Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A No Panic Guide To Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

So you volunteered to host Thanksgiving this year, cook the dinner, prepare the hor d'ourves, decorate the table, make sure snacks, drinks and dessert are all in order, plus provide the entertainment to keep the celebration from becoming stale. Right about now, as you gaze longingly at the buffet restaurant you're driving by, wishing you had suggested that instead, don't worry yourself one bit. Just follow the directions here and your guests will gobble up everything in sight with gusto, complimenting you on your absolute brilliant party.

Before you even think about cooking or preparing food, you must decide upon the type of atmosphere you intend to surround your guests in while they dine. Buying a few holiday cut outs and pinning them strategically around your home will lend that warm and fuzzy feel to any room. If you're the informal type, a simple tablecloth with a small pumpkin set in the middle of the table will do just fine. The plates and cups that sit in your cupboard can be safely used, no special place settings need adhere.

If, however, you'd like to impress those (such as your mother in law) who are coming over with your knowledge of culinary flair, a more relaxed formality is probably the key to your success. You can still go with a plain white tablecloth, but in order to set the tone for the meal, a centerpiece of flowers in a vase is ok, but why no put some ooomph into your fall theme by taking some of the fall leaves from around your home, washing them of dirt, and spreading them in a single line down the middle of your tablecloth? In the center of the table and on top of the leaves, place a small pumpkin or a fall squash. On either side of the pumpkin/squash a candle in a plain clear holder adds a classy touch to the setting.

When setting the table, you should always place forks to the left of the plate with a napkin on that side also. Salad forks go to the outside, dinner forks inside. Place the knife on the right side of the plate with the blade facing toward the plate. Then put your spoons to the right of the knife. Your soup spoon goes on the outside, the tea spoon closest to the knife. Wine and cider glasses should be placed to the right of each plate, about three inches from the top corner to avoid spillages. An extra nice touch to avoid the confusion of who sits where would be to write the names of each guest on a holiday themed card and place them on each plate. Now your table is properly set.

If you intend to have more than just a few people over, then it is usually a good idea to go with the buffet table idea if you ever intend to get a plate of food for yourself. That being the case, and for all intents and purposes of this article we'll assume that position, go ahead and set up your buffet table the same way as your dining table or tables. ( Depending upon your flexibility, you may need a couple of television trays for the die hard football fans).

As your guests arrive hours before dinner, snacks are going to be needed, but of course, you don't wish to fill everyone up before the main meal. Strategically placed bowls of mixed nuts, mints and hard candy, chocolates, and potato chips and dip should be plenty for guests to munch on while they breathe in the aroma of roasting turkey. Always make sure you have enough wine, beer, soda, cider, milk and juice on hand, both before, during, and after the meal.

It is very important that you have enough serving forks, spoons and ladles for each dish to be presented, especially if you're going with a serve yourself buffet style. (Parents should always make the plates for the kids or you're going to have mashed potatoes all over everything else. A platter for the turkey, serving bowls, a gravy boat, salad tongs, and pie slice servers are all necessary and should be set near each separate dish.

Here's a few tips to remember as you prepare your perfect feast. A salad before the meal in addition to the various snacks, will help to keep your guests' stomachs happy as you busily hop around in the kitchen. On a side table, set some salad plates out along with extra salad forks. Place bowls of shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, sliced cucumber, sliced onion, shredded cheese, sliced boiled eggs, chopped ham, chopped walnuts, potato salad, macaroni salad, or whatever else you usually place in your favorite salad. Make sure you have at least three different salad dressings available for variety's sake. A safe bet here would be to go with Ranch, French, and Italian.

Here's a few tips to remember while preparing your meal.

Dark roasting pans cook faster than bright shiny ones.
Stuffed birds take longer to cook.
Perfect cooking temperature is 350 degrees.
Make sure turkey is completely thawed. (If need be, set the turkey in a sink full of cold water overnight)
Place bird breast side up in a shallow baking pan about 2-3 inches deep.
Add about one cup of water to pan. Do not salt the turkey before cooking. ( But you may rub sage, onion powder, garlic powder, and a little Italian seasoning all over the outside of the turkey)
Even if you buy a turkey with a pop up to tell you when it's done, poke it deeply and make sure the juices are clear.
After cooking, it's always a good idea to let the turkey stand for 15 minutes before carving.
A good guide to cooking a turkey is to remember the 20 minute per pound rule. So a 20 lb. bird will take 4 1/2 to 5 hours at 350 degrees.

Side dishes:
Mashed potato ideas:
Use sour cream instead of milk for creamy heavenly potatoes.
Mix some parsley flakes into the potatoes to give them that gourmet look and taste.

Things to add to your stuffing that will make your guests swoon are chopped celery, cooked ground Italian sausage, chopped onion, a pinch of sage and black pepper, a can of chunky cranberry sauce, or anything else you think might be tasty.

Sweet potatoes:
Use canned!
Place potatoes in baking dish, shake in enough brown sugar to cover, top with marshmallows, then bake it for 15 minutes alongside the stuffing while the turkey is setting.

More side dishes:
Oh, the possibilities. Be smart though and save yourself some trouble. Your guests are there for the turkey. Side dishes, while nice, are mostly irrelevant. But, of course, you have to serve something, so go with frozen vegetables. Not canned, due to the tinny flavor.

Frozen corn is always a must as are frozen green beans. You can add some sauteed red pepper to the corn if you like, and sliced almonds to the green beans. There's no right or wrong to the vegetables you pick, and there's also no limit as to how many sides you can put out. They even have frozen squash that's easy to heat these days.

Pies: Buy them from your grocer's bakery section. Unless you really, really, really want to bake as well as roast, buy them. A good selection would be a couple of pumpkin pies, an apple, a cherry, and even a carrot cake. Make sure you have whipped cream on hand, and dessert is all taken care of.

What wine do you serve to those with different tastes? Wine that will go nicely with turkey and satisfy everyone? Follow these guidelines and all will be well.

For those who prefer red wines, serve a Pinot Noir.

Dry white wine lovers will enjoy a Chardonnay.

For those whose palates like the tang of a sweet white wine, pick a White Zinfandel.

(Buy plenty of apple cider for the kids. Sparking cider makes the little ones feel all grown up.)

If you need to figure out how to make something, don't panic. Use your keyboard and Google it! The odds are very good indeed that any recipe you need is on the web. Most of all, just relax and enjoy the day, your family and friends, and of course, all day football! keep in mind that hosting Thanksgiving dinner is supposed to be fun, and it's your moment to shine, so use your imagination, tweak things around to your liking, and most of all, have fun while you do it.

Hopefully this little guide will help jump start your thinking process. happy Thanksgiving to one and all, and may the Good Lord watch over us, one and all................................

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nothing To Be Thankful For

Traditional fare consisting of stuffed turkeys with all the trimmings will adorn many an American home this Thanksgiving. Beer and wine will flow in copious amounts as families gather round their televisions to watch two of the most mismatched games ever to be televised since the Detroit and Dallas franchises somehow became the default teams to be thankful to be watching on a day of merriment and gluttony.

Celebrating the day is amusing in and of itself, owing to the fact that we are reveling in the dire straights our ancestors found themselves in, ie; abject poverty and near starvation. Without the Native Americans and their knowledge of the lands, we might not even be here to celebrate anything at all. And so fowl and pigs will be slaughtered wholesale across the land as Americans desperately try to forget that our money is being stolen right in front of our eyes, people are losing their jobs in ever increasing numbers, and the Thanksgiving dinner that used to cost about fifty dollars to prepare will now set a family back almost two hundred bucks.

Of course, having that money to spend on a day that celebrates not the bounty of our land, but the fact that the pilgrims didn't starve to death is probably a gift in and of itself. Because across this so called land of bounty and equality for all, there are untold millions who will go hungry this Thanksgiving, untold millions who will give their children peanut butter sandwiches, hoping against hope that they don't ask why they can't have a turkey dinner like everyone else.

Despite what the idiots that run the Duluth News Tribune may write, people are not choosing to become frugal and live in poverty because 'they like it that way'. People are being forced into poverty because our government could care less about the citizens who are starving, refuse to help the poor and the middle class, refuse to enforce the very minimum wage they themselves signed into law, and are giving all, not some, but all of our nation's wealth to jet setting fat cats that should be thrown in jail for grand larceny of world class proportions.

Take for instance some statistics that Kim Bobo has put together in her book entitled 'Wage Theft In America'. Bobo's investigation of companies across the spectrum found that sixty per cent of nursing homes all over America 'stole' workers' wages by not paying them for overtime, underpaying them by a dollar or more less than the minimum wage, charging them for benefits such as health care never received, and firing those who complained. To go further into this murky world where the Department of Labor refuses to tread, Bobo found that 89 percent of unmonitored garment factories in Los Angeles and 67 percent of unmonitored garment factories in New York City stole workers’ wages. 25 percent of tomato producers, 35 percent of lettuce producers, 51 percent of cucumber producers, 58 percent of onion producers, and 62 percent of garlic producers hiring farm workers stole workers’ wages. 78 percent of restaurants in New Orleans stole workers’ wages. Almost half of day laborers, who tend to focus on construction work, have had their wages stolen. 100 percent of poultry plants steal workers’ wages. Stealing from the poor. Uniquely American.

