Wednesday Morning Open Thread

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    I can't help it, but I really like Gordon Brown (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:39:29 AM EST
    I know he will probably lose in his next election, but I believe he is trying to push Obama in the right direction.

    But, does Obama? (none / 0) (#5)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:44:33 AM EST
    At least according to Dana Milbank, it seems that Britain is getting a chilly reception from the administration:

    Our British cousins are getting the feeling that the new administration doesn't fancy them.

    The murmurs began when President Obama returned to the British Embassy the Winston Churchill bust that had been displayed in the Oval Office since Tony Blair lent it to George W. Bush.

    The fears intensified when press secretary Robert Gibbs, announcing British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to the White House, demoted the Churchillian phrase "special relationship" to a mere "special partnership" across the Atlantic.

    And the alarm bells really went off when Brown's entourage landed at Andrews Air Force Base on Monday night. Obama, breaking with precedent, wouldn't grant the prime minister the customary honor of standing beside him in front of the two nations' flags for the TV cameras. The Camp David sleepover that Blair got on his first meeting with Bush? Sorry, chaps

    I think that was probably a prewritten (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:46:24 AM EST
    narrative. But Obama has often had trouble making other people look good. . .

    Well (5.00 / 4) (#11)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:47:47 AM EST
    When one stands next to greatness and all that is holy, it's hard to be seen through the light of the halo.

    Ouch. (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:47:46 AM EST
    Truth usually stings a bit (none / 0) (#56)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:02:36 PM EST
    Heh (5.00 / 3) (#30)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:18:49 AM EST
    I recall reading that there was some huge significance when Hillary recently referred to "the special relationship" as opposed to "a special relationship," signaling a closer relationship with Britain than other allies.  Whatever.  Basically people can read the diplomatic tea leaves in whatever way they're predisposed to read them.

    Partnership sounds better to me (5.00 / 0) (#85)
    by BernieO on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:06:45 PM EST
    it implies a relationship between equals. You can have a special relationship with a little kid, but not a partnership.

    According to AP, the biggest (none / 0) (#35)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:23:38 AM EST
    problem is Obama cancelled the Rose Garden bit due to snow.

    Isn't this the same guy that (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by nycstray on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:33:04 AM EST
    made fun of DC folks and snow? Good grief, it's not like he had to shovel it himself . . .

    Shows the sorry state of journalism (5.00 / 1) (#60)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:17:05 PM EST
    When they have to make up some simplistic controversy vs. looking at the current state of hell our economy is in.

    I think one of the problems are country faces is that the problems and their solutions are so complicated (which is why we are in so much trouble), that most journalists (and most peope for that matter), don't have the skill set or the intelligence to understand them.  That last part isn't really a knock on journalits, it is a knock on god for not making the average human smarter :).


    What I read (5.00 / 0) (#67)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:33:16 PM EST
    was that the White House had never scheduled a Rose Garden event, never has done one in winter.  Makes no sense at all to do a press conference outdoors in winter.

    What I read was that the Brits were the ones who mistakenly assumed the press avail was going to be in the Rose Garden and put it on their public schedule as such, and the White House had to correct that because it was an incorrect assumption on the Brits' part.


    I missed his address. (none / 0) (#16)
    by indy in sc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:53:22 AM EST
    How was it?

    A little sappy (none / 0) (#19)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:55:22 AM EST
    but substantively pretty good.

    Anyone have a link to video? (none / 0) (#47)
    by Joelarama on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:54:06 AM EST
    The full speech, that is. I can't find one.

    Yup (none / 0) (#63)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:28:46 PM EST
    Thanks as always, my friend. (5.00 / 1) (#165)
    by Joelarama on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:31:12 PM EST
    Gordon Brown (none / 0) (#76)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:50:42 PM EST
    oversaw the biggest taxpayer ripoff since black Wednesday.  400 tons of British gold at 295/ounce.  Now the pound is dirt and private investors are sitting on their gold stacks which have appreciated over 300% - which should be in the Bank of England propping the pound up.  

    You're a gold bug too? (3.66 / 3) (#77)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:53:13 PM EST
    Too funny.

    I'm any label you want. (none / 0) (#80)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:00:13 PM EST
    Do you still like Gordon Brown?  He presided over an enormous theft of public funds and added tremendously to the weakness of the pound.

    If that makes me a gold bug...well how does it do that?  I have no idea what that could possibly mean.  

    If you decide to respond - feel free to address the statement and not the person - for once.


    You make these crazy pronouncements (3.66 / 3) (#81)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:00:52 PM EST
    that I'm supposed to take seriously? Sorry, no way.

    That happenned. (none / 0) (#82)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:03:53 PM EST
    1999 - look it up.  While he was Exchequer.  

    What part of any of that was crazy?  Be specific please.  


    Selling gold is not theft (5.00 / 3) (#84)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:06:25 PM EST
    Holding gold makes no more or less sense than holding dollars, pounds, swiss francs, or yen.

    You have a point there... (none / 0) (#87)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:15:13 PM EST
    gold, dollars, yen, pounds...you can't eat any of those things, none can get you high...which pretty much make 'em all wothless except for the value we assign to them in our minds.

    Though in a pinch you could make a tool out of gold, like a hammer or a screwdriver or even a club...paper currency is good for kindling to start a fire in a pinch, and that is about it.


    That's not true. (none / 0) (#92)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:22:00 PM EST
    Selling the publics gold at a 20 year low to private investor is a betrayal of the public.

    "Holding gold makes no more or less sense than holding dollars, pounds, swiss francs, or yen. " - If the British maintained their gold reserves and sold the 400 tons today they would get (in USD) $11,520,000,000 as opposed to the actual '99 receipt of $3,520,000,000.  Adjust for inflation (using the CPI) the net loss is in the $7,000,000,000 range - this is ignoring the residual effects of the currency being backed by paper reserves (quantity not fixed) vs gold reserves (quantity subject to only incremental growth).  

    I don't understand what you mean by that statement?  It's very clear this move lost the public money and destabilized the currency.


    If at some point you want to join (5.00 / 1) (#95)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:27:44 PM EST
    the 21st century, we can continue this discussion.

    Please explain in more detail. (none / 0) (#96)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:32:18 PM EST
    If you're being genuine, I'm sorry.  I don't understand how my response to your statement merited a derisive comment rather than an acknowledgment that Gordon Brown gave away at minimum $7 billion of taxpayer money.

    These events did occur over both the 20th and 21st century.  


    No serious economist (5.00 / 1) (#99)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:35:11 PM EST
    believes that there is anything special about holding gold. The value of Great Britain's currency is only very loosely related to its gold supply.

    You might argue that Brown did not get enough dollars/pounds/whatever for the gold that he supposedly sold, but that does not constitute theft. You're basically just saying that he mistimed the market.

    Oh well.


    Once again, not true. (none / 0) (#108)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:42:19 PM EST
    The Bank of England's reserves rose by roughly 4 billion dollars (inflation adjusted) due to the 1999 sale.  That means that on the Bank of England's balance sheet - they hold 4 billion dollars in pounds.  If the bank had held that gold and sold it today - they would hold 11 billion dollars in pounds for that sale.  

    That means that the Bank of England's position is 7 billion dollars weaker today - and if they gold was to be held in the future that number would most likely rise dramatically.  

    Selling gold you do not own to private investors at a 20 year low is not a 'mistake'.  If you work in the BoA you know better than anyone else in the world outside of the Fed that gold would rally on the longterm.  

    Instead of having a rising reserve they hold a declining reserve.  This will augment the debasement of currency when new funds are printed.


    Just blather (5.00 / 1) (#115)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:59:42 PM EST
    that doesn't address my point. "Theft" is a very serious accusation; one that you haven't come close to proving.

    In the same sense... (none / 0) (#122)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:09:31 PM EST
    the politicians issuing the bailout were thieves. Issuing of public money for private interests. Sorry.  I take it back.

