Friday, January 30, 2009

Honesty and Integrity

Ok, anymore anyway. Yeah, over-reaction, but some days I wonder what's going on with our society. "And the reasons for the pessimism?"

Last week I ordered an upgrade to Adobe Create Suite (CS) 3 to CS4 with other Adobe software for my photography projects. I ordered it 2-3 day FedEx delivery (Wednesday-Thursday of this week). I scheduled work most of the week in my (home) office to be here so it doesn't get left on the doorstep and possibly nabbed by a neighbor as has happened. And by today no box.

So I call FedEx and lo and behold they haven't received a package to ship to me. So I call Adobe and they had the order but no shipment number. They said they'd check shipping and for me to call back Saturday for a FedEx number. Hopefully, I'll get it next week, but it made me wonder how long Adobe would have taken to see the order never left the warehouse.

Update.-- Adobe did find the FedEx number and checking FedEx's Website, I discovered it was shipped and delivered, left at my front door on a day, which I've routinely said do not deliver on, I'm away most of the day on appointments and errands. It wasn't at my door when I got home along with a note on the door to return later or another day, and I have good reasons to believe my neighhor or his friends have stolen packages.

I took printouts of the order and shipping to the manager's office to explain, again, there is a problem. Except they had the package after all. The FedEx guy didn't leave a note it was delivered to the manager's office and the manager never called my phone to say they have it. Well, I installed the software and am now working with it, but it still makes me wonder how long the package would have sat on a shelf. End update

Anyway, this week I've been making photo cards (all made in-house) for friends, family and donations (about 160 for them and another 120+ for stock) and ran out of printer ink cartridges for the photo printer (Epson R2400). Normally I get them on trips to Seattle, but after printing this run, I didn't have enough to finish.

So I called around to office supply stores and the local Office Depot said they had them. Or so the kid said after asking several times the cartridge and printer number and putting me on hold to check. So I get there and discover they don't have any and the manager said they don't even stock them. I told the manager it took me all of about 30 seconds to check the shelves to see that so why did the kid take minutes over the phone and then lie to me.

The manager said he would raise it at the next staff meeting. While I was at the Office Depot one kid (yeah, I call them that which they probably hate, but hey, that's life and I'm older) was putting stuff to restock in a cart. He tossed it on top of the overfull cart and several boxes fell off onto the floor. He didn't even bother to pick it up until I started to pick them up[, and he came back.

It just got me to thinking, what's happened to honesty and personal integrity? I know young folks are the mainstay of most of these stores, but what's happening with emplohyees anymore? Or are they like the products, just throwaways, and more are available on demand when asked. But kids can't understand it's not about the company or anything else, but simply themselves doing their best?

Anyway, it's just a rant on a day of bad things. And it's back to Seattle for more printer cartridges and paper. And then wait to call Adobe. It's just odd their software doesn't have a check between orders and shipping and report mismatches a few days old. And so I'll wait and schedule new work again in the office next week too.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

About Mr. Bush

I was reading a column in today's USA Today (1/27/09) by Ross Baker, political scientist at Rutgers University. He suggests we need to forgive former-President Bush (boy, do I like the term "former" now) instead of proceeding with any legal action against him, former Vice President Cheney, DOD secretary Rumsfeldt or anyone else in the Bush administration for war crimes or other crimes against the American people.

Mr. Baker suggest past president have had their fair share for possible or potential criminal offenses, but wasn't procecuted, except former President Nixon who resigned after being impeached by the Senate. But none of those presidents approached the illegalities Bush did during his presidency. They've been innumerably proven in the many books on the Iraq war, the NSA/CIA surveillence programs, the court cases on Gitmo and prisoners, the corporate-government to steal taxpayers' money, the introduction religion into political decisions and actions, the unreasonable classifcation of documents to hide information, decisions and action by this government, the abuse of power, and on and on.

