September 30, 2011

global crisis?

Is it really possible that the biggest political story of the coming U.S. presidential race is the Euro crisis and its global consequences - a story that few of us are probably closely following . . . ?

my main man . . .

no . . . no . . . no . . . and no . . .

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

they are liars . . .

When Republicans (or anyone else) make a claim that they know to be untrue that is a lie . . .
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.

Beethoven redux . . .

This is really kind of big and cool news . . .
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

paying for water . . .

Maybe we Texans didn't pray hard enough - seems our governor thought prayer rather than budget was the only answer worth pursuing . . . At our home, we also didn't budget for the drought but we also didn't rely solely on prayer - we used our "rainy day" nickels and dimes and kept water on our trees - our 16+ pines, oaks, maples, magnolias and lemon tree are still alive. Only the maple shows stress but that predates this year's drought. Houston on the whole has not fared so well. The drought continues to be devastating . . .
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.

trickling with will durst & morning joe . . .

Okay, so we tried trickle down for a while . . . is it maybe time to try trickle up?
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

climate change and looking for vacation spots . . .

Greenland may soon be as green as its name - a holiday place for all the folks treading water in southeast Texas . . . but, oh wait, maybe the melt is slowing down or maybe we got the facts wrong . . .

September 24, 2011

red and saucey . . .

I am a graduate of Odessa High School and today is the celebration of my graduating class' 50th reunion. After much consideration, I have chosen not to go. Mostly because I knew so few people and of the very small cadre of friends, one is dead and another evidently terminally ill. During my school years, from Antelope, Texas for 1st grade to OHS for 12th grade, I did not attend the same school two years in a row. For me, it was hard to make lasting friendships. It is really from the army that I first met people that became important enough to me that I I continue to think and worry about some of them now (some 40+ years later). Not so for more than perhaps 3-4 people I knew in high school (Permian and Odessa combined) - I attended Odessa High for my sophomore year, Permian High for my junior year (its first year of existence) and back to OHS for my senior year. So, auspicious day or not, I have chosen to be somewhere else doing something else.

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 cellophane.
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

product placement without recompense . . .

A joy of living in Houston is not the wet weather, no longer the wonderful commute times, and not the beautiful beaches. All of this is more or less acceptable (less more than 'more' oft times). What is a terrific joy is our local brew! If I were a beer drinker, which I am, I would drink Saint Arnold brown ale which I do. I am a most happy camper with my fingers wrapped around a beautiful, deep copper brown ale of extraordinary taste!

nothing much . . .

Nothing begat nothing more and nothing less; nothing more never lived with anyone in a pretty how town; nothing less never made no plans for nobody with Nowhere Man.

September 22, 2011

Roman poetry is fine, but . . .

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.

taxes and class warfare . . .

September 20, 2011

bumper sticker . . .

There is supposedly a bumper sticker out there that says "I refuse to believe that corporations are people until Texas executes one of them." This got me wondering - how many wooden stakes would that take?

September 19, 2011

more numbers to add . . .

59% surveyed in the most recent New York Times / CBS poll say that jobs (32%) and the economy (27%) are the most important problem facing the country - the budge deficit is a very distant third (8%). I hope to see the President continue to hammer his theme of jobs, jobs, jobs. We need people to be able to return to work - we need jobs.

this adds up . . .

Some folks don't think union busting is class warfare; however, taxing millionaires may be . . . I think this quote from President Obama adds up. . .
"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."

thinking out loud . . .

I continue to be deeply disappointed in this administration's overall accomplishments. I continue to completely support this administration and will have no hesitation voting in 2012 for the President and, to the extent possible, in attempting to lessen influence of Boehner and cohorts.

September 09, 2011

some scary notions . . .

Hunter over at Daily Kos has some scary notions about Replublican presidential views and choices . . .
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.

hair on fire?

Okay, I did not watch the President last night. I'm finding little enthusiasm for politics in my psyche lately. It's bad enough to hear the 5 minute news summaries in the a.m. on KUHA though I do miss listening to AlJazeera reports on KPFT - my timing on driving to work . . . So I have little stomach for the ongoing chatter from D.C. while the country continues to be pummeled by lack of available work with liveable salary. However, is it possible we may be turning a corner of sorts - will the dialogue actually become about jobs and people needing work and less about deficit cutting (which mostly seems to mean cutting social security, medicate, medicaid, etc.)? Maybe a ray of sunshine falls with purpose on Paul Krugman's keyboard?
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

drying out . . .

The weather in Houston is evidently not expected to get wetter during next several months.
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

reflections on a muddy pool . . .

If you haven't already read this confirmation of what many of us have been saying for a while . . . do read it!

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

have a nice labor day weekend . . .

is there no law of our side . . . ?

Not only did Murdoch give himself a raise and a bonus for effective leadership but does it occur to you that about 1% of the population in the U.S. is continually thumbing its big fat nose at all the rest of us?
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

there's a stench in the air . . .

This kind of elitist bullshit is what is truly un-American.
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

gypsy airs . . .

Elenin is coming . . . Elenin is coming . . . Elenin is coming . . .

"And this is the Ninth and Last Sign:
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?

Picturing America

The Linen Hall Library, in cooperation with the U.S. Consulate in Belfast, is hosting Picturing America, an exhibition portraying masterpieces of American art that depict iconic people, places, and moments in American history. The exhibition coincides with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States ten years ago this month.

The online gallery is well worth a visit.

let's talk about jobs . . .

Yes, I've heard the grumbles . . . and heard some of the crowing from the dysfunctional side of the aisle . . . But . . . I think that Chris Cillizza has a point:
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.