Thursday, July 24, 2008

Though They Make More Than Most CEOs.....These Men Will Not Be Attacked

Forbes Highest Paid Actors List

Its very strange how people think and react to certain information.

The news that the corporate executive that used to make no more than 40 times the amount of the rank and file workers but now makes 400 to 4000 times more draws outrage. "How dare they make so much money yet pay their workers a minimum wage?!?".

The truth is that the high flying corporate executives are often atop of financial or high tech firms and their compensations comes from stock related gains rather than a straight forward salary.

But what of these actors and entertainers? Where as a CEO who is paid a $35 million compensation package will draw a congressional investigation by the Democrats.....the news that Will Smith pulled in $100 million in cold cash last year - does not draw even a whimper from the usual suspects.

To add insult to injury - these are not corporate titans who employ tens of thousands of people. All likely have their own entertainment production companies that employ at most a couple hundred people. If there was a ratio of "personal wealth to employment generated" these entertainers would have numbers far larger than the CEOs who are so frequently subjected to attacks.

The truth is that the paying public are the ones who reach into their own wallets and drop down $10 to watch these guys in a movie. This is purely discretionary spending where as the balance of the corporations in existence make things that have a more tangible benefit to the consumer and the economy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Barack Obama's War On Terrorism And Other Abstract Legalisms

Barack Obama. You listen to him long enough it is not easy to apply his populist strategy against him - if you are so inclined to be bound by abstract legalism as he is. For me personally - I realize that a "President Obama" is going to have to vacate another line of rationalization IF he ever gets to sit in the seat of power. His positions are as unsustainable in many areas as his rants said during the Democratic Primary in order to addict leftist oriented voters. His goal is to WIN the election, not to be practical and pragmatic.

Thus we have the current debate between Obama and McCain over Iraq and Afghanistan. According to McCain - our recent success in Iraq via the surge has allowed the US forces, having stabilized most of the provinces, to shift focus upon Afghanistan. If it was not for the "Surge", which Obama said would fail - Mr Obama would not have been able to do his "photo op" inside of the country.

In the view of Barack Obama, however, Iraq was a "diversion" and a "tactical mistake" from the "actual front on the WAR ON TERRORISM". Oh I'm sorry, Barack didn't call it "The War On Terrorism". This term has been trade marked by the "Bush Administration" according to Obama's friends at the New York Times. Barack called it the "Battle against Terrorists". Obama said "the 9/11 attacks were PLANNED IN AFGHANISTAN, NOT IRAQ".

I now have "Obama's card" on this line of reasoning, just as I do on so many other tactics that he uses. Thus HE needs to be held up to his own standards rather than being allowed to exclusively apply them to others. Since Iraq was a "diversion" to the actual key front on TERRORISM which is in Afghanistan......we must apply the very same reasoning to Obama's policies.

First some constraints that Obama and his supporters use against the Iraq policy and the FAILURE in Afghanistan because "we took our eye off of the prize":

1) Al Queda was not in Iraq prior to Bush's tactical mistake to invade
2) We should be fighting those who attacked us, not creating new enemies because of our militarism and aggression
3) The battle against Terrorism is a better handled by the legal system than by military aggression and imperialism
4) Our actions have been disturbing to other nations

OK - let us apply this same reasoning to Barack Obama's Afghanistan plans.

1) 19 men who are now dead, Osama Bin Laden and a few other specific operatives plotted 9/11. How is it that we can justify an invasion of Afghanistan and the mass killing of those who had NOTHING TO DO WITH 9/11 rather than fighting those who SPECIFICALLY had something to do with the plotting? We are attacking an entire nation rather than the guilty party. Obama is using "Adrian Fenty of DC tactics used upon the Trinidad section of DC" against an entire nation of people. Obama should limit his attacks upon our actual enemies, not everyone.

2) Are we sure that those who are fighting us in Afghanistan are not DEFENDING THEIR NATION AGAINST A HOSTILE INVADER with murderous intentions rather than being "terrorists"? WE ARE CREATING NEW "TERRORISTS" WITH OUR ACTIONS IN AFGHANISTAN.

3) We are torturing people in Afghanistan in that MURDER of these people who had nothing to do with attacking the United States is the worst form of TORTURE

4) Obama would have invaded Pakistan in pursuit of Osama Bin Laden. The United Nations - the "International Law" did not authorize this action. Thus Obama believes that he is above the law - "Might makes right".

