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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Latinos hold the reins in November…but do they know it yet?

The GOP is predicting a repeat of 2006 when the Dems took over congress, but this time in favor of the Republicans. They are confident of this because so many Americans are unhappy with their economic situation, and the way the Obama administration is running the government. But when you analyze one of the 2006 wild cards—Republicans received only 29% of the Hispanic vote—the deck is still stacked in favor of the Democrats.

In a population survey by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, based on U.S. Census figures, the Latino voting turnout was one of the factors that gave Democrats the win in 2006. Their voting rates by region were 37.3% in the West, 33.5% Midwest, 29.4% Northeast and 27.7% South. The total voting was 49.2%, 53.2%, 46.9% and 43.9% respectively. Hispanics were 12.5% of the population then. Impressive.

According to a CNN report by Ruben Navarrette, Jr., the 2010 Census will reveal that same voting block “exploding” to 60 million people or 18% of the population. And they are pretty ticked off at Republicans that support Arizona’s new Immigration Law, SB1070. The CNN reporter says that it is estimated that 500,000 new Latinos are added to the voting rolls every two years.

Navarrette’s “clueless” Republicans on the issue include Sens. John Cornyn, Texas, Lindsey Graham, NC, Jon Kyl and John McCain, AZ, Charles Grassley, Iowa, Jeff Sessions, Alabama and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky. They will no doubt be at the top of the hit-list when up for reelection.

Right now it seems quiet on the voter registration front, but with just 63 days to the November 2 election, you can bet something is going on in the Hispanic community, and we’ll be hearing about it soon.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Is traditional media becoming grossly conservative?

If you really want to know what’s going on you must keep your eyes on the site, Center for Media and Democracy, and follow their “PR Watch.” You’ll get some straight talk that exposes the news the national media has lately either ignored or relegated to the back of the news section. One such item is an opinion-editorial by David Stockman, former director of Ronald Reagan’s Office of Management and Budget.

Although many do not agree with Reaganomics ideology, the GOP has praised its theory and the supposed positive results it has produced when implemented. But Stockman goes after Republicans, particularly Mitch McConnell, who say current GOP economic policies are in the Reaganesque tradition, when they really aren’t. The former director has four major points to qualify his reasoning:

1. He says you can’t blame runaway public debt on the spending of Democrats, rather the Republican Party’s attachment to the “insidious doctrine” that ignores deficits if they result in tax cuts.

2. The neocons significant increase of the military budget.

3. Deregulation of the financial sector, particularly on leveraged and speculative issues.

4. The consistent sending of U.S. jobs overseas.

In closing, Stockman says that, “…Republicans have strayed so far from their ideological roots that they have ‘made a mockery of party ideals’ and led the country into adopting policies that crippled the economy.” WOW! That’s heavy stuff I don’t remember reading until now.

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Iowa egg farm needs some serious investigation

The massive egg recall by the Iowa farm, Wright County Egg, has spurred several comments that question whether the Federal Drug Administration is doing its job. The FDA reported that it had “no inspectional history” with it or the other culprit, Hillandale Farms, also a part of the recall. Not only are the two involved in salmonella contamination, but Wright is also suspected of providing tainted feed to Hillandale.

The FDA, according to Deputy Commissioner Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, is looking at the “overall” contamination of the facilities, not just the feed. The salmonella found at Wright County Farms matches the “fingerprint” that was found in many of the 1,470 illnesses caused.

Austin “Jack” DeCoster, Wright owner, has a record of violations in the last 20 years for health, safety, immigration and environment violations paying millions in fines. Apparently the FDA went clueless through all this, as well as the state of Iowa. DeCoster has not yet commented on the situation and doesn’t look particularly happy in the photograph. Hopefully, this chronic offender will be made considerably unhappier in the future.

Photo compliments Lewistoown, Maine Sun Journal

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Friday, August 27, 2010

You won…but what happens in November?

