Monday, December 26, 2011

The Perfect Evangelical Candidate for President

For Evangelical voters who are looking for a Presidential candidate who has strong family and Christian values - they needn't look any further than the White House. President and Mrs. Obama are a shining example of what the Christian right thinks families should be. Liberal voters know that families come in many different forms, including single parents and gay parents. For liberal voters - those families are just as perfect. But if a "perfect two parent family" is all you can accept, then I urge you to watch this 20/20 Barbara Walters Special on the First Family. You would be hard pressed to find a better example on the Republican ticket.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jesus was born naked in the sand - and that is how I intend to honor him today.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Spenders

We have heard a lot over the last several years regarding the "Job Creators" ie rich folks. We've heard how they must be swooned, coddled and protected from any financial inconvenience so they can continue to create jobs. But the so called "job creators" are only one piece of the complicated puzzle we call economics. Another giant piece of that puzzle is the working middle class - those normal families trying to get by paycheck to paycheck. I call them "The Spenders". Without the commerce of day to day life of normal working folks - there simply is no economy. So, to improve the economy we must help the spenders spend. How? Easy. Get them more money. Not more credit - more money. There are really only two ways to do that - lower prices and/or higher wages.

Prices just continue to rise. And the only raise I've gotten in the last 5 years is from the Federal Government in the form of a payroll tax break that saved me over $1000 this year. Believe me when I say that made a significant impact in my very tight budget. Yes, I spent it - I had to. But while the job creators are clinging to their own multi-million dollar tax breaks, they want to take away my $1000 break that was supposed to be extended for another year. Somehow it doesn't seem fair.

The point is that the job creators do hold the reigns on economic recovery through job creation and government policies that affect the working middle class. Right now - quite on purpose I believe - they are pulling on those reigns and slowing the economy. The economy will not recover until they let go of the reigns and give the spenders the power to spend. But why would they purposefully slow the economy?

It is the one dollar question that is so easy to answer you surely don't need my help.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Magic in 3D

Awesome! I finally got to see a great movie on my new 3D TV. Last night I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. I had seen it in the theaters this summer and really enjoyed it - it is the best movie of the series. In fact you could watch just that one and get a short version of the entire saga. My "at home" experience was just as good as the theater version - maybe even better in some ways. I have to admit that 3D magic is better enjoyed with a glass of wine, a pause button for a bathroom break, a rewind button to thoroughly enjoy the great 3D scenes and a furry companion curled up next to me. Perfection.

Friday, December 09, 2011

Lots of Stupid Stuff

Well I just can't get enough of watching this reality TV show called the GOP Primaries! It is truly very entertaining. The funniest part is that none of the candidates are Tea Party enough for the Tea Party. But of course none of them would be unless Reagan or Jesus were on the ticket. But wait - both of them were pretty liberal compared to the Tea Party - especially Jesus so that wouldn't work. Today alone on CNN I heard 3 or 4 Tea Party folks tearing apart all the various candidates - and they had some pretty serious gripes! But - all can agree that no matter who the nominee finally is - they will all vote for that person instead of President Obama. Isn't that just a little sad, funny and scary all at the same time?! Meanwhile the sane folks are shaking our heads in disbelief that these people would vote for a terrible candidate - who would likely do terrible things for this country - just because they don't like the President. No TV writer could do a better job of writing a situation comedy.

Let's get back to Jesus for just a bit since it Tis the Season. Next time you see one of these GOP buffoons talking - just ask yourself "what would Jesus do?" I'll bet you dollars to donuts it wouldn't be what the presidential candidates are suggesting. Ask yourself the same thing when you hear President Obama talking. Hmmmmmm. Interesting

In other stupidity - are we really having a debate on whether to extend the payroll tax break?! Seriously?! This is so much of a no-brainer that you wouldn't even think they would need to meet to approve it. Yet it is a big topic of debate this week. Why? Because the GOP wants to attach a very controversial oil pipeline bill to to it. What?! You heard right. They can't hold Americans hostage unless they have something they want. So there you have it folks - the terrorists are back again - just in time for Christmas.

If the payroll tax cut doesn't get extended I wouldn't call it a tax increase - that is just silly word play. This would return taxes back to their previous rates - just like if the Bush tax cuts were to expire they would return rates to a previous level. It's not a tax increase. But it is fun to hear the President use the GOP word play back on them. But seriously folks - this is really important! That tax break was significant for me this year - it helped me and a lot of other people too. So GOP - put down the gun - er, I mean pipeline and pass the payroll tax break extension. It's the right thing to do.

Oh I could go on and on - so much stupidity - so little time.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

The Right Answers

In my seemingly never ending search for the cause of a lingering abdominal pain, I had a colonoscopy done this week. I've had one before so I knew what to expect, but I will mention to anyone reading this that it's not a terrible operation and if you are scheduled for one - don't worry. However, I wouldn't plan any intimate dates for the previous day - the "prep" is not entirely pleasant.


Prior to my procedure the very busy nursing staff buzzed around doing what they do best. It was like an assembly line in there with at least 10 patients queued up and when one went out another replaced them. It was really amazing to see the process. One nurse took to the computer and began asking me a long string of questions:

(Lots of questions prior to this then)
When was the last time I had solid food? Tuesday
What time? 11:30pm
Did you void before you came in today? Yes
Do you have any infectious diseases (and listed a few)? No
Do you have a living will? Yes
Are you an organ donor? Yes

At this point she turned to me and smiled and said - you have all the right answers! The questions continued.

That kind of made my day. :)

I wanted to take this opportunity to give my props out to the nursing staff at this hospital and to nurses everywhere. These are the true unsung heroes in our society. They deal with an insane amount of pressure, work long hard hours, all the while treating patients like people. And they do all this while making an average working person's salary. Doctors make all the money and have an ego to match, but it's the nurses who are the real champions in health care.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

GOP Gripes Without Answers

I was just about to write on this exact subject - but this dude at CNN beat me to it and did a better job I'm sure. This is so relevant to me right now as I am being bounced from Doctor to Doctor trying to find an answer to a nagging pain in my abdomen. Nobody can seem to diagnose the pain in 6 months of being poked and prodded (literally) and the insurance co-pays and deductibles have seriously cut into my food budget. I've been prescribed antibiotics three times yet I have not tested positive for any infection. All this while listening to the GOP debates where every candidate yells to repeal "Obamacare" without any mention of an alternative.

This sentence best describes the article - please read the whole thing - it is important.

"The question is: What are GOP candidates saying when they promise to repeal health care reform but are silent on health care and poverty?"

Health Care reform has only just begun. We don't need to step back - we need to move forward and quickly. Steps have been put into place to address insurance coverage for most Americans - next we need to address costs. It really should have been done the other way around by addressing costs first - but people die while debates take place. Let's not repeal "Obamacare" - let's revise it. Let's take a good thing and make it better.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Public is Revolting

I've been writing this blog for over 6 years now under the title "The Public Is Revolting". For most of this time the public outcry was muffled in cyberspace in blogs like mine. But blogs are not that effective in getting change to happen because of the sheer number of writers and the difficulty of being chosen by the great Google decider. The people's voices need to be actually heard and it appears the time has come. People from all over America - in fact all over the world are taking to the street in protest of gross income equality, lack of jobs, corrupt politicians and corporate greed. The people are angry - very angry - and they are doing the only thing they feel they have the power to do - they are revolting. Many people watching this "Occupy" movement ask why the protesters are not marching in Washington in front of the politicians? There are several reasons for this - the largest of which is that government does not control wages (except the minimum) or employment benefits or bank fees, or most of the things this movement is about. But there is another reason why they are not specifically asking Washington for help. Washington has stopped. Literally stopped.

Two months ago today - in the comment section of this article, I made the following prediction:
"I predict the next two months will involve tons of tax payer money spent on another frivolous lawsuit (remember the Clintons?). I also predict we will still be bickering about the Presidents Jobs Bill because of GOP hostage taking and nothing will have been accomplished.


I wish I had been wrong. People are without work, losing their homes, losing their cars, some losing their lives while our elected officials hold our country hostage over tax breaks for the wealthy. This can't be allowed to continue.

Notice in the paragraph above I said "elected officials". We put those people in office. Usually the opposition between the two parties is a good thing because it creates a system of checks and balances. But in the mid-term election of 2010 something terrible happened - the Tea Party. It's not that the Tea Party candidates are not doing what they promised. The problem is that this obstruction is exactly what they promised to do. They signed pledges that they would not raise taxes under ANY circumstances. Well guess what - we have some very big circumstances and they are holding true to their pledges while America suffers.

