I'm sorry. Today is the Louisiana primary and my thoughts should run to whether or not if Newt comes in 3rd or 4th he'll have the decency to bow out. Also whether or not Rick could pull off a landslide. But when I think of Louisiana, if I'm not thinking the years of ecological murder that finally led to the wrath of Katrina, I'm thinking food. While there is a lot of great food in the Bayou, and while po' boys are the more common thought, I'm all about the beignets. Yes, they are terribly unhealthy, but if you're in New Orleans....okay, I'm done now.
I'm also thinking about Travon Martin and the travesty of justice that is racism.
Well, we got downgraded by Standard & Poor's, who think we're a problem but mortgage bonds are great.
Surprise, she said with dripping sarcasm.
I'm a little unclear about what this means for companies since I think they're supposed to not be rated higher than their nation - do the remaining multinationals move their headquarters to China or someplace? I'm also unclear about what this means for the money markets' par value, as they are supposed to hold only AAA bonds BUT it might be a 2-out-of-3 rating. This is one of those cases where I don't actually need to know: the market will tell us all over the next weeks.
Yesterday I heard a lot of "we need a jobs program" on the mainstream media. The thing that rankles me is that a lot of us have been saying it since 2009, and suddenly "the press" is catching on? Leading indicators, lagging indicators...
There is some discussion afoot about what the primary schedule will be like next year: Republicans want their states moved up, Democrats want later dates. Super Tuesday doesn't look to be as Super as in the past. That info, and some questions about public financing of elections were sent over to me by my friend Dan. I'm thinking about both of those items, but my thoughts haven't gelled yet.
The one thing I know about ALL of this is that government is failing. It's failing structurally, and more importantly, it's failing us, the people. I've been telling y'all for years that it matters that people who hold elected positions should work their way up and learn the system, and that those who come in at "higher" levels need to be smart. I see one of the major problems as the fact that a lot of Congress, state legislatures and governors' mansions are held by people unqualified both in terms of CVs and native intelligence.
Those are my open thread thoughts for this morning. I hope you'll add yours to the comments section.
You may be thinking that the new numbers out of Wisconsin are a loss. Personally, I'm always a little skeptical when thousands of ballots from the losing side are suddenly "found". Absentee ballots, anyone? Remember, though, it really IS a win even if we lose the slot: people rallied, cared, voted, and will not be so complacent in the next election. Turnout topped 30%: very good for a spring off-year election, but still there's room for improvement.
Shutdown? It looks likely. If you have wanted to visit DC just to be there, next week will be an easy time to get a reservation at a restaurant normally booked. Hotel rooms will be cheap. The Metro will be empty...remember that even with the government closed, it is still a metro area with plays, movies, bookstores, shopping, state parks, only 50 miles from Annapolis and the Eastern Shore.
Remember that even though the IRS will shut, your taxes still need to be posted by 18 April (the date change is due to Emancipation Day) so if you're not done yet, this is your weekend.
Today, I'm thinking about fat fingers and other signs of a "modern" economy. Also about the sadness over the ecological damage to the gulf, and associated needless loss of life on the rig, and the problems to shrimpers and others in the fishing and tourism industries. Much sadness also over the flooding in Nashville and other places. Also wondering when the SCOTUS nomination will come through.
I'm outlining my post for tomorrow on potential changes to Senate rankings based on the primaries later this month.
Mostly, though, I'm thinking about the Census. Since I was a kid and found out about the Census, I always wanted to be part of the process, and was never able to until this year. The way it works is you take a 28 question test, and then they call all the people who received a score of 28, then they call the 27's, etc., until they have a crew for each Census tract. They try to keep the whole crew within a zip code and hand out assignments based on the tracts that comprise the zip. It likely works differently depending on how big the zips are relative to the tracts. But that's how they did it here.
While the Census claims that they added jobs, around here, it's really a part-time gig, because most people are only home nights and weekends. That's certainly different in other places. You're assigned a book, which lists all the houses in your assigned area, and the names of the people who filled out the Census and returned their forms prior to 1 April are listed in a column. Other columns have XXXX's where the forms were received after the books were printed, and others have blanks next to the addresses which need to be enumerated. Those blanks are the housing units you visit, and there is a differing number per book, dependent on the return rate.
