Archive for December, 2008

31
Dec
08

Happy New Year!!!

Hope you feel divine in 2009!!

I wish I had deeper words of wisdom than that, but I’ve been busting my butt populating my new blog on U.S. poverty over at Change.org.  Check it out, bookmark it, and let me know what you think!

And now, if you can believe it, I’m in Vegas for New Year’s for my mom’s 60th.  Hi.Lar.I.Ous.  (It’s unlikely the man and I will be hitting the Little White Wedding Chapel while we’re here!)

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and yours!!

Be safe.

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28
Dec
08

Obama Cabinet Round-Up: Wives & Mothers

Courtesy of FDL, I see the Charlotte Observer has an interactive graph of Obama’s Cabinet nominees.  It’s a handy little summary of professional and personal info on the 15 nominees, who are listed in order of presidential succession.  Here’s a summary of a fairly well-rounded Cabinet:

Obama has nominated three women: Clinton, Solis (Labor), and Napolitano (Homeland Security).

Obama has nominated:

  • one African-American (Holder for Justice; Holder is also Caribbean-American),
  • one Mexican-American (Solis),
  • one Arab-American (LaHood – Transportation),
  • two Hispanics (Salazar – Interior, Richardson – Commerce),
  • one Japanese-American (Shinseki – Vet Affairs), and
  • one Chinese-American (Chu – Energy).

Think the 6 white guys can handle all this diversity?  😉

Two GOP nominees (Gates at Defense and LaHood), two House Reps (LaHood and Solis), two Democratic Senators (Clinton and Salazar), and two Democratic governors (Richardson and Napolitano) have been nominated.  Richardson, Geithner, Holder and Donovan all worked in the Clinton Administration.  Solis and Vilsack supported Sen. Clinton during the primaries.

State/regional representation includes:

  • New York (Clinton, Donovan at HUD and Geithner is from the NY Fed),
  • the West (Salazar from CO, Napolitano from AZ, Richardson from NM, and Solis and Chu are from CA),
  • Illinois (Duncan at Education is from Chicago, and LaHood) and the North Midwest (Daschle at HHS is from SD and Vilsack at Agriculture is from Iowa).

Dr. Chu (Energy) is from academia, and a Nobel Prize winner.  Donovan is an architect.  Clinton, Napolitano, Vilsack, Holder and Salazar are lawyers.  Daschle was in the Air Force.  Shinseki graduated from the U.S. Military Academy.  Gates was career CIA.  Duncan, Donovan, Clinton and Holder are Ivy League alums (Harvard, Harvard, Yale Law, and Columbia).

Donovan is the youngest Cabinet member at 42; Shinseki is the oldest at 66.  The average age is 56 (54 for the women, 56 for the men).

Of the three women candidates, Clinton is married with one child, Solis is married without children, and Napolitano is never married and has no children.  Three working women = 2 husbands = 1 mother = 1 child.

All the men are married.  Richardson has no children and Holder has one.  LaHood has four kids, Daschle has three.  The remaining eight men have two children each.  12 working men = 12 wives = 12 dads = 24 kids.

24
Dec
08

My heart, it is warmed

I celebrate 5 Christmases every year: first with the man’s family, then with my mom, then dad, then two different aunts’ houses.  My enthusiasm for this hectic schedule varies each year.  On this quiet morning of Christmas Eve, sitting in my pj’s at my mother’s house with coffee and good company, I’m feeling the yuletide spirit.  Finally.

But this, this warms my tiny, jaded heart, especially the chance spur-of-the-moment decision that spawned this sweet tradition.  If only our military expenditures could always cover important diplomatic work like this.

As I write, Santa’s in Tasmania.  From Tasmania to New England – I’d better get the cookies in the oven!

Merry Christmas!

19
Dec
08

If you read one piece…

…about Bush’s horrendous HHS ruling, read Amanda at Pandagon. She nails it. Dirty girl!!

(h/t Astraea)

19
Dec
08

Fav’s Style

I’m so relieved to hear WaPo isn’t letting grope-gate go!!

What’s that, now? I should read the actual article?  What?  Say that again? They called the whole incident “silly?”

Oh.

At least he isn’t the Bostonian of the Year.

As Red Queen notes, it’s all about the straight dudez – hope and change, bitchez!!

Welcome to the Obama White House, where boyz will b boyz, don’cha know it!  Excuse my edits and snips, I just want to accurately re-cap the WaPo piece for ya.

