July 2009

By Wink

As everybody knows by now, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, a top African-American scholar, was arrested on July 16 and accused of disorderly conduct after police responded to a report of a possible burglary at his Cambridge home.

None of us were there, but we can probably guess what happened. The policeman, responding to a legitimate break-in call, found a man in the house who turned out to be the homeowner.

The much-esteemed prof probably blew his top at the cop. Highly thought-of professors tend to think highly of themselves.  I am confident he reacted badly to the questioning he took. Bad form.

The police officer also acted badly. Once he established that the professor owned the house, he should have made a quick getaway and saved his “that professor is an A——” story for the squad room.

Nope. He had to escalate it by arresting a gimpy little 58-year old man in his own house. The charge later was dropped, but the black/white issue was too tempting for the national press to resist.

Then Obama stuck his foot in it, and finally he invited both men to the White House for a beer….   blah, blah, blah.

That should have been the end of it.

Somewhere along the line a Boston Globe columnist asked readers, “Would you stand for this kind of treatment, in your own home, by a police officer who by now clearly has no right to be there?”

Uh-oh. Boston police officer Justin Barrett, with a black-belt in “Moron,” decided he could not let that (seemingly rhetorical) question go unanswered.

So he sent a mass e-mail to some of his fellow members of the National Guard and also to the Boston Globe. In it he referred to professor Gates as a “banana-eating jungle monkey,”

He used that phrase, “banana-eating jungle monkey,” FOUR TIMES in the e-mail and indicated, were HE the arresting officer, he also would have pepper-sprayed the professor.

This is a guy that LOVES being a cop.

According to a statement from Boston police, Commissioner Edward Davis took action immediately on learning of Barrett’s remarks, stripping the officer of his gun and badge.

They indicated that Barrett is now “on administrative leave, pending the outcome of a termination hearing.”

Not surprisingly, officer Barrett has apologized, saying he’s not a racist.He told a Boston television station that he was sorry for the e-mail. “I regret that I used such words, I have so many friends of every type of culture and race you can name. I am not a racist.”

Listen, soon-to-be-former officer Barrett, don’t bother telling us you have a black friend. We sort of doubt it anyhow, but if you do have a black ‘friend,’ he either doesn’t really know you, or knows you better than you think.

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By Wink

The Senate has voted to block expansion of one of the country’s most controversial and expensive defense programs, the F-22 fighter jet. The vote gave the White House and Pentagon a key victory over congressional supporters of the F-22, many of whom represent states and districts where jobs are tied to the production of the jet.

The President didn’t want it.

John McCain didn’t want it.

The military didn’t want it.

The Air Force recently reported that the F-22 requires more than 30 hours of maintenance for every flight hour, The Office of the Secretary of Defense put that figure at 34 hours of maintenance per single hour of flight.

Thirty to thirty-four hours of maintenance for every hour of flight? Is this worse than helicopters? (Note: helicopters require tons of maintenance)

The primary cause of its maintenance is a constant need to repair radar-absorbing metallic skin.

Another source of maintenance problems is that many components require custom hand-fitting and are not interchangeable.

Non-interchangeable parts? What a boondoggle!

Why did it take so long to kill this beast? Because your congressmen and senators insisted on keeping it, Democrats and Republicans alike.

In the olden days (50+ years ago) the military budget increased because the military kept asking for new and expensive weaponry. Congress pretty much always gave them everything they wanted.

In more recent years an interesting change has happened. The military budget is increasing because Congress has been ordering weapons that the military doesn’t even want. The F-22 is but one example.

This is the ultimate pork. It is safe to assume many in Congress knew these weapons would NEVER be used. They were just spending money to create jobs in their districts.

Disgraced ex-Senator Ted Steven’s $398 million ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ was horribly wasteful, but at least it would have helped 35 people get from the island they live on to the mainland Alaska. This is positively frugal when compared to Congress-ordered weapons programs.

Because they face reelection every two years, Congressmen are never NOT running for reelection. They repeatedly vote to maintain useless weapons programs and start new ones because it keeps money going to their districts, which keep getting them re-elected. This is my money, and your money, being poured down a rat hole.

Creating jobs is not a horrible idea. It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist (like me) to find better ways to create jobs.