Arizona and Florida primary races were heavily focused on the immigration issue and the results were as expected, in favor of right-wing conservatives who are against The Arizona Immigration Law, SB1070. Since both of these states have large Hispanic populations, the question remains just how that will affect the November elections.

Miami should know something about this with its 65%+ Hispanic/Latino residents, and Andres Oppenheimer, writing for the Miami Herald says, “Pro-Arizona Immigration Law rhetoric will haunt Republicans.” This also holds true in Arizona where the Hispanic/Latino populace is 30.8 percent.

Oppenheimer wants to know how the GOP will court the Hispanic voters in November. On the other side, it is certain that the Democrats currently view this situation as one to exploit in off-setting the loss of some Independent voters in the last year. This would indicate to me that we might be on the verge of the worst negative advertising campaign that politics has ever experienced.

If the Latino population is bombarded with TV and radio ads that condemn Arizona Senator John McCain and Florida’s gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott, both of whom were hard-liners against the immigration issue in the primaries, Democrats in both of those races will probably garner even a higher percentage of the Hispanic vote than President Obama did in 2008. That was 67 percent.

Question is…will that be enough to win the election?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

President Obama compared to George Washington in Ground Zero mosque controversy

President Barack Obama was put in the same class as the Father of our country, George Washington, after defending Muslim plans to build a mosque at Ground Zero. Republicans, of course, are against the move as they would be with anything proposed by the President. A New York congressman says it is “insensitive and uncaring for the Muslim community to build a mosque in the shadow of ground zero.”

Another Republican made the case for the possibility of safety and security problems, exclaiming this is not about religion since there are more than 100 mosques in New York City. However, there is a building on the site of the proposed center already being used for prayers, and it is private property so the group behind the project, the Cordoba Initiative, says they are within their Constitutional rights.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington-based advocacy group, says “The level of anti-Muslim hysteria has gotten out of control over this manufactured controversy." In a CNN/Opinion Research poll just released, 70 percent of Americans oppose the building of the mosque. And a new report from the Pew Forum says 18 percent now say Obama is Muslim. He isn’t.

Here’s another quote from the President in the MSNBC article:

“Al-Qaida's cause is not Islam — it is a gross distortion of Islam. These are not religious leaders — they're terrorists who murder innocent men, women and children. In fact, al-Qaida has killed more Muslims than people of any other religion — and that list of victims includes innocent Muslims who were killed on 9/11."

It was New York’s Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who agreed with Obama and the building of the mosque who said:

"Two hundred and twenty years ago this week, the Father of Our Country penned his famous letter to the Jewish Community of Newport Rhode Island or, as he called them, 'the Children of the Stock of Abraham.' President Obama's words tonight evoked President Washington's own August reminder that 'all possess alike liberty,”

I can’t argue with that.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Public apathy and a feckless Congress keep identity theft flourishing

From the public’s point of view, you never think it will happen to you, but then it does. It happened to our family and I am in constant touch with our financial accounts. Fortunately our bank caught the fraud and contacted me. If they hadn’t I would have through several daily checks of our bank records, and at least weekly checks on the credit cards.

The recent reports on Facebook personal data being exposed has not dampened the spirits of social networking enthusiasts. It is this kind of blanket apathy that keeps the ID thieves in business. Javelin Strategy & Research reports in their “2010 Identity Fraud Survey Report” that there were 11.1 million victims of identity fraud in 2009, up from 9.9 million in 2008. The number of those duped is approaching 5 percent of the total U.S. population. That is critical!

So why is Congress vacillating again over a data breach bill that would protect your private information from identity crooks? Because of a continuing ineptness that this body has been plagued with for several years now. No wonder 54 percent of the public is dissatisfied with what their congressional leaders are doing.

Senate Democrats just introduced the Data Security and Breach Notification Act requiring Business and nonprofit groups to adhere to certain standards in protecting consumer data. Last year Sen. Patrick Leahy, (D-VT), introduced the Personal Data Privacy and Security Act of 2009 (S.1490), with the last action the end of 2009, where it continues to sit in a committee.