    Tone down the hostility - it makes me feel hollow inside.  Safe to say you take back the statement "Holding gold makes no more or less sense than holding dollars, pounds, swiss francs, or yen. "?  


    Why should I take that back? (5.00 / 1) (#128)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:15:48 PM EST
    It's true in principle, which is what's relevant. Unless you expect bankers to be fortune tellers.

    No, I thought you had. (none / 0) (#140)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:39:34 PM EST
    You really stand by the statement ""Holding gold makes no more or less sense than holding dollars, pounds, swiss francs, or yen. " ?  If that were true, why are any currency/commodity transactions made ever?  You just silly.

    No, (none / 0) (#144)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:46:27 PM EST
    there is no more intrinsic value to any of those currencies than there is to gold. That was my (obvious) point.

    Well there are... (none / 0) (#147)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:55:11 PM EST
    intrinsic values - you can't counterfeit gold as easily - you can transport paper more easily.  

    The first of these intrinsic values is a force driving the price of gold up in the face of paper currencies.  Since the supply of gold cannot be manipulated - in times of uncertainty it becomes the reserve of choice.  Duh.  Give me a break.  


    meh (none / 0) (#149)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:57:54 PM EST
    haha (none / 0) (#151)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:09:42 PM EST
    "hodgman: Did I ever tell you people how much I hate the word "meh"? Nothing announces "I have missed the point" more than that word.

    hodgman: It is the essence of blinkered Internet malcontentism. And a rejection of joy. Also: 12 hive mehs in the replies SO FAR

    hodgman: By definition, it may mean disinterest (although simple silence would be a more damning and sincere response, in that case)

    hodgman: But in use, it almost universally seems to signal: I am just interested enough to make one last joyless, nitpicky swipe and then disappear "


    Except for (5.00 / 2) (#109)
    by eric on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:44:00 PM EST
    that money was invested in interest bearing assets, so that would need to be factored in.  At that time, the decision was made to sell the gold that simply was not earning interest or gaining in value.  It still probably didn't come out as a good decision, but it wasn't a "rip-off".  And it was hardly Brown's decision to make alone.

    The BBC tells me that The Swiss, the Belgians and the Dutch also sold a lot of their gold at this time.


    True. (none / 0) (#112)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:50:40 PM EST
    But let's be serious here.  How many interest bearing assets out competed gold in that span?  How many have proven to be absolutely worthless?  I don't know this, but it could very well be that the unrealized capital gains of those assets have vanished - and even best case the net values since 99 won't touch gold.  

    I based my assessment of insidiousness because anyone running the BoA should know a thing or two about commodity vs asset prices.  He sold at a low.  So leaders of other countries sold their taxpayers gold as well...  I would argue that does not support the argument.  The people willing to buy were using their own money - the people willing to sell were using taxpayer money.  


    Whatever you do... (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:42:09 AM EST
    don't demand a little human decency from a badge...you'll only get more inhumanity in the form of pepper spray.  Link

    I have a dream that one day we will demand better for our money.

    Amazing (5.00 / 0) (#33)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:22:17 AM EST
    A reminder now and then to people that a simple "please" and "thank you" should never be received as a threat.

    BTW, the 15 year old who was attacked viciously by that brute cop was booked for 3rd degree assault for kicking her shoe toward him, but the cop was charged with 4th degree assault for what he did to the girl.


    You gotta be sh*ttin' me.... (5.00 / 1) (#50)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:56:06 AM EST
    he asked for her shoes, she flicked 'em off...if that is assault I'm an astronaut.

    That the brute was only charged with 4th degree adds insult to injury.


    I agree (none / 0) (#118)
    by Mikeb302000 on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:05:17 PM EST
    I agree, I saw the video.  That cop should be suspended immediately. Nothing that happened before could justify what we saw on tape. Not only should he be suspended for the brutality, but also for the stupidity of doing it right there where he knew there was a camera.

    Well, it appears that we hold our police (5.00 / 0) (#125)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:13:33 PM EST
    officers to a much lower standard of behavior than we do civilians. Imagine if that had been her mother or father attacking her...they would have gone straight to jail for it.

    I think his two prior shootings also need to be re-opened. This guy clearly has a serious anger control problem.


    Have To Say (none / 0) (#40)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:29:35 AM EST
    The guy sounds like a masochist to me. Not that the brutality is in any way justified. It was not clear if he refused to get out of his car, seems that it did not get that far.

    I hear ya... (5.00 / 1) (#48)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:54:41 AM EST
    the guy seems like a glutton for punishment for asking badges to say "please"...I sure as hell ain't that brave..."yes sir, no sir, can I go sir" is how I do, whatever gets 'em out of my hair the fastest.

    But he is certainly within his rights to ask for a "please", and I'm glad there are braver souls than I out there making such demands.  My "yes sir" routine is part of the problem...I just don't know a better way that won't lead to more hassles...I ain't itchin' to be no martyr, or to get my eyes peppered or worse.


    9000 Earmarks (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:43:02 AM EST
    By allowing these earmarks to stay in the bill that Obama is going to sign  is just plain blatant hypocrisy on what he ran on.  

    How does he square this?  To me much of his creditability will be lost if he does not veto this bill and demand for all ear marks to come off.  To say that was last year business and what I do from hear on is what you need to pay attention to does not cut it IMO. Unbelievable double standard.

    waaaaah, waaaah, earmarks!!!! (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:44:08 AM EST
    In a sense Andgarden is right. (none / 0) (#21)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:02:37 AM EST
    I don't understand the form of the response - but 800billion is 800billion - whether there's an "earmark" in it or not isn't what's important.  The fundamental debate is about deficit spending and attempts to invigorate the economy through increasing the velocity of money - that is, augmenting inflationary expectations to the point that dollars are spent instantly as to maintain value.

    Personally, I like earmarks (5.00 / 4) (#9)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:47:05 AM EST
    and have lobbied for a good many, some successfully, some not.

    I'd like there to be a lot more earmarks.  Just make them transparent, is all, so we can separate the wheat from the chaff.


    Objectively I agree with you (none / 0) (#12)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:50:41 AM EST
    but you didn't run for president and make the statement that you would go through any spending bill "line by line" then turnaround and say through your staff a spending bill was "last years buisness" during your first 100days.

    Or what? You'll whine and complain? (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:52:19 AM EST
    Chuck Schumer is right: voters don't give a crap about earmarks.

    No what will happen (none / 0) (#17)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:53:44 AM EST
    is in 2010 and 2012 these statements will be used against him and every time he asks the american public to "tighten up our belts" these blatant hypocritical statements will be thrown back in his face.

    If people feel like he did a good job (5.00 / 3) (#18)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:54:55 AM EST
    no one will care. If they don't, the earmarks won't matter.

    It's a non issue, no matter how much you complain.


    Well duh (none / 0) (#23)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:05:52 AM EST
    that's obvious.   But if the economy doesn't recover then this will feed into the theory that he's only interested in expanding governments reach and his cronies in the house/senate are all to happy to help.   For the last 10 years earmarks haven't mattered because we've all been doing (for the most part) pretty good.   The bad news is for the next 5 years or so that won't be the case.

    Also most people haven't made it a major campaign issue like Obama has while coninuing to say one thing while doing another in terms of the economy.   That's a big difference you seem to not want to admit.  IT's not a deal breaker but it's yet another issue chipping away at Obama's credibility.

    This is how it started with Bush, little here, little there and then when something really bad happens or at least is politicaly problematic you have nothing left ot fall back on.


    A non issue -- like poverty. (none / 0) (#25)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:07:13 AM EST
    Except to a few cranks...

    No, they won't (none / 0) (#28)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:08:55 AM EST
    Because he'll largely stick to his sanctimonious guns on this issue on his full-year budgets upcoming.  (Um, you do realize this is only a partial budget because they couldn't get one passed in time during the Bush admin and we've been running on a temporary one?)

