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The Union-Tribune today (Aug. 28) offered still another buyout program to non-union employees with 5 years or more of service. Full-timers will receive an amount equal to two weeks of base pay for every year of continuous service up to 52 weeks. Employees must make their minds up quickly. Forms will be available tomorrow (Aug. 29) and can be submitted beginning September 3. Forms will be accepted through Sept. 11. Because requests will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis, employees complain that in essence they have three days to make their career decision, although most realize that the company and metro daily paper industry are crumbling. One item from the offer sheet suggests the company may have cash flow problems. Says the sheet, "Severance will be paid IN MONTHLY INCREMENTS on the 15th day of each month until the sale of the Union-Tribune is final." In late 2006, those accepting the buyout got 25 percent in late 2006 and the remainder in one check in early 2007. This was done for tax purposes. In the 2007-2008 buyout/layoff, people got a lump sum at the beginning of 2008. As in that most recent buyout (called the Christmas Massacre), the company is specifying what jobs are eligible, and which are not. For example, in the newsroom, two critics and two people in the opinion section are eligible. On the other hand, the buyout is not being extended to employees the company wants to retain, including sports columnists and the border reporter. As reported Saturday, Black Press Ltd., which owns many Canadian papers and a handful in the United States, brought its brass to tour the U-T on Friday.

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Comments

Don Bauder Aug. 28, 2008 @ 10:13 p.m.

Response to post #1: In the current state of the metropolitan daily newspaper industry, anyone contemplating retirement would be nuts to take an annuity instead of a lump sum. How long will the company that buys Copley be around? Take your money and run. I retired in March of 2003. I never considered taking the annuity, even though if my wife and I lived to a normal old age, it would have paid much more than a lump sum. Our overwhelming reason was that we wanted to pass the money to our sons at our deaths. A secondary reason was that then, even five and a half years ago, I had grave doubts about the industry in general and the Copley organization in particular. Best, Don bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 28, 2008 @ 10:18 p.m.

Response to post #2: If the company is sold, there is no doubt it will be the last buyout under the current ownership. That ownership will be gone. I agree this suggests that a sale may be close. Any buyer will probably trim the payroll much more. Your observations are perspicacious. Best, Don Bauder

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HellcatCopley Aug. 28, 2008 @ 3:52 p.m.

I have heard that those people who are taking retirement from the Copley Fund may be forced into taking a lump sum.

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HellcatCopley Aug. 28, 2008 @ 4:10 p.m.

The August 28 memo, which was not signed, says that "if a sale occurs this will be the last voluntary buyout under the current ownership." That does NOT mean that more layoffs are not immediately ahead -- just no buyouts. But it's also strange wording in another sense -- does this mean a sale in about to happen? What if there were no sale for months or a year? No more buyouts from David -- ever?

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JohnnyVegas Aug. 28, 2008 @ 6:29 p.m.

They have a pretty solid deal lined up-and part of the deal is to shed operating expenses.

A deal is in the pipeline-and the new owners will fire people when they take over to cut operating expenses.

Wait and see-a deal is just around the corner.

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Don Bauder Aug. 28, 2008 @ 10:20 p.m.

Response to post #3: You may be right. And I agree that a new owner will slash employment more deeply. Those considering the buyout should consider that possibility. Best, Don Bauder

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Fred Williams Aug. 29, 2008 @ 8:10 a.m.

Don, I think this is great news for San Diego.

Consider your own case. When you left the UT, you brought your extraordinary skill, knowledge, and experience over to the Reader.

Back when I quoted your work in the UT, few people knew of you. Today it's very different, and I run into well-informed voters talking about Bauder's column in the Reader all over town.

The truly talented writers at the UT have nothing to fear. They'll land on their feet, learn new skills, and end up better off than when they were under the capricious command of "Happy Days" Captain Copley.

I hope VOSD, CityBeat, and the Reader all recruit good reporters escaping the UT, leaving the deadwood to continue to stink up the pages of the soon to be forgotten establishment rag.

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2008 @ 11:48 a.m.