In summary - Barack Obama is no different than George Bush regarding the END RESULTS - US Military Aggression against people who did not attack America, leaving a row od dead bodies in the wake. He is only benefiting from the SILENCE of the usual suspects who are not holding him to the same technical and theoretical standards. These people are "Against Bush" more than they are interested in fighting against our enemies.

Adding 2 more brigades to Iraq, as Obama wants, in order to stabilize Afghanistan is NOT a fight in the "War On Terrorism". It is only a smooth, abstracted spin on reality.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sudanese President Charged By The International Criminal Court

ICC Charges Sudanese President I assure you that President Omar al-Bashir is shaking in his boots from this action.The International Criminal Court is see as the "international law" by many who would love nothing else than to have the United Nations as the final word on all world matters. In my view President al-Bashir will live a long life, FREE of any concern that the "sheriffs" sent out from the ICC will bring him to the "arraingment hearing" to face his charges.This shows the key problem with those who see international affairs as a law enforcement matter rather than using military power to get show who "don't hear" to act within certain boundaries.I frequently make the case that certain operatives with a certain ideolgy have problems dealing with people who "DON'T GIVE A DAMN" about what they think and are not interested in living up to any particular set of standards. The moralizing that this highly intellectual crowd fails to move their intended target.In the wake of these legalisms - people continue to be exposed; people continue to die.

Bush - You Are Right - You Are NOT An Economist!!

Fox News: Bush Says Country in 'Challenging Time' But Economy 'Basically Sound'

President Bush was asked a question during a press conference that involved analysis and prediction about our economic future. He responded saying "I don't know, I am not an economist". I thought that this was an arrogant and aloof response.

Bush has never been good on the stump in responding coherently to ad hoc questions asked of him. At a time of great economic distress - his response simply gave the "Daily Show" more ammunition against him.

For me I have been tired of all 2 term presidents after their 6 years. For this particular president - he has earned the level of fatigue that people have for him.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

How Did Life Begin?

I am watching a documentary on National Geographic's "Naked Science" which explores how life began on Earth. There is an array of scientists who are exploring various hypotheses of how life began in a "gooey center" of a comet who's otherwise solid mass was radiated by solar radiation and turned into a mash of enzymes and proteins that became life.

The interesting thing about all of this is that the narrator made reference to how societies in the past believed that frogs and other forms of life magically appeared from the mud rather than making note of what we know today. We know that microscopic eggs that are fertilized are the origin of these frogs from the mud.

Yet the various experiments that they are showing during the show are little more than the understanding that these ancient people believed in. The scientists keep talking about the ELEMENTS OF LIFE - amino acids and proteins. They want us to believe that this highly complex animal ecosystem that we live in evolved to the point that we are today AND the origin of all of these systems were crafted by happenstance in the appropriate "space vehicle" that floated through the vacuum of space.

If religious belief is to be rejected because of the reliance on the "logical leap" of faith rather than displaying the ability of reproduction within a laboratory environment then certainly the theories that they are operating on should also be rejected.

I will yield that they will make the claim that these are "working theories" of which they continue their testing in order to come to a more accurate set of conclusions. By comparison they might say - religious dogma has no similar pursuit of knowledge but instead seek to cut off all investigation because "God did it".

As it stands today - the scientist can no more answer the question "How did life begin?" any more than a person who follows one of the world's major religions who believe that "God did it"

Friday, July 11, 2008

Canadian Oil Sands - Painful Choices

Energy Hunt: Fort McMurray was a sleepy town on the Canadian frontier until oil transformed it into a boomtown with tons of opportunities - and concerns.

Money pouring into the town allows residents to enjoy the highest per capita income in Canada. Even low-end service jobs, like flipping burgers, waiting tables, or pumping gas, pay upward of $15 an hour.

"You can say all the bad things you want about this town," challenged Jesse Brether, a Ft. McMurray Oil Sands worker. "You know what? For fifty dollars an hour, I'll deal with it... I'm making over a hundred thousand dollars a year, and I'm twenty-two!"

Native Canadian groups who once thrived on the area's abundant natural resources are worried. While jobs have been created, and contracts have been awarded to native small businesses, the gains are overshadowed by reports of deformed fish and discolored meat in the wildlife. A local health board study found unusually high rates of cancers and other illness, although both the Alberta government and the oil companies dispute those claims.

Turning Oil Sand into usable energy is an arduous, resource intensive process. Oil sand is mined in giant pits, then the oil has to be separated from the sand. To do this, Oil Sand is washed with warm water, a process that uses large quantities of natural gas. Once the sand and the oil are separated, the oil must be further processed into a lighter form of crude that can be easily refined into gasoline, diesel and heating oil.

