Monthly Archives: April 2008

Father Pflegler defends Rev. Wright during Faux News "Ambush" Interview

Kind of a long clip (12.5 mins) but worth watching. My aunt is an Evangelical Christian and was a staunch Republican until this year. She supports Obama but is being bombarded with the Faux News talking points and sound bytes on Wright by her co-religionists, so I sent her this as ammo against the sheep. She loved it. I thought Wright was great at the Press Club this A.M., and anyone who watched the whole thing will end up liking the guy if they didn’t already. There was only one cringe-inducing moment, when they pressed him on whether he thought the US Gov’t created AIDS, but I thought he played it rather well by pointing out The US Gov’t sold Saddam biological weapons in the 1980’s which he used on his own people, and so Wright wouldn’t put anything past them.

Here’s the video, from Fox:

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Filed under barack obama, bill o'reilly, fox news, jeremiah wright, o'reilly factor

Oh No! The dreaded two-finger "flip-off"!!!!!!!!!

Here’s Barack Obama “flipping the bird” at a April 18th campaign event in Raliegh, NC.


Gosh, from this angle it looks like a guy scratching his face. Notice his “one-finger salute” involves TWO FINGERS–leading me to believe that I might not be a “one-finger salute” at all. Fox and MSNBC aren’t so sure. In the spirit of journalistic excellence, let’s try another view, where the position of the camera and Senator Obama’s hand hide his index finger behind his middle finger.

Much better–he definately flipped that crowd the bird. What a disrespectful so-and-so. All the blogs are buzzing about this. Its true. . .Contessa Brewer on MSNBC said so. All the blogs are redstate.com, redstate.com, and redstate.com

I’m moving to Canada.

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Filed under barack obama, bird, flip off, msnbc, super lame

APWU endorses Senator Barack Obama for President, but do APWU members?

Official press release from APWU site:

APWU Endorses Sen. Barack Obama

(04/09/08) The National Executive Board of the American Postal Workers Union has voted unanimously to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president.

“Sen. Obama’s message is one of hope and change,” said union President William Burrus. “His message is special, and the timing is right.”

“We are most impressed by Sen. Obama’s commitment to eradicating the undue influence of special interests in the political process,” he said. “Our current political system does not allow for the voices of average citizens to be heard over the demands of lobbyists and big-money campaign contributors.

“Sen. Obama has vowed to change that, and his campaign has flourished through the participation of new voters and small contributors,” Burrus said. “We believe he will be a president who will strongly represent the interests of working Americans.”

“His ability to bring new participants into our nation’s democratic process – to get young people involved, and to persuade ordinary citizens that they have a real stake in politics – is an inspiration.”

“We are pleased to endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president of the United States, and we will commit our energy and efforts to help him win the White House.”

For what it’s worth. To show the mindset of some postal employees, here’s a letter from an “informed” union postal employee of how good the Bush jr. years have been to him:

As a proud union member and family man I do not agree that “most working folks can’t help but feel that they are worse off today than before President Bush and his crowd took over” (Clerk Division article, Jan/Feb 2008). On the contrary–I got $600 back in the first year of his tax cut, and have since benefitted from lower tax rates that allow me to keep more of my hard-earned money: No, I consider myself very well off! As a worker, what burns me is folks who think I should pay for welfare handouts and someone else’s healthcare, through increased taxation. Whatever happened to personal responsibility and hard work? Getting rid of Bush and his crowd will not make things magically better. J.G.B Western Michigan Area Local (APWU)

I talk to guys just like this guy every night. They can’t see the forest for the trees. They have a decent job with benefits, so everything’s roses and those suffering are just too lazy to find jobs. And I must say, J.G.B’s loyalty has been bought on the cheap: A $600 tax “rebate” check and some “aw gee shucks” sound-bites on TV, as far as I can tell. Does that $600 check Bush sent him in 2001 pay for seven years of soaring costs of heating oil and gasoline–which have at least doubled in price since then? Does it cover the rising cost of groceries? How much equity does he have left in his home since the credit crunch/sub-prime meltdown/mega-foreclosures? Does he know anyone who have sons or daughters or wives or husbands serving overseas in Iraq or Afghanistan? Any that gave life or limb for an underfunded, under-supported and largely ignored/undereported but still quite deadly war in Afghanistan and an unnecessary war of choice in Iraq? Does he know the cost of those wars, and what future taxes will have to be levied to pay for them? Does he know how devalued or currency is? How real wages haven’t increased since 2000? Does he know large parts of many gulf states like Louisiana and Mississippi are still devastated from Katrina? That Bush’s FEMA has many Americans living like third-world refugees in poisonous, formaldehyde-insulated trailers? Does he know Bush spies on us without cause or warrant and conducts torture in our names?

