Friday, October 28, 2011

Are the screeners and rent-a-cops gonna feel the least bit foolish sending me back to my car when I (routinely) forget that this is in my pocket?


It's just disproportionate.  Somebody with concealed lethal weapon strolls right in.  I take a hike.

I often look for a planter outside the entrance where I can stash this little instrument of mayhem. Once a courthouse deputy spotted me doing it and gave me the stink eye, said that was out-of-bounds.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

End the Embargo and Travel Ban on Cuba







Again, we are reminded of the fact that the rest of the world is against us for our policy towards Cuba.
Rather than serving the interests of dwindling minority group of Cuban Americans in the United States, we want the President to address the overwhelming majority of U.S. citizens that have been for years calling for a change in our relationship with Cuba.

Happy 20th Anniversary! Or maybe “un-happy” anniversary.
Today for the 20th year in a row, the UN General Assembly has voted to condemn the United States’ 50-year-old economic embargo on Cuba. How did the votes turn out this year?
YES (against embargo) – 186
NO
(in favor of embargo) – 2
ABSTAIN
– 3
(details of the country lists in the vote count have not yet been published)
Last year there were 187 votes in favor of ending  U.S. sanctions on Cuba, two against (Israel and the U.S.) and three abstentions (Palau, Marshall Islands, and Micronesia). 
    Many people had high hopes for President Obama and his promise to change our international image, including in reference to Cuba. We’ve seen small but significant changes in travel/remittance regulations and cultural exchanges; however, the maintenance of the economic sanctions is the basis for and most cruel aspect of our foreign policy towards Cuba.  As the delegate of Egypt reminded us in the opening statement of this year’s general assembly, “On a recent trip to Latin America this year, President Obama stated that ‘The U.S. seeks a new beginning with Cuba.’ Again, the members of the Non-aligned Movement ask the U.S. to match these words with actions.”
     This vote in the UN has become a sad tradition and only underscores the hypocrisy of our role in the international community. While we tout humanitarianism and justice to the world, we cannot even follow our own advice in our own backyard.
     You may read the statements of all the United Nations countries in response to Cuba’s motion to the United Nations to condemn the embargo, here. We've highlighted some strong country statements here.
   Statements from 2011 UN General Assembly Vote on Cuban Embargo
Australia
“Since 1996, the Government of Australia has consistently supported General Assembly resolutions calling for an end to the trade embargo against Cuba. Australia has no trade or economic legislation or measures which restricts or discourages trade or investment to or from Cuba.”
Brazil
“The Brazilian Government has consistently opposed the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba. Accordingly, Brazil has also continued to foster and pursue a growing economic relationship with Cuba.”
     “The maintenance of the economic, commercial and financial embargo against Cuba is inconsistent with the dynamic regional policy that has recently been marked by the return of Cuba to dialogue and cooperation forums of the Americas.”
China
“This [embargo] is not only a serious violation of the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and of relevant United Nations resolutions, but also a source of immense economic and financial losses for Cuba. It is an impediment to efforts by the Cuban people to eradicate poverty, to promote their economic and social development and to attain the Millennium Development Goals, it impairs the Cuban people’s right to survival and development, and it adversely affects normal economic, commercial and financial relations between Cuba and other countries.”
     “China hopes that the United States, in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and relevant United Nations resolutions, will put an end as soon as possible to its blockade against Cuba and it also hopes that relations between the two countries will continue to improve, thus promoting stability and development in the entire Latin American and Caribbean region.”
Colombia
“The Government of Colombia will continue the political support it has always given Cuba, and reaffirms that in conformity with its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law.”
Costa Rica
“The Government of Costa Rica wishes to reiterate that it has not enacted or applied laws intended to enforce the economic embargo against Cuba, and that it is complying with United Nations General Assembly resolution 65/6.”
El Salvador
"Reiterating its support for the Latin American and Caribbean consensus and the solidarity of the majority of United Nations Member States in their endorsement of General Assembly resolution 65/6, the Republic of El Salvador calls for the elimination of these measures against the Republic of Cuba and reports, in accordance with the above-mentioned resolution, that it has never promulgated or applied laws or measures the extraterritorial effects of which would affect the sovereignty of the Republic of Cuba and its citizens."
European Union
“…the European Union and its member States have been clearly expressing their opposition to the extraterritorial extension of the United States embargo, such as that contained in the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992 and the Helms-Burton Act of 1996.”
Holy See
“The Holy See has never drawn up or applied economic, commercial or financial laws or measures against Cuba.”
Honduras
“Honduras, in fulfilment of its obligations under the Charter of the United Nations and international law, has refrained from promulgating laws and regulatory provisions that might affect its trade relations with Cuba.”
Japan
“Japan shares the concern, arising from the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act of 1996 (known as the Helms-Burton Act) and the Cuban Democracy Act of 1992, that, if application of such legislation causes undue hardship in relation to the economic activities of the enterprises or nationals of a third party, the legislation is likely to run counter to international law regarding the extraterritorial application of domestic laws.”
Mexico
“Mexico emphasizes that [the embargo] has serious humanitarian consequences that are contrary to international law and, moreover, signify the abandonment of diplomacy and dialogue as the appropriate ways of settling disputes between States.”
     “The Government of Mexico has also consistently opposed Cuba’s economic and political-diplomatic isolation. It has therefore firmly supported Cuba’s inclusion in all regional integration machinery in order to promote economic and commercial exchange, cooperation and development.”
Russian Federation
“The blockade against Cuba, which has endured for almost half a century, has manifestly demonstrated its inability to influence the Cuban people in their sovereign choice of a model of development. The sole consequences of the sanctions that have been imposed are the worsening living conditions of the Cuban people, the erection of artificial barriers to the growth of the country’s economy and encroachments upon the rights and interests of third countries.”
     “We are convinced that [lifting the embargo],unlike the discriminatory practice of economic “strangulation”, will help ensure the success of the progressive social and economic reforms currently being implemented by the Cuban authorities.”
World Food Programme
“The United States embargo continues to severely limit trade and has a direct impact on the capacity and efficiency of Cuba’s logistics infrastructure, […] food processing and agricultural production. The efficiency of the food-based social safety nets of the Cuban Government’s, which are instrumental to household food security, is thereby negatively affected. This year, the effect is even more crippling because of the combined factors of rising food prices and persistent drought in Cuba.”
World Health Organization
“In the health sector, the consequences of the embargo have a negative multiplier effect on the cost of basic everyday health products, on the difficulties in acquiring health products, on the availability of basic services and, therefore, on the overall living conditions of the population.”
      “The embargo also stunts public health development in Cuba by preventing the country’s access to loans and donations from international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, as well as by limiting its access to philanthropic contributions and donations from civil society in the United States.”
“The embargo affects the individual health care of all people, regardless of age or gender, through its impact on Cuba’s unified health system institutions, research facilities, epidemiological surveillance institutions and disease control agencies.”
Reprinted from LAWG     Latin American Working Group

