Saturday, May 30, 2009

Toronto's Welcome Wagon

Canadians gave an appropriate welcome to George Bush in Toronto....

Every country BUT the U.S. seems to do such a better job of giving Bush a "proper" reception.
Good job Toronto! We could learn something from our neighbors to the north-- Eh?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Taking it in the shorts

Think this post is about my 401k retirement fund statement?

Well... it kind of is- except it is literally about panties & underwear & the economy.

MSN Money reports:

If you're put off buying replacements -- and your significant other hasn't done it for you -- then guess what? The recession probably ain't over yet.
In fact, right now men's underwear sales suggest that things have bottomed but not started to recover.
Sure, this sounds trivial. But no less an economist than former Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan is a fan of men's underwear sales as an important economic indicator.

Who'd a thunk whiz bang economists were keeping an eye on "Fruit of the Loom"  & "Hanes" sales as important economic indicators? Although most folks I know have said they did indeed take it in the shorts on their 401k's, losing as much as 1/3 to almost of 1/2 of their total retirement savings -or more, thanks to any number of companies that went belly up  in bankruptcy & Wall Street blunders. 

So if you want to help the economy..... buy more panties & whitey tighties, stock up on those boxers & briefs.... preferably, Made in the USA! Maybe we can keep one industry up & running? 
America!! Cover your ass!

Thursday, May 28, 2009


It's not looking good for General Motors.
The bondholders rejected an offer of $324 for every $1000 they were owed. 
However, if  (when?) GM does go into bankruptcy, the source said that Treasury believes the bondholders would likely get even less than what was offered.
"In any kind of liquidation scenario, they would get nothing or something unbelievably small," said the source.

It's really too bad  GM, a company that has been in business since 1908- 101 years is on the brink of bankruptcy. 

I came across this tidbit in wiki:

"General Motors is the best selling foreign auto maker in China. The Buick brand is especially strong, led by the Buick Excelle subcompact. Cadillac initiated sales in China in 2004, starting with imports from the United States. GM pushed the marketing of the Chevrolet brand in China in 2005 as well, moving the former Buick Sail to that marque. The company manufactures most of its China-market vehicles locally, through its Shanghai GM joint venture. Shanghai GM, a joint venture between the Chinese company SAIC and General Motors, was created on March 25, 1997. The Shanghai GM plant was opened December 15, 1998, when the first Chinese-built Buick came off the assembly line. The SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile joint-venture is also successful selling trucks and vans under the Wuling marque (34% belongs to GM).
GM plans to create a research facility in Shanghai for $250m to develop hybrid cars and alternative energy vehicles. This move has been criticized because it pushes outsourcing to the very limit."

We have seen the Airlines go into bankruptcy & recover- i.e. still in business, but I don't know if GM/USA can recover. I don"t know if those Federal Treasury "loan" monies will ever be seen again. Chrysler's bankruptcy reorganization seems to be going well, but that may be a false indicator. So many dealerships were shut down & they must sell off their inventory. If consumers think they can get a hot deal on a new car, they will buy. But GM is more complex. Neither of them have it together on the "green technology" aspect, and in order to get bailout money, GMAC (the lending wing of GM, dealing not only in cars, but mortgages as well), was declared a "bank". The whole GM & GMAC package is much more complex than Chrysler. Things are heating up with General Motors... 

On one hand so many jobs were on the line for the auto industry to fail would have a huge impact, and I really did not want to see the worker bees take the financial hit. 

Kind of a magic act....

GM is now working on pulling some kind financial rabbit out of the hat trick. 
In order for us to understand it, they have broken it down like this:
Old GM/New GM Good GM/Bad GM. The bondholders have until Saturday to approve or reject the plan. If they reject it, Old GM basically goes out of business. 

Dead On Arrival??? 
About 20% of the bonds are held by small investors who probably do not have a chance to reply by the deadline. GM had previously said it needs approval from 90% of these creditors in order for any offer to take effect.
GM faces a June 1 deadline to make $1 billion in interest payments to its bondholders, money the company says it does not have.

Old GM: The old GM would also technically receive the right to buy the 15% stake in the new company that emerges from bankruptcy.

New GM: The assets of GM that would remain in bankruptcy would receive a 10% stake in a "new GM" that would be used to pay bondholders. Workers get a piece of the pie ~ A trust fund run by the United Auto Workers union would also have a 17.5% stake in the new GM.

Good GM: As part of such a filing, GM would emerge with only its more profitable plants, brands, dealerships and contracts.  

Bad GM:GM's unprofitable plants, contracts and other liabilities that the company can no longer afford would be left behind in bankruptcy court. Buh bye Saturn, Pontiac, Hummer. Saab, Opel,

I'm adding Two more categories--

Screw the Taxpayers GMThe filing also disclosed that GM will not repay the loans it has already received from the government or any additional federal aid it will get as part of the bankruptcy. When all is said and done, total assistance to GM is expected to reach nearly $40 billion.

High Stakes GMInstead, the government will convert that debt into a 72.5% stake in the new company. This means that for taxpayers to make back any of the money loaned to GM, it will have to be because shares of the new GM increase in value following an exit from bankruptcy.

* Various CNN news articles were used for the reference info. 

But GM had made a series of bad choices.... from literally destroying their lead in the Electric car market, to being top heavy in gas guzzling SUV's when gas was the most expensive ever. I worked in the finance wing of GMAC for 4 years. Their whole focus was making money for the Shareholders. I watched then systematically pull the plug on Union staffed (financial) field offices, one by one, until they finally even shut the doors on the non-union Customer Service people, moving that part of the business to *India* a few years ago. So when I see their "rally around America" commercials, I am soured on their false patriotism. They as a corporation did not rally around America as they shipped jobs to whatever cheap outsource out of America,  they could find. 

