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Number of posts: 211
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Posts by Monica Smith:
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Thinking that perhaps his message will have more impact, if, instead of submitting to interviews, he communicates his ideas directly, Warren Stephens, the $2.5 billionaire CEO of Little Rock’s Stephens, Inc, has authored an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal. Under the title, “Business Regulation vs. Growth: The View from Middle America,” which he probably didn’t choose, Stephens, purporting to speak for firms with revenues between $25 million and one billion a year, identifies the problems these middle Americans have with uncertainty.
It is really difficult to dispute the claims of a person, in this case one Fred Siegel, published in the Wall Street Journal, under the title, “Who Lost the Middle Class?” who can’t tell the difference between cause, consequence and coincidence. But, I’m going to try by responding to just a few assertions, beginning with his first paragraph:
Forty years from now, politicians, writers, and historians may struggle to understand how America, once the quintessential middle-class society, became as socially stratified as Europe or even Brazil.
Rupert Murdoch, the founder and chairman of News Corporation, knows well that privacy is a valuable commodity. That’s why his organization invaded the privacy of victims of crime by hacking into their cell accounts. One man’s privacy is another man’s profit.
It’s also why the American subsidiary of News Corporation, News America Marketing, has spent over two million dollars trying to get a whistleblower, Robert Emmel, to shut up about the underhanded strategies News America used to do a Tonya Harding on its competition.
What is it about politicians named Scott that they seem to get a leg up on the competition when it comes to elections? It’s not that a name beginning with the letter ‘S’ has the same “first-in-the-alphabet; first in line” advantage that’s accorded to the ‘A’s and ‘B’s. Maybe it’s just a matter of familiarity that’s derived from Scott tissues and Scott bikes and archery equipment, that accounts for the relative ease with which a Scott Walker, a Scott Brown or a Rick Scott can jump to the head of the line. Of course, in the latter’s case the electorate went for notoriety, instead of common sense.
Anyway, in the process of putting together what I’m going to call the “Barney Fife Brigade,”* members of the House whose cluelessness pretty much demands that they be replaced, I came across yet another Scott whose antics might just make voters think twice about what’s in a name. This one’s from Georgia, Austin Scott, who came in with the Tea Party crowd in 2010, squeezing out a moderate Democrat because, just maybe, voters confused him with the other Georgian Scott, David, who’s been representing parts of Atlanta since 2003.
And with good reason. The presumptuous Standard and Poor’s downgrade of United States Treasury bonds isn’t working out real well. As a last-ditch effort it looks like a bust. The Asian markets are reporting that the bonds themselves seem minimally affected.
The 10-year Treasury yield increased to 2.579 percent, from 2.563 percent at Friday’s New York close, while the yield on two-year Treasuries fell to 0.268 percent from 0.292 percent, contrary to some predictions of a much more aggressive initial market reaction.
But, to see the real source of the malaise…
We don’t even need to know who they are to know that the designation of yet another special or super group to decide which pound of the public’s flesh to cut is a bad idea. The Catfood Commission was made up of the Gang of Six. This time there are twelve, as yet un-knowns. Twice as bad. Double trouble.
Actually, the long term effect may well be worse. Because, instead of bringing a halt to the tradition of Congress sluffing off its obligations, a tradition that perhaps commenced with the creation of the Federal Reserve, a private bank to manage the currency, the designation of yet another artificial body of surrogates puts the stamp of approval on the shirk.
Only sixteen so far this year from Brunswick on the coast to, most recently, Stockbridge and Atlanta. In Stockbridge it was the High Trust Bank that let people down and in Atlanta it was One Georgia Bank that got acquired by an outfit called Ameris. If it seems like there’s not been a lot of fuss and bother, it may just be that the FDIC is working like it ought.
That’s obviously a dismissive injunction; another way of saying “mind your own business.” However, directed at Congressman Paul Broun, M.D., it might well be a recipe for disaster, since, if his prescription for the economy is consistent with his medical perspective, Broun seems stuck in a medieval frame of mind–relying on blood-letting and, if the patient is already bleeding, the amputation of another limb.
But, don’t take my word for it. Here, with the subject heading, “Broun’s Bill to LOWER the Debt Ceiling,” is Broun’s prescription:
In the midst of our economic emergency, which is beginning to resemble a full-on Greece-style meltdown, every politician in America has taken to the soap box to say the exact same thing: We need to reduce our national debt and cut spending to get America back on track.
New Hampshire is one of the richest states in the nation and has one of the lowest unemployment rates. One reason for those realities is the further reality that the really poor cannot survive in regions where babies freeze to death in their beds in winter. So, if they’ve got any sense, they head South.
