Friday, December 31, 2010

Well, it is New Year's Eve. We have very warm and wet conditions. The temps reached the mid 40s yesterday and will be in the mid to high 50s today. I am amazed by how much of our mountains of snow have disappeared over the last couple of days. We are expecting some rain and possible thunder out of that storm that gave so much of the west floods, mudslides, and blizzards. The east looks like it may be dug out in time to celebrate tonight.

I am enjoying the gardening catalogs that have arrived--two ordered and two a complete surprise. Those last two we think came because Mom got a free subscription to "Better Homes and Gardens" with her new mixer (which she loves) and the companies share the mailing list. We sent off our first order--a bay laurel seedling and a mini-greenhouse perfectly sized for a particular spot on the patio.

I guess this is one possible solution to the problem of potential seal level rise and global warming. But I do have to ask several questions--how much would such 'floating hotels' cost, how many can we afford to build, how many of our nearly 7 billion people (according to worldometers) can we accommodate, and who would be left behind?

Here is a mildly humorous entry from Firedoglake on the Republican plan to open the new Congress with a reading (aloud) of the Constitution. Might be a good idea for the idiots among them to be reminded of what the document actually says. We just had another interesting thought. There is a proposal to force each member who writes a new bill to include the Constitutional justification or authority for the bill. So we might be faced with the comedy of seeing 1200 page bills (which they don't read now) with equally lengthy legal brief attached. I feel sorry for the poor trees soon to be sacrificed in this futile exercise.

Yves at Naked Capitalist has this interesting item which takes the robo-signing scandal from the mortgage fraud realm into the credit card collections hell. Not only do people attesting to the validity of legal documents not have to be working at the firm for which they are signing the documents or examining the documents they are signing but they don't even have to be alive to do so. Once upon a time we were proud to say that we were a 'government of laws, not men.' We have now morphed to being ruled by a 'government of corporations, not laws.' If we had to change I would prefer we took a step backwards. Men can die, corporation don't.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Good Morning, everyone. Only today and tomorrow left in 2010. Although it hasn't been as bad a year as a couple of the last ones and I often felt the time was going way too fast, I am not sorry to see 2010 go. I have no idea what 2011 will bring socially, politically, or economically. And I am not very hopeful that the morass will be cleaned up any time soon.

However, I found this item among the blogs on the Google alert this morning. You wouldn't think that the final product came from something most of us throw away without a second thought. I wouldn't pay the price because I don't set much store by 'designer' products and I am in the process of making my own--crocheted instead of woven.

A lot of bloggers and others are making up their list of New Year's resolutions. Here is a cute blog post on the resolutions of a garden 'geek.' I don't think I qualify as a garden geek though my one goal (I stopped making resolutions many, many years ago) is to garden more and to increase my efforts at preserving what I grow for winter use.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Good Monday after Christmas to you all and hope you had a wonderful holiday and are recovering well. Thank you, Kay and Lois. We did have a very nice Christmas. Had dinner with Sister and a few friends and relatives. Luckily the snow was well timed for between the times we were on the road and was light. No travel worries for us. If the weather forecasts are accurate (which they often are not) a good bit of the snow on the ground will melt--temps in the 40s and even touching 50 Tuesday and Wednesday with some rain.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve to everyone. Thanks for the e-mail, Lois. Although the political stories have been fast and furious I haven't really felt like commenting on them. And since my gardens are under several inches of snow and I am still cleaning up the sewing room I don't have anything to talk about on those fronts.

The news media and the politicians are celebrating 'the most productive Congress ever.' I hope they don't injure themselves patting each other on their backs. I am glad that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' was passed. It only languished on the Hill for how long? I am glad that the new START treaty was passed and that is the only piece of legislation that was dealt with in a timely manner. Everything else had been held up for months while the different sides postured and pointed fingers. I didn't like the gridlock-on-steroids we had but if the last month represents 'bi-partisanship' I don't like it much either.