In a two party system, compromise is not an option - it is required. Otherwise we have a one party system. Any elected official that signed a pledge not to compromise under any circumstances is not working under the established government of this country. They should have not been elected in the first place because their actions are unconstitutional. These officials either need to revoke their pledges and agree to compromise or should be removed from office immediately! Only then can our established system of government continue. In future elections any candidate that would sign such a pledge should be immediately disqualified. This is not how America works.

Until then the people will continue to revolt. We will not sit back and watch a government in stagnation while corporations send our jobs overseas. We will not allow bankers to steal our homes and our savings. We will not allow the burden of the economy to fall only on the working poor. We have numbers, we have power we have votes and we are revolting!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Send Halliburton The Bill

I can't believe I'm going to write another article on something Michelle Bachmann said but she is a Presidential candidate and once was a front runner and therefore speaks for a lot of those in her party. Her current message is that we should send a bill to Iraq and demand payment for our efforts in their liberation. Now I have to admit that the war was extremely expensive for this country. The problem is that they didn't ask for our help. What Michelle fails to remember is that we took preemptive action when we started that war killing thousands of innocents in a mighty show of "Shock and Awe". Then we occupied their country for almost a decade against the will of most of the surviving residents. Now we should demand payment?! It reminds me of the dude on the street who cleans my windshield when I stop at a light and expects payment. Actually, for that analogy to be correct the dude would also have to break my windshield and murder my spouse and kids. Here's your dollar!

Michelle is either sadly ignorant of the facts (surprise!) or she is illustrating what the real purpose of our GOP lead invasion was. Sadly both are likely true in this case. It wasn't about liberating the people from an evil dictator. It wasn't even about weapons of mass destruction. It was about profit. Those that started the war knew well in advance that it would be a quagmire - a very profitable quagmire. They also expected to rape the country of it's natural resources - more profit for Halliburton and those in the oil industry.

Sorry Michelle - I don't think Iraq owes us anything but forgiveness.

On this Veterans day - I want to make perfectly clear that we do not blame the brave troops who fought in this war or any war. Many of our brave soldiers lost their lives simply following orders. American troops did their jobs well- as usual - and their service to our country is always immensely appreciated. To those brave Veterans and all those serving our country around the world we say THANK YOU!

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

It's Not the President They Want Out

I had an appointment for a medical scan today where I waited to be seen for over an hour in a crowed waiting room. Why medical professionals think they can overbook and waste people's time like that is beyond me. Anyway we were all sitting quietly for quite some time when someone foolishly decided to start a conversation on politics. I didn't say much and just nodded and smiled because I wanted to see what the current political temperature was amongst this group of mostly seniors. As it turns out everyone waiting were Democrats and it wasn't long before the conversation got loud and heated. You would think with all the media coverage and Tea Party rants about President Obama's "failed" policies that they would be mad as heck at the President. But they were not complaining about President Obama at all. In fact everyone in the room felt that the President was doing a great job with the unprecedented opposition he has had to deal with. I must say the anger at the Republican obstructionists and the disgust at the current GOP presidential candidates was more intense than I was expecting given this age group. In an election year, one has to consider the fact that the other side could possibly win the election. While nobody in that room felt it was remotely possible, they all agreed that any one of the current contenders would be a disastrous choice for America. The conversation ended shortly after a patient at the front desk shushed everyone because he couldn't hear the person at the desk - that's how loud and heated this discussion was.

Quite surprising given the fact they were all in agreement.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Greed In 2D

So I finally got the 3D TV I wanted for so long. It's fantastic - except for the lack of content. DirecTV has several channels dedicated to 3D content and I've been enjoying some of the nature and space documentaries. But I want to see some of the fantastic 3D movies that have been in the theaters over the last several years.

Sorry. Those are not available. I've searched all the streaming services that my TV connects to (including Amazon, Netflix, Blockbuster, and Vudu) but there are only a handful of 3D movies. And those that are available are to "Own" not to rent. I refuse to pay $25 for a streamed movie! Especially when the service it is streamed on may not be in business another month.

So what's the deal? The deal is that there is no deal. It seems that there are a lot of debates going on over digital media rights and who owns what and what they want to let out and who can show it and what can be charged and bla bla bla! I just want to watch Avatar in 3D in my home - is that too much to ask? The movie is two years old already and still no streaming service has it for rent.

Greed. Here I am willing to pay for streaming movies and there are none available. This is not the free market. If there is a demand there should be a product available. Clearly there is a demand - yet there is no product. They would rather I not watch their movie? Why bother making it?!

So I went back to watching content already included with my DirecTV subscription. They lost my sale - I hope they are happy. I'm not. I waited a long time for my 3D TV. How long do I have to wait to be able to enjoy it?

Minced Words

Here is a topic that is, perhaps, a bit TMI for my mostly political blog. But it's funny and fits into the theme of my blog under "also some light hearted commentary...."

I frequent an adult gay Internet meeting site - it's an international site and I've virtually "met" some interesting people from all over the world. Since this site is international, many profiles are written in another language. No worries - Google Chrome browser offers to translate them for me. That's where the fun starts. I guess Google has some difficulties translating adult words or concepts - making for some very entertaining profiles.

You could say something gets lost in translation. I would argue something is gained in translation - and that is a good chuckle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Obstructionists Confess

Myself and other bloggers and even some prominent politicians have accused the GOP and especially the Tea Party of purposefully blocking efforts by Democrats to fix the economy so that President Obama will fail. Senator McConnell has already admitted this as his primary goal and now we have a blog article on the Tea Party Nation website that also admits to this. Here is a short excerpt:

I, an American small business owner, part of the class that produces the vast majority of real, wealth producing jobs in this country, hereby resolve that I will not hire a single person until this war against business and my country is stopped.

I hereby declare that my job creation potential is now ceased.

“I’m on strike!”

How patriotic! You might also be interested to read the associated comments from other Tea Party Nation members who have their own versions of ways to obstruct the successful recovery of our economy. Nice.

Thankfully, these people do not have the same power as the Tea Party obstructionists in Washington. That's because they are under the false notion that only Republicans are job creators. Democrats are business owners too and we will be happy to hire workers to do the jobs these people are choosing not to do. And, we will do so while paying our fair share of taxes without complaining. That's how we roll.

If we all worked together and really tried to get things fixed in this country we actually might get something done. Fighting those who's primary goal is the failure of our economy makes things a lot harder - but not to worry, we Democrats know how to do it and we will manage without you. If you won't hire - we will. So thanks for those extra job opportunities that will help us get America back to work.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Conservatives - No Compassion for Those Less Fortunate

The Occupy protest movements across the nation and the world are growing daily. Today I read an article in USA Today that some protesters that have set up camps in city parks are now offering food, shelter and medical treatment for local homeless people. These protesters understand and are showing that they have compassion for these homeless people - even when it is difficult and possibly dangerous. Many homeless people are homeless because they are mentally unstable or have uncontrollable addictions that require medical attention. Others are veterans who returned from the horrors of war damaged and unstable. Still others have lost their homes to the housing bubble bust, lost jobs or other sad circumstances. The protesters understand and want to help - but not everyone does.

Take a moment to read the article that explains the situation - then take another moment and read the sad comments associated with the article. The commenters are typical GOP - Tea Party folks who have no compassion for those less fortunate. You can tell they are right wing voters by the way they use the word "Liberal" as if it were a bad word. It's not a bad word at all - look it up. I have repeatedly called the GOP un-compassionate in this blog and I think it is important to show an article like this every once in a while to prove that I am not just making baseless claims. These people are truly selfish and heartless. It is their greed that have kept these protesters out in the cold for over a month now.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Blame Yourself!

Presidential candidate Herman Cain says if you are unemployed or poor - you have no one to blame but yourself. I couldn't agree more.

  • Shame on you for putting blind faith in the unrealistic concept of the free market.
  • Shame on you for thinking your hard earned degree was worth something.
  • Shame on you for thinking the corporation you work for cares about you.
  • Shame on you for working extra hours on a fixed salary to help your company succeed.
  • Shame on you for thinking your efforts would be rewarded.
  • Shame on you for believing anything would "trickle down"
  • Shame on you for thinking experience was valuable.
  • Same on you for depending on health insurance benefits that were used to lure you in.
  • Shame on you for accepting a cost of living increase that eventually made you over priced.
  • Shame on you for thinking you were anything but a number.