    And I don't know what you can be thinking of with the "tighten up our belts" stuff.  This recession is going to last a good while, and nobody is going to be encouraged to tighten their own or anybody else's belt until it's long over.


    True (none / 0) (#34)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:22:55 AM EST
    But he's in charge now, so no one cares that this is a partial budget, or that it was under Bush.  This is HIS budget, for better or worse.

    And, the Iraq war was Bush's too, but it's Obama's now, so I personally don't want to hear any more whining from his administration that it's someone else's fault/responsibility.  Just get it done.


    And (none / 0) (#38)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:27:17 AM EST
    While the WH is spinning this as "old news", this bill was actually introduced and debated last month - on Obama's watch and contains increased funding for this administration's priorities.

    This is his bill, whether Robert Gibbs wants to spin it that way or not.


    They do now (none / 0) (#51)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:56:30 AM EST
    Maybe that was business back then but under the present situation voters do worry about pork especially when they do not have a job or having a home foreclosed, and they see all this wasteful spending.  

    All you hear all day long on the news and on the street is the about this hypocrisy.  


    Oh man (5.00 / 2) (#91)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:21:16 PM EST
    You must live on a really, really weird street.

    Yeah I live on Reality street (none / 0) (#110)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:45:03 PM EST
    It's all over the news as we speak.  

    Of course (none / 0) (#117)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:05:10 PM EST
    the lead story on every network tonight will be the earmarks in the spending bill, just as it's been all week.  And everyone is talking about them incessantly around the water cooler.  That's how things are, here on Reality Street.

    So we agree (none / 0) (#124)
    by Saul on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:10:37 PM EST
    Of course we do (5.00 / 1) (#132)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:20:57 PM EST
    In fact, I hear the NCAA tournament may be cancelled.  ESPN apparently doesn't want to interrupt their coverage of the earmarks in the spending bill to show some stupid basketball game.

    I don't know about that (none / 0) (#93)
    by BernieO on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:23:58 PM EST
    They do care when they hear something that sounds really dumb (or is) and the amount spent or rationale is not put into context. Sometimes earmarks are really dumb, but other times they aren't.

    I remember Proxmire awarding his Golden Fleece Award (I think he was jealous of the Fickle Finger of Fate award on Laugh In - wow am I dating myself)to a research grant that had to do with behavioral training of animals. It sounded really silly, but in fact that research was an investigation of learned helplessness and was a major advance in our understanding of human learning. Among other things, it has led to cognitive-behavioral therapy which has proved to be a very effective treatment for depression and other psychological problems.

    When I was in graduate school I had to do this kind of research with a goldfish. The fish had to learn to escape to the other side of the tank to escape a mild shock when a light came on. My poor fish never did learn - I think he banged his head on the side of the tank once too often. Or maybe someone had mistakenly used him in another study and where there was no escaping the shock and had induced learned helplessness. On the other hand it could have just been me. I never did have luck in lab experiments. In high school I even managed to set my chem lab book on fire. Good thing I did well on tests. For the most part.

    I think we need to have a better procedure for evaluating the merit of specific spending projects. Maybe have them meet certain specifications so that something like a bridge to nowhere does not get approved.


    Generally speaking (none / 0) (#123)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:09:44 PM EST
    earmark requests are individually reviewed by the staff of the relevant committee in Congress.  You and I may not know if a road from X to Y is a worthwhile project, but I'm pretty sure the staff of the Transportation Committee knows where to find the answer.

    Now, that's not to say that the only projects that make it into a bill are ones that have been approved by "experts," because we all know there are some political plums in there too.  It's certainly not a perfect vetting process but it's pretty reasonable.


    It's called consumer demand. (none / 0) (#126)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:14:10 PM EST
    "If you build it, they will come" only works in the movies - and that was one guy led by a ghost - not a bunch of politicians getting kickbacks from special interests.  The only way to clean up spending is to reduce spending.  The bigger it is - the more money to waste and the more pages to hide it in.

    And the ghosts (none / 0) (#127)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:14:37 PM EST
    were self representing consumers.

    And pay for (none / 0) (#64)
    by KeysDan on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:28:53 PM EST
    the chaff.  (Paraphrased quote of Adlai E. Stevenson, 1952.)

    Heh. I'd rather we pay for (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by oldpro on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:50:10 PM EST
    the wheat!

    Depends on the ratio, I suppose.  There is always waste product with anything and 'one man's waste is another man's livelihood.'



    True, works for me. (none / 0) (#130)
    by KeysDan on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:16:47 PM EST
    Response to number (none / 0) (#65)
    by KeysDan on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:30:55 PM EST

    For some reason (5.00 / 2) (#31)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:21:09 AM EST
    I don't remember Obama's zero-earmarks pledge.

    There's also a whole "co-equal branch of government thing" going on here.  Eliminating earmarks doesn't save the taxpayers one dime; it just transfers more of the spending power from the Legislative Branch to the Executive Branch.  Small wonder the Legislative Branch is like "hey, if you have a problem with us deciding where 1% of the money gets spent, too bad."


    Here you go (none / 0) (#37)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:25:37 AM EST
    Around the 3:37 mark, he promises to go "line by line"



    Here I go what? (5.00 / 6) (#42)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:33:58 AM EST
    That's not a zero-earmarks pledge, and either you know that or you erroneously believe that "earmark" is synonymous with "wasteful spending."

    Make of "line by line" whatever you will, but Obama does not actually have a line-item veto, and you haven't even identified a single item that you consider "wasteful spending."  Vetoing a huge spending bill if it contains even one objectionable item is not practical, and if people took Obama's "line by line" comment that way, I think they were projecting their own views onto him.

    But I'll say it again, because people seem to miss this point - if Obama demands that Congress remove every single earmark, all he's doing is saying "it's not enough that you're giving me discretion to spend 99% of the funds appropriated by this bill - I want all 100%, and I won't sign it otherwise."  Not much is going to get done if the President is going to take that kind of line with Congress.


    Exactly (none / 0) (#45)
    by andgarden on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:43:14 AM EST
    Well (none / 0) (#54)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:00:07 PM EST
    His own Budget Director and Chief of Staff were downplaying it and tacitly agreeing that the promise was made. And he in fact, DID promise to reduce earmarks to 1994 levels.

    I realize he doesn't have a line-item veto, but then I guess I assumed HE knew he didn't have the authority to go "line by line" through a budget either (you know, since he taught Constitutional law and all).

    In fact, at a February 2nd press briefing, Robert Gibbs said, in a big fat, lie:

    ... the bill contains "unprecedented accountability and transparency.  There are no earmarks in this bill.  The information on the projects that will be funded in this legislation will be available online, as you know, at www.recovery.gov .  There will be an oversight board that will monitor the progress of each project and address any problems that are involved early and aggressively."

    Obama made a similar claim in an interview with ABC on Feb. 3, saying, "If you take a look at the bill, the fact is, there are no earmarks in this bill, which, by the way, some of the critics can't claim for legislation they've voted for over the last eight years."


    Also, the estimate for the amount of earmarks that the Dems claim are in the bill is too low.

    So, Obama is going back on the spirit, if not also the letter, of his campaign pledge against this type of legislation.


    When I heard his line-by-line comment (none / 0) (#103)
    by BernieO on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:39:50 PM EST
    I thought it was a bad idea. It implies that he has the line-item veto which means many people will blame him for the earmarks in the bill. A lot of voters have no clue that the president does not have a lot of choice about these things besides lobbying or vetoing the entire bill. I assume that one reason Obama is not fighting harder against these earmarks is that he doesn't want to delay passage. Given the economic problems we are facing, fighting over what amounts to just 1.9% of the entire bill is ridiculous.