The list of Bush's misdeeds is almost endles. He hasn't earned let alone deserve our forgiveness, and while I would love to forget him, we'll be paying for his incompetence for decades if not generations. He needs to understand the reality of what he has done to this country, this nation, the American people, America's credibility and reputation, and the United States of America as a whole.

He voilated our trust and made us less safe and secure, endangered every American here and abroad, and destroyed the value of American ethics and morality. More than all those presidents Mr. Baker cites combined. It's not justice to let him off with a, "Gee, George, good try but..." It's justice to make him see and answer to the American people. He was blind to us then and it's time we made him see.

Forget him? Maybe. Forgive him. Never.

Monday, January 26, 2009

blackmail and tradeoffs

I read over this last weekend the US is preparing to sign a new Whaling treaty with Japan. This treaty will open up coastal water to Japanese whaling ships to hunt and harvest whales. Sounds bad except in return Japan agrees to reduce it's harvest of whales elsewhere for "scientific purposes", which is their language around the international agreements on limits to commercial harvests of whale.

The point is Japan doesn't officially harvest commercial whales beyond their quota, but collects them for scientific purposes, except all those whales are never studied and only end up in Japan's food industry markets. Many of the ships in their whaling fleet are "reseach ships", which are occasionally accompanied by secret Japanese Navy spy or "defense" ships to hunt, chase, and attack Greenpeace and Sea Shepard ships.

So, the deal is that Japan will supposedly hunt less whales, meaning actually live within their quota by reducing the open ocean catch, and we, meaning the US, will open our waters to their ships. So when does a trade-off become blackmail? Instead of pressuring Japan to reduce illegal and excessive whaling, we're giving them fresh sources of whales we know will be for commercial markets in hopes they'll reduce the harvest in other areas. But what if they don't?

Who will monitor they harvest in our waters? And if they exceed their quota? And if they don't reduce their harvest elsewhere? We trust them and their reports? The article didn't have the complete text or links to the treaty, but it smacks to me of blackmail by Japan in the name of conservation. It's blackmail disguised as a trade-off, and we're paying the price as they harvest whales in US waters.

And here's the catch. If the Greenpeace or Sea Shepards ships being to harass the Japanese whaling ships, the Japanese can ask for and expect the US Navy to intervene and protect their treaty rights, including taking action against any ship threatening or attacking their ships. Is that good for us? Or just for them? And what about Greenpeace and Sea Shepard's right to protest? We will protect them then?

The point is that Japan doesn't want to, and we know won't, reduce their harvest of whales, they have no economic incentives. But we can help them by putting an environmental face on it. That's blackmail at our expense. But then I'll see how it goes, or floats as they say. I'm still not holding my breath Japan is honest here, just using us to help their economy.

Friday, January 16, 2009

What's important

I know all the pundits and political analysists have given President (-elect) Obama the list of issues they think are of immediate concern and importance, and they've given him their advice about how and what to do. So be it, and so can all of us ordinary folks express what we also see for him to focus on in the first week or so of office. And with that I have a list, but in no particular priority, just pick one and go.

First, Pakistan. Simply understand and get realistic with what's possible. Don't overplay the terrorism card as it's a complex country with a complex history and a complicated political situation.

Second, Israel. Get tough with and on them. They're terrorizing the Palestinians into a third world status, and they expect submission in return? They're bullies. Make them step back and realize the situation about their one small country in the Middle East surrounded by a number of Arabic countries who don't like them.

Third, Iraq. The party is over, bring the troops home and find a peaceful exit which leaves us some honor. Let's not stay to fight terrorists, that's their problem. If we stay, it's because we're asked, not persuading them to ask us with money and arms, but because they want us.

Fourth, Afghanistan. See Pakistan except it needs a real government, not our puppet government, but we know that's impossible. It's our decade there, so minimize the damage so they're not allied with Pakistan. Remember the latter has real bombs, weapons, and experts.

Fifth, NAFTA and China. It's about jobs here. Nothing less and nothing more important. "It's the economy stupid."

Sixth, Homeland Security. Fix it.