Something I learned in the training class was that the commitment to protecting data is absolute. Not only will the Census Bureau release no Personally Identifying Information (PII) for 72 years, but there is also a $250,000 fine and up to 5 years in jail for any employee who personally releases any PII, so I can't tell you my really good stories....but I can tell you that my book had my name printed in it, so the houses I'm visiting have people I generally know in them. (I can tell you that I'm in my book because one is allowed to release his/her own personal PII.)
At most of the houses I've enumerated, I've been able to greet the people by name, as they know mine. They're surprised to see me because the Census Bureau asks that you enumerate in business casual clothes, and normally, they see me in jeans. This conversation happens at many of the houses:
"Hi Jess, where's Olivia?"
"She's home, I'm on official business, here's my badge."
The person then looks around and asks "Where's your candidate?"
So I'm off later this morning to finish my book: we're expecting a lot of rain, so I'm expecting people to be home.
Working the Census is a lot of fun. It's interesting why people didn't fill out their forms, and explaining why certain questions are asked the way they are.
What are you up to today? What are you thinking about?
Yesterday's tornadoes. Very sad about the deaths and the destruction. I heard Haley Barbour on the news last night, and I respect him as a governor. Don't get me wrong, I disagree with his politics, but when Katrina hit, he did what was necessary for his populace, and I have confidence that he'll do everything in his power to get the aid his citizens need this time. That said, he really does sound stupid when he speaks....
And on governors, Chris Christie isn't winning any friends. Not that he cares. A new poll shows 33% approve of him, and 63% disapprove. There's no Senate race in Jersey this year, but that Christie error last year, and the massive cuts, may help the House numbers in that state. If only everyone else would learn the lesson...
I'm thinking about Lindsay Graham. He's pulling his support from climate legislation because he doesn't seem to like the concentration on immigration reform. I don't get the connection, and I don't care if he's gay.
Finally, I'm thinking about depression, and the new information that anti-depressants don't work like they should. If you're one of the millions of people affected by depression, whether endogenous or exogenous, take a look at this article. Scroll to the bottom and look at the list of suggestions: they are all important, and everyone, depressed or not, should follow them. Could save your life, or the life of someone you love.
What are you thinking about this Sunday? Is it immigration? If so, come join the conversation on this thread. It's an interesting conversation.
Here's what I'm thinking about today:
The Icelandic volcanic ash cloud. First off, can anyone pronounce "Eyjafjallajokull"? I know I can't. Second, how long might this go on? Test flights are scheduled, but some say the eruptions could continue for weeks or months. What would it mean to world commerce if not just people, but supplies, goods, medicines, food stuffs, etc., couldn't get into or out of Europe? What will the long-term atmospheric and weather affects be?
Goldman-Sachs. Trust me, these indictments are just the beginning. And volcanic ash or not, there will be a price Wall Street will end up paying to Europe. They'll indict, too. The domestic political ramifications are interesting, too. The GOP is aligned against new legislation that would prevent Wall Street from bringing down the American economy in the future: that will NOT play well. Believe me. Take Scott Brown, who had a conversation with the Boston Globe:
“I want to see when it’s going to come up, how it’s going to come up,’’ he said. “I’m always open to trying to work something through so it is truly bipartisan.’’
Brown, whose vote could be critical as Democrats seek to find a GOP member to avoid a filibuster, assiduously avoided talking about specifics.
When asked what areas he thought should be fixed, he replied: “Well, what areas do you think should be fixed? I mean, you know, tell me. And then I’ll get a team and go fix it.’’
Can you spell clueless? If you don't know what's wrong, you can't fix anything. If a US Senator needs to depend on a reporter for clarification, is that better or worse than depending on a lobbyist?
