Got two good eyes, but you still don’t see

Well, you had to know which side of the fence I was going to fall on with this one.  But here goes.

  1. Black Friday is bullshit.
  2. Shopping on Thanksgiving for Christmas is bullshit
  3. Walmart is bullshit
  4. Target and Toys R Us?  Bullshit.

When I lived in the City I used to enjoy going downtown early on Friday morning to see the new window displays.  Macy’s always outdid themselves, the SPCA was loading puppies into the windows at Gumps, and there was nothing like getting a cup of coffee and walking the quiet streets checking out what everyone had done.  I was generally out of there by about 9:30am before the jackassery began.  It was always cold and I almost always needed gloves.  And I do miss that.

I also used to go down to Fisherman’s Wharf on Christmas eve and get crab and sourdough from the street markets because there was no tourists there that day.

Then the media started advancing the corporate agenda by calling it “Black Friday” and talking about the sales and the “deals” and on and on.  Of course next week they will tell you that the deals today weren’t that good.  If people actually understood mark-up that would help.

This year I will go out of my way to find stuff manufactured in the USA.  If not the USA, I will go with a developed country, England, Germany, Canada, not a third world country.  Or China.  I promise you that while I rarely walk into a Walmart (I haven’t been in one in the last eight years) that will not change.

I will not be supporting any union busters.  I didn’t used to be so pro-union as I’ve become.  There was a point where I thought unions might have run their course.  Then this country and Fox started moving in a different direction.  As a quick aside let me throw out some facts about the Hostess union mess.

  • The company owes the pension plan $944 million dollars.  That’s about $51,000 per employee that has now evaporated.  How would you like it if your company just stole $51k from you?
  • The company pays the bakers about $18 per hour.  Someone who makes that makes $3120 per month, or $37,500 per year.   The management asked them to take a 8% pay cut, which takes them down to $16.50 per hour.  That is $2860 per month or $34,320 per year.  Take out 20% in federal and state taxes, you’re down to $27,500.  Take out $1500 a month in rent, you’re down to $9500 left over.  Take out $300 a month for food and you’ve got $5900.  That leaves you $491 per month for utilities, transportation, insurance and incidentals.  You cannot live on that.
  • Prior to Hostess filing bankruptcy the CEO made $750,000.  In July 2011 knowing full well they were going back to the trough, the executive team gave themselves raises.  The CEO went from $750,000 to $2,550,000.  Here are the rest:
    • Brian Driscoll, CEO, around $750,000 to $2,550,000.
    • Gary Wandschneider, EVP, $500,000 to $900,000.
    • John Stewart, EVP, $400,000 to $700,000.
    • David Loeser, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256.
    • Kent Magill, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256.
    • Richard Seban, EVP, $375,000 to $656,256.
    • John Akeson, SVP, $300,000 to $480,000.
    • Steven Birgfeld, SVP, $240,000 to $360,000.
    • Martha Ross, SVP, $240,000 to $360,000.
    • Rob Kissick, SVP, $182,000 to $273,008.
  • I’ll help with the math, that comes out to an average raise of 126% to drive a company into bankruptcy.
  • Prior total executive compensation: $3,737,000.  After  compensation: $$7,591,776.

So we’ll review.  The Union killed Hostess.  Got it.

Hostess Brands is Closed.

We are sorry to announce that Hostess Brands, Inc. has been forced by a Bakers Union strike to shut down all operations and sell all company assets. For more information, go tohostessbrands.info. Thank you for all of your loyalty and support over the years.

Liars.

So when Alice Walton is one of the richest women in the world but her employees make so little that many of them get their food from a food bank or food stamps, we have to wonder, what is wrong with this country?

What is wrong with a country where Papa John’s pizza can’t afford $.14 per pizza so that their employees have access to health care?  What is wrong where Alice Walton won’t give her employees enough hours for them to qualify for health care?  What is wrong that we don’t want everyone around us to be as healthy as possible?   How long is it before this kind of stinking thinking gets us a plague?  Oh never mind, we already have on in the form of the HIV virus.

What if the title industry had unionized?  Would that have saved the thousands of jobs that are still being done in India?  (a country that doesn’t even have title insurance, FWIW)  I tried back in the 90’s.  No one wanted to rock the boat.  I was right.

Next up:  I beat the holy snot out of the “Keep the Christ in Christmass” assholes.  You love me.

