Jan 02 2012
As the next Congressional fight over payroll tax extensions and unemployment benefits and pipelines gets set up in the next few weeks for either its final chapter or to be kicked down the road a bit farther, one or the other, you’re going to hear a lot from our Republican friends about how much they value work and workers; most especially, they’ll tell you, they value American jobs for American workers.
After all, they’ll say, creating American jobs is the most important thing of all.
But if we were to look back over just the last few months, some would tell us, we could quickly find examples of how Republicans promote ideas that don’t seem to value work or workers at all, much less American jobs.
Well as it turns out, “some” seem to be right; to illustrate one of those examples we’ll look back a month or two or three to a time some Republicans might wish was long, long, ago, in a galaxy far, far away.
Dec 20 2011
I have spent a number of years complaining about the interactions between Democrats and Republicans, but after the recent events involving the Keystone XL and civil liberties cave-ins, I’ve decided it’s time to stop complaining and embrace the madness.
But I also feel like there’s an ugly edge to all this…that hasn’t really been fully exploited.
I mean, Republicans have tried to force through a lot of disgusting ideas this Congress as they’ve held various bills hostage, but it seems like, if they really tried, they could do so much more.
But I’m not here to complain, I’m here to help; that’s why today we’ll be trotting out a few ideas of our own that Republicans can attach to bills throughout 2012, with the assistance of certain errant Democrats.
It’ll be fun, it’ll be festive, but most of all…it’ll be an exercise in Civic Responsibility, and in these difficult times, that’s something we could sorely use.
Dec 10 2011
I got a weird little story about my friend Blitz Krieger to bring to you today.
He’s had a crazy car problem, he has, and over the past few months he thought he had found a solution – in fact, he thought he had found the solution of his dreams – but in the end, he’s discovered that the things you dream about often don’t go according to plan.
The way it’s worked out for him so far, it’s been a lot of anticipation followed by a sudden wave of frustration, but I feel like he’s a lot better off having his particular problem with his car…because if he’d had cancer instead, he’d surely be dead by now.
Dec 03 2011
After doing a bit of mountain hiking a few days back, I had a chance to get involved in a great afternoon conversation with the Alliance for American Manufacturing’s Mike Wessel, who also serves as a Commissioner with the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission; the conversation was about how we’re doing when it comes to our relationship with China.
As it turns out, the two events went well together, because what I’m hearing from these guys is that we have a great big ol’ mountain to climb if we hope to get back to a level playing field in our interactions with this most important country.
There’s news to report across a variety of issues; that’s why today we’ll be talking about trade, human rights, cybersecurity, poverty and development, and the methods by which you can apply “soft power” to achieve hard results.
The entirely unanticipated result: all of this will reveal the naïveté of Ron Paul when it comes to foreign policy; we’ll discuss that at the end.
Nov 10 2011
You know what the problem is with America?
The poor don’t get just how great they have it.
I’ve been hearing this a lot lately; the basic thrust of the discussion is that all those cars, TVs, DVD players, refrigerators, and stoves that have found their way into the homes of the economic underclass are proof there’s really no such thing as “poor” in America.
If they were truly poor, the argument goes, well…think recycled corn.
And if the poor want things to get better, let ’em pull themselves up by their own bootstraps – and if they can’t, then let ’em rot, because that’s the best thing for the economy.
But I don’t buy all that, and by the time we’re done today, I hope to have given you a whole new perspective on how jobs get created in this country.
Oct 17 2011
Well I’m finally back here at work after another recent series of personal adventures; in the middle of all the fun I’ve been finding time to get down to my local “Occupy” event, and for those of you who have not been keeping up I thought we’d take a moment today to compare a bit of Fox-driven perception to the reality I’ve been seeing.
What I’ve been told to expect, at least in certain quarters of the public space, are dirty filthy hippies with no jobs or ambitions hoping to destroy America while having deviant public couplings fueled by the free distribution of dangerous psychotropic drugs.
Sadly, I’ve found that there’s not really much truth in that description, even as tiny bits of it do ring true; but with a manifesto in hand and a few conversations under my belt we’ll see what we can do to create a picture that will surprise a lot of the 99% who already support Occupy Wall Street, even if they don’t know it yet.
Oct 04 2011
Like a lot of people these days, we have come to the conclusion that it’s time to change our lousy bank.
And it wasn’t even like we chose badly, either – we were customers of Washington Mutual for almost two decades, and we loved ’em: they were nice people to deal with, they didn’t constantly hammer you every time you came in to the branch with desperate sales pitches, and they didn’t even charge you for using another bank’s cash machines.