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Senator Wacko

‘”I am doing this pretty early in my career. Yeah, I realize that,” said Johnson, who called himself an “impatient” legislator. “I wouldn’t look at this as a career move.  [many years ago Ron, with just two words, became a captain of industry.  Amazing what can be built from scratch by merely uttering "I do".]  I would look at it as a way I believe I can be effective and can have an impact.”
Johnson said he viewed the position as mainly a communications job, helping the GOP caucus marshal information [gibberish] and arguments [the circular kind].
“My primary goal in the first two years here is to communicate to the voters of Wisconsin, really to the voters of America, how serious our financial situation is in this country and how urgent it is we address it,” he said in an interview.
“Certainly sitting at the leadership table is going to dramatically increase my learning curve here,” said Johnson, who said his private-sector, non-Washington background would be a good addition to leadership. [Oshkosh is fundamentally a microcosm of the whole universe]   “I do believe I bring a valuable personal perspective, particularly from a communication standpoint.  I’ve been the audience for what comes out of Washington for 31 years.  I hear things differently."  [and I occasionally have visions].     MJS   September 30, 2011

I'd bet the GOP Caucus is going to ease Ron down a bit from his hallucinations.  They'll likely suggest a more behind-the-scenes communications, private-sector, non-Washington background, career path in the Senate.  In the land 'o crocodiles, the impatient barge into the middle of things and the crocs do what crocs have always done.

Rejection might impel him to start mulling a flying hop into the mosh pit of Iowa caucuses.

Monday, September 19, 2011

We're wasting our time....

