Chuck Hagel Confirmed as Secretary of State

Chuck Hagel was finally confirmed as Defense Secretary today. He was confirmed by a 58-41 vote.

All the voting Democrats voted for former Sen.  Hagel.  The only non vote was N.J. Sen. Lautenberg.  The 89 year old New Jersey Democratic Senator was at home sick.  All 41 of the votes against the Hagel nomination were Republican.  But there were a few defectors. They were the Senior Senator from Mississippi, Thad Cochran; First term Nebraska Senator, Mike Johanns; Five term Senator from Alabama, Richard Shelby; and most curiously given his abrasive questioning during the confirmation process,  The junior Senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul.

I for one am happy that Chuck finally got through.  It was a very tight vote, at least as far as votes for confirmation of a defense secretary is concerned. The tightest vote in recent history from what I have read.  It was not exactly a fait accompli that he would pass, as the Republican opposition to his nomination was fierce.

There was the insane “The democrats are worried about Hagel” false flag attack, supposedly put together by concerned democrats that after scrutiny completely disappeared.  As I recall it was a right wing group that funded that attack.  Then there was the infamous “Friends of Hamas” giggle-fest that the sleaze-bags over at Breitbart put out, despite the fact that no such organization exists.

Then there was the fun from propagandist Ted Cruz.  Ted read a story from Reuters.  That story said that an official in the Iranian government hoped that the next defense secretary would be more interested in peace and less interested in warmongering. Ted turned that into something completely other. Ted turned that into a nominee for the biggest lie of 2013 ; His claim that Iran was “cheering” the Hagel nomination.

Then there was the plain crazy crap he came up with during the Senate Armed Services committee nomination process when Ted said that he wasn’t sure that former Sen. Hagel had taken money under the table for speeches from radical groups.  People are still trying to figure out what the hell that fat glib fraud Cruz was talking about.

And do I have to speak at all about Sen. McCain’s bitching and moaning at the Conformation hearings? No?  Good.  McCain is an asshole, and the less I write about him the better. Attention of any kind only eggs the stupid bastard on.

On top of that there are the right wing outside pressure groups that tried to paint now Sec. Hagel as being weak on Iran and not being friendly enough with Israel, that he was not a good enough friend of Israel because he was soft on Iran.

Now his record does show that he has in past voted both for and against sanctions on Iran.  That does not make him soft on Iran.  That makes him smart.  His reasoning for voting against sanctions when he did vote against them was that the sanctions simply won’t do anything.

Tell me, in hindsight, how much was Iran weakened by sanctions?  How much? Not very, they are getting closer to being nuclear capable, and their work on nuclear capabilities continues unabated, despite those sanctions. The sanctions worked well, didn’t they?

Seems Sec. Hagel was right.

And now he has to try to work on negotiations with Iran to talk them off of the nuclear cliff.

Good Luck, Secretary Hagel.

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News Commentary

Pic of the day, part i: Elastic, by Umberto Boccioni

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In spite of increasing production and comfort, man loses more and more the sense of self, feels that his life is meaningless, even though such a feeling is largely unconscious. In the nineteenth century the problem was that God is dead; in the twentieth century the problem is that man is dead.

Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955)

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News commentary:

I believe that the events of last evening in Aurora, Colorado are the result of a person breaking under some massive weight that only he could feel. No one wakes up one day and decides that they are “The Joker”, buys guns, places bombs all over his home, and kills random strangers.

I think the events of last evening in Aurora, Colorado are the result of living in a world where comic book heroes are taken seriously when they shouldn’t be. You know what I mean. We’ve all had that conversation with people talking about characters in movies and tv shows as if they are real. I’ve often wondered how out of touch you can get, how far from reality you can get when you immerse yourself in modern culture. Apparently very far.

Some crazy kid lashes out at the world, arbitrarily at complete strangers, and leaves blood, death, pain and tears in his wake. I really do not know what to believe. I want to point a finger of blame at someone. At him obviously, but also at society, at the larger causes for this behavior, which happens every once in a while, enough where you have to think this is more than just some crazy guy. This is a sick society, twisted enough to create numbers of people like this, who just snap and take out people for no sane reason.