Critics claim that the extra step of "upgrading" the viscous, molasses-like oil into usable crude emits three times as much carbon dioxide as drilling for and transporting conventional oil. While the industry calls that number is inflated, Shell, one of the major operators in the area, puts that figure at around 200%.

And then there's the water. Taken from a local river and used to wash the oil from the sands the water is left to evaporate in huge, lined ponds. The ponds are required by law to prevent contaminated water from leaking back into the water table.

Assuming oil prices stay above $50 a barrel, Canada can optimistically increase its daily Oil Sands output from 1.5 million barrels per day today, to four or even five million barrels per day within a decade.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Cats Lay With Dogs: Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch Bury The Hatchet

Seems to me that as the titans and billionaires fight and then make up - those of us who don't have as many digits in our net work may pick sides but in the end it doesn't matter.

Ted Turner, Murdoch have ‘buried the hatchet’

By Maria Saporta | Monday, July 7, 2008, 02:29 PM

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Arch rivals in the media world — Ted Turner and Rupert Murdoch — are no longer at war.

When Murdoch announced that he was going “green” with his media empire by buying carbon offsets and instituting stronger environmental practices, Turner sent Murdoch a letter.

‘I had to congratulate him for it,” Turner told a luncheon crowd today at Atlanta’s Rotary Club. “Not many people take the time to write letters any more. I haven’t sent George Bush many notes.”

When Murdoch received Turner’s letter, he reached out to Turner and invited him to lunch, which happened a couple of months ago.

“I have buried the hatchet with him so I’m officially not at war with anybody,” Turner said.

Turner and Murdoch had been arch rivals with major philosophical differences.

Turner ran CNN, a 24-hour cable news network that some critics have said has a liberal bent, but one that Turner saw as a channel to increase global understanding.

Murdoch started Fox News, also a 24-hour cable news network, that often provided a conservative slant on its channel and described itself as a fair and balanced source of information.

Their competition did get personal. But as Murdoch’s empire grew (it now includes the Wall Street Journal), Turner lost control of Turner Broadcasting System and CNN after the acquisition by Time-Warner and merger with AOL.

At today’s lunch, Turner was asked what he would do differently if he was still running CNN.

“I would make Lou Dobbs shut up,” Turner quickly responded. After he thought about it some more, Turner said: “They don’t run as much international news as I’d like.” He also said the news is “lighter” and more “frivolous.”

Turner did say he misses the sports scores on the ticker of Headline News. And then he acknowledged: “I’m an old fuddy duddy now.”

As has become customary in his talks, Turner mentioned his estrangement with Time Warner. He got quite a laugh when he said: “A Time Man of the Year (Turner) got let go by Time.”

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Socialist Rapper Boots Riley Learns About Limits On Free Speech

I will not lie to you - I haven't liked this guy since his days guest appearing on Bill Maher's show where he announced that he was a SOCIALIST. I am blessed that he has no power and authority over me.

I am glad, however, that a community is enforcing their level of decency upon him.

Rapper Boots Riley Disputes Abusive Language Charges

By Chris Richburg

A recent concert featuring Boots Riley resulted in charges of "abusive language" against the rapper. Sources told the charges originated from a law that had never been applied to a performer and was enforced for the first time in 26 years at last week's event.

Riley, who is best known as the front man for the Oakland, Ca.-based rap group The Coup, was performing at the Bayou Boogaloo and Cajun Food festival at Towne Point Park in Norfolk, VA on June 21, when he was charged. "City Officials claim that they are making the statement that profanity will not be tolerated," Riley said. "Obviously, since no one has been charged with this in 26 years, profanity is tolerated. The statement they are making is that the culture and the people they feel I represent won't be tolerated."

The Park is located in an area populated by recently built high-priced condos. Plans are currently underway for the location to receive an $11.5 million makeover.
According to sources, the language in questions centers around a song Riley performed which included the phrase "What the F***? in the chorus. The rapper maintains that the festival organizers, FestEvents, knew about the song beforehand.

He also claims he was told that neither the company nor the city were concerned about swearing. Riley also disputed reports saying there was a "slew" of profanity. Riley believes the charges were racially motivated, as part of a backlash from the recent Afr'Am Festival in Norfolk.

During that event, several "noise complaints" were made against gospel and R&B performers who adhered to the same noise decibel parameters that were required for other festivals in Norfolk.

