Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Should Auld Acquaintance . . . 2008 Deaths

by Dick Mac

Freddie Hubbard, musician, 70
George Rene Francis, oldest living man in America, 112
Robert Graham, sculptor, 70
Delaney Bramlett, musician, 69
Harold Pinter, playwright, 78
Eartha Kitt, singer, 81
Robert Mulligan, director, 83
Mike "Mad Dog" Bell, pro wrestler, 37
Majel Barrett Roddenberry, actress, 76
Martha (Sunny) von B├╝low, heiress, socialite, and philanthropist, 76
Sam Bottoms, actor, 54
Sammy Baugh, athlete, 94
W. Mark Felt, 'Deep Throat' of Watergate, 95
Bettie Page, 1950s pin-up model, 85
Odetta Holmes, folk singer, 77
Irving Brecher, writer, 94
Betty James, toy executive, namer of "slinky", 90
Gerald Schoenfeld, influential figure in theater, 84
Edna Parker, worlds oldest person, 115
William Gibson, playwright, 94
Yma Sumac, singer, 86
Michael Crichton, author, 66
Studs Terkel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, 96
Shakir Stewart, 'Def Jam' records executive VP
Rudy Ray Moore, comedian and filmmaker, 81
Edie Adams, actress, 81
Jack Narz, game-show host, 85
Levi Stubbs, Four Tops lead singer, 72
Neal Hefti, TV theme music writer, 85
House Peters Jr. , actor, 92
Paul Newman, legendary actor, 83
Norman Whitfield, Motown hitmaker, 67
Richart Wright, Pink Floyd founding member and keyboardist, 65
Martin Tytell, Typewriter Wizard, 94
Bill Melendez, 'Peanuts' animator, 91
Jerry Reed, singer and actor, 71
Don LaFontaine, voice talent, 68
Michael Pate, actor, 88
Edwin Guthman, journalist, 89
Phil Hill, race-car driver, 81
Hazel Warp, Hollywood stuntwoman, 93
Geoffrey Perkins, comedy producer, 55
Walter "Killer" Kowalski, pro wrestler, 81
Jerry Finn, music producer, 39
LeRoi Moore, musician, 46
Manny Farber, film critic and artist, 91
Gene Upshaw, athlete and Union Chief, 63
Jack A. Weil, western wear maker and oldest CEO, 107
Jerry Wexler, rhythm and blues pioneer, 91
Sandy Allen, world's tallest woman, 53
Anthony Hart, Carey Hart's motocross-racing brother, 21
Isaac Hayes, musician, 65
Bernie Mac, actor / comedian, 50
Bernie Brillstein, producer, 77
Skip Caray, baseball announcer, 68
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, writer, 89
Estelle Getty, actress, 84
Olive Riley, world's oldest blogger , 108
Hiroaki (Rocky) Aoki, Benihana founder, 69
Bobby Murcer, athlete, 62
Michael DeBakey, pioneering heart doctor, 99
Clem McSpadden, congressman / rodeo announcer, 82
Evelyn Keyes, actress, 91
Tony Snow, presidential press secretary, 53
Jesse Helms, former senator, 86
Larry Harmon, Bozo the Clown, 83
Fyodor Uglov, oldest practicing surgeon, 103
David Caminer, Pioneer in Computers, 92
Dody Goodman, comedian, 93
George Carlin, counterculture comedian, 71
Cyd Charisse, legendary dancer, 86
Stan Winston, movie special effects guru, 62
Esbjorn Svensson, musician, 44
Charlie Jones, NBC sportscaster, 77
Tim Russert, NBC political journalist, 58
Jim McKay, sportscaster, 86
Alton Kelley, psychedelic artist, 67
Mel Ferrer, actor-director, 90
Bo Diddley, guitarist, 79
Yves Saint Laurent, fashion icon, 71
Luc Bourdon, NHL Canucks defenseman, 21
Alexander Courage, 'Star Trek' theme composer, 88
Joseph Pevney, 'Star Trek' TV director, 96
Harvey Korman, comic actor, 81
Thelma Keane, inspiration for 'Family Circus' Mommy, 82
Sydney Pollack, director, 73
Hamilton Jordan, political adviser, 63
J.R. Simplot, fry innovator, 99
Bruce "Utah" Phillips, folk singer, 73
Dick Martin, comic, 86
Edward N. Lorenz, scientist, 90
John Phillip Law, actor, 70
John Rutsey, musician"Rush", 55
George P. Cressman, meteorologist, 88
Eddy Arnold, musician, 89
Robert Rauschenberg, artist, 82
Warren Cowan, Hollywood press agent, 87
Robert Mondavi, vintner, 94
Danny Federici, E Street Band keyboard player, 58
Hazel Court, actress, 82
Richard Widmark, actor, 93
Wayne Frost, 'Flashdance' breakdancer "Frosty Freeze",44
Ollie Johnston, Disney animator, 95
Charlton Heston, Hollywood legend, 84
Abby Mann, writer, 80
Sean Levert, singer, 39
Jules Dassin, director, 96
Isreal "Cachao" Lopez, Mambo pioneer, 89
Jon Hassler, author, 74
Paul Scofield, actor, 86
Ivan Dixon, actor/director, 76
Arthur C. Clarke, writer, 90
Joseph Weizenbaum, programmer "Eliza", 85
Anthony Minghella, director, 54
Ola Brunkert, former drummer for ABBA, 62
Gary Gygax, Dungeons & Dragons creator, 69
Jeff Healy, musician, 41
Michael Conley, punk musician, 48
Buddy Miles, drummer, 60
Mike Smith, singer, 64
Kon Ichikawa, director, 92
Myron Cope, Steelers announcer, 79
W.C. "Bill" Heinz, writer, 93
William F. Buckley Jr., conservative commentator, 82
Roy Scheider, actor, 75
Margaret Truman Daniel, presidential daughter, 83
Earl Butz, agriculture secretary, 98
Shell Kepler, actress, 49
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, guru, 91
Gordon Hinckley, Mormon president, 97
Haji Muhammad Suharto, former Indonesian dictator, 86
Christian Brando, son of Marlon Brando, 49
Billy Poole, extreme skier, 28
Heath Ledger, actor, 28
John Stewart, Kingston Trio singer/songwriter, 68
Georgia Frontiere, NFL Rams owner, 80
Frances Lewine, journalist, 86
Allan Melvin, 'Brady Bunch' actor, 84
Suzanne Pleshette, actress, 70
Bobby Fischer, chess master, 64
Maila Nurmi, TV's 'Vampira', 85
Brad Renfro, actor, 25
Christopher Bowman, figure skater, 40
Edmund Hillary, legendary mountaineer, 88
Johnny Grant, 'honorary mayor of Hollywood', 84

As always, my year-round source for obituaries is Deathwatch Central.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The World's Shortest Fairy Tale

by Dick Mac

Once upon a time, a guy asked his partner: 'Will you marry me?'