If we use a car wreck as an analogy, GM is in the ditch. I'm not sure the jaws of life can save them in time. 

The CDC ~ Takin' it easy

I went to check the Center for Disease Control updated Swine flu stats (yes scientists did in fact discover/confirm the virus IS related to actual Swine).

I checked the chart on Tuesday, and it still had the numbers from Monday posted.

Had they taken a little vacation?

Budget cuts?

I thought this was a serious issue!

Then I saw new verbiage they had added, just above the chart "(Updated Mon, Wed, and Fri)"

Previously, they had been updating EVERY day, including weekends- although they were very slow in posting updates.

If this is a test of our ability to handle a pandemic, the CDC updates get a low mark.
Why do we have just one official testing lab location? That slows down the whole process of updating. The more people that were sick & the more samples sent in, the slower they got.

What does not make sense to me is that we now have 15 deaths in the U.S. from Swine flu, & 8,975 cases - officially confirmed.
We really should have daily updates, this being the information age & all.
If there were a sudden rise in deaths from this disease in your state, wouldn't you want to know sooner?

It is not that difficult to update a simple spreadsheet chart. Jeez!

Right now, Texas, Wisconsin & Illinois have the highest number of cases.
Texas, New York & Arizona have the most deaths from the virus.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We all scream for Ice Cream

It is that time of year again, when the weather is warm & ice cream particularly hits the spot. Do you remember those days as a kid when you can hear the Ice Cream truck music in the distance? It was this gut level panic, to stop everything & run to your parents & beg for money. Please can I have some? I would even compile a list of good deeds or chores I'd done in my head, to recite quickly & make my case. Hurry! The truck is coming NOW!!! Sometimes they were slow to respond, so then you really had to hustle to chase down the truck. Do you remember having those agonizing moments, trying to choose one item from the ice cream menu posted on the side of the truck?

Sometimes you knew exactly what you wanted, other times the choice between a Creamsicle, and Good Humor chocolate layered thing, or the multicolored "bullet" was more than you could handle. There you stood, holding up the line, trying to work within your ice cream budget, and make the right choice.

Then kids would just plop down anywhere and savor the delectable sweet, cool delicacy. For that brief moment, all was well with the world. A delicious interlude in a quintessential summer experience, you could literally eat up.

I think I sampled most of the different offerings over the years, perhaps the ice cream truck is to blame for my love of the stuff. It is NOT what the Doctor ordered. They now do have decent variations-- quality soft serve frozen yogurt, and different sorbets. As a kid I had narrowed it down to Chocolate Chip mint ice cream as being my absolute favorite. Now they even make it without the coloring & of high quality stuff.

Pacific NW singer songwriter Laura Love wrote a song about how she wishes life would be--

"bills that pay themselves, and a Haagan Daz that helps reduce"

If only there were such a thing as really rich creamy ice cream that helps you lose weight!

Oh I know about Skinny Cow, etc.... and there are decent alternatives... but the real thing.... Mmmmm.

Any happy ice cream memories you have?

Did you chase down the Ice Cream truck as a kid?

What is your favorite flavor?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

Here it is~ Sheehan's no holds barred thoughts on Memorial Day

Sunday, May 24th, 2009
Day of the Dead Cindy Sheehan

Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox

I was on an airplane flying to Orange County from Sacramento to attend the al-Awda Conference; which is a Palestinian Right's Conference. Al-Awda translates to "The Returning, " when the Pilot voice filled the cabin to make an announcement that I think went unnoticed by most of my fellow passengers, but I heard it.

As the plane was on the approach to John Wayne airport, the Captain came on the intercom to remind us all to "remember our brave troops who have died for our freedom." Even in this post 9-11 paranoid paradigm, if I wasn't belted in for landing, I would have popped out of my seat at 13D and charged up to the cockpit to let the pilot know that my son was killed in Iraq and not one person anywhere in this world is one iota more free because he is dead.

As a matter of fact, the people of Iraq, the foreign country thousands of miles away where my oldest child's brains, blood, and life seeped into the soil, are not freer, unless one counts being liberated from life, liberty and property being free. If you consider torture and indefinite detention freedom, then the Pilot may have been right, but then again, even if you do consider those crimes freedom, it does not make it so.

Here in America we are definitely not freer because my son died, as a matter of fact, our nation can spy on us and our communications without a warrant or just cause and we can't even bring a 3.6 ounce bottle of hand cream into an airport or walk through a METAL detector with our shoes on. Even if we do want to exercise our Bill of Rights, we are shoved into pre-designated "free speech" (NewSpeak for; STFU, unless you are well out of the way of what you want to protest and shoved into pens like cattle being led to slaughter) zones and oftentimes brutally treated if you decide you are entitled to "free speech" on every inch of American soil.

If you watch any one of the cable news networks this weekend between doing holiday weekend things, you will be subjected to images of row upon row of white headstones of dead US military lined up in perfect formation in the afterlife as they were in life. Patriotic music will swell and we will be reminded in script font to "Remember our heroes," or some such BS as that.

Before Casey was killed, a message like that would barely register in my consciousness as I rushed around preparing for Casey's birthday bar-be-que that became a family tradition since he was born on Memorial Day in 1979. If I had a vision of how Memorial Day and Casey's birthday would change for my family, I would have fled these violent shores to protect what was mine, not this murderous country's. Be my guest, look at those headstones with pride or indifference. I look at them, now with horror, regret, pain and a longing for justice.

I can guarantee what you won't see this holiday weekend are images of the over one million Iraqi dead. Say we assign, in an arbitrary way for purely illustrative purposes, an average height of 5 feet for every person killed in Iraq and then lined those people up from head to toe. That gruesome line would stretch from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon…950 driving miles up Interstate 5. If we count the Iraqis who have been forced to flee, we would have to go back and forth between L.A. and Portland another four times.

