Friday, May 28, 2010
Dinner was Jess's in Hermitage. This delightful dish is bow tie pasta with peppers and sausage. There are three kinds of sweet peppers that compliment each other. The whole thing is mixed with olive oil to keep it light. It's worth the drive to enjoy this meal.
Sent from the BlackBerry® of Michael Prelee.
Friday, May 21, 2010
- Impact- The Tea Party can certainly have one. Americans want an outlet for their frustration with Washington D.C. that will have an effect on the establishment. The country needs a third party (and probably a fourth).
- Wall St. Bailout- The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was necessary but distasteful. It may be popular to rant against the government bailing out large banks that had made terrible decisions about investing in credit default swaps but if the banks had failed, the government would have had to bail out their customers and no one would be available to loan money to businesses. It would hampered the recovery because business needs capital to expand and maintain current operation. It's important to recognize this mess was caused by the revocation of the Glass-Steagll act which allowed banks to invest in the first place. Ask Phil Gramm why he thought doing away with this important Depression era legislation was important. Ask Bill Clinton why he signed the bill revoking it. And remember, The Mahoning Valley dies without TARP. Without TARP, GM goes belly up, Lordstown folds and all the businesses supporting GM Lordstown lay off workers. Let's not pretend fat cat bankers were the only one's helped by this legislation.
- A Smaller Budget- It's one thing to want it but it's another to say how. Which programs will be cut? Defense? The social safety net? Do we leave ourselves vulnerable or not house and feed those impacted by the recession? If these programs are truly necessary, should we raise taxes to pay for them? Ranting about them at a rally may relieve frustration but it's not the hard choices a leader needs to make.
- Smaller Government- It's bloated and slow moving, that's for sure. But where will cuts be made in services offered? We've heard the arguments for minimal government but does that mean hungry kids stay hungry through no fault of their own? Do we let older Americans freeze because they can't pay their heating bill? Any movement needs to be mature enough to recognize real people are affected when services are slashed.
- Nutters- The Tea Party attracts them. If some loon shows up at a rally with a picture of President Obama and a Swastika on the same sign, that's the guy who will be on the news at 11. The Tea Party has to make their movement unattractive to these types of individuals. Also, anyone who thinks Socialism and Fascism are the same political ideology. Pull up Wikipedia and read for ten minutes before using these terms. This means Sarah Palin and Jim Traficant should stop being invited to the rallies.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
- Leadership- It's a bit thin in the party. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi aren't exactly LBJ or Tip O'Neil. They've squandered the victories of 2006 & 2008 and they will probably pay a price for it this November. They never sold health care reform as a way to compete economically against countries that have government run systems. They never grabbed hold of the unemployment issue with sufficient gravity. People are out of work due to a situation that isn't easily understood. It feels like Congress passed the stimulus package and moved on without ever looking back to see if it worked. If people get the feeling that you threw some money at the biggest problem in their lives and moved on they'll punish you. That may be a contributing factor to Harry Reid being in danger of losing his seat.
- The Network- MSNBC has a bit of a leftist slant to it. Keith Olbermann was fun to listen to when he was in opposition of President Bush's ridiculous policies of the Iraq War and tax cuts. Now he's playing the same game Limbaugh does, scouring the headlines for stories that allow him to throw a leftist slant and ginning up phony outrage. Watch Rachel Maddow instead. Her commentary is thoughtful and insightful. She invites guests on the show who hold opposing viewpoints and treats them with respect.
- The 1960's are Over- Great music, poor lessons learned. The world is too complex to simply say you are against war and that we would all just get along if we understood and deferred to every culture on Earth. The war in Iraq was unjustifiable and should never have taken place. The war in Afghanistan is where half a million U.S. troops should have been on September 12th, 2001. The Taliban harbored the criminals who murdered 3,000 Americans. That can't happen without dire consequences. As for energy policy, America needs oil to run so we're going to drill where we find it. This accident in Gulf of Mexico isn't a reason to stop drilling. It's a reason to do it more safely. Solar and wind won't get me to work; not yet. Nuclear will keep the lights on and do so safely. Democrats need to keep progressing toward better solutions but be mature enough to realize every dream is not going to come true tomorrow.
- Personal Responsibility- Every person in poverty is not there due to bad circumstances. Not everyone has been tricked and hoodwinked. At some point people need to realize that graduating from high school is essential, it takes two parents (of whatever gender) to raise children and that being broke is no reason to stick up a Dollar Store. Somewhere along the line we let everyone cast off their dignity and slide by with a sad story. The social safety net is a fine and noble idea. However, if families are on public assistance for multiple generations then the safety net is failing. We need to get people to work and provide kids with role models who have succeeded. I've got more bad news; people are gaming the system. There really are people who don't want to work and are perfectly happy cashing a state check every month or running out their unemployment as long as possible. Don't believe me? I'll introduce you to them.