Response to post #7: I certainly hope the other SD media snap up some of the talented writer/reporters from the U-T. The fact that the U-T intends to pay the buyouts in monthly increments suggests there is a cash flow problem, although I can't say that for certain. The timing of the buyout suggests a sale of the paper is near. That in turn suggests fire sale prices. Again, I don't know this; I am just making assumptions based on information released. Incidentally, I have made several blog comments about the U-T overstating its circulation. When it announced that it was for sale, it said daily circulation was above 300,000. AP used the figure 314,000. Official ABC figures for the first six months are 288,000 and the most recent figures given employees are 275,000 and 269,000 (one week). When it announced the looming buyouts yesterday, the U-T sent a message to employees saying that weekday circulation was 230,000 but daily circulation at the end of the week was 314,000. So the paper was disingenuously using that late-week 314,000 when it stated weekly circulation. Incidentally, that 230,000 figure sounds low. Best, Don Bauder

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Shadow Aug. 29, 2008 @ 1:03 p.m.

Re Post 7, "The truly talented writers at the UT have nothing to fear. They'll land on their feet, learn new skills, and end up better off than when they were under the capricious command of "Happy Days" Captain Copley."

It's so true. For those of us who left there (voluntarily) many years ago, it was downright liberating to discover there was a much better life far beyond the management shenanigans and flagrant favoritism. To anyone considering the buyout, I say "go for it!"

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HellcatCopley Aug. 29, 2008 @ 2:28 p.m.

I spent six truly miserable years there. The day I left I felt like I was leaving prison.

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2008 @ 3:21 p.m.

Response to post #9: Yes, I agree. People should strongly consider the buyout while the money is there. You have no idea who will buy Copley. It might be an asset stripper. And you don't know that in the next pogrom, there will be a buyout. There may just be a mass head-chopping. All this depends on people's peculiar personal circumstances, of course. But given the collapse of Copley and the rest of the metro daily newspaper industry, I would say it is time for talented people to look for work in another line of business. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2008 @ 3:24 p.m.

Response to post #10: The top-down, military-style management structure always stifled creativity and honesty, while encouraging ass-kissing. Best, Don Bauder

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Burwell Aug. 29, 2008 @ 5:18 p.m.

Those who leave the paper would be much better off taking the lump sum and rolling it over tax-free to a self-directed IRA. While the Copley pension plan is probably insured by the Pension Benefits Guaranty Corp., employees would be lucky to receive 50% of the annuity they were promised in the event Copley goes bankrupt. It would be a fool's bet to leave that money with the company.

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Don Bauder Aug. 29, 2008 @ 7:06 p.m.

Response to post #13: When the government takes over a pension program in the event of a bankruptcy, it is the higher-paid people that get whacked. For instance, airline pilots who expected to retire at $150,000 to $200,000 a year get sliced to around $65,000 when the airline bellies up. One big worry: the PBGC is like the San Diego pension fund: liabilities swamp assets. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 30, 2008 @ 3:42 a.m.

Response to post #14: Don, “Scam Diego” has become an excellent archive for a far future archeological dig in San Diego by some much more intelligent lifeform that lands here to find out what happened.

It appears that there is much more to come on the evolving “One big worry: the PBGC is like the San Diego pension fund: liabilities swamp assets” scenario.

So Stay Tuned to Don Bauder’s “Scam Diego” everyone because it has become one of the best Blogs in America, focusing on the decline and fall of 92101 and becoming one of the many concluding chapters documenting the Golden Age of American Civilization.

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2008 @ 7:11 a.m.

Response to post #16: The PBGC matter is of national concern, of course. It is short of funds. With the economy going the way it is, it will need a government bailout, along with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the battered U.S. military, the banking/investment banking system in the wake of the next derivatives crash a la Bear Stearns, Ambac and MBIA et al, GM and Ford, etc., etc. Have a happy weekend. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2008 @ 11:42 a.m.

Response to post #17: Football is violent. I'm just pessimistic. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 30, 2008 @ 11:25 a.m.