Doc Daneeka: You're wasting your time
Yossarian: Can't you ground someone who's crazy?
Doc Daneeka: Oh, sure. I have to. There's a rule saying I have to ground anyone who's crazy.
Yossarian: Then why don't you ground me? I'm crazy. Ask Clevinger.
Doc Daneeka: Clevinger? Where is Clevinger? You find Clevinger and I'll ask him.
Yossarian: Then ask any of the others. They'll tell you how crazy I am.
Doc Daneeka: They're crazy
Yossarian: Then why don't you ground them?
Doc Daneeka: Why don't they ask me to ground them?
Yossarian: Because they're crazy, that's what you said.
Doc Daneeka: Of course they're crazy, I just told you they're crazy, didn't I? And you can't let crazy people decide if they are crazy or not.
Yossarian: Is Orr crazy?
Doc Daneeka: He sure is.
Yossarian: Can you ground him?
Doc Daneeka: I sure can. But first he has to ask me to. That's part of the rule.
Yossarian: Then why doesn't he ask you to?
Doc Daneeka: Because he's crazy. He has to be crazy to keep flying combat missions after all the close calls he's had. Sure, I can ground Orr. But first he has to ask me to.
Yossarian: That's all he has to do to be grounded?
Doc Daneeka: That's all. Let him ask me.
Yossarian: And then you can ground him?
Doc Daneeka: No. Then I can't ground him.
Yossarian: You mean there's a catch?
Doc Daneeka: Sure there's a catch, Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn't really crazy.
Yossarian: That's some catch, that Catch-22.
Doc Daneeka: It's the best there is.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Between the Illusory Tenant and Dahlia Lithwick, I think emigre Canadians are miles ahead of most local thinkers...

 

Republicans like Rick Perry are skeptical of everything the government does—except when it executes people.



Either you believe in government or you don't.
The current field of Republican contenders for president are hard at work to prove they don't. The best government, they insist, will leave you alone to repair your own ruptured kidney while your neighbors bring you casseroles and cigarettes. In recent weeks, leading Republicans have made plain they don't believe in government-run health care (lo, even unto death). They don't believe in inoculating children again HPV (lo, even unto death). They don't believe in government-run disaster relief (ditto, re death), the minimum wage, Social Security, or the Federal Reserve. There is nothing, it seems—from protecting civil rights to safeguarding the environment—that big government bureaucracies can't foul up.

Read the rest

Sunday, September 11, 2011

I remember September 11th, 1973 with anger and contempt for filthy murdering thugs...

Filthy murdering thug #1:  Richard Milhous Nixon
Filthy murdering thug #2:  Henry Kissinger

 From the Nixon tapes, five days after thug/murderer Pinochet (#3) murdered the democratically -elected President of Chile, Salvador Allende and took over in Chile:

Nixon: Nothing new of any importance...or is there?
Kissinger: Nothing of very great consequence. The Chilean thing is getting consolidated and of course the newspapers are bleeding because a pro-Communist government has been overthrown.
Nixon: Isn't that something. Isn't that something.
Kissinger: I mean instead of celebrating – in the Eisenhower period we would be heroes.
Nixon: Well we didn't – as you know – our hand doesn't show on this one though.
Kissinger: We didn't do it. I mean we helped them. [garbled] created the conditions as great as possible.
Nixon: That is right. And that is the way it is going to be played
 Every bit of it caught on tape in the Oval Office:
^ The Kissinger Telcons: Kissinger Telcons on Chile, National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 123, edited by Peter Kornbluh, posted May 26, 2004. This particular dialogue can be found at TELCON: September 16, 1973, 11:50 a.m. Kissinger Talking to Nixon. Accessed online November 26, 2006.









Saturday, September 10, 2011

I've gotta agree with TBogg...

"...making plans for Sunday’s 9/11 observance which is shaping up to be 'stretching out on the couch and napping during NFL games' like most American’s who don’t feel the need for calculated show-offy somber reflection designed for public display.

To do so would mean that the terrorists won."

Friday, September 09, 2011

for those who believe in the death penalty...

