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Friday, May 29, 2009

Reaching out for help


This is really hard for me. I’ve worked hard all my life and I have always been proud to have been able to always keep a roof over my little families head, food in the fridge and providing an atmosphere for my five baby girls to grow up in that was nothing to be ashamed of. Never in my life have I felt so ashamed to tell someone what is going on in my life. I can’t make the rent. I can’t make the electric bill, the gas bill and the list goes on.

I lost my job back in March of 2008 and unemployment ran out in March of 2009. I have never not had a job in my entire life! I’m working now pretty much for myself but it isn’t paying the bills due to the industry I work in. It takes weeks and sometimes months to produce the products I sell and I don’t get paid till the end user gets the product and then they pay for it in thirty, sixty to ninety days. It sucks! The landlord has his bills to pay and I understand that more than you know. I sympathize with him. I don’t want to be a deadbeat but I’m going to become one and I hate that fact.

My lifetime savings ran out in the beginning of May and I’m up the creek without a paddle. Your savings run down quick when your unemployment benefit is half of what you used to bring home. I’m a proud man but I am not to proud to ask for help when I really need it to keep a roof over my children’s head and food on the table. I could really use your help as a reader of this site. Without your help, I can’t keep this going if I don’t have a street address or link to post articles from. And yes I am behind on the internet bill too. I’ve been packing up personal stuff and I have no clue as to where I’m even going to put them if I loose this apartment and that fact is evident within the next thirty days. I have no idea what is going to happen to us and I’m terrified.

I’m so frustrated with myself, with my life, with everything that it is truly depressing. And yet every single day I am working the phones to try and find new customers and sometimes I do but most times I don’t. That is the nature of the business I am in. Some folks might think that I should get out of the business I know but that would be hard since I’ve been in it since 1984.

If you can help us out that would be great. If you want to knock me down further for asking for help then so be it. I’ve lost all respect for myself at this point in my life.

I set up a donation button in the sidebar that is a secure PayPal link. I thank you in advance for whatever you can donate to the Papamoka family fund to pay the rent. God bless ya and love and hugs at ya. Feel free to spread the word that Papamoka needs help to pay the rent.

Feel free to email me at papamoka@hotmail.com to get a mailing address if that works best for you.

Papamoka

UPDATE: 5/31/09 My personal thanks to all of my internet and blogging friends that have helped spread the word. God bless ya all! I humbly apologize if I missed anyone and please know that it was not intentional. I'll add my heroes to the list as I find them. You all rock and you touched my heart more than you know. I have to thank Jeff especially for his contribution. He knows who he is and I thank him to no end for being a hero when I thought I was drowning. For that matter, I thank everyone that has or will donate to the Papamoka family. You all have a special place in my heart forever.

My friend K of Gun Toting Liberal
Crooks and Liars on Mikes Blog Round Up, my email bud
My sistah from another mother at Chells Roost
My left coast friend Infidel 753
Political Byline from my friend Pat
Pink Granite from my friend Lee and Chuck
The Moderate Voice and my bud Joe Gandelman
Freedom Writing and my new friend David
Wormtown Taxi and my bud Jeff

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GOP Leadership Confusion


I have to agree with Newt Gingrich that political power comes in cycles and the Republican Party is out of favor right now. What is really fun to watch is the entire GOP going after one another trying to decide where the hell the political party should stand before the 2010 elections. It’s like watching one neighbor toss the leaves over the others fence only to have the same process reversed just a few hours later. Rush Limbaugh wants to throw everyone out of the party that does not boot step to his demands and Newt Gingrich who has no official political connection to the RNC is going around demanding that Speaker Pelosi step down just because he says so. Then you have RNC Chairman Michael Steele telling everyone to cool it before they all screw up the smoke and mirrors deal he is trying to build. Nobody is in charge and that is a good thing for those of us that tend to back President Obama.

End result is Newt is pissed because he can’t do the Michael Jackson moonwalk dance step and Rush is even more pissed because he can’t find a pair of Jordache jeans that will fit his fat ass. No offense intended to Republican or Democrat voters with good living voluptuous curves in the buttocks region of your bodies. You earned every bit of it and you should be proud that “baby got back”. Feel free to steal that phrase Mr. Steele.

Up out of all the fuss comes some common sense amongst the GOP when it comes to confirming Judge Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Sen. John Cornyn is pissed that Newt and Rush are intent on destroying his political party. And he doesn’t like the attack mode they are aggressively engaged in…

Top Republican calls Limbaugh, Gingrich comments 'terrible'
Posted: 11:23 AM ET

From CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney

Cornyn on Thursday said statements calling Sotomayor a racist are 'terrible.'
(CNN) — A top Senate Republican is taking aim at recent statements from conservative commentators Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich suggesting Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is a "racist."

"I think it's terrible," Sen. John Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday. "This is not the kind of tone any of us want to set when it comes to performing our constitutional responsibilities of advise and consent.”

Both the popular radio host and former GOP House Speaker have suggested Obama's pick for the high court is a racist while referencing a 2001 speech at Berkeley during which Sotomayor said, "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."
- CNN

Good for Senator Cornyn and I hope he can come to the pulpit and actually make some sense over at the Republican Party. Somebody has to take the helm because they are going the way of the Dodo bird right now. How many moderate Republican’s is Rush Limbaugh going to toss out of his holier than thou political party before somebody tosses his ass to the curb? As for the Newt aka porno king and former Speaker of the House, he’s just selling his latest book and any media attention for him equals sales of his book. Ergo, he is so staunch in his political opinions that he even went on Jon Stewart and the Daily show this week to sell even more copies of his book.

For now, 2010 and the election of yet another new Congress is looking damn good for those of us on the left side of the aisle.

Papamoka

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Hug is BACK


You might recall back in the day that when you saw somebody you were friends with, loved, related to, had affection for, you gave them a hug and sometimes a kiss. Was that the birth of pornography? I don’t think so! Hugs seemed to go out of fashion and reserved only for funerals and holidays nowadays in the older generations. I miss the hug, getting one always made me melt and know that somebody cared enough about me to let me be embraced affectionately by them. Somehow the hug has or is making a huge comeback in our latest generation of kids and I couldn’t be happier.

If you were raised as a kid in the late fifties, early sixties, even into the seventies you grew up under the dark cloud of the Cold War. Did it scare the crap out of you then? It sure as hell did me! And for the record I never once was told to hide under my school desk during a drill. I was taught by my Dad what to do if the teacher told us we were under nuclear attack. Kiss the cutest girl next to you and then kiss your ass goodbye. It didn’t make sense to me at the time as a second or third grader but I always managed to sit next to the prettiest girl in the class just in case. Matter of fact, I think that life long lesson and logic followed me till I graduated High School.

Anywho, young teenage kids have lived under the Bush/Cheney Presidency where at any minute, terrorists would attack and 9/11 would look like child’s play. How would you like to be a kid with that on the news day after day for eight years? Your parents watching the news while you do your homework. What kind of fear did that instill in these kids? If you lose all your money playing online poker, you might just need a hug yourself

Over at the New York Times they have this piece on kids hugging in school and it nearly brought me to tears…

For Teenagers, Hello Means ‘How About a Hug?’

By SARAH KERSHAW
Published: May 27, 2009


There is so much hugging at Pascack Hills High School in Montvale, N.J., that students have broken down the hugs by type:

Katie Dea and Henry Begler, both 14, at the Claire Lilienthal School in San Francisco, prefer a friendly hug to a high-five greeting.

There is the basic friend hug, probably the most popular, and the bear hug, of course. But now there is also the bear claw, when a boy embraces a girl awkwardly with his elbows poking out.