Let’s isolate just one of those questions and look at gasoline. Suppose J.G.B has a car that he fills up once a week with 15 gallons of gas (very conservative estimate here). At $1.50 per gallon, that’s $1170.00 per year. At current $3.00/gallon it’s $2340.00 a per. Sorry J.G.B., we just spent for rebate check. Sorry buddy, you got bushwhacked, just not as bad as some.

Apologies for the rant. Bad week at home and the office.

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Filed under 2008 presidential election, apwu, barack obama, bobos, bubbas

Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes (REDUX)?

(with apologies to the late, great Richard Pryor)

A few weeks back while “researching” John McCain’s al Qaeda “gaffes” I hit upon a strange article in the New York Sun by Eli Lake and blogged on it (here). I say strange because the piece made reference to a portion of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran that, according to the official briefer, National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats Edward Gistaro, didn’t and doesn’t exist.

Note: When I originally read the story from the Sun, I didn’t know it was “one of those kinds” of newspapers:

While the Sun claims “150,000 of New York City’s Most Influential Readers Every Day,” according to April 2007 article in The Nation, its [the Sun’s] own audit indicates that “the Sun is selling 13,211 hard copies a day and giving away more than 85,000. (By contrast, the Daily News sells about 700,000 copies a day.) In an attempt to lasso subscribers in certain New York ZIP codes, the Sun recently offered free subscriptions for a full year, an unusual way for a newspaper to build circulation.”

(from wikipedia entry for New York Sun)

So, today at work, I’m listening to Democracy Now! and Mr. Lake is a participant in a debate on the Iranian influence in Iraq. Towards the middle of the interview, Democracy Now! anchor and debate moderator Amy Goodman couldn’t resist zinging Lake on the controversy over the facts of his “story”:

Amy Goodman: Eli Lake, I wanted to ask you about a piece you had written, “Iran is Found to be a Lair of Al Qaeda,” and I’m reading now from the American Conservative, a piece by Justin Logan. He says “Lake published a claim purportedly leaked to him that the National Intelligence Estimate judged that one of two senior al-Qaeda leadership councils ‘meets regularly in eastern Iran.’”

And then he quotes your piece, saying “there is little disagreement that a branch of al Qaeda’s leadership operates in Iran, [but] the intelligence community diverges on the extent to which the hosting of the senior leaders represents a policy of the regime in Tehran or the rogue [actions] of Iran’s Quds Force, the terrorist support units that report directly to Iran’s supreme leader.”

Justin Logan then says, “Unfortunately for Mr. Lake, the story was tersely refuted by National Intelligence Officer for Transnational Threats Edward Gistaro. Asked at a National Press Club briefing whether the judgment Lake described was in the final draft report, Gistaro replied, ‘No, it is not. I don’t think it was ever in the draft. … I read [the Sun article] this morning, and I thought, I don’t know where this comes from.’”

Your response?

ELI LAKE: Well, I mean, first of all, I stand by the story. And Gistaro is essentially the official briefer, and if Justin Logan wants to believe the official briefer—but this is widely reported. You know, Fran Townsend has talked about these management councils in the past, and so have numerous people.

So we’re back to Richard Pryor and one of his more infamous jokes. His wife comes home unexpectedly and finds him screwing around with another woman. “Richard,” she shrieks. “How could you cheat on me?” “Baby, I’m not cheating on you.” “Yes you are, I can see you–and I can see the whore you’re on top of–and I can see you’re both naked and sweaty and there’s an empty box of condoms on the floor.” “Baby,” says Pryor. “Who are you gonna believe, ME, or your lying eyes?” (I took some liberties but you get the idea.)

I’m not normally a name-caller, but listen to the audio of the debate and tell me if Mr. Lake isn’t petulant and rude throughout. Maybe its just me, or maybe someone’s momma needs to wash her baby’s mouth out with soap for fibbing and sassing.