     "...it's hardly surprising for a country which long considered public hangings a form of entertainment and in which support for the death penalty is mandated orthodoxy for national politicians in both parties.  Still, even for those who believe in the death penalty, it should be a very somber and sober affair for the state, with regimented premeditation, to end the life of a human being no matter the crimes committed.  Wildly cheering the execution of human beings as though one's favorite football team just scored a touchdown is primitive, twisted and base."
  Glenn Greenwald

Saturday, June 11, 2011

China, Cuba, oil and the 90 miles

In recent weeks and months, President Barack Toricelli-Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Helms-Burton Clinton have been working America's foreign policy magic by trying to effect some regime-change in North Africa and gunning down innocent pedestrians in Lahore, along with the routine butt-smooching of  Avigdor and Bibi.

They have not bothered to pay any attention to diplomatic events 90 miles from Key West.

Their going-in position with the pesky Cubans was articulated shortly after Clinton assumed the diplomatic portfolio:  You Change; then, we'll talk.

Just goes to show; if you don't watch those Cubans they'll do something treacherous and sneaky.










Sunday, May 22, 2011

The incomparable Rebecca Solnit 'splains all for you.

Worlds Collide in a Luxury Suite
Some Thoughts on the IMF, Global Injustice, and a Stranger on a Train

By Rebecca Solnit
How can I tell a story we already know too well? Her name was Africa. His was France. He colonized her, exploited her, silenced her, and even decades after it was supposed to have ended, still acted with a high hand in resolving her affairs in places like Côte d’Ivoire, a name she had been given because of her export products, not her own identity.
Her name was Asia. His was Europe. Her name was silence. His was power. Her name was poverty. His was wealth. Her name was Her, but what was hers? His name was His, and he presumed everything was his, including her, and he thought he could take her without asking and without consequences. It was a very old story, though its outcome had been changing a little in recent decades. And this time around the consequences are shaking a lot of foundations, all of which clearly needed shaking.
Who would ever write a fable as obvious, as heavy-handed as the story we’ve just been given? The extraordinarily powerful head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), a global organization that has created mass poverty and economic injustice, allegedly assaulted a hotel maid, an immigrant from Africa, in a hotel’s luxury suite in New York City.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A stranger comes to town... A man with a history of intimidation... A black man... A Muslim

Was enjoying a nice little hour to kill last night in the lobby/piano bar of  the Pfister with a friend from Chennai.  We were enjoying a locally brewed dark beer and a small pizza; my back was turned as she remarked about seeing the tallest man she'd ever seen, passing through the Jefferson Street entrance, heading  for the desk, carrying his own luggage.

Welcome back, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I hadn't seen the man in-the-flesh since he headed west in the mid 70s.

Tried to be cool, avoided gawking.  Some nearby youngsters in their 30s--who'd never heard of, much-less seen the skyhook--marveled at his stature, seemed in-the-dark on his history in Milwaukee.

On the way out a bit later, the doorman mentioned that he comes to the Pfister whenever he has a speaking engagement here.

A speech?    Maybe another speech to go back-to-back with Herb Kohl's announcement of his coming retirement as the Senior Senator from Wisconsin. 




Friday, April 22, 2011

What's the best protest song ever?

Asks The Nation.

It's clearly a naked grab for your e-mail address. They've already got mine; I've had a sub since the 60s. 

I remember this question--best protest song?-- popping up among nostalgists in the late 70s, when we'd hit our thirties, when disco and MBAs elbowed their way to center stage.

My perennial nominee:  Compared to What Les McCann and Eddie Harris jamming at Montreux in 1969; then, going big on the pop charts in '71.  What good is a protest song if it only gets sung at hootenannys and movement potlucks?  The BEST protest song has the lines you want to shout right now.
Slaughterhouse is killin' hogs
Twisted children killin' frogs
Poor dumb rednecks rollin' logs
Tired old ladies kissin' dogs....

The President, he's got his war
Folks don't know just what it's for
Nobody gives us rhyme or reason
Have one doubt, they call it treason....

Runner-up choice: something--almost anything--from Phil Ochs.




Sunday, April 17, 2011

Three Myths of Israel's Insecurity. And Why They Must Be Debunked


This piece by Ira Chernus at Tom Dispatch, published overnight, took me right back to the 2008 post on how candidate Obama went to AIPAC in Chicago in early 2008 to swear that Israel's Security his first priority in the Middle-east.


