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An interesting set of rich-poor stats … July 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Greed, Politics.
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from the folks at the Federal Reserve bank. So if the cashier asks you whether that’s credit or debit, you probably should say credit (assuming you pay it right down) so as you don’t indirectly tip some rich guy out in the Hamptons.

Maybe recent Financial Reform legislation will address “wealth transfer” with the clause that allows merchants to provide a discount for cash customers.

Dunno. Dunno if there’s anything that needs to be done about this down on the Potomac. Would seem like something that the market could correct on its own with a whole lot of consumer awareness and focused demand.

This all sounds like good clean fun … July 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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if a little sedate.  Kind of takes the Barnes & Noble sofa circle to another level — trust those wacky radDudes over in Hungary to set the pace in this regard.

I’m wondering though: Isn’t it going to get progressively more difficult to find what you want on the shelves?

Oh no! There goes my fallback plan! July 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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I had mine all picked out and was working on my wall-blogging paint-from-berries choices.

Anyone who doubts our future … July 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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… should read this.

It’s not a company piggybacking and hanging a bag on the Eclipse.

It’s a potential innovative breakthrough in how to move data inside computer chips and between processing units. If it pans out, it could hit the electronics/computing doubling cube in a very big way.

U.S. company thought of it.

Just saying.

This one’s wafer-thin, but still may not fly July 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Energy, Environment, Greed, Politics.
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Having abandoned a controversial cap-and-trade attack on the causes of global warming, the Democratic leadership in Congress is now pushing a pretty vanilla bill on energy, oil spills and a dash of help for a struggling economic recovery.

Already, the Armies of Idiocy are gathering up their arms to mount another “Did not!” “Did too!” debate I’m sure CNN will cycle all day.

(more…)

Reds 0, Blues 0 — Flip a Golden Coin July 28, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in angry rants, Greed, Justice, Politics.
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Doesn’t really matter who you want to blame for this one — the boys in Blue for rushing to get a small patch in place to at least let you know who is behind the gusher of money that will pour into political advertising this fall, and keep foreign corporations like BP out of the game, or the Reds for clicking their heels together in yet another chorus of “Nyet.”

It was a rushed bill — and the exemptions for a few like the National Rifle Association torched any stand on the principle of the matter. Creating a priviledged class within this regulation would have rendered the law unjust.

But once again the GOP leadership showed how adept it is at dishing the pure manure. (more…)

Time’s up? Where’s the GOP plan? July 27, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Education, Politics.
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Not too much has been said lately — at least in a prominent place — about public education reform, an area where the Obama administration agrees in large part with many of the voices within the GOP and otherwise on a conservative side of the equation. On things like linking teacher pay to student performance, coming down hard on chronically failing schools — even to the point of replacing the entire staff as Obama supported in Rhode Island — bolstering charter schools (as long as they also measure up), establishing national standards for basics like reading and math and using incentives to motivate adoption of methods that are proven to work.

Many of these notions long have been opposed by teacher unions, particularly by elements rooted in inner cities where failure today is all too common — some of it for very good societal reasons and some of it because of entrenched incompetence. The President has tried to lead on this matter, expending political capital on a course not all that popular with some core elements in his own party.

I’m not sure I buy into all his folks are proposing.  But if there ever were an area where a majority in Congress should have materialized by now, it’s here. Yet, we get this from Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn: “I’d say time is up. I don’t see it happening.”

Even though vast momentum is building in more than half the states for reforms that might actually move to change things in one of the most vitally important realms.

Time’s up, the “loyal” opposition says  — on July 27 — because — why?

Because it’s time for the party to do nothing constructive. It’s time to go tell the voters they would be better off turning control of the Congress over to the GOP. Time’s up because the GOP wants no progress toward solving any of the important problems of today — like failing schools — that might be interpreted in any way as a “Democratic” accomplishment.

Instead, we need to wait another year for their plan, which is — what?

If we don’t ask Sen. Alexander and any and all others waving the Red banner in the next few months, we’re gonna get a surprise. Could be good. Could be bad, just as is the case with any blank check

That’s a wrap … July 24, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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… for me on what’s been a fine day here in DaddyLand, despite the oppressive air/sun, and a pool more like a bathtub even four hours after the sun did its magic on the horizon cumulus.

Little chili and corn; dab of homemade iced tea; plenty of fun-having sounds chattering all day long. And the skeeters had more sense than to even try.

Things are looking up — and I don’t think I could be wrong on that one. 🙂

Sadly, some shallow roots methinks July 24, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in angry rants, Economy, Justice, Obama, Politics.
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I’d like to think of myself as a “progressive,” probably because I really don’t want to think of myself as a “regressive.” It’s an ego thing, I guess.

But somehow, right now, with all that is going on, these folks  should seriously consider a “time out” for some rebranding, because I’m thinking that maybe they need to go with “Obsessives” or maybe “Obtusives.”

I say this because of her:

At the largest progressive gathering ahead of the 2010 elections, liberal activists huddled Friday in a session to plot strategy to protect Social Security from renewed Republican efforts to privatize the program. A woman stood up and asked: “Why is it with a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House, and a Democrat in the White House do we need to be worried about this?”

Hint to lady: Uh, maybe because in less than 8 months, you’re probably gonna find out — to skewer Mr. Meat Loaf — that One Out of Three is Bad.

