Saturday, June 30, 2007

Today's Hero: Mika Brzezinski

Great video from MSNBC's Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough. Apparently, Ms. Brzezinski would rather report news instead of talk about Paris Hilton. And good for her. But, Joe and the other guy wouldn't have it, and rolled video anyway. Good effort though, Mika!

Saturday Night Roundup

I was otherwise occupied for most of the day, and haven't had a lot of time to post. If I don't fall asleep in my chair, I may put up one or two more tonight, but I may just have to make up for it on Sunday. Beer + Sun + Pool = TIRED! So not much commentary this go-around. But how 'bout a few interesting links?

From RawStory: White House hit with 'enforcement' threat over Congressional subpoenas

From Huffington Post: Blazing Jeep Slams Into Glasgow Airport..."Britain Under Attack"...Two Arrests...Bystanders Tackle Fleeing Suspect...Photos: Smoldering Culprit Pinned By Police..."There Was A Man On Fire. It Was Terrifying"..."Suicide Belt" Found...Airport Chaos..."Baptism Of Fire" For New PM Brown

From the New York Times: For President Bush, a Reversal of Fortune on His Political Capital

And this entertaining story by Andrew Sullivan, by way of Wonkette: Fred Thompson Rumor Watch

That's it for the moment guys. I promise to have something entertaining, thought-provoking, or at least mildly amusing later tonight or tomorrow.

Elizabeth Montgomery - Lux Beauty Soap

I have a new nephew, about six weeks old now. His name is Lux. And by a strange serendipitous coincidence, I happened upon this ad the same week. Since my blog wasn't born until two weeks later, I didn't have a place to put it before.

Bewitched has always been one of my favorite shows, and Elizabeth Montgomery one of my favorite actresses. So here she is, in the early 1960s, selling Lux Beauty Soap. Loved ya, Liz!


I clicked on my sitemeter, and was surprised at what I saw. Each dot on the map represents an area where my site has been viewed. Understandably, Las Vegas is well-represented, since every time I post I probably generate a "hit." But as far as I know, I don't have any friends or family in Japan, Africa, South America, New Zealand or Canada. I've only been publishing for four weeks, so I was kind of excited to see that the world is watching. Thanks for finding me!

How Cool: Pangaea!

Image is Public Domain from Wikipedia

I stumbled upon this graphic while I was in a "wiki-hole." That's where you go in looking for one little tidbit of information, and come out several hours later, having forgotten what your first search was for. It's quite a time-waster, but loads of fun. Anyhow, if the topic of Pangaea fascinates you like it does me, risk the wiki-hole, and click the link. I really had no idea there was so much to it.

Read More at: Pangaea at Wikipedia

I'll take this opportunity to let acknowledge that while I link often to Wikipedia, I am aware that it is not a perfect source. Wikipedia is sort of a community encyclopedia, with ordinary Joes contributing. While the site is moderated, and constantly revised and updated, it is also frequently hacked. It is therefore often slammed when used as a source. To that I say,
fine. Use it as a jumping off point. You have the whole Internet at your disposal. If you don't think you can trust what's at Wiki, do your homework.

Interestingly, the same folks who slam the Wiki will often cite no sources at all for their opinions, or use nakedly partisan think tanks or sites like NewsMax as refutation. The best rule of thumb is not to trust ANYBODY as a single source. Not me, not Rush Limbaugh, not Randi Rhodes (she'll tell you herself). All I ask is, if you have an opinion (contrary or not), make sure it's based on something. And Wikipedia is a decent place to start.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Walking and Quacking Like a Lame Duck

Picture from McClatchy Washington Bureau

Not much personal editorializing from me, except to say it's about damned time. Read on.

The president slipped out of town for a long weekend in Maine before the Senate delivered the final blow to his immigration bill, but it wasn't the only setback that might put a damper on his seaside getaway with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In the space of a single short week, Bush was hit with more Republican defections on Iraq, more bad news from the battlefield, more subpoenas from a hostile Congress, a new assault on his signature education plan and embarrassing disclosures about his vice president.

He also found himself in a fight over executive privilege that begs comparisons to Richard Nixon's legal battles during the Watergate scandal. Read more
at: McClatchy Washington Bureau

Coulter: Republican Leader!

Photo from

We thought so all along. Though many (sane) conservatives will tell you that Ann Coulter doesn't speak for them, their ideology or party, the fact is, she clearly does. She routinely releases books that are sold dirt cheap on right-wing websites, raising her to the top of Amazon's and the New York Times best seller lists. She's plopped before the FOX "News" and MSNBC cameras (in her ever-present little black cocktail dress) as an "expert" on virtually any topic, several times a week. And she always has her talons sharpened for Democrats/liberals, even for their most tangential connection to that topic. The right wing eats her up (and according to Kathy Griffin, uses her as fantasy material).

It's one of those "obviously true but constantly denied" trueisms (like the fact that FOX "News" is not fair or balanced). Ann Coulter is a right-wing/conservative/Repbulican (take your pick) LEADER.

But it's good to see someone who is an acknowledged right wing leader himself, declare Ann for what she is. Brent Bozell, seasoned conservative activist, writer and think-tank member had this to say:

“But Ann Coulter is owed an apology from those outlets, including NBC’s
Nightly News, The Washington Post and CNN’s American Morning, which have
mis-reported her comments. And conservatives, take note: Today it’s Coulter,
tomorrow it may be you. The left has demonstrated that it will stop
at nothing, including flat-out dishonesty, to undermine our leaders.”
More at:

Cyndi Lauper Invades My Brain

I lied. One more YouTube post. This is a Cyndi Lauper song from "Sisters of Avalon." The lyrics of this song (Google them) pretty much define my whole view of discourse in this country. While I prefer the remixed version, the message of this song explains more about my political viewpoint than anything I've ever heard. Enjoy.

NOTE: Once again, the author of this video doesn't allow embedding of videos into blogs. No worries, just keep clicking on it until it plays.

Julie Brown Spoofs Madonna

And one more. I love Julie Brown. Compare and contrast with Madonna's Vogue.

Madonna - Vogue MTV Music Awards

OK, I know I'm going heavy on the entertainment tonight, but YouTube had some sort of technical problem, and I racked up a bunch of potential posts in the mean time. This one is probably the very best video Madonna ever made. I love it, and so, here it is.

Mrs. Garrison Explains Evolution

OK, I've just discovered that you can link Comedy Central videos to Blogger, so I had to post at least one more. This is from South Park, and to the uninitiated, Mrs. Garrison recently had a sex change, and became something of a fundamentalist. As transexuals are wont to do (ok, maybe not). This is mostly for the afore mentioned Lesto, who doesn't like comedy shows. Watch it anyway, Les! See why we like South Park!

