Merry New Year! I write the first blog of the new year as Eddie Valentine and I, fresh crop report in hand, plan to destroy the Duke brothers by tricking them into cornering the frozen concentrated orange juice market. Meanwhile, Beaks is stuck in a cage with that senator to be from Minnesota and some long-too-lonely silverback.
As I ride the Amtrak New Year's eve party train today, I reflect on how fortunate we are to have averted a major crisis. I know things are turning around. Yes, things got pretty bad in 2008. Financial markets collapsed. Autombile manufacturers stepped one foot closer to oblivion. The governor of Illinois under a cloud of, ahem, scrutiny, ahem, named a replacement for Barack Obama. But we did avert one major crisis: Time Warner and Viacom kissed and made up.
It is time to get things straight about Iraq. In the longer historical sweep of things there is no nation of "Iraq." It was cobbled together by European colonialists to accommodate and make convenient some way to carve out the former colonial enterprises into some semblance of nationhood for the people in the area. It is not an Arab nation, because the Kurds in the north are not of the same racial-ethnic stock as the Arabs. It is not a Sunni state or a Shiite state because those two branches of Islam do not get along anywhere and for 13 or 14 centuries they have been fighting each other for territory and other things.
In sweeps George W. Bush, a man who knows as much about history as a third grade student, and makes some broad decisions about what he thinks [or Dick Cheney thinks] is good for the people living within the boundaries of the cobbled-together nation of Iraq. Oh, by the way, this plan in Iraq will bring billions and billions of dollars into the coffers of Halliburton Corp., where Dick Cheney had served as CEO before becoming the puppeteer to puppet George W. Bush. Oh, by the way, breaking Saddam's back is exactly what Saudi Arabia tells Bush it desires, and keeping the Saudi family happy and its trillion-dollar hold on the Arabian Peninsula's oil has been a Bush family mantra since Grandfather Prescott Bush illegally traded with Hitler's Germany and made the Bush family fortune in Saudi oil. George W. Bush's father today sits on the board of Saudi business enterprises. Oh, by the way, ascending to the White House allows George W. Bush to hand out more favorrs to his family's buddies in many corporate enterprises, including health care, pharmaceuticals, energy, ad infinitum.
Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is practically kicking himself because of his actions from last year which he now views as a mistake-not raising taxes high enough. Nearly a year after one of the largest tax increases in Wisconsin history, it is once again time to break the record for largest tax increase in Wisconsin history. With the legislative session starting, the tax-and-spend Democrats are in charge. So look out.
Two years ago, when the governor was running for real election, he spoke in favor of repealing the automatic annual increases in the gasoline excise tax. Now that he does not have to run for office this year, he most assuredly regrets that decision. And has said so. After raising the cigarette tax one dollar per package, he laments over keeping that too low. So expect that to go up. The real kicker here is that he wants us to believe that he wants people to stop smoking and raising the excise tax on a package of cigarettes will help them do that. It will make Wisconsin healthier. Well, if that is the ultimate goal, then just do an outright ban on cigarettes. Why try to tax smokers and think you're doing them a favor at the same time? Well, here's the answer whenever you raise taxes on anyone you're doing a huge disservice to your constituency. This could not be more obvious in a recessionary period. Even the tax and spend liberals at the federal level, now that now is not the time to raise taxes on anyone. They will be running up huge deficits spending our way out of this recessionary time. Even though states do not have the ability to run up huge deficits like the feds can, huge tax increases are not going to help. Perhaps it is this lack of fiscal sense that Jim Doyle shows that is evident to the Obama administration and will explain why Jim Doyle did not get a federal appointment.
With the recent announcement that the latest budget deficit for ONE YEAR is 1.2 trillion dollars, the atrocious legacy of George W. Bush adds another chapter to his sordid presidency. It is easily the worst administration in U.S. history. Even the most hate-filled right-wingers couldn't possibly bring themselves to wish this list on any incoming president. Obama's burden in this office will be overwhelming. In order to try and fix the U.S. we shall need an extraordinary president. Nobody can overcome this sordid legacy, let's hope Obama corrects some of it.
We have an ill-conceived and illegal war in Iraq that is draining the treasury at a time when we need all the assets we can muster just to keep our financial head above water. In the process we have damaged the image and legacy of the United States of America. To say the "surge" is working is a little like saying we should lock up everyone convicted of every crime for life and the crime stats will go down. Sure they will, but that is illegal, immoral, and would be a human disaster. We are in Iraq ILLEGALLY! But the Bush family has had a history of doing that via their coziness with Hitler and the Saudi family, from 1941 to the present. The image of the U.S. in the world is at a low point historically. [search: bush.nazi]
For years the Better Business Bureau has been little more than a stamp of approval which businesses could purchase for a fee. Finally the BBB is making some changes and I'm hopeful that these changes will be substantial and credible.