The morning broadcast news and HuffingtonPost both carried stories proclaiming Obama's plans to reorganize his people. (HuffingtonPost has a link to a New York Times article). I don't think that will do much good because from what I have heard he is looking at people who played a large part in previous administrations. And most of those have also been through the revolving door to Wall Street several times. He really needs authentic new blood--people who can think out of the box. That is a thought that came to me as I watched the CNBC report on student loan debt this last week. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared and spouted all of the non-sense the President and other members of the establishment have been on education--we have to regain the number one spot in terms of the proportion of our people who have college degrees. The reporter asked a question that I have been asking for some time now: college degree for what? Where are the jobs that really require a college degree? Duncan had no answer. There is no plan B.

Another story that has gotten a good bit of coverage in the mainstream media is the price of gas. The national average topped $3 a gallon--the first time ever at Christmas. Oil topped $90 a barrel for the first time in about 3 years. My brother, who came by with a nice load of Christmas sweets (and some very welcome tamales), said that when he stopped to fill up Tuesday the clerk told him that by evening the price was going to go up by $.30 a gallon. The price at our favorite little station is just a smidge below $3. I laughed a bit at another group of talking heads on CNBC who claimed that OPEC countries will soon increase production to off set the hike. Most of the quotes I have read from OPEC ministers indicate they are quite happy with prices between $90 and $100 per barrel. Even if OPEC countries can increase production significantly (and there is considerable doubt on that score from various experts), I doubt they will. Anybody remember when Bush, Jr. went to Saudi Arabia to beg for increased production when the prices hit $140/barre.? We got a lot of relief then, didn't we? (sarcasm alert)

Little Homestead in the City has some pictures of the rains in California. Their place is in Southland--where some of those dramatic pictures of mud encased cars and homes that have appeared on the national news were shot. Luckily they say they are on high ground so their problems was dealing with all the water.

I found these pictures on Quilt Vine. Look closely at the pictures. I almost missed the detail.

Firedoglake posted this today which expresses many of my thoughts on the growing crisis in public pensions. Some talking heads on CNBC discussed this earlier this week and ticked me off royally. One of the men in nice, expensive suits said that people had to realize that states simply couldn't afford to pay those who had been 'over-promised.' Such a nice sanitary word. And total crap. Workers had been promised a salary plus certain benefits in return for their labor. Those who have retired delivered on their part of the promise. Now states and cities, as many companies before them, are determined to swindle the workers out of the promised compensation for that labor. And our legal system is letting them get away with the theft.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Good Morning to you all on this Friday before Christmas Eve. Hope you have all of your Christmas shopping done. We do--but then we don't do much. The news readers talked about the hopes retailers have of a good procrastinators' rush this year. For my part I wish we could drive a stake of holly into the heart of the beast we call a consumer economy. Consumption without production has always seemed to me a royal road to poverty.

It is always refreshing to see someone in government express a truth. Evidently the NSA has admitted the futility of trying to make its computer systems totally 'secure.'

It is now Saturday morning. I didn't see much more that was interesting or worth a comment yesterday but I liked that story on computer security so I decided to keep it.

This story on MSNBC sounds all too familiar this year. Same story--different location. We hope that the snow predicted here for Tuesday holds off until the afternoon because Mom has an early morning doctor's appointment. But otherwise we intend to hibernate. Also we hope the snow for Christmas Eve is light because we are supposed to go to Sister's for dinner.

Newsweek (by way of MSNBC) carried a story which should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the developments in manufacturing and the labor market. Manufacturers have accelerated their use of robots and are producing the same amount or more with far fewer workers. That has been the story of the last 70 or so years. The notion that the new jobs will require more training and skills simply means that workers have to find a way to pay for more expensive training and education (often by going deeper into debt) or they will be priced out of decent paying jobs. The question is--will those jobs really bring in enough money for the worker to make the extra expense economically rational? But another thought also struck me--what happens when this level of automation hits China and India?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Good Wednesday morning, all. Everything is pretty well back to normal. The city did a great job of getting the streets cleared. We just have mountains of snow to remind us of our blizzard. The weather people say we got 9 inches officially. I think we got more. At least we didn't get the 30+ inches a couple of places south and east of us wound up with.