There are obscene amounts of people who have been slaughtered for the US Profit Driven Military Empire who do not count here in America on any day. People in Vietnam are still dying from the toxins dumped on their country by the US, not to mention the millions who died during that war. Let the carnage escalate in Afghanistan while we protect our personal images by turning a blind eye to Obama's war crimes. Are you going to feel a lump of pride in your bosom when the coffins start to be photographed at Dover for this imperial crime of aggression? Will you look at those flag-draped boxes of the lifeless body of some mother's child and think: "Now, I am free." Is it better to be dead when Obama is president?

A tough, but real, aspect of this all to consider is, how many of the soldiers buried in coffins in military cemeteries killed or tortured innocent people as paid goons for Empire? To me, it is deeply and profoundly sad on so many levels. If I have any consolation through all of this, I learned that my son bravely refused to go on the mission that killed him, but he was literally dragged onto the vehicle and was dead minutes later before he was forced to do something that was against his nature and nurture.

Casey will always be my hero but he was a victim of US Imperialism and his death should bring shame, not pride, as it did not bring freedom to anyone. I will, of course, mourn his senseless death on Memorial Day as I do everyday.

However, we do not need another day here in America to glorify war which enables the Military Industrial Complex to commit its crimes under the black cloak of "Patriotism."

From Palestine to Africa to South America, our quest for global economic domination kills, sickens, maims or oppresses people on a daily basis and about 25,000 children per day die of starvation. I am not okay with these facts and I am not proud of my country.

I will spend my reflective time on MD to mourn not only the deaths of so many people all over the world due to war, but mourn the fact that they are the unseen and uncared for victims of US Empire.


Here's the thing ~ Cindy Sheehan has walked that walk. Her family has made the ultimate sacrifice, so Cindy does not sugar coat this issue. She is not subscribing to any party line, or double speak, or any political tap dancing.
I know some military families are not in agreement with her perspective.
I have to admire her tenacity-- the camp out by Bush's Crawford ranch.
Her relentless insistence to have the question answered- What IS the noble cause? When Bush spouted off that soldiers have died for a noble cause.
She was not buying his lies, and she has a zero tolerance for any more lies, or wars of choice.
I happen to appreciate entirely honest statements, so as biting and cold /hard factual as it is- her question:

Is it better to be dead when Obama is president?

Is painfully truthful

War is hell. Having your loved one killed in war is a serious and personal matter.
Thank you Cindy, for your complete honesty.

Memorial Day Thoughts ~ Veterans for Peace

The following is a quote from Veterans for Peace Ntl. vice President, Leah Bolger

"When Barack Obama was still running for president, he frequently touted his "no" vote on the Iraq war as an indicator that he was the "peace" candidate. He said that if he were elected president, he would exhaust every diplomatic path before he would turn to the last resort of military force.
Yet his surge of force in Afghanistan didn't come as a surprise to anyone; indeed he spoke about refocusing U.S. efforts there as we drew down from Iraq. Now, Congress approved $91 billion requested by President Obama for continued military operations in Afghanistan.
So how does Obama reconcile his peace persona with his aggressive military policy on Afghanistan? Answer: By portraying it as the "good" war - the "just" war. By continuing to foster the fear of Americans and justify the fatalities of non-Americans as a necessary cost of keeping us safe.
The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan is no more "just" than that of Iraq. Our unmanned drones and aerial bombardments invoke terror in all of the population, not just the "bad guys".
It is immoral to write off the civilian fatalities as an inherent cost of war. It is wrong to say "It's worth it." That's not our call. "

Ms. Bolger stated so well the thoughts I have about the current military situation. 
Where's the Diplomacy that was promised?
Drone planes in Pakistan can not sort out the innocent from the Insurgents. 
The most important question I want answered is when will it end?
How can we justify spending more billions on wars of choice when our country is essentially bankrupt?
What about moral bankruptcy?
How long can we use the excuse of avenging 9-11 to continue to have wars?
What would constitute a "win"?

Our local progressive Eugene Weekly paper posted this notice:

• The war in Afghanistan/Pakistan is heating up, so in our “War Dead” box we are adding statistics from Afghanistan, including U.S. dead, injured and the cost in dollars to taxpayers. The total costs of war cannot be calculated in a box, of course. War costs have to include long-term human suffering in its myriad forms, the destruction of social and political systems, environmental and infrastructure degradation and economic damage from squandered resources and war profiteering.

The paper posts a weekly update on the stats from the Iraq war, and have now added the Afghanistan war info.
There has been so much focus on the Iraq occupation, we hear very little info on the stats of the 8 years we've already spent in Afghanistan.

A sampling of their *just the facts* weekly post:


Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq began on March 20, 2003 (last week’s numbers in parentheses):

In Iraq

• 4,296 U.S. troops killed* (4,292)

• 31,256 U.S. troops injured* (31,245) 

• 182 U.S. military suicides* (182)

• 1,123 U.S. contractors killed (accurate updates NA)

• 100,361 to 1.2 million civilians killed*** (100,339)

• $670.7 billion cost of war ($667.9 billion) 

• $190.6 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($189.9 million)

In Afganistan

• 685 U.S. troops killed* (682)

• 2,828 U.S. troops injured* (2,820)

• $188.2 billion cost of war ($187.7 million)

• $53.3 million cost to Eugene taxpayers ($53.3 million)

* through May 18, 2009; source:; some figures only updated monthly
** sources:,
*** highest estimate; source:; based on confirmed media reports; other groups calculate civilian deaths as high as 655,000 (Lancet survey, 2006) to 1.1 million (Opinion Research Business survey, 2008)


I for one greatly appreciate them keeping this information in the public eye. No analysis, opinion or comment, just the statistics.

