Friday, February 29, 2008

Now That's Leadership From Leaders

In the United States, our nation is run, managed, controlled by a bunch of spineless billionaires and politicians willing to wage war and ship the poor off to fight the battle, keeping their snot-nosed children of privilege safely ensconced in private schools, hob-nobbing with Saudi princes and other billionaires who will eventually conspire to destroy our nation whether by violent or economic terrorism. And our leaders will be all-too-happy to take a piece of that action to watch our once-great nation destroyed. See, for example, the Bush family's relationship with oil sheiks and construction contractors with names like Saud and binLaden.

In England, there are derelict leaders and manager, too; just look at Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher. But one group of privileged Brits chooses to lead by example: the Royals.

Prince Harry serves in Afghanistan
By Emma Henry and agencies

Prince Harry has been fighting the Taliban on the front line in Afghanistan for 10 weeks, the Ministry of Defence confirmed today.

The deployment had been cloaked in secrecy under a news blackout deal agreed across the UK media to prevent details reaching the Taliban and endangering Prince Harry and his comrades.

But the arrangement broke down today after news was leaked out on the US website the Drudge Report.

No decision has been made on whether it is safe for the Prince to remain in Afghanistan now that news has broken. A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The operational chain of command is now looking at a variety of options."

The Prince admitted just last week, in a media interview due to be reported on his safe return, that he could be a target for Taliban-supporting extremists in the UK on his return.

"Once this film comes out there'll probably be every single person, every single person that supports them will be trying to slot me," he said.

"Now that you come to think about it it's quite worrying."

In a previously unpublished interview before he flew out to Helmand Province in December, the Prince brushed off fears that he could be a "bullet magnet" declaring: "I just want to do my bit."

He said he had informed only a close circle of friends and family of his deployment, as the mission was cloaked in secrecy following the cancellation of the Iraq tour last year.

"I would never want to put someone else’s life in danger when they have to sit next to the bullet magnet," he said. "But if I’m wanted, if I’m needed, then I will serve my country as I signed up to do." Read more at The Telegraph website. . . .

It's easy to find reasons why this is not admirable, but when you compare him to the children of ALL of America's leaders, his decision to even place himself in Afghanistan is impressive.

Now, maybe an American billionaire can grow a spine (unlikely, I know) and fight in the military that is securing their fortunes.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Merchant of Death
Douglas Farah, Stephen Braun

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Air Car

Is it a revolution in transportation?

Can it work?

Will the oil companies buy it out and disappear it?

Can a car really run on air?

This is from MSNBC:

Luxembourg-based Moteur Developpment International is gearing up for the launch of its Air Car line next year.

"It's safe, doesn't pollute, doesn't explode, it's not poisonous and it's not expensive," said MDI representative Sebastien Braud.

The company says the cars will initially go on sale in France, where the first assembly line is due to start production in the middle of next year.

The MiniCATS three-seater compact, a commercial version of a prototype showcased at the 2002 Paris Motor Show, will be priced at $9,850. The CitiCATS six-seater sedan will retail for $16,000.

How it works
In both cars, an electric pump compresses air into the tank at a pressure of 300 bars. The pump plugs straight into an ordinary household socket and takes four hours to complete the recharge.

"When you get home you normally plug in your cell phone," said Braud. "Well, now you do that with your car too."

The already attractive economics of the Air Car — MDI claims a recharge costs just $2.50 at French electricity prices — can only get more persuasive if oil prices stay high.
Car runs on compressed air, but will it sell?

The Wikipedia entry

World's First Air-Powered Car: Zero Emissions by Next Summer, at Popular Mechanics

Who knows which company is the real air car company?

Air Car Factories

MDI International

Dick Mac Recommends:

Rube Goldberg
Maynard Frank Wolfe

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

NAFTA Disaster

I make no apologies for supporting America's working people, and I am quick to point out that NAFTA was a disaster for the majority of working people in the United States, especially non-farming blue collar Americans.

It is important to remember that NAFTA was passed by Bill Clinton, and the First Lady at that time whole-heartedly supported it.