Lewis Black - Today's Hero

I don't think anyone sums up my personal feelings about politics any better than the Daily Show's Lewis Black. And he reminds me of Greenlee Gazette contributor Lesto (if he were fully converted to my way of thinking). Check out this video from Comedy Central.

If the Government Has Nothing to Hide. . .

Dr. Robert Bowman is quoted as saying, “If the government has nothing to hide,then why are they hiding everything?” He said it about his belief that the government is withholding information about 9/11. But it would seem that it applies to almost everything this administration does. The most current example is George Bush's refusal to comply with Congress' subpoenas regarding the attorney-firing scandal.

Freepers will tell you that the US Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president (sounds kinky), and so there is nothing to this scandal. Maybe not. But Alberto Gonzales lied about it. Why? Most people lie to save face or cover their collective behinds. Considering all the things that have been revealed so far, I'd say that this particular scandal has the ability to tumble the whole house of cards. It's not the crime (or in this case, action), it's the cover up.

WASHINGTON — President Bush, in a constitutional showdown with Congress,
claimed executive privilege Thursday and rejected demands for White House
documents and testimony about the firing of U.S. attorneys.

His decision was denounced as "Nixonian stonewalling" by the chairman
of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Bush rejected subpoenas for documents from former presidential counsel
Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. The White House made
clear neither one would testify next month, as directed by the subpoenas.

Presidential counsel Fred Fielding said Bush had made a reasonable
attempt at compromise but Congress forced the confrontation by issuing
subpoenas. "With respect, it is with much regret that we are forced down this
unfortunate path which we sought to avoid by finding grounds for mutual
accommodation." More at Huffington Post.


"President Bush moved one step closer to a constitutional showdown with Democrats on Thursday, as the White House asserted executive privilege in refusing to comply with congressional subpoenas for documents related to the dismissal of federal prosecutors," the New York Times is set to report on Friday's front page. More at RawStory.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bias in the Media

There are some truths that should be self evident. There are also falsehoods that are believed without question. One such falsehood: There is a left-wing media bias. One such truth: There is a right-wing media bias. The falsehood has been so drummed into our heads, it has become "conventional wisdom."

I've been reading a 2004 book by David Brock, called The Republican Noise Machine, which should be read by anyone who doesn't believe my first paragraph. I'm only part-way through the book, so I expect to do a more thorough post about it after I've finished it. But I was compelled to plug it early, because it is so jarring. Mr. Brock is a former in-the-trenches right-wing writer, who had a change of heart. This gives him an insider's view that can't be known as well from the outside. And he details the concerted effort of the right-wing to infiltrate and virtually take over the mainstream media.

I've always treated the conventional wisdom on bias with a bit of skepticism. After all, I can probably name a dozen right-wing partisan journalists/commentators off the top of my head. Let's see: George Will, Peggy Noonan, Robert Novak, William Kristol, Brit Hume, Bernard Goldberg, David Horowitz, Christopher Hitchins, Andrew Sullivan, Lou Dobbs, Brent Bozell, and David Brooks. Then there are the pundits: Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, David Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Oliver North, Tucker Carlson, Joe Scarborough, Bill O'Reilly, Mark Levin, Michael Savage, Michael Medved, I could go on and on.

But who are the liberal counterparts? I'm drawing a blank on the liberal journalists/commentators (outside of David Brock himself). I can do better on the pundits: Stephanie Miller, Randi Rhodes, Al Franken, Thom Hartmann, and Rachel Maddow. And THAT is only because I listen to Air America Radio. And there isn't one on this list I'd call an actual counterpart to the lists above. How many of those names did you know?

The fact is, if news and news commentary is skewed at all, it is skewed heavily to the right. The right-wing would claim that talk radio and FOX "News" are only a counterpoint to the rest of the media's left-wing skew. Where is the evidence? It is my belief that their complaint is not so much a left-wing slant, but a lack of a right-wing slant that they are lamenting. My evidence is, well, what they've done to FOX "News" and talk radio. They went right 'round the bend, pushing bias further than any left-wing fever dream they'd ever imagined. Right-wing views are HEAVILY represented. Who do we get. . .Alan Colmes?

Coultergeist Less Than Honest

Photo from (no joke!)

The other night, Hardball with Chris Matthews dedicated an entire hour-long episode to Ann Coulter. Why? Her book, Godless, has been released in paperback. Well, Mary Magdelene and all the saints and sinners, STOP THE PRESSES! Good LORD, what a rationale for presenting the Frau Blucher of punditry as newsworthy. Egad. Anyway, outside of the current controversy between Ms. (?) Coulter and the eloquent Mrs. Edwards, would it come as a surprise to you that some of her rhetoric might have been misleading? Oh, let's just say it: LIES. Media Matters has more. . .

What We Call the News - JibJab

Hat-tip to StupidMonkeyPlanet for the link to this video. It's been around for a few months, but this blog only began publishing since June 2, so I was too late to the party to get it when it was new. In any event, it represents my point of view about the current state of the news in the US. So, without further ado, What We Call the News!


I recently read Blogging for Dummies, by Brad Hill, to try to get some tips. I'm a new blogger after all, and though I've been a publisher for (depending on where you count from) about 25 years, publishing on the Internet is a whole different animal. One of the tips in the book says that it's considered "bad form" to correct errors without transparency. If you fix something, you're supposed to point it out. I'm not gonna do that.

Now wait, let me be more specific. One of the things I'm finding out about Blogger is that its interface can be kind of cumbersome. Or maddening, depending on your point of view. Extra spaces (see the post below) are a big problem. If you try to edit before posting, you can often make whole words and links disappear. Things that look beautiful in the posting box, look dreadful once published. So, as I learn, I'm going to be fixing things.

If I make an error in attribution, or a whopper of an untrue statement I will make a mea culpa publicly, and transparently. If it's a style or spelling error, sorry, I'm gonna fix it. Likewise, if one of my contributors posts something, and I want to spruce it up, I will. Editor's perogative.

Now, one more note on the post below. I originally published a picture from dKosopedia of Frank Luntz. Liberally biased site, right? Sure, that's why they had a friggin' glamor shot of the guy. Something about that bugged me, so I found a picture from the actual MediaMatters site I linked to. Much more honest picture of good ol' Frank.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Media Matters Protesting Choice of Frank Luntz

Photo from MediaMatters

And well they should. I received this email from moments ago, and am publishing it here, in its entirety.

In case you didn’t see, I wanted to pass along an ACTION ALERT from David Brock sent this morning. The alert is about PBS and their plans to have GOP pollster Frank Luntz provide analysis after PBS’s democratic presidential forum. As you will read in David’s letter, Frank Luntz cannot be trusted to provide objective analysis of the forum.