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And now for something completely different:

Iran hates Israel. In other news, the sky is blue…

But seriously, over the last 6 months, according to the NYPD, Iran and Hezbollah are behind a number of attempted terrorist attacks, and at least one successful one. A separate list created by federal authorities is by and large the same as the NYPD list. The bus bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria was apparently the work of either Hezbollah or Iran, and is considered a relatively sophisticated.

The Iranians are obviously dismissing the statements as both unfounded and politically motivated by Israel. Hezbollah says it has not carried out bombings against Israelis outside of Lebanon, and have not done any even within Lebanon since 2000.

The spokesman for Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu says that the number of attempts is more than twice that number. Twenty. Not the nine that U.S officials are pointing to.

So when exactly did the NYPD become an international police force, that it is now monitoring the movements of Hezbollah for Israel? I can understand them monitoring things to protect New Yorkers. I can see them monitoring some international movements as they affect New York and it’s safety.

When did we become Israel’s police force? The number of attempted terrorist attacks by Hezbollah and Iran the NYPD(9) have listed are different from the Israeli governments(20) numbers. Seeing how the NYPD is as far away as they are from the places that are affected, it makes me wonder about that vast discrepancy. It also makes me wonder how effective they can be at counter terrorism, given that discrepancy.

It makes me wonder if I am wasting my money paying taxes into a system that allows our police to not do their jobs well, or properly, and still get paid for it with my tax dollars. Let the Feds, who do this shit, do it. Keep the NYPD in NY. Plain and simple, they aren’t keeping us safe when they aren’t home to keep us safe.

Not that they are even very good at that. They’re good at giving tickets. They’re good at beating up protesters who happen to have a point. Keeping us safe? How many crimes happened in New York last month? Last year? Wanna run that by me again?

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad, mad world.

Just saying…

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Pic of the day, part ii: Charge of the Lancers, by Umberto Boccioni

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I believe that one can and must hope for a sane society that furthers man’s capacity to love his fellow men, to work and create, to develop his reason and his objectivity of a sense of himself that is based on the experience of his productive energy.
I believe that one can and must hope for the collective regaining of a mental health that is characterized by the capacity to love and to create…

Erich Fromm, Credo (1965)

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That’s it from here, America. G’night.

A Wee Bit Antsy

Pic of the day:  Sternbrucke in Weimar, by Christian Rohlfs

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I’m glad mushrooms are against the law, because I took them one time, and you know what happened to me? I laid in a field of green grass for four hours going, “My God! I love everything.” Yeah. Now, if that isn’t a hazard to our country … how are we gonna keep building nuclear weapons, you know what I mean? What’s gonna happen to the arms industry when we realize that we’re all one?!

Bill Hicks

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Is it me or does it seem like there is going to be a war in the near future with Iran?  Whether it’s the U.S. vs. Iran, or Israel vs. Iran, or the U.N. (the U.S. by other means) vs. Iran, the simple story that Iran now has enough nuclear material to build nukes, according to several stories I read.  At least two of them claimed that the Institute of Science and International Security made an analysis of data from the IAEA that Iran has enough enriched uranium for 5 nuclear weapons.

Now, I’ll give the people at ISIS the benefit of the doubt. They’re probably trying to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, always a good thing.  Let’s keep people from blowing each other to a billion fucking pieces.  Tends to ruin all the plans they had, makes evenings with the wife and kids difficult when they are nothing but dust because someone decided to nuke the countryside.  Makes it difficult you understand.

But with all the hemming and hawing about Iran and about how much of a threat they pose, when I hear and see the news that they have uranium, I don’t hear and see just that, and I think you’re all with me on this one, that what I hear isn’t just words of warning, but the drumbeats of war.  Call me crazy, but what I’m hearing is the sound of some military somewhere getting ready to pounce.

Now if the Iranians have dark intentions to use these weapons against  another nation, then I say, ya, take those weapons out.  Do what you have to do, within those confines.  Destroy the plant that makes the uranium, make it impossible for them to harm other nations.  But nothing more.  No occupation of the nation, no long term war.  It isn’t necessary, not from us, not from anyone.