    The ignorance of the American public - and not just young people - is very scary. (Check out Sandra Day O'Connor's interview on the Daily Show. She is very worried about this.)

    I have wanted to get involved with a group that is dedicated to furthering civic eduction. In the 90's I was on a state committee of the League of Women Voters to try to get a civics ed goal added to the list of goals the state was developing as part of the Bush/Clinton ed reform. I was shocked that the League, although deeply involved in the development of the goals in our state, would not advocate including a goal that specified preparing kids for citizenship.  After all civic ed is what the League is all about and preparing young people for citizenship was the rational for instituting public education in the first place. It was very discouraging.


    McCain make a big deal (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:45:27 AM EST
    about earmarks, espec. that telescope in Chicago, during the GE debates.  Did Obama also?

    I think the world is ending (none / 0) (#8)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:46:45 AM EST
    Maureen Dowd is calling Obama on his hypocrisy about earmarks.

    Why is anyone surprised when Dowd (5.00 / 0) (#182)
    by BernieO on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 06:26:20 PM EST
    turns on a progressive politician? She savaged Gore over petty, usually made up or distorted accusations.

    Maureen Dowd is just like that nasty girl in junior high school who was always trying to prove herself by trashing others. She is just a verbal bully.

    People should just stop reading her venomous, idiotic column. She is no friend of Democrats.


    When has Dowd had much to say (none / 0) (#155)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:53:28 PM EST
    about anything life and limb relevant, I swear to God what is up with that girl?  She needs to get some real!  She sort of reminds me of a Republican in her choices of what needs to be highlighted and what needs to be low lighted.

    Yes he did (none / 0) (#14)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:52:20 AM EST
    He said he's go through every spending bill "line by line".   That's what McCain is acting/being so mad about.  During the debate when pushed on it Obama said he wouldn't do something in order to take a major campaign issue away from McCAin and now he's not living up to the promise.

    It's pretty blatant and a tough one to swallow for us who thought he was fibbing when he made such "hopefull" promises.


    I'm still stuck on that FISA vote. (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:06:39 AM EST
    Thanks for the re-education.

    FISA (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by CST on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:10:12 AM EST
    was a heartbreaker.  And a necessary remindere that "pols are pols" I guess...

    Earmarks are small potatoes in comparison.


    The Obamas claim (none / 0) (#98)
    by NYShooter on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:35:10 PM EST
    the pork is holdover from Bush; "future" bills will get the "line by line" treatment.

    As I posted above (none / 0) (#106)
    by BernieO on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:41:09 PM EST
    I have a feeling the adminstration does not want to hold up the process when we need spending ASAP. It is getting scarier all the time.

    Yeah (none / 0) (#114)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:57:32 PM EST
    except it was debated on and voted on during Obama's presidency.  It's funding for stuff under FY 2009, but they still voted on it last month.

    Nice spin by the Obama administration, though. Right up there with Rush Limbaugh is the leader of the GOP.


    Apparently, McCain walks his talk (none / 0) (#135)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:27:15 PM EST
    and never has had an earmark added to anything in all his years as a Senator. Obama put millions and millions in during his short Senate stay.

    I think earmarks are just fine as long as there's a reasonably sound argument made for federal assistance, and none of the money is going to churches or religiously based groups.


    Once again, (none / 0) (#167)
    by cal1942 on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:31:49 PM EST
    one man's earmark is another man's vital infrastructure project.

    Endangered Species Act (5.00 / 5) (#61)
    by Dr Molly on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:24:54 PM EST
    Yesterday, Obama restored scientific input into the Endangered Species Act by rescinding the Bush rule that allowed federal agencies to make their own determinations about whether activities are harmful to endangered species without scientific consultation (including activities that generate greenhouses gases and pollution). IOW, the intentional weakening of the Act by Bush has been overturned.

    Now, that's what I call a pro-life agenda.

    Getting Rid of the Stock market as an indicator (5.00 / 2) (#62)
    by samtaylor2 on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:27:18 PM EST
    I am so glad that Obama started downplaying the stock market as an indicator for our economy.  Though it is obviously an indicator, the notion that the level of the stock market actively reflects the state of our economy for most people is just nonsense and dangerous.  It allowed Bush to claim his policies helped grow the economy (at least for a while).

    One of the worst unintended consequences of the golden years of the Clinton's was this connection of the stock market to how good you should feel about the economy.  

    Obviously, Obama being a politician will be the first to connect them if the market improves, but he shouldn't.

    You bet (3.00 / 2) (#70)
    by gyrfalcon on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:41:30 PM EST
    THe thing is, during the Bush admin, the people making those pronouncements really did think the stock market was the prime indicator of the state of the economy because it was for their economy.  The rest of us not so much.

    Bingo.... (none / 0) (#74)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:47:35 PM EST
    up, down, crashing, booming...I don't notice any difference in my life.  

    No more than ya'll would notice somebody keeping the roll for half an hour at craps vs. crapping out immediately.


    Stock Market is An Indicator... (none / 0) (#69)
    by santarita on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:40:35 PM EST
    of something.  I'm just not sure of what any more.  

    I read somewhere recently that the stock market lagged the economy by about 6 months.  Then Senator Kyl said yesterday that it indicated where the economy was going in the future.

    I suspect both positions are right in that the stock market both reflects confidence in the future and pessimism based on economic performance.  The stock market on a daily basis is a crazy-making place because there seems to be so much emotion involved in decisions to buy and sell.  So I think Obama is right too to not be too concerned about the daily swings.  On the other hand, the stock market affects millions of Americans through their 401ks and IRAs.  So he can't ignore the fact that over the last year, trillions of dollars have been lost (at least on paper).


    Last Night (5.00 / 1) (#173)
    by cal1942 on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:50:04 PM EST
    at Indiana, Michigan State clinched an outright Big Ten Basketball Championship.

    According to some defense official... (none / 0) (#15)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:52:31 AM EST
    the Mexican cartels are a bigger threat than Iraq or Afghanistan.  Link

    This is great news...we can withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan and focus our efforts on coming up with a safe, legal way for drugs to be distributed so we can take away the revenue the cartels use to buy all them guns and pay off all those officials.  Right?

    I struggle with the Drug issue (none / 0) (#20)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:57:07 AM EST
    Marajuana is an easy one.  That can be produced safely/regulated and no one can argue that it's any more harmful then alchohol.  

    The other major narcotics are much tougher.  How do we regulate something that is immediately harmful?   Society is not prepared to deal IMHO with the ramifications of leagal METH.


    How do you think.... (5.00 / 1) (#53)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:59:27 AM EST
    the ramifications will differ with legal meth?  More users?  I seriously doubt it...the best anti-meth message is meth itself.

    The way I look at it, we're all ready dealing with the ramifications of drug addiction, as well as the ramifications of prohibition, less negative ramifications are better than more.  Drug addiction ain't going nowhere, we can only hope to minimize it.  Prohibition, otoh, can go the way of the scrap heap as easy as the stroke of a few pens.


    Kids are pretty easy to fool. (none / 0) (#59)
    by Fabian on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:11:27 PM EST
    You can use meth for while before real problems surface.  There was a local woman who used meth to be Supermom - for years!  It does catch up to you eventually, but kids use a much shorter time line and are very susceptible suggestions from friends and "friends".

    All the more reason... (none / 0) (#68)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:34:34 PM EST
    to legalize and regulate...to try and keep it away from kids.  Granted though, if they wanna try it it won't be that hard to find...but that is true whether legalized or criminalized. There is no escape from some realities.

    I remember an interesting theory from the documentary "American Drug War: The Last White Hope"...the theory is one of the reasons meth even came to be was prohibition.  A cheap way to get really f*cked up because the drug war drove the price of cocaine sky-high...and no black market connections in Colombia required...only a basement lab and ingredients available over the counter.  Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say.