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Filed under democracy now, iran, iran nie, Iraq, new york sun

This blog only half as profane as the average blog

Just for fun. The “average” blog is 8% profane. (special thanks to bfrik for the blog curseword-o-meter–officially “The Blog-O-Cuss Meter” , which doesn’t sound silly enough for me–widget)

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou

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Charles Bukowski on "Revolution"

I listen to a lot of talk radio, and my tied-for-favorite program, The Thom Hartmann Program on Air America Radio, sometimes takes calls from folks calling for a second American Revolution to overthrow what they perceive as a tyrannical government. While I agree with these folks that the leaders of the country are crappy (and have been on-and-off for over two hundred years), and they are passing legislation that impacts negatively upon us (and have been on-and-off for over two hundred years), I think we need a ground-up nonviolent overthrow of the bums at the polling stations, not armed revolt.

One of my favorite authors has some words on revolution, written just after the Democratic National Convention of 1968, as the wave of “counterculture” revolution was reaching its high water mark.

Charles Bukowski, from an Open City column, reprinted in Notes of a Dirty Old Man (buy at amazon, b&n):

revolution sounds very romantic, you know. but it ain’t. it’s blood and guts and madness; it’s little kids killed who get in the way, it’s little kids who don’t understand what the fuck is going on. it’s your whore, your wife ripped in the belly with a bayonet and then raped in the ass while you watch. it’s men torturing men who used to laugh at Mickey Mouse cartoons. before you go into the thing, decide where the spirit is and where the spirit will be when it is over.

. . .

I’m not saying give up. I’m for the true human spirit wherever it is, wherever it has been hiding, whatever it is. but beware of the cowboys who make it sound so good and leave you out on a plateau with 4 hard-core cops and eight or nine national guard boys and only your bellybutton as a last prayer. the boys screaming for your sacrifice in the public parks are usually the furthest away when the shooting begins. they want to live to write their memoirs.

. . .

I like this time. I like this feeling. the young have finally begun to think. and the young have become more and more. but everytime they get a spearhead for their feelings that spearhead is murdered. the old and the entrenched are frightened. they know that the revolution can come through the voting polls in the American manner. we can kill them without a bullet. we can kill them by simply becoming more real and more human and voting out the shits.

The martyred “spearheads” of the revolution Bukowski spoke of were most likely JFK, Malcolm X, MLK and RFK. Again, Bukowski wrote this in 1968, just after the Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the riots, unrest, and brokering there produced Hubert Humphrey as the democratic candidate for president. Humphrey was the establishment’s choice, a “safe”, “reliable”, “electable”, pro-Vietnam War candidate who was also the sitting Vice President. He was chosen over the candidate with the most delegates going into the convention, Eugene McCarthy, the people’s candidate, a mild-mannered Senator from Minnesota who was an outspoken critic and opponent of the Vietnam War.

Comparisons between the 2008 and 1968 presidential primary contests and election (and, to a lesser degree, between 2008 and 1800) have been made far and wide. I think the most important thing to remember is that we, the voters, control 2008. I know, I know, the 2 party candidates we will be allowed to choose from are carefully vetted by the media industrial complex, and many believe due to election fraud via electronic voting machines, caging lists, etc. etc. etc. that we only have the illusion of choice. But–and again I know this has been said almost to death–if you don’t vote you have no choice at all.

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Filed under 1968, 2008 presidential election, assassination, charles bukowski, revolution

Stamp price increase not much to cry about

The price of a first-class stamp is going up again, on May 12th, to 42 cents. The Postal Service is hoping you buys sheets and sheets of Forever Stamps, which are currently priced at 41 cents (until May 12th). Economically this makes sense to you, the consumer, especially if you have the extra $$$ and do a lot of mailing.

According to the graph above, courtesy of the New York Times, either price is a good deal. Adjusted to inflation, the cost of a first-class stamp in 2008, either at 41 or 42 cents, is actually less than it was in 1913 (see graph).


Here’s the money shot from a NYT article Postal Service Again Vexes Penny Pinchers by PHYLLIS KORKKI (April 6, 2008):

Even so, the increases have not kept pace with inflation. If they had, a stamp that was 3 cents in 1917 would cost about 50 cents today.

That is the advantage of constitutionally-guaranteed and protected universal service. Suppose the US Constitution is amended, the Postal Service loses its monopoly on first class mail, and conpetition is allowed. I’d bet that initially “the brown” and the others would offer a low, low, introductory first class stamp at 41-42 cents–maybe less if you live in NYC, Boston, LA, Chicago or Miami. But–uh oh–fuel prices rose 13 cents/gallon last quarter. And, you live WHERE? What’s that you say–you can’t get there from here? That will cost extra. How much would DHL, UPS, or Fed-Ex charge to deliver a piece of mail to you if you didn’t live close enough to one of their hubs? What charge would their local sub-contractor add on to that cost? Who would those subs be, and who would make sure they didn’t tamper with your mail? Probably your stamp would cost at least 50 cents, and corporate America propaganda–ahem–advertising, would convince you it was a great bargain and a triumph of the free market.