Oh - and by the way - Shame on you for using your own vehicle and gas to deliver pizzas for $2.00 an hour plus tips. Herman Cain could have easily delivered them all himself.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Occupy America

The Public is Revolting.

It's about time.

Change is finally here.

Monday, October 03, 2011

3D - Not Just A Fad This Time

Back in March 2010 I wrote an article on 3D TV technology - or lack of it. In the article I couldn't figure out why special expensive glasses would be needed to view 3D content on a normal TV. I have since found out they are not really needed - but much preferred! I'll tell you why, but first a quick history on how someone as broke as me ends up buying a shiny new TV.

I blame Netflix for my 3D TV - but not because they have any 3D content - in fact they don't have ANY now since they don't do disk delivery. I was so mad at their recent price increases that I decided to end my long time business with them. I asked myself what were my options and decided to check out Pay Per View (PPV) on DirecTV. My research revealed that not only do they have 3D PPV movies - they actually have three channels dedicated to 24 hour 3D programming! Now I was very interested in upgrading my aging Tube TV to HD with 3D - except for the added costs for HD equipment. A quick call to DirecTV revealed that not only would they get me an HD DVR for free (with a new contract - grrrr!) but they would also give me a discount on the HD service for a year as a loyal customer. At this point I decided I couldn't afford NOT to get a new TV! A beer at a bar costs $6 here - it won't take long to pay for my quality entertainment by staying at home. So, after extensive shopping I finally settled on a Vizio 42" 3D HDTV. It's fantastic! I waited over a month to write this article because I wanted to see if still enjoyed it as much after a while. I still do - very much.

Now, back to the technology. It is true that you don't need expensive electronic glasses to see 3D content on a normal TV - even an old tube TV. You can use the old two color glasses if the picture displayed is in that format. But I discovered why the electronic glasses are needed - clarity! Red-Blue glasses not only reduce the light getting to your eyes but they can also distort the picture. My awesome Vizio TV has active shutter glasses that alternately open and close each eye to match the picture on the TV. Doing this cuts your image quality in half - but thankfully the Vizio TV is a 480hz set instead of the normal 240hz that most HD TVs in this price range have. That means that even in 3D you get a real HD picture. The TV even boosts the brightness of the picture to make up for the light loss created by the glasses when viewing 3D content. The result is amazingly clear 3D picture quality. I love it!

So is 3D just a fad? After all, it's not new - 3D imaging has been around for a very long time. What's changed?. Actually several things have changed that I think will make 3D something that will stick around for a while. The technology to produce 3D movies is very inexpensive now - you can even get an inexpensive personal camera or cell phone that will shoot 3D content. Plus the movie studios have embraced the movement bringing some amazing content to the big screen. All those should eventually end up being available for home viewing just as easily as HD content already is. Plus, there is a wealth of recently passed Imax documentaries, sports content and even concerts currently available on DirecTV on those three dedicated channels. DirecTV is the first to offer dedicated content but I'm sure the other providers will follow soon. But the biggest factor isn't here yet but will be soon - TV's that don't require glasses!

Now that I've enjoyed 3D TV for a while, I find myself watching my normal network shows and thinking "this would be great in 3D!" I don't think it will be long before every show is broadcast in 3D and 2D simultaneously - much the same way they are currently broadcasting in HD and normal definition . I'm looking forward to seeing all my favorite shows in 3D!

Now, if only I could find ANY company that would stream Avatar in 3D -but no! You notice above I said those great 3D movies SHOULD make it to our homes, but once again, consumers are stuck in the middle of stupid legal battles and contracts over content - a subject for another article.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Capitalism - Under Contract

I remember a time where companies offered goods and services and consumers purchased those goods and services at a competitive market rate. If the company did something wrong or had terrible customer service, we would stop buying from them and get our products elsewhere. There were a few monopolies where you were stuck with what they had and what they wanted to charge. But otherwise, the free market seemed to work fairly well.

Those were the good old days. Today it's hard to get a product or service without first having to sign a contract or join a price club. Some grocery stores won't even give you their sale rate unless you use the little card that tracks your purchases. But it's the contracts that really irritate me. I had to sign up for a 2 year contract on my cell phone plan, 2 years on my satellite TV, a year on my Internet service and landline phone (both of which are tied to my satellite service contract). In the event that I decide to change my service, I'll have to pay a hefty early termination fee. Everyone of these contracts starts out with the phrase that the service provider can change the terms of at any time without notice - yet I have no way of changing my side of the contract. I'm stuck with that service - good or bad for the life of the contract. How is all that the free market capitalism?

Clearly the capitalistic market we have today is tilted heavily in favor of corporations through these service contracts. Corporations have their profits protected whether or not they provide a good product or service. AT&T cell service for example is terrible by must users accounts - yet those users are stuck in their contracts until the 2 year term ends. And that doesn't even count the contract that AT&T had with Apple over the iPhone for years. That contract kept the product out of the hands of people who wanted it but didn't want to do business with AT&T - like me. These contracts also help corporations guarantee bank funding because they can show the banks they have no risk of losing money. Guaranteed profit. Where is my guarantee? No such luck. They can raise my rates or change my service plan at any time - even without notice.

I know the argument will come up that in most cases the companies give you a free device of some sort in exchange for your commitment. That's true and in some cases it makes for a good deal in the long run. But why the contract? How about this instead. You give me a reduced price on a device and I'll use your service. If I decide to go elsewhere for whatever reason - you get your device back. By the time the device is worthless the contract term would have been over. Easy.

For the capitalistic free market to work properly, it needs to be a free - unhindered by binding service contracts. Corporations will still be able to secure their bank loans by proving they can provide an outstanding product or service and keeping their customers happy. We need to get out of this "protect the corporation" mindset and get back to a system where consumers get a good product at a fair price - by natural unhindered competition.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tea Party - Despicable, Heartless, Mean.

A political party is more than the person chosen to stand at the podium and speak for them. A political party is a collection of individuals that would elect that person and support their views. So far the Tea Party supporters have:

  • Cheered an example of someone dying because they didn't have insurance
  • Booed an active duty soldier.
  • Cheered historic levels of government sanctioned murder (death penalty)
All on national television during the Tea Party debates. None of the candidates condemned these actions and in fact most went on to support those opinions. I've accused the GOP of having no compassion for those less fortunate and I stand by that accusation. However, the Tea Party has taken a giant step lower than that. They are just plain mean.

Thankfully, I doubt any of the current candidates will get the GOP nomination. Surely there must be someone else that represents the GOP in a better light. God help us if any one of these heartless idiots actually wins.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Honesty Returned to Military

Today is an historic day as Don't Ask - Don't Tell is officially ended. Gay men and women have served proudly in the American armed forces since America was founded. Those brave soldiers no longer will be subject to possible blackmail thus bringing honesty and integrity to our military. Over 13,000 troops who were removed from service under suspicion of being homosexual since DADT began can now serve their country again if they so choose.

It is a good day for America!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Patent Reform - Not A Good Idea

The patent process in America has been broken for a long time. It takes far too long to approve new patents and the process is prohibitively expensive. President Obama signed new patent legislation this week that makes some improvements but also, in my opinion, makes a huge mistake. The new reform grants patents on "First to File" rather than "First to Invent". I can see the logic behind the change as a way to limit lawsuits, but as someone who considers himself somewhat of an inventor I worry that the new process will invite fraud and will favor wealthy investors more than brilliant inventors.

Suppose two people come up with a similar idea near the same time. The one who thought of the idea first is financially strapped and the other one has considerable expendable income. Since the patent process remains expensive, the first person doesn't even have a chance to file even though they clearly had the idea first.

Then there are those that would take advantage of this situation. I'll use Google as an example. Google, like many companies these days have massive cross-linked databases that record every move I make - and more importantly every word I search. If I try to do a preliminary search for an idea to see if it already exists, Google can "harvest" that search. With the monetary power of the Google empire - filing a patent could be done instantly - leaving me without any hope of profiting off my great idea. And what if if I discussed my idea with my best friend or a family member - only to have them rush off and file a patent before I can . Even a crooked patent lawyer could take an idea and patent it first.

Patent reform only needed two important improvements. The process needs to be cheaper and faster. They shouldn't have messed with the "First to Invent" process - that was the only part of the patent system that actually protected the inventor. Had they kept that but made the system quicker and cheaper, we would see many more inventions - and financially rewarded inventors.