Any help you can give to get the word out would be appreciated. Here is the link to our action alert with the contact info:

Here is a link to a form that allows people to send the alert to their friends:

Here is the contact info we are urging people to use to contact PBS and the show:
PBS/Public Broadcasting Service 2100 Crystal Drive Arlington, VA 22202 703-739-5000

Smiley ShowTavis Smiley Show 4401 Sunset Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90027 323-666-6500

Thank you in advance for your help. Please let me know if you have any questions.

- Justin

Justin J. Cole

Online Outreach Coordinator

Media Matters for America

ALERT: PBS Selects Luntz for Democratic forum analysis...
Email from David Brock, June 25, 2007.

Dear Friend:

I'm sure you've already heard that PBS will be hosting the next Democratic presidential forum on Thursday, June 28, at Howard University in Washington, D.C. What you may not know is that PBS has invited Frank Luntz, a longtime Republican pollster and strategist, to provide "immediate public feedback on the performances of the candidates" during post-forum coverage on the Tavis Smiley program.

Of course, when Luntz's appearance was announced, the press release made no mention of his Republican ties or long history of being criticized for his work.

If you don't know much about Frank Luntz, here are some important facts about this discredited Republican pollster:

In 1997, the American Association for Public Opinion Research formally reprimanded Luntz for refusing to release documentation in support of comments he made to the media regarding his polling work on the Republican Party's 1994 "Contract with America" campaign platform, according to a article.

Washington Post polling director Richard Morin reported that the National Council on Public Polls censured Luntz "for allegedly mischaracterizing on MSNBC the results of focus groups he conducted during the [2000] Republican Convention."

In September 2004, MSNBC dropped Luntz from its planned coverage of that year's presidential debate coverage, following a letter from Media Matters that outlined Luntz's GOP ties and questionable polling methodology.

According to a January 29, 2007, article on The New Republic's website, Luntz "not only helped write Republican House member Newt Gingrich's Contract with America; he was also responsible for its presentation to the public." He also "advised Republicans trying to impeach Bill Clinton."
Luntz's 2002 memo "The Environment: A Cleaner, Safer, Healthier America" coached Republicans on new ways to talk about global warming and warned the party that the environment "is probably the single issue on which Republicans in general -- and President Bush in particular -- are most vulnerable."

A June 2004 memo by Luntz, "Communicating The Principles Of Prevention & Protection In The War On Terror," urged Republicans to use concepts such as "It is better to fight the War on Terror on the streets of Baghdad than on the streets of New York or Washington" and "9/11 changed everything," which have been staples of Republican rhetoric ever since.

With his well-documented Republican ties and history of being criticized and reprimanded by his peers, it's clear that Frank Luntz cannot be trusted to provide objective analysis of Thursday's forum.

Today, I'm asking you to contact PBS and let the organization know that it should reconsider its decision to use Luntz in light of his partisan Republican ties and history of questionable scientific methodology. If Luntz must be a part of PBS post-forum coverage, let it know you expect that its viewers will be informed of these facts on the air.


David Brock,President & CEO

Media Matters for America

Cheney in the News

Well, strangely enough, there is a lot of Dick Cheney stuff in the news. It's not totally wiping out news about Paris, or the unfortunately deceased Ohio woman, or the wrestler who killed himself and family, but Cheney news has been breaking through. Enough of it, in fact to make me nervous (excuse me while I find my tinfoil hat).

Whenever BAD news for the administration starts breaking, I begin to worry about what OTHER bad news might be happening that they don't want us to know about. My trust for these guys is so low, I always figure when the news serves a little red meat, there's a big juicy Porterhouse being hidden from us. Call me crazy. But red meat there was, so let's plate it up:

From ThinkProgress:

From RawStory:

Also from RawStory:

And finally, a link that also ties in to the big, sparkly Ann Coulter steps in it story (something I'm almost sure was just a distraction from things the news doesn't want to talk about). This little gem tears apart Ann's defense that Bill Maher did it to, so it's OK to wish death on somebody.

The crazy thing about this link is, it's over four months old. That's right, friends, Ann's excuse was disproven four months before she said it.

From Crooks and Liars:

UPDATE: I have a pathological curiosity about what those over at FreeRepublic are saying about the issues of the day. Despite several search key words, I cannot find a word about the Washington Post in-depth critique of the Cheney Vice-Presidency. Now, maybe I'm just not typing the right words, but I wonder. . .are they speechless?

Welcome to the Stupid Monkey Planet

Posted by StupidMonkeyPlanet

Joseph Goebbels (2nd only to Hitler): German Nazi Propaganda Administrator

His propaganda agenda in a nutshell:

  • Never concede that there may be some good in your enemies
  • Never admit a fault or wrong
  • Never accept blame
  • Concentrate on one enemy and place sole responsibility of all of the wrongs upon them
  • Never leave room for alternatives or an opposing view
  • People will believe a large lie sooner than a small one
  • Lies must be repeated frequently enough that more people begin to accept the lies as truth
  • Never allow the public to become comfortable
  • Fear is key

By the way, Joseph Goebbels killed his entire family & himself as Berlin was falling to the Russians.

I do seem to remember somebody else doing something quite similar to those courageous efforts put forth by Joseph "Karl Cheney" Goebbels when times were tough. . .Hmmmm. . .What was that guy's name? I could be wrong. . .but it might have been a chap called Adolf "Dubya" Hitler. Nah. . .not him he was probably just having a non-alcoholic brew with Hirohito or Mussolini or something like that. . .

Welcome to the Stupid Monkey Planet.

No apologies for any offense you may have incurred. . .

FROM THE EDITOR: Welcome, StupidMonkeyPlanet! And remember, my policy at The Greenlee Gazette is to only edit for style and format, though I reserve the right to list disclaimers. The opinions of StupidMonkeyPlanet are not necessarily those of the editor of The Greenlee Gazette, and should be no reason to put said editor on a "no fly" list. Right?

It Bears Repeating: You Don't Know Dick

Photo from
UPDATE: This post has been moved up to the top, to remind you that part four of this story has been published today. I encourage all American citizens to read this story. It's that important.
ORIGINAL POST: This is the first mainstream media study I've seen of Darth Cheney and his unusual performance as Vice President. Never before in American history has a Vice President held as much power and influence over the President, and direction of American policy. One one hand, it can be a good thing to have a Vice President who does more than attend funerals and other ceremonies deemed too insignificant to send the President. On the other hand. . . You might need to pull the covers over your head tonight, after you say your prayers.

