiently, that is a government with limited spoils, can accomplish much, even if working in Congressional deadlock.

Yes.

Our time is now. Let us seize it.

-rl

Dear Senator McCain,

After seeing the campaign side of you since last winter, last night I felt a little skeptical about what your speech in Phoenix was to be composed. However, what America saw last night was the John McCain I had grown to respect in 2000.

~~

The speech was graceful and grateful... and his supporters were a**holes who booed and yelled very inappropriate things anytime he mentioned President-Elect Obama.

I missed this John McCain. Almost began thinking that he no longer existed... alas, it was hidden behind Schmidt and Palin.

-rl

November 4, 2008

Liveblog!

Well, it's 6:00pm... parts of Kentucky and Indiana are now officially done polling. Results should be coming in.

6:02pm: CNN is chattering on about exit polls... apparently everyone believes thinks their taxes will be raised by McCain and Obama.

6:07: Per CNN, McCain camp "optimistic but realistic."

6:12: Remember! Jon Stewart! Stephen Colbert! 10PM! Comedy Central!

6:19: I figured it would be in good taste to get Yuengling to break out when PA is called for Obama. Woot.

6:21: CNN reporting that turnout is very high in PA, in excess of 80%, but not a record. Reports out of VA indicate smooth polling with isolated issues of balloting.

6:28: Early results with McCain leading in KY, Obama leading in IN... if Obama is able to clear IN, the game is over for McCain for early tonight.

6:35: I don't know if its me or what, but Bill Bennett looks bloated as hell!

6:45: Bill Schneider seems to be saying "whitey vangelical"...

6:57: CNN's polls have KY Senate and President tightening. 3 mins til the next polls close.

7:00: CNN calls KY for McCain, VT for Obama.

I gotta bail. Crap.

11:15: Say hello to President-elect Barack Obama, America.

In and for the consideration of the American public...

... I do submit before the voting public these words from President Andrew Jackson:


Never for a moment believe that the great body of the citizens of any State or States can deliberately intend to do wrong. They may, under the influence of temporary excitement or misguided opinions, commit mistakes; they may be misled for a time by the suggestions of self-interest; but in a community so enlightened and patriotic as the people of the United States argument will soon make them sensible of their errors, and when convinced they will be ready to repair them.


I apologize for my rash anger with you for these last eight years, and so may you live up to the ideals of President Jackson; faith in you is not what I lack.

-rl

BlogginRyan Livebloggin TONIGHT!

I don't know what that means and what it may entail... but I'll try it.

Of course I can't do it now, being at work and all.

FINAL PREDICTION FOR TODAY:



Yeah, it's the same map as the first one. I'd like to see Indiana won... and Georgia... and well the whole damn map blue... but I'm hopeful.

-rl

VOTE!

Go ahead, you know you can do it.

October 29, 2008

Ohio Issue 6: Casinos Again?

It seems that gaming interests are again running the gambit across the Ohio voting public, two years after that same voting public soundly defeated the fecal matter that was Ohio Issue Three - Learn and Spurn Act. Unlike OL/E (aka Educate and Obfuscate, per Pho), this measure doesn't seem to tie education into gambling, but it does advocate the construction of a casino in Clinton County (where?) which, according to proponents, will create 5,000 (!!!) new jobs.

My problem: gambling relies upon gamblers having disposable income. People who are gambling and don't have disposable income need help, be it counseling, additional pay, friends, whatever. In a time when disposable income is down, proposing a new casino and expecting new jobs and not losing money on the casino is risky business.

Thus, it is with this logic that I must tell fellow Ohio voters to JUST SAY NO to Ohio Issue 6 on November 4.

October 27, 2008

McCain-Palin still running Joe the Plumber meme

Just seen on FiveThirtyEight:


McCain's campaign's continued use of the Joe the Plumber meme confounds me, largely because Joe the Plumber turned out to be a near total fraud. So, back-tax-owing Americans, ready for your tax break from John McCain? Ready to lie about your status in society to get the loving look from the media only to turn out to be a flash-in-the-pan scam?

If Wurzelbacher decides to run for Congress against Kaptur in 2010, I think I might venture a couple visits to the Toledo area to campaign against that tool.

October 24, 2008

Attention, my 4 readers!

Until healed or too drunk to feel, posting will be limited due to an injury to my right hand.

Best.

-rl

October 23, 2008

Big Ten shock

The Big Ten poll has some shocking numbers, so shocking that Matt Drudge won't touch them, putting Barack Obama ahead by double digits in all of the states they polled.


Big Ten Battleground Poll

So say we slide those Indiana EVs away from John McCain and to Barack Obama and we have Obama winning 348 to 190. And thus we have a bonafide landslide in the works. Add to that Quinnipiac having Obama up by 5 in Florida, and we move deeper into landslide territory: Obama 375, McCain 163.

If that's what it is, I think that's Obama's maximum potential for this election cycle. It will be hard for someone to make further inroads in places like Georgia, Texas, West VA, until that someone has 4 years of good leadership under his belt. I wish I could see the future, but I can safely predict November 4 will be a good night for America.

UPDATE:

Now with fancy-pants map.


-rl

I'll take "Give Me a Reason Why We Should Trust You Now" for $500, John.



You really have to hand it to John McCain. He's got this proclivity to either to be mendacious or point out the obvious, and lately he's been tottering between both.

Senator McCain, I want to know what your influence was to keep the excesses of the last 8 years from happening, otherwise I feel no reason why we should trust you. I mean seriously now: you talk the talk of the fiscal conservative, but when your feet
(and Sarah Palin's) get put to the fire, you're still sucking on the federal government's teet for projects. I don't have a problem with using federal funds for useful projects, but what I do have a problem with is saying you oppose them, but not having the ability to lead your Congressional delegation (at least the 6 AZ Rs) to do the same.

Anyway, back to the point: why should we trust you? You've waived your judgment for the President for the last eight years... I haven't an idea why you think we should waive ours.

-rl

October 22, 2008

Less than 13 days away...

... barring an apocalyptic event for Barack Obama, I predict he will be the next President of the United States.

More questions on the her Palinifcations?



Break ties, Sarah! That's what you do! That's it! You're not a legislator, Mrs. Cheney! Seriously, if you don't want to play "gotcha", don't give wrong answers!

In other news, Politico: RNC shells out $150K for Palin fashion, but of course Drudge Report is noticeably lacking this story.

Someone had to have her not wearing camos on the campaign trail.

-rl

October 16, 2008

An interesting exchange on Israel

Last night Rep. Paul Broun, (GA-10, R) was hosted by the UGA College Republicans and Dawgs for Israel for a discussion on Israel and Middle East peace. I went into it knowing how Rep. Broun views certain aspects of the Middle East conflict, but still managed to be totally and completely flaggergasted by some of his statements.

Rep. Broun opened with roughly fifteen minutes of statements as to why America needs to maintain its relationship with Israel, mainly sticking on the section of Genesis stating, and I paraphrase, "Blessed be Israel and blessed be the supporters of Israel," and he wants to apply it to today.