His partner exclaimed, 'NO!'

The guy rode his motorcycle, and surfed the web, and went fishing and hunting, and rented action films on DVD, and played sports a lot, and drank beer and scotch, and left the toilet seat up, and farted whenever he wanted, and he lived happily ever after.

The End

Monday, December 29, 2008

Priorities & Connecting the Dots

by Al Falafel

THE MARCH GOES ON: American Financier after Corporate CEO after Industry Representative, heads held low as they shuffle along, stepping in line; up Capitol Hill, down Pennsylvania Avenue; hands out, palms up; and nothing but billion dollar bailouts on their minds.

If this is not actually the funeral procession for laissez capitalism it damn well ought to be.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, the National Priorities Project released a brief video this year as a deserving tribute to the persistence of its founders and supporters. The video, presented here, provides an overview of the environment in which this organization has worked all these years and what they have been doing to raise awareness of the displaced priorities, missed opportunities and economic threats that brought us to our current situation.

More than $700 billion of tax-payer money set aside for cleaning up after so much out-of-control profiteering and corporate excesses of the past three decades!

As that unfathomable figure keeps growing and the national debt skyrockets our personal income, if we are lucky, just stagnates. For too many of us, caught up in the resulting layoffs from this colossal boondoggle, our resources are drying up completely - including any personal savings and public services we may have been counting on.

So far, the outrageously expensive relief packages that Congress and the Bush Administration have rolled out include nothing that might effectively stabilize the inherently volatile capitalist system. Other than strict regulation and market oversight - incredibly still a matter of political debate in this country(!) - there is absolutely nothing that can prevent a recurrence of the meltdown we are in.

Left to its own erratic devices the free market will inevitably lead those undead corporate bloodsuckers back to the taxpayer's trough like zombies out of a Robert Zemeckis flick.

Having found such easy pickings in the DC vaults they are likely to be back sooner rather than later.

There is reasonable hope that the Obama Administration will at least see to it that the wage slaves of the middle class will benefit in some tiny, short term way from the disbursement of those bailout funds. But it remains to be seen how the new regime will address the inevitable rehabilitation of the economy once they take over and the current crisis has bottomed out.

Though the most egregious corporate failures and abuses leading up to the current collapse were certainly accelerated during the free-wheeling, bellicose Bush years, the wheels were definitely set in motion by the repulsive "Reagan Revolution" launched nearly 30 years ago. All of us consumers and voters have been made fools of for having let things go so long and get so out of hand before enough of us began to realize that this is where we have been headed all along.

Some - like the National Priorities Project - did catch on pretty quickly. But nothing was able to stop the blood tide once it started rolling.

We have been lured into regarding this global economic downturn as though it is some sort of widespread natural disaster that just happened, unforeseen and unforeseeable - like an act of God - with all of us more or less equally victimized. Clearly this is another instance of that "manufactured consent" Noam Chomsky speaks of in this enlightening video...

In adding up the costs of the impending bailouts and remedial measures that are intended to revive our ailing economy after the Bush era implosion the question remains of what and who really caused this fiasco. And what consequences will be in store for those found to be responsible for having brought us to this brink of international economic catastrophe?

Naturally, those who are caught blatantly committing fraud and other indictable economic crimes are likely to face charges at some point. But will the prosecution of independent mercenaries be sufficient when most of the damage has been wrought by organized syndicates operating within the parameters of legality?

In the past, when we were serious about preventing any recurrence of major global disasters perpetuated by legitimate armies, tribunals were held to make spectacular examples of those found to be responsible. Blameworthy commanders and troop leaders were made to pay for the error of their ways.

Of course, war crime tribunals have only been held in extreme cases that cost innocent lives while property and other assets were destroyed or appropriated and the sovereignty of nations was threatened. But if things are as bad as we are just beginning to hear isn't this substantially what we are facing today? Are we not involved in international class warfare that has escalated to the point of a potential destruction of the global economy?

American political leaders have a long tradition of exploiting the metaphoric language of war to any perceived crisis we face. We've had a "War on Poverty," a "War on Drugs," a "Moral Equivalent of War," a facetious "War on Terror," and of course the one-sided imaginary "Culture Wars."

With the light of awareness intensifying at last on the heretofore covert "War Between the Classes," we have already seen one notorious lieutenant on the side of the filthy rich, Rene-Thierry Magon de la Villhuchet, evade public humiliation and justice by way of dishonorable suicide.

Villhuchet was apparently nothing more than collateral damage in what might be called the Madoff Offensive. In this raging class war the autonomous actions of Bernard Madoff's cartel is likewise the equivalent of those attributed to private militias in the so-called "War on Terror."

His extortion squad BMIS = Al Qaeda?)

This is because the fraudulent Ponzi Scheme Madoff perpetuated is said to be only technically different from the "legitimate" business models developed by those failed and faltering financial institutions that have bilked billions of our tax dollars in the current bail out. The profits derived, whether legally or not, all end up supporting the exclusive interests and lifestyles of the rich and famous as well and their cohorts, the infamous rich.

Many of them, in fact, represent the same families, dynasties and governments who fund and benefit from the autonomous terrorist plots carried out by al Queda and other extremist groups in the "War on Terror."

How convenient that Madoff's crimes have come to light at this moment. His high profile arrest could take a lot of the heat off those with much more blood on their hands by lending credibility to their claims that this was all a function of rogue Wall Street Investors. By all accounts there may be no more deserving a fall guy than Bernie Madoff: he who brazenly swindled those wealthy investors to get a piece of their action also targeted a number of schools, charities and non-profit groups who invested their operating funds with him and now face ruin. Who is not happy to see this cad go down?

