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A Reputation Tarnished
Author: BobR    Date: 01/18/2008 13:40:39

When I was young, we always believed that America had a sterling reputation. We were the shiny example of what a great country should be, with opportunity and freedom for everyone. We were the country that rode to the rescue of other countries, that supported the good guys and took on the bad guys. We were the silver in a world full of pewter.

My how times have changed. In the last 7 years we've gone from being the best friend to the bully. We've gone from being the possibility of hope to the prodigal son. We've gone from being the challenger of nations to the child in the corner.

By now, most of you have already heard that Canada - Canada - has put us in the same catagory as Syria and Iran (two countries that Bush refers to as evil) as "torturing" countries.
OTTAWA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - An official Canadian government document has put both the United States and Israel on a watch list of countries where prisoners run the risk of being tortured, CTV television reported on Thursday.

The revelation is likely to embarrass the minority Conservative government, which is a staunch U.S. ally.

The document mentions the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba where a Canadian man is being held. CTV said the document was part of a course on torture awareness given to Canadian diplomats to help them determine whether prisoners they visited abroad had been mistreated. It said the document mentioned U.S. interrogation techniques such as "forced nudity, isolation, and sleep deprivation."

Other countries on the watch list include Syria, China, Iran and Afghanistan, CTV said.

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127 comments (Latest Comment: 01/19/2008 13:44:21 by BobR)

Is it Raining?
Author: Raine    Date: 01/17/2008 13:39:05

"I would Gladly Pay you Tuesday for a Hamburger Today" J. Wellington Wimpy

The Wealthy may be next in line in U.S. home crisis.
The next wave of problems will come from prime borrowers who bought too much house or borrowed too much against it," said Michael van Zalingen, director of home ownership services at Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago. A "prime" borrower is one with good credit.

Real estate agents warn that some high-income borrowers have already been forced to sell or leave their homes and more will follow. Especially those who used their homes as ATMs, withdrawing cash via home equity loans.

"For those who utilized home equity loans for five to ten years to finance their lifestyle, the chickens are coming home to roost," said Chicago-based real estate agent Marki Lemons.

I beg to differ. These are not wealthy people as the title of this article states. These are upper middle class people, at best. Actually they really are middle class, living larger than they can.

When the Sub prime market bottomed out a few months ago, newspapers across the country, including our very own local paper, the AJC, were filled with reader comments saying that people who fall victim to these loans and lose their houses deserve what they get, many reasons were written but the basic idea was that they should not have spent money they didn't have or they didn't deserve a home if they had bad credit. The comments went even further with many people saying that the government should not do anything because so many people felt, as they sat back in their nice upper middle class swivel throne and wrote to the editors "I pay my bills on time, I have good credit, why should I bail them out?" "If you can't afford to pay, why buy a house?" or the best... "They should have known better." Typical republican thinking I thought, but I tried to see their POV. I tried. I couldn't.

Well now the market of those very people who sat in judgement of the Subprime loan victims are at the precipice. The middle class. No, these people are not wealthy. (Thom Hartmann has wonderful riffs on this issue a lot) They have extended credit lines that they now must repay... and they can't.
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100 comments (Latest Comment: 01/18/2008 03:10:43 by Mondobubba)

Just Drive, She Said
Author: BobR    Date: 01/16/2008 13:26:33

And then she told me "Just shut up
And keep your eyes on the road"
"And just drive," she said
- Stan Ridgway

As we continue to push mass transit as a big factor in our greenhouse gas equation, we fail to take into account our country's love of the automobile. It's not just that it's an expression of who we are - it's an expression of independence. It's the love of liberty (or the idea of liberty) that drives (sorry for the pun) our love for our cars. Since we will never be able to get rid of cars, we need to make them run as cleanly as possible. How do we make a perfect car?

First - let's start out with the current state of affairs. The most promising future seems to be the hybrid. It gets great gas mileage, and runs on gasoline - for which there is already an entrenched infrastructure for fuel distribution. What improvements can be made to this design?

One being considered by Toyota already is to use only the electric motor for the first 40 miles. This way no gasoline is used at all until the battery is discharged a certain amount. If this is combined with the ability to plug it in to recharge, it's possible the car would never burn gasoline at all for owners that have a shorter commute.

What other changes could be made to the hybrid? Two immediate changes come to mind:
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203 comments (Latest Comment: 01/17/2008 04:07:37 by livingonli)

Ask a Vet
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/15/2008 11:52:53

I yield the floor today to the Honorable Dr. Martin Luther King. Although he gave the following speech almost 41 years ago, he could just as easily give it today. Only the locations have changed.

Beyond Vietnam -- A Time to Break Silence

...The truth of these words is beyond doubt, but the mission to which they call us is a most difficult one. Even when pressed by the demands of inner truth, men do not easily assume the task of opposing their government's policy, especially in time of war. Nor does the human spirit move without great difficulty against all the apathy of conformist thought within one's own bosom and in the surrounding world. Moreover, when the issues at hand seem as perplexed as they often do in the case of this dreadful conflict, we are always on the verge of being mesmerized by uncertainty; but we must move on.

And some of us who have already begun to break the silence of the night have found that the calling to speak is often a vocation of agony, but we must speak. We must speak with all the humility that is appropriate to our limited vision, but we must speak. And we must rejoice as well, for surely this is the first time in our nation's history that a significant number of its religious leaders have chosen to move beyond the prophesying of smooth patriotism to the high grounds of a firm dissent based upon the mandates of conscience and the reading of history. Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us.

Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path. At the heart of their concerns this query has often loomed large and loud: "Why are you speaking about the war, Dr. King?" "Why are you joining the voices of dissent?" "Peace and civil rights don't mix," they say. "Aren't you hurting the cause of your people," they ask? And when I hear them, though I often understand the source of their concern, I am nevertheless greatly saddened, for such questions mean that the inquirers have not really known me, my commitment or my calling. Indeed, their questions suggest that they do not know the world in which they live....

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196 comments (Latest Comment: 01/16/2008 05:44:58 by livingonli)

When the War comes home.
Author: Raine    Date: 01/14/2008 13:27:45

We have been told that we must fight them there so we won't have to fight them here. We have been told that Al Quaeda must be prevented from entering America. We have been told to fear the enemy. Support the Troops™, love America(LLC).

But what happens when our troops can't stop fighting the war when they come home? What happens then?
The war echos, and still goes on, it seems.
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167 comments (Latest Comment: 01/15/2008 04:19:12 by livingonli)

Tough guys have dogs
Author: velveeta jones    Date: 01/13/2008 14:22:59

Remember that kid in High School who had to be the best at everything? The biggest, the loudest, the best at sports, the best hair, the hottest girlfriend. That annoying big shot that everyone hated, but all the other guys wanted to hang around with, and all the girls wanted to date. Well, most of the girls. Maybe you were that guy. I was NOT that girl.

These guys always had some little peon that would hang around them, continuing to boost their reputation, doing the big shots homework and taking the fall when he messed up. All the while hoping and praying that the big shot would throw something, anything, their way.

The peons were like the little dog in those Warner Bros cartoons, Chester, an enthusiastic little terrier that would follow the big bulldog, Spike, around - bouncing at his feet and stroking his ego: “That’s my pal, Spike, and he’s big and brave”.


Well, those little Chester’s have grown up and are now running for President of the United States as a Republican.
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59 comments (Latest Comment: 01/14/2008 04:21:24 by livingonli)

Libertarian Saturday
Author: TriSec    Date: 01/12/2008 13:59:28

Good Morning!

I had a brief conversation with an old friend yesterday, and she presented today's moment...

Ron Paul, who most agree is Republican in Name Only, was once a standard-bearer for the Libertarian party. Who's to say that he is running as a "republican" in the early going for the media coverage, name recognition, and fundraising opportunities? Supposing his campaign goes nowhere, and he finishes a distant 6th overall.

Well, he's still got all that money and all the publicity....and could very easily mount a third-party campaign after the convention for the general election. Add a possible run by Mayor Bloomberg (Independent, but formerly republican) and what sort of effect would that have on splitting the vote? It may not make the democrats a shoo-in, but it's certainly food for thought...

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19 comments (Latest Comment: 01/14/2008 03:52:03 by Mondobubba)

It's the Economy, Stupid!
Author: BobR    Date: 01/11/2008 13:17:45

I know it's Friday, and I know we all want happy fun time, and for a lot of people it's payday, but for a lot of people... it's not anymore. Most of you have already heard that the jobless rate rose to the 5% mark last month. According to Merrill-Lynch (not exactly a bastion of liberal thought), that was the final straw. They have finally declared that Yes, we are in a recession:
The feared recession in the US economy has already arrived, according to a report from Merrill Lynch.
It said that Friday's employment report, which sent shares tumbling worldwide, confirmed that the US is in the first month of a recession.
Merrill Lynch said that the figures showing the jobless rate hitting 5% in December were the final piece in that puzzle.

"According to our analysis, this isn't even a forecast any more but is a present day reality," the report said.

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204 comments (Latest Comment: 01/12/2008 06:47:01 by shelaghc)

A pol-fect Storm?
Author: Raine    Date: 01/10/2008 13:26:46

So what really happened in NH?

There seems to be a lot of questions out there, and not just from myself. the Polls were wrong, the polls were wrong! My kingdom! the polls were wrong!

Now, I am not trying to be all on everyone. I really am not. I think what we saw in NH was a perfect storm of everything that is wrong with media coverage, the voting system, and America's need for instant gratification. NH voters DO take voting seriously, and I do believe that the polls WERE wrong to a large extent. I saw one poll yesterday that differentiated between undecided and undeclared voters... ask yourself, is there a difference? I also believe that a large portion of republicans ended up voting for Hillary. I do not know if the pollster's took this phenomenon into account. That certainly affected the numbers. It is why I don't like anyone but my party voting in my party primary. Call me a segregationist, but I believe in this strongly. If I were an independent, then I believe I should be able to only vote for members of that party. These are Primaries, not the general election... But, I digress, another topic for another time.

There is another disturbing question here. Were the optical scanners used to count the votes legit? I actually saw this very issue get questioned on MSM yesterday. I was floored. I don't think they went far enough. From BlackBoxVoting.org:
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175 comments (Latest Comment: 01/11/2008 04:40:19 by Mondobubba)

Two Down, 48 to Go
Author: BobR    Date: 01/09/2008 13:32:34

The nation has another primary under its belt. As we all know by now, Hillary took the state with Obama in 2nd and Edwards in 3rd. On the Republican side, McCain took the state (not a big surprise there), followed by Romney and Huckabee a distant 3rd. 9ui11iani barely beat out Ron Paul for 4th, which shows just how much a tailspin his campaign is in, and how energized the Ron Paul supporters are.

McCain was called very early, not long after the polls closed. Hillary, however, wasn't called until much later. It was very close all night long, which really helped maintain the level of excitement. It gave us all a chance to watch the pundits blather and eat crow and gaze at their navels (they predicted an Obama blow out).
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217 comments (Latest Comment: 01/10/2008 04:52:00 by livingonli)

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