Finally, I'm thinking about the 6th CD race here in Pennsylvania. I'm watching something very interesting. While Manan Trivedi has a lot of vocal support from certain progressives, Doug Pike is ahead in the DFA poll, and with a lot of rank and file Democrats. The fight itself is interesting. Take Adam Bonner: he's a behind-the-scenes Philadelphia pol (who does not live in the 6th) and is a vocal fan of Trivedi. Adam is a DFA board member, and very involved with Netroots Nation, and therefore with Daily Kos. Adam made the call to pick Manan for the Kos orange to blue designation. He writes a lot about the race at Kos, and spends a lot of time spreading outright lies about Pike. When I call him on it in that forum, he backs down, only to pick them up on other threads. I asked him if he realizes that damaging a Democratic candidate for the sake of upping his own choice will not play well for the Democrats in the general if his candidate loses the primary. He didn't care: his position is that if Trivedi loses the primary, he doesn't really care if Gerlach wins. WHAT a Democrat! The head of the Democratic Committee in my town is trying to replace me as block captain over the wishes of the current and incoming committepeople. Why? I'm not supporting Manan in the primary, although I certainly will support him in the general if he wins the primary. Another GREAT Democrat, she said with dripping sarcasm.
The money tells a story, too. In Q1, Doug raised about $350,000 to Manan's $200,000. Currently the cash on hand balance is about $1.2 million to $107,000.
So that's what I've got: I'm off for the day to see my parents. Have a great one!
They say this is the week. This is it....I've heard that before. I'm thinking something may get voted on, or the goal posts may move once again.
Dennis Kucinich is holding a press conference this morning. Rumour says he'll be switching his vote to "yes" albeit with deep personal reservations, as this will be "only a first step." If so, it will give cover to progressives in the House, support the President, and perhaps make the Blue Dogs in the Senate more willing to compromise. (Okay, those first two are likely, the third is a pipe dream.)
So what do you think? Will the House pass something this week? If so, will they demand something in writing from the Senate indicating that there will be additional changes in the near future? Do you believe this bill affects you personally in any way? If it passes, and you have health insurance, do you think it will either make your premiums reduce, or at least not rise at the current rate? If you don't have health insurance, will you now qualify for Medicaid? For an underwrite? Do any of you see yourselves being harmed by this bill?
Well, it's going to be in the 40's today, so I'll be cutting paths in snow so runoff goes away from the house...what are you thinking about?
Harry Reid has said he might consider sticking the Public Option into a reconciled bill. The White House has said it might be behind it. Depending on who you believe, somewhere between 15 and 20 have signed on to the Public Option, if it's in the bill. Is it just talk? To me, it sounds like the question of jumping off the roof: "I'll go if you go first..." The White House is waiting on the Senate, the Senate "leadership" is waiting on the rank and file, the rank and file is looking for leadership.
Hey kids -- it will be a soft landing: hold hands and jump together. Every day more Americans lose their health insurance and more people die.
That's what I've got....I'm off to prevent more weather damage.
I haven't checked the stats, but I'd guess that the average American moves more often than the average seat in the House of Representative changes hands. That means that a lot of us will have voted for more than one of the current Representatives. And that's particularly true for the representatives from big, cosmopolitan cities, where a lot of people move in and out.
So I'm curious. What current Representatives have you voted for? My list is in the comments.
If you live in the south or lower midwest, your weather is keeping you inside today! I've heard there could be record snowfalls in some areas.
Here, it's just plain freezing cold.
What was your favourite under-the-radar news tidbit this week?
Mine was that the judge ordered James O'Keefe to stay with his parents until his next hearing. Turns out it is "unclear" where he lived before his arrest. Deep potential vein of humour there -- getting served Kool-Aid at Orly Taitz's house? Taking b&e courses at the Liddy School?
As with all weather stories, the press cannot be trusted to tell the truth. I passed the television and heard that the purple area on the map already had at least 12 inches of snow on the ground. I looked at the map, and immediately knew that I was standing IN the purple area, and we only had about 2 inches.
While I am outside with my electric snow shovel (OH JOY!!!! It's SO MUCH EASIER) please feel free to use the open thread to talk about what you think will happen with the Senate today. I heard Mark Begich last night, and I know he'll be there....Or your opinion on the climate change conference outcome....or your weather stories...or whatever.