But what about those "merely unscrupulous" super-wealthy mercenaries and their corporate officers who exploited the legal but deficient principles of laissez faire capitalism to their own benefit and to the severe detriment of the world as we know it?

In their defense, of course, fingers are pointed at over-spending, credit-busting consumers who are said to have undermined the credit and lending industry and caused this market collapse with overwhelming demands against supposedly diminishing supply. Balderdash!


It does not take much to show that the blame lays squarely in the laps of unethical and greedy corporate moguls and financiers colluding with corrupt government officials.

The fact is that middle and working class consumers are largely alone so far in bearing the brunt of punishment for this debacle by way of devastating losses of livelihood along with the employer-provided health insurance, diminished savings, rising costs of living and the inevitable burden of increased taxes to fund the mounting bailouts in lieu of the public and charitable services that those diverted tax funds once supported.

But brace yourself. The worst is yet to come.

So what of those who have been in decision-making positions and benefitted outrageously from the supposedly over-burdening economic demands and drove us to the door of the poorhouse?

Will they be left free to enjoy the rich rewards of their actions and the self-serving decisions they made? As much as their personal wealth may be chipped into as a consequence of lower returns on their invested endowments, the worst of them will still be left with obscenely substantial means relative to those who will have lost everything. With all that loot they could easily slip away to live out their years in Dubai comfort like so many Nazis did to Brazil, rather than face the Nuremberg Trials.

If such an exercise in connecting the dots seems to lead us to a far-fetched conclusion, or if the call for an economic war crimes tribunal sounds implausible or absurd, it may further help put things in perspective to recount the huge diversion of public funds to support the actual on-the-ground opportunistic war still raging in Iraq. This economic meltdown did not happen in a vacuum. Connect the dots: the conquering of the world's middle class is in no way a bloodless coup.

Several years ago Brave New Films released a documentary of the nearly $700 billion+ U.S. occupation of that country, "Iraq For Sale: the War Profiteers" (still available). Of particular and disturbing relevance is the expose of those whose coffers the lion share of funds supporting that war ended up in -- and how they are connected to the overlords of our government and our economy.

If you have not had a chance to attend a screening I urge you to do so. The DVD is available at their website: The bonus scenes below give a good sense of what the film contains.

If laissez faire capitalism has finally fallen victim to its own excesses in the War Between the Classes, will it be given it a proper military funeral, flag draped coffin and all?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Proposition 8 to be Voided?

by Al Falafel

Newsflash: California Attorney General Jerry Brown has asked the state Supreme Court to void the gay marriage ban approved by the passage of Proposition 8 on November 4th.

Even before that infamous ballot measure, the public profile of the entire LGBT community has been forcibly solidified around the issue of same-sex marriage rights.

Of course, this fabricated perception is a function of the mainstream media's "manufactured consent" (ala Noam Chomsky) decrying our more diverse common interests as U.S. citizens. Our undeniable reality is set against the inbred primal revulsion churning in the stomachs of narrow-minded masses of Americans who still buy into the "culture war" deception. Provoking such tensions is a profitable enterprise for the standard-setting Fox News organization.

The "culture war" is actually a ratings war and there are still big gains to be earned exploiting even the slightest discomfort most Nielson Families feel toward us "deviants and perverts."

Never mind that ours is a reality of which the straight majority has no capacity and even less desire to understand. Forget empathy. Mindlessly they conform to the demands of an inherited legacy, five thousand years in the making. The myths and mores they cling to once defined a primeval social order at the birth of civilization, imposed to stifle the inborn drives and inclinations of our forebears, with well-known exceptions. Through countless generations a significant minority of humans yearned as we do today for the fulfillment of an authentic existence that seems to have always been totally alien to the conformist majority. The justification for discouraging committed same sex relationships lost all rational credibility generations ago.

Perpetuating such an outmoded world view in a civilization fifty centuries advanced imbues the current majority with a sense of superior entitlement over how we live our lives today. That entitlement is as illegitimate as it is inherent in any surviving authoritarian regime rooted in ancient history and tyrannical arrogance.

This is a viewpoint we never hear articulated outright. But it is exactly what should be asserted in any way it can be said, loud and clear every time a marriage ban apologist mouths the tired and specious claim that "five thousand years of history has defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman."

In this would-be age of enlightenment, the fact that this outmoded tool of oppression has shamefully persisted through five millennia is a much better argument for legalizing gay marriage than against it. By rectifying the age-old denigration of a people for the kind of relationships they form, even at this late date, the high ideas of justice and equality may finally approach realization.

Five thousand years of institutionalized homophobia is enough. It has only inspired fear and persecution of homosexuals, inciting not just a denial of our basic human rights but a pogrom through the ages: continual derision, denigration, violence, murder and mass extermination -- as in last century's during the Holocaust and in modern day radical Islamic cultures.

Our survival has not come easy. But it has come by way of the time-tested strength of our collective character, not to mention our heightened sense of humor.

With the emergence, cohesion and maturing of our distinct global culture over the last half century, we as a community have earned the still evolving respect of our forward-thinking and courageous fellow travelers on this human adventure. And many of us work tirelessly in natural alliance with them to bring peace, justice and hope to the world.

How can we still allow ourselves to be held to social and legal standards set by those backwardly oppressive forces hell bent on doing little more than enforcing their own arrogant ill-gotten and irrelevant sense of superiority and entitlement?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Card Shopping

A woman walks into the Post Office to buy stamps for her Christmas cards.

"What denomination?" asks the clerk.

"Oh, good heavens! Have we come to this?" said the woman. "Well, give me 50 Baptist, 35 Catholic and fifteen Methodist."

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Got Religion?

by Al Falafel

Religion. I get it. I really do.

I appreciate that most humans hold some kind of religion and find great personal value in practicing it; whether we make a big deal out of it or not. In our perception of a world where nothing is certain the idea of an non-malleable truth and a benevolent God comforts us in our deepest fears including the awful thought of our mortal reality. Pestering doubts about our self worth are countered by faith, relieving us any burden of proof that absolute truth exists. Most people seem to require an ideal of perfection in order to acknowledge our imperfection and so faith keeps us humble.