In case you missed this video montage made by Veteran for Peace, Gordon Sturrock, check it out--

My Veterans for Peace friend, Gordon Sturrock put together this montage~ in his words:

"A farewell to the 162nd Infantry of the 2nd Battalion. Created from video
footage filmed at the Mobilization Ceremony on May 4, 2009 at the Lane
Country Fairgrounds in Eugene, woven into an audio and video "tapestry of
contrast" by fellow vets who are deeply concerned for all the souls who
will ultimately be touched by this deployment."

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Singin' the Blues....

Foreclosure Then~ Credit Crunch Song

Sub Prime Mortgage Blues

What a Ceiling!

Housing Bubble

Sunday Music

Richie Havens~ Freedom/Motherless Child ~ Woodstock

Friday, May 22, 2009

Parade of Douchebags ~ Our Government in action

In another douchebag move Alaska, Guvnah Sarah Palin turned  down $28 million in Federal money because it was specifically for energy efficiency in homes/construction.  Sarah P did take $900 million in Stimulus money, but although Alaska has some of the largest energy consumption (home heating), Sarah did not want people to have to build energy efficient homes. She thinks that should be a locally made decision. 
How DID Alaska wind up with such an environmentally hostile Guvnah anyway???

Friend of Dick, Joe Lieberman stepped up to display his douchebag politics:
In the end, several amendments were added, including one by Sens. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., to block the release under the Freedom of Information Act of government photographs showing the abuse of detainees. The administration is fighting the American Civil Liberties Union in federal court over the release of the photos, and the move was intended to bolster the government's legal position. (HuffPo)
Independent Joe, apparently can't handle the truth. Don't let them see what this country has done.... and in classic douche style-- he adds it to a war SPENDING bill. Nice touch, Joe.

In the hallowed halls of Congress, the Senate approved an additional $91.3 billion for...... more wars!
"The Senate voted 86-3 to pass the bill, which provides money for military and diplomatic operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Diplomatic operations? Please.
So next time I get an e mail from the Obama campaign saying join the President in the fight to get a  health care program, that includes the "DONATE" request, I will send him a response, reminding him of the $176.3 billion they have already spent on wars under the Obama administration. If Obama is calling for it & asking for war funding & escalation, then these are HIS wars now. He could have chosen to go with diplomacy, and get troops out of Iraq & wind down in Afghanistan. 

Not to be outdone by the Senate, -- The House version adds $11.8 billion to Obama's request, including almost $4 billion for new weapons and military equipment The House measure also adds $2.2 billion to Obama's request for foreign aid, much of which appears to be designed to get around spending limits for 2010.

All those billions for wars of choice, Congress steps up and ADDS more billions to the war spending spree.
It's like Christmas in May for the Pentagon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Tunes~ Vintage Tuneage

I'm gonna blame it on Dcap-- he did a post about 60's music & got me started!

Heard it Through the Grapevine

Somebody to Love~ Jefferson Airplane

When the truth is found to be lies.....
Grace Slick sure can belt out a song!

96 Tears

Time of the Season~ The Zombies
Sorry this was the only original version I could find...."record quality" recording.

I am chomping at the bit for the upcoming extended weekend. 
Hurry up Friday quittin' time!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Asleep at the Wheel

CNN Money Reports: The Obama administration on Tuesday is set to propose stricter fuel economy standards in an effort to cut down vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. The plan will require passenger cars and light trucks to get an overall average of 35.5 miles per gallon by 2016, according to a senior administration official with knowledge of the plan. By that year, cars will be expected to average about 39 mpg and 30 mpg for trucks.

Current fuel economy standards are 27.5 mpg for cars and 23.1 mpg for trucks.

The Obama plan would accelerate by four years new fuel economy standards passed by Congress at the end of 2007.

Fuel economy will be increased gradually beginning in 2012 and continuing through 2016. The administration predicts the changes will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil by 2016. That's roughly what the country goes through in about 86 days, according to numbers from the Energy Information Administration.

Although this is a step in the right direction- the Bush admin was going to wait a full decade before dealing with mpg fuel efficiency, 2016 is 7 YEARS away. Considering how far behind the U.S. already is, seven more years of heavy exhaust seems like not soon enough. The technology is already out there, and has been for a long time. I still see new car write ups in the Saturday paper with vehicles getting 13 miles to the gallon. Brand new cars- sedans! In the 21st century!
As far as I am concerned 7 years is too long. I can only hope consumers vote with their dollars. Just like Chrysler & GM are learning the hard lessons of failing to keep up- by not having any hybrids, and dropping the electric car, the people can step up and not buy these guzzler gas hog vehicles. The government may be OK with waiting another 7 years, but We the People have better choices now.

We can wait 7 years for U.S. automakers to "ugrade" to 35.5 MPG -- or we can buy a 2010 Toyota Prius that offers the following:

• 50 MPG
• Solar Roof

From eco geek: The car is bigger, more spacious, has better acceleration and actually improves mileage number significantly. This new Prius is the most efficient production car in America OF ANY SIZE. If Honda was still making the original Insight, yes, that would beat it, but the 2010 Prius truly will be the most advanced and most efficient car on the road.

New to the car, aside from all of the various innovations that made it's tremendous mileage numbers possible, is a solar sun roof, which will keep the vehicle cool on hot days, eliminating the need for huge bursts of AC, and thus strain on the battery.

In summary, the U.S. is in the slow lane with some kind of Mr. Magoo "vision" for fuel efficiency.
There should not be any confusion about why U.S. automakers are struggling....
as Toyota's 21st Century eco friendly designs pass by in the fast lane, sipping 50 miles to the gallon. 
It will be interesting to see how much better fuel efficiency or all electric vehicles Toyota will be offering in the 7  years the US takes to get to 35.5 MPG. 
Or IF the big three auto makers are still around in 7 years. 




