Archive: January, 2010
Hey, so you know that recession? Over: 5.7 percent GDP growth in the last quarter of 2009, bitches. Stock market up 83 points today, according to my iPhone. And hey, this just in from City Controller Alan Butkovitz: Philadelphia's unemployment rate dropped, just a little bit, from 11.1 percent to 10.6 percent. Hot damn.
OK, so the unemployment rate is still way too high. This city still faces a massive deficit, thanks in large part to ridiculous structural problems amassed over several decades. And that GDP growth is partially the result of businesses having cut back their inventories so deeply last year that they had to restock, eventually, and this is it. But as Reuters points out:
The robust performance closed out a year in which the economy contracted 2.4 percent, the biggest decline since 1946.
So, you know, not all good news. But it's a start.
The Daily News' Stu Bykofsky and I have a little back-and-forth going over the bike lanes on Spruce and Pine, and today I invited (okay, challenged) Stu to take a bike ride with me and CP's Isaiah Thompson first down a city street without a dedicated bike lane and a city street with one.
Last week, in my editor's letter, I accused Stu of being a bully. And this morning, Stu sent me an e-mail that read:
"Stu bullies motorists today. Don't miss it!"
And I'll hand it to Stu for sticking it to the maniacs who find it acceptable to operate their two-ton steel, glass and vinyl weapons on residential city streets while texting, dialing and/or talking on cell phone.
And though I take issue with his use of statistics in some of his bike lane pieces, he's got good numerical backup in this morning's piece:
That cellphone use creates deadly distracted driving is disputed by no (sane) person I could find - and I even looked on the Internet, the corkscrew colony for crackpot contrarians.
Cell-phone use quadruples the risk of an auto accident, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It causes 636,000 crashes, 330,000 injuries and 2,600 deaths annually, according to the Harvard Center of Risk Analysis, which estimates the cost at $43 billion.
All age groups use cell phones while driving, but it creates an unusual effect among the young - the least experienced drivers and the most cell-addicted:
"If you put a 20-year-old driver behind the wheel with a cell phone, their reaction times are the same as a 70-year-old driver who is not using a cell phone," says University of Utah psychology professor David Strayer. "It's like instantly aging a large number of drivers."
Is it an easy target? Sure. But a very worthwhile one nonetheless. In the piece, Byko makes enforcement suggestions that would be well applied to cyclists as well.
Drivers have been warned, but many continue to roam with phones in hand. Does this come from a misplaced sense of entitlement - or no sense at all?
Why do they persist? Not enough enforcement.
Solution? Blanket enforcement.
For a week, police should stop and ticket every violator they see. They are not hard to find.
Skip a few weeks, then repeat as often as necessary to drive the fear of enforcement - and the $75 fine - through their gooney-bird skulls.
To all the people who complain about scofflaw cyclists yes, there are cyclists who bend and snap the law. And the reason they do is that there's next to zero enforcement (and that cyclists are regularly treated as non-entities by the police and drivers).
A funny thing happened last night. For months I've been looking everywhere for this thing that I lost. I turned over seat cushions, rifled through drawers, upended furniture. Then I turned on Hulu and there it was â the president that I voted for last November, the guy for whom I spent hours and hours walking around West Philly knocking on doors, and whose victory my neighborhood celebrated with an all-hours, bongo-banging, community-bridging, trolley-stopping Baltimore Avenue rager.
Man, I fucking looked everywhere for that guy!
It was good to see him again, and if there's one thing you can take away from last night's State of the Union, it's that Barack Obama gives good speech. If he were president of a debating society, he'd have 90% approval ratings. I'd pay to watch the guy read out of the phone book. And if he could govern by teleprompter, I'd already be using my public insurance option.
Unfortunately, when he steps away from the podium, Obama seems inclined to leave governance in the stone hands of his largely useless party leaders, who have made such a mess of health care reform that they are in danger of losing their enormous congressional majorities this fall. Mistake one was clearly investing his political capital with Harry Reid's investment firm, which turned around and gambled the principal on Joe Lieberman's Connecticut Default Swaps.