Of course, subscribing to any specific version of the absolute truth requires a disavowal of all other versions, but we Americans are a tolerant people. We outwardly tolerate religious differences among ourselves. We may frown on proselytizing and tend to regard as taboo the topic of religion in polite conversation but we tacitly honor our mutual freedom and the unfettered right we enjoy to exercise our respective faiths or whatever world view we assume.

In our private lives, we good citizens are free to perform the prescribed rituals of our respective religions or merely go through the motions, as many do, having only our conscience to contend with. As long as our behavior complies with civil law we risk no legal penalty for either practicing or neglecting to fulfill the requirements of our chosen religion. As law-abiding citizens of this magnanimous country our civil rights and privileges are not subject to any religious test: theoretically; ideally; Constitutionally.

As Americans we often take our religious freedom for granted, often as much as we take our religion for granted. Mainstream God-fearing people in this country seldom flaunt their religious beliefs, nor do they adhere to the strict letter of their tenets. On our own, we seldom even think too deeply about our religion until it is imperative or seems advantageous, such as in times of personal distress, need or bad luck.

That imperative arises almost reflexively for many when they feel their beliefs are challenged in some way. Then, even the most nonobservant believer can become fervently defensive of their religion as though their own immutable essence has been threatened. The reflex is irrational, of course, since logically neither threats nor defenses could affect true immutability.

Still, those defenders of the faith paradoxically feel that their religion is under attack from time to time, and that I am somehow a part of the threat. Me personally. They may not normally show it. They may not routinely think in such terms. It may only come out in private, such as when they find themselves alone behind the curtains of a voting booth.

If a same sex marriage proposition happens to be on the ballot good Christian voters may not think too deeply about the effect of their vote on me personally. If anything, they are most likely to conjure up a nebulous mass of faceless, nameless people who are an affront to Christian dogma by their existence alone. Our existence. But I do not feel that anyone votes in such a way as to target me. They are just being good Christians, they feel, following the dictates of their conscience as shaped by dogma over which they have no control.

And lets face it: when you talk about religion in America today, it's all about Christianity. American Jews, it seems to me, largely honor the wall between Temple and State and tend to consider themselves more of an ethnic minority than a religious one. And people of other religions do not have the political clout or influence on public policy that organized Christians do just because their numbers are smaller.

But we may politely assume that all of us are basically good and law-abiding citizens, innocent until proven guilty of some legal transgression. I assume that none of us would consciously deny anyone else access to the same legal rights we take for granted, including the right to exercise any self chosen religious beliefs. So it is frustrating to see something like the outcome of California's Proposition 8, where a majority of voters did, in fact, deny a lawful minority of citizens access to marriage, a basic civil right.

"One of the basic civil rights of man, fundamental to our very existence and survival..." is how the US Supreme Court characterized marriage in Loving v. Virginia in 1967.

Because of Proposition 8, certain marriages, previously recognized in the Golden state and entered into as a fundamental right, have been dissolved -- against the will of the married individuals. Any such potential marriages, once anticipated by right of citizenship, are now banned on the basis of one partner's sex.

Once there was a debate about whether people who engaged in private same-sex relationships could be held to legal sanction or punishment in this country. That question was settled, however in 2003 with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v Texas. Every remaining "sodomy law" on the books in any state was finally swept away at that time. By religious standards those who engage in same sex behavior may still be sinners. But we can not be seen as criminals under the law. Yet, I have not heard a single credible argument in favor of denying same-sex couples the right to marry that is not based in the punitive biblical dictum that some believe to brand homosexuality as sinful.

To me, this clearly applies a religious test to determine our worthiness to the basic right to marry. Testing positive for heterosexuality or repentant as a homosexual is now a requirement in California after Proposition 8.

The closest anyone has come to a rational argument to impose this sanction has to do with the ability to bear or raise offspring. Yet childless marriages and adoption are still legal. And legally married people may still bear children by surrogate. And legal marriage partners may still bring children into their new families, born in prior relationships. None of this is exclusive to marriages between partners of opposite sex in California, except for the legality.

Marriage is still a right, not a privilege. Mike Huckabee, the once and future Republican candidate for president - and ordained Baptist minister - is one who argues otherwise and he makes a number of other baseless claims in interviews hyping his new book. He states his opinion as plain fact, as Republicans often do, even though the U.S. Supreme Court was quite unambiguous in Loving v Virginia. Huckabee declares in his super nice guy manner that "Marriage still means one man and one woman," which is only partly true. It also means one man and another or one woman and another. Obviously, Huckabee and his ilk can only speak in absolutes. It's his way or the highway! His stilted view of history where marriage is an unchanged and unchangeable institution 5,000 years old is absolute bunk that demands a suspension of disbelief that only the totally ignorant could muster.

Constitutionally, the matter of whether marriage is a right or not is no longer open to question - no matter what Mr. Huckabee says. In his interview with Jon Stewart presented below, the former governor of Arkansas clicks off all the talking points that the right wing uses to support their prejudice, denying his homophobia with a smile but no credibility at all. He concludes with a last ditch desperate argument that people just cannot do whatever they want to do. "Religious people do not have the right to burn others at the stake," he says

I was not aware that this is something they still want to do.

God Bless Jon Stewart. Amen.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Protecting Our Nation and The World

by Dick Mac

As the Bush Administration explains over and over again, we need to make pre-emptive strikes against rogue nations in order to protect the United States and the rest of the free world from the scourge of terrorism.

We actually destroyed a sovereign nation and executed its leader because, we were told, the nation and its leader were responsible for the events of September 11, 2001, and its military was building "weapons of mass destruction" that threatened all of the free world. Thinking people, of course, dismissed this notion while so-called conservatives insisted that Sadaam Hussein and his regime in Iraq were the greatest threat to American democracy since 18th Century British royalty.

The Bush Administration has had us mired in a war Iraq for most of its reign, ignoring the complicity of Bush's close friends in Saudi Arabia in funding Islamist terrorism, ignoring Islamist terrorist working openly in other African and Middle Eastern nations, and allowing Bush family friend Osama binLaden to remain free of charges for his role in the preponderance of international terror.

Saudi Arabia continues to fund Islamist terrorist around the world, knowing that no Western government will do anything as long as former Prime Ministers and Presidents are lavishly rewarded with civilian and corporate appointments that provide them and their families a lifetime of financial security.