Even though she is pretending to waver on her support of the treaty, she is an advocate of it and supports CAFTA, the next treaty that will wreck havoc on the security of working people.

In Cleveland, Ohio, last night, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama discussed many issues, including NAFTA:
The two rivals also debated NAFTA, the free trade agreement with Canada and Mexico that is wildly unpopular with blue-collar workers whose votes are critical in any Democratic primary in Ohio.

Neither one said they were ready to withdraw from the agreement, although both said they would use the threat of withdrawal to pressure Mexico to make changes.

"I have said I would renegotiate NAFTA," said Clinton. "I will say to Mexico that we will opt out of NAFTA unless we renegotiate it."

Obama said Clinton has tried to have it both ways, touting the trade deal in farm states where it's popular while finding fault with it in places like Ohio.

"This is something I have been consistent about," said Obama, who said he went to the American Farm Bureau Federation to tout his opposition and used it as an issue in his 2004 Senate campaign.

"That conversation I had with the Farm Bureau, I was not ambivalent at all," said Obama.
(AP Report published at Yahoo!: Clinton, Obama clash over NAFTA, Iraq)

Neither candidate is progressive and neither of them has ever met an anti-consumer law they couldn't love. Both candidates are bad for America's working people. One, however, is worse than the other.

Dick Mac Recommends:

The New York Dolls
In Too Much Too Soon

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Next Life

A nun sent to North Africa after World War II lay on her death bed.

She is comforted by her sisters in the convent and is asked by the priest who is about to begin administering last rites: "Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth?"

"Yes," whispered the dying woman with a smile.

"Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord, who died for our sins?" The priest continued.

"I do," smiled the nun.

"Do you believe in life after death and the life of the world to come?" He went on.

"Yes, she whispered and became agitated. "And in my next life I want to come back as Sara Pippilini?"

"Who's Sarah Pippilini?" The nuns gathered in the room asked.

She pointed to the morning newspaper's headline: "Three Hundred Men Lay Sahara Pipeline."

Dick Mac Recommends:

Stevie Wonder

Monday, February 25, 2008

Now That The Mortgage Industry is a Failure, How Long Before the Credit Card Industry Follows In Its Footsteps?

The website provides consumers with information about credit card companies and provides a tool for comparing credit card offers.

The deregulation of the banking industry over the past 25 years has left Americans trapped in a culture of corporate anarchy with all the rules slanted in favor of business, and consumer protection diminishing like civil liberties in a fundamentalist administration.

Banks who provide credit card services have turned-up the heat in the credit industry.

The first step in the plot to enslave American consumers was bank deregulation, which consumers embraced as the keys to a new freedom as promised by the Reagan Administration. Anyone who warned against (or still speaks out against) the dangers of bank regulation was (and is) considered a crack-pot, or an alarmist, or worse: unpatriotic!

Consumer protection advocates warned that interest rates would skyrocket if the industry was deregulated; and corporate apologists, like Ronald Reagan himself, stood before the American people and promised that deregulation would lead to more competition, lower rates, higher profits, and more jobs, all because the industry would flourish when deregulation was removed.

What has happened? Exactly what consumer protection groups, leftists, and many economists predicted.

There are fewer banks, fewer jobs, less competition, and the highest interest rates in the world.

The next step in the plan of enslavement of the American consumer was the gutting and re-establishment of the bankruptcy laws. Both my senators, Chuck Schumer (who's never met an anti-consumer bill he couldn't love) and Hillary Clinton (a shill for corporate America who rivals George W Bush in her absolute disdain for the American people) whole-heartedly supported the re-writing of the bankruptcy laws. Of course, the laws were only changed to remove protections for consumers. The bankruptcy laws protecting corporate interests are alive and well and shielding billionaires from exposure to liability for poor decisions made.

Come forward now the few banks that remain since conglomeration and merger have eroded our options and employment opportunities.

Bank Of America recently raised the interest rates of its cardholders from 9% to as much as 28% for anyone who didn't stop using their cards and pay-off their balances. Historically, this stunt has been pulled only on those who have had late payments. In this case, however, Bank Of America has imposed this unfair interest rate on consumers with perfectly decent credit histories.

