Sunday, May 31, 2009

We're This Far In Debt...

We castigated the automobile executives for daring to fly in private planes to be grilled by Congress when they went begged for money.

We hounded ING executives over their bonuses as their company continued to hemorrage money.

But apparently there is a double standard for the President. And in this case, it was not even that he was going somewhere on state business. President Obama fly himself and his wife to New York for dinner and a show on Broadway. It was not part of any other trip. It was not part of something else that he had to do in New York. It was simply the use of C-37B (or as its civilian counterpart is known the Gulfstream V), a military helicopter from the airport at JFK to Manhattan, and then the presidential motorcade through the city to the theater and later to a restaurant. And then they reversed it all to get back to Washington, D.C.

Now, just as a bit of comparrison, the auto executives flew around 500 or so miles in their gulfstream at a cost of $20,000.00. They didn't also hop helicopter from the airport to their final destination.

Are we to believe that President Obama's flight cost any less? Why are people not outraged? This is a ridiculous expenditure made on the public dime at a time when the treasury is empty! Or did people forget about the fact that we are engaged in one of the largest deficit spending splurges ever.

But I suppose since he is the president, and his name is not George W. Bush, that we are all supposed to ignore this. Somehow I doubt President Obama is going to write a check anytime soon to pay the taxpayer's back for this.

It's so nice to have a President who is willing to show that he is tough on budget overruns both in his policies and his private life.

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's An Old Joke Among Jews

And you might even need to be Jewish in order to get it. The joke goes like this:

A young boy in 1927 comes running into his family's store in New York. Babe Ruth has just hit his 60th homerun and the boy says to his grandfather, "Zayde, zayde, Babe Ruth just hit 60 home runs!" The grandfather looks up from what he is doing and strokes his beard. He thinks for a moment and then says, " But is it good for the Jews?"

Why am I putting that weird little joke up? Well, because of actions which the President took today.

It has been announced that the Obama Administration is holding up Israel's purchases of AH-64D Longbow Apache helicopters. The reason? Because Israel will not kowtow to every demand that President Obama is deigning to make. The Obama Administration is dressing this up a as something else, that it is not targetting Israel specifically.

But let's call a spade a freaking shovel here. That is exactly what the Obama Administration is doing.

Now, I am sure that there are few people in my locality, who are not Jewish themselves, that give a damn about whether Israel has the means to defend itself. I am sure more than a few, if they bother to read about it (since it deals with evil military hardware), will celebrate it.

Because after all, all "right thinking" "peace-loving" "liberal" people "know" that Israel is an "apartheid state" which oppresses the "poor", "disenfranchised", "downtroddened" Arabs of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Right?

The Obama Administration has, since taking office, started to turn away from Israel. Israel has been the one who has been called on to halt its actions. Pressure is being turned on Israel when it does not comply, as in this case. However, what is the Obama Administration doing to the terrorist groups actually running the West Bank and Gaza?

Has the Obama Administration made calls, backedup with anything, to force Hamas to comply with the Oslo agreements? Has either the PLO or Hamas lost any of their funding from the EU or the United States despite their continuing support of terrorist groups?

I've looked. I cannot see anything more than words.

I think we are starting to see, at least for Israel what the Obama election means.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Congratulations In A Stunner (Dancing With The Stars)

Only way to look at it: upset. Going into the finals, I have to believe that Giles and Cheryl were the favorites.

Yes, at the beginning, I was on the Shawn bandwagon. She started to slip a bit about 3/4th of the way through. But in the end, she and Mark put it together and beat out Giles and Cheryl. Even going into the finals, I did not think she would win. Congratulations to Shawn.

The lesson from this season? No risk, no reward.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dancing With The Stars (Finals, Paso and Freestyle)

The Group Paso
Shawn looked ... not aggressive. The problem is that in this dance, she needs to look aggressive. It was good. It just, lacked a little something.

Melissa... one wrong step just killed that one for you. Up until just near the end, it was nice, hard, and looking good. Then there was that misstep.

Giles, as MRs. Angrybell says, looked like Elvis. He was in teh dance character the most. Plus, Cheryl did a slight bit better choreography for this one.

Giles took this one, but not by that much. Had Melissa not had the little misstep which then took her out of her zone, she would have tied him.

The Freestyle

Again, Shawn and Mark were up first. It was fun. But to me, it wasn't wow. It was fun. There were some nice tricks. Very good. But not stellar. Even though the judges gushed.

