Thursday, October 30, 2008

Is AIG the Next Enron?

I'm afraid it is. In America, too many people see it as the land of get all you can and hold it tight. Standard and reasonable business models have been raped by a corporate and short term mindset that is far from sustainable. This greed has penetrated real estate, Wall Street and virtually every sector of American life, creating chaos for those left behind. Somehow, the wealthy think they are insulated from a complete global collapse. If the spine goes, it's all gone. They are killing the golden goose and the greed-stricken don't give a damn.

The American International Group (AIG) is tearing through $123 billion (with a B) in public money. Here's the article and a quote.
AIG has declined to provide a detailed account of how it has used the Fed’s money. The company said it could not provide more information ahead of its quarterly report, expected next week, the first under new management. The Fed releases a weekly figure, most recently showing that $90 billion of the $123 billion available has been drawn down.

AIG has outlined only broad categories: some is being used to shore up its securities-lending program, some to make good on its guaranteed investment contracts, some to pay for day-to-day operations and — of perhaps greatest interest to watchdogs — tens of billions of dollars to post collateral with other financial institutions, as required by AIG’s many derivatives contracts.

Message to US House Representative Eric Cantor:

This is why you don't throw billions of taxpayer dollars at people who have quite possibly committed financial crimes they will later be indicted for. They don't teach that in law school?

Community Colleges; No Joke

I saw this article in The Wall Street Journal and was reminded about some experiences. I know people from all sorts of schools. I've been less impressed with those from the top names. Community colleges are fantastic values and they get the job done. I had no idea what I wanted for a major and had never had any luck with good advice form career counselors. The one at the community college got me on the right track. The other ninnies had me in business, which has always been just a hobby, an interest. She put me in science and that degree has opened more doors than I could imagine. Community Colleges are often used by retired professionals to contribute at a more fundamental level. It's saying something when someone could be off earning high five or even six figure salaries as a consultant or author, but they choose to be out helping youngsters instead for about half the money they'd make elsewhere.

I also met many instructors there who have truly improved my life. One was a former intelligence officer in the Army, who was the closest thing to a real father I've ever had. Another professor told me that my writing was "interesting, not Shakespeare, but interesting." He said I didn't write like the others. It meant a lot to me as a young moron, now an older one, to have an instructor make a point of knowing names and faces and the last paper you turned in to him. That's the kind of individual attention one gets at a community college. They know your name, and they really care about what you are or aren't learning. It's not all happy talk. They'll get on you if you slack off too. Another note is that while some of questionable intellect look down on community colleges, I've never had that as an issue at a job interview. In fact, going to a local school has worked better for me than having a fancy school name that might be 1000 miles away. Two words that defeat the school name argument are "Bush" and "Yale."

If someone wants a fancy piece of paper, by all means focus on name schools. Community colleges, especially in Virginia, are nothing to be ashamed of. From the article:
The cheapest option is community colleges, where tuition and fees average $2,402 this year. Enrollments at these two-year colleges have jumped as much as 20% at some schools, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.

S&P Promotes Wall Street Ownership of US Infrastructure

S&P Article from Seeking Alpha. Wall Street did such a great job with our 401(k)s that they are ready to control our bridges, schools and infrastructure. Hey, they've gobbled up and laid waste to everything else. Time to just say no. Also, since when does the S&P have any credibility? Are they going to give the projects a AAA rating even if structured by cows?

Police Believe Huffington Post Reporter Murdered Partner with Screwdriver; 222 Stab Wounds

While the Huffington Post was obsessed with Governor Palin's hair and legs, it seems their main campaign writer had some emotional issues.

This is also a reason why police don't trust anyone.

My final observation is the reporting of this crime. The reporter waits until the middle of the article to reveal the suspected murderer committed suicide? Editors aren't doing their jobs and newspapers probably aren't paying reporters enough.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Buy Fresh Buy Local

Buy local. I hadn't paid too much attention, but to find out that some in China were watering down milk and using melamine to up the protein reading is a little more than alarming. China is out of control, pirating anything they feel like and putting plastic into the food supply. Worse yet, the FDA response seems to be, "Well, you aren't sick yet are you? What's your problem?"