This is the final assault on consumers. This is perfection of the plan to enslave the American consumer. Charge everyone an insanely unfair interest rate and watch your profits soar.

Some credit card companies are worse than others.

New Millennium Bank of New Brunswick, N.J., offers a secured card that charges almost $200 for access to your own money.

First Premier Bank of South Dakota, offers for a gold MasterCard with 9.9% interest rate, then charges $256 to open an account with a limit of $300.

Total Visa from Plains Commerce Bank of South Dakota, sells a card that begins with a 19.92% interest rate and a start-up cost of $200 for which you receive an initial $250 line of credit.

I got this information for the article Card Sharks, by Liz Moyer with Tatyana Shumsky at Yahoo! Finance.

So, what can we do? Start living within our means. Stop using our credit cards. When we must use credit cards, pay the full balance immediately. Elect politicians interested in restoring consumer protection laws. Tell your elected officials, especially those in Washington, that you want them to work for consumer protection. If you don't speak up then they don't know you care.

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am America
(And So Can You!)

Stephen Colbert

Friday, February 22, 2008

I've Never Come This Way

A young nun from Brooklyn was transferred to Rome for training.

After a few weeks of being cloistered, the young nun began running errands to the market. She used the communal bicycles and followed the main roads to the marketplace, always being careful in traffic, and paying no mind to the temptation to stop and see the sites.

After a few months, one of the older nuns invited the novice to accompany her to the market. In full attire they made their way to the convent courtyard and mounted bicycles. Out the gate, the older nun turned in the opposite direction.

The novice yelled, "hey the market is this way," pointing in the direction she always rode.

"Follow me," the older nun demanded.

They rode down dirt paths and into the village by a back road. The view was lovely, farmland, and groves, and a lake in the distance. The ride was serene, but brisk.

The novice finally caught-up with the older nun when they reached the first paved street of the village and the older nun slowed, seemed to close her eyes and let out a sigh.

"I've never come this way," explained the novice.

The older nun smiled. "It's the cobblestones."

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Divine Comedy
Dante Alighieri

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Top Industry Campaign Donors

I was surprised to learn that Lawyers and Law Firms are the largest contributors to election campaigns, by industry. I wuold have thought it was telecommunications or energy companies.

Next on the list is Retirees. I know a woman in her 80s who lives in safety on her late husband's union pension and is vehemently anti-union. She gets all her information from Fox News and votes strictly right-wing. I wonder how much of her union money she will give to McCain.

Wall Street and the Real Estate industry are in third and fourth place, respectively.

Education (with college professors dominating the total amount) is ninth, and bringing-up the bottom of the top-ten list is Hollywood.

See the report here: Corporations Play Financial Role in Campaigns

Dick Mac Recommends:

Unrepentant Leftist
Victor Rabinowitz

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Six Words

A book of six-word autobiographies exists. "Not Quite What I Was Planning." It's been published by SMITH online.

The New Yorker has reviewed it. The review by Lizzie Widdicombe shines.

This link goes to the review: "Say It All In Six Words."

The review is all six-word sentences.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Not Quite What I Was Planning
Larry Smith, Rachel Fershleiser

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mitt Romney's Boys

I was watching a recording of Real Time With Bill Maher last night. It's the first of his shows to air since the writers returned from strike, and so the segment "New Rules" was included.

My favorite New Rule is that Mitt Romney's sons must now enlist for military service.

It seems that Romney, when a candidate for President, was asked why his sons aren't serving in Iraq and his response was that his sons' service to the nation was getting him elected President. Now that Mr. Romney is no longer a candidate, his sons are available to serve their nation.

So, whaddaya say Tagg (38), Matt (37), Josh (32), Ben (30) and Craig (27)? Have you got the spine to stand-up for the America you love so much and go whack some Iraqis?

I thought not.

The conservatives are all talk when it comes to the War in Iraq. They are all gung-ho about the war until you ask if their children will serve in the Armed Forces stationed in the war zone. Then the war is not so important as to require the lives of their children. They are spineless.

Romney and his brood are poster children for reinstating the draft. If everyone has to send their kids to war, then maybe the conservatives will be less likely to start one.