For more proof of the dilemma, you can go to Identity Theft Resource Center and look over their “Identity Theft: The Aftermath 2009” report. As the experts when it comes to identifying and solving ID theft incidents, they have compiled some good information that is helpful before, during and following this fraud.

The question, of course, is whether the apathy of consumers over this issue will continue at the same level, or, perhaps, even get worse. If either of these cases occurs, we can expect Congress to proceed in the same fashion it has in the past and end up doing nothing about identity theft.

Let President Obama and your congressional representatives know what you think. Contact the House of Representatives here, the Senate here. Contact the White House here.

Photo compliments Creative Commons.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Supplement Social Security with Junk Mail

I have been advocating the concept of supplementing Social Security with consumer spending for junk mail products or services for over six years. It works this way. You buy something from junk mailer A, and he sells your name to junk mailer B. You see something in junk mailer B’s catalog you like, so you buy something from him. Although you might not make a purchase from every company buying your name, you will end up on countless mailing lists.

For each junk mail purchase you make, your name and personal data is sold from 25 to 50 times. The mailing list industry generates over $4 billion each year selling your name and private information. Shouldn’t you share in that income since there would be nothing to sell without you?

I spent 35 years as a data broker selling your name and personal data, and can come up with absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be a party to this revenue. By my calculations, the average person could add $607 monthly to their retirement income. In many cases, especially if two people in the household are junk mail junkies, this could provide all that’s needed for a secure future.

President Obama said recently that the Republicans are trying to destroy Social Security by privatizing it. However, most of the GOP wouldn’t touch this program, even in an off-election year. George W. Bush tried this during his administration and got no respect, even from his fellow conservatives. Something basic must be done, however, or the funds will supposedly run out by 2037.

I say fine tune Social Security in its current form and take a look at my concept of supplementing that with junk mail. I have a plan, Mr. President, if you are interested.

See an earlier post on Social Security.

Monday, August 23, 2010

What’s wrong with Secure Communities concept?

As I understand it, the Secure Communities program was established to identify illegal immigrants who have a criminal background. It is being phased into communities nationwide based on illegal immigrant population estimates combined with that area’s crime statistics. They are probably building a predictive computer model that will target a certain profile.

As an example, the fingerprints of those booked into jail for any crime are run against FBI and Homeland Security records to identify those in the country illegally or with previous arrests. So far so good.

Projections are the program could deport more individuals than Arizona’s new immigration law, SB1070. And there lies the rub. Those opposed to Secure Communities fear that it will sweep up even legal immigrants, and that those illegal with minor infractions like a traffic ticket.

Those for the program cite statistics as proof. Out of 2.6 million screened since October of 2008, 35,000 were identified as illegal immigrants arrested or convicted for crimes like murder or rape. Another 205,000 were identified for less serious crimes.

ICE spokesman, Carl Rusnok, says Secure Communities was created to improve the method for catching and deporting illegal immigrants with criminal backgrounds. San Francisco said no to the program because of the fear that it would cast too wide a net. It also goes against their sanctuary city policy that requires authorities to only report foreign-born suspects booked with felonies. California Attorney General Jerry Brown disagrees and thinks it does work.

ICE continues to maintain that the people reporting crimes need not worry; only those arrested will be screened for their illegal status. This could be either one answer to immigration reform, or another botched government program.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Why don’t Independents form their own party? Here’s why

Independent voters represent 40 percent of all voters. If the remaining 60 percent were broken down 50/50 between Democrats and Republicans, Independents would still have a 10 percent edge. I have spoken with several independent organizations including CUIP, Committee for a Unified Independent Party, but the reaction seems to be that they don’t want to form a party.

Meaning what? They don’t want the stigma of party affiliation, or they are satisfied with just standing back and influencing the two major parties? If it is the latter, is it accomplishing a solution that is in the best interest of the voter? The country is currently torn between two warring political parties, the approval rate of the President is dropping again, and voters have absolutely no confidence in members of Congress.