Melissa and Tony. If she is going to win, Tony needs to push her. Will he? Ok, this was better choreography than his last go round in the finals. Mrs. Angrybell had an observation. This was that its not just the tricks, its how everything flows together. There was a lot tricks. The bridge from each trick was where it broke down a little. And it was reflected in their scores. They got a 27.

Giles and Cheryl were in the three spot. Cheryl somehow bribed someone to get a the best song of the night. And then she pissed it all away. It was like Cheryl decided she was going to rip off Tony's choreography from seasons past. It was so freakin' safe. It was clean. But there was no wow factor. Yes, there were couple of lifts, but nothing special. I agree with Bruno, the peformance was great, but there was no pay-off. Cheryl, what happened? If Giles doesn't get the win, its for this dance. Giles hit the marks, but Cheryl did not give him a wow enough for the freestyle.

Even though I did not liek Shawn's freestyle, it was clearly, to me, the best of the night.

The question is how will the voting go? This is a bit of a mess at the end.

Remember to Vote Tomorrow

But given that most people won't, I guess that this post is going to be like spitting in the wind. As some of you may have noticed, mostly because of the television ads and the really, in my opinion, ineffectual mailings that the Department of Elections has sent out (not the ballot information, that's useful), there is an election tomorrow.

Californians are being asked to decide on six ballot initiatives because our "wonderful", "competent" legislators in Sacramento are unable to come up with a balanced budget for California. Essentially, a combination of bad economy and too many budget priorities has put California deep in the red. Now, the legislators, instead of coming up with a serious budget, have begged the voters to their job for them.


The initiatives are Propositions 1A through 1F.

Proposition 1A - State Budget. Changes California Budget Process. Limits State Spending. Increases "Rainy Day" Budget Stabilization Fund.
The proposition wants to increase the state's "rainy day" fund from 5% to 12/5% of the General Fund. To me, this is another of those propositions that wants to earmark too much of the state's general fund based on a calculation made now. Yes, there is the argument that you should save for a rainy day. However, in my opinion, a government should not be saving. It should be zero-balancing. Earmarking too much by ballot initiative means taht there is less flexibility on the part of the legsilature to do their job properly. (That is if we could ever get them to do it in the first place.)
Other organizations have taken an even dimmer view of this proposition. Although I don't necessarily like the folks over at Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association, they sometimes have a point. In this case, they argue that Proposition 1A is really going to increase taxes by $16 billion. In their position, they claim, "Masked behind a phony spending limit is an extension of the massive tax increase just approved. Prop. 1A means an additional two years, for a total of 4 years of record high taxes. That's another $16 billion of your money!" They claim that the additional 16 billion will come from making the current, temporary, higher sales tax not so permanent, that the car tax will go up, that the income tax increase will be extended, and that there will be a reduction in tax credits for dependent children.
Think that its just the right wingers trying to make a libertarian paradise who are opposing this? Apparently the Green Party is urging people to vote no on the ballot to. They are gue that Proposition 1A will have no effect on the current budget crisis. It will cap the budget, but allow taxes to be raised. Therefore, making it impossible to spend more on social programs.
Bottom line? Vote No on 1A. We have a budget problem. We need to make hard cuts. And not just to police and fire departments.

Proposition 1B - Education Funding. Payment Plan.
Just looking at this proposition, it seems like it is fraught with some problems. First, it is almost wholly dependent on Prop 1A passing. Second, it is unclear how this proposition would interpreted in light of the California Constitution. The analysis even states that no one is sure whether it will involve the creation of up $9.3 billion in obligations to the state. Then there is also the issue of how the maintenance is to be paid. And can you see a school district that doesn't get all the money it is supposed to not suing if they thing there is a way to cause the state to pay more to education? If we're going to have to Sacramento's job, they might at least put a proposition on the ballot this is clear about how the mechanism is going to work.
Then there are the fiscal effcts. No one is sure how it will effect the state. The best guess that the legsilative analysis is that there will be a savings in the near term, most likely through 2011. But then after 2011, there would be costs, based on needed supplemental payments. Under most of the possible outcomes, the "costs for K-14 education liekly would be higher than under current law - potentially by billions of dollars each year." That by the way is from the legislative analysis, about as non-partisan as you are likely to get.
So let's see: uncertain how the money is to be paid, how much will be necessary, where it will come from, and an almost certainty that everything will be more expensive. Does that sound like a good solution? The solution is more of the problem from this ballot initiative. VOTE NO.