Many of those poor are eligible to receive food assistance from the government, but that's become almost a waste of time in this economy. Using income scales that date back to Bush number One, most recipients still receive less than $100 per month, or about $3 per day to feed themselves. No raise in food assistance allotments will be allowed by the Republicans in Congress, who, since September, have blocked any increase for the poor, but enthusiastically gave trillions away to corporations. Let's see anyone buy a feast with the money the poor live on.

To make matters worse this year, so many families, poor and middle class alike, signed up for the food baskets that are usually given away by food banks in the days before the holiday that virtually every single food bank across the country ran out almost immediately. Turning people away is the hardest thing in the world for volunteers at a food bank or a shelter, but this year, it's become common place.

In Detroit, where no one wants to help out the auto industry, food banks ran out of turkeys so quickly that Gleaners, The St. Joseph Closet, and Goodfellows turned away hundreds. At Gleaners, they were scrounging around attempting to find anything to give to the hungry, anything at all, but in the end just closed their doors. Dejected mothers and fathers wondered at what they would feed their kids that night, forget the coming holiday.

In Craigsville, Virginia, the local food bank took some of their monthly operating budget to go and purchase extra turkeys, knowing the demand would be higher this year. Stunned at the turnout, they ran out of food entirely within the first hour and had to turn away at least 50 families that were waiting outside.

New Bedford, Massachusetts pantry P.A.C.E. did the best they could trying to keep up with all of the hungry people who stood out in the cold waiting for the chance to get a meal package for the holiday. They handed out 550 food boxes while a pool was gathered between the volunteers, one of whom then ran to the market to buy 50 chickens. But it wasn't enough. More than 100 families were eventually turned away into the freezing dark night.

The St. Louis Area Food Bank Network, a clearinghouse for food donations in the greater metro area, handles and distributes Thanksgiving meal packages every year. They collect, package, and deliver the food to area pantries for distribution to poverty stricken families. Even though they collected and passed out over 1 million pounds of food this year, it was not nearly enough. Because of the economy, and because the middle class can no longer even pay their bills, let alone buy food, area food banks estimate they turned away at least 3,000 families this year.

Pastor Debbie Santiago burst into tears after turning away 80 families from her Salt and Sea mission in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Coalition Against Hunger says that the number of people seeking help from food banks in Brooklyn has risen by 86% over the past year, and that many of the new faces are from middle class families who have slipped into poverty while Wall Street celebrates.

Bare cupboards met the director of the Eddie Davis Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Every year, the center takes donated money and purchases enough food for about 400 families to have Thanksgiving dinner. Not so this year, as the lines swelled to record breaking proportions and donations at an all time low. The Center was only able to buy 75 turkeys this year, and of course, hundreds of families had to be turned away. Seems to be the recurring theme here. Turning people away.

Alameda County, California Food Bank workers have watched as 750,000 lbs. of food was given to starving families over the course of several days. Not one word on the local or national media though of the thousands more that were turned away after it ran out. Not one word was spoken about the fact that as Treasury Secretary Paulson slips money by the billions into the side pockets of financial institutions, as an early Christmas gift, not one penny has been allocated to stop the starvation of American citizens.

In Lincoln, Nebraska, a city that prides itself on caring for their poor, food baskets were so limited that you had to sign up for one a month in advance. But the demand was so high, and even with the Swift plant donating as many chickens as they could, the food ran out. People who thought they were getting a Thanksgiving Day food box ended up leaving with some soup and bread. Some received nothing at all.

It's amazing how everyone has become so programmed to exude love and affection for family members we hate on a designated shopping day every year. We're suckered into believing that we should thank our Deity for the blessings He/She has bestowed upon us while we watch the homeless man outside our window shiver and rummage through our garbage can for something to eat. In an era where we allow our politicians to declare the poor can starve for all they care and the middle class can lose their jobs, but Wall Street limo owner fat cats will dine on caviar and $2,000 per bottle wine, there is nothing to be thankful for.

There's nothing to be thankful for until the day comes when everyone in America has the same chance as everyone else, and nepotism is purged from our workplaces, our sports, our movies and television, and yes, our government. Until the day that foreign aid is turned inward, and no American child goes hungry, and every citizen is allowed to make a liveable wage, then nothing will have 'changed', and we will continue the slide to third world status. There's nothing to be thankful for until we as a people demand that the stories above never happen again, and take forceful action to ensure it. Write someone. Call someone. Make it happen.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Ride The Wind, One Per Center

Front fork extended and raked beyond the standard, the chopper cruises loudly past as all heads turn to marvel at the audacity of America's modern day cowboy. Old ladies frown, mothers gather their children, and fathers nervously keep watch out of the corners of their eyes.

Gliding towards the corner store, wind whipped hair backwards flowing, the machine comes to a full throated stop. The put-putting of the idle lets you know from afar that you're not dealing with any ordinary weekend warrior. This is the real deal. One who has chosen 'the life', the road his only home, and late, lonely nights sleeping under the only true friends he'll ever know.

Stepping into the store, all the air seems to get sucked out of the room, and worried shoppers try not to look at the leather clad form shaking the dust off of his colors. Gathering their purchases, they scurry quickly outside, the only ones left in the establishment are the owner, the biker, and a young mother and her child. Shades seemingly glued to his eyes, he saunters over to the beer cooler and after reaching in, pops the top and drinks deep, long draughts. The owner glances disapprovingly, but says nothing as the man finishes his beer, and gathers up the rest of the six pack, heading back towards the counter.

The young mother is clearly distraught at the price of her meager purchases, counting out coins on the counter as the owner sighs and tells her she does not have enough, she can count it all day, damn it all! Chaps squeak that leathery sound and boots clop loudly on the sawdust strewn wooden floor as the man reaches the counter.

The owner tells the woman to put some things back, she can't afford the food and the candy, why don't you get your sorry ass down to the welfare office or give that kid to a good Christian family somewhere? Beer cans hit the counter with a silencing thud, and three faces turn to look into the weathered eyes and full bearded features of a man with no patience for the antics of fools.

He slaps down a hundred dollar bill, picking up his beer and grabbing some jerky, give the woman whatever she needs, and then give her the change. Mother's mouth drops open as the kid asks can I have some M&M's Mom, and the rider disappears out the door before a thank you can be issued. He doesn't want any thanks, he just wants to see that child smile.

Sitting astride his shiny chrome horse, the beer goes into the saddle bag along with the meat. Throttle releases as thunder roars from the tranny, Harley and rider melding into one entity. Advanced suspension and high rubber mounts smooth out the road as the motorcycle takes the rider away, mother and child waving thankfully in the rear view mirror. The edge of the town comes up swiftly, the open road ahead a relief for one who shuns what straight society offers.

Holding the handlebars with a light loving touch, he ponders on the meaning of why that store owner could be so cruel, and yet the 'straights' fear those like himself. He considers his brothers, the owners of panheads, shovelheads, sportsters, wide glides, soft tails, and knuckleheads. Those he's racing now to meet up with, those to whom he swears loyalty, those who watch his back in his chosen life's endeavors. Not unlike a corporation, his club has it's hierarchy, it's treasurer and it's businesses. Dancing girls for the lonely and the married, watering holes for the thrill seekers who like to pretend they're a part of the scene.

Such is the way of the true biker, the ones whose disdain for society and it's rules force them to live on the edges of town, the outsiders, the riders, and the true one per centers. They ride the wind at the drop of a hat, unsung heroes of the modern age. A biker will be first in line to help those in need and the rap they get from the few bad apples is just that. A bum rap. Any catastrophe will find them there, organizing runs to raise funds, toys for tots, or hammering a nail to hold a tornado victim's walls in place.

We don't hear about these deeds, it's so impolite you see, to talk about the ragged looking and what is considered uncouth by the straight society elites. But that's just fine with the warriors of the highways, they not looking for publicity anyway. Rest assured though, that many of their ranks consist of veterans of our wars, and though you may turn your nose up at them as they pass you on the road, these will be first to defend you should they cross paths with an enemy to our nation. As we prattle on about freedom and liberty, we spy the pack cruising by, and we realize that we are the slaves, and the truly free have metal monsters vibrating between their legs. No cares, no worries, only the next town, the next rally, the next meaningless dance with a vixen of like mind.