Coffee Strong is a GI coffee house located just outside the gates of Fort Lewis at exit 122. We are here to support soldiers and their families with the issues that arise from military service.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Montage & an Oregon Ntl. Guard Campaign

My Veteran's for Peace friend, Gordon Sturrock put together this montage~ in his words:

"A farewell to the 162nd Infantry of the 2nd Battalion. Created from video
footage filmed at the Mobilization Ceremony on May 4, 2009 at the Lane
Country Fairgrounds in Eugene, woven into an audio and video "tapestry of
contrast" by fellow vets who are deeply concerned for all the souls who
will ultimately be touched by this deployment."

The Oregon National Guard is being deployed- again- to Iraq. 


 founder- Veterans Against Torture

member: Vietnam Veterans Against the War, Veterans For Peace

(His posted tag line quote)

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, 
but because of those who look on and do nothing" Albert Einstein 

This is as good a segway as any to talk a little about the Campaign ...

The federal government intends to send 3500 members of the Oregon National Guard to Iraq in Summer 2009. Many will not return or will return with physical or psychic trauma. Moreover, taking the guard and all their equipment out of Oregon causes serious hardship at home and leaves the state unprepared for disasters. The Oregon legislature has the power to prevent or delay the Federal Government from sending our guard abroad.

Current federalization of the Oregon National Guard is based on authorizations for the use of military force against Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2002) that are either too broad, too open ended, or are no longer valid. The Iraq authorization, for example, is based on Iraq possessing weapons of mass destruction and a sponsor of international terrorism. Conditions which were not and are not true. The US and Oregon Constitutions do not support unending and unlimited federalization.

The Oregon Legislature has the power to declare that the Oregon National Guard may be deployed only if Congress passes a current and valid authorization for the use of military force.

As part of a call-up of 8000 Guard troops to Iraq and Afghanistan, 3500 Oregon National Guard troops are being sent to Iraq in the summer of 2009. Various other Guard members have been and are being sent to Afghanistan. Nearly all of Oregon's Blackhawk helicopters are slated to be shipped to Iraq in January, 2009. This will leave Oregon with limited ability to fight fires, conduct search and rescue, and be prepared for natural disasters.
Furthermore, the use of National Guard troops overseas is greatly limited by the U.S. and Oregon Constitutions, and the military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted over five and 7 years, respectively. Unless states begin to address the open-ended nature of the Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs), our Guard could be deployed indefinitely.

If nothing else, this campaign will act to educate the public and our elected officials about the United States making open-ended commitments in these conflicts.

Read more about the Campaign to keep Oregon's Ntl Guard in Oregon

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Slide into Sunday~

The Folk Festival is happening in town ~ a little slide guitar for Sunday. Enjoy!

About the latest government offerings~

I swear, it is like a really bad soap opera.
Nancy P says the CIA lied.
The CIA says Nancy P is lying.
The GOP wants Pelosi investigated!
Cheney is pointing the finger at Bush.

Tune in next week- if you can stand it!

Walker T. Ryan ~ Liar Liar

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Your Warranty is about to Expire!!!!

I don't know about you, but we were absolutely bombarded with this robo call scam. The call had a pre recorded message "Your Car Warranty is about to Expire!!!!", sometimes it even said "this will be your final notice"-- and as we screened the calls, found ourselves yelling back- PLEASE! MAKE THIS BE THE LAST CALL!!!
We have elderly relatives in & out of hospitals who have serious health issues, so we do tend to pick up, if not close enough to view the caller ID on the phone in the other room.

This was a relentless marketing scam, AND we are on the no call list.

Turns out the FTC is going after these bastards.
Not only was it fraudulent to pose as someone associated with a warranty you may have, but they were calling people on the Do Not Call lists.

The Federal Trade Commission said the telemarketing campaign was one of the most aggressive it had ever encountered, with as many as 1.8 million calls placed daily. The companies evidently dialed every number in a given area code, including many numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry.

The seller took in more than $10 million as a result of the calls, as well as related mailings, according to the commission.

I liked it better when Oregon State managed their own Do Not Call Registry-- they were very aggressive about going after violations & had bite-- they acted quickly & imposed hefty fines.

I sure do hope this puts the Kabosh on other companies thinking of similar telemarketing schemes.

It's a happy ending to Hang Up on this story!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Runs good, needs work

The automakers are limping along, as they chug & chortle their way to the "finish line" of bankruptcy.
GM is dropping 1,100 dealerships, and Chrysler is closing 789. I don't know exactly how many jobs lost that will equate to, as the true domino effect kicks in to full force. Those workers lose their jobs, so they don't frequent local businesses, causing them to go under, the loss of health insurance, potential foreclosures, stress related extremes.
Some dealers will fight the move, but if they are already experiencing a 40% slow down of sales, and barely keeping afloat, it seems if they won that battle, they would lose the war anyway.
Just like the RV industry faded, it was not a matter of them making a good product ( although one could argue GM tried to make cars on the cheap in order to appease the shareholders profit margin, while ignoring consumer demand & making a product that could parallel the long term quality & reliability of Toyota or Honda).

It's the economy!
As we see gas prices creeping back up, people are paying attention the the MPG on cars. The big three can make whiz bang cars with the best innovative engineering available-- but in a faltering economy-- a depression, those packing it out in foreclosures are not headed to the new car lot. Even if they wanted or needed a new car (if just to be their news residence), jobless people do not get approved for loans.

The perfect storm
Tanking economy. Through the roof gas prices. The competition putting out Hybrids and better MPG & quality cars.
GM was top heavy with SUV's when the fuel prices hit over $4 bucks a gallon.