I do not support the draft, but there has to be some way to get these conservatives to Iraq if they think it's so important that we "win"!

Dick Mac Recommends:

Howard Zinn -
You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Matt Damon, Howard Zinn

Monday, February 18, 2008

20 Ways To Maintain A Healthy Lifestyle And Healthy Level Of Insanity

Found on the internet:

1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked Car With Sunglasses on and point a Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.

2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don't Disguise Your Voice.

3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, Ask If They Want Fries with that.

4. Put Your Garbage Can On Your Desk And Label It "In."

5. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks. Once Everyone has Gotten Over their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso.

6. In The Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write "For Sex"

7. Finish All Your sentences with, "In Accordance With The Prophecy."

8. Don't use any punctuation.

9. As Often As Possible, Skip Rather Than Walk.

10. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat with a serious face.

11. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is "To Go."

12. Sing Along At The Opera.

13. Go To A Poetry Recital And Ask Why The Poems Don't Rhyme.

14. Put Mosquito Netting Around Your Work Area And Play tropical Sounds All Day.

15. Five Days In Advance, Tell Your Friends You Can't Attend Their Party Because You're Not In The Mood.

16. Have Your Coworkers Address You By Your Wrestling Name, Rock Bottom.

17. When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream "I Won! I Won!"

18. When Leaving The Zoo, Start Running Towards The Parking lot, Yelling "Run For Your Lives, They're Loose!!"

19. Tell Your Children Over Dinner. "Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go."

20. And The Final Way To Keep A Healthy Level Of Insanity: Send This Link To Someone To Make Them Smile.

Thanks to Elaine for frwarding this along.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Is Sharpshooting Now A School Requirement?

Another mass murder at another American school. This time at Northern Illinois University, in DeKalb, Illinois. As of this writing, six are dead (including the gunman, and sixteen others are injured (including the teacher).

The shooter entered the service door of a lecture hall and began shooting. He was in the back of the stage area, behind the lectern, when he opened fire and then took his own life.

This shooting follows close on the heels of three other school shootings in the past week:

At Louisiana Technical College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, a woman shot two other students before committing suicide.

A high school gym class in Memphis, Tennessee, was the site of a shooting that's left a student critically wounded. Shot by a fellow student.

At a junior high in Oxnard, California, a 15-year-old student was shot and has been declared brain dead.

Four school shootings within seven days! At least seven dead.

What is the common denominator in these shootings that happened within seven days of each other in California, Tennessee, Illinois, and Louisiana? Not the place, not the race of the shooters or victims, not the education level of the institution, not the class of those involved. The common denominator is guns.

These people were shot with guns, and more often these days the guns are in the hands of children and young adults from middle class families.

And all of these guns are constitutionally protected.

That's right, the gun manufacturers have convinced Americans that the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees their right to produce as many guns as they want, and distribute in any manner they deem fit, with impunity.

Something tells me that the founding fathers would be appalled by our interpretation of their writings.

When will you do something about this?

Dick Mac Recommends:

Merchant of Death
Douglas Farah, Stephen Braun

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Aretha Is Queen

There is, and always has been, only one Queen of Soul.

At the Grammy Awards last Sunday, Beyonce Knowles said:
Sarah Vaughn, Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan: Historical women who have performed on this very stage. When I was a little girl, I dreamed of being on this stage. But I knew I needed all the elements, like the beat of Donna Summer, the spirit of Mahalia Jackson, the jazz of Ella or Nancy.

"Lena Horne, Anita Baker, Diana Ross. Gladys, Janet and the beautiful melodies of Whitney. The legacy they have bestowed are simply irreplaceable. But there is one legend who has the essence of all of these things: the glamour, the soul, the passion, the strength, the talent. Ladies and gentleman . . . give it up for the Queen."

And out wakled Aretha Franklin. Ooops! No . . . wait . . . it's Tina Turner! Beyonce Knowles just introduced Tina Turner as the Queen! YIKES!

Now, I adore Tina Turner and have enjoyed her performances over the years. Her later recordings were not much to write home about, but she is surely one rock 'n roller whose every show is memorable. Whether singing the songs of John Fogerty, A; Green, The Beatles, Sly Stone, or even David Bowie, her performances are grand.