There is the hug that starts with a high-five, then moves into a fist bump, followed by a slap on the back and an embrace.

There’s the shake and lean; the hug from behind; and, the newest addition, the triple — any combination of three girls and boys hugging at once.

“We’re not afraid, we just get in and hug,” said Danny Schneider, a junior at the school, where hallway hugging began shortly after 7 a.m. on a recent morning as students arrived. “The guy friends, we don’t care. You just get right in there and jump in.”


Hug Snippet

“Maybe it’s because all these kids do is text and go on Facebook so they don’t even have human contact anymore,” said Dona Eichner, the mother of freshman and junior girls at the high school in Montvale.
- New York Times

As the father of five daughters I can show some concern but I honestly think this is a generation of kids that are scared by the media reports of death always around the corner. My heart goes out to these kids and God bless them for showing that they love their fellow human being. Hugging is or should not be a prosecutable offense by school officials. Granted, to much of a good thing can lead to a bad thing where you have a grandchild on the way so some discretion and rules need to be applied. But still a three or four or five second hug is not or should not be a punishable offense.

Group HUG! Come on, gather the family, friends or hell hug the mailman or meter reader. Okay, leave the mailman or meter reader out of it if you want to avoid a restraining order but you get the idea. We need to show one another the appreciation of our combined existence in this world once in a while and there is nothing wrong with hugging somebody.

Who says the next generation can’t show us old farts something new?

Papamoka

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor


President Obama made his pick for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) today and can I give myself props for knowing the pick on May 6, 2009 and posting on it? Not the name but the sex, ethnicity, personality, and credentials. Judge Sonia Sotomayor is a very qualified moderate with liberal leanings and I happen to like the fact that her credentials are beyond question. I don’t think I need to mention the fact that her Hispanic aka minority heritage is a bonus to the President and everyone on the left side of the political aisle.

Republicans are furious and don’t have a clue as to how they are going to go after a first in her class law student from Princeton nominated to SCOTUS. A woman with better credentials then the highest court in the land has seen in over one hundred years. How are they going to attack someone they confirmed to the federal bench under Republican rule? How are they going to smear this woman before America when Michael Steele is trying to sell the GOP to the Hispanic and African American community of voters? Republicans want minority votes, they just don’t want minorities in public lifetime appointments. I certainly wouldn't want to work on commission under those circumstances for the GOP as a salesman!

President Obama just cleaned the GOP clock for 2010 and possibly the 2012 elections. It gets better, Rush Limbaugh and other Republican thugs are calling it “Reverse Racism”? How the hell does it get any better than that? We can have a black Justice on SCOTUS but only if he is a Republican nominee? All you Hispanics, nice try, work hard, get an education, excel in law, but your credentials just are not good enough for the Republican Party to accept you as a Supreme Court Justice. Screw you Limbaugh and John Yoo. Speaking of Yoo…

President Obama’s nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor shows that empathy has won out over excellence in the White House. Sotomayor has sterling credentials: Princeton, Yale Law School, former prosecutor, and federal trial and appellate judge. But credentials do not an excellent justice make. Justice Souter, whom Sotomayor would replace, had an equally fine c.v., but turned out to be a weak force on the high court.

Obama had some truly outstanding legal intellectuals and judges to choose from—Cass Sunstein, Elena Kagan, and Diane Wood come immediately to mind. The White House chose a judge distinguished from the other members of that list only by her race. Obama may say he wants to put someone on the Court with a rags-to-riches background, but locking in the political support of Hispanics must sit higher in his priorities.
- Memeorandum Link

John Yoo, if you didn't recall, he is the guy that wrote the legal memo under President Bush defining torture and why it was legal. Just a factoid there for ya. Something we wrote about here as well about water boarding. How it just might be torture. Note to self: Don't let John Yoo ever babysit the kids.

Where was I? Oh ya, the Supreme Court!

I think that we can all pretty much assume that if President Obama appointed God to the SCOTUS then the GOP would rail and scream that God was not qualified and just might be biased. This is politics at its worst and I hope that Judge Sotomayor has the guts and toughness to get through it all. Congratulation to you Sonia Sotomayor, you earned this distinguished appointment.

Personal thoughts, I’m glad President Obama chose a woman and a Hispanic, and I’m thinking that he has this site, Papamoka Straight Talk, bookmarked on his Blackberry! Maybe, it could happen ya know!

Papamoka

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Joe Scarborough is a Red-blooded American Twit!

Hello Bloggers - Did you guys see the way that A-HOLE Joe Scarborough made a fool of himself on MSNBC this morning?! It was outrageous - I'll look for it on YouTube.

He made a complete ass of himself this morning by accusing his co-hosts of being anti-American and anti-Texan. The really sad part was that he wasn't joking - if he was, you couldn't tell. He actually looked offended.

It happened when the Morning Joe program came out of a commercial early this morning when they showed a shot of the Dallas skyline. Mike, Willy and Mika (the "liberal/progressive" co-hosts) were trying to figure out the significance of the Dallas skyline shot. They quickly concluded that it had something to do with a baseball game.

Joe "the deaf and dumb" Scarborough, sitting in another studio somewhere with what must have been a bad audio connection, starting accusing them of being anti-American for mocking the idea of showing a picture of Dallas. He simply jumped to the conclusion they were mocking America and Texas. The weird part is they never said anything of the sort. It was very strange to watch.

He didn't seem to be kidding. He seemed to be kind of angry. It was so weird to watch him accuse his co-hosts, and his countrymen, of hating America - right there on national TV. The others just sat there in shock for a moment. Then Willy Geist responded by saying that he didn't need his patriotism questioned "by the likes of you." I thought that was pretty cool. Mike and Mika just sat there stunned. They quickly cut away to another shot in another studio.

I'm not a regular viewer, but I will say that I was extremely offended by Joe's remarks. It was embarrassing and rude. I hope to never watch the a-hole again. The man comes across as a reactionary moron. He should be suspended, or maybe fired. Who needs that crap? We the viewers certainly don't. I guess MSNBC does for ratings, but they should think twice on this one.

I don't care if he's controversial and represents a segment of society - it's a very UGLY SEGMENT OF SOCIETY to the majority of Americans. To me, the guy represents what's wrong with the right today. In my opinion they're harboring deep anger towards us on the left. That little scene showed the real Joe - and they way people like him think.

In my opinion there are too many hot-headed Republicans out there screaming about progressives being anti-American these days. I don't know about you guys, but I'm tired of having my patriotism questioned - like Willy Geist. Who the hell do they think they are? I don't want to hear any more of their crap! He and his ilk are all a bunch of intolerant twits! I only hope he pays a price for his stupidity.

Btw, on a similar note, let's add one more psycho story to the list of Republican psycho stories. In addition to the developing list of red state calls for succession these days, we now have Congressman Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor of Georgia, proposing to change the long-standing federal policy that automatically grants citizenship to any baby born on U.S. soil. Of course, it's pretty much opposed by immigrant rights advocates.

Deal and his supporters say the 14th Amendment wording was never meant to automatically give citizenship to babies born to illegal immigrants. "This is a sensible, overdue measure that closes a clause that was never meant to be a loophole," said Bob Dane, spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which seeks tighter immigration restrictions.

Under Deal's proposal, babies born in the U.S. would automatically have citizenship only if at least one of their parents is a U.S. citizen or national, a legal permanent resident of the U.S., or actively serving in the U.S. military.

I wonder how the Hispanic community will react to the Republican Party after hearing that little tidbit? I'll leave it to the courts to decide, but I do think it's fascinating to watch the Republicans constantly shooting themselves in their electoral foot.