Last year they changed their termanology for businesses so they could call themselves a Better Business Bureau Accredited Company. Still, that didn't mean much. Either a company was accredited or it wasn't.
As the days to the Bush administration dropped to a close, we will soon be experiencing the full Monty of an Obama administration. Due to the lack of leadership that George Bush has been showing recently, Barack Obama has unofficially been assuming his presidential duties. Even when he pulls out his placard, with the office of president elect on it, he's still chance the mantra that we only have one president at a time. What, because Bush has been mailing it in, he hasn't been exactly locking horns with anyone and few have even complained. But, because Obama has been parading himself out to a lot turn with his 'office of the president elect' placard on it, we have been getting a few insights of what we can expect once January 20 rolls around. Well, probably January 21, because with the inaugural balls and everyone falling all over themselves noting that what an historic day January 20 will be, the federal government will be mailing you in that day too.
In the campaign, Americans were promised just about everything under the sun. We were promised efficient government, better bureaucracies, and balanced budgets. Now, not that anything was said just to get elected, but the expectations are going to be lowered. And the bad thing is, they are going to be lowered a lot. The Obama presidency can be compared to just about every Democratic presidency of the 20th century. Last November, we were electing Obama because we were seeking the good qualities of a youthful Kennedy, and the inspiration of Franklin Roosevelt. What will we be getting? Well, Obama has been reading a lot of Lincoln. But his most recent speech sounded like the malaise speech that was delivered by Jimmy Carter. Evidently, the economic situation in America will not be getting better soon. Every day, millions of Americans who once chanted 'yes we can' are now hearing 'probably not'. We were expecting the balanced budgets like we got from the Clinton administration. But instead, like the Clintons did, Obama will be checking the polls to see what is popular and read a speech from his TelePrompTer accordingly. So, instead of getting balanced budgets, we will be getting hugely expanded social programs reminiscent of the Lyndon Johnson era. And we also lack the energy to keep the fire lit for a fireside chat. American voters were all taken in by the eloquence of a reassuring speech made by Barack Obama leading us know that the future was going to be okay. But now, our economic future is to be feared. What is the only thing we have to fear?
Comments here from two highly respected and objective journalists about Iraq. How refreshing to read truth. Remember, please, that the American media, even the liberal media, jumped on the bandwagon with Bush about invading Iraq...
"This uncertain situation is now encased in an incredible amount of concrete--the blast barriers that have become one of the signature images of Baghdad. There were plenty in place when I was last here a year ago. Now there are even more and journeys take longer than ever. There are checkpoints with heavy machine-guns every 300 meters on many roads now--far more than you ever saw under the police-state rule of Saddam Hussein. Baghdad is a city under complete military occupation. So the relative quiet here may be deceptive.
Here's something for the old-timers: remember when you turned on a television and it had to warm up before the picture turned on?
I had plenty of televisions where that was an issue. Including many that were black and white. My grandmother had one of those furniture-style pieces that instantly took you back to the 50's when you turned it on. At home, I can recall fondly those mornings when I would turn on old reruns of Fury to eat my cereal before going back to school. And on Sunday mornings, I remember a block of television programming on Channel 4 including Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, Superman, the East Side Boys, and something else. Wrestling was also playing those mornings.
As H.L. Mencken stated, I respect all religions, but to the extent that I feel compelled to say a man's wife is beautiful or his children are smart.
We just finished two terms of a President of the United States who paraded his religion, broadcast its merits, and generally acted as a concerned, devout Christian. So much for honesty. But George W. Bush had a habit of telling lies. So it is somewhat understandable that he would invade another country with another religious heritage without the approval of the international community ...and lie about it. The Middle East is full of lies and wars. The Middle East is also the home to religious sites, religious leaders, religious foundings, religious artifacts, religious myths, religious obedience, etc. In other words, the Middle East is a mess. Can anyone deny religion is a big part of the cause of this mess?
The federal government's bailout programs, which have since been really named recovery plans, have become the latest example of an overgrown governments way of giving the citizens of free lunch. It seems like everybody wants a bailout. The financial sector got theirs, the auto industry is getting theirs, and the biggest they allow program yet is still being put together by the new Congress to be implemented by the new administration. Endless free money for everyone. How could there possibly be a downside?