But she is no queen.

There is only one black woman who you refer to as the Queen, and that is Aretha Franklin.

What was giong through Beyonce Knowles' mind that she thought to introduce Tina Turner as the queen? Or was it the writers (possibly rusty from their long strike) who made the blunder?

No matter where the blame should be laid, Beyonce Knowles shows a lack of sense for saying it. If she does not know that Aretha is Queen, then she deserves no place in pop culture.

Miss Knowles, you are summarily dismissed from all things popular, black, and musical!



See Beyonce's "Queen" a Royal Pain for Aretha

Dick Mac Recommends:

The Ike & Tina Turner Story [3CD]
Ike & Tina Turner

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obama Keeps Winning, As Does Clemens

Barack Obama won Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, to put push him into the delegate count lead. This of course doesn't matter, yet; because the convention has not been held and the Clinton machine sould easily lose more of the primaries and still control the convention.

Roger Clemens has won a victory, and later today there will be nobody testifying against him, except his accuser. That's right! Clemens has gotten all other witnesses released from their subpoenae. Andy Pettitte will not be required to publicly say what he is believed to have said in private sworn testimony: that he and Clemens both used steroids. Nor will Chuck Knoblach be required to testify. Clemens' control of this process is impressive, if not disheartening. I predict he will walk away from this mess unscathed, untouched, with his reputation legally intact. Let's just hope the American people and the sport writers show some backbone and shun the pitcher.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Winning Weekend

The Grammys were held last night and four Democratic primaries were held over the weekend.

In all five events, Obama beat Clinton.

Obama beat Hillary Clinton in the Democratic contests in Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, and Maine; and then he beat Bill Clinton at the Grammys when he took the award for Best Spoken Word Album. Quite a weekend for the Senator.

In more important news, the Writers Guild of America is recommending ratification of a new contract and an end to the strike. The union leaders are pleased with the offer of payment for internet broadcasts by the producers.

Also, Manchester City (City) beat Manchester United (ManUre) at Old Trafford on Sunday. Goals from Vassell and Benjani gave City their first league double (winning at home and away) over ManUre for the first time since the 1969 season! And there was not a single sound from City fans during the minute of silence commemorating the 1958 Munich Air Disaster. Well done City players and fans!

Dick Mac Recommends:

Essential Sly & Family Stone
Sly & Family Stone

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Munich Air Disaster

This past Teusday, March 6, 2008, marked the 50th Anniversary of the Munich Air Disater.

British European Airways Flight 609 crashed while trying to take-off from a slushy runway in Munich, West Germany. The Manchester United football (soccer) team and a group of their fans and journalists were on board, and 23 of the 44 passengers died in the crash:

Geoff Bent - player
Roger Byrne - player
Eddie Colman - player
Duncan Edwards - player
Mark Jones - player
David Pegg - player
Tommy Taylor - player
Liam 'Billy' Whelan - player
Walter Crickmer - Club Secretary
Bert Whalley - Chief Coach
Tom Curry - Trainer
Alf Clarke - journalist, Manchester Evening Chronicle
Don Davies - journalist, Manchester Guardian
George Follows - journalist, Daily Herald
Tom Jackson - journalist, Manchester Evening News
Archie Ledbrooke - journalist, Daily Mirror
Henry Rose - journalist, Daily Express
Eric Thompson - journalist, Daily Mail
Frank Swift - journalist, News of the World (also former England and Manchester City goalkeeper)
Captain Kenneth "Ken" Rayment - British co-pilot
Bela Miklos - travel agent
Willie Satinoff - supporter, racecourse owner and close friend of Matt Busby
Tom Cable - steward

This coming Sunday, during a match between Manchester United and cross-town rivals Manchester City, the home team has asked that there be a minute of silence in rememberance.

This is a bad plan. The Premier League has made a blunder by scheduling such a fierce and passionate rivalry on the weekend of this anniversary, because it takes only on idiot to disgrace the event.

Even I, a diehard United hater, believe that the solemnity of this occasion should be respected, but it's clear that someone wasn't paying attention when they built this year's schedule.