Somalia has been without a government since 1991, and has become (along with Saudi Arabia) the true breeding ground for Islamist terrorism. In 2006, the Bush administration gave the green-light for neighboring Ethiopia invade, hoping that they might be able to garner some good press that would show the routing of Islamist terrorism. This has failed miserably, of course, just like all of the Bush Administrations attempts to secure the world.

The Taliban is so strong in Afghanistan that they are now negotiating with the government for a role in the nation's political future, and the Taliban actually controls most of that nation's dispensing of civil justice.

Iraq, which was never a breeding ground for terrorism is one of the world's most fertile terrorist breeding grounds, and thousands of young Americans have lost their lives (a long with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis).

We can find nowhere in the world that is safer, more profitable, less fearful, or better off in any way under the Bush Administration. Not the United States, not our allies anywhere in the world, not war zones, not developing nations. Nowhere.

Somalia, in particular, thank to George Bush and his Administration's total incompetence, is now a perpetual war zone that has spawned Islamist terrorists that not only strike fear into the hearts of Somalians, but have brought piracy into the modern world, and will continue to terrorize its citizens and neighbors as the days tick by.

Make sure you thank the current Administration for all their hard work. Pay special attention to those who've done the most harm: George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and the erst of the criminals who would like us to believe they are only incompetent, but are actually criminally dangerous. Thank them for making the world, and especially our nation, a safer and better place.

The Bush Administration has done nothing to make the world a safer place.

Listen to a report about Somalia at NPR.

Friday, December 19, 2008

A Detail Of The Bailout That I Didn't Know

by Dick Mac

Back in September, 2008, I suggested that the government should infuse money into the collapsing financial industry by acquiring preferred stock in the troubled companies; stock that would subordinate all existing stock. These shares would be ultra-preferred. Before any profits could ever be distributed to any shareholders, before any bonuses could be given to any executives, this stock would have to be repurchased by the corporation, hopefully at a profit for the taxpayers, but certainly not at a loss.

See, Bailing Out The Bailout That Will Bailout The Economy

This plan would have infused the economy with much needed cash and would have created an incentive for corporations to get back in the saddle and produce. You know, something American. As we know, though, the rich only want government subsidies, welfare if you will, they don't want to ever actually work for their money.

The economically privileged throw around words like "earn" and "work" when referring to the working class, but believe they should be allowed to sit at desks doing very little and earn six-, seven-, even eight-figure salaries. They think that is "earning their money" and "working for a living." Still, the rich don't even want to do that, they just want the government to give them welfare. And they've gotten it, in spades!

Not only is nearly a trillion dollars of tax money being given to the supply-side theorists who are destroying America, the safeguards that you thought were in place to protect them from running off with the money aren't there.

Here's the little detail I didn't know: executive compensation, shareholder distribution, and other embarrassments of the free-market that were supposed to be restricted for companies receiving bailout money are subject to scrutiny only if the government has purchased assets (generally at auction) from the troubled institutions. If no assets are owned by the government, then there is no scrutiny!

So, I thought that any company receiving this welfare would be held accountable for excessive waste, but they are not. Why? Because once they got our tax dollars they didn't have to auction off any of their troubled assets! So, they have gotten around the requirement that executive compensation and shareholder distribution be curtailed while they rebuild in this sluggish economy!

They are just walking away with the money, will continue to give the executives and board members ridiculous compensation, distribute so-called profits to shareholders, and lay-off millions of Americans who will become a further burden on the taxpayers.

You've been had! And it's worse than you think!

I could be wrong. Perhaps some of the billionaires that are receiving welfare are under scrutiny, have auctioned distressed assets to the government, and have curtailed excessive compensation and distributions; but I haven't heard of any. Have you?

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Feeding the Economic Food Chain

by Dick Mac

Robert Pollin is an economist at the University of Massachusetts. He is quickly becoming my favorite economist, the pin-up boy of my economic dreams, if you will.

Though I have never studied economics, I have lived as an adult through the United States shaping its economic structure around the notions of supply-side theory, and I have watched my country plummet into moral, social, and economic decay because of it.

Though I know little about the actual theories and disciplines of economics, Pollin's ideas seem very different from the supply-side apologists who have been "in charge" of the American economy for the past 28 years. The economists who gave us "trickle-down" and the current bail-out for the privileged. (Face it, America, that trillion dollars is going to be given to people who plan to lay-off huge chunks of their workforce and slash wages and benefits for all of us.)

Writing in The Nation earlier this year, Pollin offered:

Recessions create widespread human suffering. Minimizing the suffering has to be the top priority in fighting the recession. . . . By stabilizing the pocketbooks of distressed households, these measures also help people pay their mortgages and pump money into consumer markets.

The most recent edition of The Nation uses that quote in their editorial Stimulus From Below, where they offer that we must help those at the bottom while we help those at the top. The editorial concludes:

This is why increased food stamp benefits, rental assistance and aid to state governments must be at the heart of any stimulus package. Extending unemployment benefits -- which fewer than 40 percent of the unemployed now receive -- to laid-off low-wage and part-time workers would provide an immediate jolt to the economy. We understand why it's smart politics to pitch all economic policy in terms of the middles class: the poor, as they say, will always be with us. But if the economy continues to deteriorate, the poor won't just be with us, they will be us. And they'll be much harder to ignore.

So, as we pump a trillion dollars to the people at the top of the economic food-chain (as supply-side theory insists we do), it is of vital importance that we begin to pump some money into the bottom of the economic food-chain. The economy cannot stabilize if only the "haves" are protected, while the "have-nots" are left to fend for themselves.

Dick Mac Recommends:

A Measure of Fairness
Robert Pollin, et al.

Monday, December 15, 2008


by Dick Mac

Those who know me know that I believe good shoes are important.

At a Red Bulls v DC Scum match in 2007, a New York player lost his shoe in the midst of the play, and never missed a beat. The play continued uninterrupted and a new chant was born when the Empire Supporters Club all removed one shoe, shook it in the air, and shouted at the opposition: "One shoe! We only need one shoe!"

The story has gained folklore status as it was featured in an article about the Red Bulls in England. A Wigan supporter was at the match, and published it in this article (find the yellow highlighting).