The big difference between the time of the writing of Genesis by either J or E and today is that the state of Israel as we know it today didn't exist, and I have a sneaking suspicion that the author(s) of that (or those) verse(s) wasn't referring to a state of Israel (though one did exist in tandem w/ the Kingdom of Judah), but rather the Israelite people as a whole, that is to say "Be nice to the Jews, and you'll be blessed."

So, consequently, being nice to the Jews doesn't necessarily entail supporting today's state of Israel, because one can be nice to the Jews and also be nice to the Palestinians. The fact of the matter is, the need to learn how to cohabitate and aggression from both ends needs to end. Representative Broun, though, seems to believe that Israel has a seemingly infinite right to defend itself, even if defense means offense. Broun disagreed with Israel's decision to cede the Golan, West Bank territories, and the Gaza, without establishing any sort of reason why. Does he forget that at the time of the State of Israel's creation, they didn't hold those lands?

I asked him, if he's so set in believing that supporting Israel is set in the Torah, would he support Israel expanding to become the size of the Kingdom of David, taking in portions of Jordan and Syria. He parried away the question by saying of course not and offered still no reason why he opposed the withdrawal of Israel from the aforementioned areas.

A contingent of students from what I assume is Athens for Justice in Palestine were present, also offering very serious questions for which Rep. Broun offered little substance.

I didn't like Paul Broun except for a handful of issues prior to last night. Now I dislike him more. I look forward to the forthcoming exchange with Bobby Saxon, since Broun won't let himself be seen within miles of Saxon. Such character. Such chutzpah.

Shalom,

-rl

October 14, 2008

The National Leadership Deficit

In an effort to pander to people calling themselves evangelical, or otherwise "Christian", I've discovered something thick within both Democratic and Republican circles: the desire to appear that G-d comes first for them as politicians. I can appreciate the idea that people put G-d first, especially if one is truly religious, regardless of religion. That's a quality that I admire in priests, imams, ministers, rabbis, and other religious leaders. However, that is not a quality I admire in politicians. Politicians are elected to lead us as citizens, participants in our grand political system, and provide workable solutions to problems which confront us, without causing too many more.

If we seek a country with morals, we need look to ourselves and spiritual leaders, not to our political leaders, as too often we find that the people who talk the talk can't walk the walk. What does this say about them? They don't believe what they say, be it that they were in a "weak" moment (or ten) or a scandal. This is the issue which has poisoned American politics for the past 20 years... each side is trying to portray itself as holier than the other, when really neither is too holy to begin with.

It seems to me the people who best embody the ideals that the American public seems to want are those who don't wear it on their sleeves. Whether I can objectively prove this remains to be seen, although certainly a search of speeches and news items will likely yield a quick answer.

What is the underlying psychology for voting for these people? Many know at heart that these politicians are corrupt and can be proven to not be the holier-than-thou sort. Why do others keep buying into it? Do we have some sort of off-kilter sense of right and wrong when it comes to our politicians? These people who we elect regularly want to enforce sections of Leviticus, but ignore the pleas of the Psalmist to comfort the widow, care for the orphan, not defraud the poor. Does this not seem right to anyone else? It seems to me that it's a very narrow-minded holier-than-thou attitude, one which places obeying ritual laws of thousands of years ago over obeying those of ethical laws.

Now we are at a point of loggerheads: the people who have failed to lead because of their perceived desire to serve G-d over their citizen are confronted with the failures of the leadership. We have at best hobbled infrastructure, the consequences of allowing unregulated forms of investment, and people looking at our future more with more discouraged outlooks than we have had in recent memory. And why?

We have politicians whose concern is to maintain power, rather than wield it effectively and for good. The national leadership deficit, directed both at both parties, is crippling our country. We need leaders now more than ever to repair the mess that non-leadership have created.

-rl

October 10, 2008

Where do you stand, John Sidney McCain?

Evermore disgusted by the inability of John Sidney McCain to act like a leader in a time of chaos and crisis, many voters should be waking this morning to a clarion call: John McCain is not suited to lead this country now.

He may have been suited to lead in 2000, when the dot-com bubble bursting was the worst effect of hyper-speculation in markets and we had no daily reminders of the consequences of terrorism. But the year is 2008, a financial crisis of nearly unrivaled proportion is thrusting the global economy into fits of selling, and terror is something to fight, not something to use for fighting. No, instead of leading, John Sidney McCain is trying to connect Barack Obama to people of questionable backgrounds, much like what happened during the primaries with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and is launching attacks on the character of Senator Obama based on purely speculative trash.

Instead of taking responsibility for helping to create this mess that Wall Street has created for us, Senator John Sidney McCain instead tries to disown himself of it. And he seems to glory in it, all the while trashing Senator Obama for knowing people, irrespective of whether Senator Obama actually agrees with these people or not. Instead of creating solutions, Senator McCain throws stumbling blocks before the blind. Why should we vote for you, John Sidney McCain?

Really, why? Sarah Palin seems to have no real grasp of any foreign or domestic federal policy, so there's no real reason to vote for you because of her... garr... what's the difference between a bulldog and Sarah Palin? A bulldog can protect people. John Sidney McCain, your choice of Sarah Palin to be your Vice President demonstrates clearly that your mind thinks of matters very superficially, and that you and your running mate, like your attacks on Barack Obama, have very little depth beyond your glitz and glamor.

So where's the beef, John Sidney McCain? Where do you really stand? I know where Barack Obama stands... but where do you really stand? Do you stand with me or do you stand with the people who control, well beyond my boss's bosses, whether or not I will have a job? Do you stand to have principle or do you sit because all of your courage is predicated on your abuse in Vietnam? This campaign has demonstrated that you left your courage in Hanoi. You and Senator Clinton proposed cutting the gas tax for the summer, a transparent ploy to gain votes on a policy that could have created more harm than good, a ploy that Senator Barack Obama opposed.

Best wishes,

-rl

September 24, 2008

Nexus of capitalism

How about capping everyone's post-tax income, earned and otherwise, to say... I'll throw out some arbitrary figure... $5 million? I mean, who really needs more than five million dollars per year? I mean, even figuring conservatively, you can bank a half million and leave your kids a nice nest egg after you croak following 40 years of hard work.

Why do people need to make millions upon millions of dollars? People like Oprah and Bill Gates do good for our world, but really, do they as individuals need all that money? How about throwing anything additional you make into a tax-deferred (or lower-rate) trust fund that you can use to fund combating AIDS, establishing your own Grameen Bank, and the like?

Why am I asking this? There has been some discussion on Capitol Hill about restricting the salaries of CEOs whose companies buy into the mass-bailout to $400,000. I think that the ceiling is too low. While I would like to see them have to limit themselves, living in a place like NYC makes it difficult it get by on such a relatively low salary... although I'm sure that they do have some significant savings to help pay the bills for an extended period.