Washington Post's ANGLER: The Cheney Vice-Presidency, Parts 1 - 4

RELATED: And then there is this from USAToday:
USAToday: Lawmaker challenges Cheney on executive order

More Kathy Griffin - Swearing Catholic Mom

This is a special post for Keith and Larry. More vulgarity, but it's helpfully bleeped by Bravo. Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Justice in Alabama - Karl Rove Style

Photo from Wikipedia

This a fascinating and well written exposé on the US Attorney firing scandal. I know my some of my readers (and contributors!) are of a more conservative extraction, and are less likely to jump to nefarious conclusions on this issue. For them, here is a paragraph to whet your whistle. If that grabs you, click the link at the end, go get a cup of coffee, and settle in. It's a long read, but quite illuminating. Read on. . .

In response to Simpson’s affidavit has been a series of brusque dismissive statements – all of them unsworn – from others who figured in the discussion and the federal prosecutor in the Siegelman case, who has now made a series of demonstrably false statements concerning the matter. She’s been smeared as “crazy” and as a “disgruntled contract bidder.” And something nastier: after her intention to speak became known, Simpson’s house was burned to the ground, and her car was driven off the road and totaled. Clearly, there are some very powerful people in Alabama who feel threatened. Her case starts to sound like a chapter out of John Grisham’s book The Pelican Brief. However, those who have dismissed Simpson are in for a very rude surprise. Her affidavit stands up on every point, and there is substantial evidence which will corroborate its details. Read More at: Harper's Magazine

Pentagon: Gays Encouraged to Serve Nation After Discharge

Photo from PageOneQ

I happened upon this interesting article at PageOneQ. Maybe this is a first step in finally getting rid of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell?"

The Pentagon, in a policy obtained by The Advocate, has indicated that lesbian and gay military personnel who are discharged under the Don't Ask, Don't Tell law are qualified to continue to serve the nation. A copy of the Pentagon policy, included in a statement released by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, now states, "These separated members have the opportunity to continue to serve their nation and national security by putting their abilities to use by way of civilian employment with other Federal agencies, the Department of Defense, or in the private sector, such as with a government contractor.” Read more at: PageOneQ

Coultergeist Strikes at Edwards - AGAIN

So far in the horse race for Democratic Party Presidential nominee, I'm leaning toward John Edwards. I was able to attend one of the earliest debates, here at UNLV, and he was easily the most impressive of the bunch (though Hillary wowed me more than I ever thought she could). Yes, he was a trial lawyer (much like Fred Thompson), and he has been chided for vanity. Hey, if I were half as good looking, I'd be primping too. And if a $400 haircut is the worst offense he's committed, I think I can see past it.

Somebody out there doesn't share my admiration of Edwards, though. Über right-wing succubus/incubus Ann Coulter rather famously called him the "f-word," which as you could imagine, rankled my feathers just a bit. You'd think that such a gaffe would have gotten her D-listed Z-listed on the pundit parade, but she manages to pop up all over the place, on just about any topic. On one of her visits to Good Morning America, Ann topped herself (not literally, but I'm guessing such a thing is possible for Ann). Here it is.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I tried (unsuccessfully) to post the html-heavy email I got from Edwards today. I failed, so this is the next best thing. This html-editing really is pretty much learn as you go.

Possible Pandemic! Gonnorhea Lechthem!

Posted by John Asmussen
Logo from Wikipedia


The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning about a new virulent strain of Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) Politically Transmitted Disease (PTD). This disease is contracted through dangerous and high risk behavior.

The disease is called Gonorrhea Lecthem (pronounced "gonna re-elect them"). Many victims have contracted it after having been screwed for the past 7 years, despite having taken measures to protect themselves from this especially troublesome disease.

Psychological and cognitive sequelae of individuals infected with Gonorrhea Lecthem include, but are not limited to:

  • Inability to accept responsibility for actions

  • Delusions of grandeur with a distinct messianic flavor

  • Exceptional cowardice masked by acts of misplaced bravado

  • A strong propensity for categorical, all-or-nothing behavior

  • Chronic mangling of the English language

  • Extreme cognitive dissonance

  • Inability to incorporate new information

  • Inability to tell the truth

  • Pronounced xenophobia!

  • Uncontrolled facial smirking

  • Ignorance of geography and history

  • Tendencies toward creating evangelical theocracies

The disease has been sweeping Washington DC, trailer parks, and the red states. Naturalists and epidemiologists are amazed and baffled that this malignant disease originated only a few years ago from a Bush in Texas. . .

John's Letter to the RNC

Posted by John Asmussen

Susan Gazdo
Washington, DC

Dear Susan,

Thank you for your recent letter soliciting donations from me to the Republican National Committee. Sorry, but I am no longer a member nor do I support the Republican Party. I have been a lifelong Republican, and have voted in every election for the past 50 years, mostly for Republicans. Before you toss this note in the wastebasket, please read my reasons, as they are valid and timely.

The Republican Party of my youth was the party of fiscal and never moral responsibility. Balanced budgets, controls on spending, no great scandals beyond a Vicuna coat for one of Eisenhower’s staff. This Republican administration however has amassed unimaginable debt, corruption, and reckless pork barrel spending like there is no tomorrow. But there will be a tomorrow. Our grandchildren, unfortunately, will reap the harvest of the 8.2 trillion dollar debt this country now owes.

As you must be aware, there was a 200 billion dollar budget surplus under the previous Democratic administration. During Clinton's tenure, the U.S. enjoyed continuous economic expansion, reductions in unemployment, growing wealth, and respect from around the world for what we stood for and believed in.

Under George Bush, that budget surplus was turned into the largest budget deficit in US history. To remedy this, the current administration proposes, among other cuts to education, health, and social programs for the growing poor in this country, to cut benefits for those who have served our country, making his claim to support the troops ring hollow. Over the years, the nation has made a pact with those who put on a uniform: If they would trade years of their lives and risk injury and death, the government would reward them with benefits, including medical care. Sadly, that deal has been steadily shredding. In fact, under Bush's 2007 budget, the Department of Veterans Affairs says 200,000 veterans would be left dangling in the wind and prevented by rising costs from getting the help the nation promised. It's even more disturbing that Bush is doing this as thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan vets are pouring into the system, many with long-term physical and emotional needs that must be addressed.
Which leads me to the war in Iraq. This premeditated attack was first alleged to keep us "safe" from WMD, it then morphed into bring "freedom" to the Iraqis, then to topple Saddam Hussein from power, then to punish those responsible for 9/11 (as though Iraq had anything to do with 9/11), and then, finally, to rebuild the infrastructure with the help of Halliburton that we had just destroyed. The newly freed people were supposed to run into the streets, throwing flowers at the "liberators." I guess you can see where this is going... and there is no end in sight. $430 billion so far for this debacle. Make no mistake, I support the troops; it is the government that does not support them that I do not support.