Here are the Three Sacred Commandments for Americans who shape the public conversation on Israel:
1. For politicians, especially at the federal level: As soon as you say the word “Israel,” you must also say the word “security” and promise that the United States will always, always, always be committed to Israel’s security. If you occasionally label an action by the Israeli government “unhelpful,” you must immediately reaffirm the eternal U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.
2. For TV talking heads and op-ed pundits: If you criticize any policies or actions of the Israeli government, you must immediately add that Israel does, of course, have very real and serious security needs that have to be addressed.
3. For journalists covering the Israel-Palestine conflict for major American news outlets: You must live in Jewish Jerusalem or in Tel Aviv and take only occasional day trips into the Occupied Territories. So your reporting must inevitably be slanted toward the perspective of the Jews you live among. And you must indicate in every report that Jewish Israeli life is dominated by anxiety about security.
U.S. opinion-shapers have obeyed the Three Commandments scrupulously for decades. As a result, they’ve created an indelible image of Israel as a deeply insecure nation. That image is a major, if often overlooked, factor that has shaped and continues to shape Washington’s policies in the Middle East and especially the longstanding American tilt toward Israel. (more)

Fifty years ago today; the beginning of a half century of stupidity and failure...


Half a century ago I was cruising through the last weeks of high school when the news of this clown act hit the front page of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  
We are wedded to failure, addicted to licking imaginary wounds, immune to reason, living in the past, doomed to continue to fail.

No end in sight.

Free the Cuban Five

End the Embargo and the Travel Ban


NY Times front page, 4/17/1961

Friday, April 08, 2011

Shut down government funding of Radio and TV

Radio Martí  and TV Martí are the most audible and visible remnants of 50 years of American futility vis a vis Cuba. But they are barely audible and seldom visible.  About 1% of Cubans watch or listen.  It is not the jamming, it is the near total lack of interest.  Even the hapless lardass liberator, Alan Gross, trying to set up a clandestine insurrectionist communications out of his suitcase looks like a better bang for the taxpayers' buck.  Cutting them off should be an easy move, since Congress has already established the principle that NPR and Public Broadcasting should live without taxpayer subsidy.   And the Cuban broadcasts cost triple what goes into Public Broadcasting subsidies.

Since the OCB’s inception, more than USD 500 million has gone into funding the Radio and TV Martí broadcasts. The annual budget for the OCB reached a peak during the Bush administration in 2006 at USD 36.9 million, and hovered between USD 35 million and 33 million in the subsequent years.1 The Obama administration and formerly Democrat-controlled Congress have since stripped the OCB of USD 4 million in funding and placed restrictions on the agency’s budget. For fiscal year 2011, President Obama has proposed a budget of USD 29.2 million. In contrast, NPR receives roughly USD 5 million annually in federal funding, and provides award-winning coverage to 27.2 million listeners every week.   
John Nichols, a retired Penn State University professor and expert on Cuban communications, estimates that passage of this legislation is “highly unlikely.” Although we are in a budget crisis, he says, the broadcasts are “symbolic of an irrational U.S. policy toward Cuba.” After two decades, the Radio and TV Martí broadcasts have become a forgotten issue, and their cessation may not occur until a larger change in U.S.-Cuba policy is made.            See COHA Report


Sunday, April 03, 2011

"It's not fair to condemn a whole program just because of a single slip-up"

Transocean Ltd. gave its top executives bonuses for achieving the "best year in safety performance in our company's history" – despite the explosion of its oil rig that killed 11 people and spilled 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
No biggie. And anyway, where are you going to find good people if you don't pay them?
Safety accounts for a quarter of the executives' total cash bonuses. The total bonus for CEO Steve Newman last year was $374,062.

From Tristero at the land of Digby

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"...within 48 hours of the bombing campaign’s opening salvos, the U.S. and its allies lost the support of the Arab and African institutions the Obama administration had identified as crucial for going ahead. "


The Arab League--that bizarre gaggle of in-bred monarchs the President Obama and Secretary Clinton rely so heavily on to maintain heavy handed stability in those great fountains of petroleum--began using the familiar heavy-handed (polite term for murderous) methods against the opposition in their own kingdoms.

And the African Union, which had granted only the most limited approval for "no fly," withdrew its support for the U.N. approved intervention When NATO went hog wild.

Readthe whole article by Phyllis Bennis in Anti-War.com


Sunday, March 13, 2011

President Obama promised us he was: "Gonna Lay down those shufflin' shoes..."

On Nov. 3, 2007, Barack Obama -- as a candidate for president--promised a crowd in Spartanburg, S.C., that he would watch out for unions and protect their collective bargaining rights.