I have always felt that my financial independence would ultimately result from a brilliant idea rather than being a corporate drone. Looks like I might be a drone for the rest of my life.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Corporate Tax Breaks Go To CEO's - Not Average Joe's

Monday, September 12, 2011

Butts I Don't Like

Disgusting. Every time I go to the beach I see this. Thousands of them stuck in the sand like a giant ash tray. This particular one was stuck in the sand shortly after the rude smoker blew his filthy stench into the air that wafted quickly to my area. He then bent down, stuck it into the sand and walked away. He was wearing a hat that said Beach Ambassador. I picked this one up after I took the pic - thousands more remain. Smokers have no respect for themselves, for those around them, or for their environment. I see these butts tossed from car windows, stuck in flower pots, littered in the street, in lawns, waterfalls - everywhere. At my job there are containers put out specifically to dispose of cigarette butts - yet hundreds of them litter the area within feet of the container. I guess we shouldn't expect those who are rude enough to smoke in the first place, to make any effort to clean up after themselves. They are worse than the trash they leave behind.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Let's Try It

President Obama just gave his jobs speech and now I think the Republicans are in a very strategic position. The GOP has claimed all along that the Democratic response to economic recovery doesn't work. The current speech, which did sound somewhat familiar, laid out the Presidents vision for recovery over the next year and beyond. If the GOP really believes it won't work - they should pass it in it's entirety. If it fails - as they predict - the GOP will be a shoe-in for the next election. If it succeeds - as I think it will - America wins - and the President will likely get a second term as a side effect of success. When America wins - we all win. By passing the bill, the GOP will appear to be cooperative. They need that right now.

Let's try the President's plan. It is a win win for America.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Did Adam and Eve Evolve?

If all of us are descendants of Adam and Eve as the Christian Bible claims - how did we end up with so many different races of people? Shouldn't we all be a bit more similar? What explains these differences?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why The Notion of "Choice" Is Important

Everyone keeps telling them that homosexuality is not a choice. Most doctors, scientists and psychologists who have dedicate their lives to studying these types of things have mostly concluded that homosexuality is not a choice. More importantly, millions of homosexuals themselves have said over and over that they did not choose. Who would know better than them?! Still those who find homosexuality objectionable continue to claim that we made a choice to be homosexual. Why cling to the notion of choice? There is only one important answer - it justifies their hatred.

Take away the notion of choice and one is left with simple bigotry - hatred of those that are different than themselves. Most people don't like to think of themselves as bigots so they use some sort of justification to support their point of view. Some use "Holy Books" as their justification, some use the fact that a lot of people agree with them and others just discount the first hand confessions of those that supposedly made the choice as deviants. The problem is that all books on earth - including holy books - were written by humans with natural human bias. And having a lot of people who think alike doesn't make their judgements correct. History has shown this to be true many times.

Recently, religious elitists have started using the phrase "Love the sinner - Hate the sin". Presumably the "sin" is sodomy. But a homosexual who has never had sex with anyone in their entire lives is still a homosexual. If their is no sin - how can you justify your hatred? Only by claiming that their homosexual life is a choice. See how important it is to cling to that notion?

I can't say with any certainty that there is a "gay gene" - it hasn't been proven yet. I can't say that anything in my early childhood caused my sexual identity - it is very unlikely but I just don't know. What I can say - with 100% accuracy - is that I didn't choose this life. There was never a point in my life where I was the slightest bit attracted to the opposite sex. I knew I was attracted to males at 5 years old - even though that attraction wasn't sexual at that early age. My opinion is that I was created this way by God or whoever or whatever created all of us. It does not feel like a mistake to me. It is the most natural thing in the world.

It should also be noted that those who feel we made a "choice" to be homosexual imply that they themselves had that choice to make. That would imply that they have some homosexual tendency themselves. It does seem that a lot of people that protest the most eventually get caught in some homosexual act. It is always so comically ironic! But I feel most sorry for those who cling to their bigotry by religious justification. How will they answer God when asked why they feel God made a mistake? I doubt God would be pleased by such an accusation.

Frankly, I don't really care if you hate me because I'm a homosexual - you certainly have that right. But I must insist that you own your hatred as something you chose - not something I chose. You choose to ignore the facts. I didn't have a choice at all.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Federal Government - Empowering Private Business

The Federal Government employs quite a few people directly to accomplish the many needed programs and services of this country. However, the government is not really in the business of building or making anything. The government spends a lot of money on infrastructure and military equipment - but they don't make those things. Instead they contract with private business to accomplish those goals. If a road needs to be built, a contract is made with a private construction company who employ their own workers and use their own machinery to accomplish the task. The government does not build tanks, planes, guns or any other defense machinery. Those items are manufactured by private enterprise through government contracts. These are just a few examples of how our government works with the private sector to accomplish it's goals. So it's important to realize that when the government spends money on these types of projects it is not tax money that is spent on federal employees - it is tax money that is being paid back to the tax payers.

Problems occur, of course, if there are unethical back room deals made that grant these contracts to political supports who in turn over charge the government. Or worse, contracts are granted with no bidding that allows the contractor to easily over charge. We have all heard stories of the $500.00 hammer. These types of bad deals are likely a huge contributor to our national debt problem.

The point of this article is that government spending - done correctly- actually does support private business. That's why improving our infrastructure and encouraging innovation is a good investment strategy and will help get people back to work. Sadly, it may also be a reason why we haven't ended a couple of wars yet because those trillions of dollars are actually employing a lot of people. Ending the war will cause more job losses at a very critical time.

When the GOP - especially the Tea Party extremists say they want to cut all federal spending, they show they are ignorant about how spending affects private sector jobs. Their "solutions" are simplistic and short sighted. We can't just hash away at the budget without giving it some careful thought. What really needs to happen is that we take a look at all government contracts and cut those that are no longer needed and possibly re-negotiate those that we do need. We need to be very smart about the way the government spends money. Someone needs to take a close look at companies like Halliburton who were granted no-bid contracts under suspicious circumstances. We should be doing this first - before we lay off teachers or end critical programs like the EPA.

We all know we have a serious critical debt problem in this country right now. But wise business people also know that you need to spend money to make money. It's not too late to get this fixed but we need to do it wisely. It will take careful cuts, careful spending, and yes, careful revenue adjustments.

The Tea Party solution to a dying tree is to cut it down. A better solution is to understand why it's dying, correct the problem and watch it recover and flourish.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Federal Regulations Require

I had the most excellent day. Me and 6 friends went to John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo and went on a 2 hour snorkeling tour. The weather was perfect during our water excursion and we enjoyed a fantastic voyage - despite the insane amount of jelly fish in the area. Before departure the two man crew of the vessel that would take us 5 miles out into the Atlantic Ocean gave a short orientation including the safety equipment on board. At one point I was interested to hear them say "Federal Regulations require a life vest for each person on board. You can be assured we have complied with that regulation". I didn't count them but clearly there were enough vests in the overhead compartment. Another Federal Regulation I learned is that there were two inflatable life boats on top of the vessel that could automatically float off the boat if it were to be submerged. The Captain joked that if we saw him get into that life boat - it might be a good idea to follow.

Thankfully we had a very nice and safe journey and didn't need the required safety equipment - although a sever storm did develop on our way home. I couldn't help but imagine that requiring those safety devices must have added to the overall cost of the voyage slightly cutting into the profits of the private company that runs these tours - yet they seem to be doing well. I was very grateful that those devices were there - after all, I'm a good swimmer and didn't even think that it might be a good idea to bring a life vest of my own on the tour. Plus the weather was nice - what could possibly go wrong? Thankfully Federal Regulators know that things do often go wrong. Thank you!

It should also be noted that our destination was known as Grecian Rocks - an amazing National Marine Sanctuary just off the Florida coast. Would it have been there in it's beautiful (almost) pristine condition if shipping vessels were allowed to traverse over this shallow water zone without regulation? Would it have survived without laws that keep people from dropping anchor on the fragile reef? Not likely.

I am very thankful that we have a Federal Government - paid by our tax dollars that not only protect these national treasures, but also keep us safe when visiting them. This is only one of many such Federal programs that will be in jeopardy if we allow the Tea Party mentality of "no government interference" into our society. The Federal Government does more than any of us realize to help us and protect us as a society. Certainly there are some programs that have run their course and may no longer be needed - and those programs should be cut. But we must use extreme caution on what programs are cut in the process. Our very lives are at stake.