Riley further stated that he was already off stage when authorities arrived.
"This happened at 10 p.m., and it was far from a 'family' atmosphere, most of the audience was intoxicated after drinking at the festival's bar - 'The Missing Kidney'," Riley noted. "There was also a VIP section where free alcohol was distributed by the keg. Anyone who has been to a music festival on a Saturday night understands the scene."
Despite claims by FestEvents that he left the park after the incident, Riley maintains that he remained at the event as he disputed the "validity of the charge with police and festival promoters."

As a result, the rapper believes the incident reflects a deeper issue at hand.

"It is clear that this is part of a larger debate that has nothing to do with profanity, one that is being dealt with nationwide," said Riley. "That debate is about racism, gentrification and the ownership of public space."

At this time, the city of Norfolk plans to move forward with the charge against Riley

It figures doesn't it that.......

Forget About "Living Wage" Does Jay-Z's Club Even Pay Minimum Wages?

By Ismael AbduSalaam

A class-action lawsuit against Jay-Z and his 40/40 Club has been approved by a New York City judge. The New York Post reports that the plaintiff, former employee Celeste Williams, is claiming the club did not pay minimum wage or compensate for overtime hours.

Due to this allegation the courts have ordered 40/40 management to disclose the names of all employees since 2005. “This is a good day for restaurant workers all over the city,” said Williams’ lawyer Maimon Kirschenbaum in a statement to media.

Kirschenbaum also revealed that he plans to contact hundreds of other current and former employees to gauge their interest in joining the lawsuit. He claims that 10 to 20 former and current workers have joined the suit, which includes waiters and bartenders.

However, Kirschenbaum did not speculate on possible settlement sums, as he has not had the chance to analyze’s 40/40’s financial records.

Representatives for Jay-Z and the 40/40 club have yet to comment on the case.

There will be none of the standard "executive villainization" of Jay Z for he is still 'from the streets' despite his hundreds of millions of dollars. Funny how that works.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Economic Reporting - Dire News from My Colleagues

Talking down the economy.

"It's been described as the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. And it brings with it grave dangers for all American families ... ," said Martin Bashir on "Nightline." "Recession looms .... "

On the "Today" show June 20, David Faber referred to "the recession ... these tough economic times." Yet that very day first-quarter GDP was revised upward again to 1 percent.

America is not in recession, and who knows -- maybe we'll be less likely to have one if my compatriots would just chill. A recession is defined as two quarters of negative economic growth. We haven't even had one quarter of negative growth.

Yes, growth has slowed, and many people are suffering because of falling home prices and higher food and energy prices. These are real problems, but watching TV, you'd think we were in a recession so severe it must be compared to the Great Depression.

Maybe I was just watching at the wrong times and just catching some outliers? No. A study by the Business and Media Institute (BMI) found that ABC, CBS and NBC regularly "hyped similarities to the Great Depression."

BMI took a novel approach. It compared the economic-news coverage by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3, 1929, around the time of the stock market crash, with the coverage by ABC, CBS and NBC from March 13 to 19 of this year.

"The difference between how the 1929 and 2008 media handled a crisis was profound -- with modern journalists hyping every event." Today's coverage is much more alarmist. In 2008, few reporters pointed out "the differences between today's economy and the nation's darkest economic years, or bothered to note that America is not in a depression."

So let me stop here to repeat that. We are not in a depression. We are not even in recession. Get a grip, guys. We ought to point out that whatever today's problems bring, we are far away from reliving the Depression.

As Amity Shlaes points out in her book "The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression" -- which has just been released in paperback -- by November 1933, unemployment had skyrocketed to over 23 percent. Think about that: 5 percent unemployment today vs. 23 percent during the Depression. Amidst today's talk of stock market "collapse," remember that during the Depression, the Dow plummeted to 90, a loss of nearly 75 percent of its previous value. "This downturn is to the Depression as a drizzle is to Katrina," says Shlaes, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. "In the Depression, America confronted deflation. There literally wasn't enough money. People made their own scrip, Monopoly money, to pay their bills. In Utah, they made a currency called the Vallar. Today, we are in an inflation. If this period is like anything, it is like the 1970s."

Positive news doesn't fit the narrative. On a day the Dow rose, writes BMI's Dan Gainor, ABC "Reporter Dan Harris seemed puzzled during the ... broadcast of 'World News with Charles Gibson' when he asked: "The sky is not falling. Why not?"