The secrecy of this administration, its spying on American citizens, its callous disregard for the freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights, its so-called "Patriot Act", its black or white "you’re either for us or against us" mentality, its pandering to the religious right that has hijacked the Republican Party, its calculated attempt to deny the basic rights to privacy, the right to equal treatment for gays and other minorities, not to mention total disdain for anyone who questions its policies, all have caused me to abandon the Republican Party because of what it has sadly become. Our constitution is a sacred document that cannot have certain parts ignored or suspended at the whim of the incumbent administration.

I am no longer a registered Republican. I don’t know if the Democrats have all the answers to the enormous problems facing this country either. Perhaps some day the Party will go back to the basic roots that attracted me many years ago. But for now, you may not count on my support "to advance President Bush’s agenda" in any way. Bush’s real agenda is "BE AFRAID, AND WE WILL KEEP YOU SAFE", an agenda previously popularized in Nazi Germany.
Therefore, please remove my name from your list of prospective donors. I can assume as a result of this letter, my name will be added to the secret list of Bush’s "enemies" (a la Nixon’s enemy list), and then forwarded to the IRS for a prompt audit of my taxes. My e-mail and Googled web sites and telephone conversations can be scrutinized, along with my library reading habits as much as this administration feels the need. I have absolutely nothing to hide. The first and fourth amendments haven’t been nullified.

John Asmussen

Kathy Griffin Skewers Ann Coulter

I can't help it. This is vulgar, but SOOOO on the money. Nobody speaks truth to power like Kathy Griffin.

More Inconvenient Truth Stuff from the Science Teacher

I posted the first video from this guy a while ago, and since, he has had a couple of "hole-plugging" videos to patch any problems he may have had in his original video. But this one is the most comprehensive. And it's GOOD. Enjoy.

The Nietzsche Family Circus

I've been meaning to post a link to this site for some time. Like a phrase generator, this site couples a quote from the great philosopher, Nietzsche, with a cartoon from the always banal Family Circus. Keep clicking refresh, and you'll have hours (OK, minutes) of entertainment. Enjoy! The Nietzsche Family Circus

Americans Shockingly Uninformed

Hat-tip to John for this story. Appallingly, Americans are still being deluded into believing that Saddam Hussein was somehow connected to 9/11.

June 23, 2007: Conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International.
Do you think Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001?

Current Total
Yes 41%
No 50%

From John: Is it possible that the electorate of this country are so uninformed and ignorant of reality that they buy George Bush and Darth Chaney's line on the "war against terrorism?" This is appalling !!

I agree, John.

Behind the Blogger, Part Six: The Experience Thing

This is the last (at least for a while) in my series of "Behind the Blogger" posts. I've related the various things in my life that have formed my point of view, and motivated me to write. Now you might be wondering (OK, you're probably not, but what the hell), what kind of experience do you have putting together a publication?

Photo from Computer Desktop Encyclopedia©
The Computer Language Company Inc.
I've always had a serious desire to be in publishing. In sixth grade, I teamed with another student in creating a regular "newspaper" called (not coincidentally) The Greenlee Gazette. It was a collection of puzzles, cartoons (of teachers!) and the like. No real news, but the kids seemed to like it. It lasted about 8 issues. Not all that long after, when I was 14, I co-founded and co-edited (with my Mom) a quarterly newspaper called The Indian Relic Trader. This publication had a bit more longevity, 11 years before it was sold. Along the way, we renamed it Prehistoric Antiquities to be more politically correct. I contributed cartoons, logos, layout, and did a heck of a lot of typing.

I was also for a short time, editor of Artifacts Magazine, and also A.R.E.A. Newsline of which I have very little memory other than, again lots of typing.

In high school, I joined the school paper, The Ramble, as Assistant Production Editor. Senior year, I was promoted to Production Editor. I was a roving reporter, columnist, puzzle and cartoon maker, and in charge of layout and design. I also did a complete redesign of the cover, which (I believe) was retained for a few more years.

I majored in Graphic Communications in college, and while I was there, I started a spin-off newspaper to Mom's original called The Comic Book Trader. This was a little overly-ambitious of me, considering there was no easy-to-research World Wide Web back then , and I had no time what with a full-time job and college. But unlike the original paper, I was in charge of the whole ball of wax, from inception to (six issues later) demise.

Since then, I've found my graphic arts and design skills in high demand, regardless of what job I held. I'm currently Graphics Director at a sign company in Las Vegas. But it hasn't been until this blog that I've had the chance to experiment with my writing craft (or lack thereof). I've been a little too excited about the blog, and I'm sure my friends and family are sick of hearing every little detail. Sorry, everybody! Given the millions of blogs out there, my aspirations aren't very high, but I intend to keep it up as long as I can. I'm just having too much fun!

So if you've found me by accident or on purpose, I appreciate your indulgence. Please continue to send your ideas and links, too. After all, my real experience is in editing and publishing. I'm hoping the actual writing keeps pace! Thanks.

UPDATE 01/13/09:
I probably should mention that I'm also not altogether new to the Internet machine, nor to computers in general. I've been using graphics and publishing software almost since it was invented back in the late eighties, and have been self-taught all the way. During a period of unemployment in the early nineties, I taught myself HTML, and produced a website for my mother's business. Later, after attaining gainful employment once again, I developed (and maintain) a website for my current employer.

I dabbled in Internet message boards back when modems were all dial up, and 14Kbps or so. I participated in message boards on Prodigy, and later on AOL and Usenet. While I didn't start this blog until 2007, I've been participating in online communications for close to 20 years.
All of that means I'm probably no more qualified than you are. On the other hand, I'm no less qualified than Sean Hannity or Rush-freakin'-Limbaugh, right?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Top 10 at Democratic Underground

One of my favorite sites to read every Monday is The Top 10 Conservative Idiots at Democratic Underground. I know what you're thinking, cheap shots at the right-wing. Well yes, there's that. But it is wonderfully inventive, and deliciously snarky.

What's more, some of the news events that don't get enough attention in the mainstream are highlighted here, and detailed with facts. Is it biased? You betcha. But even a hard-boiled ditto-head would have a hard time arguing some of their points. Head on over, and get a good belly laugh. They say some of the best humor is dark humor right? And some of this stuff is bloody depressing. Luckily, they always find a way to make it funny. If you like it, remember it's posted weekly.

Top 10 Conservative Idiots

Monday Morning Quickie

Hello, Readers! Can only take two or three minutes to drop a line, as I am at work, and want them to get their money's worth out of me. So, on a very quick break, I wanted to take the opportunity to put up a fresh post, and knock the Erasure YouTube post down a notch (I mean, I love Erasure, but do we really need a drag queen staring at us at the very top of the page? Not so much).