You won't hear the chant every match, but it is a supporters' favorite, and occasionally makes its way into a match day routine:

Here during a match against Toronto:

And here to the tune of "Blue Moon" in a match against Kansas City:

Shoes play many roles in different cultures. In some cultures, it is insulting to show the bottom of your shoes to another person. I have never heard how close the shoe must be to my face in order for it to be an actual insult. Certainly, if the bottom of the shoe touches me, it would be insulting, but I don't think I would be insulted if I merely saw the bottom of a shoe.

The soles of some shoes can be rather fascinating, especially in the snow where you might see logos or fun patterns.

A journalist in Iraq decided to show the bottom of his shoes to George W Bush the other day, so he removed the shoes and threw them at the podium where Bush was speaking. Bush deftly evaded both shoes.

Either this guy is a lousy shot, or George W Bush is pretty quick on his feet. I have to admit that unlike every other situation in which I have seen Bush perform, he handled this situation quite well and I am impressed by his agility and demeanor:

I don't have anything else positive to say about George W Bush, but he sure knows how to avoid the other shoe is dropping.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Friday, December 12, 2008

A More Perfect Union?

by Al Falafel

Envision, if you will, something along the lines of this as wording for a proposed Constitutional amendment:
"Equal access to the lawful institution of marriage, including all rights, privileges and obligations accruing thereto, shall not be denied to any consenting adults solely on the basis of either partner's sex or gender identity."
As a potential amendment, you are never likely to see it, of course. And it need not be written as long as equal access to marriage is not prohibited and the states are free to expand marriage rights to same-sex couples as well. As we know, however, a number of states have opted to amend their Constitutions in recent years, not to expand marriage rights but rather to deny them to partnerships of any combination other than one man and one woman.

Pushing for adoption of such restrictive language to state Constitutions is the chosen strategy of those compelled to assure irrationally punitive discrimination against same-sex couples. So far their crusade has succeeded in 29 states and they obviously have their sights on the Federal Constitution, aiming to punish us in the "sinful" minority of Americans who would dare to seek the same rights and protections under the law as those taken for granted by the majority.

A discriminatory marriage amendment has been proposed in Congress during every session since 2002 and failed to garner substantial support every time. This is OK with the proponents of institutionalized discrimination as they understand it is really more effective to mobilize on the state level where the law may be altered by simple majority of votes cast on referenda - such as California's Proposition 8. They have an easier time manipulating the irrational fears, ignorance and emotions of citizen "Joe the Voter" than they do with his representatives in Congress who may feel they actually have to represent their entire diverse constituencies with fairness and intelligence.

The mission of Prop 8 promoters is simply anathema to a rational system of laws based in self-evident principles of civilized human freedom. And they know it. They are politically aware enough to know exactly what they were doing. They know their movement violates the principles of equal access to legal protections, rights and benefits that are granted by the civil institution of marriage irrespective of any personally held doctrine that would bestow superior/inferior status on any citizen in good standing.

In other words, they are fully aware of the anti-American, unconstitutional nature of their intentions. In fact, with regard to the United States Constitution, their movement is unapologetically subversive and their actions are seditious. They seek to undermine the role of the Courts as the legitimate interpreters of the Constitution by supplanting the Courts' knowledgeable authority with the uninformed, biased opinions of a prevailing voter majority.

Proposition 8 was placed on the ballot by a collection of religiously motivated folks who were displeased with the learned California Supreme Court Justices' interpretation of the law. The Court found the law laking in reasonable basis to deny marriage rights to consenting partners on the basis of either partner's sex. This finding was objected to because it failed to permit the state to penalize certain law-abiding adults with a punitive denial of access to certain rights and privileges afforded all other citizens under the law. The prejudiced majority view still holds that same-sex adult relationships are distasteful at best, wicked at worst and deserving of punishment - though completely legal - by depriving committed same-sex partners the freedom to marry under the law: a freedom that the "tasteful" majority takes for granted.

As a member state of the American Union, California is obligated to comply with the Federal Constitution and its standards of equal treatment assured to all citizens in good standing. The First Amendment protection of the free exercise of religion for all citizens precludes any religious test of worthiness in order to qualify for equal treatment and access to the privileges and protections of the state.

Progenitors of Proposition 8 openly admit that they are compelled by specific religious doctrine that holds people who chose partners of their own sex to be deserving of retribution for their supposed wickedness. The retribution imposed is a denial of access to the provisions of secular laws regarding marriage. In effect, they intentionally abused the power of the ballot to cause a rewriting of the (amendable) Constitution, bringing it into compliance with their (presumably immutable) religious doctrine. The result is that voters, acting directly as the state, effectively made a "law respecting an establishment of religion" by requiring compliance with specific religious doctrine in order to qualify for state benefits.

Such subversion of the Constitution is often defended by asserting the theory known as "Original Intent." This specious hypothesis is actually more doctrine than theory as it goes beyond rational analysis of the ideas embodied in the Constitution and a respectful appreciation for the brilliance and ardor of the framers. Apologists for the passage of Proposition 8 and other antithetical measures cite "Original Intent" with a fervency that presupposes something of a divine inspiration in the work of the 18th Century colonists who framed the Constitution.
Any meaningful study of the U. S. Constitution will tend to yield a theory or set of theories that effectively elucidate the ideas committed to paper over 220 years ago. Theories are often invented to serve the needs and interest of the student but may also be purely academic. Constitutional scholars and other thinking people are naturally inclined to render a unifying thesis concerning any such historical artifact. It is what they do.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The body of the Constitution consists in the main of an outline of the federal government's infrastructure. It is from Article III that the Supreme Court clearly derives its Constitutional authority to interpret the Constitution itself, effectively enforcing its underlying principles. In theory, we have a very functional, closed system, theoretically independent of any outside influences or authorities. This is particularly apparent in the limits, enumerated as Constitutional Amendments, to the powers that Congress may exercise over the freedoms we enjoy as lawful citizens.

Determining what is written in the Constitution is a simple matter of recitation. It is a testament to the forward thinking brilliance of the framers that the Constitution they crafted not only allows interpretation but prescribes it for what is written and, moreover, what is left unsaid. Interpretation may begin with determining the significance of how it was written: resolving the differences between the language as used for such purposes in the 18th Century and today. Theory results from asking the all-important question of "why?"