Rochester–“It’ll be the first time since 1972 that we will have to institute a waiting list,” said Strafford Nutrition Meals on Wheels Director Emily Sylvain, the day before her new fiscal year kicked in on July 1…
What do bankers and agents of government have in common? For the most part, they are middlemen acting on someone else’s behalf. This is what makes them competitors. At least, according to the banksters. They see the public purse as a pot of money and they want a part of whatever falls out, when the strings are loosed. Dodd-Frank is an effort to limit how much they can claim.
It ain’t pretty, but it is good to know that fees banks can charge on debit cards range from 21% to 23%. That’s Dodd-Frank at work. The banks used to charge over 30% — a transaction tax. Who knew?
Evidence that a person is well on his way to becoming an icon can be found in his name being used, as an aside, to validate otherwise spurious theories by the likes of Stephen Stanley – sitting up in Stamford, Connecticut writing for Market Watch that Keynesian economic policies are (ought to be) about to be replaced.
I don’t question that Warren Stephens, the billionaire banker and Lord of Little Rock, likely agrees with Stanley. He said as much in an interview with the Wall Street Journal – simply referring to Stephens in a caption of an illustration to an opinion piece, is to elevate him to the status of icon as is so often done with Ronald Reagan.
Our commercial class does perceive itself to be in competition with government (private v. public corporations) in the interest of managing and manipulating the population for fun and profit. If we don’t appreciate that, it’s largely because we don’t conceive of the manipulation of people as the primary function of government. Although some irascible and unwieldy people are in need of restraint and deterrence, the liberal expectation for government is that it address the vagaries of nature and the natural impediments to human sustenance and survival. That is, we’re into caring and sharing, rather than control.
Flattery. Why does it work? Because conservatives want to be seduced and they want to believe good things about themselves. Besides, their lack of awareness keeps them from recognizing that the flattery is fake.
To the self-directed, fake flattery may seem abhorrent. In accordance with the golden rule, it’s not something they want to do. Indeed, it seems almost immoral. But, when you consider that conservatives are practically inept — that many, if not all, their endeavors end in failure and failure is, in turn, incapacitating — flattery based on even the most minimal achievement is a…
A rumination prompted by the announcement that the cherubic dimple-cheeked Evan Bayh is about to go on the road as a shill for the secretive Chamber of Commerce.
The Chamber is home to the commercial man, the middleman, the person who prospers by taking a “cut” from the producer and consumer side. In the bi-polar or bi-lateral arrangement of reality, there is no obvious place for the commercial man. This is and has always been perceived as a good thing because it means the position is uncontested. That is, the “trader” or, in the early days of European settlement, the “factor” has a free hand in claiming as much profit from the exchange and trade of goods as possible.
When our eldest grandson was about four and his mother failed to satisfy some demand, he kicked her in the shins. Since this happened at grandpa’s pond, he was immediately hauled to “his” room to let it register that such aggression was simply not going to be tolerated. But, what I most remember is the feeling of shock that such a little person would attack his own mother. In retrospect, it seems the notion that inflicting punishment to get what one wants is a very primitive one. Bullies are born, it seems; not made. And some, if Mitch McConnell at age 69 is an example, never grow out of it.
That’s what the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said recently to the newest junior Senator from Arkansas when it awarded him the “Spirit of Enterprise” award in recognition of his job creating agenda while he served in the House of Representatives and voted in concert with the agenda of foreign and domestic buyers and sellers 94% of the time. Boozman proved himself the friend of the middlemen, including the purveyors of health insurance and a host of financial engineers, by voting against the Affordable Care Act and Dodd-Frank. That the legislation became law anyway suggests that Boozman knows how to have it both ways.
Newton Gingrich opined to the Associated Press, “There are the things you want to say and what you need to say,” presumably about himself, but I hate it when pols disavow their connection to their own words by retreating into the second person. So, let me take him literally and point out that I “need” to reject his designation of Barack Obama as a “food stamp president.”
Who knows what that even means? Presidents don’t print, fund or distribute chits that can only be used to purchase food which, if it’s not consumed by humans, will be thrown away to sustain an army of vermin…
Once upon a time, when the continent was sparsely populated (the indigenous peoples having been largely killed off by the introduction of pestilent disease) and natural resources seem so abundant they would never be used up, public bodies (corporations) were organized mainly to distribute the resources to the favored or privileged populace via an assortment of rights:
Some of these rights promoted the practice of what we call “animal husbandry.”
The Veterans Administration is announcing the start of a new program. As of May 9th, they’ll be accepting applications from family caregivers of post 9/11 veterans for stipends, training and other services.
VA now provides additional support to eligible post-9/11 Veterans who elect to receive their care in a home setting from a primary Family Caregiver. Eligible primary Family Caregivers can receive a stipend, training, mental health services, and access to health insurance if they are not already under a health care plan. Applications can be made starting May 9, 2011.
