September 30, 2011
A piece (Republican Gridlock Holds Consumers Hostage) from The Star-Ledger Editorial Page that hits the nail squarely on the head.
Republicans aggressively fought the appointment of Elizabeth Warren to head the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and came away with a big scalp: Warren herself, the architect of the new agency, stepped down as nominee and returned to Massachusetts to run for the U.S. Senate. With any luck, voters there will send her back to Washington to continue challenging those who would shield banks and big business at the expense of the American consumer.
You’d think, having ousted Warren, the Republicans would get down to the people’s business. Think again. Now, the Party of No is refusing to confirm President Obama’s new nominee, Richard Cordray, unless the agency is restructured — that is, essentially gutted of its powers to protect consumers. This has nothing to do with Cordray’s credentials — he’s the highly regarded former state attorney general of Ohio — and everything to do with the political gridlock that has enraged voters and engendered cynicism with government. And it lays waste to the lessons that were supposedly learned after the collapse of the mortgage industry and housing market in 2008, when consumer ignorance combined with banking’s predatory practices to create a disaster.
September 29, 2011
After President Obama unveiled his jobs and deficit reduction plans, he took to the road to draw a contrast between himself and the Republican politicians who want to end his political career. Obama's proposes to spend money now on hiring people and cutting taxes temporarily to spur further job growth, and pay for it in just over a year, in large part by raising taxes on wealthy Americans.
The Republican vision -- phasing out safety net programs like Medicare in order to maintain low tax rates on the same group of affluent people -- is far less popular. So in their own tried and true way, Republicans recast Obama's plan for "shared sacrifice" as "the largest tax increase in history."
What a difference! But also untrue.
A movement of a Beethoven string quartet, lost in 1799, is to be given its premiere in Manchester on Thursday, after its discovery and reconstruction by Barry Cooper, professor of music at the University of Manchester.
The premiere will be given by the Quatuor Danel at a seminar open to the public at the University of Manchester.
Here is a bit of Beethoven (since we're not in Manchester today) . . .
September 27, 2011
Tree casualty projections across the eight-county Houston area run as high as 66 million by the nonprofit Trees for Houston. The city will be removing only those on city public land.
"Droughts are like a Category 3 hurricane that moves very, very, very slow," said Tom Combs, vice president of the Texas region for DRC Emergency Services, the Mobile, Ala.-based company that would get the work if the spending is approved Wednesday. DRC is the city's disaster debris contractor. Combs said he does not know how many trees the company removed in the wake of Ike, only that DRC carted away 5 million cubic yards of debris, some from public land, some from private.
This past year hasn’t brought much good news about our economy. The nation’s unemployment rate is still at 9.1%, going down only half a percentage point since 2010. The USDA reports that 50 million Americans continue to struggle to put enough food on the table each day. And locally it doesn’t look much better – California’s unemployment hovers around 12%. Here in San Francisco, the list of families waiting to get into shelters is at it’s highest point since November 2009.
Class warfare! An oldie but a goodie, and about as unexpected as finding green grapes in a fruit salad. Why is it always a war with these guys? The culture war, war on Christmas, then they accuse Democrats of being emotionally unequipped to go to war. Well, which is it?
When taxes are raised on the rich, oh sure – that’s class warfare. But when libraries are closed and national parks left to rot so rich people can have more money, that’s trickle-down economics. What Barack should do is rename his efforts to balance the playing field with trickle-up economics. That would at least confuse them (not that they need more confusion) – “You know what, you’re right! It is a class war you started it and your side winning.”
The Republicans are especially upset about a proposal called the Warren Buffet rule, which calls for billionaires to pay taxes at the same rate as their secretaries. The GOP puts more faith in the Jimmy Buffet rule which holds that anybody who worries about coming up with next month’s rent money next should start drinking margaritas until they pass out.
What is it with the rich? How much money do they need? How many cars can you drive? How many imported Beluga caviar cream cheese canapés can you consume at a single cocktail party?
September 25, 2011
September 24, 2011
I am making tomato sauce to enhance my home-grown eggplants. I enjoy making red sauce (for pasta, eggplant dishes, veggie patties, a whole range of things) more than I can adequately explain. It is one of my favorite routines in the kitchen.
It's Mahatma Gandhi.
It's the top!
It's Napoleon Brandy.
It's the purple light
Of a summer night in Spain,
It's the National Gallery
It's Garbo's salary,
It's so sublime.
Or, to paraphrase Kid Sheleen, "it's just swell, the way I figured it would be . . . oh, it is just fine."
September 23, 2011
September 22, 2011
Despite Sextus Propertius, I doubt that absence ever made a heart grow fonder. If it did, beyond perhaps a few hours, it was mostly faulty memory. It's being there and sharing that fosters fondness and caring that can weather storms not yet sighted on the horizon.
September 21, 2011
September 20, 2011
September 19, 2011
"Either we have to ask the wealthy to pay their fair share, or we have to ask seniors to pay more for medicare, or gut education," he continued. "This is not class warfare. It's Math."
