By Robert Reich:

"I have the questionable distinction of appearing on Larry Kudlow’s CNBC program several times a week, arguing with people whose positions under normal circumstances would get no serious attention, and defending policies I would have thought so clearly and obviously defensible they should need no justification. But we are living through strange times. The economy is so bad that the social fabric is coming undone, and what used to be merely weird economic theories have become debatable public policies.

"Tonight it was Harvard Professor Robert Barro, who opined in today’s Wall Street Journal that America’s high rate of long-term unemployment is the consequence rather than the cause of today’s extended unemployment insurance benefits.

"In theory, Barro is correct. If people who lose their jobs receive generous unemployment benefits they might stay unemployed longer than if they got nothing. But that’s hardly a reason to jettison unemployment benefits or turn our backs on millions of Americans who through no fault of their own remain jobless in the worst economy since the Great Depression.

"Yet moral hazard lurks in every conservative brain. It’s also true that if we got rid of lifeguards and let more swimmers drown, fewer people would venture into the water. And if we got rid of fire departments and more houses burnt to the ground, fewer people would use stoves. A civil society is not based on the principle of tough love.

"In point of fact, most states provide unemployment benefits that are only a fraction of the wages and benefits people lost when their jobs disappeared. Indeed, fewer than 40 percent of the unemployed in most states are even eligible for benefits, because states require applicants have been in full-time jobs for at least three to five years. This often rules out a majority of those who are jobless – because they’ve moved from job to job, or have held a number of part-time jobs.

"So it’s hard to make the case that many of the unemployed have chosen to remain jobless and collect unemployment benefits rather than work.

"Anyone who bothered to step into the real world would see the absurdity of Barro’s position. Right now, there are roughly five applicants for every job opening in America. If the job requires relatively few skills, hundreds of applicants line up for it. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says 15 percent of people without college degrees are jobless today; that’s not counting large numbers too discouraged even to look for work.

"Barro argues the rate of unemployment in this Great Jobs Recession is comparable to what it was in the 1981-82 recession, but the rate of long-term unemployed is nowhere as high. He concludes this is because unemployment benefits didn’t last nearly as long in 1981 and 82 as it they do now.

"He fails to see – or disclose – that the 81-82 recession was far more benign than this one, and over far sooner. It was caused by Paul Volcker and the Fed yanking up interest rates to break the back of inflation – and overshooting. When they pulled interest rates down again, the economy shot back to life.

"The Great Jobs Recession is far more severe. It’s continuing far longer. It was caused by the bursting of a giant housing bubble, abetted by the excesses of Wall Street. Home values are still 20 to 30 percent below where they were in 1997. The Fed is powerless because consumers cannot and will not buy enough to bring the economy back to life.

"A record number of Americans is unemployed for a record length of time. This is a national tragedy. It is to the nation’s credit that many are receiving unemployment benefits. This is good not only for them and their families but also for the economy as a whole, because it allows them to spend and thereby keep others in jobs. That a noted professor would argue against this is obscene."



Introducing Gizmo!

Gizmo appears to be a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He is approximately 2 years old, but is petite for that age. He came from Stray Rescue of St. Louis (see previous post).

Stray Rescue found him standing alone in the middle of a street. They took him in and found that he had a terrible rash under his soft red coat; and the veterinarian exam found that he had heart worms too.

They shaved his fur and treated the rash with antibiotics; and then he underwent a six-week treatment for heart worms.

Through all this trauma, Giz has retained a zest for life! He loves to play with his tennis balls and stuffed toys - especially those that squeak alot!

Because he is such a charmer, the other dogs have welcomed Giz with open paws. Zorro and Livvy have even tried to play ball with him.



Stray Rescue's sole purpose is to rescue stray animals in need of medical attention, restore them to health, and place them in loving adoptive homes. Virtually all of the pets we save have been abused and neglected. They've been dumped on highways, or remote country roads. Abandoned in public parks, empty houses and dark alleys. We've even saved dogs left chained behind buildings after their owners had moved away.

ZZtopdog notes: The photo at left shows Daddog, before and after.

