Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bend Over Gang - The Surpeme Court Rules Again!

Man! This Supreme Court loves corporations and loves to fuck people's rights.  They just released a decison that overturned years of precedence and is activist in the worst sense of the word.  Well... unless you are a corporation that wants to cheat people - then it is fucking fantastic!
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What is it?  Well, California (probably other states too, but this was a California law that had been settled law for years and years and years that was just overturned)... anyway, California has a rule that says if the fine print has an "unconscionable" clause it is ignored.  This has historically meant that you can't fine print away your right to sue or have a class action suit.
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So AT&T Mobility offered "free" phones - but once you had it - they charged $30.00 for them.  After getting the run-around from the company, there was a class action suit against them.  So AT&T pointed to the fine print that says you can't sue.  You have to go to arbitration that AT&T picks.  You see, Class Action suits were designed for this very type of consumer protection.  No one sues for $30.00... AT&T continues to lie to consumers (yes they admitted it was a lie), but if there is a class action suit, then AT&T changes toot suite.
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The Supreme Court (5 to 4) overturned the precedence, overruled the 9th Circuit, overruled state law and said, Hell No. 
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In case you think I overstate, here is an HR News Blog that describes how this new rule can stop class action suits against employers now.  Yay.  Can you spell Oligarchy?  (really - can you - because I can't..)
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Supreme Court Upholds Class Action Waiver in Arbitration Agreement

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The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the enforceability of class action waiver clause in arbitration agreements. While the case, AT&T Mobility LLC v. Concepcion, involved an arbitration agreement between a customer and a company, the ruling may be applied to employment contracts as well.
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In recent years, the U.S. Supreme Court decisions have tended to favor mandatory arbitration.
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In 2001, the Court held that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) governs arbitration agreements in the employment setting. Since then, arbitration agreements in the workplace have become increasingly common.

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A common challenge made to arbitration agreements is "unconscionability," which is generally defined as the absence of meaningful choice by one of the parties coupled with one-sided contract terms.
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Background of the Case


The Conceptions purchased a cell phone during a promotion that advertised them as “free.” They were charged roughly $30, the sales tax on the retail value of the phones.
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The Conceptions signed a contract with ATTM which contained a class action waiver provision. The contract required customers to arbitrate with the company directly.
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The Conceptions sued AT&T Mobility (ATTM), the phone service provider, claiming that the company had committed fraud by charging them for sales tax, when the phones were advertised as free. ATTM attempted to prevent the suit, arguing that under the provisions of the contract the customers had to arbitrate instead.
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What the Courts Said


The California district court ruled in favor of the Conceptions, ruling that the arbitration clause was unconscionable under California law, and that the FAA did not preempt California law.
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ATTM appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals who agreed with the lower court’s ruling.
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The case was then reviewed by the Supreme Court who reversed the decision of the appeals court, ruling 5-4 in favor of ATTM.
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The Supreme Court found that that the California law on unconscionability, as applied to the prohibition on class action waivers in arbitration agreements, is preempted by the FAA.
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Furthermore, the Court ruled that states cannot require a procedure, such as class-wide arbitration, that is inconsistent with the FAA’ s goal to ensure enforcement of arbitration agreements to facilitate informal and streamlined proceedings. Class arbitration is slower, more formal, and increases the risks to defendants who may be subject to large damage awards without the same opportunity to appeal unfavorable results as are available in court actions.
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Tips for Employers
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First and foremost, employers should have an attorney experienced in employment law review arbitration agreements before they are signed by the parties.
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It’s also important for employers to effectively communicate their policy to workers. In additional to including the policy in employee handbook, employers should create a separate document containing the arbitration policy and be sure that each employee has signed and dated the agreement, acknowledging that they have received and understand it. Employees should also be provided with the full policy, not simply a notification that it exists or excerpts from it.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Really Reuters?

Reuters headline about the Dollar is interesting.  One would naturally assume they mean the US Dollar - which they do.  Therefore the Aussie Dollar in the picture is odd.  You would think the fact that it is a dollar coin might give it away.  If not, then the kangaroos all over the coin should.