You know what, I don't care. $400,000 it is.

-rl

September 23, 2008

Against the Bailouts

Public opinion polling has revealed that the American public is split on the issue of whether or not the federal government should bail ailing financial companies out of the mess they helped to engineer. I am of the portion of America which believes that bailing out financial companies is a bad idea of the first order.

Why oppose federal bailouts of companies?

In bailing out companies who have engaged in business and accounting practices that were confusing at best and spurious and mendacious at worst, the government is giving tacit approval to allowing either ill-conceived (at best) and corrupt (at worst) business practices to continue. While I do not believe that the government should sit on the sidelines and allow the "natural" course of economics to take its course, I do think that bailing out the companies responsible for getting us into this position, causing us to even be having these discussions, is foolish policy and enables criminals to continue swindling the public. Around a decade ago, the Republican-led Congress, with the approval of the Democratic President Bill Clinton, passed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which repealed key provisions of the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act. The Glass-Steagall Act did many things, perhaps most importantly establishing the FDIC, but it also set barriers between commercial banks, investment banks, and insurance companies. These barriers helped to prevent the vast amounts of collusion that have hence occurred.

Firstly: What I then propose is a return to a regulated system of banking, one in which roles are defined for banks and they may not collude with other types of financial institutions (including other types of banks).

Another cause of the current economic situation was the development of complex financial instruments that passed the burden of debt was person to person, without diffusing the risk in assuming the debt. Once these debts started to go bad, ie groups of high-risk mortgages going unpaid, financial institutions were left holding the bag of bad debt they knowingly purchased. One can argue the cause of bad debts, from predatory lending to borrowers knowingly providing lenders with fraudulent information. However, the end result is the same.

Secondly: Additionally, I propose that the federal government introduce guidelines to lending and prohibit payday lending at usurious rates (and I will define that as any interest rate on money above 39.99% APR). Borrowers who knowingly provide fraudulent information in order to obtain credit must be punished in criminal or civil proceedings. Also, the complex financial instruments that developed in this period, collateralized debt obligations and credit default swaps, need to fall under regulatory watch so that an explosive period of growth in the future doesn't precede a collosal collapse like the continued collapse of the last year. The government needs to evolve and be able to meet the challenges posed by evolving markets.

Thirdly, from that last point: the government and its regulatory agencies need to be able to know what they're dealing with and have the capacities to keep up with an ever-evolving financial system. That government doesn't need to own companies like AIG, that should only be an action of last resort when a company is on the verge of collapse and that collapse threatens to take down the rest of the economy; rather there must be oversight by parties independent of the organizations being watched over. That's right: you can't have the former head of Alcoa try to regulate Alcoa in an unbiased manner. The last eight years have shown us the results of government and corporate collusion; we have a war in Iraq and this mess to prove it.

So, for better or worse, here is where we are. The President and his cronies (Paulson et al) are trying to foist a $700 billion bill on us, the tax payers, while letting the CEOs and other individuals responsible for creating this catastrophic mess off of the proverbial hook. It's not fair to us, the taxpayer, or to us, the consumer, to let this happen.

-rl

September 14, 2008

Grilling Sarah Palin

UPI may claim the banner of 100 years of journalistic excellence, but that estimation is immediately brought into question when you reach "no bloopers" in this article. Let us reveal the "blooper" of Palin's interview:

Not being able to identify the Bush Doctrine.

The title of the UPI interview suggests that the media's "grilling" of Sarah Palin may backfire, but I need to ask: when did the grilling ever start? Sure enough, the media has obsessed about Palin's personal life, the incogruence of letting her daughter have the choice of keeping her child of ending the pregnancy which making very clear that she wants to deny all other American women of that choice... etc. But the media have let McCain and Palin go on carte blanche long enough when it comes to the issue of being qualified enough to be within a heartbeat of the Presidency. Issues such as her ability to grasp important international matters within the context of the last eight years (see: Bush Doctrine) have been lightly touched, if at all, by the major networks prior to Gibson's interview. Issues like her lying about going to Iraq and qualifying that as her foreign policy experience (she actually was on base in Kuwait) and going to Ireland (which was waiting on the tarmac in her airplace - presumably while she was "going to Iraq") and also qualifying that as foreign policy experience have not been touched.

Forget that the campaigns closest of surrogates (Cindy McCain) implied that by living close to Russia, Sarah Palin had foreign policy experience (apparently Canada doesn't count). Forget that a hockey mom's lipstick is the only thing separating her from a pitbull. The McCain campaign has again and again tried to foist these lies about Sarah Palin on us, all with the hopes that the media won't do their job and that Americans will ignore all of the true issues which matter (the war, the economy, health care) and think rather about electing Miss Wasilla 1984 to be the first female vice-president... all the while letting the oh-so-skilled hands of John McCain and his minions toy with the levers of government... while Sarah Palin waits in the wings.

-rl

September 11, 2008

I heard the news today, oh boy...

A very evangelical Christian woman just told me that there's going to be a lunar eclipse on the 30th, per the "Jewish" calendar and that the calendar said it was going to be the Jews' first coming of Jesus, the Christians' second coming, obvi.

Does anyone else know about this or has heard about this from a Jews-for-Jesus-esque group? This same person also is telling me that she's reading the Bible in Hebrew w/o any sort of background in Hebrew. People are crazy and will believe anything they want to believe, seems to me.

Well, Wikipedia isn't turning any information regarding an eclipse on the 30th. She said it'd be a red moon. Maybe she's confusing it with Rosh Hashanah, which starts at sundown on the 29th. In any case. Jesus is coming for Rosh to nosh, guise!!!!

So to all my Jewish readers, l'chodesh tov... and since the high holy days are near: l'shana tova.

You can paint a turd pink...

... it doesn't mean it'll taste like cotton candy.

The fact remains that although Governor Palin defies the conventional wisdom of what a conservative is "supposed" to look like, she still tows the Republican ideological line. So yes, Senator Obama had it right: a pig can wear lipstick, but it's still a pig.

By the way, isn't it funny how Senator McCain can use the same expression in reference to Senator Clinton (in the primaries re: HillaryCare) and come away from it clean? Anyway, no being petty. Not on this day.

Today is the 7th anniversary of the attacks on the Pentagon, World Trade Center, and downing of United Airlines Flight 93. Two years ago I wrote at length over the matter but last year I said nothing. Let it not be said that I didn't mind the day and take a moment for pause and reflection, like I did today.

It's funny how time sometimes dims the past or exaggerates it... but not that day. I was 17 years old... and I can still remember everything as if today were September 12, 2001.

Sleep didn't come to me that night but for one hour. I remember being glued to CNN and MSNBC... while speculation ran wild as to who did it, why, and what the response was going to be. Journalism didn't exist that evening... it was all speculation and opinionizing. It laid the groundwork for the current standards of journalism on television.