The founder of Stray Rescue, Randy Grim, tells the amazing story of starting this humane effort:
In 1990 I learned the fine art of cutting dog hair. It's not something I really wanted to do, but I thought it would at least point me in the direction of my dream of working with animals. I'd see stray dogs - some in packs - pass by the Lafayette Square grooming shop where I worked. In an effort to get them off the streets, I'd make the normal calls to the local shelters and government agencies, only to find out that these dogs simply are out of luck. I started to think of ways to catch them, and before long I invented some wacky capture methods. I also enlisted friends to help save these poor guys. Each year, this makeshift organization grew as I overloaded everyone I knew with a stray dog.
Stray Rescue officially was born in 1998 as a full-fledged non-profit organization and shelter. I still have no idea how I did it, except that I had no choice. Stray Rescue has received numerous accolades from the American Red Cross and also has received national media attention from Animal Planet, National Geographic, the Weather Channel and Forbes Magazine. Now with Quentin on board, his story has been featured in People Magazine and on It's a Miracle television show. In the National Geographic feature, Mary Ann Mott wrote: "In St. Louis, Randy Grim, founder of Stray Rescue, is out on the streets every day feeding 50 or more mutts. If these wild dogs don't die of sheer starvation, he said, diseases such as parvovirus, heartworm, or intestinal parasites usually kill them. Their average life span is one to two years. Many of the animals he sees were once "bait dogs" - smaller, passive animals used to train fighting dogs. Great Dane puppies are commonly used, he said, and wire is twisted around their legs to hold them down, so they can't run while being mauled during training sessions. "If they live, they are just discarded onto the streets," said Grim. The animals are recognizable by their missing limbs, and scars from the brutal attacks. Since starting in 1991, I am credited with saving 5,000 feral dogs, all of which - through months of gentle, loving care - have been turned into house pets and adopted by new families. Some have even gone on to become therapy animals, bringing joy to people in hospitals and nursing homes." Animal Planet's "Wild Rescues" television show featured Stray Rescue in action, saving dogs and cats from abuse and neglect from a dilapidated abandoned puppy mill in Cuba, Mo. More than 17 lives were saved, but the woman responsible never was prosecuted. Since 1998, more than 45 households have participated in the Stray Rescue foster family network. These generous people take in sickly, traumatized animals and, with time and the support of professional animal trainers and behaviorists, give back healthy, loving companions ready for adoption. Stray Rescue's foster network is the largest and most effective program of its kind in the St. Louis area. Stray Rescue has made a significant impact and become a voice for stray animals everywhere. With fabulous volunteers, veterinarians, trainers, behaviorists, shelters and programs, I continue to be amazed at how this organization has evolved. But there is so much more work to do because these poor animals continue to suffer. Some days it feels as if I'm fighting a never-ending battle, but it's a battle that I must wage - for their sake.



Emily begins kindergarten today.


Today is Greg's birthday. He is now 34, with a wonderful wife and two kids of his own, one of whom is starting kindergarten today.

How did this happen? Greg was just starting kindergarten himself, and now his daughter is? Where did all the time go?



"Isn't it a violation of the Georgia sodomy law for the Supreme Court to have its head up its ass?"

~Letter to Playboy magazine, February 1987


Via: Pam's House Blend:

Augusta State University's requirement that a graduate student read material about counseling gays and increase her exposure to that community after she objected to counseling homosexual clients was "academically legitimate," a federal court judge ruled Friday.

U.S. District Judge Randal Hall's decision enables university officials to expel Jennifer Keeton if she does not follow the remediation plan, which professors designed to "address issues of multicultural competence and develop understanding and empathy."

Hall said the case is not about "pitting Christianity against homosexuality," but rather the constitutionality of the school's requirement.

This denunciation comes at the heels of another case in which a student claimed that she was "forced" to choose between her religious beliefs and her vocation. Last month, the courts ruled against Julea Ward, a student at Eastern Michigan University who claimed that she was removed from the school's counseling program because of her strong religious views against homosexuality.



Residents of an area often take for granted local wonders that outsiders treasure. One of our local wonders is The Great River Trail, a 60-mile trail that is always within the site and sound of the Mississippi River.

The paved bike/walk path runs along the east bank of the Mississippi River. The south end of the 60-mile trail is located in George Skafidas Parkway, near Sunset Marina, in Rock Island, IL. The path runs through the park and along the river, through downtown Rock Island, and in to Moline, where the trail is part of the Ben Butterworth Parkway. The path continues north through Rock Island, Whiteside , and Carroll Counties.