Laura and Dan are Here and getting quizzed a lot...

So Laura and Dan have been here for less than 24 hours.  So far every where we have gone, people hear a British accent and ask them about the wedding.  It was funny, then weird, now a little embarassing. People here are obsessed.  I hope now that it is done people are over it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So let me say this about The Normal Heart

The Normal Heart, on for a limited run on Broadway, is powerful.  Not nearly as powerful now, as when thousands were dying (that we knew) - but still very powerful.  It is the story of the early years of the AIDS crisis in New York.  Before we knew what caused it, or why, we just knew something was killing hundreds, then thousands of gay men and no one cared.
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It's almost impossible to look back on that period and not be shocked by old attitudes about gays.  Really,shocked, even me.   (Note: I was tremendously lucky to in Los Angeles with accepting parents.  I was out to friends and family already - and they were accepting.  Kudos to you Mom - I don't say enough how much your words meant to me.)
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Anyway, The Normal Heart is a scream against passivity in the face of death.  It is a shout to gay men change our ways. It is an indictment against Koch and Reagan - and the thousands of closeted gay men in the 1980s who cared more about position and power than saving lives of their citizens or friends (respectively).  It IS searing.
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It made me cry.
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Even Eddie liked it and didn't think it was too long (which -if a show has an intermission - is high praise indeed).  The acting was uniformly great, except where it transcending great to extraordinary.  Joe Mantelo as Ned Weeks (Larry Kramer - with a name change) and Ellen Barkin as the polio afflict doctor who railed against the disease early and loudly stand out.   Jim Parsons, from the Big Bang theory, was so believable from the get go, you never even remembered the character Sheldon. And Lee Pace, in the thankless role of closted, tentative leader was great in a tough role.  He is essentially the bad guy - the fill in for all the gays that couldn't (or Larry Kramer would say - wouldn't) speak out and come out.  PS - dreamy!  And I don't feel bad saying it- as the reason he was made head  of the group was because he was dreamy -the thought being it is easier to attract (gay) flies with (hot) honey.
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As a play - it suffers a little from the time.  There are 3 rants that are done as wonderful monologues - and were met to move audiences to action in the early 1980s.  They feel a little tacked on now.
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But you exit the theater, you are giving a sheet telling you that the characters, the doctor, Larry's lover, Kim Parsons' character (who opened support and care facilities in 3 more cities), Lee Paces' character - nearly everyone in the show but Larry Kramer and his straight brother - they are all dead now.
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And you realize the show is about NOT staying quiet.  It is about NOT giving up. 37 million people have died of AIDS.  Most are not gay men.  Most are straight people in Africa, Southeast Asia and the Caribbean in fact all around the world.  Thirty-Seven Million.
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The same as the population of California.
The same as the population of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Colorado, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming.
And they are still dying.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Saw The Normal Heart tonight

Wow... it was powerful.

Kirk Had to Leave Columbus due to Threats...

Say it ain't so.  Herbie the Hottie had to leave Columbus due to threats against his family (by bitter Ohio State fans) - and he is from Ohio State.
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While not going as far as Smith, former quarterback Kirk Herbstreit, the most polarizing ex-Buckeye amongst the TV talking heads, “think[s] it would be very difficult moving forward with Jim Tressel” as OSU’s head coach, even as the school appears to be solidly behind Tressel at this point in time.  And even as Buckeye Nation is “blindly” supporting the institution and coach.
The Ohio State fan base is blindly just supporting Ohio State and Jim Tressel,” Herbstreit said. “It’s almost gotten to the point where he beat Michigan, he wins 10 games, he goes to BCS bowl games and they’ll support him no matter what he does as far as the fan base. If this would have happened to John Cooper, not only would they have fired him, they would have actually lined him up at a firing squad and fired him.”
Herbstreit, who created a stir earlier this year when he revealed that he was forced to move his family from Columbus to Tennessee due to a “relentless… 5 to 10 percent of the [OSU] fan base”, on the one hand believes that ”people are being a little unfair to (Tressel’s) character”.  On the other hand, Herbstreit notes that “the bottom line is he broke the rules by the NCAA” and that such a situation makes it “very difficult after you do that to go into the future homes of recruits and try to recruit and try to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to do things the right way’ when you have this in your background

