‘Unions Are Reportedly ‘Walking Out’ on the Democrats.’ And, these days, who can blame them?

“What we’ve seen in many states is a witch hunt on the pensions and power of those who aim to collectively bargain. Whether it was the public employees in Wisconsin or the pension fight that is about to happen to public safety workers in Oklahoma, unions are in trouble.
“Maybe that’s why earlier this year the International Association of Firefighters decided that they’re not giving any money to federal elections anymore and instead are sending it down to the state level to help protect pension programs. Or why some unions plan to sit out the National Democratic Convention in North Carolina in 2012.
“Gawker quotes a Politico piece saying that the AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka plans to scale back their involvement with democratic candidates in the 2012 election.”

“Republicans don’t win by taking over power and pushing us to the right – because eventually the pendulum swings back to the left (see 2006 and 2008). Republicans win by forcing our own party to move further to the right.”



It’s football season again, which means it’s FANTASY football season again. There are literally thousands of sports page pundits and bloggers making draft recommendations, but none are funnier, and uncannily more accurate, than the irreplaceable Drew Magary.




Two articles on Movie City News impressed me because the people in the articles are so admirably reasonable:

Kelly McGillis on the 25th anniversary of ‘Top Gun’:

“It never would have occurred to me when I was making ‘Top Gun,’ that I’d still be talking about it 25 years later … I don’t look back. I don’t have favorites of my films. I learned important lessons from all of them so they’ve all been big gifts to me.”
“At the moment, McGillis resides with her partner Melanie Leis in Collingswood, N.J., where she works full-time as a drug and alcohol counselor. “I feel so blessed to be able to go to work each day,” says McGillis who recently celebrated 10 years of sobriety.
“I prayed for a long time for God to allow me to live a life of loving service and that’s exactly what I have now. I’m happy about that.”


David Nicholls on the movie version of his book, ‘One Day’:

“The first thing you lose when you put things onscreen is that inner monologue, the voice in a character’s head that explains why they’re doing what they’re doing and makes them likeable, or bearable, to a reader if they’re behaving badly – Emma and Dexter are not always at their best in the book. But onscreen you have to leave that to the actors. So that was the hardest loss,” Nicholls said.
“I didn’t want to write another goofy guy and wisecracking girl. Men and women in a lot of romantic comedy have been pushed into opposing camps. The women are ultra-feminine and obsessed with shopping; and the men are kind of slobby and only ever want to spend time with other men and talk about football. I didn’t recognise this in real life. Most of my best friends are female and they are interested in politics and not that bothered about shoes. I wanted to write someone who wasn’t cut from the same cloth as the conventional female characters.”

All admirable good intentions aside, general consensus is the movie’s pretty stinky. God bless, and better luck to, Lone Scherfig next time – she’s a talented director, if ‘An Education’ is any indicator.


Economics / Politics

Why can’t we make headway on getting corporations to let go of some cash and create jobs here? The government won’t pay them enough to do it…

“…in October 2010, John Chambers, chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, and Safra Catz, president of Oracle, published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which they sought to counter criticism in the press that US corporations were sitting on one trillion dollars in cash instead of investing in jobs in the United States. The two high-tech executives claimed that US corporations were holding the cash in question overseas and recognized that these funds “could be invested in U.S. jobs, capital assets, research and development, and more” if US corporations had an incentive to do so. “But,” they continued, “for U.S. companies such repatriation of earnings carries a significant penalty: a federal tax of up to 35%. This means that U.S. companies can, without significant consequence, use their foreign earnings to invest in any country in the world — except here.”
“Having deftly transformed an existing government tax concession to US corporations into a tax penalty on US corporations, Chambers and Catz noted that, among other things, repatriated profits could “provide needed stability for the equity markets because companies would expand their activity in mergers and acquisitions, and would pay dividends or buy back stock.” To lure the $1 trillion back to the United States, they proposed a 5 percent tax on repatriated profits that would yield the US government a quick $50 billion, which could then “be used to help put America back to work…[by giving] employers — large or small — a refundable tax credit for hiring previously unemployed workers (including recent graduates).” “Such a program,” they crowed (their plan having saved their companies 30% in taxes on foreign profits), “could help put more than two million Americans back to work at no cost to the government or American taxpayers. How’s that for a good idea?”