Each community along the trail offers an invitation to pause for a moment on the route, to explore the diversity that each community respresents.

The Great River Trail is part of a larger regional trail network, including the 500-mile Grand Illinois Trail and proposed 10-state Mississippi River Trail. There are plans to connect the Great River Trail to the nearby Hennepin Canal Parkway.



Via Investopedia:

"The Giving Pledge is the brainchild of billionaire businessmen Bill Gates and Warren Buffett. The two of them have teamed up to ask the world's wealthiest people to donate at least 50% of their fortunes to charities. They believe that the richest people in the world can eradicate many of the world's problems through philanthropy. The pledge is not a binding contract but more of a "moral commitment". Individuals are free to donate money to whatever cause they would like. So, far about 40 billionaires have accepted the giving pledge challenge. That's not a large number when you consider that there are nearly 1,000 billionaires in the world, according to Forbes....

"Bill Gates and Warren Buffett should be commended for coming up with the giving pledge idea. They have convinced 40 of the world's wealthiest individuals and families to give back to society. If they want to convince the other 900 or so billionaires however, they have a whole lot more schmoozing to do."


Via: Alam Colmes Presesnts Liberalland

"Believe it or not, this is not a joke.

"The Washington Post reports on a new Pew Research Center survey.

"The number of Americans who believe — wrongly — that President Obama is a Muslim has increased significantly since his inauguration and now account for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s population… The number of people who now correctly identify Obama as a Christian has dropped to 34 percent, down from nearly half when he took office.

"Perhaps not surprisingly, right-wingers are the most likely to believe false information about the president’s faith.

"More than a third of conservative Republicans now say Obama is a Muslim, nearly double the percentage saying so early last year."

Zztopdog notes:  This is a sad commentary on the intelligence level of the US population.



From the AP:

"Protesters have been rallying outside Target Corp. or its stores almost daily since the retailer angered gay rights supporters and progressives by giving money to help a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Liberal groups are pushing to make an example of the company, hoping its woes will deter other businesses from putting their corporate funds into elections.

"A national gay rights group is negotiating with Target officials, demanding that the firm balance the scale by making comparable donations to benefit candidates it favors. Meanwhile, the controversy is threatening to complicate Target's business plans in other urban markets. Several city officials in San Francisco, one of the cities where Target hopes to expand, have begun criticizing the company.
" 'Target is receiving criticism and frustration from their customers because they are doing something wrong, and that should serve absolutely as an example for other companies,' said Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy for the liberal group MoveOn.org, which is pressing Target to formally renounce involvement in election campaigns.

"The Minneapolis-based chain has gone from defending the donation as a business decision to apologizing and saying it would carefully review its future giving. But the protests have continued."

Zztopdog notes: Target has consistantly stated that it is a diversity-friendly employer, a gay-friendly employer. This contribution flies in the face of that stated corporate policy. That's the problem.



"Healing rain is a real touch from God. It could be physical healing or emotional or whatever."




Zorro has been having little leaks occaisionally. These often occur when he is barking about something -- wanting breakfast, wanting to go outside, etc. Today, he has had four accidents already, and it is only 10:00 am.

Incontinence is part of the pattern for what we suspect is Degenerative Myelopathy (or DM), a non-treatable, non-reversable disease that attacks the sheath surrounding the spinal cord in long-backed dogs. It is a sign that the disease is progressing upward, although Zorro still has some use of his rear right leg.

The first sign was the turning under of his rear left paw, which eventually became totally useless. His right rear paw is still able to help him scoot around as he drags his left.

I have added "doggie diapers" to my shopping list....



The cart was nearly completely put together when it arrived. When I finally sat down with the instructions, and laid out the remaining parts, it all made sense.

The cart is really an amazing little feat of engineering and design. The length and height can be adjusted to a certain extent. The piece that fits over the shoulders, to contain the corgi, lifts up to allow easy access.

Zorro needs to be in the cart in order to determine the necessary adjustments. So far, though, he isn't having any part of it.

Tomorrow, we'll see what food and treats will do to change his stuborn Corgi mind!