Wow, think about it, if they add that campaign to a serious one against Supreme Court Nominee Sonia SotaMayor, they may as well go all the way. They should just start slurring the Holy Mother, wear cheap sombreros and sing tasteless Latin music. That might attract even better publicity. LOL!!

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Past Thoughts


Times are tough right now in America but they have been far worse, more severe than our simple lives could ever believe. In our time children are no longer born at home but in hospitals where any problem that develops can immediately be taken care of with a highly educated medical staff. Not many folks in generations gone by could boast about that precious gift and yet they survived to see another generation come up behind them, and yet another one after that.

My Dad was a World War II Veteran and Korea Veteran and entered the Navy at the ripe old age of seventeen. Commerce High, here in Worcester, gave him and all the other boys diplomas before they left for active duty regardless of the fact that they never finished all the required work to get one. Many of those boys never made it back home and there is a small memorial at Britain Square in the city to remember them all. Most people don’t even see it and yet one neighborhood woman goes out of her way to make sure it is well cared for and presentable for the public. Nobody asked her to do it, she just does it. She probably does it because she remembers what it was like to lose so many boys to a war we didn’t start. She was probably just a young teen age girl at the time, maybe she lost a brother or two or three in the war. She doesn’t talk about it, she just pulls the weeds and plants the new flowers every year.

As a young man I found it ironic that my father was so proud of his own military service and yet when any of his own sons discussed joining the military he would go off the deep end with rage. His reasoning, the horror he endured, survived, and was scarred by was never given as an answer as to why not, it was just his word. Jack never wanted one of his sons to ever go through the hell he did and when you think about it, what parent would? He only talked about his experiences in his later years and the horror he went through as a young man was beyond words.

As of this date 5/25/09, we have had 4,300 people die in Iraq and Afghanistan. All of these kids bravely signed up for duty, went into combat as volunteers in service to our nation. Some on their fourth or fifth tour of duty. Every single one of them is a hero in my heart and my prayers go out for each and every single one of them. Same goes for all the men and woman still in the field of battle and most folks forget about them.

Memorial Day has come and gone and most of us back here at home spent it having fun times with family and friends and that is a blessing we owe to the people that served, died, and paid the ultimate price generation after generation before us. Our barbecue weekend introduction to summer is a good time for all and we just need to think back as to why it is all possible. No offense to my German or Japanese readers but I’m glad that I can’t understand a single word you say. Thank you Dad! God rest your soul Dad, I love ya and thank you for all the Marines you patched up as a Navy Medic in WWII.

Somewhere in Iraq, Afghanistan or wherever our troops are deployed is a young kid wondering if he or she will be remembered too if they happen to pay the ultimate price for America? I hope so. Can the next generation come to the task of what our parents or grandparents endured and passed on? All I can say is that they are going to have to.

You will never be forgotten as long as I have a single breath in my lungs. Fox News did this tribute up right back in 2006...

Video Link




Papamoka

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Corrupt Democrat Threatens Legitimate Health Care Reform

Happy Memorial Day Papamoka Bloggers! I hope we all honor the spirit of the holiday today and dedicate a moment of silence to remember the men and women who gave so much to keep us free. I would also like to pay special tribute to the members of my own family who fought in wars and who served during peace time.

It may not be an exciting topic, but it's important to each and every one of us. We need to discuss the lack of debate in Congress about America's broken health care system.

I wish I could say that it was the usual scenario where Republicans fight to maintain a bloated and broken system while Democrats ride to the rescue, but unfortunately that doesn't seem to be the case. It seems President Obama, the man we voted into office to reform our broken system, is allowing Congress to set most of his agenda. Unfortunately for all of us, very little reform seems to be on that agenda.

It's all being controlled by a very corrupt Democrat who has no interest in real reform. It is Senator Max Baucus of Montana, and he is doing everything he can to thwart actual reform. Senator Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee have been corrupted by corporate health industry profiteers, and their donations are now standing in the way of us getting the kind of health care reform we need.

To demonstrate just how important reform is, you need to consider that health care represents 15% of the U.S. gross domestic product - a very important money-making industry to America's money-changers. Health care costs rise rapidly every year, surpassing $2.4 trillion in 2007 - more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990. The cost of health care is projected to reach $4.4 trillion by 2018. It's an extreme for-profit industry that most Americans cannot avoid.

Those figures are terrifying when you consider the risk to average Americans trying to earn a living - or businesses trying to cover employees. They point to incredible waste and profiteering where none should exist. I don't care how Republicans spin it, corporate health care profiteering is the biggest drain on both Americans and the American economy.

We are one of the few countries in the world that support extreme profiteering when it comes to health care - something many other countries and cultures find unethical and immoral.

The health care industry has invested heavily in Max Baucus and his friends who sit on the Senate Finance Committee. The reform that we voted for under President Obama is being perverted by the Senate Finance Committee.

They won't even allow any talk about a single-payer health care system, which is the only reform that would take the "profiteering" out of today's for-profit health care system.

The only bill being considered today is a pro-industry bill that will ensure trillions in profits for the health insurance industry, HMO’s and pharmaceutical industry. It isn't what we voted for, and President Obama isn't doing enough to deliver the reforms that he promised. A matter of fact, the White House is a little too quiet about the controversy, and so is the corporate media. It's all a little too coincidental in my opinion.

Baucus has held only two hearings (not enough) so far and has refused to allow advocates for the most popular reform – a single payer national health policy – to even testify.

Single payer, improved Medicare for all, is favored by more than 60% of Americans as well as majorities of doctors, nurses and economists. It's what Barack Obama campaigned on and what most Americans voted for. It is the most cost-effective and efficient way to provide health care to all Americans from cradle to grave, and it's BEING IGNORED! If you would like to learn more about it, or sign-up to help, visit SinglePayerAction.org. It's worth it!

According to Consumer Watchdog, Senator Baucus alone has received more campaign contributions from the health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations than any other current Democratic member of the House or Senate. The man is bought-and-paid-for! He's no better than a lousy Republican! According to their report, Senator Baucus received $183,750 from health insurance companies and $229,020 from drug companies in the last two election cycles.

It's disgusting and outrageous how our system can allow one powerful man to take "bribes" in exchange for denying us the health care reforms we need. The number of Americans who die each year because they can't afford health care is estimated in the tens or hundreds of thousands.

That figure makes 9/11 look like a drive-by shooting. It's an issue just as serious as the "War on Terror," yet the fat-cat Congress treats it like agricultural reform. As long as they have their excellent health care insurance - they do, I know after working on Capitol Hill - they could give a damn about average Americans. THEY ARE NOT TAKING OUR DESIRE FOR REFORM SERIOUSLY ENOUGH!

During recent Senate Finance Committee hearings on health care reform, Baucus refused to allow even one person to testify on behalf of a single payer health care system.

  • During the May 5th hearing a group of doctors, lawyers and other single advocates rose inside the Senate Finance Committee hearing room and one by one asked that Baucus open up the hearing to single payer advocates. Baucus refused and had the eight arrested, handcuffed, and charged with “disruption of Congress.”
  • During the May 12th hearing another group of doctors and nurses asked to testify on behalf of a single payer plan. Baucus again refused and had the five arrested and charged.
It's estimated that 60 Americans die each and every day from a lack of health insurance. Single payer is the only proven way to save the hundreds of billions of dollars in administrative overhead and profits needed to insure everyone, and save lives. President Obama knows it, and yet he's doing very little to fight the efforts of sell-outs like Max Baucus.