There are reasons the postal service is the highest rated and most trusted of all government agencies, consistently, according to polls of the American public: It provides decent delivery times, average to way-above-average customer service, good prices, and universal service.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. And sure as hell don’t saw it into pieces and sell it as scrap.

Update: US Postal Service #1 most trusted government agency for the 4th consecutive year according to poll by the Ponemon Institute (here–h/t Postal News):

U.S. Postal Service Again Honored as ‘Most Trusted’

    Ponemon Institute Asks Consumers to Rank 74 Government Agencies



WASHINGTON, April 4, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The premier
privacy trust study in America has named the U.S. Postal Service the "Most
Trusted Government Agency" for the fourth year in a row.



More than 86 percent of the 9,000 Americans surveyed by the Ponemon
Institute ranked the Postal Service first among 74 agencies as the one that
is best able to keep their information safe and secure. The Postal Service
has increased its privacy trust score every year since the survey began
four years ago.



"We have a 230-year tradition of trust. Americans depend on the
security of the mail and they trust the Postal Service to protect their
privacy," said Delores Killette, vice president and consumer advocate. "Our
employees work hard to maintain that trust. They earned this honor and
recognition for their contribution to the value that trust brings to the
organization, and to the country."



Killette attributed the number one ranking, in part, to the trusted
relationship Americans have with letter carriers who deliver mail to every
home and business six days a week. They know their letter carrier by name.
Carriers are a welcomed and trusted member of the local community, she
said.



"Because of this, the Postal Service truly is not a 'faceless' agency.
Consumer confidence in the mail is a top priority for the Postal Service
and its law enforcement agency, the Postal Inspection Service," Killette
said.



The survey asked 9,000 Americans, selected at random, to rank 74
federal agencies based on the agency's ability to handle and protect
personal information. Questions ranged from factors creating trust in the
agency and the levels of confidence consumers have in the agency to protect
their information, including information provided on websites, to limiting
the amount of information collected.



"The government requires citizens provide detailed personal information
in order to deliver many services. But this does not absolve public
agencies of the responsibility to protect that information," said Larry
Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute.



The survey shows that those agencies with the most public interaction
-- and demonstrate a healthy respect for maintaining public trust -- have
always scored well over the years, Dr. Ponemon said.



Survey respondents also listed worries they had about how the federal
government uses their personal information. News items continue to
influence consumers' attitudes toward trust. Both Customs and Border
Protection and the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration are among the five
least trusted agencies in a year when political debate surrounding
immigration policies made headlines, he said.



But the largest privacy concern, the study shows, is "loss of civil
liberties and privacy rights," with 57 percent of Americans listing this
concern first. About 56 percent listed "surveillance into personal life"
and almost half (47 percent) said "monitoring of email and Web activities"
were their top privacy concerns.



More than 40 percent listed identity theft as their top concern, up
from 29 percent in 2007, with most citing concerns with the secure websites
and the Internet. According to the Federal Trade Commission, mail accounts
for only 2 percent of all identity theft. But for the Postal Service, even
2 percent is too much. In February the Postmaster General sent a letter to
every address in America that included a brochure on preventing identity
theft.



"Since we conducted the first privacy trust study in 2004, the results
suggest that a large proportion of Americans do not trust the federal
government's privacy commitments," Dr. Ponemon said. "Yet, the trust
Americans have in the Postal Service continues to grow every year."



Copies of the 2008 Privacy Trust Study of the United States Government
are available by contacting the Ponemon Institute at
http://www.ponemon.org.



An independent federal agency, the U.S. Postal Service is the only
delivery service that visits every address in the nation -- 146 million
homes and businesses. It has 37,000 retail locations and relies on the sale
of postage, products and services to pay for operating expenses, not tax
dollars. The Postal Service has annual revenues of $75 billion and delivers
nearly half the world's mail.



Ponemon Institute, LLC is dedicated to advancing responsible
information and privacy management practices in business and government. To
achieve this objective, the Institute conducts independent research,
educates leaders from the private and public sectors and verifies the
privacy data protection practices of organizations in a variety of
industries.

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Filed under dhl, fed-ex, inflation, new york times, privatization, stamp price increase, ups, usps