Obama's problem so far is that he has governed in a way that pleases effectively no one â not this base, not centrists (who don't like the health care bill), and certainly not conservatives. In fairness, Obama could personally sign every piece of the official GOP platform into law, and the Fox News crowd would still hate him and ask to see his birth certificate every few minutes.
Last night was Obama's attempt to right the ship â to reassure the base that the administration's progressive goals remain in sight, and to regain the trust of centrists put off by the Landrieu Purchase and other unsavory elements of health care reform. And at its best, Obama's speech was a forceful defense of his administration's policies.
He defended the bank bailout while still holding the titans of Wall Street to account for their role in the financial crisis. "If these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need." He defended a foreign policy increasingly unpopular with his party's base. Doing so unapologetically can only win him admiration even from those who disagree with the policies.
The only moment anyone really cared about, in the wake of the Martha Coakley fiasco, came when Obama turned to health care. Observers expected him to retreat from the bill, at least a little bit, to give himself and his party some political breathing room. But instead he launched a full-throated defense of the reform on the table, and called on Congress to pass it. "Do not walk away from reform,â he told the attendant legislators. He told the crowd of GOP obstructionists and nihilists that if they had a better idea, they were welcome to bring it to the table.
If only he could have called out Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman by name, the two disgusting insurance company sycophants more responsible than anyone else for derailing reform, who were conveniently seated next to each other in what one commentator called "the axis of weasel.â Certain niceties, alas, had to be observed.
In perhaps the finest moment of the speech, he told Congress, "To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve some problems, not run for the hills.â It was a refreshing signal that we won't be getting Bill Clinton's second term â school uniforms, blowjob scandals, and the kind of vanilla presidency that gets you 65% approval ratings without achieving a single damn thing.
One feeling you get from all this, though, is that the guy's going to have to stop putting out political brushfires with speech water. It's one thing to right the campaign ship with a well-time and thoughtful speech, as Obama did with the Reverend Wright affair. It's another to confuse speechmaking with policymaking, or to believe that one can effectively substitute for the other.
In other words, actions twist more arms in the Democratic caucus than words. The problem with the health care bill isn't that Obama isn't delivering good enough speeches, it's that reform was left out in the cornfield like a scarecrow, and predictably got picked at.
So if last night was Obama rushing out of the White House with a shotgun to scare away the birds, that would be awesome. But along with a number of increasingly disillusioned supporters, l'll believe it when I see it.
We've got about T-minus 2 until President Obama's first real-deal State of the Union address, and I'll be liveblogging the whole sumbitch right here on the Clog. So pour yourself a drink, and gather round the laptop to hear my ever-incisive, always witty banter. Oh, the fun we'll have.
PS - Resident SmartyPants David Faris will be Clogging his in-depth review of SOTU tomorrow, so be sure to check that out. In the meantime, hit refresh every, oh, 10 minutes or so. Also, please forgive any typos, etc. I've been pre-gaming for an hour or so. (Get your own SOTU drinking game here.)
Also, RIP Howard Zinn.
9 - The wife is watching HGTV. Hippies buying homes, or whatever. Dirty fucking hippies.CHANGE THE CHANNEL, I'M WORKING!
9:01 - I'm watching NBC by the way. Brian Williams!
9:02 - BW: People are angry. Massachusetts. Bailouts.
9:02 - David Gregory: Washington is a trap, etc. He's got a very tall order. Divided Congress [OH RIGHT 70-SEAT MAJORITY IN HOUSE, 18 IN SENATE, SUPER DIVIDED!] Blah blah
9:03 - DG - In choosing to take up health care, he knew he'd be taking a lot.
9:05 - Alright, here we go...
9:06 - Boehner, tan as always
9:07 - White House wants to deemphasize health care, says Mitchell. Oh, fantastic.
9:08 - Joe Wilson & Repubs had to be reminded to be courteous, reports Kelly O'Donnell. Sheesh.
9:09 - Barry went with the red tie? Likey.