COOL Rules

From the what I didn't know category, an article about country of origin labeling. I'm sure no one is so greedy, that they'd scoff at one's right to know where their food comes from.
”It just is another onerous rule,” said Ken Capano Sr., the owner of ShopRite supermarkets in Norwich and New London. “I don't know if it garners the consumer anything. I don't know the full benefit to be derived from it, but we'll do it.”
Then, again. At least maybe he won't look for ways around it, since customers like the new law.
”If I chop it up and put it together I don't have to tell you where it came from,” observed Capano, noting that aspect of the law doesn't seem to make sense.
Doh! I agree with a commenter that perhaps Mr. Capano would be better in another line of work. Somehow, that attitude from someone these days is a bit unnerving, especially in the food business. Customers have a right to know where their food comes from. has an informative page on COOL and a guide about exemptions.


I'll hold back extensive comments until I hear the whole Black Ice album. Going by the reviews on Amazon, it's fine. The only bad reviews are suspected lugheads who think they are now too good to like the band. There's nothing wrong with being a kid again for an hour or so, and nobody should be surprised that AC/DC sounds like AC/DC. I don't think one reviewer realized how idiotic he sounded to criticize the band for retaining their same sound.

If he wants a new sound, go find a new band. The trailer parks, the last bastions of American freedom, will be rumbling this winter.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Narcissism Study

I couldn't make a whole lot of sense of this article, since they seem to pretend that Dr. Sam Vaknin hasn't already addressed what they say are recent revelations. He wrote a book, Malignant Self Love, which is written in a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) format. Vaknin logically distinguishes narcissism from pathological narcissism (NPD). Not all narcissists have Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

I have to read the article several more times, but it's almost written as if by a high school paper, and doesn't have the cliniical approach I'd expect on the subject. It could just be semantics. Maybe it's a bad translation from French. It goes all over the place like a drunk driver. I always thought it was common knowledge that most, if not all, narcissism was actually a projection of various degrees of self-hatred. When broken down into parts, narcissists are after praise. People already comfortable with themselves aren't so hungry to be worshipped. Still, an interesting topic.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Oh, Great; More Amateur Landlords

This article form The Wall Street Journal. Yeah, I've sworn off investing in stocks, but I'm not dead. Decent article. Wait until those sweet ideas turn sour. I don't consider rental speculation a particularly healthy sign. Renting is an art and there are big traps on both sides of the deal. I've had terrible landlords, and I seen tenants from hell. Craigslist is full of rentals nobody wants to rent. Another crisis in the making if you ask me. This country needs real jobs. There's plenty of work to do. US bridges are collapsing and sewer lids are being blown into the air in New York, but politicians would rather spend money on buying votes or war.
In many cases, sales have been stimulated by investors who are grabbing what they see as bargains on homes that can be turned into rentals.

Felons in US Congress OK?

A felon can't vote in an election, but they can win a seat in the US Congress? That's crazy, but it speaks of the double standard long held by the US Congress. They are above the law, but we are not.

My Goodbye to Wall Street; Winning by Losing

Reminiscent of an action movie in which the hero is chased through a doorway by a spray of machine gun fire, losing his favorite hat, but keeping his life, I bid farewell to Wall Street today. It's too damned crooked and it tarnishes the soul. Here's some other insight, from someone who's confronted the Wall Street wicked. They are as bad as I might have imagined. Here's a quote from Seeking Alpha, posted by Mark Sunshine.
Unfortunately, most of the money managers who were in the business of managing arbitrage CDOs/CLOs were really smart marketing guys but not so smart money managers. While they ripped out of these deals hundreds of billions in fees and expenses, these money managers really added no value, had no real insights into the market and unlocked nothing (other than their fees).
I liked much of what this post had to say. I don't know about closing the markets, but some of the other points were interesting enough. Here's a quote from Seeking Alpha, posted by John Gilluly.
Being "in" the market as a shareholder today is akin to being in a large swimming pool with hundreds of naked people and 4 or 5 very hungry Great White sharks. You can see people being eaten alive, you can hear their screams and see the blood in the water, and yet all's you have to do is hop out of the water and get out at the side of the pool. Then you're safe. Why wouldn't you do this?...

...We no longer have a "market" as you and I have come to know it. We have Saturn eating his children.
Unless you can afford to watch the market constantly, you don't stand a chance. I was lucky today, which is why I can laugh about it. But, I was scrambling for the door or poolside, in the case above. The results could have been catastrophic. It's just not worth it. My advice to anyone considering opening up a brokerage account, don't. Find a reliable Credit Union or some very conservative bank and invest in CDs and savings bonds, treasuries, pay cash for raw land. Even a second job is preferable to gambling at Wall Street. I kept trying to normalize it, but it's nothing but a rigged casino.

