Black Death Friday: Xmas Deals To Die For

After Black Friday death, shoppers back at Wal-Mart

Other than glaziers out front fixing the doors damaged by a throng of impatient shoppers, there were no outward signs Saturday at the Valley Stream Wal-Mart of the chaos that turned this year's Black Friday into a day of death and mayhem.

In the deadly melee, shoppers had pushed glass sliding doors to the ground, bending their aluminum frames like an accordion. The stampede resulted in the death of Damour, who was in the front vestibule helping to open the store for the morning. A cause of death is still pending an autopsy, police said.

Meanwhile, Damour's mother was en route to Jamaica, Queens, from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to help prepare her son's funeral arrangements, the family has said.


Toys R Us reopens after fatal shooting in Palm Desert

"These guys ran into each other, they squared off against each other, they killed each other," said Sheriff's Capt. Daniel Wilham. "It's a miracle that these were the only two people killed, given it was a crowded toy store."

The yellow police tape was taken down, and a few shoppers ventured into a Palm Desert Toys R Us this morning, a day after two gunmen shot each other dead in the store, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year.

The dead men were identified this morning by Riverside County Sheriff's officials as Alejandro Moreno, 39, of Desert Hot Springs and Juan Meza, 28, of Cathedral City. Two handguns were recovered at the scene.

The shooting occurred about 11:30 a.m. Friday after two women got into a fight. Sheriff's Sgt. Dennis Gutierrez said no one was arrested. He would not identify the women and said their dispute was not part of the investigation.

When the women started arguing, witnesses said, the two men pulled out handguns and ran down the store aisles shooting at one another, witnesses said. Frantic shoppers either dropped to the floor or stormed out of the store.


What's In Your "Wealth of Nations?"

“We have finally come to understand that the real wealth of a nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Take this resource base away, and all that is left is a wasteland. That’s the whole economy. That is where all the economic activity and all the jobs come from. These biological systems contain the sustaining wealth of the world. All around the planet these systems are under varying degrees of stress and degradation in almost all places, including the United States. As we continue to degrade them, we’re consuming our capital. And, in the process, we erode living standards and compromise the quality of our habitat. We’re veering down a dangerous path. We are not just toying with nature; we are compromising the capacity of natural systems to do what they need to do to preserve a livable world. We can – and must – forge a sustainable society, but it will take more vigorous leadership in the future. Fortunately, the ranks of the concerned and committed are rapidly expanding. The ultimate goal is to nurture a society imbued with a guiding environmental ethic. The ethic has been evolving, and ultimately, it will save us from many costly blunders. The British jurist, Lord Moulton, summarized the matter in one sentence – ‘The measure of a civilization is the degree of its compliance with the enforceable.’ That is our goal.”

Senator Gaylord Nelson
Earth Day 2000


Are You Thankful For The $7 Friggin' Trillion Dollar Bailout?

It seems we are early in the ever-growing economic downturn turned economic recession turned not-as-great-as-the-Great-Depression depression, but a story I read yesterday struck me as an interesting piece of fantasy. The Star Tribune headline read: This Bailout's For You. An accompanying smaller headline spelled out: Bailout Tab So Far $7,000,000,000,000 (that'd be $7 trillion). Suddenly the bailout number is bigger than a damn UPC code and about as meaningful...unless, of course, you actually know what the stuff in a UPC code stands for and can actually relate it to the related I2of5 code. But I only know what those codes mean because my boss' boss' boss' got a nasty gram from a big customer about us not providing them with information on the i2of5 code. More proof that experts are born from the womb of the mother of necessity.

So I'm reading the Strib story that said the government will deploy as much as $800 billion more bailout money "to make it cheaper for Americans to get a home mortgage, take out a car loan or borrow money through a credit card, as the government's intervention in the financial system expands to directly address the impact of the credit crisis on consumers."