Three months ago, Favreau lived in a group house with six friends in Chicago, where he rarely shaved, never cooked and sometimes stayed up to play video games until early morning. Now, he has transformed into what one friend called a “Washington political force” — a minor celebrity with a down payment on a Dupont Circle condo, whose silly Facebook photos with a Hillary Rodham Clinton cutout created what passes for controversy in Obama’s so far drama-free transition. …

He listens to Obama tell stories in his office and spins them into developed metaphors, rich in [patriarchal] historical context. …

“The president-elect understands that Jon is a rare talent. He knows what he’s got,” said Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor, who also worked in the Senate office. “There’s a mutual respect and appreciation between them, and the president-elect trusts Jon’s instincts and ability. It’s a partnership.” [Man hug!  Chest bump!  I bet Favs can totally crush more beer cans against his forehead in a row than Obama.]

“A speech can broaden the circle of people who care about this stuff,” Favreau said. “How do you say to the average person that’s been hurting: ‘I hear you. I’m there. Even though you’ve been so disappointed and cynical about politics in the past, and with good reason, we can move in the right direction. Just give me a chance.’ “[Relax!  You just might enjoy it!]

“I think this is going to work,” Obama said.  [Bros before hos!]

Friends joke that Favreau suddenly turned 40 this year — but he still shows flashes of 27.  [Boyz Kids today!]

At a party at his parents’ house over Thanksgiving vacation, he danced and posed awkwardly next to a cardboard cutout of Clinton. A buddy uploaded photos onto Facebook, reporters discovered them, and suddenly experts were debating Favreau’s maturity on television. Favreau called Clinton and Obama to apologize. They told him not to worry, but he still does. [So thoughtful!  So glad he managed to laugh and smile through those “awkward” moments!  Seriously, can’t we cut him a break already?]

When the pressure wore on Favreau, he unwound like a 27-year-old, sending prank e-mails to friends at the Obama offices or playing the video game Rock Band in the Lincoln Park group house he shared with six campaign staffers [or mimicking sexual assault on senior women colleagues].

How is this supposed to work, anyway? Do Favreau and the rest of Obama’s young staffers transform to meet the formalities of the White House, or does the White House change to accommodate them?  [Duh, obviously it’s the latter.]

“We know that we’re going to have to approach the White House our way and have some fun with it,” Favreau said, “because that kind of attitude is what made us successful.”  [My point exactly.]

Favreau said. “You had a bunch of kids working on this campaign together, and it was such a mix of the serious and momentous and just the silly ways that we are. For people in my generation, it was an unbelievable way to grow up.” [Wait a minute, I thought you were still just an innocent, misunderstood, impish 27 year old.  My lady-brain is confused….]

17
Dec
08

Oy Vey

As soon as I heard about the Madoff fraud case, I thought, how will this affect Brandeis and the American Jewish community that supports it?  As I expected: POORLY.

The Palm Beach Jewish community is an epicenter of Brandeis philanthropic support.  Every spring my Brandeis quarterly journal arrives with photos of our Israeli president, Jehuda Reinharz, sporting a tan and beaming at the camera with his arms around elderly, multi-millionaire Jewish couples who have just gifted another round of millions for a new science center, student center, endowed chair, etc.

Just as I felt distantly personally involved in the 2000 Florida recount mess, this latest turmoil to roll through Palm Beach, FL leaves me cringing and worrying about my indirect benefactors.  And I need not envision only sunny skies and beautiful beaches as I fret: Boston’s non-profit organizations and institutions are also taking a substantial hit.

16
Dec
08

Bush by the numbers

I received this via e-mail this morning from the progressive NYC think-tank Drum Major Institute.  It’s reprinted in its chilling entirety.

The 2008 DMI Injustice Index: The Bush Legacy

Opening weekend box office gross of Oliver Stone’s Bush biopic “W”: $10.6 million

Opening weekend box office gross of Michael Moore’s 2004 documentary Fahrenheit 911, which intensely criticized the Bush Administration: $23.9 million

Number of days during his presidency that Bush spent on vacation at either Camp David or his Texas ranch, as of August 2008 (including partial days off): 916

Total number of years in Bush’s presidency, if these vacation days are subtracted: 5.5

Proportion of U.S. workers who have no paid vacations or holidays at work: 1 in 4

Date on which President Bush received a presidential daily briefing entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in U.S.” while in the midst of a month-long vacation: 8/6/2001

Date on which a FEMA report warned that Hurricane Katrina could “could greatly overtop levees and protective systems” in New Orleans, displacing more than a million residents, a warning which came when the President was again on a month-long vacation: 8/27/2005