Seventh. Surveillence. Restore the rights and protections of the citizens by stopping the sweeping spying and surveillence laws and activities by the NSA, FBI, DOD, etal. Restore the right to privacy. Citizens aren't the enemy.

Eightth, No national or real ID system. It's smacks of Big Brother.

Ninth, TSA. Disband the agency and return our airports, airlines and airspace to us, not some bureauracy that couldn't find a bomb if someone handed it to them, and who continue to steal from suitcases. Let us lock our suitcases again.

Tenth, Fund America's infrastructure again. It's the right and good thing to do.

Eleventh, Save our environment. Now, not tomorrow, but now. It's almost too late to save this planet and country, and time is critical.

Twelveth, Healthcare. For everyone and affordable. Reign in Drug companies, hospital costs, and especially the health insurance industry. Let's become the best and leader in the world again for everyone here, no matter their status.

Thirteenth, bakers dozen, Don't touch Social Security except to improve its longterm health. It's solvent for another 30+ years, so strive to make that 70+ years.

I'm done. There's more but that's for later. God speed and do your best. And we reserve right to look over your shoulder and go, "Hmmm...." with a wince or stare. And I'll bring the doughnuts and coffee.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Things that make me mad

Reading and listening to the news this week so far I found the following stories which makes me mad.

In Poland, workers found a mass grave of at least 1,800 German men, women and children, all nude with nothing, not even papers or any identification. They were all killed by the Russians in their push to Berlin during WW II. Ok, long ago, but still raises the question of why. Innocent people, not soldiers, and for what?

It's been reported Israel is using phosphorus artillery shells against the Palestinians in Gaza. And against civilians. Innocent men, women and children. Phosphorus burns on contact with skin, to the bone. It burns through clothes and into the skin. Why? This is terrorism, nothing less and totally unnecessary. And it stays on everything it falls, ready to burn the first person who touches it.

Israel is telling people in Gaza to abandon their homes in areas they intend to shell. Why? If Israel is after Hama militants and rocket launching sites, then go after them, but indiscriminate bombing of suburban areas of innocent civilians? And you're telling us you're using equivalent force against a few rockets? What's the ratio of Palenstinians killed and Isrealis? Last I heard it's running about 100 to 1. That's humane?

Why are we still listening to Dr. Kissinger? He's the architect of Nixon's illegal military and covert spying campaigns and the voice of overthrowing democracies to install military leaders or dictators favorable to the US. He's done so much harm to our international relations he should be forgotten, or maybe as some have suggested, tried on war crimes. It's time to stop listening to him and his 1960's political coldwar rhetoric.

Isreal's Prime Minister Olmert called President Bush to have Secretary of State Rice abstain from voting on a UN Resolution condeming Israel's actions in Gaza, one Ms. Rice help draft. Israel is telling us what to do? And Bush, you know "the decider" backed down, er changed his mind, after talking with Mr. Olmert?

We, meaning taxpayers, gave $45 Billion to CitiGroup and we guarranteed $306 Billion in securities and loans, and they agreed to sell Smith-Barney, which they're doing with Morgan Stanley. And now we learn it wasn't enough. They're facing a $100 Billion shortfall from this last quarter alone, and they want more TARP money. That takes a lot of corporate balls to ask us for money we haven't seen a cent of in accountability or returns.

Military official overseeing the trials of "terrorists" admit "some" detainees at Guantanamo Bay were in fact tortured, engaging in techniques which were life threatening. Gee, that's not new or news, just to those who didn't and haven't wanted to admit it. It's fairly well assumed we didn't violate the Geneva Convention, and as bad as probably many nations we condenm for their torture.

But then for the extreme cases, we were smart to use extraordinary rendtion to send the people to our enemy who hold no limits on or fears of using torture. They were our allies in the war on terrorism because they did what we knew we couldn't do, torture beyond any reasonable or realistic limits. And they we retrieved these folks back to Gitmo. Gee, saving them from what and for what?