Hell, personally I say we should buy the uranium from them, if it’s that much of a fucking issue.  They can’t use it on our friends or anyone if we have it, now can they?  No invasion necessary, no war necessary, no blowing shit up, no wasting money on military objectives.  Buy the uranium and… do what the fuck ever we do with this shit.  Make glow in the dark cheese or some shit.

🙂

I don’t love the Iranians.  But I don’t hate them either.  We’ve been in 2 wars started over 10 years ago in the region that has greatly destabilized the region, and made the world a worse place for it, made the world a place where terrorists can live and breed.

In Iraq, for example, our enemies thrived on hate created by us doing things like becoming unwanted occupiers.  There was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq until we showed up there.  Al-Qaeda thrived on our presence there.  In Afghanistan the Mujahadeen , the immediate forebears of Al-Qaeda and the Taliban were funded by us to fight the Russians in the 80’s, which turned and bit us in the ass a number of years later.

On 9/11/2001.

Date kinda sticks in my mind, yours too I’m betting.  I’m sure you know why.

So when I get even the smallest hint of us shoving our noses back into that region of the world, I get a bit antsy.  Makes me start to think “these assholes are at it again.”  Do I trust the Iranians? Not really, but I don’t know that there are any governments anywhere that can be trusted, especially not with nukes, potential or actual.

If it turns out that they really are just using this uranium in power plants, that is great.  Give the IAEA enough time to make sure things are on the up and up that way, let ISIS make sure that things don’t get squirrelly over there.  Don’t jump the gun on decision making.  Perhaps the one thing I can lay my hopes on at this point is that we have a president that thinks with his head and not his asshole like Dubya.  President Obama I trust to make the right judgment about the information he gets.

Just gotta hope the people getting him information give him all the information as it is.  No yellowcake.  No aluminum tubes.  No bullshit.

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

More Random Thoughts

Oil is at the highest prices they have been at in a long time.  Brent crude is up over $121 a barrel.  Why?  Iran.  They have cut oil supplies, having decided to cut off both French and British companies.  They also happen to be in the middle of a major dispute with Israel.  And Iran has warships in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria. Close enough to help Assad in Syria if they like, or reach Israel should they feel the need.

Prices will continue to go up so long as they continue to act as provocatively as they are.  Do we get to see the additional craziness of Iran shelling the citizens of Syria that are fighting against Assad, the man who is killing his own people for demanding anything even vaguely democratic?

Or shelling Israeli targets?  One wonders.

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Pic of the day: The Revelation of St John: 4. The Four Riders of the Apocalypse, By Albrecht Durer

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There is a law that is under consideration in Virginia that says embryos will have the same rights as “other persons”. Really?  They are people, with the same rights and responsibilities as “other persons?”

So, when will these lazy fucking Virginia embryos start pulling their own damned weight and get fucking jobs?

Fucking hippie embryo fucks.

To be serious tho, these god-damned self important right wing ass clowns with delusions of gender superiority are a pain in all moral Americans asses.  Abortion has been around for thousands of years. You cannot legislate it away, or make people more moral with legislation.  That has been tried.  It has unquestionably failed.  This will simply push abortion underground.  You will kill young women for mistakes.  You will kill your own daughters trying to save their children.

You cannot stop people from doing what they want to do.  Morality cannot be legislated, you cannot make godless people fear God.  No legislation can make any of that happen.  None.

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Morality is the theory that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that 99% of them are wrong.

H.L. Mencken

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Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson both belong in the Baseball hall of fame.  They were both among the best players to ever play their sport.  For that alone they belong in.  How can any sport that doesn’t have it’s best individual performer at the games most basic level in it’s “Hall of Fame” be meaningful in any way whatsoever?  Hitting is the most basic thing a player does in baseball, that and pitching.  If Rose isn’t in the Hall, the hall itself, with it’s exclusion of him, becomes a meaningless institution.