Apparently the problem is that Independent voters are made up of disgruntled Democrats and Republicans who haven’t yet made up their minds just how liberal or conservative they really are. Or they don’t know if they are moderate left or right. But is there anything wrong with that?

I became an Independent because, as a liberal, I felt the Democratic Party no longer championed the best interests of the regular folks over the corporate world. I am in favor of some government control and regulation, so I would never make the Tea Party’s wish list. And Republicans will never stray from their support of big business over the consumer.

The question that arises is whether establishing a declaration in any one of the above directions would damage or kill the Independent movement? Must they declare a specific mission to seal the cohesiveness of this group? But, then, it won’t be independent anymore, will it?

What is needed is an identity that can be easily defined by all, a classification process that makes participants comfortable in what they are engaged in, which can also used to recruit more members and influence political decisions.

Maybe the answer is to poll Independents on how they rank issues such as the economy, defense, education, welfare, taxation, gay rights, immigration, privacy, etc. to get a more comprehensive insight into what this individual looks like. I, for one, would like to know what others in the group in which I participate believe. If CUIP has this I am not aware of it, and if they don’t they should start on it now, before November.

This strategy could attract more people to the Independent cause because they see an issue they feel strongly about, or others who see something weak in the rankings and want to help make a difference in that area. Independents must find the key to moving this stagnant two-party political system forward and out of today’s malaise, corruption and infighting that has turned off all voters.

If something isn’t done soon, we are doomed to repeat history. Many think the Roman Empire never really fell, it just adapted. But others believe its decline was due to religion, decadence, monetary trouble and military problems. Sound familiar? One faction even thinks it had to do with the rise of Islam.

See recent Independent poll here.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

The despicable disposability of pets – Part 2

In the first part, we laid the groundwork for the current outlook on animal disposability, using two specific examples of how these individuals have proven the enormous credibility of this issue. In this post I want to emphasize more facts and statistics on the controversy, while pointing readers to exactly what causes the problem and what can be done to solve it.

First of all, pet owners are not spaying and neutering their animals; 35 percent do not for various reasons. Some want to do their own breeding, others out of sheer ignorance. And for every puppy or kitten sold by these home breeders, one more shelter animal will not find a home, says the American Humane Assn. (AHA). For those who just won’t, you will no doubt end up with a very frustrated pet.

Out of 163 million pet cats and dogs in the U.S., around one-third end up in shelters every year. And AHA says there are plenty of homes, but they choose not to adopt from a shelter. Only 20 percent of the 17 million homes that acquire a pet each year do so from a rescue or shelter. The fact that very nearly all puppies sold at pet stores come from puppy mills where they live miserable and unhealthy lives should discourage folks from patronizing those stores. But it doesn’t.

How many of you know that many shelters specialize in particular breeds like beagles, boxers, bulldogs, shepherds and shelties, to name only a few. Call your local Humane Society for information on how to find the particular breed you are interested in.

Did you know that most shelters receive a greater number of stray and owner-relinquished adult pets than come from new litters. There’s no identification and most are never reclaimed by owners. More than 50 percent of dogs never go back home, but cats are an alarming 90 percent.

Other reasons for giving up pets are behavior problems, don’t have the time, can’t afford it, allergies, and a new baby in the household. In most cases, all of these “alibis” could have been avoided with some simple research by the individual in the beginning. Don’t want to say you’re lazy folks, but many of you are.

As an example of those who are fighting for the animals, go to the Kindness Ranch site in Wyoming and you will see how one group is working to improve animal rights through care and rehabilitation of laboratory animals. I can think of no cause more important than rescuing and providing lab animals a sanctuary to live out their lives. There are more and you can help by volunteering. Just Google “animal shelters in (your home town or state)” to find one close to you.