It turns out, however, that all that beneficence came at a cost: WaMu made a lot of money making sketchy mortgage loans, and when it all came crashing down, we found ourselves customers of JPMorgan Chase, who we now hate with the fire of a thousand suns.
But it turns out choosing a new bank ain’t all that easy – and that’s where you come into today’s conversation.
Sep 24 2011
I don’t feel very good about this country this morning, and as so many of us are I’m thinking of how Troy Davis was hustled off this mortal coil by the State of Georgia without a lot of thought of what it means to execute the innocent.
And given the choice, I’d rather see us abandon the death penalty altogether, for reasons that must, at this moment, seem self-evident; that said, it’s my suspicion that a lot of states are not going to be in any hurry to abandon their death penalties anytime soon now that they know the Supreme Court will allow the innocent to be murdered.
So what if there was a way to create a compromise that balanced the absolute need to protect the innocent with the feeling among many Americans that, for some crimes, we absolutely have to impose the death penalty?
Considering the circumstances, it’s not going to be an easy subject, but let’s give it a try, and see what we can do.
Sep 15 2011
Once again The Fates have come our way to provide a story, and once again, we have a contender for the “Ironic Story Of The Year”.
It’s got everything you need for serious irony: an irascible comedian who mocked religion at every opportunity, a city that loved him, and the rich coincidence of his having been born at the crossroads of New York City’s communities of religious education.
And that’s why, today, we’ll be talking about the effort to name the street right next to Manhattan’s Seminary Row…Carlin Street.
(And before we go further, a language warning: we’ll be quoting George Carlin liberally, and that means there may be present today certain of the seven words with which he created one of his best known routines. You are now officially warned.)
Sep 11 2011
I’m going to be really honest with you: after all the fights at the mall to get just the right present for everybody and the giant hassle of going to the Post Office so I can get the perfect stamps for my cards – and then worrying that I left someone off the list – I am just not in the mood to do a 9/11 story.
And it’s been getting worse every year. I mean, just like the “It’s Christmas Every Day Store”, I know there’s one of the “9/11 Every Day” stores open, in the all-too-human form of Rudy Giuliani, and I’ve learned to live with that, but it seems like they got started with the 9/11 earlier than ever this year – and by the time the TV memorials and analysis and retrospectives are all over, to paraphrase Lewis Black…I’m going to hate freedom.
In an effort to stave off this fate, we’ll be headed in a different direction today: I have three stories to pass along; each is important enough that you really should know about them, and yet they’re each very much bite-sized and easily digestible.
It’s all good stuff…so let’s get right to it.
Sep 07 2011
I took a break to enjoy the holiday, as I’m sure many of you did, but my inbox kept busy, and on Friday came a doozy, courtesy of the Washington Post.
You remember that little bit of a banking crisis we had a couple of years back, where banks around the world might have possibly, maybe, just a little, conspired in a giant scheme to package toxic mortgage loans into Grade A, investment-ready securities instruments, which then blew up in everyone’s faces to the tune of a whole lot of taxpayer bailouts?
Well all of a sudden, it looks like an agency of the Federal Government is looking to do something about it, in a real big way.
Last Friday the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced they’re suing 17 firms (I’ll give you a list, bit it’s pretty much all the usual suspects); depending on who you ask the Feds are seeking an amount as high as $200 billion.
As Joe Biden would say, it’s a big…well, it’s a big deal, anyway, and that’s why we’re starting the new week with this one.
Aug 22 2011
When last we met, it was to discuss a Big Idea that the Obama Administration might apply to get some job creation going, despite a difficult Congress; the Big Idea was to look at the “Buy American” provisions that exist in our laws, regulations, and Executive Orders and see if we could practice a bit of “jobs arbitrage” by not just meeting the “Made in USA” requirements when governments across this country make purchases, but exceeding them.
(As it stands today, pretty much any “good or service” with more than 50% Made in USA content qualifies as a Made in USA purchase, even if 49% of the “good or service” comes from somewhere else).
At the time, I told you that if all went well we could look forward to comments from both Labor and the Administration as to the practicality of the Big Idea, and as it turns out I have comments for you that hit close to that mark – and a bit more besides:
On Saturday I just happened to bump into Congressman Adam Smith (WA-09); in the course of that conversation I told him what we’re doing here, and he wanted to offer a few thoughts of his own…and when you put all that together, I think we’re going to have a lot to talk about.