Here's what I'll be thinking about - and posting on later today (if the power holds, which is honestly 50/50): I've been receiving emails and looking at articles indicating that conservadems are in real trouble for 2010, but the progressives are gaining traction. So I'm thinking about electability. I have no doubt that any legitimate progressive challenger in a House district, and most Senate races, will easily sweep a 2010 primary. But will they be able to retain seats in R+X districts? Will they be able to pick up Republican seats (or open seats currently held by Republicans) in D+X districts?....I'll have the information and analysis later today, weather permitting.
UPDATE: For any of you who are unemployed - the Senate just passed the Defense Appropriations bill, with the extended unemployment and COBRA benefits. It appears the Medicaid and food stamps increases went through also.
As I write this, the snow hasn't yet started to fall. By the time this posts, theoretically, it will be snowing. First midlantic snow of the season. There's been a lot of hype about it, which is normally inversely proportional to the amount of snow that falls.
My afternoon is going to be spent reviewing some documents I've been provided. Tomorrow, I'll be interviewing Doug Pike, one of the two Democratic candidates for Congress from the 6th Congressional District in Pennsylvania. On Thursday, I'll be interviewing his competitor Manan Trivendi. The two men are a study in opposites in lots of ways, and I'll be interested to nail them down on their various positions on the issues that matter to voters.
The interviews will publish in several articles, here and in the Philadelphia Jewish Voice. The general information will be at DCW, and the Middle East interviews will be over at PJV, and all will be cross-linked.
Interviewing candidates is fun and not as hard as you think. Maybe YOU would like to interview candidates where you live, for publication here at DCW, and potentially in your local press. The trick to interviews is to be prepared. Read everything you can about the candidate ahead of time, have more questions ready than you can possibly ask within the time frame allotted, and BEFRIENDLYANDKIND. You're looking for information, even if the person you're interviewing holds beliefs completely counter to your own.
That's what I've got for now. Enjoy your afternoon, especially if you end up with the kind of snow that allows for snowmen and snow angels...
Hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving, filled with family, friends, beloved pets and lots of good eating! And I hope you were grateful for all you have.
Today is Black Friday, and it appears to me that someone, somewhere, has sucked the joy right out of it. Copies of the ads were available online weeks ago, many "deals" were not deals at all, and if they were, you could buy them online at one minute past midnight in your pjs. I was, however, glad to see that steps have been taken to avoid the trampling deaths of last year at the Wal-mart. We'll see how it goes: often Black Friday is the test of how good or bad the holiday retail season will be. In case you don't know, it's named "Black Friday" because historically it was the day retailers went from operating in the red to operating in the black. In an economy like ours, it matters this year. Since 70% of the economy is consumer-driven, a great Black Friday could mean a shot in the arm all around to start the Main Street recovery.
I have made one Black Friday purchase already (yes, in my pjs) and I'm telling you about it because it indirectly affects you. I bought something I've been considering for a couple months. It is something that is made exclusively in America, helps protect American jobs in media, distribution, retail, and logging. I re-upped my USA Today subscription. They had sent an email indicating that for Black Friday, they were cutting the cost in half. And it was just too sweet to pass up. So, you'll be seeing their information and terrific investigative reporting discussed here again.
I'll be off line until probably tomorrow - going to catch up on some relaxation, and yes, spend some time at the stores. This is a great day to buy toys to drop off at Toys for Tots, gloves and scarves to drop to the clothing drives, and drop a few bags of food to the local food bank. My mother instilled in me the law of "tzadakah" - which is an involved Jewish concept of charity: no matter how much or how little you have, others have less. Everyone who knows me over the age of 18 knows that in lieu of any holiday presents, they'll get a note saying something along the lines of "the money that would have gone to your present was donated in your name to X charity." She also taught me that when something great happens, you should celebrate by writing a check that hurts to charity.
Yesterday, I watched Olivia eat turkey. The dog that didn't have a chance of making it to her favourite day of the year, happily eating turkey. For me, there are no politics today, only big bags of food for people who didn't have as good a day yesterday as Olivia did.
Back tomorrow - I hope y'all have a fun day. And to echo something MisterEd wrote in the comments yesterday - big thanks to the police, fire, medical and Armed Forces people who don't ever get holidays because they are there, protecting and serving those of us lucky enough to get that time off.