Now, you may have noticed that I used the phrase "(almost) pristine" above. That part of this story is a little sad. I moved to Florida 20 years ago and visited the reef shortly after. It was simply AMAZING. But we were told that the reef was in danger and was dying at a rate of 10% per year. I thought that sounded extreme - but as it turns out it was true. The reef - while still beautiful, is nothing like it was then. The cause of the death of the reef is certainly debatable. However, I just wanted to point out that scientists who were observing the situation accurately predicted it's decline. It's very important to listen to environmental scientists and work to protect not only fragile national sanctuaries - but our own fragile environment as well. This is the function of another extremely important Federal program called the Environmental Protection Agency. It is a program the Tea Party is dead set on destroying. Please don't let them.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Business of Cheating

I've admitted before that I am not a sports fan - at all - at least not professional sports. I can't think of anything more boring than sitting on a couch watching other people exercise. I'd much rather be out on my bicycle, kayak, roller blades or even just walking the dog. But, I do understand almost everyone else does enjoy watching professional sports and it is a multi-billion dollar industry. While I find it odd how much money people are willing to spend watching organized sports on TV or in the stadium, I'm not really against the business part of the industry. What I do have a problem with is how the "sport" is removed from sports.

Someone comes up with challenging game that involves skill, agility, and teamwork. Then lots of folks go to work finding ways to make the game less and less challenging. Massive technology goes into designing balls with better grips, that fly further and/or straighter. We have expensive golf clubs and precision golf balls that make getting to the tiny hole much easier. There are constant expensive developments in shoes and clothing that give a tiny advantage to those who can afford them. Some people resort to performance enhancing drugs to gain an unfair advantage. Even if the only point of the game is to put a ball in a hoop that is mounted really high - we find 7 foot people to play that game. How hard can that be?

To be fair, when I did my cross country bicycle trip, I invested in a bicycle with proper gearing to help me get over those mountains. It also had all the necessary attachments to carry my gear and a seat that would prevent injuries. There was a lot of great technology in my bike. The difference is that my ride wasn't a competition and even with a nicely equipped bicycle there were still many great challenges including weather, food, animals, and unexpected equipment failure (flats!). Plus, nobody was paying me to do that trip and the challenge was for me alone.

If I were a fan of professional sports, I would rather watch a basketball game where everyone was nearly the same size - with that size being closer to 6 foot. Show me the originally designed golf club and golf balls and I might enjoy watching someone try to get it in the tiny hole. Let see some drug free, normal clothed athletes with original game pieces and maybe I'll enjoy watching that. Well, truthfully I'd likely still be out on my bike - but my point is, lets put some challenge back in sports!

NOTE: I do watch some TV. This article was inspired by my yearly "summer of learning" when my silly sitcoms are off the air and I turn to informative shows on Science or Learning channel. I saw a program on "How Do They Do It" about bowling ball technology that helps people roll more strikes and one on designing the perfect golf ball. I was amazed at the technology and the incredibly complicated process!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Guest Editorial

This is reprinted from a diary blog of some new friends from Norway who bicycled across the USA starting right here in S. Florida. They stayed with me on their 1st day of travel and have nearly completed their trip. I hope they don't mind me reprinting this observation.

Metallica on tour? No, it is just two ordinary American RV´s. The first time we saw these enormous buses with a car behind we laughed, but have come to realize that this is what many Americans think of when they say: Let´s go camping! Many times the cars behind (which is often a 4WD and sometimes a pickup truck) have kayaks and bicycles loaded on them too! A equipage like this would probably make the local paper in Norway… It is not hard to see why this country is so energy consuming.

Tea Parties

The modern political Tea Party.

What they think they are:

What they really are:

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Thursday, August 04, 2011

We Didn't Light It But We're Trying To Fight It

Every good "crisis" deserves a reminder of how it came to be. Here is an article I wrote in November of 2005. It's all so eerily familiar.

2005. It should be noted - of course - that the fire started even way before that and it's been burning for a long time. We just need to stop blaming President Obama for all of the countries financial problems. The Obama administration's spending has been spent mostly trying to put the fire out. That's a big difference.

I hope at least one person in the Tea Party reads this - they seem to have a very difficult time understanding history. You can't blame the Fire Fighters for burning your house down when they are only trying to extinguish the flames.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Drug Dealers and Prostitutes Can Save America

The Republican party has put the full weight of the American debt on the backs of the working poor. There will be no help from those that can most afford it. Now we are faced with some tough choices on what gets cut. Education, entitlements, seniors, sick people, environment programs, safety, and security will all be affected by extreme budget cuts without additional revenue. So we will be forced to make some tough choices on cuts. I say it's time to add some tough choices to revenues as well - not with tax increases but with new taxes. Here are a couple ideas we now need to consider:

  • Tax churches. Why are they getting a break when they are nothing more than business entities. More and more they are also influencing elections. If there is no real separation of church and state then they should support each other.
  • Legalize and tax marijuana. I'm not a user, but I know a lot of people who are. This drug seems less harmful than alchoh0l. Plus enormous Federal resources are being used to keep this fairly harmless drug under control - and they are failing miserably. Stop spending and start cashing in.
  • Legalize and tax prostitution. Once again we are spending a lot on prevention that is not working. The so called "oldest profession in the world" is alive and well under the guise of escort services and massage parlors. Many of those in the profession are poor and do not have insurance thus charging the Emergency Room bills to the American tax payer. We can reap even more financial rewards by offering health insurance for this profession thus controlling the spread of STDs.
Those are only 3 examples of new taxes that could greatly improve our hope of driving down the national debt and they are not focused at the rich. I'm sure there are many more. All three issues are clearly religious based morality issues but they are absolutely legitimate sources of revenue. The Tea Party won't like these suggestions but it's time they made a contribution to this mess. If they don't like legalized pot - don't smoke it. If they don't like legalized prostitution - don't go to a prostitute. If they don't like churches paying taxes - don't donate.

Cha-ching! I just saved Social Security.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Blatent Bad Politics

Sen. Mitch McConnell has said openly and repeatedly that his number one priority is to make President Obama a one term president. I give him credit for his honesty. I believe he shares this priority with nearly all the GOP. It is not surprising, really, but the implications are frightening. In order to guarantee the President fails you need the country to fail. Is it any wonder then why we are bickering over raising the debt ceiling (that everyone seems to agree needs to be done) rather than getting people back to work. They don't really intend to get people back to work. In fact, the worse the economy gets, the better chance they have of taking the office in 2012. Apparently failure is not only an option for them it is required. I have no doubt they would intentionally let our national credit rating slip to achieve this goal. The process may have already started and could be irreversible.

I've said before that the GOP is holding this country hostage to get their way. But it didn't start with the debt ceiling debate or even last December when they threatened to shut down the government. It actually started directly after the last presidential election. We will continue to be held hostage until they have gotten their way and the country fails. We must not let them doom this country to failure. I want this country to recover and thrive - not because I'm a Democrat but because I'm an American. A grand economic recovery might indeed get President Obama re-elected. Does that mean we, as Americans lose? No - it means we win and win big.

We can't trust any decision by the GOP to be the right decision for the country if the goal is failure. Any politician who's primary goal is the failure of America should be fired immediately.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

You can lead a horse to water - but not if it won't get up

I am so tired of hearing the Republicans say that President Obama isn't "Leading". I've never seen a President work harder at trying to find compromise and get things done. But you can't compromise with those who will NEVER budge. Democrats have proven they are willing to work out a compromise on many issues - including health care reform and the Bush tax cuts. Republicans just say NO. That's not compromise.

Since I mentioned health care reform - was the President "leading" when he supposedly forced it down their throats? I think it would have been better leadership if he simply pushed the reform through the way it was originally drafted. But the President did lead and compromise happened - which totally ruined the reform in my opinion. But You can't have it both ways.

Apparently the GOP form of "leading" is to just have the water delivered to the resting horse so the horse doesn't have to bother to get up.

Personally I think President Obama should lead by telling all the spoiled Tea Party brats to just go home. That would be great leadership in my opinion.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Spending vs Investment

There is a big difference between "spending" and "investing". If you put your money in the stock market you are investing it - attempting to make your money grow. In the same way - when the Government invests money in our infrastructure and stimulus programs - we are "investing" our tax dollars to stabilize the economy and help it grow. Once people are back to work on the new roads trains and bridges they will earn more money and tax revenues will increase. In fact they will make more money building those projects. It's way more complicated than that but it is important to understand that when the GOP claims Democrats have a spending problem, they don't understand the concept of investments. The stimulus programs that helped bail out the auto industry saved those companies from bankruptcy, kept the people working and the loans are being paid back. It was not money "Spent" it was money "Invested". Investments take time to work. If you put your money in the stock market today and pull it out a week later, you will likely not make a profit - and in fact you may lose money. Smart investing takes time.