    Don't get me wrong, freebasing cocaine is almost as nasty as meth.  But it is worth noting that if it weren't for prohibtion maybe we'd have one less nasty drug known to mankind.


    And maybe if people (5.00 / 2) (#113)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:53:41 PM EST
    liked who they are and how they feel without the opiates and the marijuana and the meth and the alcohol, the world would be a whole lot less nasty overall.

    However it happened - and there are all kinds of reasons - we have become a people who have stopped looking within ourselves for answers to why we are unhappy, or why we can't maintain a relationship, or why no one likes us, or why we don't fit in, and, so we self-medicate with chemicals of choice, legal and illegal, to make it all better, to numb the pain, to keep kidding ourselves that life is just peachy and we really, really like who we are.

    Make meth legal?  Why am I not surprised you would take that position?


    People have sought an escape... (none / 0) (#119)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:07:03 PM EST
    from reality, a little euphoria, and a higher conciousness since forever...I'm not sold that it is necessarily a terrible thing.  It can be an enriching part of your life, or it can be the ruination of your life if simple use becomes abuse.  

    The natural world is often a cruel savage place, what is so terrible about a little euphoria wherever it can be found? I tend to agree with John Lennon..."Whatever gets you through the night"

    So...why make meth legal?  Because making it illegal causes more problems than it solves.  Look around Anne..it is illegal right now, are we being served?  And do we even have have the right to tell an indivivual what they can and can't put in the vessel their creator gave them and only them?


    I'm not suggesting a world without (5.00 / 2) (#134)
    by Anne on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:23:02 PM EST
    "recreation," kdog, I hope you understand that.

    How would making meth legal serve us, really, other than to eliminate the basic cost of arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating people who are convicted of possessing, selling or manufacturing it?  Legal does not mean "free," and if it costs money, the people who want it and need it and can't afford it are still going to resort to criminal activity to acquire it, aren't they?  I mean, making it legal - or any drug legal - is not going to be the equivalent of giving us all the run of the candy store, so what then?  There's the segment that is involved in production and sale, and then there is the subset of users - and there is still going to be crime and costs associated with the users.

    Alcohol is legal, but it still costs us a lot as a society, doesn't it?  People still commit crimes while under the influence, and they commit crimes to obtain it.  They kill people with their cars, beat and abuse their family members while drunk, make stupid and deadly decisions while under the influence.  

    No, I'm sorry - it's way too simplistic to think that making meth - and other drugs - legal just automatically makes the world a better place.  


    The world is sh*t... (none / 0) (#138)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:34:50 PM EST
    and will always be sh*t because it is inhabited by heavily fallible human beings.

    We can only try to keep the stink down...prohibition reeks, imo.

    We we still have laws against theft, assault, etc...sincerely, I think it is the best we can do.  But I readily admit it could be a disaster, what do I know, though I insist prohibition is a proven disaster...I think this is beyond dispute.  Look at our prison population for god's sake.


    Kinda like... (none / 0) (#73)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:46:11 PM EST
    how the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park "found a way" to reproduce.  

    "I'm your DNA!"


    Ramifications (none / 0) (#136)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:30:53 PM EST
    Who would sell it, who would regulate it, where would it be sold.

    Remember when something becomes legal it has to have a government agency test/regulate it, it must be distributed through laws, codes etc... you simply declare somethign legal and let the sellers fend for themselves.

    Take meth.  Who will make it.  Some giant food corporation will be more then happy to jump into the illegal meth game and it will definately be a boost to the economy.

    No some drugs are simply to nasty and too addictive to be legalized.  Some things should be illegal.   Weed isn't one of them.  It'd be a nice way for all these KY/TN/NC tabacco farmers to get out of the ciggarette buisness.


    A whole new avenue for (none / 0) (#137)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:33:51 PM EST
    class action lawsuits for plaintiffs' lawyers.  Plaintiff smoked pot for 20 years, didn't realize it was addictive, would cloud lungs, etc.  

    Even if from day one... (none / 0) (#139)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:37:49 PM EST
    the FDA puts a skull and crossbones on every sack sold stating "may cause x, x, x, use at your own risk"?

    I believe the class action suits against tobacco companies stemmed from then knowing the harm and denying it...I'm not trying to deny the potential harm from drugs, just pointing out the proven harm of prohibition.


    It's way too dense for me to spend time (none / 0) (#142)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:45:55 PM EST
    reading it, but BTD has a thread going right now headlined:
    SCOTUS Rules FDA Labeling Regs Do Not Preempt State Law Tort Claims
    W/o going any further, that looks like if your state says you can sue a producer, you can do it despite the product having the required FDA labels on it.

    Honestly... (none / 0) (#148)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:55:59 PM EST
    as a member of the stoner community, I think we'll all be so thrilled to buy a legal sack of herb that suing somebody will be the furthest thing from our minds...but then again, there is always at least one arsehole looking to get rich without working.

    Sh*t, I'd be willing to sign a waiver promising not to sue the fine growers in Humboldt County or BC.


    Perhaps (none / 0) (#143)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:45:55 PM EST
    the FDA could get involved in rating the potency of the substance in question, on a scale ranging from "meh" to "this is the good stuff, mon."

    Ha! Although.... (none / 0) (#145)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:50:39 PM EST
    just like alc, you know there would be labeling requirements for amount of, I don't know, THC? And it would be taxed depending on that amount...

    Whichever route we choose (none / 0) (#146)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:53:57 PM EST
    Full employment for bureaucrats and lawyers will always be in effect.

    All issues to be sorted out.... (none / 0) (#141)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:44:31 PM EST
    to be sure...if I may, what benefits do you see us getting through the prohibition of the substance?

    Less users?  I'm skeptical of that, I tend to think everybody that wants to use meth is already using it.  I'm at a loss to any other potential benefit of prohibition, except the obvious benefit to law enforcement budgets, jailers, lawyers, parole officers, and drug testing labs.


    All it takes, particularly (none / 0) (#150)
    by jondee on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:07:16 PM EST
    with something like meth, is a few high profile horror stories involving kids being hurt - families torn apart etc and the societal crusade, righteous indignation, demagogic grandstanding etc would start up all over again.

    Substances like meth being legalized just aint gonna happen. We might as well be talking about govt funded hollow earth expeditions or contingency plans for when the Jupiterians attack.


    I hear ya man.... (none / 0) (#152)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:23:27 PM EST
    I'm talking pipe dreams...I'm curious though to hear anyones thoughts as to what we are gaining or accomplishing by prohibiting it.

    As far as I can surmise the landscape would look the exactly the same as it does now except more prison guards, prosecuters, and police collecting unemployment.  


    Other than possibly preventing (none / 0) (#153)
    by jondee on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:38:48 PM EST
    Eli Lilly or whoever from cornering the market, it's hard to say what we're acomplishing.

    Thanks jondee... (none / 0) (#154)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:53:07 PM EST
    if I'm insane for not seeing it, at least I'm not the only one:)

    Ya know...I used to say just legalize my reefer and to hell with coke, heroin, and meth...I certainly have no love for those drugs as opposed to others...then it dawned on me...why should the users, even the abusers, of those drugs be singled out for criminalization.

    It boils down to a personal liberty issue.


    Well one obvious problem (none / 0) (#157)
    by jondee on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:02:41 PM EST
    is that not enough people can keep it together when they're high and some end up wreaking various and sundry forms of havoc. Then, in alot of peoples eyes, it becomes a "societal problem". Enter the Grand Inquisitor.

    Not everybody can be Coleridge nodding in front of the fire, like you and me. lol


    Most forms of havoc are against the law... (none / 0) (#177)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 05:24:06 PM EST
    seems like we've got that covered.

    I mean we aren't criminalizing high finance...talk about havoc!


    WSJ (none / 0) (#26)
    by Slado on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:07:45 AM EST
    What is really disgusting (none / 0) (#111)
    by BernieO on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:46:52 PM EST
    is that they are getting assault weapons from us. Did you see the piece on 60 Minutes? These guys are even beheading police.