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Egg Rolling (Lithuanian Game)

So yesterday we had a lovely Easter lunch at Aldona's.  As you may know (if you met her ever), she is Lithuanian.  Her mother, daughter and granddaughter were all there (and Eddie and I have met them all a lot).
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This year they all played this egg rolling game.
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You roll your eggs down a ramp, if it hits another egg, you get both eggs and get to roll again.  You start with 3 eggs.  It can go on a while (actually i gave my last 2 eggs to a kid, Josh, who lost his eggs early.  He was pleased.).  Anyway, good food and a nice time.

Hazah! says Eddie.

The Ice Rink is being dis-assembled, Eddie is happy (spring is coming)....

Innocent Until Proven Guilty - Oh Fuck it...

My god, Bush the nincompoop, Clinton the liar, Bush the incompetent and now Obama the imperial.  WTF? (story - but it will just make you sad.)
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Protesters yesterday interrupted President Obama's speech at a $5,000/ticket San Francisco fundraiser to demand improved treatment for Bradley Manning. After the speech, one of the protesters, Logan Price, approached Obama and questioned him. Obama's responses are revealing on multiple levels. First, Obama said this when justifying Manning's treatment (video and transcript are here):
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"We're a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make their own decisions about how the laws operate. He broke the law."
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The impropriety of Obama's public pre-trial declaration of Manning's guilt ("He broke the law") is both gross and manifest. How can Manning possibly expect to receive a fair hearing from military officers when their Commander-in-Chief has already decreed his guilt?
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See, here's the thing, if you read below you see that our government continues to hold people even when they know they aren't guilt.  We are better than this - aren't we?
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And this is (as they say in Queens) cherse...
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Then, in response to Price's raising the case of Daniel Ellsberg, we have this from Obama:
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"No it wasn't the same thing. Ellsberg's material wasn't classified in the same way."
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What Obama said there is technically true, but not the way he intended. Indeed, the truth of the matter makes exactly the opposite point as the one the President attempted to make. The 42 volumes of the Pentagon Papers leaked by Ellsberg to The New York Times were designated "TOP SECRET": the highest secrecy designation under the law. By stark contrast, not a single page of the materials allegedly leaked by Manning to Wikileaks was marked "top secret"; to the contrary, it was all marked "secret" or "classified": among the lowest level secrecy classifications.  Using the Government's own standards, then, the leak by Ellsberg was vastly more dangerous than the alleged leak by Manning.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

This kind of crap makes us lesser Americans - hell it makes us lesser people....

(Documents received by the New York Times - no wonder they are trying everything to paint Wikileaks in a bad light...)
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(not the actual man, just a
random Afghan gentlemen)
The dossiers also show the seat-of-the-pants intelligence gathering in war zones that led to the incarcerations of innocent men for years in cases of mistaken identity or simple misfortune. In May 2003, for example, Afghan forces captured Prisoner 1051, an Afghan named Sharbat, near the scene of a roadside bomb explosion, the documents show. He denied any involvement, saying he was a shepherd. Guantánamo debriefers and analysts agreed, citing his consistent story, his knowledge of herding animals and his ignorance of “simple military and political concepts,” according to his assessment. Yet a military tribunal declared him an “enemy combatant” anyway, and he was not sent home until 2006.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Do you know what happened to the Little Boy that knew How?

So, I was in the Port Authority Bus Terminal today and behind me I hear a little boy say, "I know how, mommy."
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Then I hear mom, "You know how?  Let me tell you about the little boy that knew how.  He told his mommy he knew how.  Then got his foot caught in the escalator.. and he died!"
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Wow, bad story.
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(And no Julie, I didn't tell him how he could stop the escalator if someone got stuck. :-).