Beth Harrison, Phoenix, Arizona animal activist, contributed to this article

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The despicable disposability of pets

Humans have used animals since the “cavemen” era starting as food and clothing. In later years they were bred for specific work and services. Today they are used by laboratories for research. And that is only the beginning to our “Despicable Disposability of Pets” problem. Since animals are not widely regarded to have the ability to understand or reason why something is happening to them, most humans take the position that they can do with or treat them in any manner they please.

“We seem to live in a society where people are not held responsible for their pets,” a quote from animal advocates Carol-Hawn Miller and Cindy Liggett in the Anchorage Daily News. This is confirmed by the American Humane Society reporting that 8 million strays and unwanted animals end up in shelters across the country each year; 3.7 million must be euthanized.

Two cases in point. The first several years ago where school principal, Wade Pilloud shot and killed two orphaned kittens at his school in Indus, Minnesota. He said he shot them to prevent suffering and starvation. In retrospect, it is obvious the message Pilloud’s pupils received is that animals are disposable. And then he made the stupid statement: “the shooting endangered no one,” meaning faculty or students.

How about the kittens? Is this less than a human being so crass that he doesn’t understand what he did to these innocent animals who only wanted to live out there lives with someone who would love them, much less traumatize pupils with this violent behavior? He resigned as principal, but more important, he had already resigned as a human being.

In the second case, Gary Korkuk of Buffalo, New York decided to marinate his 4-year-old cat, Navarro, in oil, crushed red pepper and chili peppers. First Korkuk said it was because he was ill-tempered. Later he told police, who had stopped him for a traffic violation and heard the animal meowing in the trunk, that he was going to cook Navarro. He was charged with cruelty and released. The man also made the statement his male cat was pregnant. Navarro is now all cleaned up and ready for adoption.

The American Humane Assn. says we need to affect a “cultural change,” which involves individual understanding of the responsibilities and consequences of having a pet. That will take some doing, but the animal rights issue has taken on strength recently and we must not let it falter.

Beth Harrison, Phoenix, Arizona animal activist, contributed to this article

Photos compliments Creative Commons

More on disposable animals tomorrow.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Jennifer Aniston outclasses and blows away Bill O’Reilly

Nasty Jackthe Gadfly

It’s another one of those "he said," "she said" situations that originates with two people who have high visibility. One, an intelligent, sophisticated and very talented actor, the other a religious right “wingnut,” as the person has been described in the past. I am talking about the spate between Jennifer Aniston and Bill O’Reilly over whether a father is an absolute necessity in raising children. Pretty sure you know which is which.

Promoting her new movie, “The Switch,” about an artificially inseminated single woman, the actress said that “women no longer have to wait for the perfect guy to start a family.” O’Reilly countered that her comments were “destructive to our society,” then accused her of “diminishing the role of the dad.” This, coming from a guy who was involved in a full-blown sex scandal with a Fox employee a few years ago.

Aniston’s retort was that the “ideal scenario for parenting is obviously two parents of a mature age.” The “Friends,” and more recently, movie star went on to castigate O’Reilly by feigning his Prince Charming, fatherly instinct, but added she was “glad science has provided a few other options.” I am sure there are many serious minds out there who wish Fox would replace him with one of those options.

O’Reilly, in his pseudo, narrow minded conservatism, completely ignores the progress of women’s’ feminism championed by leaders like Gloria Steinem and Betty Freidan. Even then, there are still absurd differences between male and female pay scales. In ten of the most common occupations, women make only 80 percent of what their male counterparts make.

Bonehead O’Reilly also seems to have forgotten his tryst with coworker Andrea Mackris, and the sexually explicit telephone conversations she is allegedly supposed to have recorded. The two reached an out of court settlement in 2004, and it was reputed that O’Reilly paid her around $10 million just to go away and destroy the tapes.

Mysteriously the media pulled up stakes and also went away, but they did hang around years for the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal. Could it be a payoff, or just a form of protectionism? Read more here.