9:10 - Is Nancy Pelosi a real human being?A mannequin? Loaded on Botox? Discuss amongst yourselves.
9:11 - Is one of the CritMass kids liveblogging Idol?
9:13 - Barack's hair is now 30 percent gray. Has he just aged a lot, or you think he was dye-ing before?
9:14 - Things suck now, but it's cool. Chillax, yall.
9:14 - Actually, things are half as bad as they were a year old. Bush sucks.
9:15- Seriously, I'm pretty sure I've heard this exact same speech before. I mean, I guess there's only so much new material you can throw out there, but come on.
9:15 - Wall Street, Main Street. Populism yay.
9:16 - Chuck Grassley with the red sweater vest.
9:16 - Seven minutes in and no applause line.
9:17 - Hope for the future gets em on their feet. Except the Supreme Ct. They don't go for this hope shit.
9:17 - Joe Biden a little early on the clap there.
9:18 - Who's the jackass clapping on his own?
9:18 - We all hated the bank bailout. Especially Carl Levin. About as popular as a root canal. He made a funny.
9:20 - Joe Biden reportedly never drank a beer in his life, but he really looks like a whiskey-drunk uncle tonight. He's enjoying this shit.
9:20 - Make the bankers pay, those fucks. Ha, and the Repubs are all sitting down. St. Ronnie told them not to stand up, because of socialism!
9:20 - We cut taxes. We rule. Republicans do not stand, because, oh hell, whatever.
9:21- He just called the fucks out. Boehner had deer in headlights look.
9:22 - Harry Reid wake up
9:23 - So is Barack going to spend all night talking about how he didn't screw everything up, so shut up Glenn Beck?
9:25 - Jobs must be our No. 1 focus. A new jobs bill. Republicans like jobs.
9:26 - OK, this is a little boring.
9:27 - Allentown, what what! My dad was born there. Sweet.
9:27 - Tarp money to small biz; Eric Cantor=sniveling little shithead.
9:27 - Tax cuts for everyone.
9:29 - Jobs bill. House has passed. Senate people yell.
9:30 - I want ajobs bill without delay. So, you know, in six to eight months, or whenever they get around to it.
9:30 - I like Barack and all, but he's not subtle with the straw men.
9:31 - Yeah, right on. Second place is no place.
9:32 - Financial reform. I am not interested in punishing banks. EVERYONE ELSE IS.
9:33 - Get on the ball, slackass Senate.
9:34 - He really isn't a good populist. Which is why I liked him as a candidate - I don't trust populists. But he's not really good at faking it either. He gives fantastic, moving speeches. But when he tries to act like he's pissed about and about to bust your lip or whatever â¦ I don't know, doesn't sell.
9:35 - Wait, what, nuclear power???? Off shore drilling? Dude, the Republicans still won't like you. Honest.
9:36 - House 3, Senate 0.
9:37 - I know there are some who disagree with the overwhelming evidence on climate change. Haha. Morons.
9:37 - Export more goods. That's cute. We used to make stuff.
9:38 - Double exports: 2x0 is what now? Oh right. 2 million jobs.
9:38 - Reforming export controls will really pacify the Beckians. I'm sure that tested well in focus groups.
9:39 - DOHAT trade agree â¦ snooze...
9:40: Can we get to the good part? Doma? Health care? Joe Lieberman's general dickheadedness?
9:40 - Schools: we only reward success.
9:41: Yall see that South Carolina lt gov who compared poor kids to stray animals. If you feed them, they breed, and so on? Fuckin a. South Carolina.
9:41 - Community college! CCP!
9:42 - Tax credit for four years of college. My parents would've liked that a decade ago.
9:42 - Only 10 percent of income on student loans, forgiven after 20 years. That's uh, a pretty good deal.
9:43 - Homeowners into bettter mortgages got no applause.
9:43 - HEALTH CARE. ALRIGHT.
9:44- By now, it's fairly obvious, not good politics.
9:45 - A century of trying. We are closer than ever.
9:45 - Michelle=kinda hot, no?