Here is a nice story from the New York Times by way of MSNBC. I love the comment from one of the cooks--she is making less money but having more fun with less stress. These are the kinds of people our government should be helping--not the paper sellers on Wall Street. Unfortunately, I don't think that $800+ billion package of tax cuts/stimulus will do much for them. And I am no longer a believer in the 'every little bit helps' adage. Too often the little bits are too little even in aggregate.

Treehugger had this video of a container garden on steroids in Berlin. I don't speak German but just watching the video is fun.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Good morning, everyone. The snow has slowed and, hopefully, has moved out. The landscaping guys our landlord uses came by yesterday and cleared the walks. Another couple of inches fell, or blew in, after so we do have some shoveling to do. The patio and around the car are the primary spots we have to deal with. We are waiting until later when the temperatures are supposed to reach a balmy 20 degrees. From the weather reports this morning it looks like we are getting set up for that nasty pattern that gives us snow every three or four days. Hopefully, the amounts will be much less.

So, Richard Holbrook's last words as he was sedated for surgery were that we had 'to stop this war in Afghanistan.' No s##t!! We should never have gone in the way we did. The whole thing was a testosterone spill in the Bush White House that has cost us more lives and more money than 9/11 did to begin with.

The score for the Health Care Reform law now stands at 2 favorable verdicts to one unfavorable. The tie breaker will be the Republican dominated Supreme Court. The theory under which the Virginia judge struck down the mandate that individuals buy health insurance is interesting. If the Congress (and by extension the entire Federal Government) overreached its constitutional authority with this, I have to ask what government can make such a demand on individual citizens? After all, we have a long history of states requiring drivers to carry auto insurance. Are they going to argue that receiving health care is a privilege and not a right? That is the basic argument concerning auto insurance. You can, with difficulty, choose not to drive but you can't choose not to get sick.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good Monday morning to you all. For all of you east of me, hang on--the storm that hit us is on its way. If it hasn't got there yet. The weather people predicted that we would have 3-6 inches of snow but so far it has been about a foot. They can't say for certain because of the wind which is gusting to 40 mph. We woke to a three foot drift outside our front door. The news readers said that some areas of our county have reported 8ft drifts. And the State Police are trying to rescue more than 100 motorists that got caught stuck along one of our state routes. Our country and several others nearby are under emergency declarations. We plan to hibernate. If things clear up this afternoon we will clear the patio (which has not accumulated a lot of snow), spread salt (because what is there has turned to ice), and try to thaw out the car. But until the roads are clear we aren't going anywhere. The news people asked a representative of the state police what advice she would give motorists about to set out. She said such motorists should 'reevaluate their trip.'

MSNBC carried this New York Times story yesterday morning that has me questioning whether we really ever learn anything from history. Some time in the early 1980s I read stories about potential problems in Saudi Arabia and other oil rich countries that had subsidized education through college (and, in some cases, graduate school). They had an over supply of ambitious college graduates and a serious lack of professional jobs for them. That was the time I also started seeing sporadic stories about taxi drivers with Ph.D.s over here. Tell me again why every American administration since has touted college education as the route to prosperity. Once upon a time advanced education paid off but that was when most people did not get past the 8th grade. I remember my grandfather telling us that after he finished 8th grade he was offered a teaching job. Can't do that now.

HuffingtonPost provided the link to this 27/7WallSt. article on the 'Ten worst drug recalls in history." It is an interesting story. Several of the drugs mentioned I had never heard of.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Good morning, again, everyone. Your thoughts, Kay, parallel my own. If terrorists want to get a good bang for their buck why target a Wal-mart? So far in the news, one alleged terrorist targeted a Christmas tree lighting ceremony and another a military recruitment center. Wal-mart doesn't seem to be high on the agenda. So the announcement, basically, served only to keep the anxiety level high and provided the 'evil empire' with free publicity.