There were many seeds sown on that day... seeds of hatred, seeds of anger, seeds of distrust, seeds of... practically everything. And those fruits have come to bear different results since that day. Sown were the seeds of two wars - three if one counts the War on Terror - and all two (or three) are still being fought to this day. Sown were the seeds of manipulation by those in power, preying upon the fears of the public that somewhere, somehow, terrorism was going to hit again at any given moment. There were people putting duct tape around their windows and door... trying to protect themselves.

Sadly, they had already been infected. Infected with fear, these people were driven to do any and everything that the government suggested to keep themselves safe from the spectre of terror.

We are told that the greatest remedy to terror, to tyranny, is freedom.

Where is our remedy?

September 2, 2008

Thoughts and prayers

My thoughts and prayers are going out to all victims of Hurricane Gustav. Luckily Gustav was only a SS-2 storm when it made landfall west of New Orleans yesterday... damage, from what I've heard, appears to be minimal and flooding has been due to heavy rainfall and not as a result of systemic failures in the levee system...

The eastern seaboard of the US is now holding its breath for two troublesome spots: Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hanna and Tropical Storm Ike. Per National Hurricane Center official forecast, Ike appears to be making a beeline to the Bahamas and any forecasting beyond that would be purely speculative venture. Hanna, on the other hand, seems to be parked over the Bahamas, wobbling before setting about on its predicted path, which, per NHC forecast, is towards the SC coast, potentially as a major hurricane. I have doubts about the forecast strength of Hanna, as it looks like it's still undergoing significant shearing in its northern quadrants.

The RNC is going to get rolling today, taking yesterday off to show "solidarity" with citizens being affected by Hurricane Gustav... and getting them off the hook of having W speak. Incidentally, over the roar of Gustav coverage, news broke yesterday that Sarah Palin's 17-year old daughter is pregnant and will be marrying the child's father....

...

-rl

August 29, 2008

Sarah Palin

AKA: John McCain's ridiculous ploy to pick off disaffected HRC voters.

August 20, 2008

Stephanie Tubbs Jones, 1949-2008

I had the opportunity to meet Congresswoman Tubbs Jones on several occasions and was able to speak with her at length as well. She was an impassioned woman who cared about her constituents more than all, except her family. I was shocked to hear of her condition when my old roommate called me earlier today... and now I mourn her passing. She was a tremendous woman and the east side of Cleveland has lost a true leader.

May your life have been for a blessing, Stephanie.

August 11, 2008

Over-reaction of the bear

The Olympics are being played in China. It's the dog days of summer. Most of America is connected in their disconnection from other worldly affairs, and that's okay. Those of us who are not so disconnected from the world around us have been bearing witness to a very stunning breakdown in the Caucusus.

Russia, in response to Georgia protecting its territorial integrity, has launched a disproportionate reaction attack against the small nation. I think this smacks of Putin's bear claws.

President Bush needs to take a firmer stand against Russia. Sure, he's issued a half-hearted denouncing of the Russian government's actions, but it's a weak excuse for real action. Likewise, Senators McCain and Obama should have something substantive and critical of the Russians for their continued disrespect of Georgian territorial intergrity. Let this war be between Georgia and the South Ossetians or Georgia and Abkhazia... but not between Georgia and Russia.

-rl

August 6, 2008

July 31, 2008

People of America - Johnny Mac is just another politician.

That's right - John McCain is just another politician with hopes to swindle you into believing that he is an agent of change.

If John McCain's commitment to cleaning up the toxic air in Washington is so true and virtuous, as much as we would like to see it, I must ask why he has apparently done so little to change the way Washington is run in his now over 21 years in the United States Senate and the previous 4 years he had spent in the House of Representatives. Senator McCain, for your criticism of Senator Obama, your record with results on government reform is dearly wanting.

Thanks,

RL

Reuters India on John McCain's mistake

McCain launches attacks on Obama's "Celebrity"

With the way that Sen. McCain is going, he's going to be lucky to end up on Celebrity Fit Club 12: Space Camp.

July 28, 2008

Nothing is sacred.

Not in a Presidential election, apparently. It is one thing to publically discuss your disgusting belief that G-d has decided you to be President and to profane G-d's name by doing unspeakable atrocity in the name of democracy and G-d. But it is another thing entirely when you write a private note to G-d, like a quiet bedtime prayer, and then have that note pulled out of a crevice of the Western wall of the Beit HaQodesh b'Rushalayim.

Shema haAretz, Obama devar elElohei Elohim.

I mean, I wouldn't even have Bush's private prayers subpoenaed for gainful politics...

July 15, 2008

Against Mortgage Company Bailouts

Against Mortgage Company Bailouts
Ryan LaFountain

It seemed like the party would never end – the American dream could become an American reality for those of us invested in the idea of an ownership society. Millions of us bought into it, heavy and hard, and because so many of us were willing to buy into it, businessmen saw a way to profit. Soliciting customers via mass-mailings and television ads mortgage companies made loans by the millions, booking first-time buyers and second-mortgages under sight-unseen conditions.

Loan officers encouraged borrowers to fudge their incomes so that an underwriting committee could more easily approve loans applied for. Some borrowers didn't need to be coerced into lying about their professions, loose standards in income and employment verification allowed home-buyers to say anything short of being God and being able to make infinite payments. Mortgage companies and borrowers share an equal portion of blame when it comes to honesty of loan applicants. When loans were booked without the appropriate verification, people who once had little buying power now had the ability to own a home.

Further compounding the problem is the issue of adjustable-rate mortgages. These mortgages offer low initial payments, with borrowers being offered a low introductory interest rate that would adjust at some point in the future. Most of these borrowers were able to make payments for the initial period prior to rate adjustment, but wittingly or unwittingly would not be able to make the monthly payments after that point.

Not all of these loans were originally very risky – subprime, per the current standards – and lenders began to lose money when people who had signed these adjustable rate mortgages, signing at a low rate and getting booted into an usurious rate after a certain amount of time, were no longer able to make payments. Some customers entered into bankruptcy, some arranged agreements with their lenders to re-enter new loans at lower fixed rates, and others bailed on the properties entirely.

Normally mortgage companies would act on the liens against the properties and re-coup the money lost on the mortgages via repossession and resale of the property. However, this would not happen in markets impacted by significantly declining home values, and mortgage companies, their investors, and other agents of securitization would be forced to eat the loss. With defaults on payments in declining markets increasing, mortgage companies began to find themselves in deepening troubles.

Now segments of the market are asking for the government to interfere and help prop up the companies being adversely impacted by the current market. They are requesting billions of dollars in taxpayer-provided aid to alleviate the problems of their companies, these same problems that they themselves caused through unwise business practices and extraordinarily risky lending. The government, by offering bailouts of these companies, provides an incentive for poor business practices by large companies to continue. These bailouts have already cost taxpayers billions of dollars and will likely cost billions more before this mortgage crisis ends.

