The State of the Union

While the whole thing struck us as bizarre and ridiculous, there's 2 things that really struck us:

First, why did he specifically mention ASBESTOS in his speech when discussing "tort reform"??

Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job-creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back, by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims - and I urge Congress to pass legal reforms this year.
Now, as many have pointed out, there is no evidence that law suits hurt our economy and, more often than not, they are the only recourse folks have when wronged... especially when government regulation is weak.

But Asbestos? Well we all know about that don't we? Vice-President Dick Cheney's not–former company (they still pay him and he still has an interest in them) Halliburton has interests there.

Second (and we know they talked about this on Unfiltered this morning) with regards to Capital cases...
Because one of the main sources of our national unity is our belief in equal justice, we need to make sure Americans of all races and backgrounds have confidence in the system that provides justice. In America we must make doubly sure no person is held to account for a crime he or she did not commit - so we are dramatically expanding the use of DNA evidence to prevent wrongful conviction. Soon I will send to Congress a proposal to fund special training for defense counsel in capital cases, because people on trial for their lives must have competent lawyers by their side.
Now, contrary to every single teaching of the Jesus that Bush claims to love and have in his heart, he presided over the executions of more people than anyone in modern American history. We have no idea where this comes from. (NO, we don't think he's suddenly gotten "religion" again)

Don't believe the hype and think for yourself (because that is the last thing they want)

"Benefit Offset"

AmericaBlog has an interesting little quote from "senior administration official" to the Washington Post about how earnings from new privatized Social Security accounts will NOT be paid to the holder of the account, but to the government.

We'd believe it. Bush Co. has "willfully distorted" or outright lied about everything else, why should their drive to privitize Social Security be any different?


DeLay Critic Removed From Ethics Committee
LA Times via Yahoo! (02.03)
Wow. This is really quite amazing but not unexpected:

The House ethics committee chairman who presided over three rebukes of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) was bounced from the job Wednesday and replaced by a Republican congressman from Washington state.

The new chairman is Rep. Doc Hastings the committee's second-ranking Republican. He was named by House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) to take the gavel from Rep. Joel Hefley (R-Colo.).

In addition, Hastert appointed three new members to the panel, including two — Reps. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) — whose political action committees have contributed to DeLay's legal defense fund. Smith's PAC contributed $5,000 in 2001 and an additional $5,000 between July and September 2004; Cole's gave $5,000 between July and September 2004.
Cuz' you gotta pay to play... More on Tom "The Hammer" DeLay @ Wikipedia

What they should do now is rename the committee to the "Situational Ethics Committee"

Ethics. 1 plural but singular or plural in construction : the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation

2 a : a set of moral principles or values b : a theory or system of moral values c plural but singular or plural in construction : the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group d : a guiding philosophy

situation ethics
Function: noun
: a system of ethics by which acts are judged within their contexts instead of by categorical principles


Why do Bankrupt People Hate America?

Half of bankruptcy due to medical bills-US study
Reuters AlterNet (02.02)
Don't these people know that we can't be distracted from the crisis facing Social Security in 50 years?!? 50 years people!! If we don't act now the terrorists will win!

Half of all U.S. bankruptcies are caused by soaring medical bills and most people sent into debt by illness are middle-class workers with health insurance, researchers said on Wednesday.

The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, estimated that medical bankruptcies affect about 2 million Americans every year, if both debtors and their dependents, including about 700,000 children, are counted.

"Our study is frightening. Unless you're Bill Gates you're just one serious illness away from bankruptcy," said Dr. David Himmelstein, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School who led the study.
Did you hear that? Harvard Medical School believes that Social Security needs to be privitized...
"Most of the medically bankrupt were average Americans who happened to get sick. Health insurance offered little protection."

The researchers got the permission of bankruptcy judges in California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas to survey 931 people who filed for bankruptcy.

"About half cited medical causes, which indicates that 1.9 to 2.2 million Americans (filers plus dependents) experienced medical bankruptcy," they wrote.

"Among those whose illnesses led to bankruptcy, out–of–pocket costs averaged $11,854 since the start of illness; 75.7 percent had insurance at the onset of illness."

The average bankrupt person surveyed had spent $13,460 on co–payments, deductibles and uncovered services if they had private insurance. People with no insurance spent an average of $10,893 for such out–of–pocket expenses.
Hey, sounds like you should ditch your health "insurance" and save 3,000 bucks!

"Even middle–class insured families often fall prey to financial catastrophe when sick," the researchers wrote.
These "middle–class families" they're talking about sound like goddamn surrender monkeys who are giving aid to terrorists to us...

Bankruptcy specialists said the numbers seemed sound.

"From 1982 to 1989, I reviewed every bankruptcy petition filed in South Carolina, and during that period I came to the conclusion that there were two major causes of bankruptcy: medical bills and divorce," said George Cauthen, a lawyer at Columbia-based law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP.
Now we just live in godless California/the People's Republic of Hollywood, but South Carolina doesn't sound like a fun place... do they have an Amoeba Records? We love Amoeba!

"Each accounted, roughly, for about a third of all individual filings in South Carolina."

He said fewer than 1 percent of all bankruptcy filings were due to credit card debt. "That truly is a myth," Cauthen said in a telephone interview.
Hmmm, the credit card myth... Wasn't that Lucas' inspiration for Star Wars?