Proposition 1C - Lottery Modernization Act.
Basically, it mandates that the state has to continue to own the California Lottery, rather than the suggestion some have made to privatise it, as well as allowing the state to borrow from the lottery earnings for other projects. As it stands now, the lottery can only benefit education.
This proposition actually has me conflicted a little bit. On the one hand, using the lottery money is part of the current budge plan. However, it is used in the budget as a "loan", not as a revenue. It would end up costing the the General Fund down the line approximately. The amount is uncertain. However, I think on the balance that this is one that should pass. Vote Yes.

Proposition 1D - Protects Children's Services Funding. Helps Balance State Budget.
This seems to be something that something thought about before writing it up. It allows the legislature to use taxes from certain things (like tobacco taxes) and use them for Children's programs that are going to be lacking in funding because we have mandated that these other taxes may only be used for certain programs. So what we have is too much money for one program, but not enough for others. Let's fix this problem. VOTE YES.

Proposition 1E - Mental Health Services Funding. temproary Reallocation. Helps Balance State Budget.

Basically, its the same argument with Proposition 1D. The only real difference is that it might affect how much Federal funding we get. However, that by itself should not be enough to derail this one. Its not a new tax, its just using money that we have but are not able to use effectively. VOTE YES.

Proposition 1F - Elected Officials' Salaries. Prevent Pay Increases During Budget Deficit Years.
Need much be said about this? Elected officials make too much money to do their job this badly. And under no circumstances should anyone be getting a pay raise when there is a budget deficit. VOTE YES

Anyways, that's how I view these. I am not affiliated with anyone. I am just an angrybell and that's how I intend to vote.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Coming Up On The Finals (Dancing With The Stars)

So, we are down to the final three. As much as I liked Ty Murray, the clock struck midnight for that Cinderella.

And the final three couples are the three couples that should be there: Giles-Cheryl, Shawn-Mark, and Melissa-Tony. It would have been nice to Lil Kim there, but it was not to be.

As far as who will win? If you go on track record, then it's going to be Giles Marini and Cheryl Burke. They seemed to have recovered from the lackluster scores of two weeks ago. However, in my opinion, I was just not thrilled with their dances. They were nice, they were clean. They left me feeling "ho-hum", especially with their Waltz. What is going in their favor is that Giles Marini is dancing well. He hits the steps that Cheryl lays out for him. Also, Cheryl has a track record of putting together great freestyles dances.

With Drew Lachey in season 2:

With Emmitt Smith in Season 3:

However, if you look to see who is hungrier, I think you have to say it is Tony. Right now, Tony has to be counting his lucky stars. Originally, he was slated to have partnered with Nancy O'Dell. Now, I am sure that Ms. O'Dell is nice and interesting, but I doubt she has the training and background that Melissa Rycroft has.

So, the stars smiled on Tony this season. He has a partner who should be able to dance. The question is how bad are her ribs? If they haven't been able to heal, then its going to be really hard for her to do a rigorous final routine, not to mention the Paso Doble.

Then, we have to look at Tony's record in the finals. Yes, he has been there before. He had a partner who could have handled almost anything, or so it appeared, in Stacy Keibler. They were flawless in the Jive and the Samba. Where they fell apart was in the freestyle. To wit:

He took a talented partner and turned in a bored, safe routine. For Melissa, Tony has to do something that is not safe, and not boring. The question is, has he learned his lesson?

Noticed that I haven't mentioned much about Shawn Johnson? That would be because I view her as the weak leg of this triad. This week, they are starting off with all three dancing the Paso Doble (at least that is what I have read is the plan right now.). The Paso is not a dance that plays to Shawn's strength. Yes, she did get a 29 for it in Week 9. But I'm not sure when she is stacked next to two other people that she is going to come off so well.

The problem for her is also one of the things that works for her: her youth. Her youth allows her to really do well in certain types of dances that call for energy and verve. However, Paso calls for some other skills. It also requires her to be comfortable in her own skin. That is where she has the most trouble. If she is going to succeed, this is not going to be a case of Mark setting a sufficiently wow-ing set of routines. Its going to be her having to be comfortable moving her body in ways that she may not be mentally/emotionally ready. In gymnastics, at least in the Olympics which I watched her through, she displayed precisions, power, and agility. All of these transfer over to the competition she is now. For her, the challenge is going to be showing off a softness as she channels all these attributes.