    Also I listened to a segment about how the Mexican drug dealers are now kidnapping people for ransom in Phoenix. So far they are targeting only their enemies, but other in other countries this has often spread to kidnapping people like bankers. (No jokes, please.) When I was in college in DC - back in the Dark Ages - a guy I knew who was the son of a wealthy Mexican banker was kidnapped. He managed to escape by jumping out of the car while it was moving.


    It's gettin' hairy.... (none / 0) (#183)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 07:00:39 PM EST
    no doubt Bernie...we gotta put these guys out of business, or at least out of such a lucrative business.  

    Prohibition is as good as buying their weapons and staffing their armies for them....the border looks like Chicago in the 20's with Valentines Day Massacres a regular occurence.  


    Leahy's (pre)torture commission (none / 0) (#22)
    by lilburro on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:02:41 AM EST
    hearing on CSPAN 3 is fascinating.

    FYI: Jane Mayer's book was (none / 0) (#27)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:08:41 AM EST
    nominated for a LA Times Festival of Books prize.

    repost (none / 0) (#32)
    by CST on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:21:51 AM EST
    from the other day:

    GLAD is suing section three of DOMA that bars the federal government from granting certain protections to legally married same-sex couples.

    I have been waiting for the federal fight, had to know it was coming.  Still, they are not trying to rescind all of DOMA yet.  Just this piece.

    Cecilia Bartoli (none / 0) (#36)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:25:18 AM EST
    Saw an Italian singer last night at Carnegie, a friend had tickets.

    Going by the program I was sure that it was going to be horribly boring, and felt I was doing my friend a favor by going.

    Well, she was beyond amazing, even with stupid music she made me cry and sent shivers up and down my spine. So much for my musical predujices.

    Lucky you. But, what-- (none / 0) (#44)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:37:54 AM EST
    you don't care for Rossini?

    Yuk (none / 0) (#49)
    by squeaky on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:56:04 AM EST
    In fact one of the Rossini pieces without Bartoli, was really stupid. The cute col legno battuto in the overture from Il Signor Bruschino was about the stupidest thing I ever heard in concert.

    The players were stupendous, btw.

    She was utterly amazing though, in Deh, Calme, from Ottelo, despite the music. Never heard anything like it in my life.

    She even made Hummel sound incredible.

    One surprise for me was a piece by Guiseppe Persiani, who I had never heard of. Cari giorni, from Unes de Castro... It was like chopin. I cried, it was so beautiful and simple..

    I think that she was wearing jewlery from Maria Malibran. I have never seen diamonds glitter like that, All different colors lighting up like a psychotic christmas tree on crack. Her dress was amazing too. both of them.

    And what a generous personality, rare in such a genius.


    Did you happen to watch the PBS (none / 0) (#57)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:04:38 PM EST
    broadcast of her Met debut in "Cosi"?  She chose to sing a lesser role but I couldn't keep my eyes off her.  Have never heard her live though.

    That Was A Memorable Performance. (none / 0) (#66)
    by santarita on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:30:57 PM EST
    She just about stole the show.

    I am thinking of making the trek back east to see "La Cenerentola" at the Met in May.  I love Rossini even though his works tend to be predictable.  The ensembles are tremendous fun.  And I love GuglielmoTell.  I saw that in SF many years ago.  I sat in the last row of the balcony.  At then end of the performance the people standing behind me were moved enough to yell" Viva La Rivoluzione!!"


    Cinderella is fun, as is (none / 0) (#78)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:56:12 PM EST

    Love 'em both... (none / 0) (#86)
    by santarita on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:06:45 PM EST
    I've seen Cenerentola three times.  Once in Seattle with a friend who couldn't get past the feminist implications of having a fairy godfather instead of a fairy godmother.  

    Met HD coming soon to a theater (none / 0) (#88)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:16:07 PM EST
    near you:

    La Cenerentola - Rossini
    Saturday, May 9, 2009 (12:30 pm ET)
    Running time 3 hours / one intermission
    US ENCORE:  Wednesday, May 20
    CANADIAN ENCORE:  Saturday, May 23

    Got my Ticket Already But... (none / 0) (#121)
    by santarita on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:09:31 PM EST
    with luck I'll see it in person.

    No (none / 0) (#186)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:01:22 AM EST
    I had never heard of her. Tomasseli, the NYT reviewer is clearly a moron. Bartoli clearly not only has an extraordinary instrument, but uses it brilliantly. A musical genius, imo.

    Not that negative a review. (none / 0) (#188)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:57:42 AM EST
    Critic liked her program, the orchestra, and most of her singing.  NYT

    Not How I Read It (none / 0) (#189)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:46:00 PM EST
    Ms. Bartoli was back at Carnegie Hall on Tuesday night, and so were her adoring fans [he is not one of them].

    The good news for those who love her work [not Tomaselli] is that she was her characteristically ebullient self and sang with her trademark brilliance and stylistic insight. But her voice, with its earthy timbre and pulsating vibrato, and her sometimes mannered approach have never been to all tastes. I again had mixed feelings about her work.

    admirable efforts???

    Ms. Bartoli dispatched the volleys of notes with uncanny accuracy. But her voice, when it rises to full volume, has a hard-edged quality, and sometimes it is difficult to distinguish the shaky timbre of her vibrato from her fast, sustained trills.

    I was there and basically detest Italian opera.  My opinion of singers is that they are generally amongst the worst musicians in the music biz. I consider myself to be an extremely musical person who mostly hates technical showoffs and showy music.

    As far as I am concerned music making does not get any better than what Bartoli dished out on tuesday night.

    Tomaselli strikes me as someone who knows the price of everything and the price of nothing./


    This critic is not the only only who (none / 0) (#190)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:52:50 PM EST
    comments on her upper range and stylized manner.  I haven't heard her since the Cosi broadcast years ago.  I have been to concerts where I later read the reviews and thought:  were we listening to the same concert?  Works both ways though--sometimes I liked what I heard and critic didn't.  Sometimes the opposite.

    BTW:  it's "Tommasini."


    Yes (none / 0) (#192)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:00:05 PM EST
    Well that is technical BS, as I said the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    I could care less if her voice was hoarse. What she is able to do is bring music to life and transmit the joy, tears and depth of human experience.

    Besides her being a tremendously deep musician, she is a f'ing virtuoso.

    Critiquing athletics bores me. He is most likely a failed musician who doesn't have a musical bone in his body.


    His credentials are better than those (none / 0) (#193)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:35:13 PM EST
    of many critics.  He was recently the NYT person answering questions via Internet.  Which is not to say I think he is the world's best critic of classical music.  Bernheimer is.

    Googled Bernheimer (none / 0) (#194)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:56:44 PM EST
    This review is essentially the same concert I saw on tuesday night that Mary-Lou Patricia Vetere reviewed in 2008 (opera news).

    Strange I thought it was Bernheimer because it came up in a google search, but at the end of the review it said Mary-Lou Patricia Vetere.


    I don't think Bernheimer reviewed the (none / 0) (#195)
    by oculus on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 01:58:58 PM EST
    Bartoli concert at Carnegie Hall..  He reviews now for Financial Times.  

    Got That (none / 0) (#196)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 02:07:30 PM EST
    But the review I linked to is pretty much, if not exactly, the same program and orchestra that I heard tue night. That review is 100% accurate, imo. The NYT guy is FOS.

    The Price of Everything (none / 0) (#191)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:55:25 PM EST
    And the value of nothing.

    Persani (none / 0) (#197)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 04:02:04 PM EST
    This piece was performed at Carnegie tues night, same orchestra and same dress.

    The composer was Maria Malibran's father, I believe..