It's time WE THE PEOPLE stand-up to corrupt politicians like Max Baucus. As I often say on this blog, it's time we act ourselves. Please sign-up at SinglePayerAction.org today, and take some time to call your representatives in Congress as well as President Obama NOW! Tell them you disagree with the way Max Baucus is handling health care reform. Tell them you want them to support a SINGLE PAYER SOLUTION! It's the only path to real change.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Holiday - Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

PS - If you decide to take action, here are a few links that may help you. Email President Obama, or your national elected officials. If you wish to call, simply call the Whitehouse at 202-456-1414, or the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

I suggest complaining to Max Baucus directly, Senator Harry Reid's office to complain about how he's running the debate, or your local newspaper. Please let them all know that you want a single-payer health care solution, and that we must minimize profiteering in our health care system.

Here is an example of what I wrote to various elected officials:

Dear _____________:

"I would like to encourage you to support a single payer health care reform solution.

To that end, I promise to give you financial support if you ignore the health care industry and its donations and support health insurance reform for the good of ALL Americans. I also promise to recruit other support if you actively support a single payer solution that minimizes a for-profit solution.

Senator Baucus is currently blocking all single payer reform debate in the Finance Committee, and it's discouraging to Democrats like myself who support real change and reform. Americans are dying. We need reform that protects them, not the industry.

Respectfully - your supporter,
Michael Boh"

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Friday, May 22, 2009

GOP Torture Discussion Ended by Torture


Chicago Conservative WLS radio host Erich "Mancow" Muller manned up and put his political belief to the test on defining waterboarding as torture. Since Hannity of Fox News wouldn’t own up to his declaration that he would be tortured and water boarded for charity to prove that it is not torture, Mancow felt he needed to undergo the actual treatment. I wouldn’t have the guts to do this but I give Mancow credit for bellying up to the bar and undergoing what I honestly believe is inhumane torture.

I first saw this story over at Memeorandum but my twin brotha from another Motha over at the Gun Toting Liberal has his own interesting thoughts on waterboarding and torture that is a must read.

NBC Chicago is reporting that the average person can’t last more than 14 seconds under this form of torture. Mancow didn’t do so well and the Enhanced Interrogation Method changed his mind on the definition of torture…

"I want to find out if it's torture," Mancow told his listeners Friday morning, adding that he hoped his on-air test would help prove that waterboarding did not, in fact, constitute torture.

The debate over whether waterboarding constitutes torture reached a fever pitch this week as re-ignited claims that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) knew as early as 2002 about waterboarding techniques being used, and former Vice President Dick Cheney and President Barack Obama gave "dueling speeches" Thursday.

Snip and Drip…

Turns out the stunt wasn't so funny. Witnesses said Muller thrashed on the table, and even instantly threw the toy cow he was holding as his emergency tool to signify when he wanted the experiment to stop. He only lasted 6 or 7 seconds.

"It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke,"Mancow said, likening it to a time when he nearly drowned as a child. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back...It was instantaneous...and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."
"I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face...I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "
- NBC Chicago

Video Link

And here is the actual video of Mancow being waterboarded on You Tube...


I happen to agree with the GTL in his summation that anyone that thinks waterboarding isn’t torture should take the plunge and volunteer for the Enhanced Interrogation Method. Aka “EIM”. Doesn’t EIM sound so much better than waterboarding or just using the word that it actually is? Mancow knows what that word is now and it is TORTURE! The GOP and Dick Cheney are running from that difference of definition. White washing or painting it as a bed of roses.

It’s kind of ironic that this is Memorial Day weekend where we as American’s remember all of our brave soldiers that died in service to the American way of life in our military. Defending torture isn’t anything that they fought for and died for. For their memory alone is why I honestly believe that everyone that authorized torture by any American’s hand needs to be prosecuted as a criminal. President, Vice President included. If they are not prosecuted, then what will stop the next monster that believes our Constitution and laws are just guidelines or words on some really old paper?

Papamoka

Other folks piping in on Waterboarding is TORTURE:
Think Progress
Crooks and Liars
Wonkette
Taylor Marsh

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Random Thought

If Teflon frying pans are non-stick, then how the hell do they get the Teflon to stick to the pan?

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Republicans are the Used Car Dealers of American Politics

Hello Papamoka Bloggers! I will admit the time will come when the Republicans become acceptable to the majority of Americans again, but I'm hoping - and praying - that time will be far into the future.

Why? The most important reasons are probably trust and past performance. They do not deserve our trust after discovering so many ill-gotten gains and broken promises, and their poor past performance proves they adhere to principles and policies that are clearly detrimental to the American middle-class.

What may shock most of you is that I may vote for them someday again, just like many of you, if I see them return to their roots and dedicate themselves to help ALL Americans, including average middle-class Americans. I do believe in a two-party system, however, I'm not holding my breath.

That is not the case today. Without a doubt, despite their rural, earthy American "red state" support, they are the party that represents the top percentile, or the richest and least vulnerable in our society. Until that changes, I will continue to fight them, going so far as to believe they are the party that lies to, and cons, average Americans into voting against their own best interests.

Why am I talking about the subject now. It's because of all the Republican hubris that has been polluting the airwaves lately. The minority opposition has been out there swinging at everything and anything that comes into its path. They seem to thrive on being the angry opposition. It's obvious to most observers they love it.

Anybody who listened to Dick Cheney's speech this morning could tell he loved criticizing without having to support any of his darkest points with real evidence. He proposed nothing new. It was more of his-way-or-the-highway crap! Thanks, you're so helpful DICK!

What I'm saying is that there are healthy and unhealthy forms of opposition, and I think today's GOP specializes in the unhealthy. Their passions seem almost narcissistic, unproductive, and misplaced. They seem to like screaming into the wind, whether we're there to listen or not.

The GOP can say we were the same as the opposition all they want, but it's not true. I remember Democrats making valid arguments against most of Bush's policies, and it turned out we were right. Our opposition was credible, unlike the discredited, GOP broken record of today.

There is no doubt in my mind that their lack of compromise, stick-to-their guns while fighting for outdated solutions approach, gets in the way of making real progress on real issues.

They are more and more vocal about opposing everything that President Obama and the Democrats are trying to fix/achieve than anytime I can remember. They are ignoring the people, the mood, the trends away from the dark side, and the past poor performance of their own record. The whole thing is amazing to watch. It's also very sad.

Notable examples this past week involved people like RNC Chairman Michael Steele talking about it being the end of "Republicans apologizing" for mistakes of the past. Well, I don't know about you, but I don't ever recall them apologizing for anything. A matter of fact, I'm pretty sure they ALL pretty much claim their past performance to be successful, despite all the facts to the contrary. It's crazy, but overall it's true.

The idea they apologized for anything is both shocking and downright deceitful. In the end, it's simply another example of GOP message manipulation that has little basis in fact.

Other examples involve that fat-cat of Republicanism, the least "humane" human being on the planet, Rush "that lying sack of crap" Limbaugh. He has been out there daily dishing-up all kinds of lies in his usual gross attempt to manipulate the masses. He's like the proverbial demon in the wilderness, working hard to tempt the innocent into making bad choices. For him today, it's all about socialism, socialism, and more socialism.

He talks non-stop about longing for the good-old times when Republicans were in charge, the economy was good, and America was safer. His deceit is only surpassed by his lack of morals. He's right up there with Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld as a GOP poster-boy of illegal war, torture, corporate greed, anti-middle-class values, and anti-American policies and principles.

His "ditto-heads" can believe whatever the hell they want, but the the truth - the facts - speak for themselves. The man's an anti-American PIG!