Ride the wind one per center. Let the wind sweep away the worries of the world and let the beer flow like rivers in your never ending quest for that perfect stretch of highway where you can let loose and fly, really fly. Some of us understand, some of us wish we were with you, some of us are bikers at heart and always will be. FTW, throw caution to the wind, and we'll meet yet in Valhalla one and all.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Choking Back The Tears Of Rage

I walked out of room 1525 at the State Capitol in Lincoln, Nebraska choking back tears of rage and frustration over the dismissive tone struck by most of the assembled public servants over the subject of how best to address the issue of Nebraska's child safe haven law.

Having spoken to two of the Senators before the hearing, one a lost cause and the second a hard core sympathizer, I knew right away the law was in deep trouble. The first Senator was Ernie Chambers from Omaha, an enemy to the law, and someone who believes it's not up to the government to be in the business of protecting children at all. This is also the same Senator who has bogged down the courts in both Lincoln and Omaha with his frivolous lawsuits against God. To call into question this man's judgement would be an understatement.

Lincoln Senator Amanda McGill supports an amendment to the law. But she believes, like the overwhelming majority of the public believes, that the first consideration must be the protection of children. Oweing to the fact that there is not only a statewide, but a nationwide gap in services for children in the areas of mental health and counseling, Senator McGill supports a cap on the age of eligible children to 15 years old. Expressing her own anger towards Health and Human Services Director Todd Landry, McGill posed the thought that Landry cared a whole lot less about the well being of children than he did about speaking to the media.

Landry, even though nine of the dropped off children have expressed suicidal ideation, stated that not one of the kids whose parents left them in hospital waiting rooms, were in any immediate danger. Under more questioning, Landry was forced to admit that he shared Chambers' position of no government intervention in family life. This begs the question of why he's the head of the state H.H.S., but that can wait for another day.

State Senator Annette Dubas told the assembled Senators and about 150 spectators that she was shocked at the callousness of the testimony of the State's 'expert' witnesses, most especially that of those who swore that none of the children were ever in any danger. Asking what it would take for a child to be in danger, she pointed out that if a parent was desperate enough for relief to drive cross country, then one would have to safely assume the child was not in a safe environment.

The Governor, Dave Heineman, didn't have the guts to show up at the hearing, because he knew that most of the assembled people in the audience did not want the law changed at all. he sent an aide to let the Senators know that he would be 'flexible' as to an age limit. Yeah, flexible as in a 30 day old baby instead of a 3 day old. This, despite testimony from parents who have been through the wringer with the state's HHS system in trying to attain help with their out of control children. One witness says that HHS's lack of understanding, caring, or knowledge of the mental health problems faced by some children led directly to the death of his mother.

Trying to impress the political and legal ramifications that any change in the law would bring about, it seemed that some of the gathered state big wigs live in a bubbled dream world. Pointing out the gathered supporters of the law, and the lack of detractors, (except the media whores in the chamber of course), I tried to paint a picture of what could happen to someone's political career should anything happen to any child within the boundaries of Nebraska should they change the law. I threw the A.C.L.U. at them, declaring that any change to the law now would be discriminatory due to the age limitations being placed in the law. Picture the state coffers emptying as you try to defend against the myriad of lawsuits brought against the state by concerned groups and citizens.

In the end though, the people that are the career politicians, those who walked right by their constituents to glad hand the local and national media, decreed that a vote would take place today, with the likely outcome a change to allow for safe haven of infants up to 30 days only. As Ernie Chambers said “You can get in the way of the train if you want to, but you’re not going to stop it. The only train that’s going to make it to the station is LB1.” LB1 is the name of the amended legislation. Good work Ernie. Since you enjoy suing God and other manner of weird past times, maybe you'll enjoy explaining to the public how incidents like those below will be just dandy, you know, since it's not the government's job to protect children and all.

Explain to us why in the past couple of years, Maryland police have found a dead child in a plastic grocery bag in Oxan Hill. A second one found in Riverside Park's lake. And a third one one month ago found in the trash in Takoma Park. No answer? I'll tell you. Because of a safe haven law that limited the age of an unwanted child who could be left at a safe haven.

Not enough to convince you? How about yesterday's arrest in Watsonville, California of a woman who smothered her 3 1/2 year old baby girl to death and left her tiny body in a motel room. Had California's safe haven law included children like Nebraska's present one, do you suppose maybe that disturbed mother would have dropped the baby off somewhere instead of killing her?

Or the distraught father on the South Side of Columbus, Ohio who shot his 7 year old daughter to death, then turned the gun on himself. Do you suppose a broad safe haven law would have possibly given him a choice to allow his child to live, somewhere he could drop her off and possibly seek out help himself?

These few examples illustrate the problem with the draconian measures being foisted upon the public as placating measures whenever an infant is found in a trash bin, or a parent admits to killing their baby. But the problem goes much deeper and those who passed the Nebraska safe haven law knew exactly what they were doing when they did it. When the media entered the picture, everyone began scrambling to distance themselves from the new law, save for those few who have stood their ground and want the child safety law to stand as is. The deck is stacked against it though, as the Governor, the state Attorney General, and the head of HHS all conspire to strike down the very law signed by the good Governor, by having Attorney General Jon Bruning, (who has very high aspirations for national office), issue an 'opinion' that all that can be allowed to be voted on today is an age amendment to the law. This ruling came due to the desire of some of the Senators involved wishing to add protections for kids who were clearly in danger or who showed signs of severe mental health problems.

The issue of safety for children older than 30 days will just have to wait declares the coming up for re-election Governor and Attorney General of Nebraska. Well, guess what guys? Come 2010, when they start finding abandoned kids in Omaha again because you took their protections away, we'll be waiting also. In line, to vote you out of office. That is, if the A.C.L.U. hasn't bankrupted the state first.

Contact Governor Heineman's office and tell him how you feel:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Democrats Have Already Drifted Off Course

During the tumultuous primary season for the Democratic Party's nomination for president, many a Democrat shied away from backing Hillary Clinton due to her draconian health care reform message. Mrs. Clinton had been calling for a mandatory medical insurance program for every American, one which you had to buy insurance or face hefty fines.

To be fair, there were provisions in Mrs. Clintons plan to provide funding to expand the Medicare and Medicaid programs and to add additional funds to help those who couldn't afford their premiums to maintain their private insurance. There would be a 'clearinghouse' set up for Americans to go and be able to pick a plan that best suited their needs.

It was pointed out during the primaries by many of us that the 'universal' health care package being proposed by Mrs. Clinton was nothing short of extortion on one hand, due to the fine enforced mandatory buy in, (or the possibility of garnished wages) and that there wouldn't be any money in the current economy to fund the plans of those who couldn't afford to buy in, but made a dollar a month more than the current Medicaid cut off levels. In other words, even more people may have ended up with no medical coverage instead of more. Furthermore, we pointed out that Mrs. Clinton's plan did absolutely nothing to cut the middlemen out of the Medicaid and Medicare programs. In short, it was little more than a massive give away to the insurance industry.

Barak Obama rejected the Clinton plan right up to the moment he won the election. He had his own vision to expand health coverage, and while not perfect, did not include anything that was mandatory, nor was the word fine included in any of his plan's language.

Enter Democratic Senator Max Baucus of Montana. The Senate Finance Committee Chairman has just entered the fray with his own version of nationalized health care. It is so far to the right of what either President (elect) Obama or Senator Clinton proposed that it rightly is being called authoritarian by conservatives. The Baucus plan has ALL of the provisions that the Clinton plan has, but also includes a provision from the McCain plan. Not only does Max Baucas want to force every American to buy health insurance whether they can afford it or not, but once you get it, he believes you should be taxed on your health benefits once they reach a certain amount.

What sort of hogwash is this? Baucus, a moderate Democrat, can't determine which side of the fence he is on with regards to this issue, and so he see-saws and includes elements of both? As Senate Finance Chairman, Senator Baucus has presided over the past two years of suffering by Americans who could not go to the doctor. Everyone loves making believe that 'only' 47 million Americans have no health insurance, when we all know that figure is closer to 65 million. And that number says nothing of those who have insurance with such high deductibles, that when they get sick, they still can't afford to go to the doctor. Baucus has also ignored repeated pleas to change the Medicaid and Medi-Care systems back to their original form.

Right now, millions of Americans are in possession of a worthless Medicaid card. Medicaid, the program that was designed to ensure that the poorest among us could receive health care was given away by Bush and the Republican Congress to private insurance companies. Divided into 'sectors of control', a different insurance provider is given big chunks of the Medicaid program to run in different areas of the country. When a person receives Medicaid benefits, they must choose between one of two insurance providers who are now their HMO. The person's Medicaid benefits are assigned to the insurance company, who then places ever higher deductibles for office visits, specialist visits, and medications.

What's that? Yes. You're right. Medicaid was supposed to provide free medical care to the poor, but right now, all it provides is a massive infusion of taxpayer cash into the pockets of the fat cats. The more the insurance provider saves the government, the bigger their bonuses are. So the incentive for the HMO's running Medicaid are to make sure people get LESS medical treatment so they can get more of your MONEY. Baucus knows this, and has done absolutely nothing to stop it. He is, after all, a politician first, and politics and big business could care less about constituents or right and wrong once the election is over.

