Monday, June 13, 2011

Last Call

Quick, which Washington politician today said the following?

"We need to solve our medium and long-term debt problems, not just for abstract reasons, but because they're a concrete impediment to growth and jobs."

John Boehner?  Eric Cantor?  Rand Paul?    I'll give you a hint:  They are in the 2012 race already.

Mitt Romney?  How about Herman Cain?  Maybe even Newt Gingrich?

Nope.  But if you said Barack Obama, congrats!

The president said finding a way to cut mounting federal deficits would help private businesses feel more secure about the future, so they will be more likely to invest more on jobs.

Obama also took a swipe at Congress, noting that most of the suggestions his jobs council offered were things that private industry or the executive office could do that wouldn't require congressional action.

"It sends a message to Congress that we shouldn't have to work around Congress," Obama said. "Regardless of whatever political camp you're in, there are some common sense ideas that we can all embrace and that should not be subject to political gamesmanship."

You wouldn't be alone if you thought that President Obama has fully embraced the Republican line that the jobs problem is a direct result of the deficit, and that you had concerns that the President was trying to meet the Republicans halfway on trillions of dollars worth of spending cuts, and trillions more in tax breaks for the wealthy.

I know I do.

Should Have Maybe Thought Of That Beforehand

Via OTB, in their rush to go after brown people, Georgia Republicans and Gov. Nathan Deal are finding themselves facing the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Gov. Nathan Deal is asking for an expedited report on how the crackdown on illegal immigration enacted by the General Assembly this spring is affecting Georgia agriculture.

Farmers have complained in recent weeks that their crops are rotting in the fields and orchards because migrant workers afraid of deportation are bypassing Georgia in droves, even though the law doesn’t take effect until July 1.

Deal, who signed the legislation last month and has been a strong supporter of immigration reform, said he wants to get beyond anecdotal evidence and look at actual numbers.

Toward that end, the governor said he wants Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black to deliver a report on the issue by the end of next week.

A couple of issues here.  First, what did the Georgia GOP think was going to happen to the state's farms and orchards when they passed yet another anti-immigration measure just to score political points with white voters?  Did they think the peaches were going to magically pick themselves because America is the most exceptional country ever to exist on Earth?  Did they think farmers were going to offer $20 an hour and benefits on because the problem is that people don't know how awesome fruit picking is as a career?  Were they convinced that people were going to flock to farms because the only "unemployment problem" in Georgia is that workers are too lazy to fill manual labor positions?

Second, maybe this is something Republicans should have considered before they passed the damn law in the first place.  So when there's fruit and vegetable shortages across the country this year because the migrant workers have been chased out of Sun Belt red states, and farmers aren't going to start paying big bucks to workers because they'd go bankrupt, what happens then?  Cut taxes on farms to encourage tomatoes to jump off the vine and into baskets?

Gotta love Republican big government solutions.

The Economy Gets Pancaked

The latest restaurant chain to file for bankruptcy?  The owners of Perkins and Marie Callender's.

The Memphis, Tennessee-based company listed assets of $290 million and debt of $441 million in the today’s Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware. It plans to shut about 65 restaurants and eliminate about 2,500 jobs, company lawyer Robert S. Brady said in a court filing.

Chief Executive Officer Joseph Trungale said in November that “the languishing economy, including declines in consumer confidence and sluggish consumer spending and increased commodity costs” hurt sales at the Perkins Restaurant & Bakery and Marie Callender chains in the quarter ended Oct. 3.

Higher costs for goods such as dairy, eggs, seafood and pork, which accounted for 25.4 percent of sales, were only partly offset by more efficient pie-making, according to a quarterly report. Labor and benefit costs also rose. 

There's at least a couple of Perkins around my apartment in the NKY...or were.  They've all closed in the last month or so, and it appears the chain is in real trouble now.  Another 2,500 jobs gone...but the real problem, Congress warns us, is the national debt.

I don't think the national debt matters much to the 2,500 people out of a job here.

Tea'ing Off On Dem Primaries

At least one Tea Party group is openly saying that the goal of pushing the country to the right should include Tea Party voters in blue districts and states switching to the Democratic Party and voting for Blue Dogs in primaries.

Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, surprised attendees at this month's ultra-partisan Faith and Freedom Convention in Washington by insisting that there were Democrats deserving of the group's backing as well.

"There are Democrats out there who are our kind of Democrats," Meckler said. "There are Democrats out there who think what we think and it's our to job to find -- yes, sacrilege -- Democratic Tea Party candidates."

He went so far as to advise Republicans in Democratic districts to switch their affiliation and vote in the party primary in order to maximize their effect on the race. "It's your job to find the right kind of Democrat," he recalled telling one Tea Party voter frustrated with his Democratic-leaning district. 

No surprise here in the age of FOX.  It's a solid strategy and I'm very surprised they didn't openly make much more of an effort to do this in 2010.

Meckler conceded that there are yet few examples of Tea Party activists influencing a Democratic primary. He said he was heartened, however, by the recent nonpartisan special election primary in CA-36, which unexpectedly saw a Republican advance to the general election in the heavily Democratic district. While the GOP candidate is unlikely to win, the results demonstrated that activists were willing to put in hard work even in a solid Democratic race.

