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This is the second best day of my life. This is the day on which I am more proud of my country, fellow countrymen, and democratic government than I have ever been before. Michelle was right, when she uttered the words that were so dramatically misconstrued to paint her as unpatriotic. Today, we all truly can be proud, because we have inaugurated a smart, idealistic yet realistic, open-minded, good-humored, forward-thinking, diplomatic man as our 44th President.

I'm not African American, but I'm the granddaughter of a Mexican immigrant, and the inugural ceremony, with its hopeful prayers, songs, poetry, and oaths, helped me feel that our country to which my family pledges allegiance--even though it hasn't always treated my grandfather with the respect he deserved--truly IS our country. We have peacefully shifted power from a man who probably would've governed for life if not for the rules of tenure set in the Constitution.

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There were so many, it's hard to narrow it down to just 10. But these are the top moments that you either just had to laugh at, or, if you couldn't, made you groan out loud and shake your head. Enjoy!

Poll

Best Laugh Because It Hurts Moment of 2009? (See Above for Descriptions)

41%65 votes
8%13 votes
24%38 votes
0%1 votes
1%3 votes
3%6 votes
5%8 votes
1%2 votes
2%4 votes
11%18 votes

| 158 votes | Vote | Results

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If you missed the Blagojevich press conference, please look it up on one of the network news sites... as soon as local Chicago media gets it up, I'll embed here.

Burris' statement:

Our crooked, embattled Governor Rod Blagojevich has named Roland Burris, a former rival for the governor's office, former state's Attorney General, and former Comptroller, as Senator Barack Obama's replacement in the Senate.

During a heated press conference in which the Governor responded to questions from the press for the very first time, Democratic Illinois congressman Bobby Rush took the podium in support of the appointment.  

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Gross.

The former Deputy Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, who apparently does a little photography on the side, has created a 2009 wall calendar featuring none other than America's Snow Queen Sweetheart Sarah Palin.

While this may not be what you or I had wanted waiting under our trees on Christmas morning it is, through some strange, unfathomable means, the second-most popular wall calendar on Amazon.com.

UPDATE: From The Wall Street Journal:

"A 2009 calendar of the former Republican vice-presidential candidate is currently the top item on the Web site’s list of "Office Products and Supplies." (Palin beat out "Fiskars DuraSharp DeskWorks Preferred Scissors" and "Brother PT-80 P-touch Electronic Labeling System" for the distinction.)"

And even more disturbing:

"According to a Gallup Poll released today, Palin is the second most admired woman in America, behind New York Sen. Hillary Clinton but ahead of media mogul and talk show host Oprah Winfrey."

Poll

The Sarah Palin 2009 calendar:

6%12 votes
31%63 votes
9%19 votes
3%7 votes
29%59 votes
19%39 votes

| 199 votes | Vote | Results

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UPDATE: Please, please, please do not insinuate that because some conflicts and nations are not mentioned in this diary that I somehow don't care about them. This diary is about the ten countries I view as having the greatest influence over whether or not the world can co-exist in relative peace. I am very aware that other horrible conflicts exist, but I view these nations as holding global influence that can stand in the way of a peaceful global community. If you disagree with my list, fine, but please don't accuse me of not caring; I wouldn't have written this diary if I didn't.

I diaried a long time ago about whether or not the notion of "world peace" was a farce, and responses from Kossacks were split. So for the purpose of this diary, "world peace" is translated to mean more or less "war-free." Hopefully, that's a definition we can temporarily agree on.

I believe that a war-free world is dependent entirely upon these eight ten nations:

Afghanistan
China
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Iran
Israel
Pakistan
Russia
Somalia
Sudan
United States

Also, please keep in mind, this is ONE woman's opinion, not gospel... just my thoughts.

Poll

Most dangerous threat?

0%0 votes
6%3 votes
0%0 votes
6%3 votes
27%12 votes
11%5 votes
0%0 votes
36%16 votes
6%3 votes
4%2 votes

| 44 votes | Vote | Results

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Last night, I opened my mortgage statement to find that it was $400 higher than usual... an unusual occurance, because I have a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Panicking and short of breath, I called my lender.

They explained that, because my lender had paid my 2007 property taxes in full, and the taxes cost more than the balance in my escrow account (the amount of your monthly mortgage payments set aside to pay your taxes), I now owe $3,000 to my lender. They decided to collect that money over the course of 12 months, which means a year of paying an extra $400 per month on top of my current mortgage payment.

Ye-ouch.

Poll

How are you paying the bills?

19%41 votes
6%14 votes
65%138 votes
6%13 votes
2%6 votes

| 212 votes | Vote | Results

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Would Sarah Palin and John McCain believe that the most "Pro-America" American would be an 83-year-old Mexican immigrant who has survived malaria, skin cancer, AND West Nile Virus?

Probably not.