It all comes down to the fact that Jennifer Aniston, who may or may not be a feminist, believes, rightly so, that she has the right to govern the way she runs her life. Betty Freidan, author of “The Feminine Mystique,” said:

“The problem that has no name - which is simply the fact that American women are kept from growing to their full human capacities - is taking a far greater toll on the physical and mental health of our country than any known disease.”

Bill O’Reilly may be a junior Jesus Christ among right wing fundamentalists, but among intelligent, thinking individuals he is just another blowhard like Rush Limbaugh who also uses his broadcast platform to spew mudslinging and misinformation.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

Should Arizona Governor Jan Brewer be recalled? Part 2

In last Friday’s post, we covered the statement by the Greater Phoenix Arizona Economic Council head, Barry Broome, that SB1070 is “one of the nation’s most draconian illegal-immigration bills.” Followed by the draconian definition that indicates the law might be overreaction to the issue. Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon says the result is a projected loss of $92 million in business for the state. He comments in Newsweek, “Anyone who says our image has not been hurt is living in a bubble.”

Robert Lang of Brookings Mountain West, a Las Vegas think tank, said Phoenix “risks becoming the next Birmingham, [Alabama].” He refers to an attack on the 16th Street Baptist Church there on September 15, 1963, by members of the Ku Klux Klan. I was there soon after and it was not a pretty sight. Birmingham suffered for years and probably has never fully recovered from this incident. Lang thinks Arizona could turn into a “bastion of Intolerance,” and Arizonans have Jan Brewer to thank for that.

And the coup de grace is blowhard Rush Limbaugh praises her while some conservatives are thinking of running her for President in 2012. Arizona should drop the ax on Governor Brewer now so she can vie for the job with Sarah Palin in the primary. It would certainly be the most laughable presidential election in history.  And I am not a chauvinist.

Read more on immigration here and here.

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Should Arizona Governor Jan Brewer be recalled?

Barry Broome, head of the Greater Phoenix, Arizona Economic Council, who hasn’t spoken with Governor Jan Brewer since her signing of SB1070, calls the law “one of the nation’s most draconian illegal-immigration bills.” The term draconian is derived from the Latin word Draco, which means dragon. Draco, the man, was a 7th-century Athenian, and the first lawgiver of Athens, Greece. He was known for prescribing death for almost every offense. Broome goes on to cite Brewer’s fight with the feds destined to cost the state dollars and prestige.

Photo compliments AP

This kind of classification indicates that someone doesn’t think that there is room for consideration from the Governor’s office other than to follow the path of destruction many think she is leading the state down. No doubt her accomplice, State Senator Russell Pearce, author of the bill, agrees, and will remain SB1070’s biggest supporter.

Sounds like grounds for a recall to me, especially when you consider that many political experts say Brewer did it just to raise her image and increase popularity for the upcoming election in November. It worked. How this could have swayed the minds of so many Arizonans is both perplexing and troubling. First, she doesn’t have one-tenth the credentials as Terry Goddard, the Democrat running against her who is behind in the polls. Second, she has spewed so much misinformation about Arizona’s immigration problems and border security that even the dimmest of wits should be able to see through it.

Read more on this Newsweek story here.

More on this Monday.

You can see more on the Arizona immigration issue here and here.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Paid for disgracing company, himself

Former Hewlett-Packard CEO, Mark Hurd, was fired from HP for sexual harassment, but still awarded almost $28 million to just go away. No wonder the public is losing confidence in corporate leaders with Zogby International reporting that 34 percent of Americans believe Big Business is responsible for the current recession. With kind of extra-marital activity apparently running rampant, who’s running the store? Hurd falsified expense reports, and allegedly helped the victim get paid for work not done.

Gloria Allred is representing the woman and says "there was no affair and no intimate sexual relationship." This means that Hurd is now in a state of shame, in deep trouble with his wife and children, losing out on a new contract worth $100 million…and he didn’t even score. Add Hewlett-Packard to other companies like AIG and Lehman Bros that reward their executives for, well, we are not sure. The irony of all this is that Hurd had done a great job under his 5-year tenure. Go figure.