All three major broadcast networks are culpable. But BMI says CBS was the worst. That's typical when it comes to economic coverage, BMI added. "Business reporter Anthony Mason was even called 'the grim reaper' by his own anchor Katie Couric." "Early Show" co-host Julie Chen talked about "a world financial crisis" as if a "crisis" was just a given.

The state of economic reporting in this country is abysmal. We might laugh at it if it didn't have bad consequences. But the more people hear such inappropriate comparisons, the more apt they are to believe them and change their behavior accordingly -- investing less and taking fewer economic risks -- thereby aggravating bad economic conditions.

No wonder, as the Associated Press reported, "U.S. consumers are the gloomiest they've been since the tail end of the last prolonged recession."

I am not saying the 1929 coverage was great; looking back, much of it was naive. I'm also not saying there are no economic problems today. But today's problems are no excuse for reporters to make glib comparisons to the Great Depression.

Report: California's Death Penalty 'Close to Collapse'

Fox News: Report: California's Death Penalty 'Close to Collapse'

Wow. What a surprise here. High murder rate in the state. Few actual executions in the state since the death penalty was restored and yet the state's death penalty system is near collapse due to the expense. Does anyone believe that this is by accident?

It kills me (sorry) to listen to people complain that it costs more to go through the legal proceedings to put a person to death than to have him live the rest of his life in jail. They fail to acknowledge that THEY are the one's that demanded the checks and balances in the system that is costing the big bucks to insure that no innocent man is put to death and yet they STILL make the case that the system is unjust despite these checks.

There is little doubt in my mind that their ultimate goal is to bankrupt the system of capital punishment because they want only life imprisonment. We'll talk later about their complains of the expense of imprisonment and the large number of people contained within.

SAN FRANCISCO — California's 30-year-old death penalty, which costs more than $100 million annually to administer, is "close to collapse," according to a new report issued Monday.

The California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, appointed by the state Legislature to propose criminal justice reforms, issued a 117-page report detailing a deeply flawed death penalty system that has the biggest backlog of cases in the nation.

The commission stopped short of calling for the abolition of the state's death penalty, but did note that California would save hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the criminal justice system if capital punishment were eliminated. It said most condemned inmates are essentially given life sentences because so few executions are carried out.

The commission blamed inadequate legal representation, a broad death penalty law that makes nearly all first-degree murder cases eligible for the death penalty and a host of other issues that has made California capital punishment system "dysfunctional."

"It is the law in name only, and not in reality," the report stated.

The commission did recommended that California double its annual amount of capital punishment spending to hire more defense lawyers and prosecutors, among other improvements.

There are 673 inmates on California's death row and 79 inmates there are still waiting to be appointed attorneys to prepare their automatic appeals to the California Supreme Court.

California has executed 13 inmates since the death penalty was reintroduced in 1978 and none since 2005 when a federal judge ordered a de facto moratorium until state officials fixed flaws he found in the how California prison officials deliver the lethal three-drug cocktail during executions. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year upheld Kentucky's lethal injection system, which is nearly identical to California's.

Still, California's executions remain on hold while the federal judge awaits the resolution of a separate death penalty challenge in state courts.

It takes an average of about 17 years in California between the time a killer is convicted and executed on the exceedingly rare occasion when an inmate is executed. The national average is about 10 years.

"The families of murder victims are cruelly deluded into believing that justice will be delivered with finality during their lifetimes," the report stated.

The commission also suggested changing the law to limit the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty to those who commit multiple murders, kill law enforcement officials or witnesses or torture their murder victims. As it stands, the commission said 87 percent of all first-degree murder charges could be prosecuted as death penalty cases.

The commission said it "found no credible evidence" that an innocent person has been executed in California in the last 30 years, but lamented that many inmates suffer from poor legal representation.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against prosecutors in 38 of the 54 death penalty cases that have reached the court since the reintroduction of the death penalty in California. The appeals cited ineffective legal representation more often than any other legal reason to toss out a death penalty case.

The report recommended nearly doubling the number of state public defenders to 78 lawyers.

"The strain placed by these cases on our justice system, in terms of the time and attention taken away from other business that the courts must conduct for our citizens, is heavy," the commission concluded.

The state Senate created the commission, which is composed of victims' advocates, lawyers and law professors, in 2004 and its chairman is former California Attorney General John Van de Kamp.

The commission has issued reports on a wide-range of criminal justice issues, including how to reduce the risk of sending innocent people to prison.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed three of its recommendations passed by the state Legislature that would have changed the handling of eyewitness identifications, false confessions and testimony of jailhouse informants.

This is the final report of the commission, which disbands Tuesday.