Some answers that arise from posing this question are more theoretical than others. Why should "the right of the people to keep and bear arms...[not] be infringed?" The prefatory clause of the Second Amendment provides an arguable context though theories still abound concerning the Constitutionality of gun laws, intent of the framers and the relevance to our current reality.

The Fourth Amendment assures "the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects..." against unwarranted violation. The arguments deriving from a theoretical consideration of this amendment often lead to a conclusion of whether or not a "right to privacy" is implicit in the Constitution. The ramifications of this are far-ranging.

The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Here, the language calls for resolution of disparate word usage for "respect" and "establishment."

The prosecution of justice under the law, or any defense against prosecution, presumably rests on some persuasive legal theory that must needs to comply with the ultimate authority vested in the Constitution as interpreted by the Courts.

Of course, some who familiarize themselves with the Constitution operate from a prepossessed point of view. It may seem incongruous but those empowered to effect our laws are admittedly - sometimes outspokenly - beholden to the conventions of what they regard as a higher authority; specifically, a religious doctrine that may contradict the Constitution's theoretical primacy. It is nonetheless allowable. As we know, this applies to a number of those entrusted with its enforcement even at the highest levels. Whether this inappropriately belies the concept of ours being a closed system of governance answerable to no higher authority remains an unsettled matter of theory and opinion.

It is nonetheless understandable that the masses are more influenced by their intimate, self-affirming associations with religion than they are by concepts of fairness and equality. But it is not right. If We the People are truly free to believe as we choose individually and still be treated equally under the law, then democracy and religion are irreconcilable. Allowing doctrinaire opinion to influence the vote essentially yields not a democracy but a theocracy. Some far-right extremists are upfront about their intention to do just that. Conservative politicians, pundits and justices who are considered moderate but uphold the Constitutionality of legislation the intent of which is to restrict all citizens to a standard derived from religious doctrine are disingenuous at best.

Asking why anyone is so motivated to vilify their fellow human beings politically will likely evoke the claim that they believe they are "doing God's work." This self-righteous posture of God-fearing humility would actually yield, though a little honest soul-searching on their part, the true and deeply selfish motivation behind such a claim. Isn't it nothing but their own personal place in heaven that they expect in reward for "doing God's work?"

To hell with the Constitution! Others be damned! It's every man for himself. Your first responsibility is not to be a good citizen but to save your soul.
And by doing "God's work," sending the wicked to hell, you surely make more room for yourself in heaven.

December 10, 2008 The 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

(Note Article 16 regarding marriage: It says men and women,
only couples made up of one man and one woman...)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

"What do you want me to do with this?"

by Dick Mac

I know this is an old story, but I have to pipe-in about it. Plaxico Burress, a football star from the World Champion New York Football Giants, took an illegal handgun into a Manhattan nightclub and shot himself in the leg. Considering the severity of the situation, the obvious conclusion is simple: this guy is an idiot.

But the problem runs deeper as the story is more complicated than that. His friend, Antonio Pierce (also of the World Champion New York Football Giants), and the nightclub staff helped cover-up the story, and the hospital that treated the gunshot wound failed to report it to the police.

Suddenly Burress and crew don't look like idiots, but like conspirators. Idiotic conspirators, true, but not just stupid people lacking basic mental faculties. These people have committed a crime and conspired to cover it up.

Plaxico Burress' attorney, Benjamin Brafman, says that "[Burress] is standing tall. He is a mature adult. . . . " No, he's an asshole, a thug, and a criminal, as are his friend, Antonio Pierce, and the owners of the Latin Quarter nightclub where Burress' crime was committed, and the doctor who treated Burress' gunshot wound and failed to report it to the police.All of them are liars, sneaks and criminals.

Burress has been suspended from the team. He can't play football anyhow, he's been shot in the leg; so nothing of consequence has happened to him yet; but, more importantly, nothing of consequence has happened to the doctor, the teammate, or the nightclub.

It's time for the prosecutors to level charges, for the team to punish Antonio Pierce, and the state to revoke the liquor license of the nightclub.

'Take me to a hospital:' NFL star’s night out
By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP)—It started as a typical Friday night at the Latin Quarter: exclusive guest list, $200 bottles of Moet champagne and well-dressed clientele lining up to pay a $30 cover charge to party at the swank Manhattan club.

Then a few very, very important people rolled up in a black Cadillac Escalade: New York Giant stars Plaxico Burress and Antonio Pierce. The two sauntered inside, heading for the VIP section amid the pulsing merengue and hip-hop, Burress with a loaded, illegal gun tucked into the waistband of his track pants.

Within an hour, the Latin Quarter would be a crime scene and the center of a drama that has transfixed the sports world and left Burress’ career in jeopardy.

One week later, authorities are still trying to piece together details of what happened that night. But interviews with investigators and those connected to the case paint a picture of chaos, extraordinary secrecy and a frustrating hunt for answers by the police department. Continue reading at Yahoo!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sir Rupert, the Gay Knight

by Dick Mac

This video from thinkmorepink is introduced as follows:

Hey, if prince can have his princess, why not?

I've gotten these questions a lot:

Are you gay?

No, my brother is though. This video is dedicated to my brother, who is gay, and to the LGBT community, who will fight like Sir Rupert, against the dragon that is prop 8 :)

Will you publish this?

Perhaps, the support is phenomenal :)

Copyright thinkmorepink, 2008.

I hope you make more modern fairy tales, thinkmorepink!

Monday, December 08, 2008

Friday, December 05, 2008

My World AIDS Day 2008

by AF

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 - 1950

This poetic fragment is newly inscribed on a bronze plaque installed Monday at the celebrated poet's alma mater, Vassar College. Millay graduated class of 1917 and became the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1922.

She grew up in Camden, NJ where Walt Whitman lived out his final years also during the 1890s. Today, the city of Camden lays pretty much in prosaic ruin directly across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, my adopted hometown since 1979.

In the 58 years since her passing Edna St. Vincent Millay has been memorialized in numerous books and in monuments around the world. The new Vassar plaque is not actually another dedication to her life or work directly. Rather, it was created to honor the memory of 25 known Vassar alumni and one faculty member who have succumb to AIDS over the last quarter century. It was ceremonially unveiled on the occasion of this year's World AIDS Day, the inaugural event of AIDS Awareness Week on the bucolic campus.