Response to post #16: "Have a happy weekend."!(

Thank god for college football or I would be left without a diversion from you and Dr. Doom: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/17/magazine/17pessimist-t.html?pagewanted=3&_r=1

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Copleys_Taint Aug. 30, 2008 @ 3:26 p.m.

I predict that in an effort to keep costs down, Nick Canepa will cover both sports and opera, Diane Bell will write a daily column on metaphysics, Karin Winner will take in David Copley's laundry and "Street" will be covered by Burl Stiff and renamed "Jimmy Durante Blvd."

"Eeny, meeny, miney, mo, Copley says you're next to go!" Yum Yum! Eat 'em up!

http://tinyurl.com/6k3zjs

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Don Bauder Aug. 30, 2008 @ 4:29 p.m.

Response to post # 19: Nick Canepa is Italian. If he is going to cover opera, he will have to cover German and French opera, too. What will be the nature of David's laundry that Karin will take in? Laundered money? Best, Don Bauder

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Portofinoan Aug. 30, 2008 @ 5:59 p.m.

Hard not to consider Sam Zell (aka, 'owner' of the LATimes) as one of those asset strippers.

With the extraordinary debt that was taken on to allow his 'purchase' of the parent Tribune Co., it's not suprising that most of the LATimes is dissolving before our very eyes. Indeed, where are those stock and mutual fund daily prices? Were they placed in one of those witness relocation programs we hear so much about?

Oh, and as a bonus, Zell gives us syrupy sweet housing sections, guaranteed to convince you that there's no problem in buying either residential or commercial real estate.

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Ponzi Aug. 30, 2008 @ 6:06 p.m.

So what's David Copley going to do for a living?

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Burwell Aug. 30, 2008 @ 7:16 p.m.

About a month ago I listened to a radio interview of a former LA Times executive who had recently been fired from the paper. He said that despite its problems the LA Times still has tremendous cash flow and would be extremely profitable were it not for the enormous debt load it services.

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Anon92107 Aug. 31, 2008 @ 5:03 a.m.

Response to post #18:

The U-T’s failure is symptomatic of the failure of San Diego. As you report continuously the U-T establishment, enabled by their politicians and judges, has plundered everything they could get their hands on while the electorate watched and did nothing, looked the other way, aided and abetted the sacking of San Diego.

It’s as simple as that, the elections of Golding, Murphy and Sanders empowered the establishment to loot the treasury creating conditions for firestorms that have destroyed far too many lives and far too much property, proving that not enough San Diegans have really cared about San Diego for a very long time.

You can't get more violent than electing politicians who allow firestorms to destroy lives and property twice in this century so far, yet we allow those politicians and judges to continue in office, whose actions and inactions destroy lives and property with impunity, never having to accept responsibility or be held accountable.

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 7:11 a.m.

Response to post #21: Sam Zell is an asset stripper whose overrriding interest is real estate. He knows little about media and doesn't seem to care. He put comparatively little capital into the deal that gave him control of Tribune Co. He cooked up an "employee ownership" arrangement that is dubious at best, kinky in reality. Bond defaults lurk -- will probably occur late this year. Yes, the Chicago Tribune and LA Times are the victims. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 7:19 a.m.

Response to post #22: David will be OK. He won't have to work. As recently as three years ago, he was in the Forbes 400, supposedly with assets of more than $1 billion. At the time, I did a Reader column saying David's wealth was declining because of the plummeting valuations of metro dailies. I talked to the Forbes reporter who puts together the Forbes 400. He said that David's estimated wealth was based mainly on the valuation of the papers. The next year, David was out of the Forbes 400. Now, Copley made a lot of money over a number of years. David must have a good pile beyond the U-T, although I strongly suspect that too much of it was invested in techs before the 2000-2002 tech crash. The company got almost $390 million for its Ohio and Illinois papers last year, although it claimed that this money would go to settle Helen's estate (a dubious claim.) In any case, David has investments and assets beyond the newspaper. How much? Several hundred million, I would guess. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 7:25 a.m.