How is this going to help me? Let's see, the 11.9 percent (I refinanced a couple times since) mortgage I took out on my house 20 years with 20 percent down should be paid off in 2009. The combined balance on my wife's and my credit cards is zero. It's used for trips and short-term purchases like the new bike, shoes, helmet and other stuff I bought last June. It is paid off in a couple of months. Of the two cars sitting in my garage, one was paid off two years ago and the other will be paid off next year. Both are Fords. The cars traded for them were Fords; the cars traded in for them were Dodge, and GM. Don't blame me for the Big Three automakers' troubles. I've never owned a foreign car.

Speaking of the Big Three automakers, what actually is the big deal about a $25 billion bailout tossed their way? Maybe I've become proportionally jaded here, but just a couple of months ago the Congress voted down the first bailout package of $700 billion. A week later and $110 billion of vote securing pork additives Congress approved an $810 billion bailout package. Who would have even noticed if they bumped it up another $25 billion?

If we used the metric decimal system of our currently and scaled these numbers down to Joe-The-Plumber numbers, it would be like adding a quarter to an $8.10 loan to your plumber friend at lunch. How would put a stink up over that? After all, if somebody asked you in 1933 "Hey, buddy can you spare me a dime?" they have to rephrase the question to $1.59 to get it into 2008 terms.

Of course, we could recast these numbers into more contemporary terms. Remember the War in Iraq? Before the war, White House economic adviser Lawrence Lindsay estimated the cost at $100 to $200 billion. So the White House got rid of him and "re-estimated" the cost at $50 to $60 billion. It's now over $605 billion and growing.

You'd call me naive or worse, but I would say the squawk against bailing out the Big 3 has less to do with their ability to do business and more to do with politics. The hearts of the Big 3 wanly beat in the Democratic blue states. A majority of foreign auto manufacturers in the US are located in solid Republican, red states. Vetoing a bailout to the Big 3 maybe the last chance for Republicans neuter the hopes of unionism in the manufacturing sector of the US. That leaves the growing service sector unions to fight from the bottom up.

From what I've read and heard about the various bailouts, I'm not sure the government "experts" are able to catching the Frisbee of reality. You don't even have to read more than the headlines to see this: Citicorp To Cut 53,000 Jobs; 80,000 jobs lost, unemployment spikes; BNY Mellon Will Eliminate 4% of Jobs as Profit Falls; Merck cuts 7,200 jobs; National City cuts 4,000 jobs; PepsiCo cuts 3,300 jobs; GM cuts 1,600 jobs; Yahoo cuts 1,500; Andersen cuts 52 jobs...

How in the hell is anybody worried about losing a job going to be running out and buying a new house because the interest rate is down one percent? Why would they buy an existing home, when the prices are still dropping? Wouldn't that be stepping into a potential equity trap? Who's going to buy a new car, unless you are certain of the security of your job? Why would you be encouraging additional credit card consumption, when the cavalier use to credit is a big component of the growing problem?

This isn't a free-market capitalism v. socialism issue! This isn't a Republican v. Democrat issue! This isn't a big government v. small Government Issue! This is a bullshit and baloney issue…as in of how many pounds of economic bullshit and rhetorical baloney can the powers that be stuff down the throats of us taxpaying, Americans before we gag reflex and barf out the words "enough you Goddamn thieves, whores and lying bastards cross-dressing as elected representatives!" The only crumbs those Washington cake eaters are feeding us are the crumbs of bullshit now paving the pockmarked path of economic despair that once led to the dreams and hopes of golden years that awaited us at the end of a long working life. Not to be... The gang rapers the trickle down economics have had their way with us, taken the cherries of our innocence and blended into the crowd with their greedy hands out asking for more. And so it goes...