Rather than building a $2 billion weapon that doesn’t work (and the military doesn’t even want), how about fixing an interstate bridge (see Minneapolis) before it falls into the river? How disruptive was the missing bridge to the Minnesota economy?

Our infrastructure, bridges, roads, highways, sewage systems, etc, are old and crumbling. The stimulus package is aimed at resolving that.

Ending crazy pork projects like the F-22 can help fund the stimulus package.

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By Kasson

I have changed the banner to better reflect the site and its purposes.  It is a picture from a recent trip to D.C. and is of (obviously) the Washington Monument taken from the WWII Memorial.

EDIT: If you cant view the new picture, you must delete your cache/temporary internet files.  (Which may take more effort than it is worth).

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By Wink

The conspiracy nuts are always with us…

JFK had multiple killers. The moon landing was faked. Israel crashed those jets into the twin towers. The Holocaust didn’t happen. On and on they go.

I don’t really understand the pathetic people who continue to push these conspiracies, except for those whose sole desire is to sell books.( “Bermuda Triangle” anybody?)

There are also the fun/prank versions. (“Bigfoot” anybody?)

But a long-since debunked conspiracy is resurfacing, that Barack Obama was not born in the United States.

His birth certificate is now in the public domain, and has been certified by the state of Hawaii, and verified by FactCheck.org. Please note: Hawaii became a state before he was born there on August 4, 1961.

A Delaware Republican Congressman recently held a town hall meeting to take questions from his constituents, the type of thing a true public servant should do. Sadly, wingnuts tend to show up at these and try to turn the whole event toward their agenda. I will synopsize what happened…

Wingnut Gal: “I am holding a copy of my birth certificate that says…” (Wingnut proceeds to read the WHOLE birth certificate). “Barack Obama has never shown his, and he is not a citizen of the United States. He is a citizen of Kenya, and why can’t we get him removed as the president and …” (10 more minutes of blah-blah-blah)

Congressman: (after a long pause) “Barack Obama is a citizen of the United States.”

Crowd: “Booooooooooooo!”

God bless this Republican Congressman, who dared try to speak the truth to the wingnuts. He never stood a chance.

John McCain says Barack Obama is an American citizen.

It doesn’t matter. You could hold a certified copy of the birth certificate in the face of one of these wack-jobs and they would refute it, saying it was a fake.

“Truth” is not their aim. They are frustrated because the concept of a “President Obama” does not fit their agenda, be it pro-choice, anti-gay, pro-gun or whatever.

Nope. It probably isn’t even any of that.

When someone says: “Obama does not have a valid birth certificate.” what I hear them REALLY saying is…

“I ain’t gonna keep my mouth shut while that N***** is still president.”

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By Wink

These are the dog days of summer. There is almost nothing interesting happening, at least in OUR corner of the world.

The only political diversion is the process of approving Sonia Sotomayor as the next Supreme Court justice.

Because politics is a never-ending game, some conservatives tried to inflate some of her off-handed comments into ‘proof’ that she is racist against whites. Of course, her judgments in 3000+ court cases did not prove any such pattern. But hey, that’s politics!

Otherwise, nothing.

Yeah, a handful of notable celebs died. Some were too young, but many were well-on in years. Really, a 92-year old celebrity dying can’t be a shock, can it?

Even the sports are boring this time of year. Why else would all famous athletes be able to attend the ESPY’s?

You just have to be a news junkie to note (or care) that a British airline won’t let swine flu victims on their jets. Wow, big news!

The better news happens when elections are upcoming. The BEST news happens when a PRESIDENTIAL election is upcoming.

2012 can’t get here soon enough.

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By Wink

How much influence does the Surgeon General of the U.S. have? Precious little, I think. It always seemed to me more ceremonial than functional. I imagine seeing the budget for this position would make me cry.

I guess being a ‘spokesman’ is a job. Previous ones have spoken out against smoking and in favor of exercise.

If I were the U. S. Surgeon General I would tell people to eat less and go for a walk. Repeat daily.

Regardless, President Obama just announced his choice to fill this position, Dr. Regina Benjamin.

Dr Benjamin is a family practice doctor who has spent most of her career working with poor patients in a Gulf Coast clinic in Alabama.