So much time wasted on charts, reading, and constantly reviewing a position for the 1000 ways some crook can steal it away from you. It's not a part time job.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Case for MacBook Pro Versus PC Notebook

I've been getting a lot of questions from hardcore PC users about my MacBook Pro and thought others might have similar questions about how I like it after almost a year.

If a user wants an easier computing life with minimal effort, a better chance of compatibility with certain popular programs whose manufacturers refuse to offer as OSX-compatible programs and don't mind Microsoft's obsession with licensing and intrusion via updates -- they're turning a bunch of desktop screens black in China -- continue to go with PCs. That's the easier choice and it's less expensive in the short term, and it's good for people who just want to get along. It's probably better to use for games.

If a user wants the most portable notebook that can adapt to your creativity, a magnetic power cord attachment that makes setting up and breaking down a snap, faster start-ups and shut-downs, a hard disk security wipe utility built-in to the operating system, minimal weight and bulk, and the ability to easily run any operating system you chose as a virtual machine, select a MacBook Pro. Of course, you'll need a legal copy of Windows to run that as a virtual machine, but think of it as a slave to Apple's master. Running MS Windows as a virtual machine is quite different than running an MS program for Macintosh machines. A person can easily run Linux, Windows XP and Tiger OSX simultaneously, while also being online, and the MacBook Pro pushes right along.

Yes, there's a practical reason for wanting that. Apple is less hassle to use as an online computer for blogging and such, and the programs are easier to access with the dock toolbar that is activated by running the mouse cursor to the bottom of the screen. Some programs only run on Windows so that virtual machine is often on fro a favorite program. Linux is for messing around and it has a decent office suite of it's own. Linux may also be good for those venturing on to a higher level of computing, as it is gradually pushing into territory long-held by Microsoft. A guy I know says his corporation is switching its servers to Linux, a huge move for them. Ubuntu Linux 8.04 LTS is simple to set up, but still has the kick of a system that will allow the user to develop programs and familiarize themselves with computer code.

Another thing that I like about Apple, is that they are serious about innovation. While Microsoft has "made its bones" with tricky licensing agreements computer manufacturers and lawsuit threats, the Windows operating system and Microsoft Office, Apple has countless programs that help people do things with their computers, and something called an i-Phone among its accomplishments.

Apple grows its business with happy customers, not with people who have no other choices but to buy the Apple product. The pop-up docking station keeps desired programs within easy reach at all times. My one gripe is only 2 USB ports, but that is easily remedied with a Belkin 4-port thumb hub that I throw in my backpack. Another thing is that programs from someone such as a bank or online broker might not work with OSX and Alltel says a Blackberry can't tether with a MacBook Pro, though I read that's it's being done. They'll come around. I'm not going back to my PC dependence. I like losing my chains. Apple also requires more OSX updates than I thought, but I can survive. I haven't seen where they use these updates to later attack customers as Microsoft has. I believe Apple updates are about making everything work better for the customer, that the customer comes first.

I also stand corrected on previously scolding Apple on not including a 56k modem in their machines. They saw the trend of USB modems before anyone else did. I have no use for a 56k modem and dial-up became useless as content providers demand the ability to download faster than the 40k I was getting.

It all comes down to choices, and which company is better at providing those choices for their customers.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Message of Encouragement for Governor Sarah Palin

Visit the wrong web sites and see if you can imagine a male governor of a US state attacked with such vigor and disgust. She's just a woman, so it's OK? Governor Sarah Palin is attractive, so it's her own fault? Is that the attitude Americans have in 2008? If this is representative of the democrats' kinder and more gentle Obama America, count me out. Their rejection of Ralph Nader shows they have more of a drive towards partisanship, and possibly just vile behavior, than actually finding solutions for the nation's woes. As Alexander Cockburn pointed out in his article for this weekend, Nader has the policy Obama/Biden and the democrats claim to support.
K St loves Obama. So do the defense contractors. They love Biden too. Just to refresh your memories of what a progressive platform actually looks like, take a look at the website of the Nader campaign. Like the U.S. senators’ knowledge of foreign policy, the bar these days for what the left finds bearable is awfully low. The more the left holds its tongue, the lower the bar will go.
The Huffington Post had joined the party long ago, and is still gleefully publicizing every pornographic depiction possible of Governor Palin. Yet, when convenient, the same bloggers and "feminists" will express outrage against sexism and the denigration of women.