This is how shamelessly, opportunistically greedy they were a year ago. How much better do you think things have gotten since then?

“…it is no wonder that neither Obama nor Congressional Democrats can come up with a jobs plan. Like it or not, the US economy is an autocratic corporate economy in which the CEOs of major corporations must take the lead in investing in innovation and job creation for a jobs plan to have a significant and sustainable impact.”


Politics / The Law

Scoundrels to the left of us…scoundrels to the right of us…

“Not only was (NY attorney general Eric) Schneiderman launching probing investigations at a time when the Obama DOJ was steadfastly failing to do so, but — more importantly — he was refusing to sign onto a global settlement agreement being pushed by the DOJ that would have insulated the mortgage banks (including Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo) from all criminal investigations in exchange for some relatively modest civil fines.
“The President — who kicked off his campaign vowing to put an end to “the era of Scooter Libby justice” — will stand before the electorate in 2012 having done everything in his power to shield top Bush officials from all accountability for their crimes and will have done the same for Wall Street banks, all while continuing to preside over the planet’s largest Prison State . . . for ordinary Americans convicted even of trivial offenses, particularly (though not only) from the War on Drugs he continues steadfastly to defend.”



Economics / Socioculture

How to save the United States Post Office:

“For starters, the Postal Service doesn’t use a dime of taxpayer money and hasn’t for more than a quarter-century. Its revenue comes from selling its products and services, at the best rates in the industrialized world. Customer satisfaction and on-time delivery are at record highs.
“Furthermore, USPS’ financial problems have surprisingly little to do with delivering the mail. In the past four fiscal years, despite the worst recession in 80 years and despite Internet diversion, revenues from postal operations exceeded costs by $611 million.
“The problem lies elsewhere: the 2006 congressional mandate that the USPS pre-fund future retiree health benefits for the next 75 years, and do so within a decade, an obligation no other public agency or private firm faces. The roughly $5.5 billion annual payments since 2007 — $21 billion total — are the difference between a positive and negative ledger.
“That’s the elephant in the room — not Saturday mail delivery, not post offices that serve urban or rural areas. Remove this onerous pre-funding obligation and the Postal Service would have been profitable even during this economic downturn, and periods with losses would be manageable. But we’re not even asking that it be removed.
“What USPS management, unions and key Republican and Democratic legislators ask of Congress is simply this: Let the Postal Service stop depleting its operating funds to make these payments and instead allow an internal transfer of funds from its pension surpluses. This responsible business move, with zero taxpayer involvement, would leave pensions and retiree health benefits fully funded well into the future while putting the USPS budget back on sound financial footing.”


Socioculture / Economics

We’re perilously close to the dismantling of the entire U.S. Postal Service.

“Congress gave him (Phillip Herr, Director of Physical Infrastructure Issues for the U.S. Government Accountability Office) until the end of 2011 to report on the USPS’s woes. But Herr and his team concluded that the postal service’s business model was so badly broken that collapse was imminent. Abandoning a long tradition of overdue reports, they felt they had to deliver theirs 18 months early in April 2010 to the various House and Senate committees and subcommittees that watch over the USPS. A year later, the situation is even grimmer. With the rise of e-mail and the decline of letters, mail volume is falling at a staggering rate, and the postal service’s survival plan isn’t reassuring. Elsewhere in the world, postal services are grappling with the same dilemma—only most of them, in humbling contrast, are thriving.”

“The postal service is already carrying more junk than first class,” says postal consultant (James I.) Campbell. “Pretty soon it’s going to be a government-run advertising mail delivery service. Does that make any sense? It doesn’t make any sense.”