                                                                                                                           Photo by Getty

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Senate not only broken, it’s in last stages of disintegration

George Packer, writing for the New Yorker, says the Senate is “slipping back into stagnant waters.” It seems more like a cesspool where two factions, the Dems and the GOP, are fighting a dirty battle that only gets raunchier and more inane every day. And then Mitch McConnell, the Minority Leader, comes up with the comment that the Senate with its customs “takes a bit of getting used to.” The man, like most of the other “good ole boys” in that body, is completely out of touch, without a clue of how stupid that statement is, or how the public views this arrogant attitude..

McConnell also dismissed as “no big deal” late GOP Senate “secret holds” on bills as not really being secret. They are not only secret but downright ludicrous, as evidenced by Republican opposition to the recent “unemployment extension” and the Gulf oil spill legislation.” The Dems don't fare any better, and we may very well be in the last throes of this historic institution.

Photo compliments Creative Commons.

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Conservatives will do anything for attention

Andrew Breitbart has been at it for years, and it all came to a head recently with his vilification of Shirley Sherrod, formerly of the Agricultural Administration. His cut up video implied Sherrod was a racist and led to her being fired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Breitbart was the guy behind the fabricated ACORN “child prostitution” investigation, another slander campaign against gays, and just last year claimed on his Web site, “Transvestites, Mao and Obama Ornaments Decorate White House Christmas Tree.” Breitbart makes Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck look like liberals. God forbid!

Read more here and here.

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Monday, August 09, 2010

2009 aftermath for identity theft victims

Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has produced their “Identity Theft: The Aftermath 2009,” for the seventh year. For the first time they are encouraged with findings like less victim time to repair damage, shift in children ID theft from family as the perpetrator to unknown parties, and there were fewer overall negative consequences. But don’t be fooled. This type of fraud is still rampant and expected to continue to increase in 2010, as predicted by Robert Siciliano using ITRC data.

See the report here.

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

America’s toughest Sheriff treats death threat as ordinary business

Maricopa County, Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio says the $1 million threat against him is not only part of his job, but it’s not even the biggest one. When he worked in the Drug Enforcement Administration in Mexico, someone put $5 million on his head. He tells CNN, “It’s part of my work. I do my job. Nothing changes.”

Arpaio’s spokesperson, Lisa Allen, said the message was sent to a “text message tree,” similar to a phone tree. The FBI reported awareness of the situation but no planned federal investigation. According to Phoenix FBI Special Agent Manuel Johnson, they would offer help if requested by Arpaio.

Fox News reported that Allen commented, "It's going so many different places that our folks are looking at it and thinking well, at any given point in time, it could land in front of some crazy person who thinks I can do that." It is also thought the message originated in Mexico from a drug cartel. Arpaio has had his share of criticism and praise recently over abuse of power issues and county sweeps to identify and arrest illegal aliens.

Photo compliments AP

He is also an avid supporter of Arizona’s Immigration Law, SB1070.

The 78-year-old sheriff is famous for setting up his tent city in Arizona’s desert to house inmates in 100 degree-plus temperature. He also makes them wear pink underwear as their “pink badge of guilt.” He brags that he pays more to feed his dog than the prisoners in his jail. Not so good for the inmates, but this clearly shows the soft side to the Sheriff.

Arpaio runs a no-kill animal shelter in a fifty-year-old jail that was closed to prisoners years ago. It is air conditioned, staffed by deputies, with female inmates acting as “volunteers” to care for the animals. In many cases these inmates go on to work with animals when they are released.

Arpaio probably doesn’t want the Mexican drug cartel to know this because it might be considered a sign of weakness. However, animal lovers know it is a sign of character.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Senior citizens are being inundated with worthless and malicious junk mail – DMA doing little or nothing

The Direct Marketing Assn., which is the advocate for its member junk mailers, and supposedly the consumer public that buys through this medium, has dropped the ball completely when it comes to a focus on senior citizens’ problems with junk mail. They apparently leave this up to AARP, the FTC and the FBI’s Victims Assistance Program.