Response to post #23: The LA Times -- and most metro dailies - have historically had very good cash flow. This is declining, of course, but still compares favorably with other industries. But as you point out, the debt burden is debilitating -- not only for the Times, but for other papers. I wrote a column on that which is still online -- July 2, 2008, under City Lights. Papers must service huge debt in the teeth of declining revenue. Some call it a death spiral. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 7:32 a.m.

Response to post #24: A rational person would think that the total lack of preparedness for a fire, particularly considering the inability or unwillingness to learn from a massive fire only three years earlier, would disqualify a mayor. But the local press (primarily the U-T, but also TV) made that failed mayor out to be a hero, and a naive citizenry apparently bought into it. Best, Don bauder

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JohnnyVegas Aug. 31, 2008 @ 8:40 a.m.

So what's David Copley going to do for a living?

By Ponzi 6:06 p.m., Aug 30, 2008 > Report it

David Copley is a trust funder, and has basically never worked.

He better not go thru the millions he currently has, because when that money is gone so is his life.

Does anyone know if David still owns the ocean front Mission Beach house he built in 88?? "Casa De Bananas" or some similar silly name.

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Copleys_Taint Aug. 31, 2008 @ 9:55 a.m.

I heard in passing that Davey sold his property in Mission Beach. Not 100% sure about my source, though. Luckily, Burl's Pacific Beach compound remains untouched.

As for Pugsley's future, he's switching his attention from publishing to transportation. I found a box of these at Foxhole and I think Dave will be working the Orange Line.

http://tinyurl.com/5z8nfp

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Anon92107 Aug. 31, 2008 @ 10 a.m.

Response to post #28: "But the local press (primarily the U-T, but also TV) made that failed mayor out to be a hero, and a naive citizenry apparently bought into it."

I rest my case, the U-T still has power over the brain-dead/naive minds of far too many San Diegans.

It's as if San Diegans have a death wish, or want to watch firestorms destroying other people and property on TV for entertainment, or both.

Only in a democracy can We The People actually vote to kill themselves by electing and re-electing puppeticians like Sanders, Murphy and Golding.

It's really not looking so good for the survival of the human race if San Diego voters truly represent our failure to evolve with enough intelligence to keep from making ourselves extinct.

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Burwell Aug. 31, 2008 @ 10:38 a.m.

David appears to have the option of financing his mother's estate tax liability over 14 years. At this point there appears to be no pressing need to sell the newspaper to pay taxes. Under the federal estate tax rules the first installment of estate tax is not due until the 5th year after the date of his mother's death. Then, the remaining estate tax must be paid in equal installments over the following 9 years. In exchange for the 14 year payment period, David has to pay Uncle Sam 2% interest annually on the unpaid taxes.

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 1:06 p.m.

Response to post #29: I don't know if he owns that Mission Beach house. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 1:14 p.m.

Response to post #30: How did you get invited to Foxhole? You must run with the BPs. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 1:18 p.m.

Response to post #31: How about McCain's selection for VP? Dumber than anything San Diego could have come up with. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 1:20 p.m.

Response to post # 32:That's a pretty lenient schedule for tax payments. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Aug. 31, 2008 @ 3:44 p.m.

Response to post #35:

Somehow that doesn't make me feel any better at all Don, because I live in San Diego where we have far too many republicans who are brain-dead and vote for Firestorm Sanders while the democrats go PUMA (Party Unity My Ass) or whatever the political insanity of the moment offers them to self-destruct.

So right now, I just hope that the democrats don't screw a sure thing up again, more than they did in 2000 and 2004. People should be mad as hell at McCain-Bush, but the democrats have a hideous track record at self-destruction (e.g. Clinton, Gore, Kerry), always more than ready, willing and disabled to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory over and over and over again.

And with brain-dead republicans spread across America who are just as brain-dead as San Diego republicans, the democrats keep proving they can at least be brain-deader when it comes to failing to get out the vote, and party disunity.

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 4:26 p.m.

