February 2010

World's Most Livable Cities

Why am I not surprised that when the criteria for judging the world's most livable cities includes health care that no US city makes the top ten?

2010 Economist Intelligence Unit Rankings are out and the top ten most livable cities based on stability, health care, culture and environment, education, and infrastructure are: Vancouver, Vienna, Melbourne, Toronto, Calgary , Helsinki, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide , Auckland.
 Note the domination of Canada & Australia whose cities received perfect scores for HEALTH CARE.

These rankings are used by international corporations to determine  hardship allowances
 for employees whom relocated out of their home countries. London and New York rank in 54th and 56th, relative low for London, because the city received a low "safety" score, because it, like New York, is a target for terrorism.

Obama’s Health Care Show and Tell

Suddenly, the Obama administration is back to working with transparency, social networking and the Internet. In fact, just this week they invited 12 Dems and 9 Republicans to a health care conference. You know, to sit down and talk about the health care legislation. Like pals. Just to sort things out.

And they are going to publish the legislative overhaul on online- which will be awesome to read. And they are advertising for a new social networking guru on Mashable…

Public Works and Air Travel in America

Anyone who has traveled by air in the United States for the past several years will have noticed a significant decline in the quality of the service as well as a troubling increase in the overall cost of even the most basic seat. At the same time, consumer reports of non-American flying experiences haven’t suffered the same bad news. Why is it that air travel in the United States has become such an uncomfortable proposition while the same mode in Europe and East Asia has gone relatively unchanged? Furthermore, what can the United States do to correct and even reverse this negative trend? Two words come to mind: Public Works.

A Fix For Some of the Damage?

Democrats, led by Senator Charles E. Schumer,  are pushing a bill through Congress that will roll back some of the damage done by a reckless one vote majority on the Supreme Court, to sell the country outright  to the big money boys and gals, by removing the limits on the amount of money corporations, including foreign-owned multi-nationals, can spend on federal elections, making it possible for the high dollar crowd to out spent --to buy up radio and TV advertisement -- to swamp candidates, who they opposed, with.campaign literature, (propaganda), and with an army of  paid street workers.

 The bill would ban foreign owned corporations from spending money on U.S. races. This is needed or the next crop of Congressman may well owe Venezuela's Citgo, and Japan's Toyoto, or England's city of London's  bankers more for their seats than they do the voters in their districts.

Bill Clinton: Health Scare

A health scare raced through the Internet this afternoon. Many Americans were concerned for the health of the former President William Jefferson (Bill)  Clinton, age 63,  the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. News broke that Mr. Clinton had been rushed to the Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City,  suffering from chest pain. Then came the welcomed news that Bill Clinton was okay.

The former President underwent a heart procedure:  two stents were inserted  into a coronary artery. A stent is a small tube inserted into a blocked vessel to keep a blocked passageway open. His office reports that the procedure went well, that former President Clnton is in good spirits, and that he is expected to have a quick recovery and will soon resume  his work on Haiti quake relief.

Will the Job Bill Work?

The senate is proposing another bill to create jobs. $87 billion that focuses on business tax breaks and construction projects in an effort to bite into the unemployment rate. So, really? This sounds an awful lot like the New Deal in the construction project approach. But it’s something. And will we see action on this soon? If by soon you mean February 22, then yes. If you mean not until the Senate gets over their “paralysis” by the snowstorm and makes it through their week-long (!) recess next week, then not really.

The bill is being presented as a bipartisan effort, claiming support from Republican senators Orrin Hatch and Charles Grassley.

Miss Me Yet? - Bush

Some group of white, midwestern, GOP, most likely Chrisitan people bought a billboard with a picture of Bush asking "Miss me yet?"

Let me search my brain... NO.

Excuse my French, but Phuck NO. First of all, this is his mess we are suffering. So how can I miss someone whose pile of crap I am currently sitting in? The GOP still has no idea that they were removed from power because their policies of fiscal conservatism were a pack of lies, not to mention the wars. The economy tanked well before Obama took over yet there is no accountability from the GOP, only blame that Obama's shovel is not big enough to scoop up the disaster of Bush's administration.

How Google’s “Do No Evil” Means 3 Very Different Things in 3 Very Different Countries

Part of Google’s original mission is to “Do no evil.” So why are they being shoved out of the entire country of China? And why is Iran threatening to shut down their email service? It has to do with the difference between how the U.S., China and Iran each interpret that seminal Google phrase: Do no evil.

"Keep Your Head Down" NATO tells Afghans

U.S. and NATO troops will launch a major assault this week to retake the Afghan Marjah region. The region is described as densely-populated, and there is much concern over how many people will be killed or injured during the offensive. Speaking of offensive, the NATO civilian representative recommended that villagers in the area stay inside and “keep their heads down.” Uh huh. When the bombing and the marines come, just remember what the nice NATO man says- stay inside and keep your head down. Ridiculous.