On the tax cut issue, HuffingtonPost had this article this morning. The bottom line (to use a business phrase) is that most economists consider tax cuts an inefficient way to create a minimal number of jobs. But tax cuts are an article of faith in the Republican sect of the Church of Commerce--they are no more questioned or questionable than the existence of God.

Here is another entry in the 'please tell me why these banks are "too big to fail"' file. These are not 'unfortunate' errors. The banks consider these homeowners 'collateral damage' in a situation over which no one has any control and therefore no one (and certainly not the banks themselves) has any share of blame. I am afraid their arguments strike me much like the arguments of a teenage defendant in a murder case just decided with a guilty verdict yesterday in Chicago. The boy's attorney claimed that although their client struck several blows to the victim during the riot in which that victim was killed none were 'killing' blows and, therefore, his client was not guilty of murder. In both cases, the parties were there, they were involved, and someone much more innocent than they suffered. How about some justice? At least the boy was convicted of murder, as he should have been. The banks, unfortunately, have powerful enough friends that they get off.

Rain at Rainy Day Things has a good post on the Social Security tax 'holiday' that was part of the package Obama agreed to this last week. As I wrote a while back, the triage has started. Those who depend on Social Security are only the first who will be considered 'expendable.' And I am not at all comforted by the report from one of the talking news heads yesterday that the revenues Social Security will loose from the 'holiday' will be made up from general revenues.

I put this piece from the Agonist in the 'hypocrisy watch' folder. It doesn't require any comment from me since the author's last line says exactly what I thought as I read it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Good morning to you all. Still cold and likely to stay that way for the next couple of weeks. So far the snow fall has been moderate--only about 3 inches here. More to come tomorrow afternoon and overnight Saturday into Sunday. That last the weather people predict has potential for heavy snow.

Among the bulls##t this morning is this item. Do we really need Wal-Mart getting involved in the national (in)security scam?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good morning, again, everyone. We are still getting snow. It is lake effect so it shouldn't move too far. Sorry, Kay, but you get your own lake effect over there. They say we are getting set for a nasty storm come Saturday into Sunday. We will hibernate. We won't clean off the patio or the car until later--if the snow stops.

Well, they finally hammered out a deal on the tax situation. I an neither bummed out nor elated. I got nothing out of the Bush era cuts and, since I was unemployed last year, I got nothing out of the low and middle income cuts Obama's people put in as and economic stimulus. I am very cynical and very skeptical, though, because I don't believe either side when they spout their sanctimonious sentiments about these measures. If the business and individuals who are getting the lion's share of the benefit of the tax measure really wanted to or saw an economic need to hire more people they would have done so already. Big businesses are sitting on piles of cash and aren't spending it on employment. Smaller businesses don't see the demand for their goods and services. Either way I don't think that the tax cuts are going to help the employment situation. The continuation of extended unemployment benefits will help those who qualify. But how many will qualify? Large numbers of the unemployed are reaching the end of even the extended 99 week benefits with no job in sight.

This MSNBC story is rather typical of the American condition: we spend more and get less. But what I also notice is that the most basic question isn't answered: education for what? When half of the college graduates are unemployed and half of those employed are in jobs that don't require a college education shouldn't we ask that question?

Nancy Altman at Firedoglake considers something that has been nagging in my mind since I saw the account of the tax compromise that provides a Social Security tax holiday of 2% on workers' contributions. Is this simply the camel's nose under the edge of the tent? Will this 'compromise' make it easier to make bigger and more painful cuts? The Deficit Commission couldn't get a 14 vote majority to send its proposals to the Congress and Senate directly but this might get the ball rolling on enacting this part of their program--to the detriment of us all. And George Washington writing at Naked Capitalist today demolishes the arguments that the cut will either stimulate the economy or foster hiring.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Good Monday morning, everyone. It is COLD. The weather reporter said the temperature is the lowest since early February. We are still on the edge of the lake effect area and may (strong emphasis on may) get more flurries. East of us they may get as much as a foot. We may or may not do our weekly shopping today. It isn't a big deal--we are not short on anything.