Bottom line: this is a fight between Giles and Melissa. Shawn, in my opinion, should be third place based on the way things are going. The fans, well they will do something weird I'm sure. To me, its Giles' competition to lose. He seems to be popular. He seems to be dancing well. Cheryl seems to be the right pro to guide him to mirror ball trophy. For Melissa to win, in addition to needing the fan's vote, she is going to need Tony put together a stellar freestyle routine for her.

For me, bet smart and take Giles. For me, betting with who I'd like to win, that would be Melissa. But we shall see who the fans choose. At least this time, all three would be good winners.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

So She Lied.

Because we expect our politicians to tell us the truth?

Madame Speaker, it is clear that one of two things happen. First, you attended a briefing, stayed awake, and were made fully aware of what was going as it pertained to the treatment of captured terrorists. Second, you attended a briefing but were too busy to pay attention because you were thinking about how to undercut the Bush Administration and therefore misheard everything that was said about it.

Not looking too good for Nancy Pelosi is it?

What should she do about it is the real question? The documents, so far, are pretty damning when it comes to what happened. The CIA has her down at the meeting when the leadership of the parties in Congress were briefed about what was going on with captured terrorists (aka enemy combtants aka outlaws). Yes, she is saying that the "Bush Administration lied to me!" However, do we really believe that?

Anytime an official gets caught with knowledge that is politically embarrassing, that is the first thing they say. JFK claims he was mislead over the Bay of Pigs. Regan maintained he didn't know about Iran-Contra.

However, the question is what is Pelosi to do now? She can keep with the Big Lie defense. She probably will. There are enough die-hard Democrats in San Francisco who will accept this. Because, after all, we "know" that the only people that Bush Administration never lied to was its own supporters (i.e. corporations it was protecting).

But is this the right decision? Is it serving Ms. Pelosi's constituents? Is it serving the needs of the American people? Or is it simply preserving her own power?

Let's try something radical here Madame Speaker. Tell the truth. Admit that you heard everything. Admit that you were aware of what was going on.

Of course, what she is going to do is claim that is a plot by conservative elements of the CIA and Defense Department to disparage her and bring her down. She will, most likely, be an eager advocate of further restraints on the military and the intelligence agencies. She will probably also enthusiastically vote to cut their budgets.

Because as we all "know" it their fault for being evil underhanded agencies of the former Bush Administration.

Because as well all "know" the Democratic leadership in Congress would never do things like that.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I Don't Beg Often

But I figure it is for a good cause. You may or may not know that Volunteer Legal Services Project is a component of the San Francisco Bar Association. It provides representation to low-income and indigent people in civil cases. Every year, because of the support that the VLSP is able to give, thousands of people are provided with attorneys to represent them in cases involving landlord-tenant disputes, family law matters (including child custody and dissolution cases), as well as attorneys for non-profits which provide services for others.

However, like with other organizations, the economy is hitting the VLSP hard. They are looking at having to furlough a significant portion of their staff. This means that no one will be there to answer the phone when someone is facing an eviction. No one will be able to place the case when a parent needs to try and keep their kid from being taken away from them by potentially violent parent. And no on will be able to help translate for an immigrant who has been tripped up by a credit card company.

I regularly volunteer my time for their cases. They are always in need of other attorneys, translators, and social workers, among others, who are able to volunteer their time to help others less fortunate. If you are not able to volunteer your time, perhaps you will consider donating some money to them.

Look at the picture

And tell me whether they are sisters, friends, or mother-daughter. The answer, and story is here. It's a little weird, but amazing what $10,000.00 can get you.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

What is the President's Problem?

I am starting to wonder about the President. I never pegged him as disciple of the "American Exceptionalism" school of thought. But the more I listen to the way he talks, acts and the way he is planning to act, and the more concerned I get.

Example 1: He bows. To most people, I am sure, bowing is something quaint and anachronistic. Something that you do mockingly or to assuage someone's feelings when you patronize them politely. It is not something that Americans do. Period. We are citizens. We are not subjects of any potentate, foreign or domestic. We have made this clear from the beginning. Ever notice how at the Olympics our flag does not dip? Its part of the point. We will show respect, but we do not bow.

