Monday, October 3, 2011

Hello, All, on this first Monday of October.  Can you believe it?  This year is already three-quarters over. Temperature is in the low 50s and expected to rise to the low 70s.  That is the expected pattern for the entire week with plenty of sun.  I did check out the little blueberry plants and they are happy so far.  By the end of the week I will have the tent frames up for the containers I intend to keep over winter--the blueberry container and one other with mums, roses, and thyme.  I was surprised how well the roses have done in the large container--much better than they did in smaller pots.

I linked to a long but enlightening Vanity Fair article yesterday.  This post at Huffington Post reinforces some of the points made in that article.  We are where we are, politically, because the parties have gerrymandered safe districts where the incumbents don't fear rejection from the voters, money has shifted to supporting the fringes, the most active voters are on the fringes.  Long term trends have driven centrists out and reinforced the polarization.  I don't know how many of you have seen the Dune mini-series but I am reminded of a scene in it when I think about the morass that is our legislative branch at the moment.  Paul has a vision of Mother Ramallo where she tells him 'When rage and politics ride in the same cart the whirlwind follows.'  Well, we have rage and politics in the same cart now.  And I would add that rage is fueled by a religious fervor that makes compromise even more unlikely.  After all, what True Believer would ever want to compromise with the Devil?

The evening news last night had an interesting, but all too brief, segment on a recent analysis (sorry, I forget by whom) of the latest jobs bill President Obama is now pushing the legislative branch to pass.  The bottom line of the report that the reporter focused on was if the bill stimulated the creation of the number of jobs the administration estimated those jobs would cost the tax payers $200k each.  The reporter challenged Treasury Secretary Geitner on that figure.  He didn't contradict the numbers but he simply insisted that the cost should per job isn't the only consideration because it doesn't include the multiplier effect from those workers with money to spend and the economic effect of the improved infrastructure.  Well, several warning bells started clanging in my mind.  First, not all of the funds will go toward infrastructure construction.  Remember that the massive $878 billion stimulus bill of two years ago provided only about $80 billion for infrastructure.  Given that experts estimate we would have to spend as much as $2 trillion over the next five years to bring the roads, bridges, airports, etc., to adequate levels--the amount provided is clearly inadequate. If I remember accurately a large part of the jobs bill is earmarked to providing incentives for businesses to hire veterans and for local governments to retain teachers, police and firefighters.  The stimulus package also had provisions for the retention of teachers and 'first responders.'  The local governments took the money and gave out pink slips anyway. They either used the money to close deficits or hoarded the money in case the recession did not end as quickly as the economic experts predicted.  I think the jobs bill might just have as much impact at the stimulus did--not nearly as much as hoped.

Another story on the evening news featured Howard Cain's non-apology for his failure to admonish the crowd that booed the gay soldier at that GOP debate.  I say non-apology because he excused his failure on the grounds that someone else controlled the agenda and he couldn't interrupt.  That was self-serving BS.  Any one of them could have interjected but non of them had the gumption to do so--Howard Cain included.  His other comments admitted only a failure to understand how his failure would appear to a wider audience.  In other words, he and his fellow candidates presented an unfortunate image.  The fact that they colluded in an extremely rude and disrespectful display for another human  being (who happened to be an active duty soldier) who had a right to ask a question of potential political leaders was somehow of no concern.

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