The incoming Obama Administration is already showing signs of politicking. There were promises made of NO lobbyists in or around an Obama Administration. None, zero, zilch, nada. But we now have statements by the President (elect) that it's ok to have been a lobbyist and work for him, so long as it was at least a year ago in a different area. But, as we all know, once you open that door, the floodgates open soon after. Now we have those surrounding Obama pushing through Hillary Clinton's health care plan, one that would force more hardships on people than it would help.

Unless the Democrats are prepared to completely revamp the insurance laws, none of this will ever be viable, and has the potential to be the biggest boondoggle the Democrat's have come up with in a very long time. All of the talk of expanding the Medicaid and Medicare programs to include more of those who can't afford to buy coverage would only fatten the coffers of the insurance companies, and do absolutely nothing to really cover anyone. Unless and until Baucus and other Democrats obtain the political backbone to take the incentives to provide less coverage away from the HMO's, you can put everyone in America on Medicaid and no one would be covered. And in this worsening economy, the 'deductibles' should be banned also. It is of course only right to expect those who are able, to pay a small fee for Medicaid services. But not when it has gotten to the point where parents are not taking their children to their doctors or buying medications due to having to choose between health care and food. The Democrats should go back to the old system where the government actually controlled the programs, and it will save billions and billions of wasted taxpayer dollars per year. Cut out the middleman if you will.

This same rule should apply to those who can't get on Medicaid or Medi-Care. Imagine the frustration of those who pay $250.00 or more per month for health coverage only to find that nothing is covered when they get sick, the deductibles are way out of reach, and dental or eye care is many dollars extra. This ripoff and scam has been going on for so long that Americans just accept it as the status quo. But it doesn't have to be this way.

If Baucus pushes through his bastardized version of the Clinton health care plan, we're talking about everyone being forced to buy insurance, whether you can afford to or not. Choices will quickly start arising of having to buy food or pay your premiums. Because a sneaky little part of the penalty aspect of this plan dictates that you can be fined for being late on your insurance payment! That's not Socialism, that's Authoritarianism. Don't pay your fine? They'll snatch your tax refund.

Democrats need to go forward very carefully when it comes to health care reform. The things they're putting forth right now rightly have many right wing groups warily eyeing the entire issue, and has those of us on the left outraged that plans are being floated around that smack of a totalitarian state. Besides, it's not 'Universal Health Care' we're talking about here any way. If we were, we'd all pay a certain amount of tax and health care, prescriptions, and hospital stays would be covered by the government. So let's call this what it truly is. Let's rename the entire affair the Mandatory Human Insurance Program, kind of like mandatory car insurance, but for people. If you breathe, you pay. See, the politicians have to pay back the ones who donated to their campaigns, and surely we the People must understand that, right?
This and any other health care plans that don't include cutting the insurance companies out of the government programs is just another ripoff of taxpayers and an attempt to placate the People. We'll wake up a few years from now with people sitting in the new debtor's prisons who couldn't afford health coverage and the 65 million uninsured will be covered by a program that does little to alleviate the suffering that goes on today. The Democrats have an opportunity to change everything about our health care system, making insurance affordable for all, and making Medicaid and Medicare viable programs again while cutting costs across the board. But it's going to take bold moves. Any stutter stepping or baby steps will be fiercely resisted by both Corporate America and the right, so a massive effort must be undertaken quickly. Without lobbyists, and without the influence of corporate interests. Americans no longer care what's good for the Corporate World, we care about what's the best path for our nation. Democrats should keep that in mind, and act accordingly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Trees Were Dripping Blood

Moving as silently as the ants crawling under them, the regiment crawled slowly up the hill. Tasked with denying the invading British from taking the peninsula of Charlestown across from Boston Harbor, the men of the American Continental Army took up positions on Breed's Hill, building fortifications amongst the trees that consisted of bales of hay and cotton.

Consisting of only about 1,500 men, the Americans faced down a formidable opposing force made up of five full British infantry and artillery regiments, as well as a company of British Royal Marines. Stealth was the name of the game here in order to get their fortifications in place, but unfortunately the Americans' activities were spied by a British General aboard the H.M.S. Lively, which immediately began to shell the American positions.

Fire rained down from the sky and bodies were torn asunder, but the American force stayed put and refused to give the ground up to the British. Fear gripped the men as they extended their scant cover to the sea and more men arrived on the hill behind the main American force, an incline known as Bunker Hill. Try as he might, the American commander could not convince the men on Bunker Hill to move forward to Breed's Hill in order to swell the ranks of the soldiers holding there.

British General Howe landed his forces on the southern shore of the peninsula, ignoring the advice of his field commanders, who wished to go around to the other side and land their army behind the American positions. Seriously over estimating the superiority of his position and under estimating the Americans fighting ability and determination.

Launching a frontal assault on Breed's Hill with his infantry, Howe was shocked at the casualties he incurred and sent the entire body of his forces against the Hill. Harrassed by American snipers inside the city of Charlestown, Howe had his ships in the harbor bombard the American positions and completely burned Charlestown to the ground. This murderous action was seen by the American soldiers on both hills, and when a senior commander escaped from the conflagration and rode up to General Prescott atop Breed's Hill, he was asked how many dead and wounded there were in the town. The commander replied that the trees themselves were dripping blood, body parts littered the thoroughfares, and that he was probably the only one left alive.

The main body of British troops moved in line formation up the steep side of Breed's Hill only to be repelled once more with heavy casualties. It has been noted that the battle may never have lasted as long as it did had the British not made the foolhardy mistake of having only twelve pound shells and six pound guns. With no artillery fire to soften the American positions other than from the ships in the harbor, the only recourse was to attempt to overwhelm the Americans with sheer numbers. And so a third attack was launched all along the entrenchment lines. Exhausted and almost completely out of ammunition, the Americans retreated with no pursuit by the British.

All told, the British suffered about 1,500 dead and wounded while the escaping Americans' casualties were placed at 450 dead and wounded. Even though history records this battle as a loss for the American forces, it can also be seen as a victory of the spirit and tenacity of the military to come. The Americans never surrendered, and refused to yield until their very last bullet was gone.

This, the very first battle of The Revolutionary War in which the Continental Army took part, somehow ended up being placed into the history books as The Battle Of Bunker Hill, but the fact is, all of the fighting took place in Charlestown and the forward incline called Breed's Hill. In point of fact, when ordered to reinforce those on Breed's Hill, the soldiers on Bunker Hill refused, leading to an aftermath of confusion within the Continental Army's ranks, which in turn led to the Americans putting together one of the finest military machines ever to grace the earth.

Wars and more wars have followed on the heels of our victory in the Revolutionary War. From 1812, two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, to the smaller conflicts called police actions by some, the United States Military has been the first ones in and the last ones out. None can match their superior skills in battle, and as the greatest fighting machine ever to grace the world stage, they are feared by our enemies.

Today we honor all of those who have come before, those who serve now, and also the ones who will guard the walls in the future. We always complain about the wars we get into, we're all guilty of it. Honoring and remembering those who have given their lives to keep us safe is the least we can do.

But what about the veterans who live among us? Who cares for them? We all see them every day as we scurry about our busy lives. We see the wheel chairs on the street corners, the cup and the sign outstretched. Who looks out for these broken lives who served and fought, who kept watch at the gate, and came home to find there was no further use for them, and were discarded? Think about this today. Ask yourself why we treat our finest and our bravest as they they were expendable pieces of meat. And then go back out and put some money in that veteran's cup, go home, and call your Congress Person, demanding that more money be allocated for veteran's services. Nothing else is even close to honorable, and nothing less will suffice. It is our duty to fully care for the wounded who can not care for themselves, those whose minds have deserted them because of what they've seen and done, those with families they can't afford to feed. They have served us with honor and we must now serve them back with the same degree of honor. Just imagine if no one decided to watch the gate and guard the walls.

Semper Fi.

Today, We Are All Americans..............

During this past killing machine election cycle that lasted two very long years until we learned who would become our next President, who would control Congress and by how much of a margin, the bitter divide in ideology between those who consider themselves progressives and those who claim the conservative mantle was probably the deepest and the loudest in the history of our nation.

Sounding almost like the warning shots of a new American civil war, the rancor and name calling on both sides made us all sound as though we were from two different warring nations. All over now save for a couple of contested Senate races, the clear new direction has been declared by the electorate, but there still remains a seething hatred just beneath the surface.

On television one listens to the talking heads, left with the impression that they believe that now that the election is over, the angels of harmony have descended from on high, the streets are once again made of milk and honey, and all of us have returned to living in peaceful bliss, awaiting the clarion call to arms of the next great political battle. Knowing that the truth is that hurt feelings and those who promote divisiveness are online and posting every single day, some pretend they aren't there, while others actively attack the writings and try to refute and rebuke what the fear mongers are selling.