I was invited to attend the unveiling as the surviving partner of Kirk H, class of 1976, who died in my arms on May 9, 1992 in Madrid. Kirk and I had honeymooned together on the Hudson shore campus during the better part of his senior year and I found deep and lasting friendships in a few of those who had shared his whole coming-of-age experience there. I also became acquainted with several others during that time who, along with Kirk, continue to exist today only as memories that we refuse to let die. Their memory is now preserved there in a bronze slab that evokes their collective spirit by way of those perfectly fitting words lent by the poet.

I planned to attend the ceremony with BB and NC, two of those long-standing friends from Vassar's class of 1976 who share my undying love and memories of Kirk. It would be fitting since they too continue to be very near and dear to my heart.

It was bound to be a poignant weekend. Regrettably, the occasions have become too rare that we three are able to get together these days . And the hours out of these few days we had set aside would serve to span the ever-widening oceans of time and space that separate these mundane lives of our own making.

Grateful for as much our most gracious host included a traditional Thanksgiving feast on Sunday which was open by invitation to several other friends from his current life. And they would have surely only enhanced the familial atmosphere had the weather not turned so foul. As it turned out, it was only the three of us at dinner that turned into a long casual evening and stay-over, just as I had envisioned it, lolling about with Daphne, BB's wonderful new dog.

In the morning, BB and I would prepare to travel to Vassar for the unveiling. NC would be with us in spirit but had a previous commitment to work in the City.

Though I have no doubt my friends love me singularly, there will always a familiar feeling of personal incompleteness for me when we are together. Kirk had introduced me to this kind of life and left me in it all too soon. Though near decades have passed a bitter sweetness is still palpable when we who knew him are all together and it can turn quickly, if briefly, into a pained silence straining to fill the space where only he could have completed our repartee.

I am sure I am not the only one that feels it. This weekend however there was another unspoken difference in the air, born of a new shared experience - to some extent - that all of us have now faced the loss of someone who had been the center of our separate lives. It came by way of a love one's unexpected recent death for BB; and for NC an on-going deterioration of her long-time partnership. The latter may, in fact, still be salvaged and a breaking heart may be spared. Naturally, we wish her and TR the best.

Our weekend retreat recalled feelings I first experienced when certain other friends rallied to my side immediately after returning to the States, newly suffering through my greatest loss. Some of them were grieving themselves over concurrent break-ups and abandonments by still-living partners who had shattered their hearts. Though my own grief was profound and heartfelt I became acutely aware at the time of advantages I held over those particular friends. Commiserating sincerely with them lent a practical perspective to my own predicament, I think, from which I could truly feel worse for them than for myself.

First, I had learned from my experience the value of "closure" - having been fortunate enough to spend his final months with my partner in life, in close intimacy, essentially isolated and undistracted by all the mundanities of our familiar world. We had been traveling in Spain when he unexpectedly took ill and died for lack of suitable medical attention. So the two of us were free to take all our remaining time together to communicate those things between us that lovers often wish they had said or done before parting forever. We made our peace and said goodbye over three weeks of certainty that the end was closing in on us.

And that was a whole different thing, the second advantage I had over my broken-hearted friends: my loss was undeniable. While they still held out hope in the fantasy that their partners may yet come back and they may live happily ever after, I had no choice of fooling myself into believing that my life with Kirk, as we knew and shared it for 17 years, was over.

We who survived would all be fine eventually, of course, on our own. Though life may continue to rough us up, let us down, it would deal us new victories and wounds among the stretches of wholly unmemorable times. We would persist, reinvent ourselves, find new loves to lose and maybe keep as long as we should live and keep them.

And after so much time on our own it may never happen that we stop wondering each day as I do, among other things, if he might be proud of me - were he to know - for having followed the ways I found on my own. I admit sometimes I doubt he might even recognize me today.

But I still know him as much as I did after spending half his finite life with me. As sure as I am of his generous and life-loving spirit I know Kirk would be pleased with how things worked out this week: we did not make it to the unveiling of the AIDS plaque at Vassar.

BB woke up on World AIDS day feeling too frail from his own symptoms of the disorder and wisely decided that the 70 mile drive to Poughkeepsie would be too hazardous to his unsteady health. Kirk would not have given it a second thought and neither did I: the potential ill effect to our dear BB's well-being was not worth the risk.

Instead, I left BB alone in his home and drove with NC into the City where we took in the dreamy Miro and Van Gough exhibits at the Museum of Modern Art. It was the kind of stimulating, artful and life-affirming pastime that Kirk would have definitely favored over some somber death-centered gathering as we had planned for our recognition of World AIDS Day. He would be pleased, we assured ourselves, even if it meant missing a chance to revisit his beloved Vassar campus with its gardens, parlors and those secret romantic niches that held for us secret memories of two young lovers that once we were, after thirty two years and counting . . .

I will be there in the spring.

I am not resigned . . .

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go: but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains - but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,
-They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not approve.
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.

-- Edna St. Vincent Millay. 'Dirge Without Music'

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Dollar Gains Strength

by DM

When the current American president took office, the dollar was still extremely strong.

I lived in London and New York City when George W Bush took office, and the conversion of dollar to pound was luxuriously in my favor. My wife and I were earning American salaries, paid in dollars, which gave us an edge over our London counterparts.

Bush's destruction of the American economy (his dogged furtherance of the failed supply-side theory) forced the dollar down, down, down on the international market. This has made foreign travel a real difficulty for Americans, and created a wonderful situation for Europeans, especially Brits, to visit and shop in New York.

With Bush leaving office and the American economy ruined by a generation of supply side theories, the dollar (USD) has regained some strength. Today's institutional rate is as low as $1.26 against the pound (GBP), and it is trading at $1.46, the lowest it's been in six years!

I don't actually know what this means, or if it means anything, as an indicator of the American economy; but it certainly makes me feel better about our economy and the prospects for the future.

Also, rumor has it that the Fed might lower the mortgage rate to 4.5%, which is the lowest in my lifetime, and possibly since my parents were born during the Great Depression. I have not been able to find a chart of rates over the years, so if you know of one, please post the link as a comment below.

As I've said, I don't know how the USD gaining on the GBP actually affects our position and our prospects; but it feels good to me!

British Pound to U.S. Dollar Exchange Rate 2003 - 2008

U.S./U.K Foreign Exchange Rate since 1971