Sunday, December 27, 2009

Merle, Tequila, New Glasses, the Car Wash, Mutts, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan

The Little Woman is working on some new country songs. She's in a Merle Haggard phase just now. Listening o a lot of Merle these days. I knew he was Outlaw Country, but had forgotten he was in San Quentin for three of Johnny Cash's appearances. So the story goes, when Merle was finally out, pursuing a music career he met Cash and told him: "I certainly enjoyed your show at San Quentin." Cash said "Merle, I don't remember you bein' in that show." Merle said, "Johnny, I wasn't in that show, I was in the audience."

My son is 18 years old Monday. Got him a bottle of Tequila. He wanted a bottle of Tequila. He's not even legally allowed to drink, but I trust this kid not to be foolish around booze. We don't keep much liquor around in the house. There may be a bottle of Canadian or some Bourbon in a kitchen cabinet, but no one around here uncorks any of it much.

We also got him a couple of Mutts books. Mutts is his favorite comic of all time. He gets all grins at Mutts. We don't have a dog or a cat. He's doing some volunteer work at the local animal shelter.

Finally getting new glasses tomorrow. I have been using a pair of my old glasses to see to read or write this, but one of the lenses fell out. So I taped that side up and I have been looking out just the right side lens. I don't have my regular old glasses because I turned the frame over to the optometrist to put new lenses in. It's the frames that cost big bucks. Screw that. Use the old frames.

Washed the car. Two dollars and a quarter tonight down at the Wash it Yourself Place. I used to spend seven or eight bucks, but discovered I can get a pretty good wash, rinse, wax and second rinse all for two bucks if I'm speedy. Saving a few bucks here and there wherever I can. I suspect I am not the only one around here pinching pennies.

Have not been keeping up with the news much. Some scary stuff going on in Iran. You have to wonder if police brutality can continue to work. Those dissidents have got some real cajones to continue to fight after the cops gunned down at least nine of them this weekend. Fired into the crowd. The question is, will that stir up the dissidents even more or will it shut them down? Somehow I think it will energize them. I wish Obama would come out against the violence as a human rights issue. Iran has not been a backward Islamic Republic for decades. It is an Islamic country, not backward, and women didn't have to walk around imprisoned in a black sheet and they didn't cut your hands off for stealing a candy bar. But it has a repressive religious government now, and that is unacceptable to people who want to join the 21st Century.

Do something to help Stop the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even if it's only no more than writing Obama at whtehouse.gov and telling him how foolish it is to continue to get our troops killed over there, and how stupid it is to continue spending money on wars that cannot be won. You would think Obama would have learned something from the British and Russian defeats in Afghanistan. And Iraq is a lost cause. We should never have been in either war ever, except to grab Osama which we could have done when we had him trapped at Tora Bora. But my theory is we didn't really want to catch him. Bush needed him to be the boogy man to keep us all scared and docile. We ought to declare victory in Iraq and Afghanistan and leave. Now.

Write a note to Barry O. I write notes all the time. I'm probably on some kind of list by now.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas day. Bright and Sunny in Southern California, with barely a hint of a chill in the air. We watched some movies, I leafed through a couple of gift books, R. Crumbs Genesis was one of them. Crumb is an absolutely brilliant artist that I have admired since the hippie days of the 60s. Love the guy's work. I have one of his original comic books around here somewhere. There are no limits to his imagination and no borders on taboos. He did an episode years ago featuring Jesus Christ in a modern setting and some of it I am sure would be totally offensive to Evangelical Christians. But in my view, the work reflected the true spirit of the Revolutionary Hippie Radical Jesus. Screw the Evangelicals.

My Republican Sister in Law sent a big coffee table book featuring the headlines of newspapers from WWII. I am kind of a WWII freak, having been a little child during that era. I am also a Civil War freak. They kid me around here with my interest in Adolph Hitler. Hitler was a fascinating guy, a seriously mentally ill individual who got hold of the levers of power of a country with a dangerous military. The result was the deaths of some 15 million people. Who wouldn't be fascinated by that? Or it could be argued he was never mentally ill, just thoroughly evil. Or both. Mentally ill and evil. What a combination.

Anyway.

We had one of those spiral cut hams from Trader Joes. And some wonderful whole wheat bread from the La Brea Bakery. Great Christmas day sandwiches. And hard cider. And some chocolates. My son spent part of the day watching some new horror flicks. We began watching War of the Roses on cable, but then the cable went out, so we did other things, listened to music and the like. It was a good Christmas day. We sitll have some tamales we got from a legendary East L.A. Mexican restaurant where every Christmas, crowds gather for their great Christmas tamales. You have to stand in line for 20 minutes or more just to get a few tamales to take home. We do that every Christmas.

I haven't been paying a lot of attention to the news. I guess it's good that we got a health bill in the Senate. Now it remains to be seen what the reconciliation will be like. I hope we get a decent bill. Those Republican bastards ought to be ashamed of themselves. I have this theory that some part of the Neanderthal DNA remains in some Homo Sapiens individuals even today. And those who have it are Republican knuckle draggers. Republicans are simply stupid and mean. They ignore facts and their own delusionary reality leads to a mean-spirited result for the rest of us. A perfect example is the health care debate. How could anyone in his right mind oppose measures to assure that people have access to good health care? Really, you have to be stupid to believe that good health care is a bad thing. And you have to be mean to want to deny it to everyone.

But it remains to be seen just how good the final health care bill will be. If it is just a giveaway to the insurance companies, then a pox on the House and the Senate for caving in to the Neanderthals.

I mentioned at the beginning of this piece that it was a beautiful day. So peaceful and quiet outside. It was as if some kind of peace blanket had fallen over all the world. I just stood for a while on our little street on the hill and zoned out on the silence. It was a trancendental moment. Christmas day is always a special day.

Gotta go.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Well, it's Christmas Eve, really late. I should be taking a shower and brushing my teeth and going to bed. But first:

The Little Woman had her yard sale. She collected 70 or 80 bucks and got rid of some stuff. And we met some neighbors we hadn't met before. That was the best part.

And I collected half my fee for the Banner project. That made for a Merry Christmas because we were almost broke. As it was, we were able to celebrate the way Americans always celebrate, by going out and shopping and giving a shot in the arm to the economy. I had to accompany my (almost) 18 year old son to places like Best Buy and Toys R Us. It amazed me the stuff people were buying and carrying out of the store. All of it made in China. A lot of it in big cardboard boxes. Guitar Hero and big Barbie Doll sets and flat screen TVs and Blu Ray DVD players. All stuff I neither could afford, nor did I actually want any of it. I wondered where all the money was coming from to buy all this stuff. After all, this is the Great Recession, the younger brother to the Great Depression. Who has a job to pay for all this stuff?

I think I saw a lot of credit cards coming out of wallets at the checkout counters. The economy is structured with low wages and lots of available credit. But I think the available credit is coming to an end for a lot of people. I predict 2010 is going to bring a major hangover to the spending spree people have been on even in this serious economic downturn. Especially in the downturn, because people don't want to face reality, and they use their credit cards like a security blanket. I think a lot of people are finding out the blanket is shredded.

We actually had a rather modest shopping trip -- a few DVDs and books for my son and a relatively inexpensive pair of speakers for The Little Woman's audio setup in the studio. After all, an aspiring country singer needs a decent pair of speakers.

Oh, I mentioned I collected half my fee for that Big Project. It was a PDF project with images and text, an annual report for a non profit financial institution that does good work in the Inner City, funding minority and women-owned business and the like. It has some connections to City Hall through its president and CEO is a smart and savvy banker who was born in Watts, an African American section of L.A. at the time. Now it is turning majority Latino. Most bank presidents, I bet 95% are old White Guys. Not this gentleman; he is African American, and he has managed to reach his status by getting a good education in the world of business and being really shrewd. He's also just a really good guy. Unusual, I think, in the world of banking. Look how those crooks acted with our bailout money. But I digress.