Friday, April 22, 2011

Anything Goes Was Fab Fun

We went last night and saw Anything Goes.  Which just opened and has already been extended for a year.  It was great fun. Sutton Foster plays Reno Sweeny, Joel Grey was Moonface and Colin Donnell was Billy.
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Sutton has the vocal chops to pull it off, as well as being able to tap along with the entire cast.  Very fun.
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Oh yeah.... Archer's Mom was Mrs. Harbourt! (Jessica Walter if you don't know Archer.)

Colin Donnell and Sutton Foster sing You're The Top!
We sent Patti and Emma to see American Idiot - which closes Sunday.  For the few weeks Billie Joe Armstrong (lead singer from Green Day) is playing Saint Jimmy in the show.  I guess after the show, every kinda stayed and Billie Joe sang.  Emma (16) loved it - Patti did as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ed's Friend Patti and her daughter Emma

Patti and Emma are here as Emma looks at schools (NYU this morning - Columbia tomorrow).

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Alexander Rybak is so odd...but fun

Young Alex here was the 2010 Eurovision Champ (for Fairytale).  Here is Europe Skies from his first album.  It's odd as hell, in a cool Norwegian way.



Here is his Eurovision win

Ariana Pulls an apt Memento Analogy - not easy to do...

It's not easy being funny in the situation with political situation.  But Ariana pulls it off here. (emphasis mine)
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The first poll results since the president's big speech on the economy last week are in -- and they're not very good. According to a newWashington Post/ABC News survey, the president's approval rating continues to fall, driven by fears about the economy. Back in the heady days of the 2008 campaign, a powerful, impassioned speech like the one Obama delivered would have had a definite positive impact on the numbers. But the soaring rhetoric now comes with a bitter aftertaste. We got used to the president making strong promises and then caving -- from closing Guantanamo to not extending the Bush tax cuts for millionaires. Now he's making strong promises he's already broken. He's like a political version of the Guy Pearce character in Memento -- he's figured out a way to break promises outside of the limitations of linear time. 

Hosanna

My company follows the Market.  We get Good Friday Off!

NBC Shits a Small Brick

Maybe it is just me, but I found it a little hilarious that NBC hit the [PANIC] button the other lat night with regards to Donald Trump. (Watch the video yourself if you don't believe me.).
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After giving him a large and constant forum to spout  whatever drivel popped into his pretty little orange head about Obama (“he the worst President ever”, “I have real questions about his birth” “I could easily be President if I ran”) , NBC suddenly realized that if he did, indeed, run for President - or appeared to-  there were f’ed and far from home.  You see, regardless of how bad Celebrity Apprentice is (and it can be jaw droppingly bad) it has to stay on the air until Sunday night football.  NBC doesn't have what one would call a deep bench to call up (Paul Reiser's new show should be ample proof of that.)
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And, if The Donald runs – and the more press he gets the more it seems he might – he can’t be on the network.
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How do I know this?  Kids I am from California – land of the actor / politicians.  The Gipper’s movies had to be pulled from rotation every time he was running – no big loss (Bedtime for Bonzo anyone).  And then for the last 6 years, every election Terminators 1 and 2 had to be pulled – along with any of the Govornator’s other movies.  Granted, not a huge loss, but it annoyed every station in LA when they had to pre-empt Terminator 3 - a recent hit which played everywhere else in the country, which was shown everywhere else.  And the bumping of the Conan movies really screwed with Spike (ne Spike TV, ne TNN, ne The Nashville Network).  Dude, that was, like, half their rotation at the time.
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Getting free attention for Celebrity Apprentice - perfectly fine.  Letting crazy man convince himself he can run and win - time to call out the dogs.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Jan Brewer Brings a Little Less Crazy to Arizona

Governor Jan Brewer veto'ed 2 bills - one that I made fun of (the birther bill) and one that I thought was crazy - but I never thought she would veto. 
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She veto'ed the birther bill AND the bill that would allow hand guns on campus.
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Good Job, Jan.  You brought your state just a little back from the edge of crazy town.