This past Wednesday's international match between England and Switzerland included such a minute of silence, and it was not honored by everyone in the stadium.

There is only one event to which I can compare this to in the United States. College football fans may remember that on November 14, 1970, Southern Airways Flight 932, out of Kinston, North Carolina, crashed en route to Ceredo, West Virginia, killing 37 players of the Marshall University football team, along with the coaching staff, team boosters, and others. Rivals of the Marshall Thundering Herd were respectful and generous the following year, and rememberances of the incident are treated with respect throughout that region.

Let's hope that the Munich rememberance at Old Trafford this Sunday is given the respect it deserves.

Thanks to Liz for the list of those who perished.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Playing For Uncle Sam
David Tossell

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Glass Booth

This site polls you to learn your personal positions on the "issues of the day" and returns a list of the presidential candidates most aligned with you.

This is where I learned that I was a perfect match with Denis Kucinich and a 95% match with Mike Gravel.

Check it out!

Glass Booth

Dick Mac Recommends:

I Am America
(And So Can You!)

Stephen Colbert

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Not So Super Wednesday

After Super Bowl Sunday and Super Tuesday, today is a more somber day. Winners gloat and dream big dreams, losers lick their wounds and regroup.

Over a million Giants fans flooded lower Manhattan yesterday to cheer for their champions during a parade through the Canyon of Heroes. Though ticker-tape is no longer used, paper fell from the sky, covering the parade, and creating anew that image that is so uniquely New York: the ticker-tape parade.

I voted, and Mike Gravel was not on the ballot, so I didn't vote for him.

Super Tuesday was also Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and I feasted on things I generally do not eat: a burrito, two huge glasses of fruit juice (1/3 orange and 2/3 pomegranate), and my primary source of protein, a load of cheese including an impressive dent in a one-pound wedge of stilton.

Today is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, and I think not of yesterday's elections, but of the writers' strike, now into its fourth month.

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported Progress Toward Ending Writers' Strike:
The agreement may come without renewed formal negotiations between the television and movie writers and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, though both sides still need to agree on specific language of key provisions. If that process goes smoothly, an agreement may be presented to the governing boards of the striking Writers Guild of America West and Writers Guild of America East by the end of next week, the people said.

The breakthrough occurred Friday after two weeks of closed-door discussions between the sides. Even if approved by leaders of the guilds, a deal would require ratification by a majority of the more than 10,000 active guild members.

I do not know if the writer is being optimistic, or if there really is progress. It is now Wednesday and getting close to "the end of next week."

Though I think most of what is written in Hollywood is crap, I do not think it is because the writers are bad writers, it is because the studios are only interested in releasing middle-of-the-road, formulaic crap. If writers want to work they have to write what the studios are buying.

The studios don't want to pay a fair price for their product. They are focused on protecting the future profits of their shareholders (that magic invisible class of people who is nobody and everybody at the same time -- it's me and it's you and our retirement plans). So, the writers are being asked to sacrifice their future income so that some CEOs and board chairmen can convince a bunch of fund managers that their future is secure. Of course, these CEOs, board presidents, and fund managers would not even consider reducing their 8- or 9-figure salaries; they want the toilet cleaners, secretaries, grips, best boys, and writers to take a cut on their 5- or 6-figure salaries.

And for me: therein lies the rub.

When American capitalism was at its zenith, from the end of World War II through 1980, CEOs and other upper-level managers earned 20- to 30-times the average salary of the workforce that made a company run. With the advent of Reaganomics and the ensuing deregulation under Clinton, those CEOs and other upper-level managers now earn 200- to 400-times the average salary of the workforce that make their companies run.

Still, those CEO types, from George W Bush on down, continue to cut the salaries, numbers, and benefits of their workforces. Hoping, I assume, beyond hope, that cutting a twenty-five thousand dollar salary is going to help the bottom line while they enjoy a two hundred million dollar salary.

It makes no sense, of course, and the first George Bush while running against Ronald Reagan referred to this as voodoo economics, and here we are twenty-five years later with an economy in shambles, a workforce barely able to support itself, and corporate America run amok in an anarchy that would make Reagan himself blush. And the Writers Guild of America not only cannot get a decent deal from the producers, but are made to look avaricious and selfish by the same media that needs them.