Assistance with the application process is available. Caregiver Support Coordinators are stationed at every VA Medical Center; or dial toll-free 1-877-222 VETS (8387).
Who would dispute this is a good idea? Only people who have convinced themselves that being independent and incompetent is a great way to live, as long as it doesn’t affect them.
Democrats like to ask why citizens in the heartland keep voting for people who don’t have their best interest in mind. The conclusion I’ve come to is that, more often than not, it’s the lesser evil they pick. In Georgia, on the edges of the Marshes of Glynn, drug court seems to be a lesser evil for many a weakling who’s fallen into drug addiction, and some who haven’t.
For some reason, I want to admit, up front, that I consider it reprehensible for our agents of government to concern themselves with what individual persons inhale, ingest, inject or, for that matter, excrete from their own bodies. Also, I generally find the NPR program “This American Life” rather insipid, although on a long road trip, it’s better than religious talk radio. I mention that to explain why a story in this morning’s Georgia Times Union about a Glynn County Superior Court Judge, Amanda Williams, threatening to sue the producer of “This American Life” because she didn’t like the story, Very Tough Love, he did about a drug court she brooks no contradiction in running.
This little rant is in response to the Graham heir entering the lists on the side of the “birthers” and Muslim bashers. Though I personally think the latter springs from a lingering sense of resentment towards matriarchal muslin frocks.
It used to be said that “those who can, do and those who can’t, teach” — a slur undoubtedly perpetrated by people whose ability to master the practical skills of reading, writing, measuring and calculating time and distance was deficient for the tasks at hand. A more accurate and up-to-date version of the observation would be “those who can, do and those who can’t, preach.” Not only is our society inundated with people making a living out of telling us how to get to heaven, but warnings about hellfire, both in the after-life and here on earth turn out to be reliable income-producing occupations.
Which explains, to a large extent, I would wager, the growing antagonism on the part of the ministers of EuroAmerican religions towards preachers from the Middle and Far East.
The Senior Senator from Kentucky and Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, has issued a preemptive dither about the prospect of corporations contracting with federal agencies having to disclose contributions to candidates for public office whenever they exceed $5000 in a single year. The Washington Post refers to it as a “slam,” but, from my observation of McConnell, a dither is more likely than a “slam,” and certainly there’s no dunk.
“outrageous and anti-Democratic abuse of executive branch authority.”
Does have the ring of strength, until you consider that to accuse a Democratic chief executive of being anti-Democratic is to indulge a self-vitiating claim. But, clearly, the Senator has reason to be annoyed.
The Okefenokee is a swamp on the Georgia/Florida border. That means it’s a forest standing in water, interspersed with some open waters connected by man-made canals. The Okefenokee Swamp Park people describe it thusly:
Headwaters of the Suwannee and St. Mary’s Rivers, Okefenokee is a National Wildlife Refuge which covers nearly a half million acres.
Okefenokee Swamp Park is a convenient point of entry and a magnificent show-window for the “Land of the Trembling Earth.”
Alvin Greene, the ex-military man who volunteered himself as a candidate for the United States Senate in 2010, was the object of some amusement. That he got 28% of the vote, while the incumbent garnered a solid majority with 62% is of interest, mainly because this post is about percentages and South Carolina and a couple of other more or less significant southern states.
Percentages are numbers and numbers don’t lie, but they don’t tell the whole truth either…
To put a southern handle on this story, let me refer you to the Arkansas banker, Warren Stephens, opining in the Wall Street Journal about the disaster that’s coming as what he calls “the federal government allocating credit.” The reason the Congress reclaiming the purse strings is a disaster in his book is because that’s what was reserved to the Federal Reserve Bank when it was set up as a private corporation by the Congress. Why Congress gave up the power of the purse is a matter of speculation for another day.
Any number of people are pointing fingers and beating chests in response to only 30% of Jacksonville, Florida’s registered voters taking part in the latest round of the Mayoral selection process. As a strong believer in citizenship as a bundle of obligations (to vote, to hold office, to serve on juries, to provide material support, to draft legislation and to enforce the law), I certainly agree that 30% is not a good showing.
However, this is a free country and we are free not to shoulder some of our obligations, or even none at all, on any given day. If that makes us freeloaders, so be it.
That’s what one almost has to conclude after perusing the McClatchy review of how the Party of No, including South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, nay sayer and ObamaCare slayer par excellence, continue to dis their constituents in the interest of remaining ideologically pure. “Senator DeMint opposed President Obama’s government takeover of health care because he believed it would lead to…
Literally, in NOLA it’s the Details the cops are permitted and expected to take on, though no longer for cash, hiring themselves out as private security, which provide the clearest indication that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) is rotten to the core. A study that’s just been completed by Obama’s Department of Justice provides the details in 158 pages, not all of which, I will admit, I have yet read.