As I said, very limited time here, but this link was mentioned on the Stephanie Miller Show. It's about a story by Frank Rich, discussing the preemptive attempt by the Bush Administration (and minions) to frame what September means as it regards "the surge" Take note! Bush will use 9.11.2007 to extend surge, Rich says

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Take Two: Take a Chance on Me - Erasure (Repost)

The Original YouTube video I posted this weekend is no longer available, so here it is again Mark! For as long as it lasts. . .

Republican Party "Census" PUSH POLL

Funny thing. Though I registered as a member of the Democratic (not Democrat) Party last year, I continue to receive mail and email from the good old RNC/GOP. In fact, I was so incensed by an email from them a few months ago, I actually sent them a nasty-gram to have myself removed from their list. Somebody didn't get the memo.

I received this in the mail this weekend. According to the cover letter, "You are among a select group of Republicans who have been chosen to take part in the official 2007 CENSUS OF THE REPUBLICAN PARTY." It goes on to say "But, because it is cost prohibitive for the Republican Party to print and mail an official REPUBLICAN PARTY CENSUS to each and every one of the 62,000,000 Republicans nationwide, your answers will represent the views and opinions of ALL Republican voters living in your voting district." Well, ain't I special?

The letter goes on to threaten and scare me, the Republican representative of my whole district, into voting GOP, lest "Democrats become the majority party in America for a generation or more. . ." I'm quaking in my boots.

The survey itself (which you can see in all its glory, if you click the above image) is a sight to behold. It could be "Exhibit A" in a trial about push polling. Here are some of the very leading questions on this "census," along with my comments:

  • Should we stop the Democrats from cutting funding for our intelligence agencies or bringing back Clinton-era restrictions on inter-agency communications? Let's be honest, is any Democrat ACTUALLY proposing this? And slamming Clinton too, nice touch. Subtle.
  • Do you support the use of air strikes against any country that offers safe harbor or aid to individuals or organizations committed to further attacks on America? Oh, by all means. You had me at "Do you support the use of air strikes against ANY COUNTRY!"
  • Should we continue working to permanently repeal the Inheritance or "Death Tax?" Hey, if Frank Luntz named it, it HAS to be a great idea. And Paris is going to need some tax breaks after she gets outta the pokey.
  • Should we make sure President Bush's judicial nominees receive fair hearings and up or down votes in the Senate even when Democrats threaten a filibuster? Christ, if I hear "up or down vote" one more time, I'm going to start bleeding from my eyes. Newsflash: if the Democrats threaten a filibuster, there ain't a doggone thing you can do about it. Nuclear option, my ass.
  • Do you want us to defend the recently passed partial birth abortion ban from attacks by the Democrat majority? A blatant push poll question. Are ANY prominent Democrats doing this? ANYONE?
  • Do you think Congress should pass the Federal Marriage Amendment? I knew they couldn't get through this thing without an anti-gay question. Harrumph.

There are more, but I won't punish you any further. They then ask for money, of course, because as we know the RNC is a shoestring operation. Donations range from $500 to $Other, so you can imagine what mine will be. Hilariously, if you are unable to donate, but wish to send in your "census," there is the following note:

  • Yes, I support the RNC, but I am unable to participate at this time. However, I have enclosed $11 to cover the cost of tabulating my survey.

Or, you have this option:

  • No, I favor electing liberal Democrats over the next ten years.

Thanks for making up my mind for me! I should note also, that the term "Democrat Party" is used, of course, in this "census." For those unaware, the name of the party is the Democratic Party. The term "Democrat Party" was focus tested by Republicans, and it was found that using the incorrect terminology resonates more negatively, and that using "Democratic" comes off sounding too positive. That, friends, is the RNC in a nutshell. Send out fear-mongering letters, with push-polling surveys--in other words mislead and scare your base. Because you don't trust them to come up with the correct conclusions on their own. Nice.

We'll Always Have Paris, Part Deaux (France!)

Posted by NevadaJoe
Photo from Wikipedia

The "other" Paris in the news lately is of course the real thing, yep I mean the one over there in France. You know by now that I am an aviation buff of sorts and the Paris Air Show just wrapped up this past weekend. Although I have never attended the show I know it to be a comprehensive showcase for the aircraft manufacturers of the world to market their wares. So if you are in the market for most anything that flies you might want to squeeze it into your schedule next year.

I have to admit one of the reasons I tuned in this year was to see how the Airbus-Boeing rivalry was shaping up. For years Boeing was the champ, no questions asked. And since all good things must come to an end, Boeing was finally bumped into second place by Airbus a few years back. And to be quite honest I thought Airbus would have a comfortable lead for a good long time. As they say in the auto industry (with the exception of Ford), "It's product, product, product." And starting in the early '90s Airbus was pumping out the amazing A-320 family of aircraft and sending them all over the globe. They remain a superior plane and their sales orders have passed 5000 this year. Boeing's competitor to the A-320 family is the 737, and it too is selling like crazy, but largely to the discount carriers. It is efficient but less roomy, and to be honest, it just isn't all it could be.

The A330-340s followed and I thought they would be very successful as well. It was just last year when I started to see the tide turn. The Boeing 777 (which United was the launch customer for) turned out to be a much better plane than I had even realized. Early on I thought Airbus was wise to offer the 4-engined A-340 for the increasing number of flights overseas. From the safety, and flight-planning restrictions the 2-engine aircraft have to adhere to, and the passenger/marketing aspects of 4 versus 2 which Virgin Airlines emphasised, it seemed that Airbus had anticipated the market better than Boeing. But it turned out to be all about economy and the fuel burn of 2 additional engines and Airbus was spanked by the 777. It is a huge seller for Boeing and when the tide turned, it really turned. Nearly everyone was buying the 777 which by then had a stretch version, the -300. Throw in the variants for Extended Range and Longer Range and you had a product most every airline could use. Of late the A330 has seen a surge of interest and will become a good seller as it is a good plane.

And the whole world knows about the new A-380. A wonderful plane that suffered from manufacturing ills. It will take to the Sky over 2 years late and the financial hit Airbus has to absorb from the associated liabilities is staggering. Time will prove the plane to be a technical marvel and the airlines flying them will be more than satisfied. That said, it seems the market for such a large plane is limited and the Boeing 747-8 series will eat into their potential sales. End result is a good plane that will have to struggle to find the buyers needed to help them reach the break-even point for Airbus.

The most contentious fight between the giants is Dreamliner/787 from Boeing versus Airbus' A-350. Boeing has hit a home run and I think they have sold over 600 before the first one has even rolled off the factory floor. And speaking of which, July 8th is the official unveiling of the 787 (get it, 07-08-07). It has too many features to mention here, but it looks to be a good replacement for the 767s and 300s out there. Unfortunately for Airbus their A-350-EWB as it is now called after two returns to the drawing boards will follow the 787 by 5 years. It should be a typically excellent aircraft from Airbus and will sell well. They are positioning it against both the 777 and the 787 which is a tall order though. It will be worth keeping our eyes on that plane.