I had this PDF project, and I began by building the pages in an HTML editor and converting to PDF. I worked for weeks on the thing. And it looked pretty good, but because I had to use tables, nothing really lined up quite right and the client didn't like it. So I did it over. And this time it looked worse. But the client showed me what he really wanted and gave me half the fee. THEN I learned last night in just an hour or two how to use Adobe InDesign CS2. I have had it on the desktop for a couple of years or more and never used it. What a wonderful program! You can drop images in anywhere, no tables. And text, no tables. Move stuff around. And then automatically save it all as a PDF and it looks great! It's all compatible because it is all in the Adobe family. Now I will be able to put the rest of the project together in a day or two and collect the rest of my fee before the New Year. Whew!

It's a good omen for 2010, starting out with some money in the bank. Happy Christmas, Have a wonderful Winter Solstice Season. My best wishes to both of my readers, (or all three or four) for a Great New Year.

Gotta go.

Merry Christmas

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday, Four More Shopping Days

THe Little Woman is determined to do this yard sale. I put up a poster on the bulletin board at the school. She wants an ad in the L.A. Times.

Last night we finally bought a Christmas tree. I was looking for one for around $20, but no such luck. We went to one big tree lot in South Pasadena, where they showed a pathetic little bush of a tree for $25. Three feet tall. Then we drove to a lot on York where the guy had a noisy generator going to power his string of lights, and he had maybe 15 trees. That place sure looked lonesome. No luck there either. Finally we stopped at the big lot at York and Figueroa and looked at a tree with a price tag of $40. I asked if they'd take $35 and they would. So they tied that on top of the car, And I bought a package of mistletoe for a couple of bucks and gave the tree tyer boys a couple of bucks and off we went. I should have known trees wold be cheaper in Highland Park than South Pas.

A guy at Trader Joe's told me Home Depot sells trees really cheap. He said he got a 7 footer for $25. I'll look at Home Depot next year.

I heard that some homeowner in Northern California did a diorama depicting Jesus with a shotgun standing in front of a mortally wounded Santa Claus. That's the American way. Tired of Santa Claus dominating Christmas?Tired of the frenzied shoppers forgetting that Christmas is supposed to be about the Birth of Christ and peace and love? THen put up a scene in your front yard showing Christ murdering Santa with a shotgun. Bam! Problem solved.

Gotta go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thursday

The Little Woman has been planning a garage sale with her singing partner, but I think it's too late. The plan was to do it Sunday, but we don't have the stuff collected yet. She hasn't priced anything. She was going to put a classified ad in the L.A. Times. Time is running out for this project. We don't have the thing organized at all.

And I still have the Banner project to finish. Hope to finish it today. That check will make a nice Christmas present if I can get the thing finished and off to the client.

The Little Woman still has a bad cough, a residue of the flu she had. It's making her tired. She needs rest after that grueling session she had teaching art to the little nose pickers in the L.A. public schools. I have a bad cough, too. It's a seasonal thing. I expect this to happen just about every winter.

We don't even have a Christmas tree. We have always have a tree. Finances are tight this year. All season I have only seen one car with a tree tied on the roof.

Speaking of Christmas, here's a shot of the life-size creche my dad used to put up every year in our front yard in Lowell, Indiana. This was probably from around 1947. Dad bought the Mary and Joseph mannequins from a Chicago department store. The mule was, of course, our family mule. Doesn't every family have a mule? His name was Long Ears. Out of frame of the shot was a lighted star on a pole, and dad would put a record player on the porch playing Christmas music. It was really quite touching. Cars would stream past our house in an endless parade. Dad won the Lowell Christmas Decoration Contest every year for several years and finally they just phased the contest out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On the Gold Line

I was on the Gold Line, our light rail line that runs from Union Station all the way out to deep in the heart of East L.A.

A teenage girl was telling her friend what happened a few nights ago when a big thunder and rain storm interrupted the electricity in her house. Everything went dark in part of the house. It gets dark here in the winter around 5:00. She said they stumbled around and found some candles and lit those. And then she said her mom panicked. Her grow room lights were out.

Grow room? This was getting interesting. It wasn't hard to gather from the conversation that her mom was growing pot indoors, and now she was worried because her crop was in the dark.

Somehow, because the lights were out in only part of the house, it must have been a tripped GFI or a blown fuse. That's my guess. So her mom managed to get an extension cord and a light strip to the grow room and fire up the lights again.

Whew! American entrepreneurial ingenuity to the rescue. The grow room was once again lighted and all was right with the world.

Turns out it was all legal, as the girl explained to her friend. Her mom has a medical marijuana card, she said, and she was growing for one of the pot co-ops we have all over Los Angeles. We have more pot dispensaries in L.A. than Starbucks, in fact there are about 1,000 medical marijuana co-ops n Los Angeles, and not nearly as many Starbucks.

This is driving the City Council nuts, trying to put most of them out of business with one regulation or another. Problem is, medical marijuana is legal, and the cops can't just bust in and arrest pot dealers like they could in the old days, although the City Attorney claims he is about to do just that. City Council has warned him not to, and he threatens to ignore City Council.

A voter initiative has just qualified for the November 2010 ballot to tax and legalize marijuana in California. Polls show a majority of locals might just vote for it. Heaven knows the state could use the revenue.

Wednesday

OK, started the day with a peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat toast. Peanut butter, mayonnaise and fresh lettuce. It's the kind of sandwich my mom used to make me back in Indiana when I was a kid. Only she used white Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip, which Barbara will not allow in the house. She has a point there. Actually she will allow Wonder Bread in the house, but she wads up the slices and uses them to clean paintings. Works great. And she doesn't like Miracle Whip because it has canola oil or something in it that she considers poison. She's probably right.

We are all so disgusted with Obama. Here's a note I left for him at whitehouse.gov.

Dear Mr. President.
I am so disappointed in your performance for the past year. We worked hard to get you elected. We gave money. We had hope for change we could believe in.

Instead, we got a major Wall Street bailout that gave our tax dollars to big banks and their rapacious credit cards which are screwing us to the wall in this economy AND giving their CEOs huge bonuses. With our money.

Where are the kinds of jobs programs that FDR created with the WPA? Mr. President, you talk a good game, but we see few results.

And this health insurance reform. A disaster. A boondoggle for the insurance companies. In my view and in the view of many who voted for you, you have shown NO leadership. And Harry Reid hasn't been much better.

I am telling you, I am a lifelong FDR Democrat. But I am not voting in the midterms if things don't improve.

Happy Holidays to you and your family.


I would encourage everyone, all three of my readers to email President Obama. It probably won't do any good, but wait, does he want a second term or not? If he gets the idea he could actually be endangering his political prospects maybe we could turn him around.

It's going to be a bleak Christmas for a lot of folks. We don't have a tree yet. The damn things cost too much. No one in the family has bought a present for anyone else. We are holding off on the traditional order of Christmas tamales that we usually get from an East L.A. Mexican restaurant each year. And we haven't ordered the chocolate cherry bread we usually buy from the LaBrea Bakery.

I have a good story about a conversation I heard on a bus. I don't have time to leave it here just now. Have to finish the Banner project. I'll try to get to the story tomorrow or Friday.

Doesn't Senator Joe Lieberman look like an evil elf? I think so.

Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Weekend

Finally got some sleep. This job of Barbara's has been keeping ME up late. She's an art teacher. Three different South Central schools in rotation. Five classes each school. It's a marathon challenge for her at the schools, a major job for me doing the planning and creating samples of the hands-on work in the lesson plan weeknights for the kids to look at in class. Been keeping me up past midnight sometimes. Have to find art examples on the Web. Download. Print on 8X10 transparencies. Organize all the classes.

I have a job Monday. Nothing the rest of the week. Maybe I'll get a couple of days or more. Maybe nothing but Monday. Still have the Banner project, a major PDF project for promoting an inner city financial institution that funds small businesses and real estate. It's basically a small non-profit bank. If I don't get more work this week, I can finish up that project and collect a check.

Barbara's singing partner came over as usual on Sunday morning. She is not only talented, she is organized, and she wants to help organize my office space. Cool. The place looks better already.