The problem with America's economy is not the salaries and benefits of the people on the bottom, but the salaries, golden parachutes, and severance packages of the tiny percentage of the population at the top.

Anyone can make ends meet on $20,000,000 a year, and when the economy is hurting it makes no sense that CEOs continue to earn $200,000,000 a year while the people at the bottom of the ladder lose their jobs, their homes, and their ability to support their families in a nation that has eliminated its social welfare safety net.

At a time like this, it is important for all Americans (wage-earners and managers alike) to remember why the American workplace is as successful and livable as it is: UNIONS.

We work five days a week, not seven, because of unions.

We get sick days and holidays because of unions.

We have health insurance and retirement plans because of unions.

We have safety in the workplace because of unions.

Unions and the labor force they represent are just as vital a part of the success of the American marketplace and the American way of life as all of the investors, bankers, and capitalists who have been along for the ride.

It is time for Americans to speak-up and support the writers union.

Go to the website of your favorite network, find the link that says "Contact Us" and drop them a line saying you are sick of the producers refusing the give the writers a fair deal.

It will be best for all of us if that strike is settled to the benefit of the writers.

Dick Mac Recommends:

Howard Zinn -
You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train

Matt Damon, Howard Zinn

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super Tuesday 2008

It is Super Tuesday and I get to vote in the Democratic Primary.

If I actually vote for the cadidate who shares my position on most of the issues, I will vote Mike Gravel, a two-term Senator from Alaska (1969-1981), most famous for his efforts to end the draft following the Vietnam War. Like me, he is originally from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Gravel supports the ideas of Direct Democracy, which is generally not favored by our elected officials, because it gives ordinary citizens a greater voice at the highest levels of government (a voice not generally found in a federal republic like the United States).

The Glassbooth site can help you find the candidate most aligned with you on the issues of the day. Gravel and I are a 95% match; whereas I am an 85% match with Clinton and an 83% match with Obama.

I matched 100% with Kucinich, who was the candidate I intended to vote for, but he dropped out of the race.

Maybe I will vote for Gravel! I can't vote for Hillary, if only because we need someone besides a Bush-Clinton in office; and Obama's health care and economic plans are too anti-consumer for my liking. That leaves a vote for someone who has dropped out (Kucinich or Edwards) or a vote for Gravel.

Is your state holding a primary today?

Will you vote?

Dick Mac Recommends:

Unrepentant Leftist
Victor Rabinowitz

Monday, February 04, 2008

Again I Ask: "Where Are All These Constitutionally Protected Handguns When You Need Them?"

Sunday saw two stories about murder by handguns.

An unknown gunman killed five women at a boutique at a strip mall in suburban Illinois, and a 15-year-old shot and killed his family in suburban Maryland.

Handguns kill people.

In these cases, handguns killed nine people.

Still, there is no discussion of better control of handguns.

Handgun manufacturers are allowed to continue making handguns, and handguns continue to be sold with nominal federal legislation.

Hanguns are meant only to kill people. There is only one reason for a hangun: murder.

Gun manufacturers and their apologists will tell you that handguns are needed for self-defense; but it seldom happens. It is rare, a cold day in hell actually, when you read a story about someone actually saving themselves, or their family, with a handgun. More often than not, the story is that someone has used a handgun to kill in cold-blood.

So, when five women cowered in the back room of a Lane Bryan boutique, probably begging for their lives, where were all these constitutionally protected handguns that are needed for self-defense? Well, the only constitutionally protected handgun at Lane bryan this day was in the hand of a murderer. And when a father's handgun was taken by a son to wipe out the entire family: that was a constitutionally protected handgun.

I find it hard to believe that the founding fathers and the drafters of the Bill of Rights intended this.

Gun manufacturers have tricked voters into believing that their profits, the profits they make from selling handguns, are constitutionally protected. I can think of no industry more in need of regulation and control than gun manufacturers.

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Friday, February 01, 2008

Oh! Those Lovable Losers!