Sweet lovely death, I am waiting for your breath

Right now, in my life, the shittiest thing I have to do is “make the call”.  So far I feel comfortable with the idea that I have consistently gotten it right.  Rayette was in kidney failure and deep distress.  I will never forget saying to the vet “I know what’s in it for you and I know what’s in it for me.  You haven’t explained to me what’s in it for the cat.”  He couldn’t and I went back to my normal vet the next day and let her go.  Broderick went flat on me, he was easy.  I was helping him out of his pain.  He was so far gone that they had to actually shoot the stuff into his heart, his veins had already collapsed.  I didn’t have to make the call on Xica, she took herself out of the game.  I don’t know if I could have done that one, so I always consider that her last gift to me.

Beauregard was brutal, but I told him on Sunday, just wait until I get home on Tuesday and then you can go.  He woke me up 3am Wednesday morning, it was time.  Toby’s feet had swollen up, she was shutting down from her cancer.  It was the right thing to do.  Cody collapsed and I had to carry him into the vet’s office to let him go.  Ike was a little tougher, but I had already made the decision to let him go for his deteriorating temperament issues.  I figured they were a byproduct of the pain from his Wobblers.  So he picked a fight with Norman and lost magnificently.  I think he would have let Norman kill him if I hadn’t intervened.

Miss Cleo.  This one is harder.  She has been deteriorating for about a week.  Today her breathing was labored and distressed.  It wasn’t getting better as the morning wore on.  I took her in, fully expecting to leave with a leash and a collar.  Which I did, the difference was the dog was still attached.  I don’t know if I got this one right so far, but I didn’t think it was her time yet.  I’m not going to spend a bunch of money doing tests on a 14 year old dog, but I went with a run of antibiotics.  If it’s pneumonia and I can fix it for the cost of antibiotics and give her a little more time, what’s the harm?  If it’s something worse, a tumor, DCM (no indication on that one), lung cancer…the antibiotics won’t make a difference and we’ll be right back to where we are today.  And I will have given this old dog a fair shot.  Again.

That’s the best you can do

The War on Drugs.  Why?

It’s been going on for 40 years now.  It was Nixon that declared a war on drugs.  Interestingly, Jimmy Carter campaigned on decriminalizing marijuana.  See, he wasn’t as bad as the Right made him out to be.  Because since it’s inception the War on Drugs has cost the American people financially, over a trillion dollars.  We’re moving at a clip of about $1716 per second right now.  In the time it will take you to read PBE we will have spent about a million dollars on the War on Drugs.  What did our money get us?

Well, at a rate of $35 billion per year we get about 9100 stoners arrested.  Someone is arrested every 19 seconds on a drug related offense.  That’s about 1.4 million people per year.  725,000 of them for pot.  And 9143 incarcerated last year.  That’s a rate of an incarceration for every $3,828,065 spent.  Maybe we are doing it wrong.

You don’t do any drugs, do you?  So this shouldn’t affect you in any way.  Unless the Police and the DEA do a wrong door raid on your home, shoot your dog, force your kids to lie next to your dead pets corpse while they rifle through your shit.  That wouldn’t happen in America…would it?  Actually it happens at an alarming rate right here in America.  One of my neighbors grows medical marijuana with a card and everything.  I pray that if they come they get the right door.  The way the DEA and Police work right now, they would shoot all five of my dogs.

But that’s not all.  They have put a gun to the head of an 11 year old girl, left diabetic kids on the floor in an extremely stressful situation with no medication, and killed 47 innocents.  All so they can put a lousy 9143 so called criminals in jail.  What are we doing?

In 1996 the DEA got approval to do paramilitary raids, also referred to as “No knock” raids on homes in America.  There is the unnecessary raids on Doctors or people who are sick with legitimate marijuana medical cards.  Because they are such a threat to society.

Why are these drugs illegal anyway?  Alcohol causes 2.5 million deaths every year.  Approximately 25,000 annually are from drunk drivers.  That rate is 71 per day.  Illegal drugs?  Not so much.  Stoners are classically non-violent.  Imagine if we taxed the 21 million plants that are grown in California annually?  The production is $13 billion.  At a tax rate similar to sales tax that’s over $1.37 billion dollars in REVENUE vs the expense of chasing around a bunch of stoners.

Oh we can’t legalize drugs we’ll have a bunch of addicts.  Hello!  Prescription drug addiction just surpassed illicit drug addiction this year.  It doesn’t matter, that ship has sailed.

Interesting factoid, the number one cash crop in America?  Marijuana.  But the government doesn’t get a penny from its production.  It’s spends $35 billion trying to stop it.  Number 2 cash crop? Corn.  Number 3? Soybeans.  Number 4?  Hay.  All of those are taxed.  What are we doing?

Who really opposes legalizing drugs?

  1. Police Unions
  2. Private Prison Corporations
  3. Alcohol and Beer Companies
  4. Pharmaceutical Corporations
  5. Prison Guard Unions.