Milwaukee County executive Scott Walker has received criticism for not asking for bailout money. And on the surface this looks like a bad decision. This explains why the masses have embraced the snubbing of Scott Walker. There seems to be enough free money for everyone. Unless you don't take some, then you don't get your share because somebody else will grab it off the table. This is what it is coming to. Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle happily held his hand out looking for millions and millions perhaps billions of dollars to come our way to put Wisconsin workers back to work. The difference here is that Jim Doyle believes that the only programs we need our make work government programs that will build public transportation for people who will not use it or need it. Doyle did not settle for a little choo-choo train that would go from Kenosha to Milwaukee. Now, he now wants a train that will go from Minneapolis to Chicago stopping several times in Wisconsin. Yes, this would put some people to work. Yes, this would make use of millions and millions perhaps billions of dollars that just seems to have no particular home from the federal government. Forever, once the bailout money stops, the people of Wisconsin will be left holding the bill to maintain this huge overpriced infrastructure project. Gov. Doyle wants to stick it to his citizens.
Okay, nobody's perfect. Except for the possible exception of Barack Obama who was presented to us as the Messiah by the Democrats. His inauguration as the most anticipated date since Easter. Not Easter of last year, but the first Easter when Christ rose from the dead. When Obama began organizing his economic team, he was praised by selecting the smartest group of people since Milton Friedman and John Maynard Keynes. He chose Tim Geithner to head the Treasury Department. And now Geithner is under some scrutiny for not paying taxes.
Fellow Democrats have come out in support of Tim Geithner. This of course means they are also lying for him. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader called the nonpayment of taxes an honest mistake. He referred to the investigation as a hiccup. What a bunch of baloney! It would've made more sense to come out and say that the person will be heading the IRS did not understand the tax form. Maybe this should be something that we all can try. Let's all not pay our taxes and claim that we had the hiccups.(Do not take this as tax advice.) I would think the people that are so glad to be rid of George Bush would hold the new administration to a higher standard. For years, people have written about how they loathed George Bush and his administration for the actions they have taken with the federal government. If we want to start fresh, let's set a better standard for everyone in the new administration. It's time to lead by example. If they don't, they will further prove that the only promised anything and everything just to get elected. It may not be too long until again we are suffering through another president with a 26% approval rating.
The educational system in America leads us to believe that the citizens of this great country have complete unbridled liberty to agree or disagree with the government and have absolutely no consequences provided you are not a direct threat to the personal safety of anyone in government. We are led to believe that the government takes no direction in education of the citizens of this country in terms of propagandizing the American way. Throughout her school years we scoffed at governments who had done this in the past such as the Soviet Union, Germany prior to World War II, and most recently Iraq. Although we believe this to be true, it is time to examine whether this is the actual practice here in the United States and what its role will be in a new administration.
Although the Constitution declares the government to have three distinct branches, the media has often been described as the fourth branch of government. Although its role as been deemed to objectively report news events and political happenings without bias, it is less true today than it has been in more than a century. The media, i.e. radio, TV, newspapers, are largely viewed as being left wing. This easily describes the left-wing bias in the past eight years which is produced countless stories of how George Bush has failed the American people in his presidency. This also provides explanation for the amount of hope and dream and lowered expectations for our next president. Of course the change takes place Tuesday, and it will be unclear as to when we will be returning to reality.
As we go through these days of honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the inauguration of the first African-American president, it is time for me to reflect on a man who did much to bring about the rise of these two stellar men. I met him in Atlanta some years ago. He was a humble man with a strong, low voice that could shake the rafters, but with empathy and compassion in it. He was the pastor of a then-modest red brick church near central Atlanta. His congregation loved him. His family played an important role in his ministry. I only saw him wear an old, shiny, blue business suit, worn from long and modest years in the Baptist ministry.
Some called him "Daddy King," to distinguish him from his famous son, Martin Luther King, Jr. After his son's ministry in Montgomery, Alabama, and his growing fame and recognition for his civil rights leadership, Daddy King called his son to serve with him at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. As the senior pastor, Daddy King could allow his son to be free to pursue his worldwide leadership and still have a home of employment. It worked out well. And the members of Ebenezer glowed in the spotlight of this star in their midst. Daddy King was barely known outside Atlanta. I met him shortly after meeting Martin, and it was clear to me the influence that Daddy King had on his son...very clear. Yet the world pays the father little notice.
Aw, hell. Schwartz is closing. Just last week, I was at the Mequon location, and it looked a little odd. A little vacant. A little disorganized, and, perhaps, a little bare. I shrugged it off, figuring that the staff must have been restocking or moving stuff around or something. Maybe what I saw was no indication of their troubles, but I feel really badly about walking out empty handed right now.
Schwartz has been around for years, and it is part of the heart of Milwaukee. I can't tell you the nights and afternoons I once spent trolling through the bookcases, buying coffee, or just killing time. And yes, I bought books, too. Plenty of them. For me, local bookstores area crucial part of our community. They may not always have the savings, but the money goes right back into the community.