Squandering the resources
I don't know how GM managed to lose money on what should have been a lucrative war profiteering contract- providing Hummers for the military, 6 years of war in Iraq & 8 in Afghanistan- but they did.
Very few people actually need that kind of vehicle in the US, and the gas mileage would make you cringe.
I don;t know how they lost money in that endeavor, but they did & now the brand is slated to be cut from the line up.
Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer & Saab. Oldsmobile is already gone.

Stop the flow
Basic first aid requires stopping the flow from an arterial bleed. We can make the analogy... GM is hemoraghing money. It spent more than it took in-- including a chunk of change on Lobbying, and launching a lame commercial ad, encouraging us to "put on our rally caps", to pull together & save the corporation. The only thing I can rally about is to tell the Federal Government to not give one more dime in bailout money if GM is inevitably headed fro bankruptcy anyway. $15 billion taxpayers money was enough of an infusion. Let's not pour any more cash - cash we don't have, down that dark hole.
Because in the end, why is this corporation more deserving of a bailout than any other struggling business?
Let's get real about what just happened- Chrysler wrote off the $7.2 billion dollar loan from the federal treasury in their bankruptcy. GM was already given twice that amount. I'm no financial wizard- but it's easy to see the writing on the wall here.
GM already had double the bailout money or "loan", and frankly, we'd better keep the funds to cover all the unemployment claims. Throwing $22.2 billion at the auto industries as a lifesaver did not yield the rescue result we'd hoped for.
Send the patient to bankruptcy surgery. Bandaids will not do in this circumstance.

It is sad to see this happen, and I hope those companies can reorganize & reemerge lean & mean & focused on what people want & need. Quality affordable cars with excellent alternatives to gas.

Chrysler & GM~ start your engines, and buckle up, this is a rough road ahead.

"non-combat related incident"

Two Doctors were among the 5 soldiers shot & killed at the Counseling Center at Camp LIberty, Baghdad.
The five soldiers were shot & killed by fellow soldier, 44-year-old Sgt. John M. Russell, who was serving his 3rd tour of duty in Iraq.

NY Daily News reports:
'Sources said Russell had his weapon taken away from him early Monday and was sent to the Combat Stress Control Center at Camp Liberty, one of the largest U.S. bases in Iraq.
Sources told the Army Times Russell was escorted to the clinic, where he argued with the staff and was asked to leave.
"At some point during the drive (back to his unit), the soldier got control of his escort's weapon and ordered the escort out of the vehicle. The soldier then drove back to the clinic, walked in and began shooting," the source said.
President Obama said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the shootings.
Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the tragedy highlights the need for more help in dealing with multiple deployments.
Russell had been deployed to Iraq three times and was just weeks from returning home, officials said. He's also served in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Combat stress has been a growing issue for military leaders as years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan take their toll on soldiers, many of whom have been deployed three, four, or even five times.
Suicides in the Army have been on the rise. Nearly 150 soldiers took their lives last year, the highest figure since the wars began."

I was looking at Iraq war statistics and came across this "update"- documenting five incidents, "died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident."

05/13/09 DoD Identifies Navy Casualties (5 of 5)
Navy Cmdr. Charles Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C. He was assigned to the 55th Medical Company, Indianapolis, Ind...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

05/13/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (4 of 5)
Pfc. Michael E. Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

05/13/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (3 of 5)
Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo. He was assigned to the 277th Engineer Company, 420th Engineer Brigade, Waco, Texas...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

05/13/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (2 of 5)
Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

05/13/09 DoD Identifies Army Casualties (1 of 5)
Maj. Matthew P. Houseal, 54, of Amarillo, Texas. He was assigned to the 55th Medical Company, Indianapolis, Ind...died May 11 in Camp Liberty, Baghdad of wounds suffered in a non-combat related incident.

I know the military statisticians have to categorize the fatalities as prescribed by the military, but clearly PTSD- or post traumatic stress disorder IS combat related, and so were these incidents.

Soldiers being deployed to Iraq for FIVE tours of duty?

Earlier this year, Robert Gates said they would phase out the Stop loss or "back door draft", requiring soldiers to continue to serve long after their contracts had expired.

There are now 5 more Gold Star families, 6 really, because a part of Sgt. John M. Russell, died too.

The military has had it's head in the sand about PTSD for decades. Tragic that it has come to this.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Listen to the music play ~

Got Rolling Stones???

Rolling Stones~ Gimmie Shelter


Hey Blog pals.... life is kind of overwhelming- between work & all the stuff hitting the fan....
If **I** were in charge, I would just fast forward to the independent counsel prosecution of the torturer's.
Make Beauty Queens with ugly prejudice be relinquished to *junk news tabloid* realms. She does not deserve the press she is getting.
A Hagan Das (ice cream) that helps reduce.....

I will throw in one overheard joke related to that "story"--
Jay Leno:

Only Trump can get away with calling himself "The Donald"
It does not work for Colin Powell (The Colin?)
Or Dick Cheney--(The Dick!) Hmm! It DOES apply to HIM!

Better I just stick to the music for now.
I am a Gray's Anatomy fan.... tonight is the big season finale.
Nice twist on last week's wedding episode. Eh?
Did not see that one coming!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Wednesday tune

Three Dog Night ~ Momma told me not to come...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ask! Tell!

Time to cut through the bureaucratic red tape of discrimination!

The following is a letter from Lt Daniel Choi
Open Letter to President Obama and Every Member of Congress:

I have learned many lessons in the ten years since I first raised my right hand at the United States Military Academy at West Point and committed to fighting for my country. The lessons of courage, integrity, honesty and selfless service are some of the most important.

At West Point, I recited the Cadet Prayer every Sunday. It taught us to “choose the harder right over the easier wrong” and to “never be content with a half truth when the whole can be won.” The Cadet Honor Code demanded truthfulness and honesty. It imposed a zero-tolerance policy against deception, or hiding behind comfort.

Following the Honor Code never bowed to comfortable timing or popularity. Honor and integrity are 24-hour values. That is why I refuse to lie about my identity.