And if Rose belongs in, how can you keep Joe Jackson out?  He did the same thing, gambled on his team, and he unlike Rose admitted it.  He said he did it, and was ashamed of it by all accounts.  Should we not let this great player who was taken advantage of by gamblers much to his detriment into Baseballs hallowed halls where he belongs for his other feats on the diamond? How do you keep a man with a career average of .356, who struck out only 158 times in over 1300 career games out of the hall of fame?

Even if it was so, these guys are too good to be out of the hall of fame.

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I copied Jackson’s style because I thought he was the greatest hitter I had ever seen, the greatest natural hitter I ever saw. He’s the guy who made me a hitter.

Babe Ruth

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That’s it from here, America.  G’night.

Anagram: Too Much Sugar/ Hug Our Mascot

        The title has it about right, ladies and gentlemen, I went to a party for my nephew James, 4 years old and happy just being a

Toys for Boys

Toys for Boys

dude.  I ate all the food on earth and had enough sugar to kill your average human.  Lucky for me I’m slightly above average, or else that would’ve been my ass!  Seriously though I was out, had fun hanging with the kids.  Everybody had fun, and right now I am still buzzing from all the sugar I had before.  I’m thinking of downing some painkillers just to handle the inevitable crash that’ll happen in a little while. 

    The little guy got a million little toys.  He got a boatload of Matchbox Monster truck stuff, He got a bunch of Thomas the Tank engine stuff, a few toys, a few books.  He got a lot of other stuff.  His favorite toy was not something he got as a present but one of the lil party favors they were handing out to all the kid.  A little glow stick with a connector that makes it a little glowstick, i dunno, necklace type of thing.  He was the Happiest little dude I have ever seen.  He was happy when he was beating the tar out of the little gravedigger monster truck pinata that were my brother James picked up for his sons birthday.  He was happy when his father and I were indoctrinating the child.  “Repeat after me, James, Flyers…”  “Flyers…” “SUCK”  “SUCK…hehehehe”  He was just loving every minute of just being a four year old.  That kind of joy, that happiness just being in the moment with a few simple trinkets, that is something that an adult could really learn from. 

     Happy Birthday James!   

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    Onto slightly more weighty issues. 

       The joy that is the situation with Iran’s Nuclear facilities has been thrown into rather more sharp focus lately.  The Iranians are capable of making a nuclear weapon, so say senior staff  members of the IAEA.  They apparently have been working on a weapon since approximately 2002, which is kind of surprising, seeing how the U.S. said in 2007 that they weren’t capable of building a weapon and had given up working on one in 2003.  The report does state that this conclusion is tentative, but nevertheless this is a somewhat startling revelation. 

 

Toys for boys

Toys for Big Boys

   More startling is the fact that the outgoing head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, has tried, and been successful for a while now, to squash this report and keep it from coming out.  Read this, and this, and in particular check the date of release of the second document.  Now I am unsure if that is an internal release date, or if the document was released to the general public at that time.  

     One wonders why this didn’t get more press, it should have.  Maybe this got press, but I am having trouble recalling much of any coverage on IRAN GOING NUCLEAR out there on the news last year.  It would have been a HUGE political football during the campaign.  You’d figure that would have gotten more press, until you take into account Mr. ElBaradei and his Pro-Iranian stances.  He has been a stalwart in some areas, a good man, doing much for nuclear nonproliferation, but he has time and again turned a blind eye to Iran in his tenure as head of the IAEA.  Anything that happens with Iran and nuclear weapons here is clearly and directly on the head of Mr. ElBaradei.

    The hardest part of building the weapon is enriching the uranium to make the warheads out of, and the Iranians  have already learned how to do this, with the unwitting help of Mr. ElBaradei and his non-action on Iran and it’s nuclear intentions and capabilities. More on this as it becomes available.

    Boys and their toys.  What can you do as a citizen but shake your head and ask why this is happening?