Sudden thought: People who deny evolution seems to me don't really appreciate the awesome amount of time it took for life to develop and for us to emerge finally from the amino acid slime that began all life. Billions and billions of years. That's a lot more impressive, I think, than some big invisible guy with a beard in the sky going ZAP! and creating Adam all formed and ready to go. Nope, seems to the the billions and billions of years it took to create all the animals and us is far more awe inspiring than the Bible story.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Friday Got Some Work

Got two days of work this week. Entertained a bunch of second graders today. They were all helpful and cooperative. That's what I write to the teacher at the end of the day whether they were or not. They mostly are. Even the xixth grade class I managed yesterday. In this business you gotta be an entertainer. That's why there are so many actors and other showbiz types doing substitute teaching. They don't want real jobs so they can go on auditions. Or maybe they just don't like the idea of being tied down to a job they just have to go to every morning five days a week. Of course that's the kind of job I had during my news career.

I had another one of those jobs when I taught a high school class for three years. I taught video production. Bunch of all spoiled white kids, second-generation Armenian kids in a magnet high school. One kid told me he was never going to work in my class because his dad had lots of money which he planned to inherit. One kid in that class pulled a knife on me. I got him kicked out of school and all his friends said I should be ashamed of myself.

To do list:

Finish Banner project. That one is going to net me a nice check.
Do the California agency paperwork and get that project on track
Pay SAG dues if I can ever get back on the furslugginer Web site. I swear SAG changes their password requirements about once every month. Or so it seems. I doubt that Jack Nicholson or Sean Penn has ever bothered to sign in to a page on the SAG Web site. Mostly it is for actors looking for work. I doubt that Nicholson or Penn ever have to look for work.

I just heard on the radio that young African American people are out of work at least three times the national average, which is said to be about 10%. That makes the number among African American youth about 30%, yet I don't see Obama doing much about it. He talks about unemployment and the number has retreated some in this last report, but why doesn't he just recreate the WPA, the way FDR did back in the 30s? There's plenty the Feds could do to create work for people, fixing up roads and schools and national parks.

And there should be a special program for writers and artists, too, the way FDR did. That program produced some invaluable work. I remember a little theatre at Indiana University that had murals on the walls inside that were done by WPA artists. It was a classic. I bet it is still there. I love the sort of art the WPA produced during those years, a sort of Socialist Realism. There is a movie theatre in Glendale that has the same kind of art updated on its domed lobby ceiling. It depicts the Hollywood movie industry, the stars, the crews, etc. It is beautifully done and worth going to the Americana just to see the mural on the ceiling of this massive theatre lobby.

Why is this reminding me of the Sistine Chapel?

Speaking of, has it come to your attention that lots of priests wear dresses? I mean they just appear in church in a dress and no one thinks anything of it. It would be kind of weird if an auto mechanic showed up wearing a dress down at Highland Park Auto Repair. Or if some teenage boy showed up at his Burger King job wearing a frilly frock. But for priests it raises no eyebrows. And the Pope always wears a dress all the time. Can you imagine the Pope wearing jeans and a t-shirt? They might be an improvement.

Gotta go.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Wednesday

Work is scarce these days in the LAUSD classrooms. I have one job lined up next week. None this week so far.

To do list: Apply to autism contract companies for work. Autism workers are hired to go into the classrooms and tend to just ONE kid all day. It's got to be steadier work than substitute teaching these days. Last year I worked every school day both semesters and into the summer. This year, since our union screwed us by giving our jobs away to regular teachers hired right out of college, jobs have dwindled. But I digress.

More to do: a PDF Annual Report project for a nonprofit financial institution that funds inner city businesses. This is a good project, but it has taken months to do, partly because I had to learn how to do a PDF project and partly because the bank president has been distracted by other business and not available to approve my work and offer revisions. Finally got the revision instructions. Onward. Should be able to finish it within a week or two.

Pay property tax. Eccccccchhhh.

Check all bills. Make sure you're not late on a credit card, otherwise those bloodsuckers will jack up the interest rates to criminal levels.

Damn Joe Biden. When he was a Delaware senator he led the fight on behalf of the credit card companies, allowing them to do whatever they liked to screw cardholders. Face it, this country is run by money. It is common knowledge that the Congress is bought and paid for. I liked that idea that Robin Williams had: Make all Senators and Congressional Representatives wear jackets with the logos of the corporations that bribe them. Like NASCAR. So you'd see these guys with jackets decorated with logos from Blue Cross and General Electric and Bank of America and on and on.

One more thing, while I'm on a rant. Why doesn't the federal government send all high school graduates to college for free, if they want to go. It would be the best investment in the future of this country we could ever make. No, that's a suggestion that makes too much sense. Better to spend the money on bombs and guns so we can go overseas somewhere to kill people. Much better use of our tax money than spending it on educating people. California used to send all California high school graduates to college for free. Then Ronald Reagan came along and ended that. Gotta love Republicans. If it's good for the country, they're against it. Consistently.

Have to order prescriptions, and find out why Medicare won't pay for some minor treatment by a doctor because I happen to also have Kaiser coverage.

What a screwy health care system we have here in the United States. I hope this latest Senate proposal to expand Medicare to people over 55 works. I think the age ought to be dropped to ZERO. Eventually, it will, and to hell with Republicans and those Democrats who have stood in the way of Health Care Reform. They remind me of George Wallace standing in the doorway at the University of Alabama to prevent racial integration. The politicos who opposed health care during this Congressional Session are on the wrong side of history, no doubt about that. Progress will prevail, even if it takes longer than most of us would like.

Boy, my office is a mess. Got to get it organized.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday

After all these years it still seems strange that I can walk outside in December weather wearing just a t-shirt and jeans. When I worked in Buffalo, NY, that kind of outfit would have instantly frozen a body stiff, the way a physics professor would stick a fresh rose n a vial of liquid nitrogen, take it out and shatter it like glass on the lab table.

Today I worked a first grade. There was one kid wearing a sweater, who would pulli it up all the way over his face so only the top of his head would be showing and then he'd stick a finger out a hole in the sweater. And he did this for a half hour or forty minutes. He cracked up the class. It was kind of funny and weird.

Don't forget to look at one of my latest Web sites, < http://www.erinrametta.com >. Erin and my wife Barbara are singing partners. My wfe, the country singer.

Are these idiots in Congress going to pass a decent health care bill? I sure hope so. It's up to us to email and phone them. The Republicans are complete brain dead morons. Along with about four Democrats. My theory is they were deprived of oxygen at birt.

Sure glad it's the weekend.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday

Boy didn't that "couple" that crashed the White House State dinner look like a couple of grifters? She played the whole visit strictly to the cameras. SHe had that big smile and the Standard Blonde American Glamor Look. Frankly I can't tell one Standard American Glamor Blonde from another. They all look alike to me, and I am a white guy married to a blonde. Shakira looks exactly like Britney Spears. He looked like he was 25 years older than his "wife." They didn't look like a "couple" to me. He looked like someone playing at being her husband. Did you notice the video where they were walking past the press holding hands and she stopped, causing him to halt in mid-stride, so the photogs could get a good shot?

I just had a big contentious discussion with 21st Century Insurance. First of all, it annoys me very much that they charge a fee for paying them online. Hardly anyone, even the greedy money-grubbing credit card companies don't charge a fee for paying them online. Now I want to cancel 21st and go with Farmers (because I will get a 15% discount on auto and homeowners) and 21st Century wants to charge me a $50 cancellation fee. When I asked what that was about the 21st Century rep said it was because it was their policy. I replied that her answer was like saying a brown bear is brown because it is brown. Really, what service am I getting for the $50? The answer is: they do it because they can do it. Because they're the Insurance Company and to hell with you. Typical corporate arrogant behavior.

Saturn of Cerritos wanted to charge me over $200 to replace that left side mirror on my old four door sedan. I called a car mirror place down on Mission, where all the junkyard businesses are located and got the part and labor for $75.00. I guess it pays to be careful and call around.

We're eating a lot of turkey sandwiches around here. And everybody has a bad cough. Except the Inca Prince. (The Inca Prince is our son, adopted almost 18 years ago in Peru.)

