Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Label This One, "Are You Fucking Kidding?" Part 2

AP study finds $1.6B went to bailed-out bank execs

Banks that are getting taxpayer bailouts awarded their top executives nearly $1.6 billion in salaries, bonuses, and other benefits last year, an Associated Press analysis reveals.

The rewards came even at banks where poor results last year foretold the economic crisis that sent them to Washington for a government rescue. Some trimmed their executive compensation due to lagging bank performance, but still forked over multimillion-dollar executive pay packages.

Benefits included cash bonuses, stock options, personal use of company jets and chauffeurs, home security, country club memberships and professional money management, the AP review of federal securities documents found.

The total amount given to nearly 600 executives would cover bailout costs for many of the 116 banks that have so far accepted tax dollars to boost their bottom lines.

Read the full story here.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Label This One, "Are You Fucking Kidding?"

Congress gets $4,100 pay raise

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress members in 2008 will receive salaries of $169,300, a boost of $4,100 over the salary they have had since January 2006.

That 2.5% increase is mirrored by similar raises for associate justices of the Supreme Court, who will see their pay go from $203,000 to $208,100, and Chief Justice John Roberts, whose pay will rise to $217,400 from $212,100.

The salary figures were published in Tuesday's edition of the Federal Register.

Last year was the first since 1999, when the pay was $136,700, that members of Congress did not receive a cost-of-living allowance raise along with other federal employees. Democrats, newly elected to the majority, had vowed to block an increase in their paychecks until Congress raised the minimum wage.

With the minimum wage increase accomplished last year, House Democratic leaders joined with their Republican counterparts to oppose a procedural vote to bring the COLA issue to the floor, leaving the way clear for their automatic raise.

The congressional COLA is linked, under a complicated formula, to the cost-of-living increase awarded civil servants. As part of a 1989 ethics bill, Congress gave up its ability to accept pay for speeches and made annual cost-of-living pay increases automatic unless lawmakers voted otherwise.

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, a leading critic of the COLA process, said in an interview that he's not proposing that members of Congress never get a pay raise. But he said that, in a time of budget deficits when many people are undergoing economic hardships, "at least we ought to have an up-and-down vote on it. The whole process appears so secretive."

Reluctance to openly discuss the salary issue comes at a time when Congress has been suffering low public approval ratings. In a December AP-Ipsos poll, 25% of those surveyed approved of the job Congress was doing.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will also a pay boost from $212,100 last year to $217,400, the same as Chief Justice Roberts. The majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate and Senate president pro tempore Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., will get increases from $183,500 to $188,100.

Dick Cheney, in his last year as vice president, will receive $221,100, up from $215,700. President Bush's salary of $400,000 is unchanged.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Mark Your Calendars!

On February 11th, 2009 I will be presenting a lecture as a part of the Antheneum Series at Winona State University's Krueger Library. Presentations in the series are held on the second floor of the library and are free and open to the public.

The presentation is titled "From Michael Moore to Batman: A Survey of Post 9-11 Cinema" and I will examine how filmmakers, primarily those working in Hollywood, have dealt with the attack and its aftermath either explicitly or thematically in a wide variety of genres, from documentaries to historical dramas to comic book adaptations.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Who Throws His Shoe? Honestly!

I'm guessing this is the reason all of Bush's visits to Iraq are unannounced and his appearance at the Republican National Convention was done via satellite.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Department of Homeland Idol Worship

From this article at CBS News:

A group of atheists filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to remove part of a state anti-terrorism law that requires Kentucky's Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge it can't keep the state safe without God's help.

American Atheists Inc. sued in state court over a 2002 law that stresses God's role in Kentucky's homeland security alongside the military, police agencies and health departments.

Of particular concern is a 2006 clause requiring the Office of Homeland Security to post a plaque that says the safety and security of the state "cannot be achieved apart from reliance upon almighty God" and to stress that fact through training and educational materials.

Weren't we past this? Doesn't this just seem so pre-1776? Or at least pre-Scopes trial? What part of "separation of church and state" do these people not understand?

Actually, there is a little irony to this since Jerry Falwell and others claimed that the 9/11 attack, which resulted in the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, was precipitated by the United States abandoning Christian principles. So if god allowed 9/11 to happen, isn't he the biggest threat to national security and with them and not us? Or, to put it another way, does Jesus "pal around" with terrorists? And if that's the case, then why are we appealing to him for security?