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     That’s it from here, except the viddy.  Part of the time at the party we were watching sports, mostly The Notre Dame – Washington football, but there was also some Ranger hockey.  That is what I wanted to watch, to be honest, and I caught a few minutes of it there.  Twas nice.  It was even better when I got home and watched the Rangers soundly beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2.  It was a very well played game, not perfect but well played.  Highlights were Michael Del Zotto’s first NHL goal, which turned out to be the game winner, the play of Marian Gaborik, speedy smart player as always, and of  course the magnificent play of King Henrik, and a happy little fight at the end of the Game between Aaron Voros and Mike Fisher.  Aaron whupped his ass, Fisher fought hard, but Aaron beat him, and beat him but good.  But you be the judge.  Watch and Enjoy

    It was one helluva home opener for the Rangers.

    G’night!

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Today’s Nuggets, By Albert Einstein, Via wikiquote:  The position in which we are now is a very strange one which in general political life never happened. Namely, the thing that I refer to is this: To have security against atomic bombs and against the other biological weapons, we have to prevent war, for if we cannot prevent war every nation will use every means that is at their disposal; and in spite of all promises they make, they will do it. At the same time, so long as war is not prevented, all the governments of the nations have to prepare for war, and if you have to prepare for war, then you are in a state where you cannot abolish war.
This is really the cornerstone of our situation. Now, I believe what we should try to bring about is the general conviction that the first thing you have to abolish is war at all costs, and every other point of view must be of secondary importance.

I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.

Anagram: A Thorough Rebel/ A Three Hour Blog

       The wife tells me that these things always take me three hours to do.  I told her I thought she was off by quite a bit and said it took 90 money1minutes, tops.  So do you want to know how I spent the next 20 minutes? Working on the blog title and the anagram for it.  She may be closer to right that I gave her credit for.  If it takes 20 minutes to work out thirty five letters, twenty eight without the word anagram, then things are going to progress slowly. 

     LOL.

     So lets try to move a bit quicker here for the next segment, which is about saving money….kinda.

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     YAY!  We are saving money…or something.  I am reading a story on bloomberg, (who tend to skew there stories, but that is another point for another time) where they say that the United States has spent $11,600,000,000,000 in fighting this recession.  That is an insane number.  But the Amazing thing is the number has actually fallen by almost 10% over the last 6 months.  In March that number was $12,800,000,000,000.  The numbers here are a combination of loans spending and guarantees.  With the major issues in the banking sector dealt with, or at least handled for the time being, the Fed is now concentrating on buying mortgage backed securities. 

     That number is going to drop further, and much faster than it has in the past six months, due to programs that the fed had instituted that either are coming to an end or have already ended.  The treasury had a program to guarantee money market funds that came and went without paying out a dime.  This program was instituted after there was a run on the money markets last September 18th, to the tune of $550,000,000,000 in 90 minutes.  It speaks to the paranoia that was created by the events of last September that not one claim was paid on this.  If there was a real issue with money market funds, claims would have been paid for money lost due to damage from the financial systems massive drop.  5 other programs are set to expire between the end of October and February next year which will lower the total hit by $2,500,000,000,000 dollars.

    It’s still a helluva lot of money, but if we can drop out debt due to this financial crisis from 12.8 trillion in march 2009 to 9.1 trillion in February 2010, that gives me hope that our children and our children’s children wont have to pay such a crushing debt.  Someone is doing something right.

     For once. 

    There is one very nice additional feature in this story. It is listing of numbers at the bottom it, which lists in some detail the amount spent(listed as current) on the recovery, and the amount the fed has to work (listed as limit) with as well.

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         With that good news from the fed on money spent, one wonders how long this drop in the markets will continue, and how it will effect the markets.  I checked the futures market a few hours ago and it was up over 20 points, I just looked and it’s down over 30 points, a 50 point swing in futures in a few hours on a Sunday night.  That however doesn’t mean the market is going to drop again tomorrow.  Fair value is down but not that much. 

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  54 minutes in, 2 links, One Viddy, and almost 550 words.  I think I can get this done in 90 minutes, maybe even less.  Nice. One more story and I am done.

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    Ahhhhh, the joy of international politics. Iran is a party these days, isn’t it?  A second nuke plant, along the lines of a weapons grade nuke facility

That's gonna leave a mark...

that they tried to hide and only talked about after they found out the western powers knew about them, a belligerent and defiant tone after it was found, and now Missile tests.  The short range ones they fired today aren’t the real issue, they’ve done that before, several times. It is the announcement of plans for a long range missile test.  This long(er) range missile will have the capacity to hit Israel.