Obama is going to send more troops to Afghanistan. This is a country where there is no law covering rape. Rape is a huge problem in Afghanistan. It happens everywhere in that backward country. And the government is seriously corrupt.

And this is the country our troops are fighting and dying for.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Don't you hate those Robot Voices that you get way too often these days whenever you call any Big Corporation?

Our Sears washing machine just got cranky and refuses to do its job. Something's wrong with the cycle. It takes in water for hours if you let it, and the motor runs but it doesn't swoosh the clothes. So I called Sears. Got a Robot. Stupid Robot doesn't understand clear, perfect English. Asked for Sales. Robot says, "Sorry, I didn't understand your request." I end up yelling at the stupid Robot, and it retaliates by sending me to a dead end phone number, one that rings and rings with no answer and finally ends up with another Robot that instructs, "If you'd like to make a call..." ARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!

You know, this stupid Robot at Sears replaces a Real Human Being. One they don't have to pay or provide health insurance. Sears is such a cheapass organization they replace real people with a machine. Now I can understand it to some extend in the auto industry. where they use robots to make cars. I don't like it; the Robots there replace real people, union workers. but those Robots are not in contact with the public. You would think that your initial contact with a company should be friendly and pleasant. It is anything but friendly and pleasant when you are talking to a stupid Robot. I would just about bet that the ill-will a stupid Robot generates far outweighs the savings Sears gets by choosing not to hire a real person at the switchboard.

Henry Ford had it right. He hired people and paid them a wage decent enough to allow his workers to buy the cars they produced. Today's short-sighted mean spirited corporate managers don't think that way. They look to how they can save a buck here or there and the public be damned. If possible they ship the job to India or
Sri Lanka where they can pay a worker twenty five cents an hour.

No wonder the economy is in the trash bin. Corporations displaying contempt for their customers. Cutting back on service to save a few bucks. Dropping health insurance for their workers. Union busting. It's all part of the bottom line, make as much money as possible as fast as possible to make the shareholders happy. And screw the customer. What are they going to do, stop shopping?

And it works. Look at the mobs of screaming consumers busting down doors today to get those Black Friday bargains. Lots of American Consumers don't care how they're treated as long as they can get a great deal on that brand new forty inch flat screen TV at a great price.

Of course the thing is made in China. Where they pay the workers a dollar a day.

Happy Black Friday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

Had a real Thanksagiving class today. We did Turkey Word Puzzles, colored a picture of a Pilgrim Lady handing something on a tray to a Native American sitting on a blanket. The kids loved it. Third grade. They were all hyper. ONe little girl said she was going down to the Midnight Mission to help feed the homeless people. Most of the kids reported they were going to gramma's house or having their cousins over for a big feast. All kinds of family gatherings.

I am thankful that we haven't lost our house. I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that we are not going hungry like so many people in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. We're not doing all that well, especially with the school district cutting back so much and our goddamn union did a secret deal to give our substitute teacher jobs to teachers right out of college.

But we are surviving. Things are getting back to normal, I think. We fought the union and got the secret agreement rescinded. I'm thankful for that. And thankful for the fact that I have been working pretty steadily. I expect things to stabilize now that we officially have our jobs back.

I am a union guy all the way. I belong to three unions. AFTRA, SAG and UTLA. American Federation of Radio and Television Artists, Screen Actors Guild and United Teachers of Los Angeles. I helped unionize a newsroom in Cincinnati years ago, and that is why I am such a long term AFTRA member. But UTLA did screw us. We had to fight to finally get justice for those of us who have seniority over the newbie teachers. We all went to college. We all got our California sub credentials.

If California wasn't such a freakin' Banana Republic we wouldn't be in such a mess. The state is billions of dollars in debt, and all because it takes such a huge majority in the Legislature to pass any progressive reform, the Democrats can't do anything at all. The Republicans block everything with their minority vote.

The California education system which used to be # 1, is now equivalent to Mississipi, nomething like number 48. It's embarrassing.

We don't have much, but we have a house in California that would probably buy two or three houses in Montana. and if the hammer ever came down, I guess we could move to Montana or someplace like it, and be thankful for that.

I am not so thankful that some big fat SUV Roadhog on steroids sideswiped me on an L.A. street tonight as I was driving home and busted my drivers side mirror. No big deal, I'll just replace it myself with a mirror I can get custom cut at a local glass shop. That will be a lot cheaper than taking it to the Subaru shop. Nobody was killed. Thankful for that.

I hope I put a big scratch in his paint.

I am thankful we no longer have a Cowboy Idiot in the White House, although I have some doubts about the current occupant.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Day

I had a third grade today. Yesterday it was a second grade at another school. This is what a substitute teacher does. And tonight I have to do lesson plans for my wife the Art Teacher. I have a couple hours ahead of me, she does five classes a day.

We got a turkey, and my 17 year old son, soon to be 18 is fixing the Thanksgiving dinner. This kid has all of a sudden become interested in cooking. It's a passion with him. He mourned the death of Gourmet Magazine.

And then I heard the news about Obama's trial balloon, that he is going to send another 32,000 to 35,000 troops to Afghanistan. This is insane. We have millions of people unemployed here in the United States of America and Obama is thinking of sending troops at a million dollars apiece (this is what I hear it really costs to deploy one trooper overseas for a year) to Afghanistan. This is truly nuts. Has Obama learned nothing from Lyndon Johnson and Vietnam? Has he learned nothing from the disasters that came to British and Russian adventures in Afghanistan? Why is Obama doing this? Did the CIA or the Pentagon tell him he'd better go with the program or maybe something bad would happen to Michelle, some kind of accident maybe to her or one of the kids? I can think of no other reason Obama would send troops to Afghanistan.

And the only reason he can get away with this is because most people don't have a clue what it is going to cost to send more troops or how we are going to pay for more war over there. The war isn't in the budget. It is kind of a side thing that Bush created to hide the true costs of Iran and Afghanistan. This country has burned at least a trillion dollars in Iraq and Afghanistan so far. And we've lost over 5,000 mostly young men. And we've killed, according to at least one study, a million Iraqis. And now Obama wants MORE of this, an expansion of the war in Afghanistan.

With so many people out of work, this kind of decision, to widen the war instead of stopping it, makes my head spin. During Vietnam, with the body bags coming home by the dozen, I felt the insanity of it on a personal level. I am a vet myself, did some peacetime patrolling in Korea. Was lucky not to see war during the Vietnam era.

Here is what we need to do. It is something no politician in Washington has the guts to do. Or if there is one or two with the guts, the rest of them would think him nuts to propose it. We need Congress to pass a War Tax, a special progressive tax on everyone in the country to pay for the two wars we currently have going. And we need one more thing, a proposal I am personally against, but at the same time I think it would be good public policy. We need to reinstitute the draft. Of course none of this is going to happen, becuase all the Washington Warmongers realize that a War Tax and a Draft would instantly turn most Americans into pacifists demanding we get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Now. I am personally against a draft because I have a teenaage son. Still, it's a good idea.

People love the war. They love the idea of us kicking ass somewhere in the world. But if they have to pay for it, well that would be a different story. Only they are paying for it. They are paying for it with a lousy economy and a few million Americans out of work. Somehow, our wars have not been connected to our 21st Century Great Depression.

And speaking of Obama, I am so disappointed in Obama. Not just because he has cozied up to Wall Street. Not just because he has offered little or nothing to those of us whose taxes bailed out Wall Street while they give us the middle finger and a kick to the curb. Not just because Obama hs done little to really create jobs the way FDR did. Not just because he is continuing Bush's insane wars. Not just because it looks like we are about to get Health Care Reform that is going to mostly benefit the insurance companies and do little for the rest of us.

No I am disappointed because I voted for the guy. And It thought he was a lot smarter than he turned out to be.

Tomorrow, another third grade class.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Water Falling From the SKY!

We have something new happening here in Southern California. Water is falling from the sky. I don't recall seeing anything like it. Old timers say they saw this happening many many years ago. Maybe they are telling tall tales and having some fun at my expense. I don't know whether to believe them or not. I think they are lying.