Obama said:
"If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I'm in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States,” 

Time to take off those golf shoes, Mr. President.  No more pussyfooting. 

You're expected in Madison next weekend.



A promise is a promise.

Some try to make sense of tragedy...others focus on making a buck...


Juan Cole, at Informed Comment

Every once in a while, amidst our petty wars and squabbles with each other, Nature reminds us that the real threat to humankind comes from her, not from other human beings. Climate change is human-driven, but its danger is in unleashing uncontrollable natural forces of immense power. We are still defenseless against a meteor strike of the sort that helped polish off the dinosaurs. And, we lack good defenses against tsunamis. Unless we can put aside our divisions and work effectively together on these natural threats, humans remain in extreme danger as a species.

Larry Kudlow at CNBC

In these tough economic times, isn’t it nice to know that calamitous natural disasters needn't have an adverse affect on your investment portfolio? After the 8.9-magnitude earthquake in Japan failed to induce a market nosedive, CNBC’s Larry Kudlow expressed his relief in terms that seemed to appall even his fellow cheerleaders for capitalism: “The human toll here,” he declared, “looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lucat bene.....

My dad was the big Pig Latin devotee. He taught my mom; and they used it effectively to discuss things that were better left unknown to the three little nippers in the house.

One evening at the supper table he asked Mom:

..."Ooday ooyay antway ootay ogay ootay Ooklidyay Eachbay?"
 

We nippers screamed in unison:  "Yay!! We're going to Euclid_Beach".

Pop knew better than to try to have a coded conversation after that.  He may have wondered how long we'd been literate and adept in this exotic language.

We all went on to study classical Latin (Caesar and the Helvetians, etc.)  in high school, after learning ecclesiastical Latin ( Ad deum qui laetificat juventutem meam... and Suscipiat...etc.) at St Colman Parish School.

Which brings me to one of the most famous Latin rhyming couplets, over which Latin scholars have struggled for decades, centuries, millennia...

Lucat bene derdego
honnet busis inero
Honomo demis trux
summit causin, summit dux

Can you translate?

Extra points if you can do a double translation. Latin to English to Pig.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Thirty one years: no stress, no grey hair. Twenty four months: more than little grey

What is the fatwa on dying grey hair, beard and mustache?

Answer:

Dying hair or beard is permissible with the following conditions:
1. The hair should not be dyed with black colour for the Hadith of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) who said: "At the last period of this world, some people will dye their hair black, they will not get the smell of paradise." (Abu Dawud)
 When the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) ordered to change the grey coloured hair of Abu Qahafah, the father of Abu Bakr, he said: "change the whiteness of the hair, but avoid black."
2. It should be free from the imitation of dissolute persons, polytheists, and Kuffars. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam) said: "whoever imitates a nation he becomes one of them." (Abu Dawud)
If the dye is free for the above prohibitions then it is allowed even if the hair is black.
Allah knows best.
Fatwa Date : Shawwaal 13, 1422 / 29-12-2001.       Fatwa 81623
Source:  Islamweb

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

DOT preparing to go All In to prop up the corpse of Pabst Farms and superfluous Aurora Summit Hospital

Yesterday an anonymous comment on the Political Environment blog offered some updated info on the Sawyer Road/ Hwy. P interchange planned as frosting on the cake of Pabst Farms housing development, Aurora Summit Hospital and a vaporous, hallucinated "Regional Destination Shopping Mall".

We learned that the $20+ million upgrade to the I-94 Hwy P interchange is ready to begin--contracts let, and ready to go.   Also, that  Pabst Farms housing development has returned the huge swathes of land intended to be for the more pricey (phase II) and insanely pricey (Phase III) enclaves of the Pabst Farms Experience back into plain old farm land.  This lets them pay less real estate taxes on what formerly was  designated as residential land.

Good news it is--the part about the re-classified land.  But...  The DOT's I-94 and Sawyer Road  interchange foolishness is NOT yet planned, NOT under contract and NOT about-to-happen as the commenter mistakenly stated yesterday. (hey, it's hard to keep up with this moving target).