9:46 - Health care sell, part 4676
9:46 - Call out GOP call out GOP call out GOP come on
9:47 - I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber.
9:47 - If anyone has a better approach, let me know. Let me know. Oh God, can't wait for the gooper response.
9:48 - Finish the job, let's get it done.
9:49 - Grades so far? I dunno. B.
9:49 - Bush sucks.
9:50 - Aren't you glad John McCain isn't giving this speech? My friends, my frieeeeeeennnnnds
9:51 - Belt tightening. Here comes spending freeze. 2011: Freeze govt spending for 3 years. If I have to enforce this discipline I will. Don't make me take off my belt.
9:52 - Called for bipartisan budget commish. Just got voted down in the Senate, and by voted down I mean it only got 53 votes. Neat math there. Executive order forthcoming.
9:54 - PAYGO.
9:55 - That's how budgeting works. Ha.
9:56 - Tax cuts, deregulation don't work, etc. It's time to try something new. Common sense.
9:57 - I think my dog needs to pee. Hang on, Belle.
9:57 - I'm gonna go with an B+. It's quite precisely tailored to quell the populism and all that. I don't know.
9:57 - You think Congress will do any of this lobbyist stuff? Not a chance. But he's right about the Supreme Court. That was a shitastic ruling. John Roberts.
9:59 - Isaiah has a good column about the SC thing in this week's paper.
10 - Earmark reform. Publish all earmarks online.
10 - Philosophical differences: Yeah, but we won, bitches.
10:01 - We can't wage a perpetual campaign.. Neither party should obstruct every single bill just because they can.
10:01 - Distrust in govt. Campaign fever earlier than usual.
10:02 - To Dems, large majority. Solve problems. Buncha pussies.
10:02 - The responsibility is yours as well. Saying no to everything is good politics, but not leadership. Yep.
10:03 - Shit. BH just put this LiveBlog of Facebook. I've just kinda been amusing myself here.
10:03 - Fortunately for you, my Mac is right about to die. We'll see if I'm unlazy/interested enough to go get the power cord for the GOP response, which is by... who now?
10:04 - Oh yeah, the Virginia guy. Like how Tim Kaine gave the response to Bush in 2005.
10:05 - Camera cut to somber looking military folks.
10:05 - As we take the fight to Al Qaeda, leaving Iraq to its people. Combat troops out by August.
10:06 - Hey, Doma anyone? DADT?
10:07 - Support them when they come home. ... God, it makes me laugh a little that freaking Al Franken is actually a US Senator. That's fantastic.
10:08 - Hey Barry, when you clap the mic picks it up. Annoying.
10:09 - Secure all nuke materials in 4 years. No loose nukes. Jeez, what will 24 do then? That's like every season.
10:10 - We just kinda did the "it's not a threat it's a promise" to iran, huh?
10:11 - Barack loves Haiti because he's a racist! I love Rush Limbaugh.
10:12 - We find unity in diversity. Wow. That's an actual Disney World slogan in Orlando.
10:13 - Civil rights. Hate crimes. This year, I will work with Congress to repeal DADT... It's the right thing to do.
10:14 - Fixing broken immigration system. Chances of that happening in an election year: Oh, maybe 423232456 to 1, give or take.
10:15 - Not now, Software Update.
10:16 - Each time a CEO rewards himself for failure ... laying it on thick.
10:17 - Haha. TV pundits.
10:17 - Shorter Obama: Grow up, people.
10:17 - The sad part is, I think he really means this Jimmy Stewart stuff. I think he overestimates the American voter.
10:18- Who knows? He's showing humility; people like that, right?
10:19 - Yeah, he's kinda bringing it home now. Aspirational.
10:20 - If congressional Republicans had consciences, would they feel guilty? Rhetorical question, of course.
10:21 - Spirit lives on in you.
10:22- Post-speech predictions: NBC loves it. Fox thinks it's the worst thing in 20 years.
10:23 - Brian Williams - The president brought the chamber for silence. It was more boisterous at times almost sarcastic the amount of comments and catcalls. NEWS: The president is a black guy. Not all Repubs are OK with that.