The Alaskan governor must scare the hell out of the political establishment scribes as Arianna Huffington and Peggy Noonan to draw such a barrage of vicious attacks. This isn't about 2008, it's about 2012. 2008 has already been decided. Those results are not yet known, but it's a done deal. Governor Palin is rumored to be resisting McCain handlers, which is no surprise to those who believe she is one the GOP doesn't control as much as they would like. A story which is being reported is that the GOP intends to attack and discard Governor Palin if the election ends badly. It may not be that easy.

One must still remember the early warning from a man who knows, her father, Chuck Heath:
“I would tell those boys in Washington, ‘Don’t underestimate her.’ "

Addressing Sy Harding Blog Column, 10/25/08

Sy Harding has an interesting blog, which is why he is in the Whiskey Mind blog list.

There are still several issues with his 10/25/08 morning column. These issues will be addressed here, as Mr. Harding's email excludes anyone who is not a paying subscriber of his newsletter. That alone is interesting, as many famous people such as Phil Zimmermann, Helen Thomas, Alexander Cockburn, Dr. Michael Hudson and others will respond directly to email inquiries. Joe Kernan, CNBC Squawkbox, will respond while he is actually working a show.

Mr. Harding's point is elusive as, the headlines he uses as examples of a worsening situation over the weekend were merely the headlines that were too late for yesterday's price drop. That may suggest that he has not advised his newsletter reader to buy into the market yet. I don't know about the particular deadlines of the publications he refers to, but I know it was too late yesterday morning to have headline on a story that wasn't even material until 8:00 AM yesterday.

Therefore the headlines of today's paper are characterizing yesterday's situation, not some extension of the problems. Global markets aren't open until open until tomorrow night, US time.
Markets around the world continued to spiral down a dark hole. It's an ugly day that can end with the Dow down 312 points, 3.6%, and still be greeted with relief that it wasn't much worse.
Followed later in the column by...

It will be interesting to see how Asian markets perform tomorrow night. Perhaps that the U.S. market did not totally collapse yesterday will provide some encouragement.

It's difficult to say if Mr. Hardng considers the overseas markets as leading or lagging the US market. He reports that previous overseas results affected yesterday's US market, but then turns around later in his column and speculates whether yesterday's US market will affect tomorrow night's overseas market. It would certainly by representative of a dog chasing its tail if a failed overseas market affected a US market, which affected the next overseas market.

Another oddity of Mr. Harding's article is the mention of some conspiracy to manipulate the US stock market. Mr. Paulson and Mr. Bernanke have never been shy about when they are forcing the market upwards. In that case, some government report comes in surprisingly favorable to the stock market or some major plan to counter the credit crisis is made near an expiration period or at a sensitive time.

They just banned shorts for several days. The US government isn't likely shy about taking action now. They may attempt to affect the markets next week, as any additional routs, such as Mr. Harding seems to expect, may spiral the entire world economy into the land of the lost. It could simply be, that a 45% dive is oversold for the moment. There is also a natural tendency to end all pain quickly, but that likely will not be the case. There was a story on CNBC yesterday about Pimco calling on all hedge funds who were selling to just sell and get it over with, but that's not the reality of markets.

Some investors don't appear to understand the risks this time around. Nothing says the US stock market has to recover after speculators beat it down to what they consider a level which will yield a harsh rally and fast profits. There is such a thing as a run on stock market brokers. It took years to get into a financial mess of world class proportions and it will take years for it to unwind. Actually, if the government and banks were colluding to prevent a disastrous collapse of the stock market, one possibly past hope of recovery, I don't know if I would be pounding the table against their intrusion on a free market. That "free market" has almost strangled the life out of the world.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ralph Nader on McCain/Obama Debates

From a 10/22/08 CounterPunch article from Ralph Nader is here. Section quote below:

If anyone can detect a difference between the two candidates regarding belligerence toward Iran and Russia, more U.S. soldiers into the quagmire of Afghanistan (next to Pakistan), kneejerk support of the Israeli military oppression, brutalization and colonization of the Palestinians and their shrinking lands, keeping soldiers and bases in Iraq, despite Obama’s use of the word “withdrawal,” and their desire to enlarge an already bloated, wasteful military budget which already consumes half of the federal government’s operating expenses, please illuminate the crevices between them.