Congress should not offer to bail out any company, but rather Congress should take a further step and assume control of any mortgage company on the verge of collapse, secure it, conduct a mass audit, and determine whether or not one of three steps should be taken. Those three steps shall be: 1) to return the company to previous management, 2) to return the company to public control by selling off the assets and liabilities to other, more secure mortgage providers, or 3) to assume control of the company in full and service only the mortgages held on the books until all mortgages and liens are satisfied, provided that there are regularly scheduled audits done on the company while under government control.

Moreover, the government must put into place regulations prohibiting lenders from levying excessive interest on borrowers. In an ideal world, fixed-rate mortgages would be the rule and adjustable-rate mortgages would be rare exceptions to the rule instead of the common corollary to the rule.

-rl

July 8, 2008

Back from hiatus

We arrived back in Athens from NE Ohio at 9:00P last night, easily besting our fastest trip ever by about an hour. Dad got married this weekend in Aurora. It was a pleasant experience at a local winery.

All that said,

... what gives with the lack of POTUS polling numbers in Ohio? There hasn't been a new poll in two weeks... plus that outlier poll in Indiana giving Obama a narrow lead... what's up with that?

RAHHHHHH... This coffee isn't kicking in yet!

-rl

June 23, 2008

George Carlin, 1937-2008

He was arguably his generation's most gifted and most controversial comic, with little reverence for what most Americans perceived to be sacred. From the Seven Words to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Dogma, there was little left to be profaned, but George Carlin always found a way to do it. Every time that a line was drawn, George would leap across it and make it funny in doing so.

By challenging the conventions of the times, George Carlin broke ground for future comics, much like Hunter Thompson broke ground for future journalists in his gonzo style. Only four days before his death was it announced that George was going to receive the Mark Twain prize later this year. An event honoring him while he is absent will be difficult, because George had a way of mocking every folly and hypocricy prevalent in society and something tells me that it was bound to happen at the ceremony.

He was a force to be reckoned with. May eternal rest see him comfortably and may his life have been for a profaned blessing.

-rl

June 20, 2008

I have a question that I would like to pose to my fellow bloggers on the right and the left: will this election be a national re-aligning election?

I believe that it will be. Barack Obama has strong appeal even in the quaintest and most remote areas of Georgia, giving me hope that it may be true generally in the South, hopefully ending the nearly 40-year long Southern Strategy of the Republicans. In fact, the states that I believe will remain reliably Republican for this election are as follows:



  • Utah

  • Arizona

  • Wyoming

  • Oklahoma

  • Texas

  • Idaho

  • Kansas

  • Nebraska

  • Alabama




These states total only 83 electoral votes out of the 270 required to be elected to the Presidency.

These are the states that I think will be doggedly Democratic come November:



  • California

  • Washington

  • New York

  • Vermont

  • Massachusetts

  • Rhode Island

  • Maryland

  • Illinois

  • Hawaii

  • District of Columbia




Those 10 states total 154 electoral votes, over half of the required 270. Every other state, yes, even Alaska and Mississippi, are in play. I believe that this is not necessarily coming from a disapproval of the central "issues" of the Republican party, but rather the inability of the Republicans whom red states have elected to follow through on their promises, id est: the damaged Republican brand. Thus, I don't think that Barack Obama's election to the Presidency will constitute an endorsement of Democratic policy (for the time being), but rather will constitute a repudiation of the Republican party's inability to function as a government ethically. Now come 2010's midterm elections, we will be able to judge then whether or not the American public does accept a leftward shift in policy...

Undoubtedly the Republicans will suffer legislative losses as well and fall into an even smaller minority in both the House and Senate (55 Ds, 2 Is voting with Ds, and 43 Rs) and potentially having as few as 185 seats in the House. Potential for Republican losses may be even greater.

So, all that said, I throw the question to y'all once again: Will this be a realigning election?

-rl

June 19, 2008

Priceless words from Cindy McCain

(CNN) — Cindy McCain, wife of John McCain, said Thursday the spouses of the presidential candidates should be allowed to have some privacy.

"I do not think that spouses and family members … are fair game," she told CNN's John King.

"There has to be some decorum left in politics and in American journalism as well. Our husbands are the candidates," she said.


Cindy Mac says she's not fair game.

Cindy McCain, following her own angry rant about Michelle Obama's "first time in her adult life to be proud of America", finds herself backpeddling when there is much damage that could be done to Senator McCain's campaign if/when the goods are dug up on her. Funny how that happens.

By the way, I agree with her sentiment. I just think she's a hypocrite and I'm calling her out on that matter. Nothing personal, Cindy.

In other news, it's still excruciatingly expensive to get gasoline.

And did anyone who filled out the good wishes form on Senator Kennedy's Senate webpage get a response from him and his wife earlier today? I thought it was neat to get something back, even though it looked like a form letter.

-rl

June 17, 2008

The Continuing Story of George W. McCain

The NYTimes has a great article which helps voters who aren't generally into going through senatorial voting records to compare Senator McCain's voting stances against the administration's positions.

Is McCain Like Bush? It Depends on the Issue

When it comes down to bread and butter issues, John McCain is more like George W. Bush than George W. Bush is. McBush seeks to further the already aggressive regressive tax cuts initiated by this administration. Instead of trying to use the government to help remedy the issues facing the American public, McCain seeks to use the government to promote the outmoded theory of trickle-down economics (or as Bush the 1st put it: voodoo economics) that puts money back into the pockets of the moneyed elites of whom John McCain claims to be a fierce critic. Oh, the pennies fall out of the pockets lined with dollars of irony.

Chew on that a bit.

-rl

June 12, 2008

Pot, meet kettle

I'm periodically reminded of this old saying when I listen to the propaganda spewed by the Republican noise machine... the latest (and maybe greatest recent) example of the Right Punditocracy's hypocricy was Vice President Dick Cheney's remark to the National Press Club:

"So I had Cheneys on both sides of the family and we don't even live in West Virginia."


I think its funny that the Vice President thinks this kind of comment is okay while his running dog lackeys heave accusations of elitism at Barack Obama. VP Cheney manages thus to prove two things: 1) He himself is an elitist, at least with respect to the people of West Virginia and 2) he has no respect for the people who twice voted his sorry tuckus into the Vice Presidency.

Elitism? Hi pot, here's my good friend kettle.

I'm not writing about gas prices today. It's too damned depressing to think about how much of my net weekly income goes into my gas tank. The economic signals we've been getting lately have been confusing me... unemployment jumped to 5.5%, consumer spending is up... there are two words to define our situation: inflation and recession. It is taking more dollars to buy milk, gas, food, phones, other currencies and economic growth is erratic at best. Let this be a lesson and let us learn from it. People treat the economy as if it were a real object unto itself, while it is actually a thick network of interoperating systems, controlled by other people. When we speak of capital inflow and outflow, these are the results of human interaction - something that seems to be lost on the people feeding us our information.

We need new economic policy, guided by smart policy with a proactive (vs reactive) component of the government to help. Once a problem starts, we can only work to fix it. Our goal should not be to fix problems, but to prevent problems. Allowing the housing situation to develop into a bubble and then explode is proof of the necessity for new policy. We can't afford to be afraid of our government any longer or else we'll cannibalize the system.