However, President Obama does not seem to get this. In his first 100 days, he bowed not once but twice. President Obama's staff have tried to dance around this, but it is clear that he did in fact bow. One only bows to someone they acknowledge as being superior in some way. At best, on a good day, foreign monarchs (from whatever land), are equals to the President of the United States. To acknowledge them as superior is a symbol, one that we do not want to establish.

Example 2: Obama and Hugo Chavez. Let's not mince words about who Hugo Chavez is. Hugo Chavez is a convicted felon who somehow managed to ride a wave of populism to being elected president of Venezuela. He does not respect the political process unless it benefits him. His felony? That would have been an attempt at violently overthrowing the government while he was a soldier. Once in power, he has worked systematically to undermine democratic institutions, nationalizing the property of those who don't agree with his brand of socialism/marxism, and routinely blames everything on the United States as a way of deflecting his own authoratarian abuses.

Hugo Chavez's abuses of power are many. According to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, have catalogued a number of abuses including attacks on human rights groups and freedom of expression. Other organizations have found that there have been extra-judicial killings (i.e. death squads) composed of members of Venezuelan security forces, election tampering, and neutralized the power of the courts to impartially ensure that justice is done.

So what does President Obama do with the first opportunity to be in the same room with Hugo Chavez? What would you expect someone who criticized the Bush Adminsitration so heavily for its decisions with regards to rights of terrorists or American citizens wanting to be free from arbitrary surveillance?

That's right, our President walked right up to Chavez and shook his hand and talked with him like they were compadres. Let's see, how have we treated other people who shook hands with authoritarians who trample on human rights? Well, how about...Donald Rumsfeld (who at the time was not the President of the United States or even the Secretary of Defense). Because there was never any outrage over that by human rights groups.

Simply put, it was wrong to shake Saddam Hussein's hand. It was wrong to shake Hugo Chavez's hand. Why should we be giving President Obama a pass on this?

Going beyond the real lack of outrage is the message that this sends. It says, violate human rights, work at destroying democratic institutions, and continue to erode at personal freedoms and there will be no response from the United States. It says that our president, the one whom we have elected, is comfortable treating those who perform acts which we as a nation say we abhor the same or better than our long-time allies who do their best to uphold the ideals of liberty.

Yeah, great job at remaking American diplomacy so far.

So what brought all this up? Apparently, Obama's staff has been talking to reporters about what is being bandied about as possibiities for his upcoming visit to Europe in June. Part of that is attending D-Day ceremonies in France. However, there is also word that President Obama is planning on visiting one of the concentration camps in Germany.

That would be fine. However, he also plans to make a visit to Dresden where President Obama, "will also acknowledge how Germany suffered during the Second World War." Acknowledge how Germany suffered?

Let's see. Germany started World War II. They engaged in a warfare with no limits when it came to respecting the distinction between civillians and combatants from the very beginning in Poland. They then went on to continue this policy by specifically targetting civilian populations of Poland in general and certain ethnic groups in particular. Forget the idea that it was just a few nasty apples at the top. These actions were supported, in many cases enthusiastically, by the general population (see Hitler's Willing Executioners by Goldfarb). Most German resistance to the war did not come until well after it was clear that they were losing the war. And what resistance there was came from the classes that stood to lose the most because of Hitler's actions, mainly mismanagement, not because they necessarily disagreed with the underlying purposes.

Apologizing to Germany for their losses in the Second World War would be akin to a rape victim having to apologize to a rapist for testifying at the trial that convicts them. If anything, we should make sure that the Germans never, ever forget what happens when they choose militaristic authoritarianism (something they had done more than once before their final defeat in 1945).

But it seems that President Obama is seeing if people are ready for him to apologize on behalf of the United States for actions we took during the war. In paritcular, it looks like he wants to apologize for Dresden. At the time it was decided to use all available means to bring the war to an end. That meant destroying everything that could support the war effort. Industry, railways, marshalling yards and the like. Dresden was one of the last communication centers supporting the German defense against the Soviet advance from the East.

Anyways, if this is what President Obama wants to do, then I seriously question what his motives are. If he wants to apologize for sins committed by this nation, then he should apologize for ones which we actually have committed. There have been more than a few in the last few administrations. But apologizing for something in the Second World War to the Germans, a war instigated by Germany, is stupid, senseless, and equates the sacrifices of the men who served the Allied cause with those who served the Axis forces.

That is just abhorrent.