It's quite possible that the rift between the varying factions and political camps may never be sewn together, but that doesn't mean that as Americans, we can not accomplish great things together that require absolutely no ideological thoughts at all. Here's a few of the great enjoyable past times that are part of all of our lives, and which we may all partake of together.

1.) American Football. Where else on the face of the earth do people of all walks of life come together as one force to cheer for their favorite team? Democrats and Republicans suddenly forget their differences as it's 4th and 1 on the goal line with 15 seconds to go in a three point game.

2.) Las Vegas. 'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.' Oh man! Talk about non partisan activity! The roulette wheel could care less what Party you're from, and neither does the person standing next to you. A big win garners cheers from everyone surrounding you, and a loss will gain you sympathetic pats on the back. The lights, the buffets, the secret little 'dancing' halls, all designed to make you feel as though you'd died and gone to heaven.

3.) New Year's Eve In Times Square. More neon lights than the Las Vegas strip it seems, the crowds in the hundreds of thousands are particularly diverse. No one knows nor does anyone care who you are, or who you voted for. This is America's celebration of an upcoming year of hope for the future, and around the nation, cities big and small hold their own version of the ball drop. A night where all is forgotten save the revelry of the moment, and all is well with the world.

4.) The Grand Canyon. Millions and millions of Americans and foreign visitors have enjoyed the stunning majesty of the Grand Canyon, and if you haven't, plan to do so. The Skywalk that opened in 2007 will make you forget that you're from any political party, as vertigo causes all the blood to drain from your face and you have to be helped back to terra firma by your fellow citizens.

5.) Niagra Falls. Speaking of vertigo, look straight down while leaning over the fence at the edge of this rushing waterfall and you'll most certainly believe that those who went over the side in a barrel were at best, lunatics. And best of all, you can see Canada from the other side!

6.) Yellowstone National Park. Spouting geysers of hot water shooting high into the air. Bubbling natural hot tubs where the braver souls bathe. Or for the really maniacal, you can hop in a little boat and whitewater raft it down the Yellowstone River. Think you'll be worried about politics as your body is being battered into the stone walls? Or maybe you'll be lucky enough to witness the largest volcanic eruption in the history of man when the magma chamber underneath Yellowstone blows it's top!

7.) Tundrabuggy Tour. A little taste of the Alaskan outback is just the trick to force a new world view upon anyone. Democrats and Republicans alike can fly from Anchorage to Fairbanks, switch planes and arrive 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle. From there, you'll hop into a 'tundrabuggy', a behemoth driving vehicle that allows passengers to see polar bears up close and personal. Tundrabuggy breakdown? No problem. Just wait for the bears to go to sleep and try to make a run for it back to the nearest town. Who was running for office again?

8.) Boston Harbor. The Boston Tea Party Museum will give people from all walks of life a twinge of nostalgia and a sense of the pride of our Founding Fathers who used the East India Company incident as a catalyst for a revolution. December 16th, 1773 should have been the actual day we declared independence, but better late than never, eh?

9.) Wrigley Field. If you take a visit to Chicago, visiting Wrigley Field has to be a must do on your list. America loves the Cubs, America hates the Cubs, but we all love the hot dogs and the deep dish pizza. One of the best days to visit this city is July 4th, especially if you book a room at the downtown Holiday Inn. On the rooftop, where the pool is, you'll have a panorama view of the entire city. When darkness falls, the spectacular sight of fireworks going off across your entire field of vision will cause a lump to come to your throat, and you'll know for sure that we are one nation.

10.) Mount Rushmore. Visiting South Dakota might seem boring to some, but a trip to this national treasure can quickly help to put things into perspective. Besides, once you've seen all there is to see at this National Park, you can take a drive down the road to Sturgis. Just ask John McCain if you don't think this can be a rowdy bi-partisan party. Plus, South Dakota has casinos! Lose your money, lose all thoughts of partisanship, and take your life in your hands all in one trip. What more can you ask for?

Now, there's just ten of the hundreds of destinations and activities that can be enjoyed on a non partisan basis. Places and things that make America unique, and Americans even more unique. Because at the end of the day, as the above examples point out, we can come together. Whether it be for a riotous good time, or to fight against tyranny, we are one nation, and it's time we start working together to get out of the mess we are in. We can all start fighting again four years from now, when we hopefully have decided that all of this name calling and bickering is counter productive, and we need to allow each other to live our own lives the way we choose, without the interference of factional divides.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Utah Hate Cultists Should Shut Their Mouths

Protesters gathering in front of the Mormon Church's headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah to rage against the money thrown into the fray in California over gay marriage do so to allow the cult members in the barren wastelands to see what happens when tax exempt religious organizations stick their noses into other people's business.

At a time when the entire world celebrates the election of Barak Obama as President of the United States, elated at the prospect of a non warlike America, here at home our jubilation is blunted by the bigotry and hatred of some who just can not stand the thought of others living their lives as they so choose. The Constitution is supposed to be a pseudo-Christian document in their eyes, tailor made for them and others who think as they do.

Singling out the Mormons may seem unfair as there were donors from many other states and church entities like the Catholic Church. But if one looks over the donor list to Yes On Proposition 8, it becomes immediately apparent that it was the Mormon Church, and more importantly, it's members, who donated the greatest chunks of money in support of legislation that would not have effected them at all. In fact, one donor, an A. Alan of Lindon, Utah, Gave $1 million all by himself. Imagine being so rich that you can afford to throw a million bucks away in support of something that will not affect you at all.

So who are these people who swooped in from out of state to destroy the hopes and dreams of gay men and women in a state that prides itself on it's progressive thinking? Why would they feel the need to foul the air with their hatred of anyone who doesn't think that revering a schizophrenic that claimed to have found golden tablets that no one else (except Brigham Young, a violent rapist of children) has ever seen?

In one word, these people are America's largest cult. A cult that blindly follows the teachings of the elders amongst them who can claim to have a 'revelation' at any time in order to force the sheep in their flocks to obey their every command. The 'revelations' come directly from Jesus you see, only no one else can see Him or hear His voice save the 'chosen' voice of God. Any where else in the country, such as oh, say................Waco, Texas, and they'd have burned the church to the ground with the cultists inside.

Not 'Christian' in any traditional sense, Mormons believe in three divine books that come after the Bible, and if a conflict arises between their new books and the bible, well, they just claim the Bible is wrong and they're right. Testimony from former high ranking Mormons who escaped the grip of the cult have told of the 'secret rituals that are not even allowed to be observed by church members without being of 'saintly' status within the organization. "The ritual began in a small cubicle where we had to strip completely. We then put on 'the shield,' a poncho with a hole for the head, but open on the sides. We went through a series of 'washings and anointings,' as various parts of our bodies were touched by elderly temple workers who mumbled appropriate incantations over them. Our Mormon underwear, 'the garments,' are said to have powers to protect us from 'the evil one.' It had occult markings, which were so 'sacred' that we were instructed to burn them when the garments wore out. The endowment ceremony mocked all doctrines held to by Biblical Christianity, and Christian pastors were portrayed as servants of Satan. We had to swear many blood oaths, promising we would forfeit our lives if we weren't faithful, or if we revealed any of the secrets revealed to us in the temple ceremonies. We were made to pretend by grotesque gestures to cut our throats, chests, and abdomens, indicating how we would lose our lives. We were never told who would kill us! The inference was, and history testifies to, that it would be the Mormon priesthood." Yeah, sounds like a cult to me.

Most of America was content to leave the Mormons alone. After the dearth of killings back in the 1800's and the movement of the cult to Utah and Missouri, the country sort of forgot they existed, especially after they 'officially' (wink, wink) renounced polygamy and agreed to tow the line of the country's official version of Christianity. Some cult members went off in the wilderness to found their own little conclaves where they could practice polygamy, and although not officially (wink, wink) sanctioned by the main Salt Lake City temple, the separate conclaves' elders, saints, and circles of seventy hold and wield great power within the cult hierarchy.

We could go on for hours about the Mormon Church and their cult followers who founded their version of warped thinking on the blood of others, through murder, rape of girls as young as 12, and of intolerance for all who do not believe that they alone hold the keys to the Kingdom, but why waste our breath? What we should be looking at is the hypocrisy of an organization who, having suffered persecution for their beliefs, used church funds to orchestrate the persecution of another group of Americans. Being a tax-exempt entity, the Mormon Church, as well as all churches in this country, are bound by law to stay out of the political arena.