-rl

June 6, 2008

Who is Governor Brian Schweitzer?

Donklephant asks the same question and posits an idea which I have previously mulled.

Governor Schweitzer is a very popular Democratic governor in an otherwise very red state (Montana) and, as Justin notes, he's pragmatic and can walk the bipartisan walk like he talks it. While it can be said that he'll just be the VP were he Senator Obama's choice as running mate, I think Governor Schweitzer would provide valuable advice to candidate and President Obama.

As for this talk of Senator Webb, I'm not sure I'm comfortable with him just on the basis of having two legislators on the ticket. I'd rather have one person with legislative experience and one person with executive experience (see Clinton/Gore) as a ticket. It provides a balance on the ticket that goes beyond simple demographic balance, but also reflects a balance in leadership positions.

Those are my thoughts.

-rl

June 5, 2008

Seriously folks...

... 97 degrees? On June 5?

You've got to be kidding me.

Anyhow, I suppose it is time for the latest installment of the gas price round-up. Prices in Athens are averaging an arm and a leg, being at $3.92/gallon, up one cent. Looking elsewhere across the 50 nifty United States:

Akron, Ohio: $3.88/gallon (down $0.08)
Anchorage, Alaska: $4.11/gallon (up $0.06)
Atlanta, Georgia: $3.98/gallon (up $0.05)
Baltimore, Maryland: $3.92/gallon (no change)
Boston, Massachusetts: $3.97/gallon (up $0.04)
Burlington, Vermont: $3.98/gallon (up $0.04)
Charlotte, North Carolina: $3.94/gallon (up $0.01)
Chicago, Illinois: $4.20/gallon (no change)
Cleveland, Ohio: $3.92/gallon (down $0.03)
Dallas, Texas: $3.86/gallon (up $0.03)
Denver, Colorado: $3.86/gallon (no change)
Detroit, Michigan: $4.01/gallon (down $0.04)
Honolulu, Hawaii: $4.07/gallon (up $0.10)
Indianapolis, Indiana: $3.88/gallon (down $0.06)
Las Vegas, Nevada: $4.02/gallon (up $0.14)
Los Angeles, California: $4.37/gallon (up $0.26)
Miami, Florida: $4.03/gallon (up $0.02)
Minneapolis, Minnesota: $3.83/gallon (up $0.02)
New York, New York: $4.27/gallon (Bronx) (up $0.08)
New York, New York: $4.27/gallon (Manhattan) (up $0.07)
Newark, New Jersey: $3.87/gallon (up $0.04)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: $3.76/gallon (steady)
Phoenix, Arizona: $4.00/gallon (up $0.18)
Sacramento, California: $4.40/gallon (up $0.22)
St Louis, Missouri: $3.87/gallon (up $0.10)
Salt Lake City, Utah: $3.90/gallon (up $0.09)
San Antonio, Texas: $3.82/gallon (up $0.02)
San Francisco, California: $4.36/gallon (up $0.15)
Seattle, Washington: $4.22/gallon (up $0.13)
Washington, DC: $4.09/gallon (up $0.06)

National Average: $3.99/gallon (up $0.04)

Gas prices culled from gasbuddy.com. Gasbuddy.com: for all your price-fixing beating needs. Once again, please do not rely on blogginryan for your decision-making at the gas pump. This information is for informative purposes only and by reading this blog, you agree to indemnify the author if for any reason you should find yourself at the crummy end of a gas deal. Deal? Yeah. Check here: ( )

Crap, you can't check that, can you? Oh well...

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The national trend is up slightly, but the biggest jumps come in California, where prices in LA, Sacramento, and San Francisco shot up sharply over the past week. Wichita, Kansas, is seeing the lowest prices at the moment, averaging around $3.66 per gallon of 87 octane gasoline.

We're on the verge of hitting a national average of $4.00/gallon, but will falling crude prices keep this from happening?

In other news, reports abound that HRC will be ending her campaign sometime soon, with Friday and Saturday being the most frequently stated days. I won't believe it until it happens, though.

Did I mention it's hot down here and it's only going to get hotter before settling in the low 90s by mid next week? This weather is foul. G-d bless the South.

-rl

June 4, 2008

Unity and Uniting

As I sit here in my office I wax mildly philosophical regarding the state of this great nation of ours and how I just felt like lobbing out a vitriolic post re: Hillary Clinton's speech last night. Then I read some things that Jill had to say regarding the whole matter and I found my center. Ultimately, if one believes what Hillary says, Hillary does want to work to ultimately fight for the ideals she espouses. Her record in the Senate echoes that by and large, so her words do not ring entirely hollow.

Over the course of an intense and exciting electoral process, people tend to exhaust themselves in their words, sometimes causing them to sound like they've run out of ideas (so put by Mary Matalin about Barack Obama this morning on CNN) or that they've lost tact (RFKgate on Hillary's end). Ultimately, though, the two minds behind the words ring full of ideas that will work to better serve America. Can the same be said of John McCain? Probably, but I disagree with his ideas, because I feel that a market left to roam freely will be a market that cannibalizes itself. That continuing to occupy Iraq isn't the best way to bring this conflict to a reasonable and successful conclusion. President Bush has certainly done enough to keep that from happening.

Whether the folks who read and author pieces for websites like HumanEvents and Newsmax wish to admit it or not, whether a President Clinton or Obama were elected, America will not become a new Socialist Republic of Badtopia, Israel will not be annihilated by Iran through the willful ignorance of the American leader, and they certainly won't take your ball and go home.

Let us then unite behind our candidate. I forgive Hillary for all of her statements, though I still wonder what compelled her to say many of the things she did (and more importantly did not) say, forgive her support of the gas-tax holiday, and forgive her support of going to Iraq in the first place. I will forgive you Senator Clinton for your supporters effectively threatening to rend the Democratic Party if you were not the nominee, looking out for you instead of the general goals of everyone else. And I can forgive you for calling Barack Obama misogynistic without giving pause to the words coming out of the mouth of your husband, the ex-President.

But now, will you forgive us? Will you forgive our screeches of racism and four-and-five letter words? Will you forgive us for our stunned disbelief with your repeated stating that you had won more votes than did Senator Obama, rendering all votes cast in caucuses meaningless? Will you forgive us for our equally stunned disbelief at your insistence that you could compete in a general election in purported swing states because you had won the primary elections in those same states? Will you forgive us for our anger when your supporters insist that they will be voting for you via write in instead of, again, looking for the greater good by combining forces with Senator Obama in electing a Democrat against Senator McCain in November?

I will forgive. Will you, will your supporters?

-rl

Hillary Clinton, epitome of class...

... will not answer Barack Obama's calls. From the New York Post:


Singling her out for praise for her stance on universal health care and poverty and calling her campaign "barrier-breaking," he said, "Our party and our country are better off because of her, and I am a better candidate for having had the honor to compete with Hillary Rodham Clinton."