Response to post #35: "Brain-deader." That's a new one. Best, Don Bauder

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JohnnyVegas Aug. 31, 2008 @ 8:34 p.m.

I am going with Obama-easy choice for me.

BUT, I think McCain could do a decent job too.

Last-I don't really care who gets elected as long as the untrained Circus Chimp we have in there now is out on January 4th, 2009.

The last 4-6 years have literally devestated our country, morally, financially and ethically.

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Don Bauder Aug. 31, 2008 @ 10:09 p.m.

Response to post #39: I agree with everything you say but one thing: I hardly think McCain would do a decent job. He doesn't have either the brains or the temperament. He acts impulsively. Look at the insane pick of his running mate. Unfortunately, this will be election pitting the haves (brains, that is) against the have-nots (brains). The electorate will break down the same way. Can you imagine we could have a VP who believes in teaching creationism in the public schools? Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Sept. 1, 2008 @ 2:50 a.m.

Response to post #40: “Can you imagine we could have a VP who believes in teaching creationism in the public schools?” Doesn’t matter Don, Palin is a Trophy VP dream come true for McCain to go with his Trophy second wife.

It has been observed that the Hillary PUMAs are going to deliver their "vagina vote" to Palin while Bill who dearly wishes he’d thought of someone like Palin for his VP will deliver his pecker vote.

Meanwhile, since this blog was originally dedicated to the latest U-T events, Kittle has been going through his personal collection of Der Sturmer archives to upgrade them for his anti-Obama Rantitorials, in addition to his never-ending Anti-Aguirre Rantitorials, so he can fire up the U-T Establishment Racist vote as an update of the Copley La Jolla Gentleman's Agreement era.

I hate to be the one to tell you this Don, but it has apparently been discovered that Goebbels is Kittle’s patron saint, which is why Kittle goosesteps around his office all day long listening to Wagner on his iPod so he doesn’t have to communicate with anyone in the real world.

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Don Bauder Sept. 1, 2008 @ 6:44 a.m.

Response to post #41: I can't see many Hillary women voting for a female who opposes abortion under all circumstances, including cases of rape, incest, and the carrying of a retarded child. Wait until it is determined whether that Down syndrome child was actually carried by Palin, or was carried by a daughter. Wait until the glow wears off. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Sept. 2, 2008 @ 2:10 a.m.

Response to post #44: “It was in either 1984 or Brave New World in which the leadership always had a war going for social control purposes.” Actually McCain seems to have come up with another way to divert attention from the failing GOP wars, failing GOP economy, escalating poverty, etc. with a whole new campaign slogan:

“ELECT THE ALASKA STATE BIMBO VPOTUS”

Alaska is the first state to have a bimbo as a state symbol, something Nevada wanted to do but was too busy promoting “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas” as their state motto first.

Word is that Bill Clinton gave McCain the idea to nominate Palin as his VP because Bill actually wanted to replace VP Gore with Lewinsky to make his affair easier to explain, and since McCain is an expert in bimbos the GOP talking heads are all fighting for TV face time to pronounce McCain’s first presidential decision “As Brilliant As Any Decision Bush Ever Made.”

Stay tuned for more Roman Coliseum type activities at the GOP Convention this week programmed to keep our minds off GOP wars, the economy and poverty. Much better than “1984” and “Brave New World” ever imagined.

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JF Sept. 2, 2008 @ 3:39 p.m.

Is a PUMA the same thing as a cougar?

Are most cougars Democrats? I'd have to think so, but maybe not...

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Anon92107 Sept. 1, 2008 @ 10:56 a.m.

Response to post #42: I agree Don, we must all get very, very serious about any possible continuation of the Neocon Reich, because the consequences of continued democratic failure to take complete control for the White House and Congress in 2008 presents the gravest threat to American Democracy since WWII, as even Ike warned us.

I’m sure you have studied the History of Civilizations, there have been about 31 counting ours per Arnold Toynbee’s count and 30 have failed mainly due to two most hideous of humanity destroying reasons, War and Poverty. Guess what we have because of the Neocons today, both War and an accelerating rate of poverty.