    Rossini (none / 0) (#198)
    by squeaky on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 04:59:42 PM EST
    Same dress, Nacqui all'affanno



    Housing plan unveiled today (none / 0) (#39)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:28:53 AM EST
    Now I'm trying to figure out why billions of dollars are set aside for it. Whose getting the money? The homeowners aren't.

    Of course they are (5.00 / 2) (#43)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:36:47 AM EST
    The money is being spent to help homeowners refinance, so they have an easier monthly payment and can stay in their homes.  That's a direct benefit to homeowners.

    So, who exactly is the recipient of the (none / 0) (#105)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:40:53 PM EST

    The mortgage companies?


    It's not like they're increasing the equity. (none / 0) (#158)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:07:24 PM EST
    I haven't look closely - but logically doesn't it make sense to assume that the winners are the lenders?  Yea people keep "their" homes but the lender gets more money than they should have gotten for issuing a crap loan and it has to come from somewhere.  Meanwhile the homes aren't worth any more because of this (even though existing foreclosed homes owned by banks will benefit from the limiting of supply...one just that one level...demand is still going to slump until people build up enough savings to borrow again).

    Like I said - I didn't really look.  Any corrections appreciated.


    Well (none / 0) (#160)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:12:38 PM EST
    I guess you'd have to ask the homeowners who get to refinance whether they think they're getting a benefit.  I suspect they would say yes.

    Focus Steve! (none / 0) (#163)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:26:03 PM EST
    We were talking about who's getting the tax payer money in this situation.

    Well (none / 0) (#164)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:30:11 PM EST
    if your mortgage payment is $3500, and thanks to this government program you can refinance it to $3000, that's $500 in your pocket.  Whether you call that "taxpayer money" or not strikes me as semantics - bottom line is you have it because of the government program.

    Ok. (none / 0) (#169)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:38:40 PM EST
    So the payment schedule isn't extended?  Do you have a link to the plan - I'm talkin out my arse.

    It's a refinancing (none / 0) (#172)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:47:44 PM EST
    Your principal doesn't get paid off.

    Ok so from a nytimes article... (none / 0) (#174)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:55:51 PM EST
    (I couldn't find anything on recovery.org)

    "As envisioned, a mortgage lender would have to first make enough concessions to reduce a borrower's payments to 38 percent of monthly income. To encourage lenders, the government would offer incentives, like a $1,000 upfront payment for every loan modified and more payments if the borrower stays current."  

    "If the lender gets the monthly payments down to 38 percent of the borrower's monthly income, the government would then match, dollar for dollar, additional reductions to bring the payment as low as 31 percent of monthly income."

    "The changes could be accomplished in several ways, from stretching out the repayment period of a loan to reducing the interest rate or reducing the outstanding principal."

    The money has to come from somewhere.  The borrower gets to keep a house for less money than they agreed to pay and the lender gets to see returns on loans they should never have issued - all funded by the US taxpayer (I don't mean to use semantics, I'm identifying the source).

    Then at the end of the day "If a lender decides that the cost of the concessions is higher than the cost of foreclosing, even with the government subsidies, then a borrower would probably still lose the property."  That is some BOLD stuff right there.  It seems a little haphazard - lenders can squeeze more payments out of the borrowers then foreclose as the housing market rebounds.  Wow.  


    A couple mistakes (none / 0) (#175)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 05:08:27 PM EST
    First, the borrower does not get the house for less than they agreed to pay, they simply have lower monthly payments.  Again, it's a refinancing.  They still owe the principal.

    Second, if the lender allows the homeowner to refinance, then of course they don't get to foreclose on them further on down the road.  The point is that the government is dangling money to encourage the lender to refinance, but if the lender would rather foreclose than refinance, they have that option.  But they have to choose one or the other.


    Thanks. (none / 0) (#176)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 05:14:38 PM EST
    Yea I misread that second thing big time.  I have another thought on it but I'll save it for a time when I'm not about to go do something.  The details can shift that definition of "agreed" concession based on a drop in income is the premise - but yea I have no idea what the details are and that's kinda make or break on whether this is a secret lender bailout.  Ha' luego.

    Why would we continue to pay the lender (none / 0) (#179)
    by nycstray on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 05:59:41 PM EST
    if the borrower can keep up his payments?

    It seems to me, lenders would WANT to work with borrowers who will be able to pay. Isn't that kinda how they stay in business??


    We are paying the lender (none / 0) (#180)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 06:05:21 PM EST
    to incentivize them to refinance loans they would not otherwise be willing to refinance.

    Generally lenders will not refinance a mortgage unless you have at least 20% equity.

    We might think the lenders would want to negotiate with everyone, but empirically, that is not what they are doing.


    I can see dangling upfront payments (none / 0) (#181)
    by nycstray on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 06:14:53 PM EST
    but to pay them to continue to do business with a borrower that is now staying current?

    This is helping me understand a bit why we need so many billions to help a few million . . . . isn't the average home loan under 500,000?


    They need to be paid to do the right thing (none / 0) (#184)
    by Inspector Gadget on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 07:12:42 PM EST
    This whole bailout/stimulus has been handled so poorly IMO.

    Free fall (none / 0) (#46)
    by Jlvngstn on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:52:54 AM EST
    Being that the gov't is resigned to the fate of losing 5-7 million jobs this year, what are the predictions for unemployment filings over the next 3 months.  May will be especially frightening as it is a 5 pay period month, my guess is we will hit one million in May.  The financial system cannot be repaired until the labor issue is repaired and the labor issue cannot be repaired by private industry.  

    The government can either step up and give us more bold programs that build for our future or they can continue earning their 6 figure incomes and continue to tell us "that is how capitalism works."

    There are a lot of things about this recession that are wildly unpredictable.  All through the election cycle I heard both candidates talk about the hard work of the American people, yet here we are in the midst of what can be described as the fastest employment decline since the great depression (nearly 2 million in 3 months) and we are content with letting those hard working americans stay at home sending resumes to anyone who will accept it.

    I don't think O's popularity and approval will hold this month and i think he will receive a 5% drop each month for the next few at least.  The banking issue is a critical issue but most of us americans still think CDS are dudes in wigs, not financial wmds.

    Our system is completely dependent on consumption and the unemployed consume for subsistence, those of us who are not yet unemployed watch the numbers and reduce consumption dramatically.  

    You can delay foreclosure and defer payments to buy time, but unemployment losses at this pace will more likely break the economy than the freezing of credit.

    We could give 10 trillion to the banks right now and see no legitimate increase in hiring, there is no industry poised to create jobs, even with available credit.  The available credit created would only go to highly collateralized businesses which would not spur economic activity to any appreciable degree.

    Our leaders need to be bold and invest back in its people quickly.  If they do not, we are headed for soup lines by October and I mean that figuratively.

    How many months of reserve do a majority of americans have in their savings accounts?  Not more than 3 I would guess for most, 6 for 20% and 1 year for a very chosen few.  3 months from May will give us September, which will deliver us to a free-fall come October when 15 million people are unemployed and out of reserves.  

    U.S. Supreme Court rejects (none / 0) (#52)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 11:56:37 AM EST
    Wyeth's (and the Bush administration's) argument FDA approval preempts:  LAT

    Gordon Brown (none / 0) (#55)
    by lentinel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:00:11 PM EST
    I just heard on the B.B.C. that our idiot congress just gave Gordon Brown 17 standing ovations.

    I would assume this is an expression of gratitude for the steadfast manner in which Great Britain, under the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, helped lead us down the path to the disastrous war in Iraq.

    500,000 bucks a minute and still counting.

    (France, who tried to sober us up, is still in the naughty corner.)

    I thought we led Britain down (5.00 / 4) (#58)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:05:50 PM EST
    the path to invasion of Iraq.

    An American gig all the way (none / 0) (#170)
    by cal1942 on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:44:21 PM EST
    Tweedle dee and dumb (none / 0) (#178)
    by lentinel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 05:46:24 PM EST
    Without Britain's active support the war would not have happened.
    Every major power but Spain had dropped out of this stupid enterprise.