So, how did the air show go? Boeing entered the week with almost 400 orders more than Airbus and ended the week with about 75 less I think. Airbus tends to go for the gusto in Paris, and Boeing seems to be less focused on pushing their sales that week. I am anticipating the sales tally to be close throughout the year with Boeing edging out Airbus as '07 draws to a close. And even if they don't I am still amazed how Boeing's fortunes have turned for the better since 2004.
FROM THE EDITOR: USA! USA! Tough luck, you cheese-eating surrender monkeys! (Hey, how else am I going to get FOX "News" fans to read my blog?)

The News Has Been Cancelled!

That is the clarion call of Randi Rhodes of Air America Radio. And boy, is she ever right. If there isn't a Paris Hilton, Anna Nicole or "missing white woman" story captivating the media, they'll find some other sparkly thing to attract the viewers. Let me give you an example.

We went out to breakfast, ran errands, and then did housework for the first half of the day, so I had no idea what was going on in the world this Sunday. So, I sat down in my office, and turned on the TV. And here what was on:

  • CNN: "In the Money" with a very fluffy piece about cell phones with cameras

  • FOX "News": Ollie North's "War Stories"

  • CNN Headline News: Big fat alligator with trainer. Whaa?

  • MSNBC: Crime documentary, "MSNBC Reports"

I just want the news! I tried the various web sites for the above mentioned networks, and while you can find news there, it is usually buried in the "boring" columns, away from the flashy pictures of Paris Hilton, and that missing Ohio lady (which is a sad story, but come on, a LOCAL one). I went over to the BBC, and there was some actual news:

Guantanamo closure 'not soon'
Nader mulling White House run
Extend Afghan tour, Canada told
'Drug baron' caught in Colombia
US Senate seeks fuel efficiency
House overturns abortion aid ban
N Korea 'ready to shut reactor'
"Amistad" retraces slave route
Blackstone float raises $4.13bn
New Orleans 'still a flood risk'
'Al-Qaeda gunmen' killed in Iraq

To be fair, this was also in one of their "boring" no pictures columns, but it is a far more newsworthy list than you'll find on any of the US News sites I looked at today. Oh, just checked out FOX "News" one more time. . .an interview with Carly Simon. "What advice would you have about keeping it real?" I'm not kidding, she was just asked that question seconds ago. My advice: REPORT THE FLIPPING NEWS!!!

CRACKED is Back!

Photo from Wikipedia

There were lots of imitators of Mad Magazine over the decades, but the most enduring was Cracked. Sure, I had a few issues of Sick, and Crazy but they just weren't as good. Cracked was nearly as good as Mad, and even stole Don Martin away for a little while. (And while we're at it, here's a Don Martin link and picture from that site!)

Thanks to StupidMonkeyPlanet for forwarding me the following link, that shows Cracked has been reborn on the web! No longer much of a Mad imitator, it's a more adult parody magazine, along the lines of the late, lamented Spy Magazine. And they aren't afraid to get political: The Five Biggest Pricks in Congress!

FLASHBACK: Paula Abdul - Cold Hearted Snake

After some seriousness, some much needed fluff. This video is evidence that Paula Abdul IS a talented woman. Try to forget the inane comments on American Idol, and probably ill-advised reality show. This chick had it goin' on back in the 90s. Enjoy.

Bush Making Moves Toward Martial Law?

I've been meaning to post something regarding this issue for some time, but as any new blogger will tell you, the ideas fly so fast and furious, some of the best get forgotton for a while. And how could I forget this?

In a stealth maneuver, President Bush has signed into law a provision which, according to Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), will actually encourage the President to declare federal martial law (1). It does so by revising the Insurrection Act, a set of laws that limits the President's ability to deploy troops within the United States. The Insurrection Act (10 U.S.C.331 -335) has historically, along with the Posse Comitatus Act (18 U.S.C.1385), helped to enforce strict prohibitions on military involvement in domestic law enforcement. With one cloaked swipe of his pen, Bush is seeking to undo those prohibitions. Toward Freedom - Bush Moves Toward Martial Law

And then there's this:

The National Security and Homeland Security Presidential Directive, signed on May 9, 2007, declares that in the event of a “catastrophic event,” George W. Bush can become what is best described as a dictator, "The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government."
This directive, completely unnoticed by the media, and given no scrutiny by Congress, literally gives the White House unprecedented dictatorial power over the government and the country, bypassing the US Congress and obliterating the separation of powers. The directive also placed the secretary of Homeland Security in charge of domestic “security.”
New presidential directive gives Bush dictatorial power

The thing that bugs me most about this, is that the President can declare an emergency without regard to where a disaster may have happened, or what it was. Not so scary if you're dealing with a President that is trustworthy, but can we trust this guy? Has he given us any reason to? Ponderous, man. This is really. . .ponderous.

Bush Claims Rules Don't Apply to Him

Public Domain Photograph

This is getting ridiculous. First Cheney exempts himself rom the Executive Branch, and now Bush says he isn't part of it either? Or at least he's saying that rules made for the Executive Branch do not apply to himself or Cheney. Who does that leave, the housekeeping staff at the White House? This is just bizarre. And no, this is not from The Onion, it is from Raw Story:
"The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is exempt from a presidential order requiring government agencies that handle classified national security information to submit to oversight by an independent federal watchdog," the Los Angeles Times will report Saturday, RAW STORY has learned.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Conspiracy Theory Continued

This post is in response to the recent post by NevadaJoe below, to illustrate the Editor's own opinion on 9/11 conspiracy theories.
(Photo from Wikipedia)

The whole idea of 9/11 conspiracies gives me a headache. When the official story is dissected, there are many serious glaring problems with it. You can take apart details, like the demolition of WTC building 7, the size of the hole at the Pentagon, the cell phone calls from United 93, the uncanny precision of the inexperienced high-jackers’ piloting skills. There is plenty to disbelieve.

It is certainly not difficult to imagine that this particular administration participated in heinous activities to further their own ends. No, the hard part is in believing that they’re competent enough to pull it off. And, if they did, the implications are staggering. We’d have to believe that 9/11 was staged by our own government and/or allowed to happen. That’s a hard thing to wrap your brain around. But after you get your tinfoil hat securely wrapped around your head, the even more "out there" theories can start to seem plausible.

