January 2009

You probably know that you are not allowed to put the word “Super” and the word “Bowl” together, right?

The National Football League owns the rights to that phrase. You know…. Super (pause, pause, pause) Bowl. They can and will prosecute you for the use of that phrase if you do not pay them to use it.

To avoid paying a hefty fee I will use the random phrase “Super Bowel” for the rest of this article.

Grocery stores want to sell chips, pop & beer. Bars want to sell beer, wings, beer and beer. If they use Super Bowel in an advertisement the NFL will be on them like stink on the Detroit Lions.

Too bad for these businesses, who resort to phrases like “the big game” and “the football game” in their ads.

Lame, lame, lame. I am surprised the NFL hasn’t copyrighted “the big game” and “football” and “game”. They seem powerful enough to do it.

(What? They DID try to copyright “the big game”? Do I owe them money for saying “football”?)

You would think the NFL would encourage the use of that phrase, to make this event EVEN MORE POPULAR.
As it is, the Super Bowel is, year in and year out, one of the lamest football games of the year, college or pro, rarely competitive and always too long.

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Today I was going to write about Blagojevich,  but this morning a news story on Good Morning America caught my eye.

Citigroup has just purchased a $50 million dollar jet.  Citigroup which has received atleast a $45 billion bailout, claims that they are not using the bailout money for that.  I find this to be completely dishonest.  They are banks and they know how this works.  They sold two other jets to help fund this, while the sale of those two jests is unlikely to be enough to cover the costs.  Also, they may have sold those two jets previously, but without the bailout that money would have gone to help the company.   This is like knowing your parents will help you out if you are low on money.  You are willing to risk a little extra, spend more of your money on something you want, because you know you can replace that money from your parents.  

So while they claim that they are paying for all of it without bailout money,  Know that the real owner of the jet ius the american people.  Think of it as a gift to Citigroup, after all they have been doing such a great job recently.

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So we are in this meeting, and I say to my co-workers “You know the government has recorded all of your phone calls and e-mails for several years now.”

Co-worker 1: They are recording our business calls?

Me: No, they were recording ALL calls, yours, and yours, and yours (pointing to various coworkers). And recording all of your e-mails too.

Co-worker 2: Why would they do that?

Me: I presume this has been under the guise of stopping terrorism.

(You know what is coming next, don’t you??)

Co-worker 3: I don’t care, I have nothing to hide.

Co-worker 4: If it makes us safer, it is worth it.

Eleven people were in the room with me, and not one felt it was problematic that the government has been recording all of our phone calls and e-mails.

People in the Bush administration used this power to spy on journalists. Not foreign journalists, American journalists. Local calls, not even the dangerous ‘overseas’ calls. Nixon revisited! But no one cares.
How much of this attitude can we attribute to natural stupidity, and how much credit does the Bush administration get for years of intentionally scaring the crap out of us? I can’t tell. I never want to downplay the level of natural stupidity.

Stupid is a pretty harsh word. I could be kind, and call this ignorance or naiveté, but I am too old. A lifetime of observation tells me there is no ‘learning curve’ to indicate our society is getting smarter regarding civic issues. So, “stupid” it is.

We can stroll along clueless and hope all works out for the best.
All societies go through good and bad times. Sometimes very bad (sort of like now). If we elected a charismatic who also happens to be a megalomaniac, this type of leader (think Putin) will insist on suspending our civil liberties. Like always, it will be to “protect” us from some evil. And we will follow like sheep. We need our great leader to protect us!

He will need to suspend congressional powers because Congress moves too slow (and asks too many questions). We need action now!

Listen people, it starts with listening to our phone calls, which is BAD enough, and leads to monitoring everything we do. Why would it stop at the phone? Why wouldn’t the government reach in to our bedroom activities? What is stopping them now?

Then they suspend habeas corpus, meaning people can be imprisoned without cause. Why do you think this wouldn’t happen? It is happening now. Or don’t ‘foreigners’ count?

Some people will dare to stand up to that megalomaniac President and say “what you are doing is unconstitutional”.

These people will be called traitors, terrorist-lovers and un-American. Does any of this sound familiar?

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I have heard plenty of naivety on both sides of the aisle about what constitutes “torture.” For example, one opinion I heard was in reference to Susan Crawford’s recent statements about Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohammed al-Qahtani’s treatment. This person said, upon hearing that al-Qahtani was held in sustained isolation, deprived of sleep and clothing and faced prolonged exposure to cold, “while this is embarrassing and depressing, it is not torturous.”

It does not take tools to torture. None of the prisoners are thankful they aren’t being tortured when the conditions currently forced upon them are brought to mind. Some people at Guantanamo Bay have done nothing wrong, but even those that have done wrong should not be subjected to such degrading and, in some cases, painful treatment without so much as evidence of their guilt. After all, they would only be at Guantanamo if there was no evidence against them.

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We have a new president. A brand new administration. A brand new way of approaching our duties as American citizens. For the last eight years, we as Americans failed in our duties. We did not question loud enough, if at all, the (ab)use of power by the Bush Administration. That cannot happen with this administration. If/when Obama’s administration does something against that which is most important to the US-the Constitution-they will not get away with it.

I am a strong supporter of Obama, but I am also a strong supporter of justice.

It is our responsibility as Americans to question the powers given to, and used by, the President.