But at Thanksgiving dinner this year, after a discussion about religious intolerance contributing to negativity in the campaign, my grandfather pulled me aside and told me this story from fifty years ago, just after he'd immigrated here from Mexico. He is a U.S. citizen (and lifelong Democrat), and very proud of it.

Like most Mexicans, my grandfather was Catholic when he came to the U.S., but he explored the many options available to him after arriving. A humble, hard-working man, my grandfather learned English quickly, in addition to French, German, Italian, and a little Portuguese. He even taught Spanish at a community college. He conversed easily with friends and neighbors, but some in his Chicago neighborhood were unhappy with immigrants in general, and treated them terribly as a result.

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Grampa Zero:

2%8 votes
4%13 votes
10%28 votes
81%223 votes

| 272 votes | Vote | Results

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Thursday, November 27, 2008
Phoenix, Arizona

A Hummer minivan pulls up in front of a home on a tree-lined street in a Phoenix suburb. "Okay, guys, let's get to it!" Sarah Palin shouts into the backseat, springing out of the passenger door and unfastening Trig from his carseat. Todd Palin opens the driver door and begins untying a fresh moose carcass from the luggage rack.

"Is that a dead moose?" asks a member of the papparazzi, who are gathered outside the wrought iron fence that protects the McCain family homestead from intruders.

"You betcha!" Sarah replies cheerfully, hoisting Trig onto her hip and smiling into the camera.

"We drove down from Alaska, so the cold winter air keeps the moose fresh," Todd explains. Bristol's fiance Levi lends a hand, and the two men drag the moose by the horns up the walkway to the door of the McCain house, where John and Cindy stand waiting.

Poll

The best dish served at the McCain/Palin/Plumber Thanksgiving:

11%11 votes
8%8 votes
15%15 votes
41%41 votes
14%14 votes
7%7 votes
2%2 votes
0%0 votes

| 98 votes | Vote | Results

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This year, as with every fourth Thursday in November, families will line the streets of Manhattan to watch Snoopy, Garfield, and all the usual suspects tower over the crowds. And this year, taking up more space than a 1,000-pound gorilla in the proverbial room, some new characters will join the festivities.

Families falling behind on their mortgage payments will delight at the sight of "Foreclosure Freddie," a house-shaped balloon with boards on all the doors and windows.

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Poll

Which new addition to the parade are you most excited for?

11%2 votes
23%4 votes
5%1 votes
52%9 votes
5%1 votes

| 17 votes | Vote | Results

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I just got off the phone with a medical collection agency, having satisfied a $60 debt for medication that actually made me feel worse than I did prior to treatment. Another medical bill for $200, another medical bill for $130... it never ends.

I make a decent living, doing PR and writing. I freelance occasionally to beef up my earnings. My fiance makes a good living as well. We aren't struggling.

Yet I'm fearful. It seems at every turn, there is another handover of my tax dollars to a corporation or bank where the worst paid employees still make twice as much as my household's combined income. What if something happens and I need that money back? No one's going to bail me out.

Poll

Who should Congress bail out?

15%5 votes
0%0 votes
12%4 votes
3%1 votes
31%10 votes
12%4 votes
18%6 votes
6%2 votes

| 32 votes | Vote | Results

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UPDATE: Thank you all for sharing your insights with me; I'm definitely leaning toward opposing all together.

Lame but not without power, President Bush approved the military's request to execute a military death row prisoner on December 10.

"Pvt. Ronald Gray has been on the military's death row at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, since 1988. A court-martial panel sitting at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, unanimously convicted him of committing two murders and other crimes in the Fayetteville, North Carolina, area, and sentenced him to death...

In July, President George W. Bush approved the Army's request to execute Gray...

The president took action following completion of a full appellate process, which upheld the conviction and sentence to death," the Army said in the news release. "Two petitions to the U.S. Supreme Court were denied during the appellate processing of Pvt. Gray's case."
-CNN.com

Poll

Capital punishment:

32%67 votes
7%16 votes
60%125 votes

| 208 votes | Vote | Results

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Morgan Stanley closed today at around $9 a share. Earlier this year, it traded at around $55 a share.

Goldman Sachs closed today at around $52 a share. Earlier this year, it traded at around $234 a share.

AIG closed today at around $1.44 a share. Earlier this year, it traded at around $62.30 a share.

UPDATE: Per CajunBoylgb below, "The entire US stock market as measured by the Dow Jones Wilshire 5000 lost about $700 billion on paper today."

As Congress today weighs the implications of bailing out one of the most American of industries--automobilies--further devestation on Wall Street reveals that the previous bailout, by all accounts, is failing miserably.

Those of us with retirement accounts, in some cases, may have been just as well off without.

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Poll

The economy:

24%57 votes
4%11 votes
56%131 votes
13%31 votes

| 230 votes | Vote | Results

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