I do think I have heard of this happening before in other places. But it is like those stories of spontaneous human combustion. You just half believe that such a thing is possible, but not really. I don't quite know what to make of it. Will this put the bottled water business out of business? This is free water. All you have to do is set out a bottle or something and get free water.

There's just no explanation for it. What next? The sun rising in the West?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Don't Forget to Check Out
My Latest Web Site Creation

Explanation for it is a few posts below this one. It is for Erin Rametta, a marvelous L.A. indie recording artist.

The Latest Assault on Women -- in Oklahoma

Oklahoma has invented a new way to demean, insult and assault women. It's a law aimed at any woman who seeks an abortion. She can have the abortion all right. But first she has to have a long counseling session with her doctor. This is to prevent the bubbleheaded bimbo from doing anything rash. And we all know that all women are essentially bubbleheaded bimbos who can't be trusted to make up their own minds about anything without a long session of "counseling" from some doctor, probably a man who is against the idea of abortion altogether, no matter what the circumstances. And no matter what the bubbleheaded bimbo really wants and needs.

For example maybe she's been raped. Well, no matter, she needs counseling anyway before she commits murder in her womb. Or maybe she's single and poor and can't take care of a baby. Or maybe giving birth would actually endanger her life. Never mind that, God and the Oklahoma Department of Health both say she should take the risk.

First, she has to sit through the counseling session, a long, boring, drawn-out counseling session. And after that if she actually decides on an abortion anyway, if she can find a doctor to do it, she has to answer a list of questions. Here they are.

• Date of abortion
• County in which abortion performed
• Age of mother
• Marital status of mother
• Race of mother
• Years of education of mother
• State or foreign country of residence of mother
• Total number of previous pregnancies of the mother

And a bunch of other intrusive queries. The list of questions and her answers will be published on the Internet. Anyone with half a brain (and I am sure there are plenty of those in Oklahoma) will be able to figure out just who in their small town went seeking an abortion.

So much for privacy and the ability to make difficult decisions without everyone in town knowing who you are and what you are up to.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Why Obama Got a Nobel Peace Prize

Because he's not George W. Bush. People all over the world appreciate that a lot. Now let's hope it pressures him to actually do something to promote peace. Like bringing the troops home.

My Newest Web site.

I do a Web site for someone every once in a while. I'd like to call to your attention the site I built for a terrific young singer here in Los Angeles. This site has samples of some of her indie recording work.

Welcome to the Web site of Erin Rametta, a native of South Carolina. Click here.

Erin is my wife's friend and singing partner. My wife is her backup singer on some of Erin's records and personal appearances around town. They are a wonderful team.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Outrageous TV Spot Attacking Same Sex Marriage



What next? An ad for burning witches at the stake? Come out of the 14th Century, people.

And did you get that: "They want to bring the issue into my life, they want to take away my freedom" The right wing bigots just can't discuss an issue without lying. They just have to lie because their position shrivels under the strong light of the truth.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Latest Letter to the LA Times that Won't Get Printed

The health reform debate has gotten way off track. It is astonishing that so many lies have been woven around the issue. Death panels, (bye by gramma), the government will assign you a doctor, illegal immigrants will get free health care, the government will set doctors' wages.

The only thing that has any ring of truth is that illegal immigrants will get free health care. It's true. They will get free health care at everyone else's expense in emergency rooms, which are not adequate for actual health care, only for emergencies.

Meanwhile when illegals and their children get sick they will be free to infect the rest of us because Congress isn't smart enough to include them in any national health care plan.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Republican Death Panels

The NYT today published, the full story of the Harvard study that says 45,000 Americans die each year because they don't have health insurance. Here is one graf:

The Harvard study found that people without health insurance had a 40 percent higher risk of death than those with private health insurance — as a result of being unable to obtain necessary medical care. The risk appears to have increased since 1993, when a similar study found the risk of death was 25 percent greater for the


The piece includes a link to a PDF of the study.

I have a label for Republicans in Congress blocking Obama's health care reform: DEATH PANELS.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Roman Polanski and Cardinal Roger Mahoney

My letter today to the Los Angeles Times:

Now that District Attorney Steve Cooley's office has managed to get Roman Polanski arrested in Switzerland on a 1977 unlawful sex case, it may occur to others why he has let Cardinal Roger Mahoney off the hook.

Mahoney signed a $660 million settlement for victims on more than 500 cases in July two years ago.

Yet Cooley can't find enough evidence to prosecute the pedophile priests or Mahoney for a coverup. Looks like a double standard at work.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Michael Moore Gives Wolf Blitzer
a Lesson in Asking Questions

From The Raw Story:

[On CNN] Blitzer begins by pointing out that there are people who don’t like Michael Moore.

“Let’s talk about…most people who are going to see this movie who don’t like you are going to say, ‘you know what, Michael Moore has done pretty well in this free-market, capitalist system—you’ve become a fairly rich guy yourself.’ ” states Blitzer.

After Moore asks for the names of people who don’t like them, so he can ‘invite them to dinner,’ he continues with “Why am I against capitalism if I’ve done so well? Shouldn’t the question be better put—I’m not trying to do your job for you—but wouldn’t the question better be, ‘gee Mike, you’ve done so well, why don’t you just kick back at the lake and enjoy your life. Why do you care about people losing their healthcare and their jobs and all that…you’re not losing yours…I wonder if there was a Wolf Blitzer 200 years ago who asked Thomas Jefferson or John Adams or George Washington, ‘hey, you know, you guys are wealthy land owners…’”






Blitzer always asks the wrong questions. I yell at him all the time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Finally After all the Screaming and Lies --
a Wingnut Murder?


The FBI is investigating the hanging death of a U.S. Census worker near a Kentucky cemetery. A law enforcement official says the word "fed" was scrawled on his chest.
The body of Bill Sparkman, a 51-year-old Census field worker and occasional teacher, was found Sept. 12 in the Daniel Boone National Forest in rural southeast Kentucky.

He was a part-time teacher who had only recently earned his teaching credential.

Read more.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Insurance Industry Bribed Baucus Big Time

Montand Democratic Senator Max Baucus, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee has brought forth from that committee an absolutely horrible health "reform" bill. It deserved to be DOA.

For example, it requires all US residents to buy insurance, and a single parent over 50 would be paying FIVE TIMES the premium a single parent, 28 would pay. It is absolutely unaffordable. Smokers get 50% added to their premium. There's no public option, but the bill includes a co-op system, which is a weak ineffective way to replace the public option. Essetially, the co-op plan invites citizens to form their own alternate insurance plans in the various states. Good luck with that, a bunch of amateurs going up against will established huge insurance companies.

Why did Max Baucus' committee write this bill which former insurance executive Wendell Potter call, "a gift to the insurance industry? The answer is easy. The industry has bribed Baucus big time over the years -- some $3 million to date. And look at the figures from the latest election cycle, courtesy of OpenSecrets.org.

It is all over the Internet what a piece of crap this bill is.

Friday, September 18, 2009

You Gotta See This...

A CELEBRATION of the fact that the World Health Organization ranks the United States # 37 in quality and access to health care. Well, maybe not exactly a celebration.



Send this on to a friend. Two friends.

Send it Senator Baucus, the man who has taken $3 million in bribes from the health insurance industry to bring out a Senate bill that will deliver millions of new customers to the insurance companies at whatever price they set. Or else.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Signs for Teabagger / Wingnuts / Tax Revolters at Their Next Rally

Here at Stuff You Should Know, we are always willing and ready to help. Therefore we wanted to contribute our ideas for signs and posters the Wingnuts might like to carry on their next rally in Washington, D.C.