So this brings me back to my original question. What is the President's problem? Is he what I call a "Little American", one who wants so badly to believe that this country is evil and sinful that he must hobble it all costs? That he has accepted the idea of moral equivalence, and simply does not believe that there is such a thing as evil or wrong? Does he believe that the key to serving the United States is to make us "popular" with the world, instead of making us an example?

If the answer is yes to these questions, this is very, very disturbing.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Dancing With The Stars Recap

Yes, I know, I haven't been blogging it like I used to. Been busy. That work thing.

First I have to apologize to all you who voted out there. Thank you for finally ditching the loser of the bunch! I can safely say I have never been so happy to see the backside of Julianne as when Chuck got voted off two weeks ago. Sanity and order returned to the universe.

Then there was this week. I am still a bit shocked. I know that intellectually, it might even make sense. I am sure that if you probably pulled the demographics, they will show that the audience is not necessarily inclined to vote for Lil Kim. But with the way she had been dancing, and I think, just as importantly, the way she had been behaving on the show, that should have merited a bit of consideration from the audience.

Seriously. What. Were. You. Thinking. Voting. Her. Off?

Don't get me wrong, I love watching Ty dance. The man has committed himself fully to this competition. He just is not good enough to be in the final four. The fact that Chelsea has gotten him this far is, in my opinion, a minor miracle. He has, to my knowledge, no foundation in dance in general or ballroomin particular. I would be willing to bet he probably has some injuries that make this difficult. He is clearly, and painfully, an introvert. Which makes it hard, and sometimes painful to watch.

And you know he did this just because his wife begged him to saying "C'mon honey, it'll be fun to do it together." At a certain point, you have to let this guy slink back to the shadows where he so wants to be, with his wife. I like him, but really, he needs to go back to audience seats and appreciate that he was the Cinderalla at this big dance.

Now about the state of things in general. The front runner is clearly Giles and Cheryl. However, they are not putting any real distance between themselves and the rest of the pack when it comes to showing that they deserve to be. Yes, they got good scores this past week. However, I was watching it, and felt completely underwhelemed. Are they pacing themselves, viewing this past week as a cruise week while they secretly build for what is to come, husbanding their strength and avoiding further injury?

I hope so. Otherwise, the semifinal and final are going to be a snoozers. Cheryl has won this twice. I think everyone has come to expect a certain level from her when it comes to choreography. Giles is apparently up to it. Let's see the front runers act like it.

At this point, second place and making a charge of it is Melissa and Tony. It was a nice bounce back from last week's injury. The question for her is really how much stress can those ribs take.

If they can't take it, Tony is not going to be able to put her through the more rigorous choreography he needs to use to avoid a repeat of Stacy Keibler.

And since it looks like it will be Cheryl in the final against Tony, I think he should remember how well that fared against her Save a Horse routine.

Then we have Shawn Johnson. When this started, I thought she was going to hang in close and then pull it out at the end. However, she seems to be fading more. The last few dances have just not worked for her. It is not that she lacks the ability. Its that she is unable to cut loose and enjoy herself, or at least appear to enjoy it. Whenever she is in a flirty/sultry latin dance, she becomes a bit hesitant, tenative. She does well in the jive and the smooth dances where she can be a lady. But it is clear that she is not comfortable with the sensaul side of herself. She needs to find that, or she is going to be watching the finals from the audience seats next to the stars of whatever show ABC wants to promo this week.

Macy Update (the Landlords From Hell, Not the Chain)

Doing my weekly sweep for news on what is happening with the Kip and Nicole Macy trial, I came across two articles from the SFWeekly. Apparently, all may not be well in the utopia that is the Macy marriage.

First, they're filing for bankruptcy. This is a bummer since it means that his tenants will almost certainly not be able to recover from the alleged hell they put them through. Then again, I suppose its good since all this has punished them to the point of bankruptcy. Still... I like it when the civil case tips them over. Yeah, I'm a ghoul in that regard. Deal with it.

Second, the Macy marriage itself is rumored to be on its last legs. People are pointing to the fact that every time the duo ends up in jail, that Kip bails himself out, but leaves his wife to sit in lockup. The criminal lawyer for Nicole is denying the rumors, but then again, he would have to deny it for a variety of reasons (say better negotiating leverage in a plea deal for his client comes to mind).

