Sunday, July 3, 2011

Last Call

So how's that recovery working out for you, America?

The final figures show that the median pay for top executives at 200 big companies last year was $10.8 million. That works out to a 23 percent gain from 2009. The earlier study had put the median pay at a none-too-shabby $9.6 million, up 12 percent.

Total C.E.O. pay hasn’t quite returned to its heady, prerecession levels — but it certainly seems headed there. Despite the soft economy, weak home prices and persistently high unemployment, some top executives are already making more than they were before the economy soured.

Pay skyrocketed last year because many companies brought back cash bonuses, says Aaron Boyd, head of research at Equilar. Cash bonuses, as opposed to those awarded in stock options, jumped by an astounding 38 percent, the final numbers show.

Granted, many American corporations did well last year. Profits were up substantially. As a result, many companies are sharing the wealth, at least with their executives. “We’re seeing a lot of that reflected in the pay,” Mr. Boyd says.

And at a time of so much tumult in the media business, it might be surprising that some executives in media and communications were among the most richly rewarded last year. 

No foolin'?   Turns out executive pay in 2009 was up 23%, not 12%.  And wages for the rest of us went down due to cut hours, layoffs, and loss of overtime pay.  But look at all the jobs they creat...oh wait.

Still think America's rich can't afford to lose those Bush tax breaks, America?  They're too busy counting their massive income increases and laughing at how stupid and easily manipulated America is to care, and the Village media was at the top of the list for getting big bucks.  Surprise!

Greek Fire, Part 37

Having sold out to the EU and taken the bailout money over the wishes of the rather pissed off Greek citizenry, the Greek government now must actually sell Greece out to the EU, or at least big chunks of it.

Greece faces severe restrictions on its sovereignty and must privatize state assets on a scale similar to the sell off of East German firms in the 1990s after communism fell, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said.

In an interview published after euro zone finance ministers in the Eurogroup approved a further 12 billion euro ($17.43 billion) installment of Greece's bailout, Juncker said he was optimistic that measures agreed with Athens would help to resolve the country's problems.

"The sovereignty of Greece will be massively limited," he told Germany's Focus magazine in the interview released on Sunday, adding that teams of experts from around the euro zone would heading to Greece.

"For the forthcoming wave of privatizations they will need, for example, a solution based on a model of Germany's 'Treuhand agency'," Juncker added, referring to the privatization agency that sold off 14,000 East German firms between 1990 and 1994.

EU types heading to Greece to figure out what's still worth anything and take control of it, that is. It's the world's largest yard sale.  When this was tried by East Germany after the wall fell, the massive hlding company formed not only lost a crapload of money, but lost a crapload of jobs as well.  Then again given Greek inflation, that's probably what the EU wants to happen.

But I don't think the Greeks are going to just roll over and eat this giant crapburger.

The Most Dangerous Man In American Politics

Massachusetts Democrat Gov. Deval Patrick describes his one-time college acquaintance, Grover Norquist.

At our 25th college reunion in 2003, Grover Norquist — the brain and able spokesman for the radical right — and I, along with other classmates who had been in public or political life, participated in a lively panel discussion about politics. During his presentation, Norquist explained why he believed that there would be a permanent Republican majority in America.

One person interrupted, as I recall, and said, “C’mon, Grover, surely one day a Democrat will win the White House.”

Norquist immediately replied: “We will make it so that a Democrat cannot govern as a Democrat.”

Mission accomplished.  But if Obama were only "more progressive" I'm sure the GOP (relentlessly dragging the country further to the right on a daily basis and blocking everything else that they don't approve of) would just give up, so it's really Obama's fault, right?

The GOP has a simple plan.  Block everything, refuse to let Obama govern, let the country burn, blame Obama.  And there's plenty of meatballs on the left who are more than happy to do Norquist's shiv work for him.

It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin

A well-meaning but ridiculous law has made it illegal for counselors to assist young campers with applying sunscreen... in case the touching is inappropriate.  And to take the stupid up a notch, the assistant health director for environmental health and food protection admits he is not aware of a case that prompted this.  Not only is the staff forbidden from helping campers, but the campers cannot help their peers in apply lotion.

So, it's better to put kids at risk for cancer and burns rather than allow counselors to apply sunblock.  What is so wrong about two counselors having to be present?  That is how we handled those cases when I took care of mentally handicapped children.  Those kids couldn't even speak up for themselves, so we had a witness and a supervisor present anytime a delicate area had to be treated.  A little common sense goes a long way, and leaving a small child to fend for himself is not the answer.

Before the revision started Friday night, many parents, physicians and dermatologists had expressed worry that Maryland’s approach could result in a surge of sunburn cases. “Restricting counselors’ ability to apply sunscreen or assist with sunscreen reapplication could make it more likely that children will not be protected from the damaging rays of the sun,” said Ronald Moy, president of the American Academy of Dermatology.
The rules are “absurd,” said Maral Skelsey, a dermatologist in Chevy Chase. “This is the biggest known carcinogen that children are exposed to. We should be asking camp counselors to take an active role in promoting skin protection.”

There are options that make sense, but this isn't one of them.   

A Surprise Happy Ending

Just one second is all it takes.  One glance away, one moment where you take a sip of your soda, or checking your phone to see who is calling.  Just a single second can make the difference.  Just ask this man:

A Chicago man will be in bond court today after being charged with trying to kidnap a 2-year-old toddler on North Avenue beach, police announced in a media release.
The incident happened shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday in the 1600 block of North Lake Shore Drive at North Avenue Beach, said Police News Affairs Officer Darryl Baety.
Tyrone Hill, 37, of the 6400 block of South Maplewood Avenue, was charged with attempted aggravated kidnapping of a child under 13 years old and unlawful restraint.

During a press conference at the beach Saturday night, Commander Leo Schmitz of the gang enforcement unit said the man had grabbed the young boy.

"(The father) had to fight to get the child out of his hands," said Schmitz, "I think the father, like most fathers, had as much strength as he needed at the time."

This is a rare happy ending for this scenario.  Not only is the boy safe, but police response allowed them to catch the man so future kids will be saved as well.  If any one thing had happened differently, this story would have had a terrible ending, if not for this boy then for a future target.

Setting Up A Pick And Rolled Move

I'm with Steve M. on this notion:  the Wingers are pissed because of the notion that Obama would replace Justice Ginsberg before 2012 and are howling that Obama is playing political games, yet it's the height of both mendacity and hypocrisy as any Obama Supreme Court pick to replace Ginsberg would have to be blocked by the Tea Party goons that now control the GOP.

Steve's way out is clever:

If President Obama gets another Court pick and (as I strongly suspect) his pick is blocked, and (as I also strongly suspect) the thugs in the GOP make clear that literally no liberal or moderate justice will be able to avoid a filibuster (just as no tax increase is acceptable now), then maybe at some point Obama should just try reappointing O'Connor. Would the Republicans filibuster her? I don't think they could. And sh might be the best we could do. I can't imagine that anyone I'd really want to see on the court wouldn't be filibustered.

Not sure if it would be the best way or even possible, but could the GOP really filibuster Reagan's "proof" that the GOP "cares about women"?   It would put them in a huge bind, short-run.  Long run...not sure if it's a good idea, but then it may be more of an only choice.

On the other hand, considering the Tea Party at this point is willing to destroy the country's economy just to spite Obama, blocking any Supreme Court pick seems like something they'd enjoy doing.
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