Maybe it's time to start laying off government experts and the Panglossian forecasters with their receipts for rainbow stew and promises free Bubble Up. Maybe then, economic theory will turn into common sense reality. Maybe Wisconsin Governor Doyle did the right thing by cancelling the raises and merit increases for state employees. I know many people in the private sector who have seen that happening for a couple years now. Maybe Obama will get things all figured out and we will all live happily ever after and every body's 401K's will skyrocket to unheard of levels, the national debt will soon be a faint memory and next Spring the town maintenance guys will be filling potholes on my street with gold.

My wife ask me what I was thankful for this Thanksgiving. I am thankful that the cold and sore throat that sent me home early from work on Tuesday is going away. I am thankful that I still have a job to leave early from when I’m sick. I am thankful that my wife is cooking me a nice turkey dinner. I’m thankful she called me upstairs to watch the huge flock of geese flying over the house. I am thankful that I grew up in a house with seven kids who sometimes had to eat cheese hot dish and drink powdered milk for the three or fours days while we waited for the Old Man’s paycheck hit the bank. I am thankful that I have a wife who grew in a large family that spent a few years living on the Kansas plains in a 10X40 foot trailer and understands where the bottom is and what it's like to be living near there. I am thankful that I don't take tomorrow for granted and I'm thankful I learned the Boy Scout motto "Be Prepared!"

The wife just announced that dinner is served. Time will tell whether it's for better or worse. Until the next, I got eat while there is still food to put on the table.

Have A Borderline Thanksgiving


Who Does God Hate?


Nader's Nadar

"...There's only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He's half African-American, Whether that will make any difference, I don't know. I haven't heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What's keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn't want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We'll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards...He wants to show that he is not a threatening . . . another politically threatening African-American politician. He wants to appeal to white guilt. You appeal to white guilt not by coming on as black is beautiful, black is powerful. Basically he's coming on as someone who is not going to threaten the white power structure, whether it's corporate or whether it's simply oligarchic. And they love it. Whites just eat it up..."

Ralph Nader
Rocky Mountain News
25 June, 2008


Stumbling Through Darkness Blindly...

Ayn Rand cultist John Ridpath condemns socialism, extols capitalism and forgets to mention the word "theory." Likewise, he forgets to explain the difference between "capitalism" and "democracy" and the interactions between the two concepts. In addition, "immorality" is a relative judgement call in most intellectual circles, but not in the myopic world of Ridpath's Randian worshipping...

"...tyrannical socialists and democratic socialists do have something in common with the mafia.

What they all have in common is the moral principle that it is appropriate on their part to initiate force in order to expropriate your property for their use. And whether or not this is established by force in the tyrannies, or by vote, and how thoroughly this is applied, whether totally applied in the tyrannies, or partially applied in the democratic-socialist societies are differences of a superficial nature.

The fundamental principle remains the same: individuals do not have right to their own lives, and their own property. And that brings us to my comments on love.

Because I frankly believe that the truth of the matter is that socialists parade beneath a mask of benevolence, and love of humanity, overwhelming generosity, and concern for everyone -- this is the mask they wear.

But if you ask: What does socialism really boil down to? I boils down to the view that individuals left free from physical force to pursue their own lives, will do corrupt and evil things. That individuals are bad; their view of human nature is not one of love and benevolence, it's one of the corruption of human nature, and the need, therefore, for those who are familiar with what the good life and the moral life is, to take upon themselves the power of government in order to force you into their world.

That is what the evil of socialism is. The distinctions between democratic socialism and tyrannical socialism are not fundamental.

The real issue here is: Are individuals to be regarded as sovereign units not to be attacked, or not? And all those social systems which answer: they are not morally sovereign individuals; we will attack them in the pursuit of the good.

There's many different definitions as to what that good is. There's Plato's definition; there's Rousseau's definition; there's Hegel's definition; and there's Marx's definition; and it goes on and on.

But the principle always remains the same. They know what the moral life is, and they have the presumption to ask, to be given, the coercive powers of government in order to plan your lives, and take away from you your right to your own property, your own lives, your own free choices.

Now that is immoral....Capitalism is the only alternative to these types of immoral social systems."