Yes, closing Guantanamo is absolutely necessary. Now comes the hard part. Cleaning up the horrible mess created and left by Reagan-Bush. And though Clinton left Bush a surplus in the federal budget, he was not up to straightening things out because of the time given over to defending his immoral private activities. But the disasters now facing us began with Reagan's "trickle down" economic policies that the first George Bush called "voodoo economics" until he, too, was bought out by the corporate behemoths who benefited so greatly from right-wing hand-outs.
To begin to climb out of this right-wing morass will require each of us to have a reality check and change the way we perceive and conduct our lives and philosophy. We bought into the failed idea that give to the rich and it will trickle down. All that did was give the rich more benefits and the poor sought the good life via credit hocus-pocus offered by financial institutions. It all has exploded in our face. To put things in more proper perspective...
Reporting that Milwaukee County government is again wasting taxpayer money is becoming about as newsworthy as saying that the sun is going to rise in the East. Unfortunately it gets about as much reaction as that headline. Having to Milwaukee County supervisors schedule a taxpayer financed vacation to Washington DC to watch Barack Obama become the 44th president is about as coincidental as the two supervisors thinking that the citizens of Milwaukee County are stupid enough to believe they are story. Toni Clark and Elizabeth Coggs should be ashamed of themselves. They should be made pay back the County for the expense of their trip and should resign from office. That is the only way that they will be prevented from doing it again. I did just see a news story where they were going to pay back the County. They should. The scumbags ought to resign too. It's too bad that they couldn't do the right thing before getting caught and having some bad publicity.
Lee Holloway didn't show any leadership either by not questioning the intent of this trip. He should resign too. He has no business drawing up a list to get stimulus money. Scott Walker was elected county executive and if he chooses not to do so, amen. Tax and spend liberals across the county want to glom on to any money with the intent of spending it on a light rail boondoggle that will bankrupt the County in the years to come. In this economy, people who have lost their jobs are not going to take light rail to go to construction jobs to build roads and bridges. Who will be using the roads and bridges after the Obama administration builds them all? Tax-and-spend Democrats want to get the stimulus bill passed quickly before anybody has time to think about it. I heard one estimate say that it is going to take 4 to 8 years to get out of the current recession. Does this mean that the economy would be recovering on its own? In eight years the business cycle could return to one of growth and expansion of GDP. Does this mean we will spend trillions for programs that will have no effect? I am only glad that these huge deficits will be imposed on future generations.
Today's local TV stations use weather broadcasting as hype for the station and its advertisers. Yet the weather is programmed as a part of news. As such, it needs to follow some objective, honest, journalistic principles. The problem is that local news itself is used to hype broadcast revenue. Objective news reporting, including weather, no longer exists. Edward R. Murrow must be turning over in his grave because of the way news reporting has "evolved."
Weather is now presented as though we are constantly on the verge of some cosmic catastrophe. When dire forecasts do not develop as warned, we all give an appreciative "whew." Standing next to a weather map are not journalists, these people are part of the station's promotion team. Weather is not REPORTED, it is hyped. Therefore the more ominous the forecast, the better audience numbers are. At least that is the thought-process instilled by the ever-present broadcast consultants. Locally, these consultants decided that the only real quality journalist broadcasting news in the Milwaukee market, Mike Gousha, had to go so a more malleable-for-profit cast could replace him. Look at what has happened to that TV station's ratings. And their amazingly emotional weather predictions have lost any sense of proportion or integrity. But they are not alone.
As the great Roman Empire wound down and collapsed, it could look back on its great cultural contributions to the world and its powerful military. Finally, all it really had was a military. Fast forward to current America...
The U.S. has had a few cultural moments in the sun, but has proudly strutted its economic and military power. What's left now? Even as we hold onto the world's most powerful military functions, these are tied down in the midst of a backward area of the world where the military might of terrorists with hand grenades and rifles make a mockery of our "might." And our greed-capitalism has fallen on its face begging for a socialist-like government life preserver. America's moment in the sun has not been long-lived, has it? Or has it?
The Journal Sentinel the other day, proved my point of a liberal tax-and-spend bias that is taking over the media today. Of course, I'm not due all the credit, this is been widely known for years now. However, when it is so blatant, it almost makes people sick.
There was a front-page story wonderfully spun about how raising taxes on hospitals is going to benefit so many people. This type of propaganda cannot possibly have a bad side. Or so were led to believe. With the huge budget deficit, we are once again going to be propagandized to death (or rather to debt) about what a good thing it would be if taxes were only higher in this state. Jim Doyle to responsibly let state spending explode in this state in the past couple of years having absolutely no forethought that tough times lay ahead. There were no rainy days ever in the forecast while he expanded bureaucracies and spent like never before believing he could only receive admiration while the state's financial future slid into uncertainty. Of course, who would object because he was only helping the children.