When announcing the pick, President Obama said: “When people couldn’t pay, she didn’t charge them. When the clinic wasn’t making money, she didn’t take a salary for herself.”

Does this sound familiar? President Obama was a community organizer who worked, hands on, to improve the lives of the less fortunate.

He could, no doubt, identify with Dr’ Benjamin’s purpose and dedication.

Lots of people talk about how poor people can help themselves. You know, the old ‘pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps’ speech.

Others, such as Obama and Dr Benjamin, do more than talk, they go out and get their hands dirty actually helping the needy.

So what is the influence of the U. S. Surgeon General?

We can’t all become president. That is a job with a finite number of openings, but hey, you don’t have to be elected to be a doctor.

Maybe, as much as anything, inspiring people in toward academic excellence can be part of the legacy of Dr. Benjamin, whether they become doctors or not.

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By Wink

She stepped down? Why did she do that? The crazy spotlight of being a veep candidate runs pretty hot, but that race is long over.

There is a lot of strain in being the governor. I guess it would have taxed me too, but stepping down half way through your first term?

Whatever her motivations, she will come around again, just like a bad penny. So that is what I will call her, Bad Penny.

Penny has been a beauty contestant, a TV sportscaster, a small town mayor and governor of a large state. This is not someone who avoids microphones.

Quite the contrary, she revels in it. She likes the good of it. She likes the bad of it. It is her life’s goal to be the center of attention.

John McCain’s curious (some would say impetuous) V.P. decision delivered Penny to her own personal nirvana – up and down the TV dial on a daily basis.

Honestly though, we need people like that. Leaders tend to have this quality.

Bad Penny shares that quality with other leaders but, dear oh dear, can we get a break from her for a while?

Her foibles have been procto-scoped like all of the Michael Jackson goings-on. I am totally exhausted with stories about her daughter / grandchildren / husband / winking / Letterman issues etc., etc….

People, I assure you, she is NOT that interesting.

So she resigned. It doesn’t matter.
Will she again crave the spotlight? You betcha!
You can’t get rid of Bad Penny.

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By Wink

I have been gone.

I told you I was going to Boston, and so I did. I had a great time there, and then slipped down to D.C. for some additional historical sightseeing.

Did anything interesting happen while I was gone?

What? Michael Jackson died? You are joking, right??

I haven’t heard anything about it. Has the press been keeping it a secret?

Hmm. David Carradine, Karl Malden, Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett. This is a bit of a bad streak for the entertainment industry. You know they always say they die “in five’s.”

(By the way, people don’t “die in three’s.” If two famous people die, that means two famous people died. Why do people make an issue when a third, for example 97-year old Karl Malden, also dies? And who gets to decide who is famous enough to be included in the “three?”)

The Michal Jackson headlines/specials/tributes will not end ANYTIME soon, but the endless fascination and adulation is sickening. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised.

The real wacko’s are now coming out of the woodwork. One woman has sued to take immediate control of his estate, saying she is the mother of all three of his children. I sort of doubt the veracity of this claim…

People with (a) some connection and (b) little connection and (c) no connection to the Jackson family are being paraded in front of TV cameras as ‘experts.’

The press, desperate for angles, has said…

He died without a will

He died with a will

He was murdered, or committed suicide or

A real dr, or a NOT real doctor, or a nurse, or drug-pushers gave him…

Sleeping pills and/or pain pills or

Injections to slow his breathing, or….

He made himself sick on purpose so he could cancel some concert dates

ENOUGH ALREADY. His is mostly just a case of a weird life ending weirdly.

By the way, I am not a Michael Jackson hater. I had his records. I sang his songs. None other than Fred Astaire called Jackson the best dancer of our era.

You had his records and sang his songs too. But you gotta admit, his life went off the deep end somewhere.

Losing Billy Mays (the Oxy-Clean guy)? Now that one hurts. That guy scratched and clawed for everything he got. To become a celebrity hawking two-bit household goods? THAT takes some moxie.

I didn’t mind his goofy commercials, even though I never bought anything he pushed.

He finally had everything, including a lovely wife and young kids. He led a surprisingly normal life. Ugh.

Rest in peace, Billy Mays. You will be missed…

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