And why is this? Apparently, the “netroots” are all enraged because the President and the Democratic Congress did not ram through gay rights laws, cap-and-trade emission regulations, more massive stimulus aid, some undefined dewy notion of “universal healthcare”  — and on and on. One “leader” said this:

“There’s a lot of Democrats I’ll be happy to see go,” Markos Moulitsas, founder of the Daily Kos blog said in an interview. “I’ll celebrate when Blanche Lincoln is out of the Senate. There is a price to be paid for inaction and incompetence. We’re not getting much done with 59 [Democratic senators], so if we’re down to 54, who cares?”

I do. I think tens of millions do. People who can define “progressive” as something that makes progress toward worthy things by placing one good brick upon another until a stout, even course is done. 

Not some wild-eyed barky so wrapped up in his own rightness that he would banish from the discussion anyone with a view even a shade away from his own angel-touched pearls.

You know folks, most of us “Obsessives” are trying to pay the bills out here, trying to make sure our kids grasp what they’re calling “math” these days and when we have a moment, do what we can for folks who got tossed to the curb when the economy and most of our future plans got hit with the Blue Screen of Death and we had to go to 1995’s System Restore Point.

And we all also are gasping for breath whenever we see THAT NUMBER — $1.7 Trillion, which is the current U.S. government operating deficit.

We are grappling with choices; in our own households and in the Common Household. That’s Job 1, even for those who would LIKE to avert global warming right now, make sure everyone who needs medical care can get it right now or snap our fingers and “deem” into reality “liberty and justice for all.”

I like to bay at the Moon as much as anyone in Etherland. And maybe I share a dream or two with you. But sorry sports fans, I don’t want you in charge at the moment. Nope.

Because you just aren’t paying attention to anything much beyond the sound of your own voices.

A reasoned look — so far July 24, 2010

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Energy, Environment.
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Going to go back to my business today while other avenues percolate a bit, and some of the chemicals in my bloodstream try to wrestle back to equilibrium. I really want to talk more about the highway, but I haven’t quite steadied that up yet.

So instead I’m going to meander and start with this one, a tale of something that needs to happen — extracting vast stores of natural gas from a giant shale formation beneath Appalachia — and rightful concerns — about the use of a mix of water, sand and undisclosed chemicals to “fracture” the formation and force the gas into recovery equipment.

We need that gas — to power factories, heat homes, generate electricity and, maybe, if Boone Pickens has a clue, to fuel a portion of the cars of the future. It burns, to be sure, so there are emissions to deal with. But we can do that too. Better than coal, better than oil and — here, not there.

But the drillers really need to stand on their heads to get at it and bring it home, as the Times story about an EPA fact-finding hearing in Pennsylvania the other night describes pretty well. There are some significant concerns about what impact all that injection of fluids is having — and will have — on underground water supplies that bubble up into streams, shallow water tables used for drinking water and crop irrigation and so forth.

It appears that, right now, we really don’t know. From this story and others, there is enough smoke to suggest that the impact isn’t entirely innocent. And the lessons we are painfully learning from the Gulfy Gusher come quickly to mind: If we are going to tap into something like this, and there is even an outside chance that doing so will heavily impact millions of lives, thousands of unrelated businesses and livelihoods and do damage to a shared future, there is a compelling public interest in stationing a reasonable cop on the beat.

Not to go all hysterical. To check it out, study it expertly and neutrally with all parties at the table and plenty of “peer review” applied to any and all “studies” and see what needs to be in place to minimize the risk of the “worst-case scenario,” anticipate reaction to a bad result and generally come up with some “dos and don’ts.” Some of the latter surely need to have teeth.

At the moment, the discussion seems to be moving on a solid track. One of the companies up in Pennsylvania — Range Resources — recently pledged to provide the EPA with a list of all chamicals it uses in its injection cocktail and to post it for public review on its website. Right now, what’s in those stews is known only to the companies jamming the stuff deep into the rock formations. This attitude is spot-on:

“We should have done this a long time ago,” said Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Range Resources, a Texas-based natural gas producer. “There are probably no health risks with the concentrations that we’re utilizing. But if someone has that concern, then it’s real and you have to address it.”

But people are people and, you know, I’d like to just roll my Harley downtown and leave the keys jangling in the ignition and not have to lug them around while I shop. But it’s not a good idea because I know that a lot of people will just walk on by and respect me, but some won’t. So I take the keys.

So we can’t depend on the cowboys with the white hats, though you surely want a lot of Pitzarellas at the table. And to have a thorough discussion in the public’s behalf, you probably want this guy too:

“There is extraordinary economic potential associated with the development of Marcellus Shale resources,” said Rep. Joe Sestak, Democrat of Pennsylvania, in a statement Friday announcing $1 million for a federal study of water use impacts in the Delaware Water Basin. However, “there is also great risk.” He said, “One way to ensure proper development is to understand the potential impacts.”

And there also needs to be a place for this guy:

“I can take you right now to my neighbors who have lost their water supplies,” said Dencil Backus, a resident of nearby Mt. Pleasant Township, at Thursday night’s hearing to the handful of E.P.A. regulators on hand. “I can take you also to places where spills have killed fish and other aquatic life. Corporations have no conscience. The E.P.A. must give them that conscience.”

Yeah, someone like him needs to be at the table, even though he might not follow all the science, or the economic modeling — or the politics (no offense Dencil). He needs to be there to be looking into the eyes of all the others.

Because he’s right: As I’ve said, corporations are not people; they are legal entities set up to conduct a business and make money for the owners. They are not going to see the big picture, the “we the people” perspective. That’s one reason why we need cops.

Again as I’ve said before, if we all don’t have a reasonable, legitimate and considered plan, we’re going to get BP’s.