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Showing posts from February, 2009

Twitter: The Latest Gimmick For a Culture of Attention Junkies...or What Are You Doing RIGHT NOW???

Twitter. I just heard about it. Yeah, yeah, yeah...I'm behind the times. Save it. As with everything, once you become aware of it, you start to see it everywhere. Now, I've noticed newscasters on MSNBC signing off with, "I'll be Twittering about this during the break..."

Pretty soon, I will be forced to try this. If for no other reason than I'm just fed-up of hearing about it and need to investigate for myself. Then, I'll probably become addicted to it for a few months, and then drop it altogether and claim that I always thought it was stupid. But, before all that, I'd just like to register my contempt for what I think is just anyother ridiculous indulgence of our media-crazed, attention-addicted culture.

For those who don't know, apparently its some kind of internet service whereby you can write instant-messages and send them out to a bunch of people all at once. Kind of like mass-emails but a lot quicker. I guess that's how it works. Twitter c…

Bobby Jindal? Is this a joke?

Anybody who stuck around last night after President Obama's address to Congress got a real surprise...a somewhat unpleasant surprise.

I was sitting in my living room reading the newspaper and I had the T.V. on. I heard the newscasters on MSNBC say, "And now for the GOP response to Obama's speech, we turn to Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana..."
The next thing I was a gaunt figure walking out of a shadowy foyer, and approaching the microphone as if he were accepting an award. This, apparently, was Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, about whom I've heard almost nothing up until this point. Before Jindal was even finished with his first sentence, my stomach was queasy.
My first thought was that someone was playing a collosal joke on the network, and had switched the videotapes, or hijacked the live-feed. I expected someone to yell "Cut to commercial!!!" any second, and pull the plug on the eerily comical figure speaking into the camera. But, no one did. …

Pipe Smoking Making a Comeback???

..................................Actually, this IS a pipe...

As a pipe smoker, I feel I should point out to all two of you who still read this august blog that the Wall Street Journal today ran a story about pipe smoking. The story says, basically, that pipe smoking, once the province of old men, is now catching-on amongst people in their 20s. It said that the downturn in the economy may have something to do with it, because pipe smoking is a cheaper than cigarette smoking.

I don't believe people are making a conscious choice to switch to the pipe because cigarettes are more expensive. No one thinks to themselves, "Gee, cigarettes went up 50 cents. Time to buy a corncob pipe and a sack of 'baccy!" For one thing, the sensations aren't equivalent. Pipe smoking is much less immediate, much less jolting, packing nowhere near the "fix" you get from cigarettes. Still, some people try to wean themselves off cancer sticks by smoking a pipe, which does sometimes …

Investment Bankers Get Public Flogging...the Death of Investment Banking as we Know It???

Yesterday the CEOs of a bunch of investment banks (you can look up the specifics on your own) lined up in front of a special session of Congress to discuss what they had done with the Federal Bailout money their banks were given late last year. Well, at least that was the ostensible purpose of the gathering. The real reason the bankers were called before Congress was for a good, old-fashioned public flogging.

If this were the Middle Ages, or Revolutionary France, they may have been hung or guillotined. As it is, they were basically paraded in front of Congress like a bunch of misbehaving schoolboys and questioned, upbraided, even sort of taunted, by various members of Congress including Mike Capuano (D-Mass) and Maxine Waters (D-Calif).

I must confess, the whole thing was kind of fun to watch: these one-time Masters of the Universe squirming before the irate questions of grandstanding Congressmen. It was funny to hear the Congressmen apply normal, real-world reasoning as they questioned…

Phrase of the Day: "Bully Pulpit"

From the Hackneyed Phrase Dept.

The hackneyed phrase of the day is "Bully Pulpit." It was coined by Theodore Roosevelt and means, roughly, a political office or other position that is high enough to be used as a platform to push an agenda. The Presidency, for example, is the epitome of such an office.

The term has been tossed around by political talk show hosts and reporters over the past few days to describe President Obama's position and how he's using it to advocate the Stimulus Bill. Only they're kind of criticizing him for not using the Bully Pulpit enough in the early going.

"When you've got the Bully Pulpit, you might as well use it," said one MSNBC reporter.

I'm not particularly fond of the phrase, myself. Just doesn't feel right coming off the tongue. It just sounds too antiquated, and too evocative of a long, long-gone era when life and politics were a bit rougher around the edges. I imagine a union boss with his shirt sleeves rolled u…

Senate Debate Rages...and Boxer Hits Hard

In case you missed it -- and you probably did, because you probably have a life -- there was a great debate today on the Senate floor about the latest iteration of the stimulus bill. Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) were among the speakers from the Democratic Party.

They both made excellent points, but I think Boxer made the most effective speech. I've heard of her off and on throughout the years, but after today I'm going to pay closer attention. Something about her comments just grabbed me.

She said, basically, that for the past eight years the Republicans have been willing to approve trillions of dollars in spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, but now they are balking at spending $800 or so odd billion to help stimulate the economy. Now that it's time to spend money domestically, they are preaching fiscal responsibility.

It's a great point, perhaps the best point I've heard anyone make regarding this bill. Still, it doesn't change anything i…

Get the Stimulus Bill Done Right, Not Just Done Fast...

I admire President Obama for stepping up into the fray to defend and even beat the drum for the Economic Stimulus Bill. But maybe just ramming the Bill through Congress isn't the right way to go at this point... Isn't it more important to get the Bill done right?

Just some things to consider...

1.) The first part of the last stimulus package, some $250-$300 billion dollars, seems to have gone directly to banks, and also seems to have disappeared. It did not free-up bank lending, it did not staunch the blood-letting in the stock market, it did not have much of an effect on the market at all. This is not good.

If I were the Obama administration, I'd be willing to take a bit more time, maybe even just another week, to make sure this Bill has some things in it that will uplift the market and the economy IMMEDIATELY. What's another week? We're already at the point where we expect to hear about layoffs every day, and we expect the stock market to either stay flat or drop, e…