In Case Anyone Missed It; Goodman Opens Debates to Nader and McKinney.

Amy Goodman does it again. Democracy Now transcript. She's creative and she will not back down from a story.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Professional Unprofessionals

As a reader may notice, I have interests in several subjects. Keeping Wall Street from stealing my retirement savings, little that it is, is a primary interest of mine. The absurd claims of incompetence about the credit crisis and what caused it boggle the mind. Alan Greenspan, now employed by Bill "Mr. Bailout" Gross of Pimco, is defining a new low. Therefore, I have recognized a new class of professional, the unprofessional.

Since none of the major decision makers, the US Congress, many CNBC contributors and hosts, President Bush, or a variety of regulators had absolutely no idea anything was amiss on Wal Street until the roof caved in, they are clearly either professional screw-ups or criminals. They're all getting paid well to be managers and leaders.

I don't know much about economics, but I do know that if there's too much easy money for too long, the credit industry gets all out of balance. I think a third grader can grasp that concept. This credit problem is not a liquidity crisis. The problem is that bankers were allowed to hide junk loans as AAA rated credit, and at the same time market those "securities" in a way that leverage of 30-40 times the suggested value. We now know that even that suggested value was only imaginary. How can it be a liquidity crisis when easy money was everywhere? Mothers and women who raise children often refer to such behavior as "shenanigans." There was usually some discipline involved when shenanigans were revealed.

If the results weren't so disastrous, it'd be funny as hell that so many grown adults are so clueless about the subjects from which they earn a very decent salary and living. It's similar to episodes of Reno 911.

I am more than willing to earn $400,000 or 100 times that for making the worse decisions one can imagine. In fact, that may even be more work than to behave in a sensible manner. It's difficult to be that wrong all of the time. On second thought, maybe they do deserve what they get paid that much. Pretending to be stupid at the same time one pretends to be the best in their field has got to take its toll on a person.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

There Were Those Who Didn't Think Wall Street Affected Them

I wonder if that's the case now. Companies are closing down and people are losing their jobs and homes. I hate to be overly dramatic, but I agree with a lot of what I read that indicates we haven't seen anything close to the worst of it yet. We should all be able to sue the executives of those ratings agencies and banks for pain and suffering. This event is a great example of how white collar crime is not harmless. I don't care what anyone says, a crime has been committed. It wasn't a loophole or misunderstanding. The people involved had a legal duty not to do what they did.

I'm in the middle of reading about Michael Short, in an old copy of The Washington Post Magazine someone gave me. I've always been interested in how the American justice system is essentially corrupt in its application. Most Americans only get the justice they can afford. Short is no different and got sentenced to 15 years for a crack dealing violation. His sentence was commuted by President Bush after all but about six months had been served. Anyone who's even been close to a real jail knows it's no fun for even a night. Anyone whose been around certain neighborhoods knows that a lot of those guys doing hard time for drugs are far less harmful to society than those jerks at S&P joking about rating a deal even if it were structured by a cow.

The people involved in the credit ratings agency activity that rated junk mortgage bonds as AAA are responsible for bringing the world to its knees, some governments could very well fall before this is over. Wall Street bank executives want to call this an unfortunate incident and just keep the taxpayer money flowing. 401(k)s and some money market funds got wiped out. Pension funds and even money market funds are at risk or already gone. I am not anti-wealth. I think a lot of us know or have met people who are defined as wealthy. The ones I've met are a lot easier to get along with than some other people I could name, even in my own family.

However, money's not everything and the people from the banks to the ratings agencies, anyone who had a hand in it, should have their names published nationwide and fined or jailed for the maximum penalty allowed by law. Sy Harding wrote on his 10/22/08 blog that now was not the time to assign blame. I strongly disagree. I think we have to assign blame.
Also: We don't need all these Congressional and regulatory investigations right now looking into how this all happened, pointing blame, politicians all over the media after publicity. The investigations can come later. Doing so now is only adding to the gloom and uncertainty on Main Street, and cannot accomplish anything right now. Instead concentrate on getting the system out of the mess, and preventing more panic. Then go back later and place blame.
Confidence will not return until the public is convinced that justice means more in American than how fat someone's wallet is, or how many politicians they have bought. Some of the investigations will take time, but others can be faster. As reported on :

The ratings agencies betrayed our trust, says an irate Jon Najarian on CNBC’s Closing Bell. In order to amend the broken trust we need to get some skins on the wall.
Skins on the wall! I wonder if they are accepting volunteers for processing those hides.