      Israel isn’t going to take that, and they have already threatened air strikes against Iran to keep them from getting nukes.  An imminent strike seems less likely, at least according to one report in the telegraph.

     There is a meeting between several nations and iran, including Russia, China, and the United States.  It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out.  Diplomacy is what Our President wants to see win the day here. We will find out how good he is at the game of diplomacy.  One hopes he is as masterful here as he was on the floor of the U.N. last week.

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    That is it from here, except for the usual quotes.  Have a good night!

Today’s Nuggets, Via Wikiquote:  The first thing necessary for a constructive dealing with time is to learn to live in the reality of the present moment. For psychologically speaking, this present moment is all we have.   Rollo May

Earnest in practicing the ordinary virtues, and careful in speaking about them, if, in his practice, he has anything defective, the superior man dares not but exert himself; and if, in his words, he has any excess, he dares not allow himself such license. Thus his words have respect to his actions, and his actions have respect to his words; is it not just an entire sincerity which marks the superior man?   Confucius

95 minutes. DAMMIT, I was SOOOOOOOO close!

Anagram: Clear Strong Mind/ Cradling Monster

       The words for this one I grabbed more or less at random.  I was looking for Ideas for the title here, and I found this list of the 500 most Jabberwockycommon words in the English language.  The words Clear Strong and Mind were ranked numbers 446, 442, and 444 respectively.  I tried a few other words together, but decided against “Deep(463) Moon(464) Island(465)” because the anagram “Dandelion Poems” just sounded…Just no, not for me thanks. “Country(206) Found(207) Answer(208)” didn’t treat me any better with the best anagram I could find being “funerary countdowns”

    I am kind of short on time.  Work, while not busy, is short handed, which means I get overtime, so I can’t play long tonight.  A viddy or two, some very quick witty repartee, and I am done.

      Tis good to see that the Protesters are back in force in Iran, keeping Ahmadinejad and the Guardian Council on their toes.  Iran will still be a nuclear nation at some point regardless of how this struggle for freedom goes, but the hope that maybe there will be a  more friendly nation where now there is only an aggressor.  Some more personal freedoms, along with a better relationship with the west.  Sounds like a plan to me. 

    And now for something completely different… 

    OK, aside from announcer guy, whose name eludes me for the moment, being cutesy with the Viagra references in relation to a second stimulus package, I think Brian Angerame is right in saying lets at least wait until we’ve seen the effect of the first stim before going for a second.   But the whole ” spend, spend, spend” mentality that they talk about here is what got us in trouble in the first place.  But I like the thought that someone out there saying publicly that saving on every level will in the long term help the economy.  Too often we talk about spending, we need to have money in order to spend it, right? 

      The Stimulus package and the Omnibus spending bill was meant to generate cash-flow, and it has, not as much as we would like but it’s coming, give it time.  But there is only so much of that that the system and the people can tolerate.  Let’s not spend too much more while the companies that are doing the damage to the economy, by firing people left right and crooked to save their own bottom lines, are endangering the short term strength of the nation at our expense, short circuiting our capacity to pull ourselves out of this mess.

    And on that note, I must depart.    T__E__Lawrence_1921

Today’s Nuggets, By T.E. Lawrence, Via Wikiquote:  I’ve been & am absurdly over-estimated. There are no supermen & I’m quite ordinary, & will say so whatever the artistic results. In that point I’m one of the few people who tell the truth about myself.

You wonder what I am doing? Well, so do I, in truth. Days seem to dawn, suns to shine, evenings to follow, and then I sleep. What I have done, what I am doing, what I am going to do, puzzle and bewilder me. Have you ever been a leaf and fallen from your tree in autumn and been really puzzled about it? That’s the feeling.

I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands
and wrote my will across the sky in stars
To gain you Freedom, the seven-pillared worthy house,
that your eyes might be shining for me
When I came.