He tried to call her twice following the speech - but got her voicemail. She finally returned the call as his plane was about to fly out of St. Paul to Washington.


Well, at least not until later.

By the way, in the speech last night, Hilldawg, by invoking 9/11 you went to further prove that you are shameless in continuing the fear-mongering that current administration has engaged in while condemning those who do the same against you.

Let's put all this talk of "dream ticket" aside. For Hillary Clinton to be vice president is insufficient in her eyes, as last night's speech went out of its way to prove. At this point it's more likely that Joe Lieberman would be Obama's running mate than HRC... and as vice president, she wouldn't be one to trust. She should stick to her job in the Senate until the fine Democrats of New York wise up and pull a Ned Lamont on her in 2012.

That's all for now.

-rl

May 29, 2008

Gas price roundup for 5/29/08

It's that time of the week again, time for another gas price roundup.

Prices in Athens for 87 octane unleaded gasoline this week are averaging around $3.91/gallon, a full ten cents up from last week. Let's take a quick peak at how other portions of the state and nation are faring:

Akron, Ohio: $3.96/gallon (down $0.01)
Anchorage, Alaska: $4.05/gallon (up $0.06)
Atlanta, Georgia: $3.93/gallon (up $0.10)
Baltimore, Maryland: $3.92/gallon (up $0.10)
Boston, Massachusetts: $3.93/gallon (up $0.12)
Burlington, Vermont: $3.94/gallon (up $0.14)
Charlotte, North Carolina: $3.93/gallon (up $0.10)
Chicago, Illinois: $4.20/gallon (up $0.05)
Cleveland, Ohio: $3.95/gallon (steady)
Dallas, Texas: $3.83/gallon (up $0.07)
Denver, Colorado: $3.86/gallon (up $0.14)
Detroit, Michigan: $4.05/gallon (up $0.09)
Honolulu, Hawaii: $3.97/gallon (up $0.08)
Indianapolis, Indiana: $3.94/gallon (down $0.05)
Las Vegas, Nevada: $3.88/gallon (up $0.14)
Los Angeles, California: $4.11/gallon (up $0.17)
Miami, Florida: $4.01/gallon (up $0.08)
Minneapolis, Minnesota: $3.81/gallon (down $0.04)
New York, New York: $4.19/gallon (Bronx) (up $0.11)
New York, New York: $4.20/gallon (Manhattan) (up $0.12)
Newark, New Jersey: $3.83/gallon (up $0.12)
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: $3.76/gallon (up $0.06)
Phoenix, Arizona: $3.82/gallon (up $0.15)
Sacramento, California: $4.18/gallon (up $0.15)
St Louis, Missouri: $3.77/gallon (down $0.03)
Salt Lake City, Utah: $3.81/gallon (up $0.12)
San Antonio, Texas: $3.80/gallon (up $0.04)
San Francisco, California: $4.21/gallon (up $0.19)
Seattle, Washington: $4.09/gallon (up $0.15)
Washington, DC: $4.03/gallon (up $0.15)

National Average: $3.95/gallon (up $0.13)

All prices are from gasbuddy.com. Neither I nor gasbuddy.com, being a site run on contributions from visitors, is liable for your stupidity. I mean, c'mon. If all the stations in town have been showing around $4.05/gallon and I or gasbuddy shows an average of $3.85, it's probably going to be $4.05/gallon gas for you.

All stunts are performed by poorly professionally trained idiots. Do not attempt at home.

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Gas prices are up in most locales this week, despite reports coming out that Americans cut back on driving significantly, or as BSB put it: 60 Years of Poor Planning Coming Home to Roost.

-rl

May 27, 2008

In memoriam

You gave your lives for us
Protecting the liberties we enjoy

You gave your lives for us
Doing as you were commanded - selflessly

You gave your lives for us
Keeping the shores and borders free

You gave your lives for us
Fighting for causes that we were led to believe

Were holy
Were commanded onto us

But they were commanded by selfish men
Yet you gave your lives through selflessness

You gave your lives for us
From the bushes of Bunker Hill to the streets of Fallujah

You gave your lives for us
In the Ardennes forest and the Vietnamese jungle

Mercy upon you all
May your lives have been for a blessing
For you gave your lives for us.

May 22, 2008

Gas price round-up for today, 5/22

Oil execs were "grilled" on Capitol Hill yesterday by the Senate Judiciary Committee, responding to inquiries from Senators on the nature, causes, and future of the current spike in crude oil and gasoline prices. Whilst our good friends at ExxonMobil et al are lining their pockets with massive ($40 billion, anyone?) profits, I want to take a look at what we're paying nation-wide. Who knows, maybe it'll be a new weekly thing - I don't know...

Prices in Athens for 87 octane unleaded gasoline are averaging around $3.81/gallon. Let's take a quick peak at how other portions of the state and nation are faring:

Akron, Ohio: $3.97/gallon
Anchorage, Alaska: $3.99/gallon
Atlanta, Georgia: $3.83/gallon
Baltimore, Maryland: $3.82/gallon
Boston, Massachusetts: $3.81/gallon
Burlington, Vermont: $3.80/gallon
Charlotte, North Carolina: $3.83/gallon
Chicago, Illinois: $4.15/gallon
Cleveland, Ohio: $3.95/gallon
Dallas, Texas: $3.76/gallon
Denver, Colorado: $3.72/gallon
Detroit, Michigan: $3.96/gallon
Honolulu, Hawaii: $3.89/gallon
Indianapolis, Indiana: $3.99/gallon
Las Vegas, Nevada: $3.74/gallon
Los Angeles, California: $3.94/gallon
Miami, Florida: $3.93/gallon
Minneapolis, Minnesota: $3.85/gallon
New York, New York: $4.08/gallon (Bronx)
New York, New York: $4.08/gallon (Manhattan)
Newark, New Jersey: $3.71/gallon
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: $3.70/gallon
Phoenix, Arizona: $3.67/gallon
Sacramento, California: $4.03/gallon
St Louis, Missouri: $3.80/gallon
Salt Lake City, Utah: $3.69/gallon
San Antonio, Texas: $3.74/gallon
San Francisco, California: $4.02/gallon
Seattle, Washington: $3.94/gallon
Washington, DC: $3.88/gallon

National Average: $3.82/gallon

(All prices from http://www.gasbuddy.com)

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Arizona has the lowest prices nationally and, not surprisingly, Hawaii averages highest.

Word is that prices are only looking to climb ever higher...

... tighten those belts and lighten those loads, unless you've got the disposable income to pay for this.

-rl

May 21, 2008

Hamilton Jordan dies in Atlanta

Political stretegist Hamilton Jordan has died of cancer at the age of 63.

Jordan, from southern Georgia, helped the peanuts farmer from Plains ascend to the Presidency and was made his Chief of Staff. He's survived by his wife and three children. My heartfelt sympathies go out to them in their time of grieving. May his life have been for a blessing.