What are we doing?

Oh if drugs are legalized everyone will be doing coke and meth and smoking pot and running amok.  Right.  Because we all do everything we can whether it’s legal or not.  Here’s the deal.  I could have a bottle of gin in my cupboard for 10 years and not touch it.  Why?  Because I don’t like gin.  So why would currently illicit drugs be any different?  If I were predisposed to go through a kilo of pot, coke or meth, I would.  If not, I wouldn’t.  If I were predisposed to drink a gallon of gin, I would.  I’m not so I wouldn’t.  It’s a stupid argument.

Let’s stop wasting time, money and resources chasing around a bunch of drug dealers, legalize it, bring it out into the open and be done with it.  It’s about personal responsibility.  Do it, it’s your problem.  Not ours.

 

Knuckles crack and lillies grow

I know, the flagship was down for a few days.  But there is a great story behind it.

Right after the Navy Seals took out Osama bin Laden, I wrote a little rant.  Imagine that?  Part of that rant included a meme.  The meme was a photograph of two Marines in camouflage in sniper position.  The meme was:

  • Training for a Navy SEAL $80,000
  • Fifty caliber sniper rifle: $3000
  • Getting a terrorist in your crosshairs: Priceless

Well the photographer of the original picture, prior to it becoming a meme was some guy named Leif Skoogfors.  The original photo can be found here on Time magazine’s website, with no credits.  Anyway, this little self important asshat sent a complaint to my hosting company and because I don’t read my email, I didn’t see the email from “LEGAL” and they took down the flagship.  After screaming and yelling and deleting the offending meme, PBE is back up and running.  And Leif Skoogfors would be my douche of the day if not for Donald Trump.

To say Trump is mentally unstable would be an understatement.  That guy has lost it.  I wish I knew how people clipped out certain tweets.  Some of his were epically stupid on election night.  Bitching about the electoral college was brilliant.  Unless you consider that Obama won by over 3 million in the popular vote too, not counting Florida, which is actually a good idea.  Let’s not count Florida.  I am happy that they were rendered irrelevant on Tuesday night.  Now they just look like what they are.  Incompetent.  Nobody gives a shit when they actually finish.  Let me just quote Arnold.  “The people have spoken”.  And they were pretty loud.

This is an absolute classic.

Big scary negro opens the door for two old ladies so they can vote.  Quote of the day?  Governor Bob McDonnell:

“We’ve got to be a lot more inclusive and open and energetic and wanting people to join our team by expressing why these conservative values are good for people of all races, creeds, colors, and national origin.  We’ve just got to do a better job with that.”

Let’s see, how to start?  Hmmmm.

The people have spoken.  The Tea Party was shown the door.  Cantor and Boehner were reelected, Cantor handily, Boehner unopposed, but Boehner had a noticeably different timbre yesterday.  I don’t know what Mitch McConnell will do now, since he spent the last four years making sure Obama didn’t get re-elected.  Nice job Mitch. These asshats held our country hostage for four years for nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  They refused to compromise on anything and for all intents and purposes shut our country down.  The people have spoken.  They didn’t like that.  Your districts might be full of knuckleheads but there was a mandate on Tuesday.  Scott Brown?  Buh bye.  Allan West?  See ya.  Todd Akin?  Go away.  The rest of y’all?  Get on board.

And Nate Silver.  The smartest guy in the room.

 

Country music, without prejudice.

It’s Sunday morning and I feel a sermon comin’ on!

I’m going to remove a word from our vocabulary today.  “Entitlements”.

The kind of government program that provides individuals with personal financial benefits (or sometimes special government-provided goods or services) to which an indefinite (but usually rather large) number of potential beneficiaries have a legal right (enforceable in court, if necessary) whenever they meet eligibility conditions that are specified by the standing law that authorizes the program. The beneficiaries of entitlement programs are normally individual citizens or residents, but sometimes organizations such as business corporations, local governments, or even political parties may have similar special “entitlements” under certain programs. The most important examples of entitlement programs at the federal level in the United States would include Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, most Veterans’ Administration programs, federal employee and military retirement plans, unemployment compensation, food stamps, and agricultural price support programs.