My biggest stumbling block comes when you take the different parts of these disparate conspiracy theories to their logical conclusions. Assume that it wasn’t American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon. There’s plenty of evidence that could point to that conclusion. But if it didn’t happen that way, what the hell DID happen? Where did the plane really go? Where did the people go? Why—if they were going to "dispose of" the plane and its passengers anyway—why didn’t they do so in a furtherance of the impression of terrorism? Why dispose of them in secret?

It’s the same thing with United 93. If it didn’t really crash, where did it and its people go? For what purpose would you a) keep them alive, b) kill them secretly somewhere else? To what end? That is the problem, to my way of thinking, with many of these different pieces of the 9/11 story. I can go along with theories about government complicity, up until you get to the "it wasn’t a plane" part.

The funny thing is, if 9/11 happened exactly as official accounts say it did, why on EARTH doesn’t the government give us more evidence? Why haven’t all of the videos from the surely dozens of cameras around the Pentagon been released to show us the plane crash? Why just one fuzzy, inconclusive shot? Why don’t they explain in detail WHY our two biggest targets, New York and Washington D.C. were completely unguarded? Just how the hell is that possible?

Most people, when confronted with 9/11 conspiracy theories, just assume they are all nuts. I’m not ready to go that far. I’m not ready to dismiss them all, just because I can’t answer exactly what DID happen. But I’m convinced it didn’t happen EXACTLY as we’ve been led to believe. And I hope, one day, we learn at least most of the whole story, even if that leads us to uncomfortable conclusions.

Here is a link to just one (as you can see if you go there, it is itself Part Seven), compelling video of problems with the official 9/11 story. I want to make it clear I do not subscribe to all or even most 9/11 conspiracy theories. But I do think many of them deserve more attention. And most of all, they deserve answers and not automatic dismissal.

What to Believe?

Posted by NevadaJoe
(Photo from Wikipedia)

This morning I was using Google to read up on Boeing and Airbus, and one of the associated stories was on the AA Boeing 757 that hit the Pentagon on September 11th, 2001. The Pentagon crash was less dramatic than the Twin Towers and without any video footage of the crash, there was little to show the public with the exception of the burning building. I guess I was one of the many who didn't invest much thought into the burning Pentagon, other than adding it to our collective losses of that day.

We heard a number of theories on what happened that day, and it was easy to discount many of them at first. I am not so sure anymore. When you have a group of military and commercial pilots who can discount the official version like this, it begs for follow-up. The official story and data on the Pentagon crash was always a bit thin, but now it seems transparent. I am not well-versed enough on the subject to put forth any theory of my own, but I do encourage you to read and or watch some of the links to groups that have invested their time and energy on the subject.

Being an airline guy and aviation buff I am still captivated by and deeply affected by the video footage from New York that day. It is still impossible to watch without an enormous sense of loss. To imagine that the US government could have been involved with it is so horrific I have refused to even entertain the idea of it. It almost makes me feel like a traitor to entertain these thoughts about our government. And yet I can't dismiss the efforts of these professional pilots to sort through the data and find the truth. I hope they are wrong, I really do, because if they are correct the fate of the passengers and crew of AA flight 77 remains unsolved. If anyone reading this has more information or links they can pass along I would appreciate it.

Here are some links to footage on YouTube: Link One Link Two. As you can see once you get there, there are many others available.

Behind the Blogger, Part Five: The Debt Thing

WARNING: Long-winded personal revelations ahead. Catharsis time.

I am quickly approaching the one-year anniversary of the day I paid off my credit card debt. It was an anti-climactic day of sorts, surprisingly enough. I'd been in debt for nearly 10 years by that time, and you'd think (to quote Mama Cass) "It would come with rockets, bells and poetry!" But alas, no.

If you've ever been $30,000 in debt, you know what a crushing weight it can be. There were three simultaneous crushing feelings going on for me: 1) "How did I get here?" 2) "What can I possibly do about it?" and 3) "I'm just not going to think about it today." It is quite shocking how quickly a short-term financial crisis can spiral into a life-crushing massive debt.

I was always a good little consumer, never carrying more than a couple of hundred dollars on credit. Then one day, I decided to move 2,000 miles away from home. I got a great job, making more money than I'd ever made before. While setting up my new life, I did use the credit cards. The banks out here didn't have debit cards at the time, I never carried a checkbook, and I thought, "What the hell, I make enough money, it's no big deal." I now routinely carried about $3,000 in credit card debt, but I had good rates, and was not particularly panicked about it.

I should also point out that 2,000 miles away put me in Las Vegas! Since I'd moved out with a group of friends, we really only had each other for entertainment in the early days. And can you think of what the primary source of entertainment is in Las Vegas? I knew that you could. Anyway, I wouldn't say I had a gambling problem, but the entertainment of choice did put constraints on actually saving very much money. I was still heady with the rush of having a well-paying job, and there didn't seem to be anything to worry about, and besides, I had a few thousand dollars in the bank. . .

An unfortunate one-two blow of a bad (read: money-grubbing) romantic entanglement, coupled with the unexpected loss of a job (after working five weeks without getting paid) left me with my already accumulated debt, no savings, and no income. Add to that an additional six weeks of job hunting (with no sustenance outside of Unemployment Insurance; which is nearly nothing, and a small loan from my parents), and you have the makings of a debt-hole that is far larger than it looks at the start.

What many people don't realize when the debt-hole is freshly dug, is how much deeper the hole will get before you get the chance to start filling it in. The new job I got paid 60% of what my previous job paid. The desperation of paying bills with little income of course leads to paying one card with another, and balance transfers. Then I took in a sibling down on his luck, and he had little income to add, but required food and stuff (the bastard!). So, even the rent was paid once or twice with those convenient little (evil) checks the credit card companies give you.

Once the spiral takes you to $10,000 or more, and something comes up (new transmission, brakes, it always seemed car related for me), you really get a laissez-faire attitude about it: "what difference does it make now?" Only an ultimatum from the (good) romantic entanglement (hi, honey!) got me off my butt, my head out of the sand, and to a light at the end of the tunnel. I found a debt consolidation program, set up a painful monthly debit from my account, and started paying things off. This also required cancelling all of my credit cards, and living within my means, even if that meant stretching a dollar to the breaking point.

I went six years without ever using a credit card. I went six years paying a huge amount of money every month, sometimes paying large amounts extra. I figure I paid upwards of $50,000 on a $30,000 debt, just in those six years (discounting what I'd paid up til then). But pay it off I did. And then, nothing! No parade, no balloons and streamers. Sure, I have more disposable income now, so we can pay off the secured debt we have, but I expected elation! I think what happens is, as you approach that last payment, the debt has shrunken so much, the crushing weight has already gone away. That said, I wouldn't trade places with my former self for anything.

Here are a couple of links related to debt, and how to avoid digging your own debt hole.

Top 5ive Fast Loans to Avoid -- Intro - AOL Money & Finance
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