I have always had a soft spot in my heart for the underdog, the team from a small market who competes big, or the "other" team in a large market always overshadowed by the other club.

Growing-up a sports fan in Boston, my heart goes out to fans of teams that seem always to blow-it at the last minute.

These teams usually blow things in every arena: last minute losses (remember Bill Buckner?), bad public relations (remember Tommy Harper?), losing players to trading deadlines (remember Carlton Fisk?). It's frustrating, because the incompetence seems to permeate every level of the organization.

My dear friend, Liz, grew-up in Manchester, England, where her family support the Manchester City Football Club ("City"), not the international, foreign-owned mega-power Manchester United ("ManUre").

City does to its Mancunian fans what the Red Sox did to Bostonians for decades: let them down in the end.

This season, City has performed admirably under the direction of Sven-Goran Eriksson, the Swedish manager who has a long, storied and successful career.

"The wheels have come off," Liz insists, as we watch City drop from the top six (which six spots guarantee playing in very profitable continental playoffs next season) to a tie for seventh, with no outward sign of recovery.

In English soccer (football, as it is known in the rest of the world), the month of January is a team's final opportunity to trade for players who can help bring home the silverware before the season ends in the Spring. It is called the "transfer window," which in the USA we call the "trading deadline."

Yesterday was the final day of the transfer window and the action was not as furious as it has been in years past.

The big deal was expected to be Jermain Defoe leaving Tottenham, where he has been relegated to the bench even though he is one of England's most promising home-grown young players.

City was trying to beef-up its squad and made a move for Portsmouth's Benjani Mwaruwari, who is having a remarkable season. Benjani was set to arrive in Manchester for a physical yesterday, and the paperwork for the transfer had to be filed before midnight.

Travel delays complicated Benjani's trip to Manchester, and it is unclear at this time if he ever arrived on time for his physical.

According to the Portsmouth club, City informed them that the paperwork had been filed for Benjani, which would give Portsmouth seven million pounds with which to sign a replacement. So, at 11:55 P.M., Portsmouth filed the papers to acquire Defoe from Tottenham.

The Football Association ("FA") informed Portsmouth at 12:15 A.M. that the paperwork for them to transfer Benjani to City was never completed. Portsmouth could no longer rely on receiving the seven million pounds, and they would now have an extra star striker to pay.

According to City spokesman Paul Tyrrell: "Due to the late arrival of the player [Benjani] in Manchester, we were unable to complete the transfer."

In the meantime, City signed 19-year old Ecuadorian striker Felipe Caicedo, to a four-and-a-half year contract

It is unclear at this time who (if anyone) from City actually told Portsmouth boss Harry Redknapp that the paperwork for the Benjani deal was filed with the FA, so it could be that Redknapp (not anyone's favorite guy in England) assumed the Benjani deal would go through and acted prematurely. Although, it is hard to call it premature when there are only five minuets left to complete the deal.

According to the BBC:
Redknapp was puzzled at the collapse of Benjani's move, saying: "Our chief executive Peter Storrie was told the deal was done and then obviously after midnight we got a message saying the forms hadn't gone through for some reason.

"I think Peter's on the case with the Premier League to see where we go with it."

It's possible that Redknapp is the goat here; but, City finds itself looking incompetent, and unable to file their own paperwork properly (just like my old Boston Red Sox), even if it isn't true.

One of the teams is going to have an extra striker for this weekend's matches. Benjani is a wonderful addition to any team, so I hope it's City. But, can they afford two new strikers on their payroll?

Confusion surrounds Benjani deal

Man City complete Caicedo signing

Redknapp delight at Defoe capture

I've not heard from Liz yet today, so I hope she will chime in here and let us know what is going on, and provide a Citizen's viewpoint.

In other soccer news: new England national team manager Fabio Capello has selected his next 30-man squad to represent that country in upcoming matches. He has not selected David Beckham. Pundits say that it is because Beckham plays in America, and nobody in Europe takes American soccer seriously. I find it hard to believe that Beckham is not one of the best thirty English players available to Capello, irrespective of where he plays. There are many in England who agree that he should have been selected.

Top managers give Beckham backing

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