I have personally served for a decade under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: an immoral law and policy that forces American soldiers to deceive and lie about their sexual orientation. Worse, it forces others to tolerate deception and lying. These values are completely opposed to anything I learned at West Point. Deception and lies poison a unit and cripple a fighting force.

As an infantry officer, an Iraq combat veteran and a West Point graduate with a degree in Arabic, I refuse to lie to my commanders. I refuse to lie to my peers. I refuse to lie to my subordinates. I demand honesty and courage from my soldiers. They should demand the same from me.

I am committed to applying the leadership lessons I learned at West Point. With 60 other LGBT West Point graduates, I helped form our organization, Knights Out, to fight for the repeal of this discriminatory law and educate cadets and soldiers after the repeal occurs. When I receive emails from deployed soldiers and veterans who feel isolated, alone, and even suicidal because the torment of rejection and discrimination, I remember my leadership training: soldiers cannot feel alone, especially in combat. Leaders must reach out. They can never diminish the fighting spirit of a soldier by tolerating discrimination and isolation. Leaders respect the honor of service. Respecting each soldier’s service is my personal promise.

The Department of the Army sent a letter discharging me on April 23rd. I will not lie to you; the letter is a slap in the face. It is a slap in the face to me. It is a slap in the face to my soldiers, peers and leaders who have demonstrated that an infantry unit can be professional enough to accept diversity, to accept capable leaders, to accept skilled soldiers.

My subordinates know I’m gay. They don’t care. They are professional.

Further, they are respectable infantrymen who work as a team. Many told me that they respect me even more because I trusted them enough to let them know the truth. Trust is the foundation of unit cohesion.

After I publicly announced that I am gay, I reported for training and led rifle marksmanship. I ordered hundreds of soldiers to fire live rounds and qualify on their weapons. I qualified on my own weapon. I showered after training and slept in an open bay with 40 other infantrymen. I cannot understand the claim that I “negatively affected good order and discipline in the New York Army National Guard.” I refuse to accept this statement as true.

As an infantry officer, I am not accustomed to begging. But I beg you today: Do not fire me. Do not fire me because my soldiers are more than a unit or a fighting force – we are a family and we support each other. We should not learn that honesty and courage leads to punishment and insult. Their professionalism should not be rewarded with losing their leader. I understand if you must fire me, but please do not discredit and insult my soldiers for their professionalism.

When I was commissioned I was told that I serve at the pleasure of the President. I hope I have not displeased anyone by my honesty. I love my job. I want to deploy and continue to serve with the unit I respect and admire. I want to continue to serve our country because of everything it stands for.

Please do not wait to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Please do not fire me.

Very Respectfully,

Daniel W. Choi
New York Army National Guard

He said it best in his own words.
A person has to be pretty dedicated to endure West Point with a degree in Arabic.
Has it come to this? A dedicated soldier having to *beg* to deploy & serve his country?

At some point the military recently opened up recruiting to felons and dropouts because recruiting was difficult. They had to offer large sums of money as enticements to get recruits to sign the dotted line.

The military would rather have felons than a highly intelligent dedicated soldier with specialized, vastly needed language skills, just because of his sexual orientation?

Just out of curiosity-- are they screening the sexual behavior of the felon & drop out recruits? I seriously doubt it.

This is the worst of discrimination..... dismissing an exemplary soldier because of nothing that has to do with his military service record- taking it a step further & ignoring his exemplary service and dedication?

Show us some of that Change we can Believe in!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Can you imagine?

The Obama date night- can you imagine how it must be to deal with all this hoopla just to go out to dinner?
A carload of armed gunmen. A parade/motorcade? Frankly, I could not live under a microscope this way.
It does seem they have established a "leave the kids alone" boundary, as they are not hounded by the press.
We see the occasional glance with the dog, or Easter egg public event.... but none of this intense press- making the first kids be under the microscope too. It must be strange enough having to live as the first family, and suddenly have a Secret Service entourage following you wherever you go as a kid, having a ravenous press nipping at your heels would be too much.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Laughter is good

The President makes a good stand up comedian


Friday, May 8, 2009

Bank Stress Test explained

General Motors is reporting a first-quarter loss of $6 billion. It also says it spent $10.2 billion more cash than it took in. The nation's biggest domestic automaker faces a June 1 government deadline to finish a restructuring plan or go into bankruptcy protection.
Any bets about GM heading straight to bankruptcy in June?
We already got chumped by Chrysler-- $7.2 billion "write off" in their bankruptcy of bailout money.

The government released results of stress tests given 19 of the nation's largest financial firms. The tests were to gauge whether the banks would need more capital to survive a deeper recession. Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Bank of America may need billions more.

Isn't that special???

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Dear Mr. President

They have a free preview of the book in the making titled "Dear Mr. President" ~ collection of kids letters & drawings for President Obama from all over the country.

Click here to get there!

Crazymaking News briefs

Hokey Pokey

Politicians are beginning to do the Hokey Pokey- taking their *right foot out* & putting the left foot in, like Arlen Specter.
While he's turning himself about (from republican to democrat- he may have danced himself dizzy, when he publicly spoke out in favor of Loser Norm Coleman (R), and voted with the GOP block on his first vote from the other side of the aisle, voting with the GOP, even though he'd just switched sides.

Now the dems are in favor of stripping him of his Senate Seniority & let him into the party as a freshman newbie.
Political games, Arlen, apparently, that's what it's all about!

See Condi Rice.
See Condi Rice speak with the children.
See the children give her hell about torture.
See Condi tap dance around the topic of torture.
Way to go kids!


Bristol Palin is the new Ambassador of Abstinence!

Do what she says- not what she does!

The Ambassador does not want to talk about her personal life.... making a baby, legal battles over custody, she just wants the world to know abstinence is the safest way to go!

