Gridlock and Opportunity

The next session of Congress is either going to be complete gridlock, or an era of great bi-partisanship. I say this based on this chart from Nate Silver. In case you’ve forgotten, that’s Nate “the man who got all the numbers right when everybody else got them horribly wrong” Silver:


Let me point out the obvious. It takes 218 votes to get most things done in the House of Representatives. Neither the mainstream Republicans nor the Democrats (with or without the Blue Dog crowd) have those votes. The Tea Party has become a de-facto third party. To get anything done, there will have to be a coalition and/or a compromise: either between the two parties, or with the Tea Partiers. This should be obvious to both Mr. Boehner and Ms. Pelosi. The President already said it out loud. As Mr. Silver points out, on this and pretty much every bill in the next session, Mr. Boehner “will need to win the support of at least some liberal Democrats. And a bill that wins the support of some liberal Democrats will be an even harder sell to Mr. Boehner’s Republicans. For each vote that he picks up from the left, he could risk losing another from his right flank.”

Nobody knows if the glass is half-empty or half-full. Was Mr. Boehner’s ill-named “Plan B” a symptom of his increasing irrelevance, or an attempt to enter a Post- Norquist political world? Will the 113th Congress be a more sane and bi-partisan body, or a place where the right hand and the left hand quite literally don’t know what the other is doing? Let’s hope for sanity.

In Closing: military research saving lives on battlefields and eventually on American streets; why re-invent public education with things we aren’t even sure work when we can just crib off Massachusetts?; yeah, it turns out there were good guys with guns at Columbine and it didn’t help (at least the good guys didn’t injure more students); and maybe this deserves more thought.

The Post on the Host

It seems that March’s second day
is a special birthing day,
for Dr. Seuss of children’s lore
joined our world in Nineteen Four!

Should I, could I make a cake?
That’s fattening, for goodness sake!
Maybe I should write a poem
Though, truth is, I didn’t know him.

You could go to a memorial,
or to a library for a tutorial.
Perhaps Seussville seems like fun
(think so? You’re not the only one!)

Perhaps we could slice up some rare, Who roast beast,
with Green Eggs and Ham for a tasty feast!
Could wacky Wikis be your speed?
Or should we just sit down… and read?

In closing: Canadians prefer their news be made of truth; on taxes; uh, bad idea; so be it; which version do you like better?; ok, that sounds like a spending cut I can support; Timmy stamps his foot; right to work; too much sugar still isn’t good for you; unclear on how the government gets revenue; I saw the news today, oh boy; we’re doin it wrong; and time warp.

Well Done, House of Representatives

Republican leadership in the House took a gamble on an expedited procedure to get the PATRIOT Act extended and lost. Moreover, 26 Republicans crossed party lines to vote against renewal, including 3 “Tea Party Caucus” original members and 9 newly-elected Congressmen. Let’s hear it for democracy.

In Closing: 100 views of Edo; create 1.5M jobs; no jobs; what??; criminally bad; damn straight; joblessness.

Follow-Up Thursday

HR3: “Ok ok, we’ll take that word out if you’re going to get pissy about it. Damn feminists and liberals! We’d better get some concessions in return!” It’s still a bad bill that should not become law.

Banking Corruption: Oh yeah, JP Morgan knew Madoff wasn’t quite legit, problem? Elizabeth Warren still needs to head the CFFB, and to hell with Timmy Geithner. Did you know that the highest paid guy at Bank of America is still Angel Mozilo? The same guy whose business practices cost B of A billions of dollars last quarter alone?? It sure would be nice if someone would enforce the law regarding foreclosure fraud.

I felt a disturbance in the Force, as if a million wingnuts’ heads exploded and were suddenly silenced: The Obama administration is investigating whether the Health Insurance Reform bill can be used to require insurers to provide — not just cover, but provide freecontraceptives and family planning services!

On the Tea Party: Excuse me, I seem to have fallen into some alternate universe where George W. Bush is talking sense, and more or less agreeing with Howard Dean. Does the letter J exist in this universe?

On the Economy: Google got 75,000 job applications in one week because the economy is soooo good, right? At least demand for temps is up (pro tip: I’ve gotten job offers working at temp agencies; they’re a good way to earn a little money, get your feet wet, and maybe end up in a working interview!). On the whole, the employment situation is still “a lighter shade of gray.” The number of people using food stamps is up 14% from last year. So yeah, there’s a teensy disconnect between Wall Street and Your Street.

Will of the People: We want alternative energy, and the jobs we hope will be created by it, and the lower power/fuel bills, and just maybe the cleaner world. This is one of those “excuse me, the center is way off there to the left” moments.

On Education: You know, maybe teachers would do a better job if they had a decent curriculum to work from! Oh, now that’s crazy talk; everybody knows a really good teacher re-invents the wheel every semester…..