The other cocky culprits of today's GOP involve the vast and equally out-of-touch right-wing-media and blogosphere - featuring FOX "News" and other "conservative" networks - who have been spewing propaganda in an attempt to undermine Democratic efforts to solve real problems for weeks/months now.

Most of their so-called alternative ideas/proposals - most that I took seriously and studied - have been nothing but propagandistic, rehashed versions of their old, discredited crap. Their sole purpose is to create the illusion of new ideas. Trust me, after careful review, it's repackaged BS! They remain deaf and dumb about the need for new approaches.

You know it's bad when that pinnacle of bi-partisanship, President Obama, begins to say - out loud - that Republicans can't seem to move beyond their own discredited, outdated, broken principles and policies of the past. The bottom-line is he's trying to find/create new solutions to big problems, and they're not.

There can be only one reasonable explanation as to why they are so stubborn about admitting past mistakes and looking at new alternatives. It is because they are BOUGHT-AND-PAID-FOR by special interests, corporations, and other forces that have no desire to help the American people - or even the American nation. It's obvious to me. What about you?

I'm not naive, I know there are bad apples in our Democratic community (especially the Senate), but for all intents and purposes today's GOP today is a compromised political movement/party. They are the used-car-dealers-of-American-politics, trying to get us to buy old, refurbished junk. They do not represent the best interests of the American people or nation. They cannot be trusted, and unless they begin to demonstrate real change, they should not be considered an equal voice in either government or the court of public opinion.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Random Thought

Whoever invented alarm clocks that can go off or be set for five in the morning should have been shot for crimes against humanity.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Limbaugh Smack Down on MSNBC

One has to give Rush Limbaugh props for being a great entertainer when it comes to talking politics. In the same respect you have to think that his logic on calling MSNBC on the carpet recently an idiotic move. Rush’s latest logical thought on loan from God (His words and not mine) is that MSNBC couldn’t survive for thirty days without mentioning his name? MSNBC couldn't survive if it were not for the sweat they piggy back off of his royal high and mightyness, Rush Limbaugh. For the record, I don’t think Rush’s thought on this topic was on loan from God as it was more self preserving under the microscope of all the media in the nation. You can’t plant yourself in the chair as the one and only spokesman for the GOP and not get some media attention. It's a hot seat Rush, ya want it then it comes with some serious heat. No charge buddy. This is actually a heating bill that some of us don't really mind paying.

Keith Olbermann has a few unkind thoughts for Mr. Limbaugh and his message that MSNBC needs to only talk about Rush on a daily basis to get ratings. And I was watching Countdown all this time for all the topics that didn't include Rush Limbaugh...

Video Link

I have to think about Rush Limbaugh’s request to be left alone by MSNBC. Then again, no I don't. Rush can say whatever he wants and MSNBC isn’t supposed to report it? That isn’t going to happen Rush. Sorry. Talk to Fox News and maybe they might honor your request. I understand they are a little bit more accomodating to ya over there.

Papamoka

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Random Thought

Why does morning have to come so early in the day? Just wondering.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Pay it Forward

Life gives some of us many blessings. It isn’t always monetary blessings where you can have a nice home and ample income to live comfortable. Life lessons are important also to pay it forward to someone else and change what seemed impossible. Sometimes, your act of paying it forward will make a big difference in somebody’s life and other times it just might be planting a seed. You never know.

Video Link



It doesn’t matter what you pay forward, it’s the simple ability to reach out and touch someone and make a difference in their life that is important. Life is simple if you just reach out and touch someone‘s heart. Ask them to pay it forward. Then they begin the cycle of change, and so does the next person, and so does the next…

Papamoka

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GOP Cancer Grows but Detected


Gallup has an interesting poll that shows the GOP is unable to attract or even keep its political party members. The political party of with us or against us has found themselves in the position of a sinking ship so to speak. Is the GOP dead? Have they gone to far right wing? According to Gallup and the poll, they have…

GOP Losses Span Nearly All Demographic Groups
Only frequent churchgoers show no decline in support since 2001
by Jeffrey M. Jones

PRINCETON, NJ -- The decline in Republican Party affiliation among Americans in recent years is well documented, but a Gallup analysis now shows that this movement away from the GOP has occurred among nearly every major demographic subgroup. Since the first year of George W. Bush's presidency in 2001, the Republican Party has maintained its support only among frequent churchgoers, with conservatives and senior citizens showing minimal decline. - Gallup

What brings on this sudden demise of the Republican Party? Could it be the fault of former President Bush? Could it be the torture issue authorized under President Bush and Vice President Cheney? Maybe it was Denny Hastert and his cover up of a known pedophile in his Congress? Could it be the Jack Abramoff scandal where the Republican lead Congress was up for sale for the price of a golf trip to Scotland? Could it be the war in Iraq that was based on one lie after another that never panned out? Could it be the wounded Veterans coming home lucky enough to be alive from Iraq or Afghanistan based on those lies? Maybe it’s the 4300 plus military members that have lost their lives based on lies? Who knows, it could be the outing of Valerie Plame as an undercover CIA agent by Cheney and Scooter Libby? I don’t even think I need to mention Tom Delay and his escapades trying to fix the voting in Texas but it has its merits in the discussion. The simple truth is that so much was piled up by the sitting members of the GOP in Congress and the White House that nobody will ever really know. Not in our lifetimes anyway. That is why America and her voters cast the GOP out of power. America did not forget what our nation was all about, the GOP did!

One thing is certain, the GOP has been compromised and if Rush Limbaugh, Ann Culter, Bohner, Bill O’Reilly, and Fox News is the spokesperson for the GOP then they deserve the medicine they have dished out to themselves. It is a formula for political suicide. When you have Rush Limbaugh demand Colin Powell be deported from his political party then, can I say out loud with a NASA quote, “Houston, we have a problem!”.

If you have ever read President Lincoln’s address and speech at Gettysburg, or read the book by Gary Wills, you just might understand what a true political party is all about. President Lincoln summed up in less than three minutes the sacrifices the men that died on that field. Lincoln wasn’t just talking about Union soldiers that died on the fields of Gettysburg. In that respect, it isn’t about you the individual, its about America. It’s about all Americans. That was the political party of Lincoln in his day. That is what the GOP just doesn’t get anymore. The GOP just isn't in touch with the average person in America and that might just be simply because they can't afford the $1000 per plate political fund raising dinners.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m very happy that they can not get their political act together!

Papamoka
*****Gun Toting Liberal has linked in and has a very interesting opinion on this same issue

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American Journalism and the Politics of Distract and Attack

Hello Papamoka Bloggers! Well it was another weekend of American Sunday talk shows giving angry Republicans a place to distract and attack. This time it was the Pelosi distraction. What's next?

As usual, the follow-up questions were slim to none. It's clear the weekend talk shows have been compromised by the same disease that infests the cable news shows, and it's not pretty.

William Randolph Hearst would be thrilled to know that his legacy of yellow journalism for corporate profit and power is alive and well. Finding the truth on the Sunday talk shows, which used to matter, seems to be less important these days. They're all stuck on the same Washington spin cycle, and what's good for America and it's people is way down their agenda.

I guess we all should be wise to the media's game of hosting false interviews for the sole purpose of generating high ratings, but it still irritates many of us who remain hopeful for things to improve under Obama. I guess the dumbing-down of American journalism - and America - is in full swing, whatever president or party is in power.

Let's face it, we live in a "corporatocracy," and the CEOs are in charge.