Date of a second warning, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, that Katrina would “likely lead to severe flooding and/or levee breaching”: 8/29/2008

Date that President Bush told ABC “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”: 9/1/2005

Date on which George W. Bush announced “I believe we’re overextended… if we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world and nation building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road”: 10/3/2000

Date on which the United Nation’s chief weapons inspector, Han Blix, informed the U.N. Security Council that he had found no evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, although inspection and monitoring efforts would continue: 3/7/2003

Date that United States invaded Iraq: 3/19/2003

Cost of the Iraq War through 2008: $567 billion

Approximate cost of the privately funded George W. Bush Presidential Library, whose manager insists it will discuss the war “upfront”: $250 million

Year the library is set to open: 2014

Year by which the No Child Left Behind law mandates that all students nationwide must achieve grade-level proficiency in reading and math: 2016

Number of societies on earth that has ever succeeded in achieving universal student proficiency, according to testing expert Robert Linn: 0

Amount by which No Child Left Behind has been underfunded since its inception, according to Senator Tom Harkin: $70.9 billion

Proportion of U.S. public schools that are failing to meet No Child Left Behind standards as of October 2008: 2 out of 5

Percentage increase in overall school performance when previously uninsured children were enrolled in public health coverage, according to a California study: 24%

Change in the number of children with health coverage during President Bush’s tenure: -78,000

Percentage of President Bush’s total vetoes that blocked expansion of children’s health insurance: 20%

Number of times he cited the superiority of private insurance programs in his message explaining the first veto to Congress: 5

Year when President Bush made privatizing Social Security the centerpiece of his State of the Union Address, asserting that “your money will grow, over time, at a greater rate than anything the current system can deliver.”: 2005

Number of points the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped on September 29, 2008: 778

Overall change in stock market wealth between Oct. 2007 and Oct. 2008: -$8.4 trillion

Date President Bush signed legislation phasing out the federal estate tax: 6/7/2001

Increase in the number of U.S. millionaires since that year: 928,000

Increase in the number of Americans living in poverty since that year: 4.4 million

Cost of all Bush’s tax cuts from 2001 to 2007: $1.3 trillion

Date President Bush announced that his tax cuts would “encourage more investment” and “strengthen the foundation of our economy so that every American who wants to work will be able to find a job.’: 5/28/2003

Rank of the business cycle that included these tax cuts compared to all business cycles since 1949 in terms of employment growth: last

Rank in terms of investment: last

Change in the real median income of non-retiree households since 2000: -$2,010

Estimated home equity lost by American families with the bursting of the housing bubble: $4 trillion

Year that subsidiaries of the U.S. Treasury Department struck down laws in Georgia and New Jersey that were intended to rein in predatory lending and prevent foreclosures within those states: 2003

Year in which the Federal Reserve issued its own rules to rein in predatory lending and prevent foreclosures: 2008

Number of home foreclosure filings in the first three quarters of 2008: 2.2 million

Number of surrounding homes likely to suffer price declines as a result of this number of foreclosures according to the Center for Responsible Lending : 40.6 million

Date on which President Bush appeared on the NBC game show “Deal or No Deal,” joking that he was “thrilled to be anywhere with high ratings’: 4/21/08

Percentage difference in viewership of the episode with the Bush cameo, compared to the show’s season average: -27%

Approximate proportion of Americans who approved of President’s Bush handling of the Presidency in October, 2008: 1 in 5

Proportion of American adults currently incarcerated in a prison or jail: 1 in 100

Date on which President Bush commuted the prison sentence of I. Lewis Libby, the Vice President’s former Chief of Staff, who was convicted of perjury and obstructing justice: 7/2/2007

Percentage change in the number of full time staff monitoring hazardous goods at the Consumer Product Safety Commission during Bush’s tenure: -16%

Percentage change in the number of federal investigators who monitor employers’ compliance with minimum wage, overtime, and child labor laws during Bush’s tenure: -23%

Percentage of Bush Supreme Court appointees who ruled that factory worker Lilly Ledbetter would get no recompense from her employer despite proving 20 years of pay discrimination: 100%

Number of judges Bush appointed to the Supreme Court as president: 2

Number of Supreme Court Justices who ruled to stop the Florida recount in Bush v. Gore, effectively handing the 2000 election to George W. Bush: 5

Date on which Vice President Dick Cheney announced “history will be the judge – and history, I believe, will say, job well done.” 10/3/2008

To read more from DMI’s 2008 Year In Review, click here.