The number one Neocon poverty control method is to put as many of the increasing numbers of poor in prisons as quickly as possible, while the wealthy Neocons themselves are granted Get Out Of Jail Free entitlements by our Court system today because they can afford to bribe the courts and get away with the same crimes the poor go to jail for.

The second Neocon poverty control method is sending the poor off to fight Neocon wars, Korea, Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq with Iran next in line if the Neocons can pull it off in the next few months, unless McCain wins then it is a sure thing we’ll get wars without end creating conditions for the end of the American Civilization if the Neocons continue toward achieving their ultimate goal of Neocon Empire.

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Don Bauder Sept. 1, 2008 @ 2:02 p.m.

Response to post #43: It was in either 1984 or Brave New World in which the leadership always had a war going for social control purposes. .Best, Don Bauder

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Portofinoan Sept. 1, 2008 @ 7:28 p.m.

Responses to posts #43 and #44: Interesting piece in either the SDUT or LATimes today, about the extraordinary levels of kidnapping of the rich in Mexico, and not limited to just narco-traffickers.

Wonder if "Will ransom for food" will be a popular business plan here in the States, in the near future?

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Don Bauder Sept. 1, 2008 @ 8:46 p.m.

Response to post #45: I didn't see the story. If the economy continues to worsen, such crimes might multiply. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder Sept. 2, 2008 @ 6:23 a.m.

Response to post #44: The Palin nomination is utterly stunning. I thought my country could never sink so low. But McCain has done it. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 Sept. 2, 2008 @ 12:13 p.m.

Response to post #45: "I thought my country could never sink so low." You got that right Don.

I started the political part of my life as an “I Like Ike” republican, and I now realize beyond all doubt that after Ike left office things started going down the long road to hell just like Ike predicted in his 1961 Farewell Address to the Nation.

Ever since Ike left office republican party leaders have taught me to hate their never-ending lies and U-T Editorials, while the democratic party leaders have taught me that they are not only felony stupid but they are the number one reason that the republicans have been so successful at getting away with destroying American Democracy and the American Way of Life, the most recent examples being the 2000 and 2004 elections along with eight years of total failure by the entire U.S. Congress and Supreme Court to protect American Democracy and American Families.

And the way things have gone so far during this new century the republicans may still be able to fool most of the people most of the time at least one more time as we shall see on November 4 as long as the democrats continue on their path of self-destruction.

At this point, the only thing to do is pray God Bless America and save us from ourselves.

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Don Bauder Sept. 2, 2008 @ 4:15 p.m.

Response to post #50: PUMA is not the same as puma, but the dictionary says that puma is the same as cougar. Pumas are not eligible to vote, although some may have done so in Chicago or Texas. Best, Don Bauder

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JF Sept. 3, 2008 @ 6:12 p.m.

Someone explain to Don what the current slang "cougar" means...

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Don Bauder Sept. 3, 2008 @ 9:37 p.m.

Response to post #52: OK, tell me. I don't even know what the acronym PUMA means. Let me know both. Best, Don Bauder

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JF Sept. 4, 2008 @ 11:36 a.m.

Well, up above someone said that PUMA meant, "Party Unity, My Ass".

These days a cougar is defined as a somewhat older single woman who likes to get dolled up and go out picking up younger men. Hence my comment that most cougars may be Democrats.

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=cougar

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Don Bauder Sept. 4, 2008 @ 1:46 p.m.

Response to post #54: Thanks for the definitions. I don't understand why cougars should tend to be Democrats. I saw some that looked like cougars at the Republican convention last night. One in particular. Best, Don Bauder

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JF Sept. 9, 2008 @ 10:01 p.m.

You shouldn't talk about Mrs. McCain that way. Or were you talking about Palin?

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Don Bauder Sept. 13, 2008 @ 7:21 a.m.

Response to post #56: Guess. Maybe I was really thinking about those shots when cameras panned the audience. Best, Don Bauder

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