All in all, nothing has really changed. The trial is still coming up. No word on the decision from the motions that were filed

I Couldn't Resist

I love both Star Wars and Star Trek, both for different reasons, but this was too funny.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Interesting Cartoon

I actually remember seeing this on a local station growing up. Too bad its been lost on us.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Enough with the pillory routine already

Are we so gone, that we cannot accept another person's view point on something? I've tried to ignore the whole kerfluffle surrounding Miss California, Carrie Prejean.

I mean really, the more everyone tries to pillory this woman, the more she is going to shout out her beliefs. Like, say taping a commercial in against gay-marriage.

Its not like you are actually going to change her mind. She believes what she believes. Its not like she is advocating going back to the bad old days when if you weren't white, straight, and a protestant, then your value as a human being was worth less than those who were.

This nonsense about violating her contract, and stripping her of her title, because of some pictures she took when she was a 17 (and which from the ones I've seen look about par for the course for what you would see in some of Mrs. Angrybell's fashion magazines when she flies) is just petty and vindictive. (And by the way, someone should tell her that when she signs a contract that calls for disclosure, the worst thing you can do is freakin' lie to the other side. Over report. Saves time and legal fees.)

Here's a radical idea, how about people just try and act better themselves and ignore her views as regressive and antithetical to the the type of society we would like to live in. If everyone would just ignore this person, she could go back to doing whatever it is that Miss California's actually do when the media is not focusing the glare of the spotlight on them.

Like dating swimmers who smoke pot. (Alright, I couldn't resist that one little dig.)

What the hell is going on over in the U,K.?

As far as I can tell, there is no bright side to what is happening in the United Kingdom. With Sir John Mortimer dead, this cannot even serve as a straight line for the next Rumpole of the Bailey novel.

What am I talking about?

Apparently the current Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, has allowed his cabinet to go ahead with a new policy where they deny entry to people. Now, on the surface, this is not such a big deal. All countries have policies to deny entry to people. In the case of the United States, if you've committed a variety of crimes, the law states that it is perfectly acceptable to deny a foreigner a visa to enter the country.

However, that is not what is going on over the U.K. The United Kingdom has decided that its not enough for a person to have committed actual crimes to be denied entry into their country. It's enough that they have views which are not approved of by the government.

Not only that, but they have promulagated a list. According to the Times, the list includes:

Apparently, the list does not include Geert Wilders, even though the United Kingdom has recently denied him entry.

Now interestingly, on this list, the following people have actual convictions for crimes: Artur Ryno and Pavel Skachevsky (both for attacks on foreigners as part of skinhead/racial superiority groups), Shirley Phelps-Roper (for encouraging a minor to trample an American flag as part of a protest, conviction currently on appeal), Samir Al Quntar (aka Samir Kuntar, the glorious hero of the terrorist for killing a little girl by bashing her head with a rifle), Fred Waldron Phelps (misdemeanor battery cases from the 1950s, a disorderly conduct charge in 1994 as well as a contempt of court citation), and Stephen Donald Black (convicted of violation of the Neutrality Act for attempting to overthrow the government of the Dominica Republic). However, that is not the reason that these, or the rest of the people on the list, were banned from entering the United Kingdom.

According to the press release,

The list covers people excluded from the United Kingdom for fostering extremism or hatred between October 2008 and March 2009.

It follows the Home Secretary’s introduction of new measures against such individuals last year, including creating a presumption in favour of exclusion in respect of all those who have engaged in spreading hate.

That's right. Not for their actions. For their beliefs. Apparently the U.K.'s Home Office is afraid that British society is to fragile to be exposed to those whose beliefs are at odds with the government's idea of what people should believe.

Don't get me wrong, I am not fan, nor do I endorse, the views of any of the people on the list. They are, with exceptions, people who advocate violence, who advocate intolerance, and who, quite frankly, advocate for my extirmination. The exceptions on that list preach intolerance that I cannot agree with. I wish they would just shut up.

However, Prime Minister Brown's government has decided that instead of allowing for free thought, free debate, free ideas to be exchanged, that it is better to issue badges of honor to these miscreants as being "too dangerous for the U.K.".

This from a country which gave us the basic blue print for our fundamental freedoms (check out the 1689 Bill of Rights and then go back and look at our Bill of Rights). Churchill must be rolling over in his grave. A nation which deposed kings, staved off invasion, and consistenly opposed authoritarian rulers for more than three centuries, is apparently too fragile to withstand the viewpoints of foreign, predominantly extremist, radicals.