-rl

Questions for George Will

In 5/19/2008's issue of Newsweek, archetype conservative George Will posits a series of questions for John McCain, varying in the degrees of sense that they make. There is one question I generally take issue with, and this is not meant to be an apologetic position in support of Senator McCain.

GW:
You say that you are not "ready to go to war with Iran," but you also say the "one thing worse" than "exercising the military option" is "a nuclear-armed Iran." Because strenuous diplomacy has not dented Iran's nuclear ambitions, is not a vote for you a vote for war with Iran?


Me: Mr. Will, the only nation with which we have entered "strenuous" and ongoing negotiations with regarding nuclear proliferation during the during of the current President is North Korea. The six-party talks we have conducted with North Korea have provided limited success in assuring that North Korea will limit its nuclear program. This President has made clear that he has had no desire to negotiate diplomatically with the current regime in Iran, rather engaging in a series of veiled and unveiled threats between the two nations, referring to Iran as being a member of the infamous "Axis of Evil" (yes, I do remember that), and even vaguely hinting to the American public that he would consider war as an option in the near future. Mr. Will, my question for you is this: How can a vote for Senator McCain be linked to war with Iran when the strenuous diplomacy you purport to have occurred during this President's tenure has not in fact occurred?

---
Is McCain still having a hard-time shoring up support from the "intellectual" conservatives like Mr. Will et al? If these problems and questions persist for this group into the fall, what impact will (no pun intended, Mr. Will) these strong-willed (pun most definitely intended, Mr. Will) people have upon the Presidential race? This is something that rank-and-file Republicans will need to consider going into the fall.

-rl

May 16, 2008

Openers has an insight - Obama's Appalachia problem (or Appalachia's Obama problem?)

http://blog.cleveland.com/openers/2008/05/obamas_is_an_appalachia_proble.html

Hmm. I'm not sure what to make of that analysis, because it seems to me that the claim is that Obama can't carry poor white voters - which is what Appalachia largely is - not that he can't carry white voters. The PeeDee's article is a clarification of the demographic breakdown, but it doesn't add any additional insight, and it certainly doesn't resolve any questions as to how Senator Obama can reach those voters from Vinton County, Ohio, to Rabun County, GA.

Actually, it does do one thing: it provides a geographic overlay to the issue. Go PeeDee... you get a gold star.

-rl

May 14, 2008

Popular ignorance

Pardon me for the 2nd post that's just going to reek of the effete intellectual within, but Spiro Agnew's objections notwithstanding, I'll post away.

Something I had wanted to touch on whilst whining about West Virginia (perfectly to plan, right, Hillary?) was also the willingness of people to believe whatever is easiest to believe. I've been working on Abraham Joshua Heschel's God In Search of Man and I can effectively count religion out as something that is easy to believe... especially as a Jew, I find religion to be an ever-increasing challenge which sates my meager intellect with its magnanimity and sublimity. But it's things like the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) philosophy and irregular applications of Occam's razor which bring me here.

I was told by someone with whom I have a working relationship that he believed that the purpose of oil was to lubricate the earth's plates and that if all of the oil was removed, the plates would no longer be able to move. Okay, I will grant that his understanding of the matter appears very weak and it certainly indicates that if he were to learn more, he'd understand... at least to me, it seems that way. His logic is this: oil is a lubricant, oil comes from the ground, thus oil must lubricate something in the ground.

Clearly he does demonstrate some logic within his reasoning, but his reasoning is based upon a thoroughly incomplete set of facts... keeping it far too simple. How can he then be challenged to open up his mind to learn what are the facts about (a) the source of oil and (b) the nature of plate tectonics? I wanted to yell at him and I'm almost sure that my face contorted in a manner that was visible to another co-worker, so I think my disgust, while not voiced vocally, was voiced facially.

Also, what caused him to believe that? Was it, as I suggest, the result of incomplete information yielding a seemingly logical result? Or was he told this and accepted it without question? This ties into my previous post: do people believe that Obama's a Muslim because of what they've been told and they hold to that prejudice (or that he's somehow more elite than HRC) or do they base it upon his exotic name and try to logically justify it using a limited base of facts?

What further complicates matters is when people are told something that runs counter to what (a) they've already been told or (b) what they believe based upon a seemingly logical conclusion. Changing someone's mind against their own conclusion would seem to be the more difficult, as it challenges the ego and intellectual capacity of the person - that they're being told that what they thought and how they concluded was wrong. It would be much easier to tell them that they were lied to and provide them with a litany of evidence to counter that lie.

Thus we have decisions, elections, leaders, followers, and humans - thoroughly bred in the American condition.

-rl

May 12, 2008

This post has no title - it is frustration.

I need to really take a break from watching the news and anything pertaining to politics for a long time. The last couple of weeks have reminded me how political discourse in this country has been distilled down to name-calling and rumor-passing and it hurts me to watch it continue. I love to think voters are capable of making intelligent decisions, but hearing things coming out of the Mountaineer State (WV) such as "Obama's a Muslim" and people voting for McCain if Obama's the (D) nominee because he's perceived as "elitist" just flat-out hurt me.

Obama's an elitist and Hillary Clinton isn't? And John Mccain isn't? These are all people who reside in the upper echelon of power and those two have been in that upper echelon for longer than Barack Obama. Indeed, perception matters in an election, but the reality is far different than the "elitist" lie that is being peddled by certain people about Barack Obama.

Barack Obama is a compassionate and talented leader, something that we haven't seen the likes of in decades. And perceptions of elitism aside, I want a leader, not a Joe Sixpack, to be President of the United States. I like the idea of John McCain and Barack Obama having one-on-one town hall meetings during the campaign. I hope that through those we'll be able to hear very real ideas and not just glossed-over "plans" that politicians are want to mention, but never further elaborate.

I apologize if this post sounds like it's full of whine. It's just that when I read about Senator Clinton banking on a 40-point win and basing it off of the ignorance that she propagates about Senator Obama, the feeling of frustration increases exponentially... and since I'm in Georgia, there's nothing I can do.

Likewise, reading all of this stuff about Marc Dann and my friend Jessica Utovich - totally just... reeks of people just trying to get even with each other. Undoubtedly Marc Dann should resign, in my opinion. He has taken dishonor to a whole new level in state-wide executive office in Ohio... something that Bob Taft should be gleeful about. Yet reading about Guttierez, the relationships, it just reeks of unprofessional conduct and impropriety. It's really sad. I never liked Marc Dann, I voted for Subodh Chandra in the 2006 primary, and I left my ballot blank when it came to choose between Marc Dann and Betty Montgomery, not because I thought he'd bring this kind of behavior to the office of Atty General, but rather because of his disgusting speech he gave at the 2006 OYD convention at KSU and Subodh's masterful speech. Why are we afraid to put people who are BETTER THAN US in charge of making decisions?

I'm just left totally aghast.

-rl