It's bad enough large chunks of America watch propaganda spewed by beauty queens and ex-fashion models on FOX "News," but I had hoped the trend would steer clear of intelligent journalism. Unfortunately, Meet the Press, This Week and Face the Nation all seem to be headed down that path as well. I guess we shouldn't be surprised when Miss California soon co-hosts Meet the Press. I guess it's only a matter of time.

You know it's bad when I regret that Meet the Press didn't go to Chris Matthews. He's not perfect - swings to and fro with the prevailing political winds too much, but at least he'll challenge a guest with facts every now and then. David Gregory has become a tool of the Washington elite - he's lost credibility with me these days. I never thought I would miss the days of Tim Russert and his pull quotes.

He was no Edward R. Morrow, but at least news-makers would squirm when he used their own quotes to contradict their latest spin. Gregory doesn't do the homework. He's too easy on them.

Yes, it's clear that American journalism has been broken by its corporate overlords. Now it all seems to be bought-and-paid-for by the Washington elite and it's attack dogs, the DC PR industry. Once great news organizations have been reduced to pseudo-news entertainment designed to illicit fast one-liners, stir political gossip and discover meaningless political intrigue. High ratings stem from colorful news, not informative news.

It all seems designed to get us to tune in without actually informing us of anything important. It's almost as if we're witnessing another free market bubble, but this time it's a corporate news bubble, where we're kept fat and happy on large helpings of distraction and spin. It's obviously all designed to manipulate us into a false sense of control. Unfortunately, it's an illusion. They have all the control.

If it wasn't for a few die-hard print news organizations that bloggers like us rely on, the American people would be left to fend for themselves. We owe them our thanks. I may sound naive, but I do believe they sacrifice some of their potential profit to help us. I do want to believe that so much.

Most of this is the fault of Newt Gingrich and the Republican Congress of the nineties. The GOP wanted corporations to own larger chunks of America's media -Rupert Murdoch and FOX "News" donated most of the support. It was a battle with the Democrats, but in the end President Bill Clinton was too distracted and accepted the deregulation of American media. It was a huge mistake that has led us to this depressing point in our history.

It's bad enough that ratings are now controlling journalism, but it's even worse when you think about how special interests - like industrial-military, health care and pharmaceuticals - control it too. We've all seen Lockheed Martin, Boeing and big pharm commercials while watching the news. Doesn't it make you wonder just what kind of impact they're having on those corporate news rooms? It should, because they are having an impact.

Unfortunately, we probably don't even know the worst of it. Let us hope and pray that it's not too horrible, or too late.

The PR journalism of distract and attack needs to end. The American people need to demand serious media reform now. I realize that it's not high on the agenda, but the President and Congress need to make it so - and long before the next big elections. Serious journalists and congressional investigators cannot do it all alone. They need our help now. As I always say, please take the time to contact your representatives. Let them know that America needs serious media reform. The truth is out there, and we need to find it.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Renewable Energy Update


Down under they are taking the largest step possible when it comes to renewable energy for their nations citizens. Big steps like this are needed to slow the progression of global warming according to many scientists around the world from CO2 spewing power plants.

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia plans to build the world's largest solar power station with an output of 1000 megawatts in a A$1.4 billion (US$1.05 billion) investment, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said on Sunday.

The plant would have three times the generating capacity of the current biggest solar-powered electricity plant, which is in California, Rudd said during a tour of a power station.

Tender details will be announced later in the year, and successful bidders will be named in the first half of 2010. Rudd said the project was aimed at exploiting the country's ample sunshine, which he called "Australia's biggest natural resource."

Good for the Aussies! So what is in the works here in the United States? New York state is installing 100 megawatts of solar power generating units on its public buildings to advance towards its 45-15 goal. (45% renewable energy by 2015)

GE Energy is providing 74 of its 1.5 megawatt wind turbines for a project in LaSalle County, IL.with funds made available by President Obama and his stimulus plan. That will power 30,000 homes.

So. Cal. Edison announced a deal back in February with BrightSource Energy for the eventual construction of seven solar thermal power generating plants adding 1.3 GW of power to its portfolio. - ARS Technica

The Port of LA is working on its impressive 1.15 million square feet of solar power panels on many of its rooftops and structures. Enough solar panels to power 2,500 homes. - Press Telegram

Exelon and SunPower Corp announced the construction of an urban solar field on leased property on the south side of Chicago. 32,800 solar panels are going up to power 1,200 to 1,500 homes or the equivalent of taking 2,500 cars off the road. - Exelon


I think it would be fair to say that the renewable energy industry is smoking hot!

Papamoka

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

What is Pelosi Hiding


When it comes to this nation using torture, authorizing its use, and engaging or contemplating in the practice of torture, political parties on both sides of the aisle are showing severe signs of guilt and our representatives in our government, based on the land of the free are not innocent by any means. Even leaders in high positions in our Congress such as the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is waffling on what she knew and how she knew it. Speaker Pelosi is dodging the Sunday news shows that more or less ask the most pertinent questions based on the latest issues. Running from them is a sign of guilt in my honest opinion and Speaker Pelosi has refused all interviews for Sunday.

Pelosi turns down Sunday show invitations
By Emily Goodin
Posted: 05/16/09 03:03 PM [ET]


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) turned down invitations to be on several Sunday morning talk shows and is instead spending the weekend with her family.

The Speaker was invited to appear on NBC's "Meet the Press,” ABC's "This Week,” “Fox News Sunday” and CNN’s “State of the Union,” according to sources at the networks.

One source said Pelosi (D-Calif.) will be attending her granddaughter's first communion in Phoenix on Sunday.
- The Hill

Video Link



A person in the position of Speaker of the House has to be very careful what they say and how they say it. Speaker Pelosi claims that she was never told the truth by the CIA on the issue of torture and when it was first raised under the Bush Presidency and yet the new Director of the CIA under President Obama claims she was told the truth. So who is telling the truth? I’m betting my poker chips on neither and just folding my hand. That doesn’t make me a fool, it just lets me play the next set of cards and study who is better at bluffing the media into thinking that Pelosi is innocent, the CIA is innocent, or that former Vice President Cheney was a political guru in manipulating the media once more. When everything is said and done, Cheney went on the Sunday morning news shows, he pointed out his reasons to defend torture. (I still think he is the Anti-Christ) So why is Speaker Pelosi avoiding the Sunday news circuit when it could clear her of any doubt?

If Speaker Pelosi has nothing to hide then I’m sure that the networks would have been willing to accommodate her for a delayed broadcast if she had personal family obligations. All of the networks would have flown their crews to her. This is the news story for the week! And yes a grandchild’s first communion is a valid reason for not attending the Sunday news requests for a guest spot. And yet something still smells funny and I can’t put my fingers on it.

If you look at the torture issue with an open political mind then many people are guilty of compliance and allowing it to happen. No political party is innocent and it was a severe lack in judgment by all affiliated with our nation endorsing and using torture against an enemy that has no qualms against killing thousands for the sake of their twisted belief in God. Is President Obama wrong to think that this issue, all of the people involved and prosecuted under his predecessors orders could be detrimental to moving on and making sure that it never happens again?

If we are to be true to ourselves as Liberal American’s then we need to look at those amongst us that have not served the standards we expect our leaders to stand up to. If the Speaker of the House has a clear conscience then she should have gone out of her way to clear her name on Saturday when she was available and then had the full right to have chucked the bird at the Sunday news shows.

What are you hiding Speaker Pelosi? This Liberal Democrat wants to know! And how does this help Darth Cheney and President Bush look innocent when it comes to torture? Is Speaker Pelosi playing right into the Cheney mastermind of the media? We shall see. Or as my cousin Jules says, only God will ever know.

Papamoka

Thanks to Memeorandum for the hat tip!