- Be Smarter- President Obama needs an agenda that is more populist. Getting people back to work has to be the number one strategy. Employment is everything. It cuts spending by getting people off public assistance, it increases tax revenue which lowers the deficit and increases educational opportunities by funding local schools. If the president wants Cap & Trade he has to relate it to ordinary people. No one cares about greenhouse gasses when your house is being foreclosed upon.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
- The Voice- Right now, talk radio champ Rush Limbaugh is the voice of the Republican party. He holds this position whether you like him or not (and there are Republicans who don't). The problem is that he is an entertainer who makes gobs of money finding fault with every single thing done by the Obama administration and the Democratic congress. His screeds should not be mistaken for thoughtful political analysis. He panders to the extreme right and says 'shocking' things to keep ratings high. These things are frequently at odds with conservative beliefs and good governance.
- The Network- Fox News is not fair and balanced. It is very difficult to discern when they are in 'news' mode and when they are offering an opinion. Their editorial slant is their business. It's just time to acknowledge people watch it because they like right wing opinions delivered by good looking news readers.
- Moderates- If there is a backlash against moderate members of the House and Senate there will be no good governance over the next few years. Olympia Snow, Susan Collins and Lindsey Graham are thoughtful members of the Senate who are interested in passing good laws both parties can agree upon. If they knuckle under to right wing pressure to keep their seats in future elections conservatives will lose their chance to influence lawmaking.
- No- Voting against every single Democrat bill is not a strategy. It allows up and comers like Eric Cantor and veterans like John Boehner to say they have a solid record of opposing Democrat initiatives. That way they can move on to easy re-election or higher office. Independent voters and conservative Democrats have no idea if Republicans are putting forth good ideas. The 'Loyal Opposition' is one thing. A brick wall is quite another.
- The Role of Government- Regulations save lives and the economy. Nuclear power is safer than it used to be because of regulations enacted after the Three Mile Island accident. The economy is in terrible shape because Phil Gramm (and Bill Clinton) helped repeal the Glass-Steagall Act passed after the Great Depression. There are things only government can accomplish. Banks will bet your savings on Credit Default Swaps in a heartbeat and expect the government to bail out customers if they go broke. It has happened hundreds of times since 2008. The market needs some restraint because lunatics will chase profit to the detriment of us all.
Monday, May 03, 2010
A collective groan could be heard at 9:26 when the story broke from everyone who has worked to help Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley overcome their organized crime reputation.
I don't know if Jim Traficant is doing this because he truly believes his ideas are still relevant or if he feels participating in an election will somehow vindicate his claims of innocence. What I do know is that many people have worked diligently to make Youngstown and the surrounding communities good places to live. The past few years have brought national acclaim for the city's plan to manage its shrinkage, new jobs in many different industries and an attitude change that we can accomplish things in government without bribery and kickbacks.
Traficant's involvement in the election may make for interesting politics. He'll certainly be colorful and ask biting questions. What he won't be is professional in his manner. He won't be able to fall back on past accomplishments because they are all tainted by his corruption. He won't be able to tell us what he can accomplish by working with Congress because in his last term he alienated himself to the point where he wasn't granted a seat on a committee. One lone congressman can make inflammatory speeches on the House floor that make the folks back home feel good but he can't pass laws that help them. Not by himself. In order to get things done a lawmaker must compromise and work with others.
Jim Traficant was imprisoned for his crimes for many years. The area moved on without him and flourished. If he truly wanted to help the Valley he would live life quietly and shun the spotlight.
Sunday, May 02, 2010
Katy Neubauer, 46, and Becca Saunders, 39, of Milwaukee, were shopping for souvenirs two blocks south of the SUV when they saw panicked crowds.
"It was a mass of people running away from the scene," Neubauer said.
Said Saunders: "There were too many people, too many cops. I've never seen anything like it."
CNN found someone a little less excited about the event:
Pamela Hall was at a McDonald's when a police officer told her to pick up her food and leave.
"They told us to go straight to 47th street," Hall said. "Nobody was frightened. The cops weren't upset and the people were not noticeably upset. We were all just perplexed. We just went to 47th street and ended up taking pictures and watching."
Further evidence of which network was reporting well is evident in their quotes from Mayor Michael Bloomberg:
CNN: Inside the vehicle, police found three propane tanks, two filled five-gallon gas containers, two clocks with batteries, consumer-grade fireworks and a locked metal box that resembled a gun locker.
The wiring around the device "was nothing that looked amateurish," Bloomberg said.
Fox heard it differently: Investigators removed three propane tanks, fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components from the back of the Nissan Pathfinder, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said. A black metal box resembling a gun locker was also recovered and will be detonated off site, he said.
Bloomberg called the explosive device "amateurish" and Kelly said the explosives were consumer-grade fireworks but could have caused huge damage on a block of Broadway theaters and restaurants teeming with tourists.
Padding the article also seems to be a favorite of Fox under the guise of providing context, most of which has nothing to do with this attempted bombing:
Fox references to 9/11 = 1, CNN = 0
Total Fox references to other terrorist attacks = 3, CNN= 0
Total Fox references to "regular" crime in Times Square = 4, CNN = 0
Also, both sites allow commenting on their stories.
Typical Fox comment:
The terrorists do not fear us anymore and we can thank this spineless administration. They aren't talking about it but the two coal accidents and this oil spill are probably the result of terrorism.
Typical CNN comment:
My name is Hank Hill. I sell propane and propane accessories.
There may be quite a difference between the people who get their news from each site.