More importantly, I foresee more and more Blue Dogs to start actively seeking out efforts like this in order to actively court Tea Party voters.  When it gets to the point where Blue Dogs are pushed so far to the right that they become Republicans, the Tea Party wins no matter who runs.


BIRMINGINGHAM, Alabama -- Investigative work by the co-founder of an upstart brewery in Avondale has averted a setback to the company's business and may have collared some crooks in the process.
When he reached a scrap yard in north Birmingham, he tapped the right one.

"We called and asked, 'Did anybody bring in any kegs?' and the guy said, 'Yes, two guys just brought in about 35 or 40 of them,' " Lake said.

Lake headed straight there to claim his property and continue his own citi­zen police work.

"I got their driver's li­censes, their tag and their addresses and I gave them to the police," Lake said.

Lake recognized the men because he saw them scout­ing the brewery Wednesday night. They were persistent in getting to the hundreds of kegs Avondale stores on its back patio.

When he wasn't doing their job for them, the police have yet to show much action, including commenting or contributing.  The kegs are waiting for the cops to process at their convenience.

By Grabthar's Hammer, What A Douchebag

A mentally challenged man who has the capacity of a toddler was forced to give up his plastic hammer because it could be used as a weapon, according to TSA agents.  The ball was okay, apparently.  The poor man was given commands that he didn't understand, and was treated badly in many regards (including calling out adult diapers in the presence of a small crowd).

The good news?  This is going to lead to a re-training of over 800 agents, because of this one case.  The family wrote in, because the man had carried this hammer for some 20 years, and because they could not miss their flight and had been detained for so long, they had to throw it away.  Imagine how devastating that must have been.  I have a few trinkets I carry, from stuff the kids have made to tiny things I inherited when my folks died.  Good luck trying to get me to give up one of those.  Drew Mandy didn't even have a choice.

Here's hoping those changes are profound and immediate.  There is no excuse for this.

Mitt Makes Some Friends

Mistermix at Balloon Juice has a very good point:  Wall Street is practically salivating over the prospect of a CEO POTUS in Mitt Romney, especially since his claim to fame will be the same job-destroying, profit uber alles mentality that the corporate boardrooms have been pushing for a generation.  I pointed out Romney's abysmal jobs record last week as both CEO of Bain Capital and as Governor of Massachusetts.

Steve Benen comes to the same conclusion:

And this is the part of Romney’s record he’s most proud of. Romney slashed American jobs as if his career depended on it — and it did.

Complicating matters, during Romney’s only service in public office, his state’s record on job creation was “one of the worst in the country.” Adding insult to injury, “By the end of his four years in office, Massachusetts had squeezed out a net gain in payroll jobs of just 1 percent, compared with job growth of 5.3 percent for the nation as a whole.”

How bad is Romney’s record? During his tenure, Massachusetts ranked 47th out of 50 states in jobs growth.

Yes, Romney has a simple message: “I’m a successful businessman, I’ll create jobs and fix the economy.” It also comes with an equally simple response: “Mitt Romney is the anti-jobs candidate.”

Romney created jobs...just not in the United States.

Slow Pest Problem Is A Hi-Test Problem

Arkansas's rice paddies have a unique biological issue this season:  turtle infestation.

Recent flooding in southern and eastern Arkansas has displaced turtles from their normal habitat in the canals, swamps and low-lying areas near the rice fields, and driven them to seek shelter in the ditches next to the crops.

Now because they are so close to the rice paddies, the reptiles are damaging plants already left fragile from flooding and drought in parts of southeastern Arkansas, researchers said.

"This is very rare," said Ralph Mazzanti, an agricultural extension rice-research coordinator for the University of Arkansas. "So far, we have seen it in one county, but over about 300 acres and in several rice fields."

Turtles have damaged about 10 percent of Mazzanti's research rice field, and he said that could increase.

Now I wasn't aware that Arkansas even had rice paddies, but it turns out some half of the country's entire rice production comes from this area, and the turtles are damaging an already crippled crop output, weakened by flooding in some parts of the state and drought in others.  The US is a big rice exporter and the further damage to rice crops here will only push world rice prices up.

It's not a good thing for a world already on edge on food prices.

The Long, Dark Tea Time Of The Weiner

And we've officially turned the corner from "leave of absence" to "considering leaving for good" for Anthony Weiner. The Village Voice:

Anthony Weiner is finally beginning to seriously consider resigning from his seat, the Daily News has learned from a source. No wonder: in the past few days alone, it's come out that his wife is pregnant, he corresponded with a teenage girl, Democratic leaders all want him to quit, and now today a new batch of porny photos have surfaced. According to the source, Weiner has not been sleeping and constantly paces his apartment; staffers say a decision won't be made until Wednesday, when his wife Huma Abedin returns from her overseas trip with Hillary Clinton. 

Ahh, if only people would tweet links to pictures of the National Unemployment Rate's junk, we'd get Congress to do something about things that matter.


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