In Closing: Republicans hate puppies; they hate the environment too (Nixon was a dirty hippie!!) homeless shelters sometimes break up families; anchor babies; Weird Al; China; and VW is trying to win me back after making the Jetta look like ass:

Oh Noes, BE AFRAID!!!1!

So as I was in the midst of my morning newscrawl, I came across the headline “Report: Terrorists may poison US food supply.” Well, it turns out that the DHS knew about “a possible credible terrorism plot that targets food products in the restaurant and hotel industry, though the threat is non-specific about time and location for the plot.” And truth be told the Jerusalem Post reports that “Al Qaida planned to poison US hotel buffets, salad bars.”

Nevertheless, be afraid! The Evil Terrorists are wanting to poison your food!!

Of course it seems obvious to me that if we gave a damn about food security and really thought terrorism from foreign terrorist organizations was a risk, the first thing we would do is make sure that illegal immigrants are not harvesting and processing our food! But no, even many latte liberals think we somehow need underpaid, undocumented workers to get food from the farm to our plates.

In Closing: Amen; maps; food stamps; 308.7M; student loan debt; Dave Johnson is on a roll; CEOs; temps; and WTF.

I’m going to speak slowly….

Pedant aside: please note that I did not say “Imma” in place of “I’m going to”.

The end of August is upon us. This is normally I time of year that I republish A Little Message for the College Crowd, updated with the newest Beloit Mindset List. As important as I still believe that message is — and I encourage you to send that link to the college students you know — there’s something else I have to say this year.

What is with you parents and your dorm room obsessions? Have you lost your minds?

Ok, yes. The kid is “out on his/her own” for what is probably the first time (heaven forbid you sent them to summer camp for a couple of weeks). Still, the space they will be occupying is a room. Not an apartment. Not a luxury suite. They are unlikely to have access to a kitchen, and there will be restrictions on what cooking implements they are allowed to have in their room. Also remember that they will not have a lot of room for, well, anything. And finally, remember that they will have a roommate. The aforementioned roommate may have his/her own ideas about the space — or worse yet, roommate’s mom might.

Here’s what you need to send to the dorm: school appropriate clothes (including pajamas and a jacket); bedding and towels; personal toiletry items; a travel bag (1); an alarm clock; school supplies, including stuff that would normally live on the student’s desk; laundry supplies including a basket, hangers, and soap; a few small items of decor (favorite poster, fun lamp, picture of the kid’s dog, stuff like that); essential personal electronics (computer, cell phone, MP3 player, etc.). Ask whether they need a trash can. If you’ve missed something really essential, I bet there’s a store near the school.

Here’s stuff that’s nice to have but not necessary: mini-fridge, if allowed; microwave, if allowed; calendar; white-board or cork memo board; a small stereo system and a few favorite CDs (assuming his/her whole collection isn’t on the computer and/or MP3 player); a little tote for getting toiletries to and from the shower; an electric fan (check dorm rules for when it may be used).

Every dorm room I have ever seen has two beds, two desks, two chairs, two dressers, and two rather small closets. Usually there’s lamp or flourescent light, and sometimes a task lamp on the desk. Do not send furniture to the dorm. And no, the kid doesn’t need a 42″ flatscreen in his room. He doesn’t really even need a TV! There’s one of those in the floor lounge, and he should really be studying anyway! Sure, make a list so you don’t forget important stuff. But if you have to rent a truck to get it all there, you’ve got way too much junk.

In short, treat the dorm like a bare bones hotel room instead of Baby’s First Apartment and you’ll do fine. The kid is legally an adult; now let the kid get on with his or her life. Please.

Now I get to sit back and wait for Calvin’s Mom to tell us what all those little darlings say when they arrive….

Obtuse Angle: Just a little rundown of the various Sharron Angle stories out there. At an event where she wasn’t expecting recordings, she said that evolution is a theory (just like phrenology, right?) and NPR has too small an audience for debates so Harry Reid needs to agree to meet her on Fox News. Both candidates think Cordoba House shouldn’t be built (is it sacrilege to have an apartment near Ground Zero? And if so, is it alright to *ahem* make whoopie there?) Here she is trying to sound sane repudiate clarify all her previous positions. Here’s our local politics guy calling her out on it. Here’s a blast from Sharron’s past. If you wonder what became of the Chicken Lady, this link is for you. And as a bonus? I’m Voting Tea Party T-Shirts.

Phoney Argument: Right, because just what we all need is to turn our $400 smart phones into $5 transistor radios.

Finally, In Closing: If “the easy answer is yes,” what are all the extra words for?; turns out everybody is cutting back, Boomers and retirees more so; the things you can dig up; we can hope; Thanks to E.B. Misfit for pointing out that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce thinks that women need to “make the tough choices about work-life balance” including “choosing the right place to work and choosing the right partner at home.“; what does it take to get shut down??; on arguing with conservatives; and more than you wanted to know about Death and Sesame Street.