• I AM HEAR BECAUSE I AM AN UNINFORMED INDIOT
• FOX NEWS TOLD ME TO BE HERE AND HERE I IS
• I DON'T NEED NO STINKIN HEALTH CARE. AND NEITHER DO MY KIDS
• I AM AFRAID OF SOCIALISM WHATEVER THAT IS
• NO NEGRO HAS A RIGHT TO BE PREZDENT
• RACISM IS WRONG. BUT OBAMA SHOULD BE PICKIN COTTON
• I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK LIKE WHEN PREZDENTS WAS ALWAYS WHITE
• OBAMA GO BACK TO KENYA WHERE YOU WUZ BORN.
• HITLER VOTED FOR OBAMA FROM THE GRAVE
• IF I KNEW WHY I WAS HERE, I WOLD BE AT HOME
• OBAMA LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE STALIN ONLY WITHOUT THE MUSTACHE
• HEALTH CARE IS STUPID. LET'S SPEND THE MONEY ON ANOTHER WAR
• IF YOU GET SICK, GET UP AND WALK IT OFF LIKE A GOOD AMURICAN
• DON'T SPEND MORE MONEY ON HEALTH CARE, SPEND IT ON OPERATION IRAQI LIBERATION
• PROTECT OUR CONTSTIUNION LIKE THE WAY GEORGE BUSH DID.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Teabagger / Tax Protest / Anti Health Care Nut / Republican Protesters Demonstrate Their Intellectual Capacity



Yeah, the teabagger / birther / conspiracy nuts are all very intelligent and "INFROMED"

Woman Revolts Against Bank Of America

Ann Minch of Red Bluff, Calif refuses to pay off credit card after being a good customer, paying her credit card bill on time, even paying more than minimum payment for years.

Then B of A raised her interest rate to 30%. This is the same Bank of America that got a $700 billion bailout from us taxpayers.

The interest rate hike was the last straw. She made this video as a "love letter" (ha) to Bank of America.

This is one of the most widely viewed YouTube videos ever made. Ms. Minch is a fine American.

I hope her revolt sparks widespread rebellion against these loan sharks.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

This Photo Was so Good I Wanted to Run it Again


I shot this at a Farmers Market a few weeks ago. The fiddle player is a university mathematics professor. I don't know about the guitar picker.

These Republicans are Such a Classy Bunch


Republicastupids. Photo from HuffPo.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Joe Wilson's Web Site Still Down But his Stock Has Risen in Cracker Country



The rednecks in Joe Wilson's part of the woods in South Carolina are sending him money via another Website specifically designed to do nothing but collect credit card cash.

There is something really sick going on in this country when a cracker like Wilson can shout at the President of the United States during a joint session of Congress and get congratulated for it by morons who are registered to vote.

Personally, I think a lot of it stems from the belief in that former Confederate state that it really is acceptable to disrespect a black man. No problem, he's just a "nigra." I suspect Wilson has a white sheet in his closet with two eyeholes in it.

This from the NYT:

In Washington, Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina was sharply criticized by both Democrats and his fellow Republicans for shouting “You lie!” during President Obama’s health care address on Wednesday. But here in his strongly Republican Congressional district on Thursday, he was celebrated by many of his constituents for his outburst.


Joe Wilson. Thoroughly disgusting. Embarrassing. The country is full of fools worshipping a Congressional buffoon.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Republican Fools

Last night Republican Congressmen made fools of themselves in front of the entire world. Some of them held up signs during President Obama's speech, as if they were at a town hall meeting in Podunk, Idaho.

And then there was Joe Wilson, a Congressman from South Carolina, with his outburst, "YOU LIE!" I certainly hope his outburst was a career changer for him. And this guy is a colonel in the National Guard, yelling at his Commander in Chief. Back to obscurity.


The first two shots are from BagNews Notes. The Wilson shot is from HuffingtonPost.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Joint Session of Congress


This is a picture of a joint session of Congress. Every single one of these guys has great health insrance courtesy of us. Socialized health care. And many of them don't want us to have anything like it.

Founding Fathers Were in Favor of Universal Health Insurance

Proof:

Preamble to the Constitution:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure 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."


Seems to me the general Welfare would include universal health care as a right, not a privilege. And then there was the Declaration of Independence:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Now how can you enjoy "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness" without your health? Case closed.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Heroes

I can't leave this blog today without directing you to The Public Record and its story on Labor Day and the Heroes of the Union Movement. It is well worth reading.

THE UNION MAID
Woody Guthrie

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.

CHORUS:
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.


This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn't be fooled by a company stool, she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she'd say:

CHORUS

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.

CHORUS


And finally, here is a YouTube video featuring Pete Seegar, who is a national treasure:

Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Had Reinlisted for Son's Health Coverage

The story is at Raw Story

CNN news anchor John Roberts asks "How far would you go to get good health insurance?" A report this morning tells the heartbreaking story of a man who lost his job as a computer consultant, and along with the job went the health insurance for his family.

Army SPC Greg Missman had ended his military service 11 years earlier, but signed back on in order to provide his young son Jack with health insurance coverage.

After only one month on the ground in Afghanistan, Missman's father Jim received the news that Greg's convoy had been ambushed, and Greg was killed in the attack.

CNN reports that a "Pentagon spokesman said there is no way to count how many soldiers have joined the armed services to get health care benefits. As for Greg Missman, his son will continue receive military health insurance so this soldier's sacrifice will live on."


The CNN YouTube video is at the Raw Story Web site
And according to Senator Chuck Grassley and the rest of the Gang of Idiots, we don't need health care reform.

White House Green Jobs Czar Van Jones Resigns Under Pressure from Glenn Beck


Van Jones is a brilliant environmental activist, author and graduate of Yale Law School. My first sentence here does not even begin to outline his accomplishments and honors. For more, see Wikipedia. He has reportedly worked behind the scenes to help unseat reactionary FOX "News" mouth breather and knuckle dragger Glenn Beck. The score now is Beck 1, Jones 0, after Beck began pounding on Jones for his "radical Communism," and for signing a petition calling for answers to questions about 9/11. Most news stories center on the petition, because even corporate reporters recognize that the Communism thing is silly. But most news stories fail to identify the petition. We have found it, at 9/11 Truth.org

Here are just a few of the "radical" questions in the petition.
• Why were standard operating procedures for dealing with hijacked airliners not followed that day?
• Why were the extensive missile batteries and air defenses reportedly deployed around the Pentagon not activated during the attack?
• Why hasn't a single person been fired, penalized, or reprimanded for the gross incompetence we witnessed that day?
• How could Flight 77, which reportedly hit the Pentagon, have flown back towards Washington D.C. for 40 minutes without being detected by the FAA's radar or the even superior radar possessed by the US military?

Jones said he quit rather than serve as a distraction while the president is working on crucial projects including health reform. He also said he didn't closely scrutinize the petition before he signed it, but it seems to me all the questions are reasonable, and I would have liked to see the 9/11 Commission attempt to answer them.

Glenn Beck is a coward and a bully. Compared to Van Jones, he is a piece of dog poop on my shoe. But Beck will probably now be encouraged to go after more Obama appointees.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Little Trip up the Coast

We took a little trip up the California Coast this last week. Here's a shot of Ocean Avenue, Cayucos. The yellow building is a relic of the Old West, Hoppe's restaurant
And here's lunch. Some kind of Salmon thing I think, with mashed potatoes and herbs.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Health Care: We Are Truly Screwed

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone has written a piece on health care that puts to shame the "reporting" done by the cable news networks and even the big city newspapers. It is a long piece, but worth reading. Here is the link. And here is a summary that comes near the end of the article.

To recap, here's what ended up happening with health care. First, they gave away single-payer before a single gavel had fallen, apparently as a bargaining chip to the very insurers mostly responsible for creating the crisis in the first place. Then they watered down the public option so as to make it almost meaningless, while simultaneously beefing up the individual mandate, which would force millions of people now uninsured to buy a product that is no longer certain to be either cheaper or more likely to prevent them from going bankrupt. The bill won't make drugs cheaper, and it might make paperwork for doctors even more unwieldy and complex than it is now. In fact, the various reform measures suck so badly that PhRMA, the notorious mouthpiece for the pharmaceutical industry which last year spent more than $20 million lobbying against health care reform, is now gratefully spending more than seven times that much on a marketing campaign to help the president get what he wants.