I have seen the graph this HuffingtonPost article features often over the last few months. It shows an historical comparison of the current recession and all previous post WWII recessions. Two things about it struck me. First--the depth and extended time. The depth of the unemployment this time is about 20% greater than any of the previous recessions. And we are still bumping along the bottom almost 3 years in. If you extrapolate the curve and assume (which is a dangerous thing to do) that it will follow the earlier patterns this pattern could last not the 4 or five more years people like Ben Bernanke are suggesting but a decade or more. Not a comforting thought especially with some of those in the Republican Choir telling us that the only reason the lazy, unemployed bums are not out getting jobs is that the unemployment benefits are far too generous for far too long. But the other thing I noticed was a definite shift in the pattern of recessions. The recessions before 1981 were short and recovered to pre-recession employment from even steep job losses very quickly. The 1980 recession unemployment rate reached pre-recession levels in just about 22 months. But the last four recessions (1981, 1991, 2001, and the current recession) took much longer: about 30 months for the first two, four years for the 2001, and the current recession at three years and counting. Once can be a fluke. Twice could still be coincidence. But four times?? That just may be a pattern and one that isn't very pleasant to contemplate.

Here is another piece of obscenity aided and abetted by the U.S. State Department which, until last year, kept no statistics on complaints (or anything else related to misconduct) on this program.

HuffingtPost has a poll today which shows a large part of the Afghans they questioned think that insurgent attacks against U.S. and NATO forces are justified (a bit below 30%). Another indication that they are losing confidence that the U.S. led forces can achieve safety and stability for Afghanistan. Just last night ABC news announced a week long (I think they said a week) series on 'Can We Win?' My thought was 'Depends on how you define 'win.' After all we simply declared victory in Viet Nam and left. I wonder what the definition will be this time?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Good morning to you all on this first Sunday of December. We had enough snow to provide a good ground cover and the weather people have revised their temperature outlook for the next week---downward. Oh, well. At least we should have partly sunny days for the first three days when we have our usual errands. As usual we are on the borderline. We may or may not get lake effect snow today and tomorrow.

I agree, Kay. Sometimes all you can do is sigh at the mess in our political and economic systems.

Here is something else to sigh about. Because our mainstream media likes to go from dramatic crisis to dramatic crisis the only time we get stories about the debt crisis of states and local governments is when the crisis explodes. However, the crisis has been there smoldering along. In the first year of our 'Great Recession', when the Obama Administration got billions to help states and local governments keep teachers employed, I asked what would happen when the Federal government support ended. We got our answer when school districts laid off droves of teachers even as they got the Federal money because they were also worried about what would happen after the money ran out. Illinois, where the state government has consistently for years underfunded their pension plan, the legislature passed measures this last week to use property taxes and scheduled raises in levy to do so. Mayor Richard Daley (not running for another term) has warned that the Chicago property owners will be hit with a massive bill they can't pay. What we have is another shell game. In an economy which produces little in the way of real wealth we are reduced to robbing some worthy people to pay other worthy people.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Good Saturday morning to you all. We woke to a light coating of snow and anticipate more to come. How much more depends on how the lake effect bands set up. So far the lake effect snow warnings are for counties east of us. I don't know how all this will effect any of you east of me is a good question. The system that slammed the east coast gave us hardly anything at all.

Well, the Wikileaks soap opera continues. It is amusing in a way. The leaks haven't been all that revealing for the most part. I think most of us (anybody who remembers Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, that is) suspected that our government was not terribly concerned with honesty or ethics in their dealings with other countries. Why should we expect honest, ethics or even compassion in foreign affairs when we see none in our domestic affairs. The most honest statement on the matter came from Hillary Clinton when she cited the response of the foreign ministers she was meeting with: "you should hear what we say about you." All of our various 'emperors' have suddenly discovered they are naked. I wondered yesterday how much of the 'hacker' attacks on the Wikileaks site were from government or quasi-government sources. Given the official efforts to shut down the servers who still carry Wikileaks I would speculate that a lot of them are.