Every investment has risk. If there were a guaranteed investment strategy - we would all be rich. Some investments work well - others may fail. The auto industry investments seem to be working, while the bank bailouts are very questionable. If we learn from those that fail we can invest more wisely the next time. If not we are doomed to failure. The jury is still out on whether our stimulus investments were done wisely - but it is important to realize that it is way too soon to tell.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Great Divide

It's been said that there are two sides to every story. But does that imply that there are always two correct answers? That is not likely. The United States is faced with a terrible division when it comes to politics. I consider myself a moderate Democrat, but I'm finding these days there is no middle ground when it comes to politics. The divide between the Republicans and Democrats has gotten so wide in recent years it seems impossible to build a bridge. So if it is unlikely that there are two correct answers, who is right and who is wrong? This question concerns me and I often contemplate if my beliefs are possibly the wrong ones. After all, I want to do the right thing for this country and when I cast my vote I make those choices. Am I making the correct ones? So far I believe I am and I'll try to explain why.

We do not live on this earth alone. There are nearly 7 billion people living on this planet. In the USA we have a population of nearly 312 million. We cannot live as if we are individuals - we must live as a society. Voting records will demonstrate that where there are large concentrations of population, there tends to be a more Democratic liberal leaning base. In rural areas will find a more Republican conservative base. Why? In my opinion, it is because when you have a group of people living together you realize that you must work together as a society in order to accomplish goals. In a large group of people you will see clearly that some people are stronger than others. Some people seem to have incredibly good luck while others can't seem to catch a break through no fault of their own. Some people will take advantage of the system and others will put in more effort than others. It is easy to see all these different types of people when we are grouped together. Conversely, when people live in isolation, they only see their own situation. They either make it or break it. A person that succeeds in isolation will assume everyone should. They do not understand the different personalities that make up the human race. At this point in my life I am fortunate to have lived half my life in relative isolation and half immersed in a large society. I now understand the different struggles we all have in our lives. I favor government policies that take all of us into consideration - especially those less fortunate than me.

There is another reason why I think the liberal political views are correct. That involves inclusion - which is another factor influenced by the number of people you come in contact with each day. Back where I grew up in South Dakota we were nearly all the same race and religion. I was raised christian as was almost everyone else near me. There was no question about Christmas, Easter or any other religious holiday and nearly every business was closed on Sunday. Everyone agreed. Well - actually since I grew up on a reservation I guess I had a head start on dealing with different cultures. Plus I was also gay back then but thought I was one of a few isolated cases. Anyway, it wasn't until I moved to S. Florida that I realized how many other races and cultures there are in this great nation. I now celebrate those differences and truly believe they are what make us special. I also learned that I am one of millions of other homosexuals that live in this country and around the world. My eyes were opened to the diversity that is the human condition. I now support government policies that are inclusive to all of us - not just a select few. We are a nation of immigrants and unless you are Native American like so many of my friends back on the reservation, you are a descendant of immigrants. Our government must work with all these cultures and races with policies that work for everyone.

On the economy the divide is huge and in fact, there is a fundamental difference between the two parties. Republicans believe supporting corporations is the key to a strong economy. They are guided by a "trickle down effect" where money from the top flows to those below. Democrats believe in smaller privately owned businesses - the "Mom and Pop" type shops. With this smaller business model we believe more people have a shot at making a decent living. Historically the economy was strong before fast food chains, giant Walmart stores and near monopolistic corporations (think the 50s). Meanwhile, I've worked for some of these larger corporations and nothing has ever "trickled down" to me - they have always paid as little as they could get by while a few at the top made out like bandits. Therefore I believe it is the right thing to support smaller middle class businesses.

Republicans believe there should be bigger government involvement in our personal lives with regard to abortion, homosexuality and other religious and ethical issues. At the same time they believe in smaller government oversight for food quality, the environment, and corporate ethics. Democrats believe quite the opposite - stay out of our private lives but protect the environment, enforce food safety and keep the corporations and banks from stealing our money. This one seems like a "no brainer" to me - yet the divide widens.

I am not here to imply that Democrats are always correct we make plenty of mistakes and there is always a few corrupt individuals on either side. However, the fact is that we do live in a society and we must support politics that work for the good of all. That's why I believe that in the great divide, Democrats are on the correct side. There is no "We" in "Me" unless something is upside down. I support the Democrats - the party of "We" and I think it is the correct thing to do.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Celebrity Fantasy Crush

Blair Underwood hasn't called in weeks. I know he is very busy but I hope I haven't upset him somehow. Maybe its the whole "JaRule" thing all over again.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Gov. Scott - Give Back My Money!

Since taking office only months ago, Florida Governor Rick Scott (Not so affectionately referred to as Dick $cott) has refused multi-millions of Federal funds that were to have provided the state of Florida needed infrastructure improvements and vital social programs. Just this week Gov. Scott and the Republicans refused millions that were to be used to assist elderly people recover from nursing facilities and be able to get back into their own homes. Gov. Scott is refusing these funds to make a Tea Party point - that we don't need these federal social programs at the taxpayer expense. But here is the big problem I have with that:


I am a tax payer in the USA and a resident of Florida. You are stealing that money from me and every other tax payer in this state. It is not your money to refuse! If you want to make a Tea Party point - please make it with your own money! And please don't use the money you already stole from us in the massive Medicare fraud you instigated.


Friday, June 24, 2011

What's Your Second Job?

Most of us who are lucky enough to still be employed right now are likely also working a second job. I'm doing lawn jobs on the side of my IT job. This is not an option for me as I had to take a major pay cut several years ago and haven't gotten a raise since. Meanwhile the cost of living continues to rise. Who is to blame for this mess?!

A lot of people will answer that question with "The Government". But the reality is that the government did not cause the economy to collapse. The real culprit in the economic downward spiral is a mixed bag of giant corporations - including banks and those on Wall Street. The government has stepped in to help stabilize the situation and hopefully help reverse it - but the bottom line is that our very lives are still in the hands of the giant corporations. It is up to them to not only hire workers back but to also pay them a livable wage. Now you can see why the recovery is going so slow.

For those giant corporations that have survived the economic meltdown, it has actually been quite profitable for them. They were able to reduce their workforce by the thousands and lower wages for those that they kept. The fear of losing their jobs has made these remaining workers willing to work under theses very stressful conditions with the hope that it is temporary - meanwhile working 2nd or 3rd jobs to make ends meet. But it is not a temporary situation as we have seen. The government has done all it can to get corporations to hire people back and pay them a livable wage - including keeping the prior tax cuts in place. But the corporations have taken that assistance - added it to their executive salaries and profits while holding on to the cash and refusing to hire. In short - giant corporations suck.

The two branches of our Government (or is it three?) have very different views when it comes to business. Republicans support and defend these giant corporations and argue they need even more tax incentives in order to stimulate hiring. Democrats believe that smaller "Mom and Pop" type businesses - what we refer to as the "middle class" is a better way to run this country. Which do you prefer? Giant shopping malls and Walmart or Main Street and Hardware Hank? You choose with your vote.

If you enjoy working 2 or 3 jobs to pay your basic living expenses, vote Republican. If you believe that small business should be supported so that people can make a decent living off of one job - vote Democratic. It's time we started supporting people again and not just corporations.

Monday, June 20, 2011

An F.U. from Delta Airlines

Last week I did my yearly trip to visit family in remote South Dakota. There is no choice of airlines when one flies to these small airports and so I am stuck with Delta. I paid over $500 for my domestic coach ticket booked months in advance and could not afford another $50 for my one bag. So before the trip I pleaded with Delta to check my one bag for free. They, of course, denied my request saying they get lots of requests like mine. After my trip I sent them this follow up on my experience - their reply will follow.