The existence of entitlement programs is mainly significant from a political economy standpoint because of the very difficult problems they create for Congress’s efforts to control the exact size of the budget deficit or surplus through the annual appropriations process. It is often very hard to predict in advance just how many individuals will meet the various entitlement criteria during any given year, so it is therefore difficult to predict what the total costs to the government will be at the time the appropriation bills for the coming fiscal year are being drafted. This makes it even harder for government to smooth out the business cycle or pursue other macroeconomic objectives through an active fiscal policy — because these objectives require careful pre-planning of the size of thebudget deficit or surplus to be run. In the first place, the amount of money that will be required in the coming year to fund an entitlement program is often extremely difficult to predict in advance because the number of people with an entitlement may depend upon the overall condition of the economy at the time. For example, the total amount of unemployment benefits to be paid out will depend upon the changing level of unemployment in the economy as the year wears on. Some very large entitlement programs (including Social Security pensions and government employee retirement programs) have been “indexed” to inflation, so that the size of the benefit is periodically adjusted according to a fixed formula based on unpredictable changes in the Consumers’ Price Index. Perhaps more significantly, the amount of spending on entitlement programs is impossible for the Senate and House Appropriations committees to even attempt to adjust or to control because those committees do not have the jurisdiction to rewrite the laws that specify who gets how much and under what conditions. The various specialized standing committees who do have the jurisdiction to rewrite authorizing legislation each tend to be dominated by members whose political interests lie in expanding their particular entitlement program, not in cutting it back, and the political influence of the organized special interest groups that support the programs tends to be overwhelming on the specialized committees when such proposals arise.

Since the middle 1980s, entitlement programs have accounted for more than half of all federal spending. Taken together with such other almost uncontrollable (in the short run, that is) expenses as interest payments on the national debt and the payment obligations arising from long-term contracts already entered into by the government in past years, entitlement programs leave Congress with no more than about 25% of the annual budget to be scrutinized for possible cutbacks through the regular appropriations process. This very substantially reduces the practicality of trying to counteract the ups and downs of the overall economy through a “discretionary” fiscal policy because so very little of the budget is available for meaningful alteration by the Appropriations and Budget committees on short notice.

That’s from the Department of Political Science at Auburn.

We are talking about food, shelter and health care.  Medicare is not free.  I have a $10,000 bill for it this year.  You paid for it too.  When you get to a point in your life it will be there.  It is a mutual benefit for the greater good.

But this is a sermon so let’s get back to what Jesus said.  James 2:14-17

14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith obut does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 pIf a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 qand one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good1 is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

Let’s see what 1 John 3:17 has to say about that

17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Let’s go Old Skool Testament on y’all.  Proverbs 14:31

Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.

Let’s see if I can find some teaching in the Bible where it says it’s okay to complain about feeding the poor and clothing the cold.  Checking…..

Nope.  No where.  They actually had to create a search for “complaining about helping the needy”.  That search yielded me these jewels.  Acts 20:35

In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Or Colossians 3:23

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

So as far as I can tell, if you’re thumping a Bible, you don’t get to complain about so called Entitlements.  As a matter of fact, you should be doing more to feed and cloth the poor.  So let’s stop with the rhetoric and simply do what’s right.  Let’s stop oppressing our fellow Americans and give them the hand up they need.

Every tear-soaked whiskey memory blown away

Earlier this week the mother of all storms crashed into New Jersey and New York in particular.

Governor Christie started off basically telling his constituents that they were on their own.  He was still his arrogant annoying self.

Then something strange happened.  Sandy came through and washed him clean.  He got to actually spend time with the POTUS.  He got to see him in action and as the internets are saying a bromance budded.

What Christie learned which ignorant bastards like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh will never know is that Obama cares about this country and the people living here.  His team was ready to go and sprung into action.  There was no “you’ve done a heckofa job Brownie” moments.  FEMA was properly positioned and is getting real help to victims on the ground.  Victims.  You know, that 47%.  Victims.

If you heard Romney’s comments, you might notice what I did, which is when he actually mentioned the victims, he mentioned their financial loss first.  It’s what this guy cares about.

Here is the telling video.

Yes, the financial loss is devastating, but I can tell you, the loss of home, family members, jobs, community…all worse than the financial loss.  Insurance companies will compensate for some of the financial loss.  It just shows what this guy is made of.

Christie saw something else.  And quite honestly, I saw a different side of Christie.  He’s a guy I have loved to hate, but I would say today he’s a changed man.  For the better.

There is so much political crap out there.  For the first time in four years a Republican worked…really worked, with a Democrat and it is making a difference in New Jersey.  None of the he said she said bullshit that happened in Louisiana.  None of the incompetence.  The Government did it’s job.  Is doing.

If you listen to FEMA’s mission, it doesn’t involve being everything to everybody, but it does involving giving a hand up in emergencies, and that’s what they’ve done.  That’s the role of government.  To give a hand up.  Some would call that a hand out, fine.  Don’t accept the help then.  There are plenty of teabaggers in New Jersey.  Show me one that told the National Guard “Move on, I don’t need a hand out” and I’ll show you a six foot rabbit named Harvey.