The Washington Post published a short review on St. Patrick’s day, highlighting, in typical media fashion, discriminatory behavior that’s targeted towards certain populations and made obvious by the numbers.
Senator Jay Rockefeller, the new Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, dubbed John Boozman, the Republican Junior Senator from Arkansas, to replace Democrat Lincoln, a “splendid Senator,” in response to his blessedly brief comments in support of the manufacturers in his state who, like the bankers in Little Rock, are looking for “certainty.” Certainty, or the lack of it, is what presumably accounts for American industry and commerce secreting $1.9 trillion of cash in their vaults instead of investing in new plant and creating jobs. But, in true Republican fashion, that uncertainty (insecurity?) is someone else’s fault. So, the person to whom Boozman was speaking, Commerce Secretary Locke, is not likely to provide a fix and neither, for that matter, will a press release.
That’s the Three Rivers Regional Library in Southeast Georgia where the Altamaha, the Satilla and the St. Mary’s Rivers meander. It’s an ancient, primitive region where human imprints tend to disappear, but I’ve learned something new. It never occurred to me before that budget cuts are seen as an opportunity by bureaucrats to get rid of the public.
It’s not unusual for appointed public officials, when the money gets tight, to start slashing popular programs to get the public riled up. Considering citizen volunteers as competition to remove never occurred to me. But that’s what seems to be happening down on St. Simons Island, where the Altamaha and the Satilla meet the Atlantic Ocean.
So, I got this email communication from Paul Broun (GA-10), telling me about him keeping his commitment to “cut government waste” and I wrote back to the Congressman, not from my district, asking if he could cut himself, instead of wasting people’s time. Back came the message from his “unmanned box,” instructing me to visit his website and waste more time getting around the system he’s got to keep communications from out-of-district zip codes from bothering him. (To be fair, Broun’s not to only member of the house who likes to segregate his correspondents.)
Some of the players in the lawsuit that’s been filed on behalf of the monks of St. Joseph’s Abbey, just north of Covington, Louisiana, are players on the national stage at the moment. The Abbey’s dispute with the State of Louisiana as to whether or not they need to be licensed as embalmers in order to sell hand-crafted wooden coffins to the public, after festering for a couple of years, was finally taken up by the Institute for Justice, which filed a civil suit on their behalf …
What makes the topic timely is that the Institute for Justice is one of David Koch’s projects and Koch, of course, is the fellow who’s been instigating the mayhem in Wisconsin, egging on their novice Governor to demonstrate to all and sundry that “the government is an ass.”
It’s not what George Lakoff thinks. He’s still hung up on the strict father model and defines the conservative as a moral agenda. Not so. There is nothing moral about the conservative willingness to dominate, rather than exterminate their own kind.
We’ve all been pretty much taught that the lion (king of beasts) pride is a prototype of the mammalian family unit on its way to becoming a clan, troupe or tribe–more primitive than the antecedents of man because the dominant male kills off the kits of his predecessor in order to propagate his own seed.
Human males don’t do that, usually, especially when the females they consort with stick with them for life. Stepfathers, even in the technologically advanced civilization of the United States, do kill young children and typically excuse the unfortunate event as an example of discipline gone wrong or too far.
The people who bought more house than they needed for more than it was worth with loans they couldn’t pay back, even if the introductory interest rate stayed the same, already know that. What they probably don’t know is that it’s been a scam since the early nineties when our financial engineers decided, after the cities had been emptied to populate the suburbs during the seventies and eighties, that the equity Americans had built up in their homes needed to be “liberated” for the market. Indeed, Alan Greenspan, the long-serving chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, a private corporation, so advised Congress when he pushed for the elimination of the tax on the capital gains people realized from the sale of their homes. Tax free money was supposed to “incentivize” homeowners to uproot themselves and move on up.
The incentive worked like a charm. Suburban subdivisions and gated communities continued to sprout and filling up all that additional space with foreign-made junk kept freighters plying the Pacific …
As many will recall, the original USA Patriot Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001) was sort of a rush job, passed by the Congress a little more after three planes crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Towers and gave the country a tremendous scare. But, while it seemed to have been done quickly, the passel of provisions, amending all kinds of laws already on the books with a word here and a phrase there, had obviously been a long time in preparation and lain on a shelf, just waiting for an opportune moment. In other words, it was the handiwork of a Democratic administration–a law enforcement initiative into which the “war on terror” was to be conveniently folded. Which probably provided the basis for the persistent Republican argument that law enforcement strategies are inappropriate for targeting terrorists.