Over the last couple of days a thought that had crossed my mind frequently since the great implosion of the financial industry has been mentioned in passing by the mainstream media. We have heard a lot about 'too big to fail.' Now, a couple of items have been described as 'too big to fail but too big to save.' One is Spain which has been referred to for the last year or so as one of the PIIGS--European Union countries whose economies are in fragile condition. So far Greece and Ireland have or are about to receive "bailouts." I put that term in quotes because as far as I can tell the banks investors have been bailed out while the taxpayers of each country are footing the bill through higher taxes and excruciating 'austerity.' Those were relatively small economies. Portugal and Spain are much larger. (The second I in PIIGS is for Italy though little has been said about its economic condition on this side of the pond.) Though each have said that they don't need bailouts we heard the same from Greece and Ireland before the punitive packages were shoved down their throats. The second item concerned Jamie Diamon, CEO and Chairman of JP Morgan/Chase. I can't find the article now but I wondered before if we have reached a point where we are damned if we do and damned if we don't. We have to save these institutions but we can't because we simply don't have the resources.

I just found the article on Diamon and his bank. Skimming over it I noticed something I missed on the first go round. The Dodd-Frank bill which provides a framework for resolving a 'too big to fail' bank wouldn't apply to JP Morgan because 30%+ of its business is outside the U.S. And that sum is headed toward 50%. It appears to me that we are already at the point where one or two big institutions that are interconnected globally could take down the global finance system. Which state is going to backstop that kind of threat??

Friday, December 3, 2010

Good morning to you all out there where ever you are. Cold again and between snow systems. I guess the one that dusted us really clobbered New York and other parts east. The next one is supposed to crank up the lake effect snow machine between tonight and sometime Saturday night. Thankfully we don't have to go out and it looks clear for next week when we next have to do errands.

I agree, Kay. We have to watch the congress critters carefully. I watch the 'snews' now mainly to be forewarned of what they will be doing to me because I know very well that most of them will not do anything for me. All you have to do to understand that is look at the wrangling over the tax cut extensions. The Republicans spout all that lovely crap about how the expiration of the tax cuts will cost jobs and the mainstream dutifully regurgitates it for their mindless viewers along with a couple of interviews from nicely well-fed 'small' businessmen who parrot the Republican line. The Democrats are angling for 'something' in return for caving in on the issue. They would like an extension of the expiring jobless benefits for the long term unemployed but I would be that that extension, if they get it and they don't sell out for something like the ratification of the START treaty, will not last nearly as long as the tax cuts. I wonder how much and how many will be sacrificed on the alter of the god of Predatory Capitalism in the Church of Commerce.

The New York Times and other snews outlets have reported that Wikileaks has been targeted by 'hackers' in a concerted denial of service attack which forced its service provider to take down its web page. I have to wonder who these 'hackers' are and who they work for. I put the term in quotes because over the last several years several governments have been suspected of employing hackers to attack other countries' government and business web sites. Nothing was ever proven because the web is perfectly structured to give 'plausible deniability.'