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

New Thinking is Needed for New Challenges

Hello Papamoka Readers! I want to mention an incredibly worrisome article in the Seattle Times. It's about how ordinary electronics we all take for granted, like MP3 players, mobile phones and flat screen TVs, are threatening to significantly increase energy consumption in the world over the next few decades. If new green sources of energy aren't perfected soon, it could mean a ticking time bomb for the world environment.

The Paris-based UN affiliated International Energy Agency estimates that new electronic gadgets will triple their energy consumption by 2030 to 1,700 terawatt hours, which - incredibly - is the equivalent of today's home electricity consumption of the United States and Japan combined. That is a phenomenal increase in the amount of energy required to maintain our modern civilization.

"The world would have to build around 200 new nuclear power plants just to power all the TVs, iPods, PCs and other home electronics expected to be plugged in by 2030, when the global electric bill to power them will rise to $200 billion a year," the IEA said.

The IEA says the world will have to do more to regulate the energy consumption of electronic devices, or create new forms of green energy. There is no alternative if we intend to avoid dramatic global climate change.

If nothing changes, cascading man-made C02 levels could lead us to become a less habitable world. Scientists are very worried about our future, so we should be too.

Unfortunately, that task is difficult do the fact that electronics make up such a vast amount of the world economy. Governments and private enterprise will be resistant and slow to act. That fact alone puts our future at risk.

This is another good example of why modern governments must be progressive and proactive when it comes to issues that threaten the globe, like the need to find green energy sources. This is another reason why we need progressive politics, and leave the regressive, unscientific politics of the past behind us.

We need new thinking on every issue, whether it's health care, war, disease or climate change. It's critical that mankind harness green energy. Republicans need to understand that we have no alternative. There is no going back to the old ways. Mankind's future depends on our ability to evolve, change and adapt to these new challenges.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jesse Ventura Calls Cheney a Coward


If you read the title of this post I’d just like to say Amen to former Governor Ventura’s description of former Vice President Cheney. Unlike Cheney, Ventura had to train under stress and was water boarded as part of his Navy SEAL training. Jesse Ventura knows what torture is because he went through it. He experienced it, he lived it. Water boarding is torture and Governor Ventura would prosecute everyone involved with it, authorized it, and passed it. Torture is illegal and the Governor has some interesting points. Specifically, that former Vice President Dick Cheney had five deferments during the draft and that Rush Limbaugh that is forever waiving the flag on the political right never served in our nations military. Governor Ventura calls them both Chicken Hawks.

Mind you, as a moderate Liberal I don’t see a single Republican out there that could touch President Obama in the next election but the former Governor of Minnesota as an Independent certainly could. Mind you this is a fairly long video of the Governor on Larry King but it is a must see for those of you on the cutting edge of tomorrows political issues. First he calls Cheney more or less an ass and coward in defense of Colin Powell, Rush Limbaugh is a coward too according to the Governor. Then he calls the drug war a farce in line with prohibition strengthening underworld black markets and mobsters, then he calls the Cuban trade embargo a joke and idiotic and lacking all common sense. Kick me in the butt, I like this guys thinking!

Check out this CNN video of Governor Ventura on Larry King…

Video Link


Governor Ventura has no immediate plans to run for any political office but I’m pretty sure that he could make for one hell of a political candidate on the national stage if he so choose so. He sure as hell would make the daily coverage colorful in the press.

Surf on Governor! And by all means stay by the phone for the call to be our first Ambassador to Cuba when President Obama works that mess out.

Papamoka

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Newspapers: murder or suicide?

Alex says: Perhaps harshly, a few weeks back, Maureen Dowd’s mopey piece about the unfair behaviour of Google and other aggregators toward poor suffering journalists became the focus of a piece I wrote that bid an unemotional goodbye to the newspaper industry. Since then, we’ve seen The Wire creator David Simon appearing before congress to claim, amongst other more sensible points, that the internet parasite has eaten the news-gathering host. Interestingly, his presence at the hearings can only be because he was the maker of a hit TV series, not an old-fashioned journalist; conclude what you will from that.

My view, as I stated before, is that journalism is not what's at risk here, and we'd all do well to distinguish journalism from newspapers. Journalism – professionals investigating the news of interest to the public at large – will prosper even if newspapers die a terrible death because this kind of professional work meets a real public need.

One of the persistent myths put out by the newspapers is that their troubles are caused by a public no longer willing to pay for the valuable work they do, that the internet has somehow made consumers into tightwads and skinflints who don’t care about the public good and aren't willing to pay for quality. “The tragedy of the commons,” journalists murmur quietly to themselves as they rock themselves to sleep in their plush city pads. No, more than that, we the public are actually criminals, stealing content, or in Simon’s words, parasites. Quick note, guys: a fairly reliable indicator that a business is out of touch is when it starts abusing its customer base.

I think the internet has just made consumers able to pay only for what they actually wanted and valued in the first place. The great revelation is that a whole load of stuff that publishers thought was first rate has been exposed as fluff.

The Victim Number One of the internet is, and has always been, the practice of bundling. As with albums, your traditional newspaper included a few tracks of real quality and a whole pile of filler. Back in the 1970s, when you had confidence in the bands you loved, this wasn’t a problem. But when the producers started forcing the cash cows to release half-finished albums every year just to keep up with their production schedules, things started going wrong. Remember when Michael Jackson released Thriller and virtually every track was a hit single as well? When was the last time that happened?

Same goes for bundling in the newspaper industry. Bundling wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – in fact, it could even be valuable if you had intelligent editors who understood their audience. This kind of editor could bring you stories on topics you hadn’t gone to look for but turned out to be interesting all the same. But quality bundling is increasingly rare, not least because editors simply ended up chasing the stories from their rivals’ headlines. Most of the time newspaper bundling became little more than a few pieces of expensive, quality journalism squeezed between a whole bunch of generic filler taken virtually wholesale off the AP feed and marginally repackaged. I presume that editors consoled themelves that this was the price they paid: that the fluff subsidised their true calling - the occasional Woodward and Bernstein piece. Actually, this was a way of reconciling themselves to spending less and less time on the thing that really mattered.

The best example I know of this is the British Sunday newspaper. Convinced that quality was measured by quantity, editors just kept adding crap, so that today you need a small wheelbarrow to get one home from the shops, and most of the rest of the day free to discard the 30-odd sections of absolutely no interest to you. (I briefly did some strategy work for a major international press chain which shall remain nameless about ten years ago, and the frame of discussion at that point was even about eliminating the journalist altogether from the newspaper production process. Troublesome, argumentative, and really not doing much that a news wire and copy editor couldn’t do as well, was their – now exposed as utterly self-destructive – view.)

As long as the distribution mechanism was controlled by a few businesses with a monopoly on the print and circulation of newsprint, editors could convince themselves that their bundled product was more valuable than most people actually felt it was. Their little self-regarding bubble could persist long enough to pay for their long expense account lunches. But then the internet offered people the opportunity to read the two or three articles they wanted from a newspaper without paying the bit they didn’t want. Instead of getting the price of the whole thing, newspapers were suddenly forced to live with a tiny share of ad rev from eyeballs on that page alone. To an insider, this looked like daylight robbery, but only because they misunderstood what their customers valued in the first place. Adding every topic under the sun to a Sunday newspaper wasn’t making them more appealing to readers, it was making them more generic – and, for that matter, more annoying.