But it is in the plans, bigger than ever, just shoved off until later.  That's ok; that's good news.  Means we still have opportunities to comment , criticize and harpoon the DOT plan to waste money trying to prop up Pabst Farms and Aurora Summit.
.
 Here's what is in the actual 2011 plan:
1.  Resurfacing  I-94 for one half mile east and one half mile west of  Hwy P (Sawyer Rd.) at a cost of $1.3 million is to happen in 2011.  Project # 406 in the SEWRPC Preliminary Transportation Improvement Plan, 2011-2012.

2.  Also in the 2011 plan is Project  #404: a Park and Ride Lot at Sawyer Rd and I 94.  This is a planning expenditure only.  It is redundant; there is a park and ride lot at Hwy 67, just a bit more than one mile from Hwy P.

And, here's the elephant in the living room:

3.  Project #436:  They'll spend $1.92 million just on the planning of  "Reconstruction of  I 94, Hwy P interchange, adding an East-bound off-ramp and a West-bound on-ramp".

The nearly $9 million that was spent two years ago acquiring land and doing initial clearing, grubbing and crossovers, now has added to it $1.3 million in resurfacing I 94 around the interchange. 

They have spent/committed a total of about $12 million on this boondoggle in support of the dying-mostly-dead development at Pabst Farms, Aurora Summit Hospital and a laughable Regional Shopping "Destination".

Sensible people need to get together a coordinated plan to get Scotty fired up about saving money / balancing the budget by dumping this ill-conceived and wasteful highway boondoggle, daring him to keep funding this clown act while the State of Wisconsin is mired in deficits.

For lots of young adults a couple years out of school the big question to somebody they like a lot: " How much school debt are you carrying?"

The housing crisis is not going to resolve itself.  Not next year, not under the next President, not even when housing prices sink to the level where they are in rough sync with incomes...for those who have incomes.

Why not?

Because a couple of generations of college grads-with-debt-up-the-wazoo and years--nay, decades--of underemployment under their belts will have saved nothing, zero, zilch to use as a down-payment on a nice little monstrosity of a tract mansion at the far reaches of suburbia.

More than twenty five percent of  college graduates in Califormia are deemed to be underemployed, working at jobs that do not validate the fast-disappearing notion that higher education is the ticket to middle class income and prospects.  The trend in most other states is likely headed toward Calfornia's numbers.

In this chart--from the amazing and prescient Dr. Housing Bubble--we see that aggregate U.S. credit card debt, which used to be just shy of a trillion, is shrinking, shrunk to less than the aggregate total of school debt.  Lots of bankruptcies have resulted in banks writing off huge amounts of the card debt.  But the school loans go on forever; there's no escape; the interest keeps mounting, no forgiveness even in bankruptcy.  Legions of alumni will take huge balances on their owings, along with those memories of school days, to the grave.

Not everybody will will be in this pickle.  But, if only 20 percent of those who would have in the past started shortly after graduation on buying starter houses, then moving up the domicile ladder are mired in education loans, they'll drag down, demolish, drown the whole market.

Just at the moment when huge numbers of baby boomers are unloading their big suburban--and even their modest-but-still-very-nice*--abodes, there will be a whole lot of people with high hopes and no-chance.  Tough lending standards and 20% downpayments are going to be beyond the reach of a significant number.  And this will kill the real estate market by driving prices down, down, down.

Suburban dreams are fading fast already.  Many of the young and young-ish who are presently minimally set to buy real estate are leery of diving into the suburban lifestyle.  Four hours every weekend of riding a mower, long commutes on deteriorating (asphalt is, after all, just another word for petroleum) roads.  While their fathers were practicing lawn-adoration, they were inside tuning in and turning on to the prospect of living where Friends and Seinfeld lived--urban apartments.

* Even Casa Waterblogged will be for sale when the crocuses reappear, as the residents plan a move back to Milwaukee

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Of the biblical allotment of three score and ten I have lived only three of them more than a bicycle ride from one of the Great Lakes. I grew up ten blocks from Lake Erie in the (once Irish/Italian ghetto, now newly-hip) "Near West Side" of Cleveland. I can still cycle to the Milwaukee lakefront in an hour and a half; but, a round-trip has always been more than I would (noror ever did) attempt. -0- I'm a "...somewhat combative pacifist and fairly cooperative anarchist," after the example of Grace Paley (1922-2007). -0- I'm always cheerful when I pay my taxes (having refused--when necessary--to pay that portion of them dedicated to war). -0- And I always, always vote.