Just one more comment then I'll stop bothering you. It's important for you to understand how your policies affect the travel experience. Here is how the baggage policy affected mine:
  • After paying over $500 for a domestic coach ticket - another $50 (round trip) for one bag was out of the question (we realize this makes room for more cargo for Delta to profit from - which is the point of the fees- right?)
  • I had to pack far fewer things to fit into a carry-on bag. My trip involved heavy labor which required me to do laundry several times during the 10 day visit due to no clean clothes.
  • I had a seat on Zone 4 - the last to board. All the luggage racks were full so I had to put my bag in a place near the back of the plane. While deplaning I had to wait for all those people in the back of the plane to exit before I could get my bag. MANY others had to do the same thing and some were not as patient - dodging between people to get back there (probably tight connections)
  • I arrived at gate G in Minneapolis - departing from gate B - that's a heck of a long walk carrying a heavy bag - trams were not running.
  • I had to use the restroom several times during the 4 hour layover which required putting my bag on the filthy floor so as to not leave it un-attended (many others had to do the same - making for an un-sanitary aircraft I'm certain)
  • After carting my now filthy bag around for 4 hours I was told it wouldn't fit on-board the smaller plane and they had to put it in the lower level anyway!!! This was not a large bag - just a standard duffel bag.
  • A similar experience happened on the return trip.
If Delta - and the other airlines that charge for the first checked bag think this makes for a pleasant travel experience they are sadly mistaken. It should be noted that the rest of the flight and the crew were all very nice but I'll remember this negative experience the next
time I book a flight with carrier options.

Delta's Response

Thank you for your additional comments concerning our recent exchange of e-mails.

Thank you for your comments regarding our baggage fees you were charged during your recent travel with us. We certainly understand your concern surrounding the addition of our baggage fees; however, Delta must be prudent and run our business in a way that ensures we are here to bring you to your favorite destinations for a long time to come.

We appreciate your thoughts on Delta's products and services and hope for your understanding as we do our best to remain a strong carrier able to serve our customers all over the globe.

We appreciate your business and look forward to seeing you on your next Delta flight.

So there you have it folks. As is typical of most major corporations today there is no need to keep customers happy - profit is the only motive. On Delta Airlines we are not people but cargo. I saw a notice painted on the side of the plane while boarding touting their Fortune 500 status. that's just good business! I would have been more impressed with a favorable rating from Good Housekeeping or some other customer based publication.

Just a side note - last year when the fees were $15 for the first checked bag I opted to have it checked. But that didn't leave Delta room for more cargo - so they raised the fees to the point where typical people can't afford it anymore.

Friday, May 13, 2011

ONE Down

Over the last 2 weeks I've been reading and watching in amazement all the discussion about the death of Osama Bin Laden. In this age of 24 hour news - or rather trying to fill 24 hours with news - it has been quite interesting all the topics, judgments, and stupidity that have come up. My short answer to all this is to just stop and think how you felt the very first minute you heard of his death. In that minute did you question if the procedure was legal, fair, justified etc. In that minute you know what you believe. If you can't remember that minute - try reflecting on the very first minute you saw the planes hit the towers on 9/11. That should clear things up for you nicely.

Now, I would like to give my props out to President Obama on this accomplishment. I want to focus my attention on how this was accomplished. One thing that hasn't been disputed in the news coverage and on-going discussion is the fact that this mission was very carefully planned over months, with contingency plans for any possible outcome, and the mission was executed precisely by our brave soldiers. The important point I want to make is that ONE person was killed in this mission. One. The target. Through careful planning and strategic execution no innocent civilian lives were lost. None.

I think that is a much better approach than "Shock and Awe".

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Blue Tea

The southern part of the United States has been ravaged by record numbers of killer tornadoes that have carved hundreds of miles of unbelievable destruction. As the climate change (that many deny) continues to worsen - these types of deadly storms will become more commonplace - but that is a topic of another discussion. The subject of this article is even more political in nature than climate change.

The states in the southern part of the USA are very red (GOP) Tea Party controlled states. There you will find the ultra conservative republicans whom I have accused of a lack of compassion for those less fortunate and having the attitude that if it isn't happening to me - right now - then it isn't happening. Well, sadly, this particular disaster is happening to them - right now. Many of these unfortunate families have lost everything. Their homes reduced to a pile of unrecognizable rubble and many don't have insurance to cover their loss. My question is what will they do now? Will they accept federal emergency money to help them recover from this disaster or will they refuse federal assistance in the same manner they refused federal infrastructure funds? FEMA is nothing if not a social program. The Tea Party is strongly opposed to federally funded social programs. This would seem a conflict of interest in the Tea Party movement.

There will be no conflict of interest in this case. The unfortunate victims of these tragedies should and will accept federal assistance to help them recover. That's what these programs are designed for and they work. As a tax payer I am more than happy that my tax dollars will help get these people back on their feet - even though it isn't happening to me - right now. I have compassion for those that lost everything in this tragedy. Will the Tea Party remember the victims of the next unfortunate tragedy in the same way when it happens to someone else? Losing your house to unemployment or devastating medical bills is no less tragic than losing it to a deadly storm. Federal programs are designed to help people in need. These programs can be modified and improved to be more efficient and less costly - but we must not terminate them. It is un-American to let those in need suffer without our help.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

That's Just Good Comedy

Once again - I don't usually re-post things that are posted elsewhere - or in this case everywhere, but I just can't resist. This one cracked me up!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


1138 = The number of statutory rights granted to married couples.
1138 = The number of statutory rights denied to same sex couples who cannot legally marry.

That's a big number.


I try to avoid writing articles that everyone else is also writing unless I have some unique perspective or a solution to the issue. I also avoid calling anyone a racist unless it is beyond a doubt - and I don't believe that just because you dislike someone doesn't automatically make you a racist. So, I have avoided using this label on this whole Birther issue until now. I am officially calling the Birthers racists. Also, most of the Tea Party fit this label as well. These people are out to discredit President Obama - not because of any policy issues they disagree with or with anything he may have said or done. They simply do not like the fact that he is a (half) black man. And I think it bothers them even more that he is a (half) black man who is doing a great job as President.

President Obama released his original birth certificate today to try to appease these racists. It won't work. He had already provided all the needed legal documents and newspaper articles of the birth announcement in the years since this stupid issue came about (Hillary Clinton who first brought this issue to the public attention has long been convinced Obama is indeed a natural born citizen). The documents he provided are more legal in the state of Hawaii than the ones the birthers demanded. Already - on the same day as they received the requested document, the birthers are questioning it's authenticity or the motive for not providing it sooner. These people are class A idiots - bigots and racists of the worst kind.

These same people accuse President Obama of being a Muslim (not that there is anything wrong with being a Muslim). They are conveniently forgetting that THEY are the ones who forced him to leave his long time Christian church over the Reverend Wright controversy. All of these baseless lies are only used to fuel their unfounded racism.

Certainly nothing I can say or do will change their minds either. But it is time for me to officially use the word they deserve. Racists.

Now, speaking of birthers - can we please have that birth certificate we were promised for Trig Palin?! There is the real controversy my friends.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

She's A Lady

I'm finding it so interesting having a female dog for the first time. I've had 4 canine companions in my adult life - all rescue dogs and all male except for my current one Loretta. Even though Loretta is a devoted hunter of all things moving, can get dirty from top to bottom without a thought and has a strong forbidding bark to any stranger that dare walk our street - she is way different than the male dogs.

I've found most dogs will provide unconditional love. They are always there for you, seem to know your moods and how to comfort you when you are down. Maybe it's not that Loretta is female but just that she has her own unique personality. Whatever the case, she does seem to have a few "conditions" to her affection. All my male dogs have energetically met me at the door - tails wagging with some joyful yelps - unable to contain their joy of my return. And that's if I only took the trash can to the curb! Loretta did that too while Oscar was alive and even for several weeks after. But soon her own unique personality came out. She seems to be somewhat of a loner and likes things quiet and calm. After a few weeks she stopped meeting me at the door because she was fast asleep on her royal love seat when I arrived. She gets up and stretches - but she prefers I come to her for her greeting - which she gladly accepts with a lick and a wag of the tail.

All of my male dogs have sat with me while I watch TV as close as they could get. Sometimes I would have to schooch them down a bit so I could stretch out. Loretta needs to be invited to the couch where she happily gets some attention from me before the show starts. She might lay down for a bit but not close - she needs her space. She quickly gets bored and either wants to go outside or to the other room where she can sit in quiet. Sometimes she goes to bed and licks my pillow waiting for me. I go into the bedroom and invite her to join me again and after a little coaxing she happily does. Lately, as she has gotten to know and trust me more and seems to spend more time where I am - but always at a bit of a distance. If I were to fart she will give me that "look" and promptly leave the room. My male dogs always joined me in the farting and we all got a good laugh out of it.