OMG: It Will Be Broughten

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Over time you fall out of the habit of some things

One thing is watching entertainment shows -because you don't know who these whipper snappers are (nor really care - another batch will be by next week).  But this morning as I am testing a new system with Minsk, New York and Bangalore -and waiting for products to roll through (ah.... the glamerous life of a Tech Proj Mgr), I happend upon Joan Rivers outtakes of commentary from the Scream 4 opening.
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And I laughed.
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Emma Roberts


"I'll just say it's interesting that you broke a family tradition and made a horror movie, 'cause your Aunt Julia never did, unless you count Eat, Pray, Love, which still gives me nightmares."
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Rose McGowan


"Guess who got a hot glue gun for Christmas?"
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Patricia Arquette


"I know she's not in the movie, but can the killer get her first?"
"Time is so cruel. I remember when she was a medium."

Friday, April 15, 2011

My Slide into Nerdom Continues Unabated

This isn't me - per say, but it might as well be.  Now, at work, I have 2 monitors.
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Not only 2 monitors - but I like it.  Mail and Excel on 1 side and the look up web sites on the other.
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Scooter - Crown Prince of Nerdistan.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Senate in Arizonia Passes Law that Presidential Candidates are Required to have a Birth Certificate... or - baring that - no foreskin

Really kids, you can't make this shit up.  (Law here: paragraph commented on is 2.B.1.a.)
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I quote from the Phoneix New Times...

The Arizona Senate formally passed the "Birther Bill" today, but not in its original version.
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Apparently, requiring presidential candidates to provide a long-form birth certificate before allowing their names on the ballot in Arizona -- despite it already being a federal requirement to run for president -- was a bit too much for a few GOP lawmakers. So they made some amendments: if you can't find your birth certificate, and you have a penis, a document describing your lack of foreskin will suffice.
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A circumcision certificate -- a document given to the parents of a male Jewish child after his foreskin is snipped off during a circumcision ceremony -- is not a legal document (see an example of one here) but if you have one, under the amended bill, it's apparently enough to prove you're a U.S. citizen and your name can be permitted on the ballot in Arizona.

Adorable Puppy Falls Asleep Standing Up

You know I am not normally a reposter without comment, but this is from AmericaBlog.  Watch to the end, it's only 50 seconds.
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I didn't listen to the speech

I didn't listen to Obama's speech.  The mis-match between his words and actions is toxic to me (and anyone withing range of my screaming at the television).
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However..
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Having said that, apparently I would have liked parts of the speech.  I am going to quote from Joan Walsh (editor of Salon), but I suggest you read it all if you want a nice liberal point of view.  Which, despite what you may think, is absent from conversations nowadays (to call the main stream media "liberal" is crazy wrong - they are defenders of the status quo).  (Of course, said the disillusioned man behind the keys, he could have just veto'ed the Bush Tax Cuts - but best not too think to hard when trying to be optimistic towards politicians.)
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(take it away Joan)
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Obama acknowledged our American history as "rugged individualists, a self-reliant people with a healthy skepticism of too much government." But he quickly identified "another thread running throughout our history":
A belief that we are all connected; and that there are some things we can only do together, as a nation. We believe, in the words of our first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, that through government, we should do together what we cannot do as well for ourselves. And so we’ve built a strong military to keep us secure, and public schools and universities to educate our citizens. We’ve laid down railroads and highways to facilitate travel and commerce. We’ve supported the work of scientists and researchers whose discoveries have saved lives, unleashed repeated technological revolutions, and led to countless new jobs and entire industries. Each of us has benefited from these investments, and we are a more prosperous country as a result.
 Part of this American belief that we are all connected also expresses itself in a conviction that each one of us deserves some basic measure of security. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, hard times or bad luck, a crippling illness or a layoff, may strike any one of us. "There but for the grace of God go I," we say to ourselves, and so we contribute to programs like Medicare and Social Security, which guarantee us health care and a measure of basic income after a lifetime of hard work; unemployment insurance, which protects us against unexpected job loss; and Medicaid, which provides care for millions of seniors in nursing homes, poor children, and those with disabilities. We are a better country because of these commitments. I’ll go further – we would not be a great country without those commitments.
So far, so good. It got even better when Obama took direct aim at Paul Ryan's cruel and ludicrous budget plan. He laid out its many cuts, and concluded:
These are the kind of cuts that tell us we can’t afford the America we believe in. And they paint a vision of our future that’s deeply pessimistic. It’s a vision that says if our roads crumble and our bridges collapse, we can’t afford to fix them. If there are bright young Americans who have the drive and the will but not the money to go to college, we can’t afford to send them. Go to China and you’ll see businesses opening research labs and solar facilities. South Korean children are outpacing our kids in math and science. Brazil is investing billions in new infrastructure and can run half their cars not on high-priced gasoline, but biofuels. And yet, we are presented with a vision that says the United States of America – the greatest nation on Earth – can’t afford any of this.
 ...