Did you know about $25 Billion of the TARP money went to Bank of America? And for what prey tell? To offset their losses, but also to make of the difference in their purchase of Merril-Lynch Company. They're a bank and they don't have enough money to buy the company? So, they're not borrowing from us, but being given money from us to make up the difference along with about half of their $630 Billion toxic loans. Our money for a bank to buy a Wall Street investment and financial company that's going bust? And BoA has indicated it's not enough and they want more TARP money.

The TARP money was for bailing our home loans from foreclosure. And so far $350 Billion has been spent but none on that at all, just bailiing out failing financial and investiment companies and banks. Gee, it's the new trickle down economics practiced by Congress and the Secretary of the Treasury. So, when we will actually get some of our own money back? We've already given $1,000+ per person with another $1,000+ in their pocket. Not ours, theirs.

I'm sure I can find more, but that's enough for one day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Ad for Senator

"Hi, I'm Roland Burris, the junior Senator from Illinois. Can I interest you in my campaign? We have starter packages to help me get elected in 2010. You see I don't have any real skills at being a Senator or really even a good record to stand and run on. I lost evey election I ran in. Instead my company contributed to the Govenor's campaign and I worked for his election campaign, and now I was appointed by an indicted and impeached Governor. I really need campaign funds for my election. I honestly fear both the Democrats and the Republicans in Illinois will try to beat me with better qualified and capable candidates. So I need money. Lots of money. And fast. So, call the number on the screen or visit our Website to contribute. We accept personal and corporate checks, all major credit cards and PayPal."

"And if you are a big contributor, my representative will give you me personal cellphone number to talk a deal. I certainly want to see the interests of America prosper, and I'm sure there is an earmark I can introduce to help your company. Of course all of this is off the record and won't be disclosed by me in any way to any Congressional ethics committee or with any FBI investigation into my financial affairs. You can trust me. I'm a US Senator. Who's more trustworthy than a Senator?"

Folks, relax, it's not real, "It's a joke son." - Foghorn Leghorn. Remember, it's called free speech.

Photo from Reuter's news story.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Local Newspapers

I live in the greater Puget Sound basin, which is the are surrounding the area of western Washington from Olympia to Bellingham, and centering on the Tacoma, Seattle and Everett area with Bellevue and the east Lake Washington area to the Cascade Mountain foothills and the eastern side of the Olympic Mountains. In short, a very beautiful place, but with lots of people, traffic and problems. Ok, that said, my point?

Well, we have three daily papers, the Tacoma New Tribune, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Seattle Times. Some years ago, the two Seattle papers merged operations for some sections of the paper, namely the Sunday edition and the daily classifieds, and publishing under a Joint Operating Agreement. Both sides have been wrangling for years now to get out of this arrangement started when the Times moved from an afternoon paper to direction competition with the PI because of the traffic in the afternoons.

I like to buy the combined Sunday edition of the Seattle papers and the Tacoma paper. The Tacoma paper is almost a waste anymore as it's always somewhere between 2/3rd and 3/4th ads. Once I take out all the junk fliers and ads, the paper is readable in maybe 15-20 minutes, and barely worth the $1.50 for the Sunday Edition. The combined Seattle Sunday edition is better, readable in 30-60 minutes depending on the times, events and issues, but still it has a lot of fluff in fliers and ads.

I rarely buy their daily editions and it's mostly the Thursday ones for the weekend outdoor guide each includes. Otherwise, the newspapers are a waste, or almost were at 50 cents. But now they a waste at 75 cents, which I discovered this week when I went to the newstand to buy them. I'm sorry folks, at $1.50 for both, you're not worth it, since much of the stories are duplicate news, just different perspectives.

So, it's safe to say they're all three doomed? With on-line versions available free, it sure looks that way. Just another story in the demise of print newspapers. They still have my money for the Sunday editions, which I'm betting will go up to $1.75 or $2.00 each soon, but not for their daily editions anymore.