As always: who is looking out for you folks? (again our hint is that it isn't that Bill O'Reilly jackass)

Don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain folks... don't pay attention to the man behind the curtain...


Why do 1 in 3 High School Students hate America?

First Amendment No Big Deal, Students Say
AP via Yahoo! (02.01)
This is very disturbing... really really super disturbing.

The way many high school students see it, government censorship of newspapers may not be a bad thing, and flag burning is hardly protected free speech.

It turns out the First Amendment is a second–rate issue to many of those nearing their own adult independence, according to a study of high school attitudes released Monday.

The original amendment to the Constitution is the cornerstone of the way of life in the United States, promising citizens the freedoms of religion, speech, press and assembly.

Yet, when told of the exact text of the First Amendment, more than one in three high school students said it goes "too far" in the rights it guarantees. Only half of the students said newspapers should be allowed to publish freely without government approval of stories.

"These results are not only disturbing; they are dangerous," said Hodding Carter III, president of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which sponsored the $1 million study. "Ignorance about the basics of this free society is a danger to our nation's future."

The students are even more restrictive in their views than their elders, the study says.
That's it... we're seriously thinking of getting the hell out of here...

Why does SBC hate America?

SBC to Cut Nearly 13,000 Jobs in AT&T Deal
Reuters via Yahoo! (02.01)
Yeah, it isn't "outsourcing" but it is the loss of good jobs and that hurts us all.

SBC Communications Inc. on Tuesday said it expects to cut around 12,800 jobs as a result of its $16 billion acquisition of AT&T Corp.
And here's the breakdown:

...5,125 jobs will be cut as a result of network efficiencies.

...1,700 will be trimmed from the combined sales department

...3,400 will be cut from business operations

...2,600 will be cut in divisions such as legal, advertising and public relations.

...60 percent of the cost savings from the deal to come from job cuts.

As Atrios says, "lucky duckies everyone!"

Maybe we're looking at this all wrong.... maybe they aren't really "job losses" at all... they're "cost savings"! And everyone likes "cost savings" don't they? (cue little Wal–Mart smiley guy to cut costs)

SBC currently employs 163,000 people, while AT&T employs 47,000 people, but each company is planning its own job cuts prior to closing the deal.

The company's remarks come a day after SBC said it would buy AT&T, creating the largest telephone company in the United States.
So, good workers, that the loss of your jobs (and the sacrifices your family will subsequently have to make) will serve a greater good! Be proud to be mid–wives to this great birth in American Commerce!


Why does Bill Gates hate America?

Bill Gates, World's Richest Man, Bets Against Dollar
Bloomberg.com (1.30)

Bill Gates, the world's richest person with a net worth of $46.6 billion, is betting against the U.S. dollar.

"I'm short the dollar," Gates, chairman of Microsoft Corp., told Charlie Rose in an interview late yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. "The ol' dollar, it's gonna go down."
Sounds like some goddamn "surrender monkey" to me! How dare he stand against America/Freedom/Democracy/Bush Co/etc.,!

Doesn't he know that he's just aiding the terrorists?
Gates's concern that widening U.S. budget and trade deficits are undermining the dollar was echoed in Davos by policymakers including European Central Bank President Jean–Claude Trichet and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.

The dollar fell 21 percent against a basket of six major currencies from the start of 2002 to the end of last year. The trade deficit swelled to a record $609.3 billion last year and total U.S. government debt rose 8.7 percent to $7.62 trillion in the past 12 months.

"It is a bit scary," Gates said. "We're in uncharted territory when the world's reserve currency has so much outstanding debt."


Gates reflected the views of his friend Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor who has bet against the dollar since 2002. Buffett said last week that the U.S. trade gap will probably further weaken the currency.

"Unless we have a major change in trade policies, I don't see how the dollar avoids going down," Buffett said in an interview with CNBC Jan. 19.

Gates in December joined the board of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., the investment company that Buffett runs. Forbes magazine's list of billionaires ranks Gates, 49, No. 1. Buffett, 74, is second, with more than $30 billion. Almost all of it is in Berkshire stock.

Gates described China as a potential "change agent" for the next two decades. "It's phenomenal," Gates said. "It's a brand new form of capitalism."

Gates's $27 billion foundation in September received approval from China's foreign-currency regulator to invest as much as $100 million in the nation's yuan shares and bonds.
See folks, Companies have no loyalty to nationality an the Über–wealthy can jump where ever and whenever they want. And they will.

Who is really watching out for you? (hint: it aint that jackass O'Reilly)


And a few more jobs here...

Albany Med plans outsourcing to cut costs
TimesUnion.com (01.27)

Albany Medical Center, which for years relied on local companies, is joining a growing number of hospitals that are choosing to outsource medical transcription work to companies in India.

The change will save Albany Med about $100,000 a year and will move the center toward electronic medical records, officials said.

HyperType, the Lake George–based company that lost the contract to transcribe doctors' notes for Albany Med's clinics, said it must now cut staff.

"It'll have a severe impact," said Cyndy Ryther, owner of the 35–year–old company that employs about 200 medical transcriptionists throughout New York state.
What's a few more jobs, right? Right? Last one employed please remember to turn out the lights when you're done.