Then he attacked the Gilded Age social inequality and tax cuts that have helped create our troubles:
Think about it. In the last decade, the average income of the bottom 90% of all working Americans actually declined. The top 1% saw their income rise by an average of more than a quarter of a million dollars each. And that’s who needs to pay less taxes? They want to give people like me a two hundred thousand dollar tax cut that’s paid for by asking thirty three seniors to each pay six thousand dollars more in health costs? That’s not right, and it’s not going to happen as long as I’m President.
Indulge me here, because this is how Democrats should be talking, and rarely do:
 The America I know is generous and compassionate; a land of opportunity and optimism. We take responsibility for ourselves and each other; for the country we want and the future we share. We are the nation that built a railroad across a continent and brought light to communities shrouded in darkness. We sent a generation to college on the GI bill and saved millions of seniors from poverty with Social Security and Medicare. We have led the world in scientific research and technological breakthroughs that have transformed millions of lives.
 This is who we are. This is the America I know. We don’t have to choose between a future of spiraling debt and one where we forfeit investments in our people and our country. To meet our fiscal challenge, we will need to make reforms. We will all need to make sacrifices. But we do not have to sacrifice the America we believe in. And as long as I’m President, we won’t.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Senator Jon Kyl's Lies About Planned Parenthood "Not Intended to be Factual Statement"

In case you missed this piece of nincompoopery...
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Last week, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl claimed that "well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does" was abortions.  Wow.  I though it did cancer screenings, contraception, etc.
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Turns out, it was a lie.  Or as Senator Kyl's office said (and I must quote here because it is asinine nicompoopery)  that the senator's remarks were not intended as "factual statements" .  In slightly longer form from an Arizona Newspaper... "The senator's remark "was not intended to be a factual statement but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions in taxpayer dollars, does subsidize abortions," Kyl's staff says in a statement."
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So what does Planned Parenthood do...
According to the organization, it breaks down like this:
Contraception (including reversible contraception, emergency contraception, vasectomies and tubal sterilizations): 4,009,549 services
Sexually transmitted infections testing and treatment: 3,955,916 services
Cancer screening and prevention: 1,830,811 services
Other women's health services (including pregnancy tests and prenatal care): 1,178,369 services
Abortions: 332,278 procedures
Miscellaneous (including primary care and adoption referrals): 76,977
Total services: 11,383,900
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So, if you look a little more you see that more it does 13 times  as much contraception services abortions.  It does 12 times as much Sexually transmitted infections testing and treatment.   6 times as much work in Cancer screening.  Twice as much Prenatal Care as abortions. four times as much women's health services.
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Not factual indeed.

NY times is a week late: but agrees with me.