So if unwed teen parent Palin is the Ambassador of Abstinence, what next?

George Bush will be the foremost authority on Constitutional Law???

Rim Shot!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

GOP Surviver


Bailing bailing

Kiss it goodbye. 
$7.2 billion dollars in taxpayer money for the Chrysler bailout~ gone. 

CNN reports:

"This revelation was buried within Chrysler's bankruptcy filings last week and confirmed by the Obama administration Tuesday. The filings included a list of business assumptions from one of the company's key financial advisors in the bankruptcy case.

Some of the main assumptions listed by Robert Manzo of Capstone Advisory Group were that the Treasury would forgive a $4 billion bridge loan given to Chrysler in the closing days of the Bush administration, a $300 million fee on that loan, and the $3.2 billion in financing approved last week by the Obama administration to fund Chrysler's operations during bankruptcy.

"The reality now is that the face value [of the $4 billion bridge loan] will be written off in the bankruptcy process," said the official, who added that the 8% equity stake that Treasury will be receiving as part of the company's reorganization is meant to compensate taxpayers for the lost money.

"While we do not expect a recovery of these funds, we are comfortable that in the totality of the arrangement, the Treasury and the American taxpayer are being fairly compensated," said the official.

The company filed for bankruptcy Thursday as part of a deal with the federal government, unions, some lenders and Italian automaker Fiat to keep the company from being shut down.

The Obama administration official said that other money being made available to Chrysler, such as the $4.7 billion that will go to the company as it exits bankruptcy, will be a loan that the government expects to be paid back. In addition, that loan will be secured by company assets, unlike the previous loans to Chrysler.

According to the filing, the company's financial advisor also foresees the need for an additional $1.5 billion loan from the Treasury Department by June 30, 2010.

Lori McTavish, a spokeswoman for Chrysler, said some of the assumptions made by the company have changed since its bankruptcy filing on April 30. But she could not say specifically if the company still hoped for the additional federal loan in 2010.

"The content of the document needs to speak for itself. We are simply not in a position to comment," she said."

Major banks and hedge funds that loaned Chrysler $6.9 billion were offered only $2.25 billion to settle those loans by Treasury. While major banks accepted the offer, hedge funds rejected it, forcing the company into bankruptcy.

He said the fact that Chrysler isn't paying what is owed should be a warning that the $15.4 billion loaned to General Motors by Treasury since December, as well as any bankruptcy financing it might need, is also at risk.

"Certainly there are red flags," he said." 

Certainly there ARE red flags. As for that Chrysler spokeswoman who is "not in a position to comment", well of course you are not in a position to comment. What are you going to say really? Suckers!  

Unlike the notorious bank robbers like Baby Face Nelson, John Dillinger, or the early twentieth century Willie Sutton, when asked why he robbed banks, he was famously reported as answering "Because that's where the money is."  Now in the 21st century, any one wanting to make a heist of large sums of money knows better than to go to a bank-- they are failing-- they go the the Government- they hit the Federal Reserve. 

Although they arrived in private jets, dressed in their fancy suits & ties, they came to ask for money. The people's money- and lots of it. Although there was much grandstanding, and the good argument that not only would the demise of the big three take down so many other businesses - dealers, mechanics, suppliers, etc, but the country would lose an entire industry. 

How powerful could a superpower be, if it could not even make it's own vehicles?

All good questions, but none of the fundamental questions were being asked, such as:

• What caused US carmakers to fail?

~ They totally missed the boat on Hybrids & fuel efficient vehicles at the time fuel soared to an all time high. 

• Why are the foreign car makers more successful?

~ They made a better product. Consumer reports, and resale values were generally better.  The vehicles had a much longer engine life. 

They made decent cars at affordable prices. 

• Even to this day, the new car write up section in the Saturday paper featured a Dodge truck that gets 13 miles to the gallon. 13 miles to the gallon in the 21st century? 

~ My 15 year old  Dodge vehicle gets 18 miles to the gallon. They are going backwards in terms of fuel efficiency. 

Dave Letterman discusses electric cars with Elon Musk, CEO of the Tesla electric car manufacturer.
Dave does not mice words...when he says GM's VOLT--getting 40 miles to the charge electric car as "crap".

The generation 2 EV1 electric cars GM made in 1996 could get 75 to 150 miles to the full overnight charge.
But the new Volt will get 40 mpg. & cost $35,000 or more.

These two US automakers are not so much victims of the economy, but more victims of going backwards.
Victims of not keeping up. Victims of thir own lack of vision to change with the times.
In GM's case, they failed to respond to consumer feedback. Even ex CEO Rick Wagoner said if he could turn back time, they would never have gotten rid of the EV1 electric vehicle.

He's right. If GM had a decent, affordable electric car when gas prices were at $4.50 per gallon, they would have had a hard time keeping those electric cars in stock. Kind of like the Toyota Prius.

So here are my recommended solutions:

No more bailout money.
Give generous rebates for people buying electric vehicles (like they did when the Hybrids first came out).
Let consumers get a break for buying "green"cars.
Help save the planet from toxic emissions, and let the company make their money with volume sales.
Reward the company that comes up with the most efficient & affordable vehicles with more generous rebates and tax break incentives.

Since General Motors does not seem to get it either, I'd be willing to say it is only a matter of time before GM is filing for bankruptcy too. Let's stop throwing billions in the garbage if a forced reorganization is what is really needed.

This should be a wake up call for Ford as well. Maybe they should team up with Tesla & literally, get electric cars on the road, en masse. Functional cars that get at least 100 miles to the charge.
The government needs to also make a change to new building codes that require an electrical hook up in garages, for future electric vehicles- as well as solar panels.

Let the automakers who are in tune with meeting consumer demand, and making not only reasonably priced vehicles, but of good quality. win.