The "Party of No" Says No, Unless

John A. Boehner, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives,   sent a letter to the White House Monday night stating that the GOP may not participate in the  health care summit, unless  the President  junks the existing reform bills and starts over. (Source: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/02/top-house-republicans-throw-...)

Oh yes  -- unless Mr. Obama throws in his cards, the GOP says it won't play. I expected this.


Bipartisan Health Care Reform?

Health care. After all the revisions, all the hemming and hawing, all the opposition, all the tea party antics, all the State of the Union talk and all of the money spent on both sides of the issue over the 6 months+ of debating and dealing with it, we still have to deal with it. Even though the one bill passed through the House of Representatives, it will probably have to be dramatically changed if not abandoned altogether. Because the Senate is no longer filibuster-proof. And that whole Massachusetts thing. But, I’d kind of love to hear Scott Brown’s favorite recipes and his reading of the Great Gatsby or something, you know? Why don’t we just let them filibuster? It would probably be more interesting that whatever else is going on.

Obama to GOP: Show Up, Put Up Or Shut Up!


President Obama had a successful, televised Q&A session with GOP House members. Now he has invited Republicans in Congress to participate in a bipartisan, half-day TELEVISED summit on on health care this month. Note my emphasis on TELEVISED! A televised event offers the public the opportunity to see the "Party of No" in action. If the GOP shows up,  their leaders will have to come to the table with something, and not with their hands folded, their faces in frowns, offering absolutely nothing, but scorn.


What Environmental Cause Are Republicans Inexplicably Fighting This Time?

If they aren’t trying to knock down the health care reform legislation, they’re trying to block appointees in the Senate review. And if they aren’t busy calling Obama a socialist tyrant, they’re occupied defending the needs of the Wall Street bankers. And when they need something to do for a weekend, well, it’s time to go out and demonize some sort of forward-thinking climate law. Like, say, in California.

I realize that those examples are Federal Republicans, but the same sentiment pervades on the West coast. And California is a leader in all things for the Earth, meaning that this is the front lines for the next generation of progressive green policies. So the Republican party tries to nip it in the bud, so to speak…

2010 Girl Scout Cookie Initiative

Ladies and gentlemen, today we are standing at the beginning of a road to unparalleled deliciousness. Make no mistake, this road will be long and it will be winding. The journey will test our dedication to our nation and to our stomachs. But one thing is for certain, I have never doubted the tenacity and the gumption of the American spirit. Effective immediately, I have decided to spearhead an initiative to bring a diverse and significant collection of official Girl Scout Cookies into the White House (pause for applause). In 2010, no pantry in the seat of the government of the United States of America will be without the most delectable baked goods on the planet. And that's a promise. That is a promise.

Is a 50% Tax on Bank Bonuses Fair?

Two Democratic senators are pushing for a tax on the bonuses that banks have handed out for the end of last year. Oh, boy.

The proposal calls for any bonus over $400,000 to be taxed at 50% for any firm that took over $5 billion in government assistance. That’s quite a line in the sand. It’s even more serious than the 35% tax on any bonus from a bailed out firm that was proposed last year. No action on that one was taken, and I can’t imagine there will be any action taken on this one either. It’s being called the Boxer-Webb proposal, and while it does ride the tone of anger across the U.S., I don’t know if it’s where the Democrats want to put their energy right now.

"We don't believe it's class warfare. We think it's eminently fair,” said Boxer.

Industry as the Equivalent of Evolving: America's Story?

Two House of Representative committee chairmen have filed a bill to keep the federal government from regulating GHG’s. Is this ok?

It brings up the question of who is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions- as in, who should be responsible for monitoring them and reducing them. I’m reading Ishmael, by Daniel Quinn, right now (you should too if you want to have your world rocked!) and I’ve read it before, taught it as a class, and it has seeped irreversibly into my consciousness and framework with which I understand the Earth. It’s a lot of question and answer, very Socratic method based learning, but the essential components are: 1) Everyone is responsible for the Earth, and 2) We live out the story we believe.

Who's Afraid of the Dalai Lama?

China is angry with the U.S. over a possible visit to the Dalai Lama and a multi-billion dollar arms deal. Peace and war. I love the irony. Obama is rumored to be meeting with the Dalai Lama sometime this month and China is dramatically unhappy. Why? The same reason they are unhappy that the U.S. is selling weapons to Taiwan- Both are land claimed by the Chinese as part of China. Taiwan is independently governed and refuses to accept China as their political ruler, and Tibet, where the Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader, is asking for significant autonomy in their own political rule- a move China sees as the same as independence.