Regarding "the Promise", the NY Times Reviewer was a week after me, but agrees. :-).
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My "Reviews Off Broadway" first paragraph:
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The Promise, playing at the 59E59 Theater as part of Scotland Week, is a very interesting play that is catapulted into the extraordinary by the wonderful performance of Joanna Tope. 
Joanna Tope plays a retired teacher brought in for a week of substitute teaching. During this week, she is asked to allow a ritual in the name of multiculturalism that offends her. But before this, Ms. Tope spins a spell as Maggie Brodie, a teacher who loves students, loves learning and has lost patience in a by rote system now. To hear her talk of nourishing learning in youth is wonderful..
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NY Times first paragraph
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Just when you thought Broadway and especially Off Broadway was suffering from a surfeit of solo shows, along comes “The Promise,” by Douglas Maxwell, to redeem the format. Thank the stage veteran Joanna Tope; her performance in this production — brought to the 59E59 Theaters by the Random Accomplice company from Glasgow — infinitely enriches a 90-minute parable already loaded with dramatic heft..

A Website JUST FOR ED!

It is called http://www.walkingoffthebigapple.com and has walks all over the city.
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Perfect for the boy that loves to Bumble.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Ed out gay'ed me (and was a little too proud about it)

The duet on Glee's rerun last night was Happy Days Are Here Again / Forget Your Troubles - so Ed says he was amazed the first time he heard those two sing it.  Of course, he couldn't remember the names of those two  ("you know that Over the Rainbow girl").
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So he showed it to me on You Tube.  And he is right, it is great.  And I surprised I never saw it at the Revovler (he saw it at SideTracks a lot).
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With a Whimper

So, The Supremes have decided that the legislative and executive branches shouldn't be allowed to screw the country without them.  And so they have jumped in, feet first (brains, no where to be seen).
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Two recent decisions about cases (from Arizona crazies) just reaffirm that the rich and church deserve protection and people don't.
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In the first, Arizona had a law that said private candidates don't have to accept public funds for campaigns (just like federal laws), but if they spent over a certain amount - then the state would supply funds to the other candidate.  The Supremes struck this down because.. well you shouldn't be able to run against rich people.  Actually their "argument" was that giving other candidates money restricts the speech of the rich candidate.  Which implies a there is limited amount of speech - but why quibble.  I suppose we should be happy that they let us breath (there being a limited supply of air).
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And, just in case you thought it was about saving the state money - the next case will disabuse you of that notion.  In the this second case, Arizona allows you to direct $500 of your tax bill to a parochial school instead of the state.  Up until this particular Supreme Court, the precedent has been that if the state gave the money to a parochial school for you OR if you directed the money from your state payment to a parochial school it was the same thing.  This court decided that if you give money that should go to the state for taxes to a parochial school AND lowered your tax bill by that EXACT amount - it wasn't state supported("decided" in this case being a synonym for "pulled a reason out of their Catholic rear-ends").  I am not trashing Catholics here - just noting that 5 Judges on this court are Catholics and this reversal totally helps parochial  schools.  And the law was upheld 5 Catholics to 1 Episcopalian , 1 Protestant and 2 Jewish judges.

150 Anniversary of 600,000 who died in the war to end slavery

It is the 150th anniversary of the War To End Slavery in the United States.
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I wonder if in 150 years people will be as blase about Germans dressing up in World War II outfits.
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ps: It was about States Rights -but only if you define that as the States Right to have Slaves - since that was the proximate and only real cause.  Every other State issue had been resolved without a war both before and since.  (The Whiskey Rebellin wasn't between states but between reginal moon-shiners; but points for good try.)

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Niece Faith

Faith has always danced.  You might remember younger pictures of her twirling around.  Well, she is growing taller, stronger and more graceful by the year.  Here she is from last week.


That is a graceful 14/15 year old.
At that age I was tripping over my own feet.

Signs of the Times...

Presented without comment except a faint smell of sadness and sorrow at this one time exceptional place we call America.

The United States is beset by violence, racism and torture and has no authority to condemn other governments' human rights problems, China said on Sunday, countering U.S. criticism of Beijing's crackdown. . . . "The United States ignores its own severe human rights problems, ardently promoting its so-called 'human rights diplomacy', treating human rights as a political tool to vilify other countries and to advance its own strategic interests," said a passage from the Chinese report.
China also "accused the U.S. . . . of pushing for Internet freedom around the world as a way to undermine other nations, while noting thatWashington's campaign against secret-spilling website WikiLeaks showed its own sensitivity to the free flow of information," and further "lambasted the U.S. over issues ranging from homelessness and violent crime to the influence of money on politics and the negative effects of its foreign policy on civilians." China’s human rights record is atrocious, but can anyone contest the validity of its objections to the U.S. and the Obama administration’s purporting to act as human rights arbiters for the world?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Eddie about 5 minutes before the Macys Flower Show got to him

Jealous of Wonderful Entertainment in New York? Not yet, just wait...