September 11, 2011
September 09, 2011
There is a hunger for mean, among the conservative base, and a hunger for punishing the nebulous other, whether that means the unemployed, the poor, the sick, the old, union workers, public sector workers, immigrants, disaster victims, Muslims, or anyone else. Rick Perry may suit them in a way that a Bachmann, Santorum, or Cain could not. He is just as fringe as any of those tea party favorites, but he has something each of them lacks: He looks like a Republican president. Specifically, he looks like their most recent Republican president.
First things first: I was favorably surprised by the new Obama jobs plan, which is significantly bolder and better than I expected. It’s not nearly as bold as the plan I’d want in an ideal world. But if it actually became law, it would probably make a significant dent in unemployment.
Of course, it isn’t likely to become law, thanks to G.O.P. opposition. Nor is anything else likely to happen that will do much to help the 14 million Americans out of work. And that is both a tragedy and an outrage.
The good news in all this is that by going bigger and bolder than expected, Mr. Obama may finally have set the stage for a political debate about job creation. For, in the end, nothing will be done until the American people demand action.
September 07, 2011
As a result, we should see the current drought persist through next spring over most of Texas, including the greater Houston area as La Niña intensifies. Yes, Texas will likely see some welcomed wet periods at times during the fall and early winter as the polar storm track occasionally shifts south bringing quick bursts of precipitation associated with cold fronts and other fast moving disturbances; however, below to well-below-normal precipitation will likely by the dominant weather trend over most of the state though next May.
September 06, 2011
It continues to amaze me that so many "thoughtful people" seem so unpreturbed by today's political mire . . .
Barbara Stanwyck: "We're both rotten!"
Fred MacMurray: "Yeah - only you're a little more rotten." -"Double Indemnity" (1944)
But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.
September 03, 2011
S&P is poised to provide AAA grades to 59 percent of Springleaf Mortgage Loan Trust 2011-1, a set of bonds tied to $497 million lent to homeowners with below-average credit scores and almost no equity in their properties. New York-based S&P stripped the U.S. of its top rank on Aug. 5, saying Washington politics were making the country less creditworthy.
From Romeo and Juliet
I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.
Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is disgrace to them if they bear it.
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
I do bite my thumb, sir.
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
SAMPSON [Aside to Gregory]
Is the law of our side if I say ay?
GREGORY [Aside to Sampson]
No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.
September 02, 2011
Why are left-wing activist groups so keen on registering the poor to vote?
Because they know the poor can be counted on to vote themselves more benefits by electing redistributionist politicians. Welfare recipients are particularly open to demagoguery and bribery.
Registering them to vote is like handing out burglary tools to criminals. It is profoundly antisocial and un-American to empower the nonproductive segments of the population to destroy the country -- which is precisely why Barack Obama zealously supports registering welfare recipients to vote.
September 01, 2011
You will hear of a dwelling-place in the heavens, above the earth, that shall fall with a great crash. It will appear as a blue star. Very soon after this, the ceremonies of my people will cease."The comet Elenin which will pass by Earth October 16 and because of all the doom and gloom from different corners of the universe NASA recently issued a release to answer some of the questions they have received.
One of my favorites is the question
Why aren't you talking more about Comet Elenin? If these things are small and nothing to worry about, why has there been no public info on Comet Elenin?And also, why don't we hear more about who built the canals on Mars?
The online gallery is well worth a visit.
But Obama and his political team were smart to reschedule the event for (at least) three reasons.
1. No one wins a process fight: If Obama had doubled down on the Sept. 7 date, the coverage leading up to the speech would have focused heavily — if not exclusively — on the process (why the White House had done it, etc.) of the speech rather than the policy of it. Process battles, while beloved by reporters, are rarely a good thing for politicians and policy-makers. (See the health care debate and the fight over raising the debt ceiling.) Obama wants and needs to begin to build momentum — from a policy and a political perspective — from this speech, and turning it into a process story would be the exact wrong way to do that.
2. Get the last word: If Obama had stuck to Sept. 7, it would have allowed every Republican presidential candidate a real-time opportunity to respond (and criticize) his proposal. The coverage of the speech would be inter-mingled with coverage of the debate, meaning that Obama’s preferred message would be decidedly muddled. By waiting a day, Obama can more tightly control his message and get the last word (or close to it) of what will be a pivotal week in the presidential race.
3. Pick your audience: Given House Speaker John Boehner’s (Ohio) resistance to putting the speech on Sept. 7 and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint’s promise to block such a move, Obama would likely have had to give the speech from the Oval Office if he wanted to deliver it next Wednesday. (The logistics of setting up such a major speech somewhere out in the country are daunting and not something the White House would likely have done.) Some of Obama’s least effective addresses have been from the Oval Office, and his team knows it. They wanted him to speak to a joint session of Congress for a reason — to send a powerful visual and rhetorical message that he can’t solve the economic problems of the country alone. To walk away from that preferred backdrop simply to prove a point makes no political sense.