    Bush scared the pants off us by giving us his "mushroom cloud" spiel. Blair topped him by giving his compatriots the strong impression that an Iraqi missile could be delivered within 45 minutes. The "Sun" screamed at its 10 million readers: "BRITS 45 mins FROM DOOM."

    Britain's b.s. equalled our own.

    Their involvement in this farce gave the operation the smell of authenticity and legitimacy. There would have been no convincing "coalition" without Britain. David Gergen made that observation at the time on PBS. The war would have never happened but for them.

    Britain under Blair, Brown and Straw enabled the war.
    They are still trying to prevent details of the deception from being released to the public. Straw successfully prevented disclosures only last week.
    And for this, the Congress of the United States is on bended knees, kissing their keisters.


    WMD scare was based on Brit memo (none / 0) (#185)
    by Cream City on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 10:32:04 PM EST
    that Colin Powell used at the UN, some of us may recall.  Turned out that the Brits knew by then that it was faulty intelligence, but they would not say so -- apparently because, as you say, Blair went with Bush on wanting Iraq to be Haliburtonized for Cheney. . . .

    Brown... (none / 0) (#71)
    by Samuel on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:43:15 PM EST
    ...just cause it's interesting...in '99 while Chancellor of the Exchequer sold 400 tons of British gold at a $275/ounce (about half their reserves) - which is aggravating their currency situation today.  Brown is a crook.  Gold prices have since reason to about $900/ounce depending on the moment you check.  

    Similar to the Fed swapping out US bonds for 'toxic securities' except that the longterm outlook on gold is much better - and there wasn't even a reason!


    It's official... (none / 0) (#72)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:44:55 PM EST
    arguably the best right-handed hitter in the game has signed with the Dodgers for 2 years.

    God damn Bernie Madoff...I wouldn't be too bothered by a bunch of millionaires getting ripped off, but when it effects the ability of my team to sign players I take it personal:)

    I gather the parking lot business is (none / 0) (#79)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 12:58:52 PM EST
    still solvent. 45 million?  Oh well, we get to enjoy the spectacle but not pay the price (except Pads bump up the ticket price for special games, such as LAD in town).

    Funny how.... (none / 0) (#83)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:06:20 PM EST
    the price isn't discounted when a basement dweller rolls through town.

    I thought I had found a loophole where I could see the new stadium while still boycotting the purchase of Mets tickets...they scheduled an NCAA exhibition between St. John's and Georgetown, but the tickets sold out in a flash.  I should just head down and scalp some for that game.


    I think the Pads are the basement (none / 0) (#89)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:18:18 PM EST
    dweller.  How would that work?  

    How do they stage a basketball game in an open air baseball park?  Will Obama attend?


    It's NCAA baseball.... (none / 0) (#94)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:24:34 PM EST
    should have specified.

    The Johnnies played Georgetown in hoops last night, we won in overtime.  The kids are starting to gel I think...next year maybe we can make some noise in the Big East and squeeze into the big dance.


    Ah. (none / 0) (#97)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:35:02 PM EST
    I'm looking forward to World Baseball Classic, some of which will happen at Petco Park.  Fun last time.

    Me too.... (none / 0) (#102)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:37:48 PM EST
    I think China vs. Japan is on at the crack of dawn east coast time tommorow.

    Our boys can't do worse than last year, I think Davey Johnson will have 'em ready to play...David Wright is a big upgrade over A-Rod at the hot corner:)


    The guys who don't really need (none / 0) (#104)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:39:51 PM EST
    to go to spring training, I guess.

    Edgar Gonzalez is playing for Mexico but he is worried he'll lose out on being starting 2nd baseman for Pads as he is missing some spring training.  


    who is we? GU or StJ? (none / 0) (#116)
    by DFLer on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:01:50 PM EST
    Johnnies baby... (none / 0) (#129)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:16:25 PM EST
    Didn't attend the university, just grew up a Q76 ride from the campus...the local NCAA team.

    The rivalry ain't the same like the days of Ewing and Mullin...but still nice to beat the hated Hoyas.


    Hoya Saxa, baby (none / 0) (#133)
    by DFLer on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:21:07 PM EST
    Mullin v Ewing...those were the days!

    Think of the health benefits (none / 0) (#90)
    by CST on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:21:03 PM EST
    Your blood pressure won't go through the roof every time the ball gets hit to left field, hoping your left fielder is in fact on the field.

    The opposing team's pitcher will be much healthier too.


    I was thinking of the benefits... (5.00 / 1) (#100)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:35:22 PM EST
    of .300, 30, 130 in the middle of our line-up:)

    The way he hits, he could bring a folding chair with him to left and still be in better position to make a play than Moises Alou.


    IMO, Manny is fun to watch. (none / 0) (#101)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:35:56 PM EST
    But then, I also enjoyed Rickey.

    oh I agree (none / 0) (#107)
    by CST on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 01:41:51 PM EST
    I actually like Manny a lot.  Just trying to help kdog with the silver lining :)

    The high-five while catching the out was priceless.


    CA finally does something about (none / 0) (#120)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:07:35 PM EST
    bringing back runaway film production.

    20% - 25% Tax Credit for a "qualified motion picture."

    Ya know there is an issue.... (none / 0) (#156)
    by kdog on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 03:55:41 PM EST
    when the socialist Canadians have a lower tax rate than us.

    Think it will work?


    Hope so. (none / 0) (#161)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:13:21 PM EST
    A lot of states (and countries, like Canada) offer tax rebates for movie production. Been going on for years and it really hurts our local workers and companies. I'm glad CA is finally fighting back.

    Feingold keeps on keeping on (none / 0) (#131)
    by oculus on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 02:20:47 PM EST
    re U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan and civil liberties:  link

    Warning:  exclusive Huff Post interview.

    The fake Rush "controversy" (none / 0) (#159)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:08:39 PM EST
    Apparently dreamed up last fall.  Guess this what was meant by Obama when he promised he wouldn't waste our time on "phony outrage".

    Does anyone outside the blogs and MSM care about this "rift"?

    Man (5.00 / 0) (#162)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:17:47 PM EST
    Obama has broken his promise not to waste our time, but at the same time nobody is even paying attention.  I'm not sure how you square that one.

    If Obama actually promised not to waste the time of the sort of person who reads the Politico, that promise was certainly doomed from the start.


    Point missed (none / 0) (#166)
    by jbindc on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:31:23 PM EST
    The fact that all we've been hearing about is how Rush is the leader of the GOP, which to anyone who pays attention is complete bull and spin put out by Emanuel and Gibbs.  It would be nice if they were talking about things that really mattered, but instead they were too busy cooking up strategies like this last fall.

    But apparently today you feel Obama can not be questioned because anyone who does is silly, illogical, or doesn't read "appropriate" material.  Too bad - I used to enjoy reading your comments.  


    Just saying (5.00 / 1) (#168)
    by Steve M on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:36:36 PM EST
    Whose time do you believe Obama is wasting, if no one outside the blogs even cares?

    Entertainment Value Alone (5.00 / 1) (#171)
    by daring grace on Wed Mar 04, 2009 at 04:45:07 PM EST
    Watching various and sundry Repubs even ever so gently badmouth Limbaugh and then quickly grovel in apology has made this ploy worth it to me. We will always have wacky political theater no matter who's in power and, for once it's been Repubs looking silly during the campaign and now.

    I heard Obama talking substance last fall and have heard it these days, so this particular gambit doesn't seem to be consuming that much of his admin's time. It seems a pretty lightweight sin, if sin it be. It certainly hasn't been all I've been hearing from the Obama White House.


    What is so funny is the (none / 0) (#187)
    by Amiss on Thu Mar 05, 2009 at 12:45:12 AM EST
    I am sorry Rush webpage.