A Really Bad Week for Music

In the last week, we have lost a bunch of fine musicians.

First, Dave Brubeck.

Then, Jenni Rivera — with whom I was not familiar prior to her unfortunate death.

Yesterday, Russian born Soprano Galina Vishnevskaya.

And today, Ravi Shankar. Apparently, somebody forgot to tell him these things happen in threes.

In Closing: turns out the Feds did good on this investment; the return of on the job training (waaah, it costs more than miraculously finding people who already have the skills!); the right to work for less; record period of no freezing in Vegas couldn’t possibly be because of global warming!; reinventing the wheel; even Wal-Mart is feeling it; if you can, give a hand to JP; and congrats to Ornery Bastard.

America Needs Jimmy Stewart

Yesterday, the Christian Science Monitor asked “If we can require driver’s ed for teens, then why not voter’s ed?” It’s a good question, but it unravels when you start to ask what would be taught in that class. If you try to educate would-be voters on any of the actual issues involved in the current polls, you’ll be accused instantly of having an agenda: talk about the truth on Social Security and you’ll be called a liberal, if not an outright socialist, for example.

This Christmas, we decided to go ahead and watch the classic movie, It’s a Wonderful Life. You probably know the story: George Bailey runs a small bank in a small town in an honest and community-responsible way, and continually butts heads with the owner of the big, regional bank. Mr. Potter — unlike modern bankers — never actually does anything illegal, but he sure does some things that aren’t entirely *ahem* Christian. Thanks to the help of a friendly Angel, George gets to see what a mess the world would be without him.

At some point it occurred to me that It’s a Wonderful Life probably ought to be required viewing for Americans. Now, granted some people in the FBI thought it was communist propaganda. They thought everything was communist propaganda. But who can watch Bedford Falls transform into Pottersville and think that they are totally alone in the world? Who can watch the mess that unregulated monopolies [accidentally] create without thinking there is some necessary reigning in of big business? Who can really say it’s a bad thing for people to look out for one another in times of need?

Then I thought a little deeper, and realized that to balance out this movie’s religious overtones you really need more Jimmy Stewart. First, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, another Frank Capra directed film, featuring a naive new Senator coming up against The Way Washington Works. Not only does this demonstrate unfortunate truths about politics, it shows a genuine filibuster, and the power of pressure from voters.

Finish out the film festival with a much later Jimmy Stewart film, Strategic Air Command — and I don’t just say that because I have a soft spot for Carswell AFB in Fort Worth. It’s another great movie with strong themes of service to country and family, showing us what our Armed Forces are supposed to be about (hint: it’s not about blowing up brown people on the other side of the globe).

There you have it: 6 hours of classic movie viewing that every American should see on an annual basis.

In Closing: the Cult of Rand; the Germans think we’re insane; scientists disagree, so let’s throw them out of the discussion; everything’s illegal; reconsidering triclosan; look what the TARP covered up (interesting picture, and interesting banner in the background); economics of contempt; on personal responsibility; on job creation and the economy (I hope this is right); great patent; come on, the guy’s got a Nobel Prize; and a laugh.

Shorties’ Ladder

San Bruno: Admittedly, before this tragic explosion, San Bruno was mostly a BART stop to me. But one thing is very clear to me: we have got to stop waiting until bridges collapse and pipelines explode to make sure our infrastructure is in adequate condition! And here’s a little hint to politicians: You actually have to hire people to build and repair things like pipelines, roads, and bridges. Better yet, quality infrastructure makes it easier for the private sector to create jobs when these projects are completed! By the way, did anybody notice that PG&E are only committing to paying up if it is found to be their fault? Um yeah, I think Allstate and State Farm will see to it that they pay. Here’s video of the explosion taken at a nearby gas station.

Health Insurance Reform isn’t over yet: Premiums are still rising quite a lot faster than inflation, and insurers claim that this is because they are paying out more money (probably because certain shady practices had to be stopped). Meanwhile, there is one provision that must get changed. However, the Senate failed twice today to get it passed. Under an obscure provision — that has nothing whatsoever to do with health care — small businesses would be forced to issue 1099 forms to any vendor with whom they purchased more than $600 worth of goods. Somehow it is claimed that this would raise $17,000,000,000 in taxes. I just can’t see how that works. After all, I get receipts from my brokerage and local NAR chapter documenting how much I paid them; why is my sending them notice that I indeed paid what they admit I paid going to generate money for anybody but my accountant?