From 35 years as a junk mail data broker, I doubt seriously if the DMA has the clout over their membership to solve the problem. I know they have no control whatsoever over the thousands of scam artists using junk mail, the telephone, or the Internet.

Case in point is the Texas gentleman who had to be rescued by his daughter from a mountain of junk mail. In the Fort Worth Star Telegram, she described her 87-year-old father’s situation as “being buried alive.” He couldn’t even eat at his breakfast table, she remarked. There was an avalanche of junk mail, the majority unopened, and he had received 56 more pieces that day, 110 the past Monday.

It consisted of charitable appeals, credit card solicitations, political mail, catalogs, junk mail scams and more. The junk mail lined the walls of his rooms, blocked the backdoor and the hallway, clearly a safety hazard that could cause the man to fall, or if there was a fire. Once the daughter discovered the gas stove covered with mail.

So you get the idea, and here is the rub. Much of this junk mail could be from reputable companies, but enough of it is pure fraud that could clean the 87-year-old out of all his financial assets, including his house. How do I know that, because many legitimate data brokers maintain what the junk mail industry describes as the “gullibles.” These are mailing lists of individuals who are vulnerable…like senior citizens.

The father sends about $2,500 each year to charities, so this man had to have been on several of the “gullible” lists. Yes, scam artist do represent themselves as worthy organizations. Now, when you compound that with each charity to which he contributed selling his name between 25 and 50 times each year, you can begin to see how he became inundated.

With an average donation of $25.00, that means he started out on 100 lists. Multiply that by a minimum 25 times they each would have sold his name and he would have received 2,500 pieces of junk mail. It could be 5,000. And if he replies to any of the latter, the cycle starts all over again. And I doubt it’s certain he only contributed $2,500 annually.

These horror stories come primarily from senior citizens, but can include those who are just plain suckers. They all need to be protected, although some modicum of self- restraint is called for. Maybe the DMA is not the answer. Maybe a federal do-not-mail list is what we need. With the success the FTC has had with the Do-Not-Call Registry, it is a concept that is ripe for consideration.

You can see earlier articles on this subject here and here.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

Consumer scams rampant as the public remains desperate

Herb Weisbaum, MSNBC’s “ConsumerMan” has just reported on victimization experienced by consumers in 2009 and it is still bad. He didn’t say it, but I will. People still fall for the most ridiculous come-ons, thinking they can get something for nothing or turn a small investment into big bucks over night.

It’s a dumb assumption because you usually can’t, and the saying still applies after all these years: “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.” Why can’t you people understand that? A recent survey on identity theft done by Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), and which I will be reporting on soon, says that consumer pro-active measures decreased in 2009 from 2008, meaning you folks aren’t doing your job in protecting your personal data.

What’s worse, Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says “Scammers view the elderly as easy marks because they have exploitable retirement accounts and real estate.” The con artists don’t care what your age is, nor are they the least bit concerned over your financial situation. Their only fiscal interest is how they can relieve you of your money. And too often you give it up freely.

Weisbaum reports that, as the number of crimes goes up, so does the size of the fraud. “People are now losing their cars, houses and sometimes their life savings to these scams,” according to Elizabeth Owen, executive director of the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators. You can see the just-released “2009 Consumer Complaint Survey Report” here.

In order of their severity, here are the top ten consumer complaints for 2009:

1. Auto

2. Credit/Debt

3. Home improvement/Construction

4. Utilities

5. Retail Sales

6. Services

7. Internet Sales

8. Household Goods

9. Landlord/Tenant and Home Solicitations

10. Health Products/Services

Go to the “Weisbaum reports” link, above, for specific information on each of the complaints.

In the meantime, do yourself a favor and set up your own discipline of overseeing your private information. You can get some excellent prevention tips from ITRC here.

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