So I was checking in the NY Times things to do today and two items hit my radar.
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1. English Handbell Festival and Concert: Eileen Laurence, guest conductor, will direct 100 handbell ringers from Mass., NY and Virginia performing compositions from around the world.
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First thought.  Owe!  Second though, "guest conductor"?  Doesn't that imply that Riverside Church has a permanent conductor of English Handbells?  That is a specialized field!
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2. Shlemiel CrooksThe new passover musical might have what you'd consider and unreliable narrator - it's Jerry, the family dog - but it holds plenty of holiday cheer as it combines elements of the Jewish History with a contemporary setting. In the plot within the plot, the ghost of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh schemes to sabotage Passover by engineering the theft of all the wine from Reb Elias's kosher wine store.
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First thought, I don't like singing dogs.  I watched the Grinch who stole Christmas and it was another musical narrated by a singing dog.  I don't think singing dogs should narrate holiday stories.  Snoopy.  That was a good dog.  No singing, just dancing. 
Second thought, the ghost of the ancient pharaoh is going to sabotage Passover by stealing wine from 1 store?  Seems like a remarkably restrained response to Jehovah killing every single first born Egyptian male, because Yul Brenner was stubborn.  That is either a ghost just working to put up appearances, or a dumb dumb ghost.
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I think the ghost of the pharaoh could plot to ruining Passover by sending hundreds of handbell ringers to various synagogues with a musical dog - but that is just me.
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Happy Sunday, Happy Sleep In Late or Happy Passover all (depending on your religious affiliation).

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The Good (lots) and Bad (lots else) of Paul Ryan's Plan

As you have no doubt read and heard, Paul Ryan has submitted a plan to deal with the deficit.  It is being hailed as "realistic" - since it attacks entitlements, at least Medicare and Medicaid.
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And in that it is realistic.  And so, yay.  But remember - this is easy.  Republicans hate taking care of people (look at their crazy fight against health care dollars to provide for others).  When it comes to other cuts, he's not so realistic. (Full plan is here if you want.  Appendix 2 has the "details".)
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Let's look at where the saved money goes - tax cuts.  The plan says lowering taxes raises revenue.  Based on George W Bush burning through Clinton's Budget Surplus to turn it into the largest deficit in history (until Obama) should disabuse anyone that Cutting Taxes raises revenue.  Even Saint Regan raised taxes because tax cuts didnt' raise revenue (memories of the Gipper to the contrary).
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How about Defense?  The plan assumes that Defense spending and everything else (bar Social Security and Medicare) falls from 12% of our GDP now to less than 3% - which is - of course, less than 1/2 of what we spend on Defense alone now.  So Republicans, those people who scream TRAITOR every time you mildly ask if we really should be in Afghanistan, are going to cut Defense 2/3s.  Really? 
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And, even if they do manage somehow to cut Defense, that leaves no money for anything else. While that is (or might seem) fine for Planned Parenthood - they dont' address things the government actually does.  National Parks, Environmental Protection, FDA Drug management, Education loans, Treasury, well the list of things it really does do goes on.
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So, it's an easy plan for Republicans to trumpet, because it only attacks what they hate.  I would have more respect for "honest broker Paul Ryan" if he laid out, in the same detail, what else he'll do besides cut medical support and cut taxes.  Maybe he'll give a block grant to people and we can each donate to our own little National Parks in the backyard.  Because really, people aren't "entitled" to nature, or healthy food or safe drugs.  These are simply government make work programs that can be done off.
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PS - This isn't a post about government (remember I have decided the government is a sucker's game), it is about the fawning coverage given to this "realistic" proposal.