Loretta likes to be told she is pretty and pet in a more gentle manor. She is more submissive and always want's her belly rubbed. She is good with children and always ready to meet someone new on the street. She accepts compliments on her beautiful blond hair and enjoys any attention she gets.

So Loretta is very different from my male dogs but not in a bad way. I've recently started calling her my Golden Girl and jokingly referred to her as my blond bitch. But my favorite nickname for her fits much better. Mi-Lady.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Corporate Controlled Elections

Florida is in big trouble! When you hear people argue that our crooked Gov. Rick Scott was chosen by the voters to run this state they are lying. This last election was a vivid example of the power of corporate control over our national elections. Mr. Scott was purchased for this state. The goal? Unregulated business which includes unlivable wages, no environmental responsibility, and reduced legal responsibility. In other words huge profits at the expense of everyone.

Please read this alarming article printed in the Fort Lauderdale local newspaper:

Corporate millions have paid off in 'pro-business' legislative agenda

Here is a snippet:

"An Orlando Sentinel analysis of campaign-finance data released last week shows the top two dozen companies and interest groups gave a combined $4.2 million during the first three months of 2011 — a bit more than $500,000 to Democrats and the rest to the Republican Party of Florida, individual GOP lawmakers or the political funds they control.

Those same 30 largest Florida contributors combined to pour more than $45 million into the 2010 elections, the vast majority of the money put to use for Republicans.

It has paid off.

Business interest groups in Tallahassee are already describing this year as a "generational opportunity" to pass sweeping "free-market"' reforms that have sat on their shelves for years."

Friday, April 15, 2011

$10.50 Bump Knob

It's not as fun as the title sounds.

This little plastic part to my weed eater cost $10.50! This is a great example of my claims of over-pricing. I'll bet they would still make a profit if they sold it for $2.00 (I'm told the spring costs that much!), I would consider $2 fair pricing. This is just greed.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I Cut My Spending and I'm Still Broke

I used to have the American Dream (or what should be the American Standard). I own a very modestly priced home (by Florida standards) I have my own car, I'm insured (sorta) and I have a decent job. I used to be able pay for all these things and still have some left over for a nice vacation or an improvement on my house etc. Now I just can't seem to keep things afloat. What happened? Well there were 2 major events that caused this shortage:

1. I ended a 10 year relationship (that should have ended after year 2). This cause me to be a single income household rather than have 2 incomes.

2. The economy took a giant dump and I was forced to take a big pay cut at my job.

So, I've been trying to adjust. I've cut out all the extra things I used to enjoy and only pay for what I truly need. I got rid of magazine subscriptions, cut my cable bill, searched for cheaper insurance (which lowered my benefits), cut entertainment costs such as going out for dinner or a drink and only spend things on necessities - food, clothing (ha!), shelter, health-care . Still - I'm not quite making it - even by mowing lawns and doing handyman jobs on the side.

You see - I don't have a spending problem. I've taken control of my spending and cut out all those things that were not really needed. What I have is a REVENUE problem. The sad fact is that I will not get my budget balanced unless I get a better paying job, a second job, or somehow inherit some money.

Our country is in the very same spot. We were doing very well for a while then the economy took a dump and now we can't pay for things we want or even truly need. We can cut and cut and cut our spending, but the sad fact is that we have a revenue problem and not just a spending problem. Those who want to cut benefits for education, the elderly, disabled and sick - without first fixing the revenue problem must have a vested interest in that course of action at the expense of those less fortunate.

Fixing the USA's revenue problem is far easier than fixing mine. All we have to do is close tax loopholes and force corporations and the wealthy to pay their fair share. That, combined with some careful spending cuts should get us on the right track quite quickly.

As for me - I suppose I could sell my house - find a job somewhere with a cheaper cost of living and give up my life as I know it. Not yet! I'm gonna work a few extra hours and try to fix my revenue problem first. I got a roommate and I'll do whatever is necessary to increase my revenue so I can balance my budget. I simply can't do it just by cutting spending - the math doesn't add up.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Three Days Later

I wish there were no abortions - I really do. However I understand there are extreme circumstances and I have compassion for those who have to make this very difficult decision. South Dakota - my home state - under a Republican Governor just enacted a law that requires a 3 day waiting period for a woman to have an abortion.

Nature works fast.

Three days later - a group of cells may have formed a hand.
Three days later a heart may have started beating.
Three days later a consciousness may have developed.
Three days later a life may have truly started.

Few women make the drastic decision to have an abortion without careful thought. When this very difficult decision has been made - waiting 3 more days could make the difference on taking a life. There is much debate on when life begins. Personally, I believe that life starts at conception. Perhaps in God's eyes life doesn't really begin until he strikes the heart to beating. Maybe life doesn't begin until the first brain synapse occurs - or maybe it's the first breath.

I don't have the answer on when life begins. I just know that 3 days later there is more life. If that life actually begins during those 3 days (in God's eyes) - who is to blame?

The American Standard

It's been said over the years that the American Dream is to own your own house and car and to be able to provide for your family the necessities of life, food - clothing - shelter - health care. This should not be the American Dream - it should be the American Standard.

This country has the potential to provide that standard to MOST of its citizens yet, sadly, it remains only a dream from many. It is not that these people do not work hard - in fact many work several jobs in order to pay their rent and basic expenses. The problem is greed by a few that make prices far higher than they need to be and wages far lower than they should be.

President Obama and the Democrats have been called Socialists because of their attempts to empower the middle class. Meanwhile the Republican Party has made it their primary goal to empower corporations at the expense of the common people. Corporations do not care about your dream of a house or health care - they would prefer to own both and over charge you enough that your American Dream will remain just that - a dream.

If we want the American Dream to be the American Standard - we need to support policies that support the people. That is in fact the Democratic agenda.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Pro-Business is Un-American

It has been a couple of months now with a slew of new Tea Party Governors and Senators in office and their agenda has become crystal clear - it's all pro-business. You might imagine that pro-business means pro-jobs (it's what they want you to believe) - but you would be very wrong. Pro-business actually translates to anti-worker and anti-consumer. You will notice in all the states where new Tea Party Governors have been seated there have been immediate job cuts - mostly Federal jobs but those are real needed jobs held by real people. Plus, we can't ignore the drastic efforts to stop the employees from having a voice. By putting a stop to union collective bargaining, they open the door to lowering wages, eliminating benefits, and removing any way for a typical employee to bargain against the corporate giants. Corporations will not stop until it is cheaper for them to make products here than over seas. That means they expect us to work for pennies so they can increase their profits. It is very pro-business but also very anti-worker.

The Tea Party will respond that these measures are necessary for businesses to be competitive in this country. They claim those cost savings will be passed on to consumers in the form of lower prices. This is the big lie. Corporations do not have the best interest of the consumer pocketbook in mind when they cut operating costs. Their only motive is profit. Let me repeat - their only motive is profit. Cutting costs increases their profit - it does not increase your savings.

On taxes the Tea Party claims that businesses need to be exempt - again in order to be competitive and provide all those needed jobs. Guess what - they have had giant tax breaks for many years and yet we still have a job shortage. Some of the largest corporations in the country (like GE and Exxon/Mobile) pay no U.S. taxes at all. Clearly those savings are passed on to the consumer in great prices - right. Another grand lie. Gas prices are higher than ever - and GE products are anything but inexpensive. By the way - if you thought that BP would pay for their own disaster you can think again. The gas prices we are paying today are covering those costs. There is no shortage. Gas prices were already on the rise before any of the Middle East uprising.

The Tea Party also believes we need less government oversight on businesses so again - they can be more competitive. What they really mean is that they do not want to be held accountable for the quality of their products, the condition of their work environment, or the protection of the Earth. Fewer regulations will not bring cheaper prices to the people - just more profits for the shareholders.

We need policies in this country that are pro-worker and pro-consumer. We need MORE government regulation to keep our workers and products safe and to protect the environment. The Tea Party has also pointed out quite clearly that we need more unions in this country so the people's voices can be heard next the the voice of the corporations. We cannot allow corporations to run uncontrolled and unregulated. Greed and corruption must not be the norm. Corporations can and do make a profit even while paying taxes, fair wages, and making quality products that are safe for the environment.

My favorite protester sign I saw recently said "Don't Drink The Tea - It's Full Of Crap". I couldn't have said it better.