One must wonder why the Mormons chose homosexuality as the venue for their entrance into the political arena. It's because they truly have a deep and abiding hatred for gay and bisexual people. Why such a serious confrontational stance one would ask? It's because none other than Brigham Young's own son, Brigham Morris Young, was bisexual, and often dressed in 'drag', and that the practice of polygamy was not some sort of divine inspiration, but a result of the wife of church elder Milford Shipp announcing her own homosexuality in 1878, and not wanting to shame her husband publicly, arranged for him to have another wife. Thus, Brigham Young and other church elders also had the 'divine announcement' by angels that polygamy was what God had ordered for His 'true' followers.

Even though Joseph Smith had practiced and encouraged polygamy, it wasn't until the open introduction of homosexuality into the every day lives of Mormons that the practice became part of their religion. So much for divine inspiration.

The trend this year has been to defy the laws of our country by the leaders of churches of all kinds, and with the current administration in power, know that they are not going to be touched. This can not be allowed to stand. The Mormon Church should lose their tax exempt status immediately. The First Presidency of the Mormon Church may claim that they don't have to follow what they consider ungodly laws, but maybe he needs to review the tenets of his own faith. Such as the Book of Mormon's 12th Article of Faith: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law."

People who have no tolerance for the beliefs of others should also expect a backlash from the rest of us who are right now working towards a complete boycott of the entire state of Utah, from their ski resorts in St. George and Park City, to the Sundance Film festival and tourism in general. Being lovers of money and followers of complete greed, maybe the cultists will learn to shut their mouths and stay out of the affairs and bedrooms of others. In the words of John Adams: “The desires of the majority of people are often for injustice and inhumanity against the minority.”

Friday, November 7, 2008

Hellfire Missiles, Air Force One, And Other Acts Of Treason

Anyone who thought the historic landslide election of Barak Obama as President of the United States would spell a quick and easy fix to what ails our country are in for a rude awakening.

Those who believe that come January 20th, 2009, peaches and cream will once again rain from America's skies and the world will retilt upon it's proper axis are setting themselves up for the largest of disappointments.

Beyond the quick fix for our nation's economy, one that will hopefully be the spark to set the Market moving in the right direction once more, lies the dirty corporate secrets that need to be addressed, and addressed quickly.

Throughout the Bush years Corporate America has been allowed to run roughshod over not only worker's rights with no penalties whatsoever from Congress or the White House, but the major players have been ripping off taxpayer money to the tune of untold billions. Oversight having been lax at best, it became incumbent upon groups such as the Project For Government Oversight to attempt to keep track of the goings on behind closed doors in the murky world of corporate and government contracting. What they have documented is a stunning portrayal of outright fraud, theft, mismanagement, refusal of government to prosecute or stop the bleeding, or in some cases, actual collusion to cover up wrong doing.

You've probably never even heard of many of the corporations involved, but others are household names. Names such as Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, Blackwater, Boeing, ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, FedEx, General Dynamics, IBM, among a host of other companies, including everyone's favorite, Halliburton/KBR. Here's a couple of examples of what's been happening just behind the curtain.

Law enforcement officers across the land can breath a little easier knowing that Armor Holdings Inc. has had to settle a claim brought by the DOJ for the defective Zylon Body Armor vests Armor Holdings was selling the government. The company knowingly put law enforcement officers across the land in danger because Zylon degrades over time to the point that it's ineffective in stopping bullets, but Armor went ahead and wrapped these little death vests around the protectors of the People. Punishment? They were forced to pay back the $30 million their contract paid them.

Bechtel Corporation paid the U.S. government and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a total of $407 million dollars to settle all criminal and negligence charges leveled against them for their role in the Boston 'Big Dig' debacle. Massive cost over runs, shoddy work that was known to be a danger to the public left in place, and a general carnival of theft of taxpayer dollars caused the settlement to come about. Jail time? Not for these fat cats, even though a woman was killed when the roof of a portion of the massive tunnel project fell and crushed her to death while she was driving through.

In violation of U.S. law, the Boeing Corporation imported the parts used to build the C-17 transport plane, the Apache attack and Chinook transport helicopters and the F/A-18 fighter plane. According to the law, Boeing was required to buy the materials from U.S. companies, but since they found the parts cheaper overseas, they went ahead and purchased them there. They of course then charged the taxpayers for the costs as though they had followed the law and when caught, were fined a 'whopping' $3 million. That amount is akin to thirty cents to an ordinary person. You don't even notice it's gone.

North of the city of Clarksburg, West Virginia, the U.S. government used almost $18 million of taxpayer money to clean up toxic waste that was allowed to seep into the ground beneath a salvage site owned by ExxonMobil. The chemicals that were being buried in the earth or allowed to fester in rusty metal barrels included coal tar, pyrene, phenanthrene, arsenic, aluminum, lead, iron, copper, naphthalene, and phenol. Knowing full well that the seepage was causing elevated cancer rates sickness, birth deformities, and possibly death, ExxonMobil continued to operate the plant as though nothing was wrong. This, despite inspectors from the EPA ordering them to clean up the toxic materials. ExxonMobil, knowing full well that the EPA under the Bush Administration wouldn't enforce more than token penalties, kept on going as is until the government stepped in and did the clean up themselves. To save lives. One would think that after the Valdez, Alaska debacle and final settlement, ExxonMobil would have been slapped with a massive fine, but they ended up paying only $3 million for a $18 million dollar cleanup. Lesson learned by ExxonMobil? There's a government bailout around every corner.

Major modifications were needed to allow the President of the United States to fly safely and undetected on Air Force One when Northrup Grumman sold Russia the source code for the LTN-92 aircraft navigation systems. In complete violation of the Arms Export Control Act, Grumman sold not only that system to Russia, but others like the LTN-72 military version schematics that included plans for aircraft motion alignment, stored heading, steering capability, computer aided release point, tanker orbit, and maximum bank angle. Altogether the U.S. government says that Grumman committed 110 violations of the A.E.C.A., and their fine would be appropriately massive at $15 million. That's right. $15 million. Oh, and they're still making secret military systems, despite the selling of those secrets to not only Russia, but China, Israel, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, etc. Guess it's not so secret anymore.

The Hellfire Missile is perhaps the deadliest anti-tank, anti-slow moving aircraft weapon in the world today. The pride and main armament of the Army's Apache AH-64 and the Marine's AH-1W Super Cobra's, these are the first line of defense in a shooting war and are depended on for their battleground superiority. Not anymore thanks to Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the Hellfire's two variants, the 'BlastFrag' and the 'Heat'. Lockheed Martin, intent on more profits, gave the classified plans, including capability, functionality, performance parameters, etc. to none other than Halliburton safe haven, the United Arab Emirites. Warming to the idea of buying U.S. Hellfire missiles, the U.A.E. Air Force asked for and received the classified plans for the Joint Air To Surface Standoff Missile. Now, remember the A.E.C.A.? Bah? We don't need no stinkin' laws right? The State Department caught wind of this plan to sell the U.A.E., a clearing house for terrorist money, these missiles and pounced to stop it. Completely frazzled over the obvious attempted treason by Lockheed Martin, they did the only patriotic thing available. They settled with Lockheed Martin for the grand sum of $4 million, with $1 million suspended if Lockheed Martin uses the million to institute a remedial compliance program.

These are but the tip of the iceberg of corporate malfeasance complaints, pending actions, court cases, and appeals of rulings flowing through our government, clogging up the system, and grinding forward progress to a halt. The time has come for America to demand real accountability for where our tax dollars our going. Corporations that decide their loyalties lie with their bottom line, and not with their country should be shown no quarter, and be automatically disqualified from ever doing the People's business again.

Because in the end, that's what this past election was really all about. Real change. Change that stops the nonchalant attitude towards Big Business that sells us out to potential enemies, terrorist organizations, and countries we know wish us harm. Treason is an easy word to bandy about, but when one peruses the above examples, what other word could one conjure up?

Stop this massive giveaway to Corporate America and you solve a nice little chunk of our economic crisis. Let the corporate world figure out how to build a product on their own, without taxpayer subsidies, and maybe we can rebuild our infrastructure. And for the love of God, cut the companies that openly laugh at our laws, knowing that a slap on the wrist is their only punishment, off from the People's trust and the People's business. We the People made our voices heard loud and clear on November 4th. Make them heard again and demand an end to these corporate abuses or nothing will have really changed after all.

Friday, October 31, 2008

An Open Letter To America's Anti-Christ

(Warning: Although written as a Halloween rebuke to the action's of fear by a top figure in today's America, this article may offend some sensitive sensibilities. )

Hello again Anti-Christ and false prophet. I see you've been up your old tricks again. What a wonderful letter you released to millions of Americans just a day before Halloween! It's full of all of the ingredients needed for the scariest of horror movies.

Death and destruction, terrorist attacks, gay pedophiles in charge of everything and a populace that is forced to hand their children over to them. Oh, one could faint from the horrors of it all! But wait! There's more! On top of all of these future events, you have looked into the future and seen the destruction of our Constitution, the taking away of the Second Amendment, the nuking of Israel by fanatical mullahs, a Supreme Court allowing for the arrest of Christians, (forcing all American Christians to emigrate to Australia), the shutting down and banning of all conservative talk shows, radio and television, euthanasia of undesirables, children forced to watch pornography in school, and any other form of death, destruction, and mayhem that could come pouring out of your lunatic mind.

