To be honest, we just found this picture...

I'm happy to be here... and I have nothing to do with anything bellow

We must admit, we woke up this morning and while walking to Metro to get to work, we weren’t thrilled about the day. It was another cool, wet, dark morning here in DC, and it was getting us down. Then once we got to work we realized we’d much rather be in Madrid or London or even Chicago. So we’re a bit down today and we apologize for that. But that said, I did just look out side and it’s sunny so the lifted our moods a bit. But we’d still rather be some where around the Santiago Bernabeu finding things to do and places to eat than in DC. C’est le via.

Good news for the rich! The average American family isn’t making as much money as they were in 2001. That’s right!, the average income fell between 2004 and 2001… so George Bush can talk all he wants about tax cuts, booming economy, and the minimal job creation he wants. The facts, Jack, say that people are worse off today than they were before GeorgieNero took office.

And before anyone goes off on who did the survey… it was done by the Fed. I think the Fed is a pretty unbiased and creditable source of information. The fact is, the rich have gotten richer since Bush has become President. The tax cuts for ‘everyone’ haven’t really helped ‘everyone’ it’s helped the rich and corporations (hence the continued rise of GDP in the Bush years). The tax cuts haven’t trickled down, it’s been the opposite. The rich and corporations have put the money in their back pocket leaving most Americans even further on the outside looking in.

This is not good; I don’t even think a GOPer could argue that this was ‘good news’. If American families are making less in a time of growth, that means the fewer are taking even more of the pie and therefore leaving less for everyone else. And this isn’t just a gap between the richest 5% and poorest 5% (a gap that is one of the faults of capitalism), this is a widing gap being the richest 5% and the richest 50%... and as we know from history the greater the discrepancy the worse off the nation and economy is (for examples there are hundreds ranging from 18th century France, early 20th century Russia, and even 21st century Mexico). Of course we’re years away from looking like some of those examples, but the Mexico example might not be too far off, only everyone’s got more money and the poorest class make up a small percentage… so scratch that. But if I wanted to be outrageous… Anyway, I’ll leave you with this:
The gap between the very wealthy and other income groups widened during the period. The top 10 percent of households saw their net worth rise 6.1 percent to an average of $3.11 million, whereas the bottom 25 percent sustained a decline from a net worth in which their assets equaled their liabilities in 2001 to owing $1,400 more than their total assets in 2004.

"This is the continuing story of the rich getting richer," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York.
"Clearly, the gains in wealth are going to the top end."

Anyway, despite our somewhat melancholy mood, we can’t help but fall in LOVE with the New York Knicks right now. Just love them. Now that Isaiah Thomas has traded for Steve Francis the Knicks back court will feature Francis and Stephon Marbury. I get excited just thinking about it. It’s one of those deals or ideas that you come up with at like two in the morning with a few drunk friends… “Hey you know what I’d watch? Francis and Marbury on the same team! How great would that be?!?” And you all laugh and kid and say “that’s a good one” knowing that it would never happen… and then it happens. I’m not sure what to do with myself. I want to watch every Knick game from here on our just for the sheer entertainment of watching Francis and Marbury shoot the ball 60 times a game and then watching Edie Curry give a 3% effort to go after the rebound. This is going to be a fantastic end to the NBA season… just me and the Knicks to the end. Anyway, this gives the Knicks three shoot first point guards, and as one of Simmons’ readers pointed out, the possibilities are endless:

"Hahahahaha! I think Isiah should trade for Jason Williams and Damon Jones so that the Knicks can become the first-ever team to start five despicable shoot-first point guards. Also, then New York could play their all-point-guard team against Atlanta's all-small-forward team and we could finally see which position is better."Petey, Chicago

The next few days in Iraq are extremely crucial in terms of how more shit will hit the fan. The bombing of the Shiite mosque on Wednesday has put the country on the brink of what everyone is calling civil war. While it appears things have some what calmed down, the violence that followed the bombing of the Shiite mosque was intense, wide spread, and not good in any way.

A civil war has been called the worst case scenario for some time now. While tensions between the Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis have been high; things between the three groups have been relatively calm until this week. If violence between the Shiites and Sunnis continues to rise, it’s not out of the question that we could see an international mess on our hands. U.S. soldiers caught in a war between these two groups would be in the worst possible position since at that point, no one and everyone would be the enemy. I’m not sure, from a military stand point, how US forces would respond to a clash between the Shiites and Sunnis. Taking sides would only bring about more tension and violence. Being stuck in the middle will only put US forces in increasing harms way and leave US forces near useless. Politically, the last thing the White House or anyone in the State Department wants to do is pick sides. In fact, the US couldn’t pick sides since the political backlash in the region would only increase… in other words we’d manage to piss off more people.

Plus a civil war of any type will divide the Middle East. Iran will come running to the side of the Shiites and don’t expect the Sunnis in the region to sit idly on their hands waiting to see what happens.

As things stand in Iraq right now, things are probably at their bleakest, and that’s saying something. Hopefully the events this week will ‘blow over’, the violence will ebb, and a full fledge civil war will be avoided. Because if it doesn’t, we’re going to see a mess that makes me scared, sad, and angry all at the same time.

There is somewhat disturbing news out of London today. Mayor Ken Livingstone while leaving a party said this to a Jewish reporter who was questioning/badgering him about a year ago now: “Ah right, well you might be [Jewish], but actually you are just like a concentration camp guard, you are just doing it because you are paid to, aren't you?”

For these comments Livingstone was suspended from his job as mayor for 3 weeks starting on March 1st.

While we don’t support Nazism, fascism, anti-Semitism, death, or concentration camps, we find Mr. Livingstone’s punishment to be quite harsh. Was it a stupid, insensitive, and cruel thing to say? Of course and he should never have said it. But to suspend him for saying something stupid well… that opens a lot of doors doesn’t it? And who is suspending Mr. Livingstone anyway? As mayor aren’t his ‘bosses’ the citizens of London? We find this quite bizarre and unnecessary too. As we've said here before, VFLOAB supports people's rights to say stupid things.

I’m sure we all remember Dick Durbin’s comments from last summer when he said: "If I read this to you and did not tell you that it was an FBI agent describing what Americans had done to prisoners in their control, you would most certainly believe this must have been done by Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime — Pol Pot or others — that had no concern for human beings."

Durbin wasn’t suspended or thrown in jail. He took some political flak, eventually apologized (to our disappointment), and moved on. Unfortunately, the forces at be in London don’t see things the same way.

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