The same could be said about the embarrassing way in which formerly respectable newspapers sought to put buxom film stars on the front page every day and covered the latest goings on in reality TV shows. Formerly high-brow journalists convinced themselves that an attitude of wry disapproval of the content they were covering would fool the public into thinking it wasn’t just celebrity news. Well, it didn’t: celebrity gossip is celebrity gossip. Besides, people who like that stuff don't want to be told at the same time as they're getting their fix that they're shameful and should really be reading Kierkegaard.

All too often, newspapers thus came to believe that their unique value lay in taking a particular attitude or ideological position rather than providing something to the consumer that wasn’t available in a dozen other places.

Now, I can only speak for a sampling of one person – me – but I stopped buying newspapers a long time ago. In fact, I stopped well before I started getting my news from the Internet. I preferred to go to the few good TV news programmes instead (Newsnight, for instance), which didn’t waste my time telling me what ‘Bennifer’ was getting up to, or how I should wear my hair to best look like a Shoreditch journalist. I do read individual news reports from the press online, but never more than a couple of pieces from any single source: for which I think the ad revenue they accrue is probably reasonable. Meanwhile, I subscribe to The New Yorker and The London Review of Books, and regularly buy The New York Review of Books, The Economist, and other news magazines, all of which cost substantially more than a daily paper. So the total pot of money I spend on journalism has not only held up, it’s probably grown. My licence fee to the BBC is still being paid, the magazines are getting a fair whack of my disposable income, it’s just that only a little of it goes to newspapers anymore.

Why still pay for magazines if supposedly the internet's destruction of paying for quality journalism is to blame? Well, in my case the answer is simple: the magazines didn’t run off and try to be all things to all people, the magazines didn’t show contempt or ignorance of their readership. They understood their brand, they understood what their readers wanted, and they focused on delivering it, in a quality format. I know this is true for high end political and international news – what I like – but I'm sure it’s the same for other subjects as well. Why get The Guardian to keep me updated on celebrity tattle when Heat does it properly? Why read The Telegraph’s half-pint technology news section when I can read Wired?

So in the end, I don’t hold to this argument that we're witnessing the death of independent, professional journalism. Sadly, all too often it was the newspapers who squeezed out the good journalism from their workplace. The same newspapers are now trying to wrap themselves in the dead skin of investigative journalism in order to preserve a high-minded image of themselves in a public debate over their social value that they're badly losing.

The good journalists are going to continue to do their work because they believe in it, and the public will continue to value their efforts however the medium changes. I’m not claiming that bloggers are generally capable of producing the kind of ‘pounding the streets’ professional investigations that David Simon talked about. Blogging is about community engagement, not investigative journalism, and whilst they may overlap they're not the same thing. I just don’t believe that’s really what newspapers did anymore, either.

Alex Goodall
Papamoka’s European Contributor
From A Swift Blow to the Head

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Monday, May 11, 2009

GOP Intends to Swift Boat America's Health Care Reform

Good Morning Papamoka Bloggers! I need to point out a new GOP scumbag who is leading the charge against health care for all Americans. His name is Rick Scott, and he recently founded a group called Conservatives for Patients' Rights. Like all GOP organizations, the name has nothing to do with the mission.

Let's just say he's one more greedy asshole that has decided to go to war against the best interest of millions of Americans - not unlike the GOP when you think about it. All kidding aside, the man is human excrement in the way he seeks to destroy an initiative being developed by multiple concerned groups to solve a very important national crisis.

Opposition is one thing, but propaganda is completely different, and that's what they intend to create. It's true, Scott and his GOP operatives intend to "swift boat" health care reform. They are supposedly receiving millions in donations from those who currently profit from America's broken health care system. It's disgusting!

The Washington Post reports that he is working with CRC Public Relations, which is the illustrious group that masterminded the "swift boat" attacks against 2004 Democratic presidential candidate John F. Kerry. They also created the "Harry and Louise" propaganda ads that helped torpedo health-care reform during the Clinton administration.

Scott is a multimillionaire investor and former hospital executive, who has made millions profiting from an industry that can no longer afford to pay him. Unfortunately, greedy bastards like Scott do not go quietly into the night. They fight tooth and nail to hold on to their dirty money, seeking to pig out at the trough for as long as possible. People's lives be damned! They are no better than war profiteers in my opinion.

Most industry analysts will tell you that people like Scott - who make millions/billions from health care - profit at the expense of both patients and actual health care.

I don't know about you, but I'm tired of the "it's just business" attitude that so many Americans cling to. We need to call out people like Scott and brand them for maintaining a cold and uncaring health care system. Their quest for profits leads to millions of unnecessary deaths - only the disingenuous and coldest of hearts would deny it.

Scott is the only notable so far spending as much as $5 million of his own money and - according to The Washington Post - as much as $15 million in donations to create a resistance to any government-run program. You know, the kind of program designed to help those Americans who can't afford private health insurance, or who have pre-existing conditions. The ones the GOP wants to ignore and allow to die.

This charming group of heartless Republicans need to be isolated and attacked for their deceitful opposition to a reasonable, industry-wide solution. The latest GOP "swift boat" initiative needs to be isolated and mocked before it can burrow it's way into the brains of America's uninformed electorate. In other words, I hope somebody does something to "swift boat" them before they do too much damage.

Let's face it people, greedy bastards like Scott want to profit from your losses. In almost every instance, they seek to maintain broken systems that earn them billions in profits, at the expense of a better system that would give most Americans a better quality of life.

The GOP is trying to kill something that most Americans want, in addition to most businesses. America's health care costs - resulting mainly from private company profits - are out-of-control. We need President Obama and the Democrats to succeed. I will be writing more about this over the months ahead, but for now I think it's important to simply point out who the scoundrels are who seek to deny us something that we need very badly - it could mean life and death.

Michael Boh
Papamoka's Left Coast Contributor
from Our Rants & Raves Blog

PS - If you wish to view their propaganda, or just complain to them the way I did, feel free to visit their website. Please consider the source before you believe their spin.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cheney Disses Colin Powell

A friend once told me that you need to watch out for people that could turn on you when things get rough. Dick Cheney, the former Vice President turned on former military leader, former Secretary of State, and former confidant of the White House, Colin Powell. Politically, Cheney would go to bat for Rush Limbaugh first over Colin Powell, the same Rush Limbaugh who never served in our nations military, never held a public office, and would bite the hand that feeds him if it works for his entertainment talk radio network. Um, Mr. former Vice President, you just slapped every man and woman that served in our armed forces upside the head? One has to wonder how Cheney thinks, decorated military and life long public servant versus a blow hard aleged addict of prescription drugs. Cheney still goes for the aleged drug addict?

Video Link



Need I mention that Dick Cheney never served in our nations military but condoned tactics that could be used against our own troops if torture is justified? And it was under his watch! It only takes a swipe of a pen and a signature to authorize anything in defense of America but the consequences of thinking that you are right just because you say you are is way off of the foundation of what our nation was and is built on. Thank God that nothing ever happened to President Bush where Cheney would have moved up the ladder. Cheney would have nuked all of Iraq in a heart beat even though our troops were stationed there. His logic for doing so would be for the betterment of democracy, as long as you don’t agree with his definition of it.

Walk over to this side of the aisle Colin Powell, you get a hug and a way to go for being an American that believes we have a moral obligation to humanity.

Papamoka

My thanks to Think Progress for the hat tip…

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Obama Correspondents Dinner Video

One of the events I always love to see is the White House Correspondents Dinner. Only at this event can our nations President’s relax and throw out a few good belly laughs. President Obama was in rare form at the 2009 gathering of reporters and journalists.

Below is the first video of the dinner speech from President Obama with additional video links to part two and three…

Video Link Part 1



Video Link Part 2

Video Link Part 3

Papamoka

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