How will all of these end of the world scenarios come forth, and why will the world as we know it end by 2012? Because Barak Obama is elected president of the United States. So claims James Dobson, the son of goats and pigs, who sent out millions and millions of copies of a letter entitled " Letter From America In 2012 In Obama's America" to Christians around the country in an attempt to blunt the effects being made on Christians who see John McCain as the worst possible choice and are voting their consciences come Tuesday.

Mr. Dobson, when DID you sell your soul to the devil and why would you wait until the day that the veil between the living and the dead is said to be at it's slimmest to release a document of such vile evil? Did your true master force your hand, seeing as how your kind are about to lose your grip on power and your sway over the populace? Could it be the writing on the wall that causes the terror to strike in your own heart and forces you to strike it into the hearts of real Christian men and women?

You disgust me Mr. Dobson. You stand for all that is wrong with our country right now. It has been putrid heaps of dung such as yourself who have stood on the pulpits of churches and proclaimed and furthered the lie that only you know the heart of God. Your pitiful bleatings were believed by those who desired to follow the Path and you led them straight down the road to hell. Such a good little Anti-Christ. What better way to deceive and to turn the Word into a mockery than to claim to be a teacher of the words of Jesus? To then twist those words into something foul tasting and morally repugnant, falsely claiming that this is the new direction God wants for his people. Your chameleon like ability to slip yourself into any national public discourse and throw a 'God Hates Fags' bomb into the middle of it must make you the hero of the Westboro Baptist Church.

Your claims that New Christians who are going to the polls and voting for Obama will cause them eternal damnation are as hollow as your entire basis for continuing to vomit in America's face. We have caught onto your lies and falsehoods Pharisee, and we call you what you truly are. A demon, a monster, a phony, an anti-Christ, a fraud, and a liar. You are one of those we are warned about. One of those who will come in sheep's clothing only to devour God's people. How dare you mock those who disagree with you, claiming them to be other than God's children, and them stand on the pulpit and demand complete loyalty from those you have hoodwinked?

The United States is sick Mr. Dobson. It needs a healer right now, a person who will not kiss the ass of a lunatic whose views are so the opposite of what America stands for such as yourself. You, who claims to know what is good for all of us are the real menace, the real danger of implementation of theocratic rule and intolerance. It is you who wishes to take away the rights of your fellow citizens and drunk with power, use it to enslave an entire nation. It is you who would take the reigns of power and use them to launch nuclear weapons at your perceived enemies. And it is you who stands naked before all of Christendom as a divider of people, a snake, and a deceiver. It was you who slithered in the Garden, stood laughing at the foot of the Cross, and are known the world over as the great deceiver.

Go away Dobson. We don't need your kind fouling up our national discourse anymore. Take off your costume today, the day set aside for demons and goblins, and show the world who you really are. Because even as you post your letters to America's faithful, millions of them don't believe you any more. And even more look upon you as a creature of darkness, a greedy, power hungry whore whose only true beliefs lie in the bottomless pits of despair. You are rebuked sir.

Take that rebuke and take the dismissal of America's faithful, and go crawl back under your rock. If you'd like to read Dobson's disgusting letter, go here:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Entire Town Outsourced To China

You know the product by sight. You know it's name, it's feel, what it's many uses are, and it's probably in almost every U.S household. It stands for Made In America, a good product, a working man's best friend since it's invention in 1918 by William Peterson. Produced in a small Nebraska town where the entire population works hard making them, the Irwin Tools company, a subsidiary of Rubbermaid, announced last month that the Vise-Grips plant is moving to China because the labor costs are so much cheaper there.

DeWitt, Nebraska lies about 35 miles southwest of the state capital of Lincoln, but couldn't be farther apart in lifestyles. With a population of 600, Dewitt epitomizes the small town values espoused by the candidates for President. Crossing the set of railroad tracks to gain entry to the town proper, it's main street consists of one small tavern, a small grocery store, a little clothing thrift operation, and the huge Vise-Grips plant.

Trees line every street here in DeWitt, a place where homes aren't packed together like sardines, and everyone knows your name. You can't pass through the little slice of apple pie without waving to virtually every person you pass, whether they're walking down the street, or sitting on their porch watching the gorgeous fall foliage. This every man and woman town is about to be completely uprooted though, due to the greed of a corporation, and the tax incentives that companies are still receiving to ship our jobs overseas.

The trade agreements with China actually provide for extra money for corporations to set up shop in China, rather than keep the plants here in America. Vise-Grips. Good Lord, one must think when they go to grab a pair of the ever handy tool from now on. Used as a portable vise, or a wrench in a pinch, Vise-Grips are in every garage, every mechanics shop, every kitchen drawer, and well, they're just everywhere. And it has been the good people of DeWitt, Nebraska that has been making them for us.

Worried now about what they're to do, the town's residents fear their home is about to go the way of many a small town in the Mid-West over the past eight arduous years. They cite the examples of towns and cities across the Heartland that depended upon Agri-Businesses for their survival and whose homes were turned into ghost towns when the business was bought up by a corporate entity and moved or it's workforce laid off to make way for immigrant labor who would do the job for pennies on the dollar.

And it always seems that they pull this crap just before or during the holiday season. It's not bad enough that the corporation could care less that they're destroying people's lives, but they rub salt in the wound by doing it in October, or November, or December. Is Vise-Grips going to send each of their ex-employees a Christmas card wishing them a jolly holiday season? Probably so, such is the heartless nature of these corporate beasts.

In times past, a plant closing wouldn't be this big of a deal. The townspeople could have probably commuted up to Lincoln and found other work. But with high fuel costs and the fact that there are not any jobs open in the tight market, that option isn't even viable. So, DeWitt will most likely go the way of other small communities. Neighbors that have known each other all of their lives will most likely move away, losing contact with their friends as usually happens despite promises to keep in touch. Houses will be foreclosed or sold, the few stores in town will shutter their doors and windows due to a lack of business, and the townspeople will move away. DeWitt will become just another victim of the Bush policies, lying silent and dusty in the vast Nebraska Plains.

This must stop. It doesn't matter who wins this election, this outsourcing and the incentives to do so must end. These are real people whose lives are being destroyed and who are going to lose everything they have worked and sweated and bled for all of their lives, going back two generations. Wiped out by the Corporate greed machine, and aided and abetted by our own government. This monstrous loss of good paying American jobs in favor of low paying ones is an insidious destruction of the American way of life, and the incoming President must end all tax breaks for those who would uproot entire towns and cities. Tax breaks must be given instead to those who would build new plants here in the United States. Make noise about this issue, because a complacent populace may just find that the next set of jobs shipped to China, or India, or Pakistan is yours.
Contact Irwin Industrial Tools, the parent company of Vise-Grips, and tell them we are no longer going to be silent about the grip that Corporate America has on the throat of the nation.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Christian Voters Going Back To Roots And Voting Obama

Why Christians Are Turning Away From The Far Right And Leaning All The Way To The Left.

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Christian Voters Going Back To Roots And Voting Obama

In November of 2004, George W. Bush ended up with the good fortune of being the recipient of one of the largest turnouts of Christian voters ever. Almost in lockstep, they followed the orders handed down to them by the likes of fanatics such as James Dobson, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Falwell. It has been discussed much by political pundits on the internet and on television, with many wondering several things, such as why they did so, and what would have happened had they voted for Kerry.

Here we find ourselves once again facing the prospect of a huge turnout by Christian voters. In one of the most important elections of our lifetimes, this particular bloc of voters is going to play a major role in the selection of our next President. But this time around, the Republican Party is about to find a shock awaiting them at the polls. Because more and more Christian voters are openly and actively promoting Barak Obama and shunning John McCain.

We're not talking about your far right wing evangelicals. Those who follow the leaders like those named above, those 'churches' that have absolutely nothing to do with the words of Our Lord, but seek political power and monetary gain at all costs. In fact, we're talking about a huge contingent of New Christians who quite possibly have grown as large as 50% or more of the Christian voting bloc according to Pegasus News and GodPoll.

These are the New Christians and they have a great message of hope and of love and of peace on the world. If that sounds like the hippies of the 1960's and 1970's, well, you wouldn't be too far off from the philosophy. Sick and tired of being lied to by the Republican Party who tells them one thing to garner their votes, but then completely ignores them once in office, millions of Christians have decided that they will no longer base their votes on issues like abortion or gay marriage. Groups such as Republican Christians for Obama say that as far as they're concerned, gay marriage is not a political issue, but a human rights one. As far as abortion, they claim that every Republican vows to end the practice, but once in office, are afraid to touch the hot button issue.