We're not admitting guilt

"We're not admiting guilt.", the Transportation Security Administration and JetBlue airlines said when they banned an Iraqi-born American from embarking on a flight while wearing a t-shirt with an Arabic sign, which translated said, "We will not be silent", but they wrote the man a $240,000 check for the inconvenience of requiring him to wear another t-shirt over his and sit at the back of the plane instead of his original assigned seat at the front.

Guilty? You bet they are, but we live in a time where you can deny the truth and reality, and your own liability and guilt, along with your own stupidity by simply writing a check. We're in the age of deniability. It's always been there and money has always been used to coverup or deny the truth, but it's so prevalent anymore, especially in business now, it's almost the norm. Companies don't admit anything for fear of the publicity and possible lawsuits.

We're down to treating everyday people like corporate fodder, just use and/or abuse, and if anything goes wrong, write them a check, but never admit anything. In fact spin anything to blame the other side or person. Look at President Bush. Best example there is of someone lying in the face of reality. What could have been worse than "Mission Accomplished" followed by now nearly six years of war?

Oh well, such are the times we live. When confronted with your errors and wrongs, if all else fails, simply deny or even lie. No one will care or complain, but have your checkbook handy to cover your ass.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Dear Senator Reid

Dear Senator Reid,

As an American and taxpaying individual, I have the right to my view and to express it, to you with respect to your decision to allow Mr. Burris to be seated in the US Senate. You are, and I won't say sir, a coward. I won't add additional adjectives I would you love to add before the word coward, like those four letter words we like to use here in this country. But it doesn't change the issue that you reigned on your word and exhibited absolutely no backbone in the face of an indicted Governor.

Mr. Burris is a whining clown who hasn't ever won and can't win an election. He doesn't have the support of the voters of Illinois, nor the American people, but you decided to seat him against the will of both. That's not courage, nor it is character. It's simply cowardice in the face of media attention and political pressure.

I have always been a marginal Democrat going back over 40 years now but in the last few years under your leadership in the Senate I no longer believe you represent me or Americans, but simply your own self-interest for what I do not know because you have little if any character as a person and especially as a Senator. You flinched and bowed, and gave in to an indicted Governor playing political chicken with you.

You blinked. And lost. And lost my respect for good and my respect for Democrats in general. I will no longer support the Democratic party. I hate republicans worse and Libertarians only a little less. But now you're useless to the people of this country in my book. I am and will be for the years to come an Independent, and will not trust you or the Democrats ever again. Thanks to your cowardice.

So, to you and your fellow Democrats, you just lost a supporter and voter, and you can bet I will speak out whenever and wherever I can about this and other issues the Democrats take up and want the support of the American people and voters. Sorry, not me, and as much as I would like to use that famous phrase that people usen in response to something like this, I won't because I think you know it's understood.

So, "..."

Dear Mr Burris

Dear Mr. Burris,

Ok, you're the newly appointed Senator from Illinois, but as the news has reported, the Illinois Secretary of State has not yet certified your appointment and the US Senate has not received the certification of your appointment. While I can't argue that the Governor was authorized to appoint you to replace President-elect Obama as the junior Senator from Illinois, it can be argue the process to finalize the appointment has not been finished. So please go home and wait to be called.

Can you do that? The truth is no one likes someone to run out into the public and press and claim a right to something, especially being a US Senator without it being official. To most Americans, you looked less than professional and worthy of the position to represent the people of Illinois. Whatever you creditials are, I don't know nor really care at this point, you look like the smiling fool, trying to get the media to pressure folks into surrounding to your appointment.

In short, Mr. Burris, standing outside the US Capitol in the rain holding a press conference cricitizing everyone only makes you look the fool, crying about being picked on. You have given the public the impression you are simply whining. Rather than talking about the issues and what can be done to resolve the issue, you have stood there and whined. The public doesn't like whiners.

Go home Mr. Burris. They'll call you when the decision has been if you are truly the duly appointed Senator from Illinois.