I was so incensed by the piece that I immediately wrote a blistering note to Obama at the White House Web site promising never ever to support him for a second term. Obama has become a huge disappointment. Even bigger because he held out to much hope for so many of us. We knew Bush as a dick to begin with, so no big deal when he turned out to fulfill our expectations. But Obama promised HOPE and CHANGE. Crap. Very little of it is happening. Obama is a phony.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Invitation

To my readers: You're invited to take a look at a brand new Web site I built for a very talented recording artist. Her name is Erin Rametta, and here is the link. You can even sample some of her music on the site.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Adventure on Our Hillside

We can see the fire from our vantage point on top of one of those famous L.A. hills. We're a bit too far east to be sitting in the Hollywood hills. But we have had a spectacular view of the fires to the North, in the La Canada mountain sides.


We also have a lot of dry grass that has sprung up over the summer. Dry grass is fire fuel. I had an idea to get down on our slope and cut it with a Toro Weedeater. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Our terrain just below the house tilts at a 45 degree angle or steeper. I have tried on occasion to negotiate that slope, only to fall and slide down on my backside, scraping my jeans in the dust halfway down before I can stop by grabbing some well-anchored vegetation. My solution to this, in order to carry out my mission, was to tie a rope to the lime tree at the top of the hill and hang on as I carefully backed down. The lifeline was actually several ropes tied together. I didn't have one single long rope.

Of course, as I was backing down the hill, I was also hanging on to my Weedeater. Not an easy thing to do. I got about halfway down, amidst a patch of the grass I intended to level, and began cutting. Work was going well, until the Weedeater malfunctioned and flew apart, sending the spool flying somewhere off into space. While I was looking for it, one of the knots let go on my makeshift lifeline and I went flying downhill, slamming into the dirt, rolling and finally coming to a stop. I had a feeling in my chest that I had broken another rib. Rats. I broke a rib earlier this summer stumbling over something in the dark outside.

But I hadn't. All this was yesterday, and the rib is fine.

Final Score: Hill 1, Russ 0

Thursday, August 27, 2009

GOP Candidate Threatens Life
of the President with a "Joke"

From the Huffingtonpost:

BOISE, Idaho — An Idaho Republican gubernatorial hopeful insists he was only joking when he said he'd buy a license to hunt President Barack Obama.

Rex Rammell, a long-shot candidate slated to run against incumbent C.L. "Butch" Otter in the May 2010 GOP primary, made the comment at a Republican rally Tuesday in Twin Falls where talk turned to the state's planned wolf hunt, for which hunters must purchase an $11.50 wolf tag. The hunt is due to begin on Tuesday.

When an audience member shouted a question about "Obama tags," Rammell responded, "The Obama tags? We'd buy some of those."

Rammell told The Associated Press Thursday he sees no reason to apologize for the comment because it was just a joke.

"What I would say to all my Democrat Idahoans: Take a deep breath and relax," he said. "We're not going to go out and hunt Obama."

He also told the Times-News newspaper, "I would never support him being assassinated."

After Rammell's comment was published in the Times-News, he said one person sent him an e-mail indicating he would ask the FBI for an investigation.

Threatening the president can be a felony punishable by five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
His headshot confirms that he is a bubbleheaded twit.
This evening, I called the United States Secret Service and asked them to investigate this idiot.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My Reply to Annette,
Who Thinks Obama is Doing OK

Annette is over at Just My Little Piece of the World. First you gotta go over and see her reply to my complaints about Obama. She's a big Obama supporter. I am a big critic, wanting Obama to do more. After you see what she wrote, you gotta come back and see my reply to her reply. Here is my reply:

OK, you see the glass half full. That's a legitimate position to take. I see it half empty and I and my "radical lefty friends" have a lot of hope and idealistic aspirations for this presidency. He has important accomplishments.

But it drives me nuts that he can't see that the Republicans have no intention of cooperating on health care reform. They haven't voted with him on anything important. The process isn't nearly as important as the result, and the Republicans have stated clearly they want to destroy his presidency. Health care is a life and death issue. No small thing.

The Dems went along like sheep with Bush tax cuts and war. Bush wouldn't put up with non-cooperation from Democrats. Obama needs a little more of Bush-style cracking the whip.

BTW I was thoroughly offended with the remarks of THEMOM: "We need to keep reiterating the "facts" to those who want to twist and spin the acts to date of this administration. There are days I get so aggreavated arguing these same issues with the ignorant." That's what she wrote up there.

I'll tell you what's ignorant. Those morons who believe in Death Panels and Killing Gramma and Health Care for illegal Aliens and Government funded Abortions and Watering the Tree of Liberty and all that crap.

I am dealing with facts. Obama has ignored Bush era War Crimes serious enough to warrant the death penalty for Nazis and Japanese officers alike after WWII. That's a fact. I am far from ignorant. And to ignore such serious violations of our Constitution and our national history on this issue is dangerous to future generations. Why didn't he go after at least John Yoo immediately? And maybe work his way up to Cheney and Bush. These people are classic examples of war criminals. You can't sweep it under the carpet. Do you know at least a hundred men died under torture by the CIA during the Bush era? I am not proud of that. And hundreds of thousands of men, women and children in Iraq.

Obama is embroiled in wars that will do nothing but drain more treasure and bring home more bodies. He needs to show that it is important to bring those wars to an end. We can't afford them. They are his Vietnam. I am not especially surprised that he has not moved more aggressively to end these wars. I am disappointed that he has not done so. I will also not be surprised that both of them will end like Vietnam, with nothing accomplished except the creation of more families without fathers and husbands and sons. Read "Johnny Got His Gun," by Dalton Trumbo.

You can say all you like about Obama's inheritance of the economic bailout from Bush, but the fact is, Obama endorsed the biggest bank robbery in American history. Hank Paulson, Treasury Secretary was CEO of Goldman Sachs and he threatened the government with collapse of the entire economy if Congress didn't immediately turn $700 billion over to him to do as he pleased, and they did. And he gave $14 billion to Goldman, And Goldman ended up posting a gigantic profit and distributing $18 billion in bonuses to its employees. This was typical of the bailout. Big bucks for Wall Street, CitiBank, B of A and the rest and they turned around and hiked interest rates on credit cards.

Meanwhile, we have near Depression-era unemployment and people still losing their homes by the millions. Over 8 million foreclosures are expected in 2009. That is a national disaster. Where is help for the little guy?--homeowners and credit card holders?

I just want Obama to show some spine and some leadership. I am not alone. Dr. Howard Dean seems to believe that Obama needs to take the Blue Dogs to the woodshed. Seriously, if Congress comes out with a weak health care plan, that's it. The rest of the Obama Presidency is lame duck. The Republicans will have accomplished what they set out to do--make it his Waterloo. That's what they want. And the Republicans will capture the House next year and Obama will be a one term president. Is that what you want? Of course it is not what you or I want.

None of us wants to see a bunch of ignoramuses like Chuck Grassley or Mike Enzi or Tom Price or John Boehner or Tom Coburn running Congress. These guys are idiots, liars, greedy sons of bitches who would sell out their own mothers for political or economic advantage. I detest Republican politicians and their stupid philosophy of every man for himself and to hell with children and old people. That is why I am so passionate about wanting Obama to stomp these people into the ground. They need to be destroyed, politically.

Democrats have the White House. They have the Senate. They have the House. They should now all act as if they are the majority party and get some important work done for the people in this country.

And I haven't even mentioned the Union Card Check Employee Free Choice Act, which Obama is allowing to die a slow death in Congress because the corporations want it dead. Don't get me started, Annette.

Oh wait, you already did.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

I'm Worried About My FREEDOM!

A woman at McCain's town hall this morning stood up and said, "I'm worried about my freedom." This is code language for "Screw health care, let it go down the tubes, I believe in death panels and the gramma killing clause, and a government takeover that would dictate my choice of doctors and taxpayer-funded abortions and illegal aliens getting health care on my dime."

OK lady, let's not enact serious health care reform, and you can have your freedom.

* Freedom to get sick and die because you can't afford health insurance.

• Freedom to get sick and die because your health insurance company won't sell you health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.

• Freedom to get sick and die because your health insurer cancelled you noting that you were sick and ready to die and it was just too expensive to keep you insured.

• Freedom to see your family members treated the same way by Cigna or Blue Cross or any of a half dozen other giant insurance companies.