Desire for change is strong among the Christian communities. From Southern Baptists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Methodists, and non denominational churches, the cry is now returning to the words of Jesus, and the works that He commanded we do. Issues such as feeding the poor in these hard economic times, sheltering the homeless, the sick and the infirm. Tackling the issue of genocide and AIDS in Africa. And in the case of a group called the Christian Alliance For Progress, calling for the reversal of decades of right wing ideology being pounded into worshipers heads.

Speaking about instituting nationwide initiatives based on the premise of the movie Pay It Forward, they want to help their fellow Americans understand that the 'Me First' teachings of the past three decades are the teachings of evil, and that it's alright to love your neighbor, it's ok to help someone in need, and that taking the time to stop and help a stranger can be a catalyst for others to do the same. They reject the anti-Christian policies of Dobson, Hagee, and Robertson that cry out for war against Iran. They reject war in all it's forms.

Even the environment has been placed on the table by these true Christians. Saying that we are all supposed to be the stewards of the planet, they want real solutions to the climate crisis and global warming. An idea being floated by some of the groups is to lobby for laws that make the biggest polluters such as the oil companies and coal fired electric plants kick in more tax dollars to pay for programs that will slow or reverse the effects that the emissions that their products cause to the atmosphere.

Instead of the politics of exclusion practiced by the Pharisees, these New Christians call for the inclusion of all to the table of God. Bigotry of all types must be done away with they say, and no one should ever have to feel awkward because of the color of their skin.

Interestingly, it's the far right churches who have preached the politics of hatred and greed, that have led the flock astray and down the path of wars and lies who are screaming out the loudest against the true Christian movement. Almost Biblical in it's implications, as in the Jews following Jesus in the first place to the chagrin of the original Pharisees, the New Christian movement gains followers by the day. Just as in the time that Our Lord walked the earth and left us His message of peace and love, today's followers of The Path have awakened to the fact that they have been hoodwinked by a group of political operatives posing as men of God.

Says a member of the Republican Christians for Obama "God is not Republican and he doesn't expect all of his children to vote Republican as some requirement of salvation." But you wouldn't know that if you listen to the Christian Coalition. In their 'non partisan' voter guide, they make no bones about whom they believe Christians must vote for without endangering their immortal soul. Listing falsely Obama's stance on issues, on the flip side, they paint the Keating 5 candidate as a holy man of God who is the candidate who most shares Christian family values. Really? Which values are those? The ones that claim only the rich should receive tax breaks. Only corporations should have laws protecting them from the American people, and not vice-versa?

The stance that our very Constitution, that guarantees freedom and liberty for all, should be ignored when convenient, and the laws of our land don't apply to the Executive Branch of government. These are the very stances that are driving church members away in droves, and opening their eyes to just who it is they have been listening to. And it wasn't the Word of God, that's for sure.

And so, as the Christian far right loses their grip on the throats of those who desire love and peace, hey do what the Republican Party itself is doing in the last days of the campaign. They belittle those who desire to help others. They call them false Christians when it is they themselves who were spawned by Satan. They are on the attack, making up lies, and doing all that they can to stop the growth of a movement that just wishes to leave lives of peace and of service to others. It's the reason they are voting for Barak Obama, and the reason they are actively spreading the word to other Christians that it's ok to leave the fold and vote your conscience. That you don't have to vote what a pastor or a priest tells you to, but that you should vote for whom you think would lead to the healing of our people and not further the divide that being shoved down our throats these last days of the campaign by John McCain and Sarah Palin.

There's one message they do want to get across though, and it's an important one. They want you to know that as Christians, it's time to go back to the beginning and start over. That somewhere along the way, the wrong road was followed and it's time to back track and find the way back to the one true Path. Come and join us...................................

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

You Might Be A Terrorist.....................

If you can not walk up to the counter at the airport in order to pick up your ticket due to the fact that you still ride in a stroller, you might be a terrorist. It happened to a two year old boy at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Not once, but twice did he learn what terrorism is all about when airport security stopped his family for further 'security' checks because someone put the kid's name on the FBI's terrorist watch list.

Rising at the rate of about 20,000 names per month, the ACLU estimates that there are more than 1.4 million names on the 'list' as of today. Although Homeland Security denies that there are more than a handful of Americans who are accidentally on the list, the truth is just the opposite. If your last name, for instance, has a couple of letters that match a couple of letters in a known terrorist's last name, be prepared to be delayed when trying to board a flight.

If you are a retired Air Force National Guard Brigadier General, who flies commercial jets and is authorized to carry a gun into the cockpit in case someone tries to hijack your plane, you might be a terrorist. So goes the game for James Robinson, a commercial airline pilot, who can no longer use any of the usual fast lane amenities to get aboard the plane he is about to fly because some idiot put his name on the terror watch list.

If you are a Democratic U.S. Senator who has disagreed with the Bush Administration at every turn, you might be a terrorist. Just ask Senator Edward Kennedy. Likewise, you might talk to 11 term Democratic U.S. Representative John Lewis of Atlanta.

If you are just walking by the airport on any given day, like today for example, and as a plane comes in for a landing, you take out your trusty cam/phone and snap a picture of it to send to your kid at home, you might be a terrorist. Such is the example given by security heads at Las Vegas McCarran International where Air Marshall's are required to turn in at least one SDR ( Surveillance Detection Report) per month. Your photo has just been taken while you were snapping your own, and matched against driver's licence data bases, the State Department's passport office, police and FBI files, and when they figure out who you are, you are a newly minted member of the terrorist club. The Air Marshalls also get bonuses for all the 'extra' SDR's they turn in.

If you like to sew, as millions of Americans of both genders do, you might be a terrorist. Just ask seamstress Lana Gremerson of Portland, Oregon. Stopped while attempting to board a flight at PDX (Portland international Airport), Gremerson was pulled out of line, and told secondary security screening was needed before she could go aboard the plane. Figuring that she had no choice, (she was right about that), she went into a room, where a female guard told her to strip. Shocked, Gremerson refused and was told she would be arrested if she didn't co-operate. With a male security guard present, the woman was forced to strip down to her underwear, and then questioned about all manner of evil doings. Her crime? She forgot that she was carrying one of those travel sewing kits that contain.............well..............sewing needles! Allowed to leave after three hours, Gremerson not only missed her flight, but the next time she went to fly, she found her name had been added to the watch list.

If you are a reporter for a major television news network, you might be a terrorist. CNN reporter Drew Griffin found that out the hard way. The Transportation Safety Administration denies that Griffin's negative reporting on the terror watch list was cause for the reporter's name being placed on it. Yeah right.

If you are a middle school student, and attend classes in Georgia, you might be a terrorist. No less than the sheriff of a county went to a school in Oglethorpe County and told the students there that they would be placed on the terrorist watch list and remain there forever should they not stop leaving threatening notes to each other in the hallways of the school. An FBI spokesman said that hopefully, if a child's name was nominated for the list, cooler heads would prevail and not destroy the kid's life with list placement, but as we have already seen, that quota will take precedence all the time.

No longer constrained to just the travel sector of our society, Americans are now facing problems in other areas. Such as the 18 year old student who was starting a technology consulting business, but was denied the ability to process credit card payments due to his placement on the terror list. It turns out that his last name was similar to a Libyan government official's. I thought we were best friends with the Lockerbie murderers again?

Another man went into a Maryland Toyota dealership to buy a car, only to be told he had to be checked for tattoos that would determine if he was the person that was on the Treasury Department's list of terrorists and drug dealers.

A man who served honorably in the U.S. Navy, and whose father was killed during the Korean War, was denied access to his online PayPal account, because his name was on the list.

All of the cases above illustrate that those who were queasy at the thought of these lists being started in the first place were right all along. They may have begun with the intent of stopping terrorists, but somewhere along the way, as with everything else done by the Bush administration, has turned into a program designed to intimidate and control the American people. The old adage that some use that goes "If you've got nothing to hide, why do you care", no longer applies due to the repressive use of phony 'laws' to oppress the people. When the terrorist watch list begins to be used as a club to force people to do as they're told by their government, it's no longer a tool designed to catch anyone but those who would dissent. Because that's who is ending up on the 'list'. Those who openly disagree with a Bush policy are ten times more likely to find their names on the terror list than those who lovingly kiss up to the Glorious Leader.

After the nightmare of the last eight years, the incoming President should review Homeland Security's usefulness, and make changes accordingly. American citizens have a right to voice opposition to their government without fear of retribution. But because of the policies of Bush, and signed off on by John McCain, Americans must now fear their government, when it should be the other way around. Think about that come election day. The past eight years have happened. They don't just fade away because an election is upcoming and we've got two new candidates. John McCain will go further than Bush when it comes to this list instead of doing the right thing and tearing it up and starting over. And of course, he'll never put the name on the list that deserves to be at the very top, namely one George W. Bush.................................