On the Federal Budget and the Deficit thereof: So those bad old Tax-And-Spend Liberals managed to reduce the deficit 13%, with control of Congress (although their “control” of the Senate is a strange thing). At least Tax-And-Spend Liberals know you ought to have money before spending it. But do you think any Democrats are going to point this out on the campaign trail? Probably not. By the way, I can’t understand why CNN thinks it’s newsworthy that the Federal Budget isn’t done yet. This has happened pretty much every year for as long as I can remember. Of course the budget deficit would shrink quite a bit if we just let the Tax Cuts For People Who Don’t Need More Money expire. Even Moody’s says that giving the rick a tax break doesn’t do jack for the economy, and they’re paid to figure this stuff out. Frankly, if the only way to make that happen is to accept higher taxes myself next year, so be it. Let me get my damn checkbook.

A Few Items on Education: School breakfasts are the coming trend (couldn’t they eat something more healthy than sugary cereal and whole wheat donuts? Sorry it’s still deep fried cake). David Sirota on the educational bait and switch that has left our students unfit to do much more than putter on computers and pour lattes. Why college grads can’t write despite employers begging for literate employees that can write a freaking memo. And more than you really wanted to know about student loans.

A Few Items on Banking and Financial Reform: It looks like the international community is telling us that we will tighten up regs whether banks and Congress and Bernanke likes it or not. However, the holes in the regs look remarkably like cheese from the region where the rules are even now being hammered out. Meanwhile, the SEC is trying to prevent financial firms from hiding their debt. Funny, we’re still having this issue how many years after Enron? Meanwhile, it looks like President Obama is actually going to do the right thing and put in a recess appointment for Elizabeth Warren as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That means there is a chance things will be done that favor Joe Average above the Banksters. Oh and one more thing: if banks are failing to pay the feds back, why exactly aren’t the feds foreclosing on their worthless hides?

Cops Hate Dogs: It amazes me that someone who is sworn to protect the people can have such a low regard for living beings. One must wonder if they even respect human life.

“But that’s a nose in the middle of your face!”: Even CNN is pointing out that simply assuming people are physically able to work until they are 70 is an unrealistic plan for “saving” Social Security.

Silver Lining on the Economy is just Aluminum Foil: The wage gap between men and women is shrinking. My take is that the bean-counters figure it’s more cost effective to lay off the high-wage man than the underpaid woman, with the long term effect being that wages in general are lower when it comes time to hire again.

It’s still Sugar: High Fructose Corn Syrup is being re-branded as “corn sugar.” That doesn’t change the fact that most research says it’s not good for you.

If you build it, they might come: It turns out that Fiats may be returning to the states. That is, if certain Chrysler dealers build special showrooms for them.

Shorties Sematary

Nothing about mortgages or housing today, I promise!

When did Progressives turn into Reaganites?: With Progressive “ideas” like these, we don’t need Conservatives. Doesn’t matter, the Party Of No shoulders on. Maybe everybody thinks the Underpants Gnomes will take care of the problem.

The other side of the coin: Everybody’s favorite Liberal President, Richard M. Nixon! That damn Commie signed the EPA into law, called for true universal health care, and made Father’s Day an official holiday.

Speaking of Conservatives: b***s*** like this and this are why I don’t listen to most of them.

I Shot a Bank in Reno, Just to Watch it Die: Bank Failure 83 this year. It’s only June. 90 banks have missed their TARP payments, so watch out for more to come.

I’m not sure I entirely agree, but it’s an interesting thought: why baggage fees are good for most travelers, with bonus bagging on airport security.

Aim Carefully When Shooting Your Foot, You Wouldn’t Want to Mess Up Your Pumps: I’m not worried about Sharron Angle anymore. Between blowing off a major news outlet in a market that represents 80% of the voting base (there’s a link for video goodness) and not having any money, Senator Reid has no problems.

On Why Medical Care is More Expensive: Not only is it more complicated, it actually works now. Speaking of which, how quaint that USA Today thinks patients have any control over the use of electronic medical records! Oh yeah, and it looks like your doc will only have a 21% pay drop from Medicare in June. Which by the way is generally a lean month for doctors anyway.

The Beginnings of  Made For TV Disaster Movie: The Night the Oil Rig Exploded. Several scenes already sketched out, with character development and dialogue, ripped from real life.

On Teacher Assessment: It’s only fair to assess them on stuff they have some control over.

It turns out that Moving is Expensive and Inconvenient: Raising taxes on the rich doesn’t cause them to move to other states. If it did, there would be no multi-millionaires in California and lots of huge mansions outside Primm.

On Fraudulent Debt Collection: Has it really gotten to the point where all somebody needs to do is claim you owe money? Even if you do owe money, there’s stuff you don’t have to tolerate from debt collectors.

Why, No Matter What the GDP is, We Are Still in a Recession: Only the very rich have money to spend.

The “Experts” show their Ignorance Once Again: Experts declare that kids don’t need close friends. Parents scratch their heads, wondering where the heck kids will learn to have relationships with other human beings.

The Crazy Neighbor: Whew!

Have a great weekend, folks! Feel free to let me know what you think of the ads in comments.