• Freedom to go bankrupt and lose your house through foreclosure because your medical bills have wiped you out.

And the insurance companies enjoy freedom too:

• Freedom to riaise rates whenever they damn well feel like it.

• Freedom to deny you insurance or kick you off the rolls.

• Freedom to tell your doctor you really don't need that kidney transplant or that chemotherapy.

• Freedom to lobby Congress to block any meaningful legislation reining in the big insurance companies

• Freedom to make huge profits and pay their top execs enormous benefits with taxpayers' bailout money.

So you see, that lady was right. There's plenty of freedom to go around. We don't need no stinkin' health care reform to deny us our precious freedom.



Monday, August 24, 2009

The Ad That CNN Won't Play

It is OK for the Republicans to play dirty tricks like Stealing an Election. Or Two Elections. Or Starting an Unnecessary War. Or Torturing People. Or Running Secret Prisons all over the world. Or Telling Huge Whoppers about Obama's health plan.

But it is not OK for Our Side to tell the Truth about the health insurance companies.

I guess CNN decided this ad was unfair to Cigna Insurance and its CEO. Well in this health care debate, we wouldn't want anyone to be unfair, would we?


Here's another ad from the same people.

These ads were produced by Americans United For Change. They've produced a lot of ads. I am not sure just how successful they have been in getting these ads out there. I think I saw the first one once on MSNBC. Other than that, I have not seen any of the rest of them anywhere and I see a lot of cable news. Nowhere on the site does it reveal where the ads have aired, if ever. Possibly they rely on bloggers to pick them up and post them around on the Web.

Breakfast -- Cream Cheese
on Home Made Toast and Fruit


With a piece of fresh salmon, bacon and home grown tomatoes. And coffee.

Home Made Bread

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Republican Plan for Health Care Reform

To be fair, we thought we should post the Republican Plan for Health Care Reform. And here it is:











And that about sums it up.

Chuck Grassley on Health Care Reform

Senator Chuck Grassley is probably the highest profile member of the Senate Finance Committee, considered a key panel in health care reform. He is one of the Gang of Six, a Republican from Iowa. He has been especially dangerous to the prospect of real health care reform. At one point he even endorsed Sarah Palin's nutty idea of Death Panels. Here are a couple of grafs from Dakota Farmer outlining Grassley's latest Pearls of Wisdom.

Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, says the outpouring of anger at town hall meetings this month has fundamentally altered the nature of the health-care debate and convinced him that lawmakers should consider drastically scaling back the scope of the effort. Grassley says the public has rejected the far-reaching proposals Democrats have put on the table, viewing them as overly expensive precursors to a government takeover of health care.

"People are signaling that we ought to slow up and find out where we are and don't spend so much money and don't get us so far into debt," said Grassley. The ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, Grassley hopes the panel can draft a better, less costly plan capable of winning broad support from Democrats and Republicans.


Grassley has had no problem voting for wars that cost billons of dollars each month.

Incidentally, Grassley has also said, no matter what Judiciary cranks out on health care reform, he ain't gonna vote for it. No wonder. Look at the bribes he has taken. (Source: Open Secrets)

As you can see, most of the bribes are from health industry companies and are self-explanatory. DaVita, Inc., specializes in kidney disease and dialysis.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Gang of Six -- Unplugged

The Gang of Six, three Democrats and three Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee seem to have been appointed or appointed themselves the six go-to people on the Health Care Reform issue. In other words, nothing is supposed to get done without them. They are
• Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.)
• Charles Grassley (R. Iowa)
• Mike Enzi R. (Wyo.)
• Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.)
• Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)
• Kent Conrad (D-N.D.)

You will notice that Republicans Grassley of Iowa, Enzi of Wyoming and Democrat Baucus of Montana are all from relatively small states. These three have way too much power representing way too few people. And Conrad, of North Dakota. What's up with him? Not especially supportive of the President, and from a state with just enough people to fill a bingo hall.

OK, here is what we are going to do. Over the next six days, or so, we will feature each one of these Gang of Six Senators, explaining their positions on Health Care Reform, along with a listing of the bribes they have taken. (Bribes are usually described as campaign contributions, but we call it as we see it.)

We'll start with Grassley tomorrow unless the Little Woman has too many chores around the house for me to do and I can't get to it. In which case I'll get to it Monday.

Sewer Cleanout


If you ever have a blockage in your sewer pipes, this orange snake thing will save you a hundred bucks or more. I bought it for $20, it fits on the drill shaft and you feed the steel snake down into your sewer line through a cleanout opening.

I have a troublesome sewer line to our septic tank. I bet I've saved a thousand dollars using this thing. It cleans out blocked sewer lines like a charm. The toilet won't flush, it backs up into the shower and the sweetest sound when you are using this tool is the drain opening up and sewage and water swirling down the drain. Then you have to clean out the shower.

I have no stock or any other interest in the company that makes the thing.

There must be a joke about Republicans in here somewhere.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Against Health Care Reform?
Let's Get Out to a RALLY!



Hey, anti-health care people, lets get out to a rally this week to drive home our points for No Health Care Reform.

• No shackles on insurance companies forcing them to hold down costs, keep sick people enrolled, or allow people with pre-existing conditions to become policyholders. We believe in the free enterprise system, not socialism! Millions of children uninsured in this country? Boo hoo. Let the kids learn early, no socialist fascist Hitler takeover in the good old USA!

• Some Democrat liberals will tell you that Stephen J. Hemsley, CEO of United Health Care, a big insurance company made a billion dollars last year. Don't you believe it. He only got $3.24 million in salary and $250 million in stock options. Now does that seem extreme to you for an important guy in charge of an important insurance company that makes life and death decisions for your doctor?

• No big government public option in competition with the insurance companies. Another socialistic fascist Hitler government takeover scheme.

• No fascist schemes to allow people without health insurance to get cheaper health insurance than whatever we have now. If people can't afford health insurance, let them work harder until they can afford it. Simple as that.

• And if you can't afford health care (who can these days?), just don't get sick. Remember, we have to fight the idea of a big socialistic nazi government takeover of the health care business.

• No health care for illegal immigrants or aliens from outer space or endangered polar bears.

• No sneaky hidden amendments allowing government bureaucrats to kill gramma. No Hitler Death Panels.

Let's get out to a rally soon. We can't let Obama reform health care. And don't forget to bring your gun!
Photos from CBS News

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What's in the Obama Health Reform Plan

THIS IS the second time I have posted this blog. It's important for everyone to know what is really in the Obama plan.

• Gramma is toast. Bye Bye Gramma.
• Your Medicare will be cancelled, and Obama will charge you for that.
• After going before the Peoples Glorious Collective Death Panel, Sarah Palin's new baby will be ground up and fed to zoo animals.
• The plan will cover all illegal aliens, even if they have been deported to Mexico.
• The plan will pay for all abortions, including those of illegal aliens from outer space and polar bears.
• The new health care plan will be administered by a Health Czar Ivan Boris Walkitov, who served as The People's Glorious Commissar of Health in the Soviet Union. Here he will have the title, First Secretary of the Peoples Glorious Central Committee on Health Care which will tell your doctor whether you should live or die.
• If you have leprosy or any of a hundred other nasty diseases, they will send you to a Peoples Medical Concentration Camp in Utah.
• You will be required to have a picture of Karl Marx tattooed on your forehead
• The government will install chips in your head to listen to everything you say.
• The government will install chips in your doctor's head.
• You will be required to go to Peoples Re-education Meetings once a month to familiarize you with the new health plan.
• The government will send you to whatever doctor they like, even if it is 200 miles from your house. This is designed to control costs.
• If you have a medical emergency, get in line. You may have to wait a couple of weeks for that nasty head injury or ruptured appendix.
• Wealthy people will be paying more taxes, so they will be way ahead of you in line.
• At your doctor's office you will have to wear a hospital gown decorated with red hammers and sickles.
• In the waiting room you will be required to read old copies of Soviet Life, and you will hear piped in MUZAK featuring the Internationale, over and over and over and over.
• You will not get your country back. A black man born in Kenya will still be president.