Equal Justice; The Real Confidence Problem

If there is a bright side to this credit crisis, it would be the exposure of the US political establishment's refusal to represent the electorate of the nation. The curtain has been drawn back, and the truth has been exposed. All of the "kooks" nod in confirmation, while those previously confident that their interests were adequately represented by elected officials are emptying their 401(k) accounts to prevent their life savings from being looted by a Wall Street apparently run amok with greed. Confidence can not be established in a system without equality under the law.

The American electorate is not in charge of its government. The controls put into place by the US Constitution have been short circuited by decades of loopholes, courtrooms, laws, and backroom deals. Bill Gross, of Pimco, can get on CNBC and make a demand that will be granted in less than a week. Joe Wurzelbacher, his name is not Joe the plumber, gets background checks and press attacks when he dares to bring up a concern. That is indicative of anyone who gets too close. The establishment allows us to rant as long as we are deemed ineffective, but look at what happens when citizens ask what the thoroughly compromised mainstream media refuse to address and they start to make a difference. Personal driving records and personal financial records are released for public scrutiny and possible legal action, anything that may even get the person fired from their employment. Their message is, "Know your place."

Hopefully, the electorate will remember their place, their duty, this November.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Getting Elected in Rural Virginia 101, for Anita Hartke

Ms. Anita Hartke is running against Congressman Eric Cantor in Virginia's 7th district, for the US House of Representatives. Since she seems to need some advice on political campaigns, some reasonable advice is available here.

It is best to not call voters names or insult their ethics. Spitting at people, nasty looks at babies and accusations about ignorance of the adults are also not ways to win people over. The use of words such as "inbred", "hick", "redneck", "bitter", and "wingnuts" will likely create ill feelings from many 7th district residents.

Suggesting a gun ban on certain rifles and stricter gun control laws in a district where gun ownership is about 95%, second only to ownership of bibles and pickup trucks, may not be the best strategy either. Ms. Hartke would be far more competitive if she just assumed that similar political positions are the reason the GOP has its death grip on that district in the first place. Making beer sales, cursing, laughing, and hound dogs illegal are also probably on the list of non-starters.

It is surprising that a person who supposedly makes a good living dealing with people doesn't have a better approach than what Ms. Hartke has demonstrated during her campaign. Perhaps more confusing, is that a significant portion of her appeal is supposed to the inheritance of her father's, former US Senator Vance Hartke, political savvy and her claim to the skill set of a natural politician.

If Ms. Hartke is from another planet, it may be wise to confirm her eligibility to run for elected office in the US Congress. Attempts by the DNC to actually find a viable candidate to replace someone who clearly does not represent the majority of his constituents would be very much appreciated.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Possibly Dated but Always Relevant Privacy Advice

Somewhere during my travels lately, I came across this link at "Shred your stuff." Well said. One Realtor was actually amazed that I was concerned that she was emailing client credit information. She said worrying about that was like worrying about what was in my garbage. It's hard being me, sometimes.

What I Hope to Accomplish

As with many others writing blogs, I am trying to refine my thought process through a keyboard, and also work off some stress that comes from the US Congress flatly ignoring the pleas of about 80% of Americans against a hastily prepared and perpetually flawed bailout of wealthy bankers and Wall Street titans.

After signing the bill into law, President Bush, as if to shove a middle finger into the face of a US citizenry foolish enough to think they actually had any influence in his decisions, stated that he was going to take all the time he needed to implement the bailout plan as he saw fit. All anyone was asking was to not have secret meetings in backrooms and circumvent the usual procedure of the US Congress and hearings on proposed laws. Most scams are rushed, as time would expose serious flaws. Being conscientious citizens, it is our duty to remind renegade officials that we also have functional middle fingers. I'll try to hold up my end in that regard.

Not that I agree with everything anyone says or does, but Amy Goodman is an example of the passion a journalist is supposed to have for the truth. She has a very active middle finger; however, always utilized in very appropriate and gentle manner. I'd be honored to ever have half of her talent and drive.

It's all about a variety of sources and perspectives, which is what I hope readers find here. The doors are open, but there's still construction going on. I don't cling to party labels like they are security blankets. I try to cling to the truth, wherever it may be. I haven't found much of it around either Nancy Pelosi or President Bush lately.