10:23- O'Donnell - I never heard a boo uttered. Enormous reaction of House Dems.House Rs would whisper to each other. No prepared pieces of literature. I saw far fewer Blackberries. Oh God, is that what we mark as progress?
10:23 - Brian Williams - speech long journey
10:23 - I'm not a fan of David Gregory. I'm not sure why.
10:24 - Chuck Todd - He spent more time talking about angst. He aired them very publicly here. Reactive to an angry electorate.
10:25 - Speech aimed at indies.
10:25 - Is this a dare? God, one can only hope.
- Commercial break -
Super Bowl? I'm taking the Saints. Can't stand the Colts. Plus, a dude I went to high school with is on the Saints.
10:28 - We're back. Will Bob McDonnell be the next â¦ who was that weird little man from Louisiana who boned this thing last year? Bobby Jindal.
10:29 - Here's the whole speech.
10:30 - Oh they gave this guy an audience. Cute.
10:31 - Republican perspective: Tax cuts, tax cuts, tax cuts, etc.
10:32 - Govt should not pile on taxation, etc. Of course. Now this is a broken record.
10:33 - Feds want to do too much. Says stim didn't work - well. yeah, we didn't spend enough and half of that was tax cuts. So your plan fails.
10:33 - Proper limited role of govt. Which means what, exactly? Govt growth is the problem, right? Oh ok.
10:34 - Cooperation, not partisanship. Please tell that to your senate colleagues. \
10:35 - Gubmint care. Gubmint care.
10:35 - 1,000 page bills - just because you don't have the attention span to get through them doesn't mean they're bad ideas.
10:35 - Facebook, Twitter.Oh Lord.
10:35 - Off shore drilling!!!! Virginia will love that. Virginia is for Oil Tankers.
10:36- I'm pretty sure he stacked the crowd. Cap n trade.
10:36 - Innovative energy policies. Drill baby drill. Jesus.
10:36 - Can we make a rule? No more southerners in the White House? I grew up down there. Not pretty.
10:37 - Token black guy!
10:38 - Did he endorse the Iraq withdraw? Communist.
10:39 - Every person of color in that building is staged behind him.
10:40 - Obama <3 terrorists.
10:40 - Scott Brown gets to be quoted now?
10:40 - Josh Marshall: I should have registered earmarks.com. Ha!
10:40 - Scripture. But I thought Haiti made a deal with the devil, silly satanists.
10:41 - The problem with SOTU is that it's over too late for Jon Stewart to make fun of it tonight. Dang.
10:42 - Are you done yet? Oh there you go. Thanks.
OK, I'm done. I just wasted two hours on this thing. Which means I'm gonna start drinking at 3 on Friday.
Oh, fuck yeah. THE OFFICE, IN PROGRESS.
Over the past year nobody nobody has used clearer language for a better understanding of the current financial crisis than Elizabeth Warren. She first came to my attention with her first appearance on the Daily Show.
She was on again last night. I think you can just tell how much she is working because of how much she cares, and to that end, how frustrated she is getting that nothing is happening.
So for your viewing pleasure and absolute horror...
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
Want to watch the State of the Union with other people? Of course you do, this shii is gonna be scarier than a Wes Craven flick.
Here's a link to watch parties in the area.
Below is a more specific invite to those in the Center or South Philly area.
Do you have plans to watch President Obama's State of the Union address tonight?
Local volunteers are organizing an OFA Watch Party in Philadelphia -- and you're invited.
We know this is a huge moment for our country, and in tonight's speech President Obama will lay out his vision for the way forward. Join us to watch with fellow OFA supporters, huddle on the phone with former campaign manager and White House advisor David Plouffe, and plan out next steps together.
Can you come tonight? Click here to RSVP.
Here are the details:
What: State of the Union Watch Party
Where: 703 S. 5th St.,
When: Wednesday, January 27th
Want to attend a different Watch Party? Click here to search for other events near you.
Hope you can join us,
Organizing for America
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