As I read the latest tomdispatch this morning I was reminded of historical pieces I read once upon a time. The amounts that have been spent on elections in this country have soared into the stratosphere. Although some Republican (Karl Rove, perhaps) said that the $4+billion spent on this last election was a small part of the national GDP, it is still huge amount to my mind. The parallel I see is with the long decline of the Roman Empire when would-be emperors bought the loyalty of the army with outsized promises of monetary rewards which eventually crushed the Roman economy. The 'end game,' according to author Andy Kroll, is continuous political warfare. Well, I would say that that has already come. We are in for an intensification of that war. The press speculation about who will be fighting it out in the next Presidential elections have already begun. Two ads I have seen recently are, I am sure, just the beginning. One is from a group opposing the tax some local areas, including New York City, proposes to place on some types of 'food' and drink which have been linked to obesity and the other is from an association of 'career' (read 'for profit') colleges and universities which have been the target of recent congressional hearings and investigative news reports for their misleading ads and recruitment practices. Both slam government, especially the Federal government, for taking away consumer choice and/or opportunity. So more and more resources will be expended to sway the 'army' of voters the would-be caesars need to install themselves in the halls of power. I think the old Roman system was more honest--and at least some people benefited materially from the bribery. All the majority of our voters get is disillusionment and disappointment. Another parallel comes to mind--the fall of the Soviet Union and our 'victory' in the Cold War. We 'won' because they went broke before we did.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Good Morning, all. Cold here but the snow has ended. The trace was enough for Chicago to get its first official measurable snow fall. We (about 50 miles east) had a measurable fall about two weeks ago thanks to the lake effect. Kitty was not happy with that white stuff. He was very slow going out (just like your guys, Lois), didn't stay out long and came back in much faster than he went out.

I am looking up that proposed tax on bank transactions, Lois. I hadn't heard anything about it. Last February a Democratic Representative from Pennsylvania introduced H.R. 4646 (The Debt Free America Act) which would impose a transaction fee on all bank transactions (even moving money between your own accounts). The proceeds would be applied to the national debt at the same time the income tax would be eliminated. So far it is stuck in the House Finance Committee. says this is a 'hobby horse' bill reintroduced every year in some form by this particular legislator and has as much chance of passing as the proverbial snowball. It isn't supported by the President or his finance team. I have found quite a number of hysterical and/or angry posts on this. Those that refer to a specific bill all refer to the Debt Free America Act. Most have very misleading (a.k.a. FALSE) information such as listing Representatives as either authors or co-sponsors who are not the authors on this bill which has no co-sponsors or claiming that Pelosi or Obama or the Administration is behind the bill. So far, I haven't found any other piece of legislation that would impose anything similar. Since the author (Chaka Fattah) won reelection he will likely reintroduce this legislation in the new congress, as he has every year since 2004.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Good morning, again, everyone. We had a dusting of snow last night. Just a dusting. But then it is December 1. I am still in the midst of cleaning up the computer/sewing/whatever room. As I mentioned before this will be the major project for this month. We haven't changed much in this room since we set it up although we have pared down the things in it. It is definitely time for another culling.

So, if the morning news is correct, the Obamas' proposal to improve the quality of the school lunch programs will get passed--at the expense of the food stamp program. Does anyone else get the feeling that our politicians are pitting one disadvantaged group against another? Remember the post on the 24th where I noted the passage of the bill that would pay Indian tribes for the royalties they never got from the lease or sale of natural resources on their lands and black farmers for the discrimination which shut them out of government payments their white neighbors got? Well that was to be paid for by taking money from the Women's, Infants' and Children's nutrition program. So what we have is a game of Washington musical chairs where when one needful program is instituted or increased another needful program is cut. And all the while they debate whether or not the top 1 or 2% of Americans really should get a tax cut. I called this game 'Washington musical chairs' but perhaps I should call it 'Russian Roulette--Washington style.'

I also noticed the the Deficit Commission announced that the final report will be released today but that a vote on it will be delayed till Friday to give members a chance to read it. The co-chairs claim that they have listened to the criticisms and have made some changes. How many and how substantive no one knows yet. But, if it resembles the proposed program they released a couple of weeks ago, it will be long on broad goals but short on specifics. And, as I have noted before, the devil is always in the details.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars posted this item today. Some months ago a similar protest appeared on HuffingtonPost where Adriana Huffington suggested that people move their accounts from the big banks to small banks that would be more respectful of their depositors. That was when the banks where canceling lines of credit left and right and refusing to loan money to even very credit worthy patrons. In light of the mortgage fraud that has come bubbling out of the fetid financial swamp, I think the call should be renewed for people to shift their funds to small, local banks.