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The United States must still be important. The whole world seems to be applauding our choice. They have certainly taken notice.

Did you enjoy the inauguration as much as I did?  Countless thousands of people waited for hours in 29 degree weather just to say they were there. There was almost no chance they would catch even a glimpse of the new president, except maybe on the screens up and down the mall.

What an amazing display of diversity and positive energy.  

People are always comparing President Obama to Lincoln, and the overlapping themes between them are logical and compelling. Rather than Lincoln, President Obama chose to quote Washington in his inauguration speech.

To me he is more reminiscent of Harry Truman.

Both come from very humble backgrounds. Both were eggheads, even in their youth.

Truman, too, was a constitutional scholar, and almost always based decisions on the law rather than how good a decision might make him look.

Truman was a pragmatist, but preferred to do the right thing, even if it ruffled feathers. He had a penchant for telling people what they needed to hear rather than what they wanted to hear.

The duties of the president are too great, and the ramifications of decisions too important to be overly concerned with how you are perceived.

In his speech President Obama emphasized personal responsibility. “Greatness is never a given, it must be earned.” 

And on making difficult choices…. “Our economy is badly weakened as a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also on our collective failure to make hard choices to prepare the nation for a new age.”

Does this mean Obama is destined for Truman-level greatness?

Not yet. He has to show he can make those hard choices. He must cut programs that are not effective in order to fund others. Cutting funding is ALWAYS unpopular.

But, for now, welcome to the big leagues Mr. President. Our prayers are with you.

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Let us enjoy the moment.

Forget the divisiveness of the previous administration.

Delay, for the moment, your concerns about the obvious monstrous tasks that lie ahead.

An increased participation in the quagmire that is Afghanistan awaits.

The gradual removal of American troops from Iraq has not yet begun.

The auto industry may be forced to turn their strategies upside down to stay alive, and several may not make it.

Unemployment will probably continue to rise.

The deficit will, out of necessity, continue to balloon.

Crazy loans will cause additional home foreclosures into the foreseeable future.

The international image of the U.S. may be at an all-time low.

Will the new president be able to solve all this with the wave of his hand?


Set the problems aside.

Let it all go for now.

Try to focus on the wonder that is January 20, 2009 in the United States of America.

A step forward no one could have predicted 100 years ago, 20 years ago, not even 2 years ago.

Regardless of how you voted, pat yourself on the back. You live in a truly great country.

And thank your lucky stars for the same.

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One would think that a 365 to 173 butt kicking in the electoral college (which democrats have hated for a long time) would show republicans the big picture. One would think that an 18 seat deficit in the Senate would show republicans the big picture. One would think that a 78 seat deficit in the House would show republicans the big picture. The big picture is, of course, moderate is the new America.

Obama is showing that the democratic symbol will not be what he pledges to. Just look at who is speaking at his inauguration, as well as who is going to be in his cabinet.

Republicans, on the other hand, believe that what they need to do is get more conservative. I’m sure you’ve seen the recent interviews with Sarah Palin, where she says that if she were a democrat she’d be much more accepted (just like Hillary Clinton was or Caroline Kennedy currently is).

Equally, republicans believe they didn’t win the presidential election because McCain wasn’t conservative enough. I am willing to say that the election would have been a toss-up, if not even in McCain’s favor, had he picked a more moderate running-mate, such as Joe Lieberman, Chuck Hagel, or really even Mitt Romney.

The only republicans that knew conservative is the wrong direction after the election are the ones that knew it before, and it may be a couple years before that idea catches on.

Frankly, I think we have all the time in the world.

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Recently there were 50 divorces listed in the local paper. In 19 of these, the last names were different (or hyphenated).  Almost 40% of the couples who were getting a divorce did not have the spouses sharing a name. What does this tell us?

People get married, not really sure they want to be with that partner forever.  Marriage should be a fairly serious matter, not the least of which because it often results in children.

There are times when keeping your name makes sense.

         when you are in business, and your name ‘carries’ the business

         when you hate your spouses last name (who wants to be Mrs. Fred Stinkledge?)

This is not a macho “the woman must take the mans name” issue. Nor is this some religious mantra. It is not even because I am hopelessly old-fashioned, even though at times I am hopelessly old-fashioned.

The man can take the woman’s name for all I care. ‘Picasso’ was not Pablo’s fathers last name, it was his mothers! 

This is simply an issue of earnestness. Do you REALLY want to be married to that person? Really? Then take their last name.

Too many people get married knowing they can exit if something goes wrong. This is a bad-bad approach to a marriage. How can a marriage ever be truly happy if you always have one foot out the door?

Do you think your kids don’t sense this? If you are serious about the sanctity of marriage, your kids might be too.

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I know that TIME used this title, but I really like it.

According to Barack Obama’s advisors, his current plan could create as much as 4.1 million new jobs, more than quadrupling (standard 5th grade math) his campaign promise of 1 million. I can pretty much guarantee that this will be the most progressive legislation passed in my lifetime. The only thing that would slow it down would be senate republicans. They have been speaking very critically of Obama’s plans, which is projected to cost about as much as the Bailout Bill. Conveniently enough, that bill passed very quickly, could it be possible that that was because a republican president supported it?

These next few years will undoubtedly be tough, but what comes out of it will ideally be an America much smarter and stronger than before…and one without poor loan practices.

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