Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Catnip 5/8/12


Bonsai at Lake Merritt. This mighty little guy is 2,000 years old (yes, you read that right). I shot this angle on purpose to give it the majesty it so deserves. Lake Merritt has one of the most impressive collections of Bonsai you will ever see - and best of all, it's free to the public. Very cool place.

On to the news:

It's election day in many areas across the country today - get out and vote! Some races of national importance: Indiana Republican Dick Lugar looks likely to go down to defeat in his primary, as the Tea Party has waged an expensive campaign to remove the six-term Senator from office. In Wisconsin, Democrats will decide who is going to face embattled Governor Scott Walker in the recall election set for June. And in North Carolina, voters are set to ban gay marriage and civil unions, even though voters there approve of gay marriage and civil unions. Three meaningless GOP primaries are also happening today in Indiana, North Carolina and West Virginia.

Gallup has a new poll out today that signals gay marriage support at 50-48 across the country. Democrats and Independents are in favor 65 percent and 57 percent respectively, Republicans are opposed 74 percent. Pretty easy to tell which segment of society has "evolved" on the issue here.

The fallout over gay marriage issue continues for the Obama White House; Greg Sargent at Plum Line has a great round-up of stories on the matter. Check it out. The War Room talked with Marc Solomon of Freedom to Marry on last night's show, be sure and catch the clip here.

The unemployment rate had local and state governments not cut so many jobs? 7.1 percent. So sayeth the Labor Department. "The Labor Department’s establishment survey of employers — the jobs count that it bases its payroll figures on — shows that the government has been steadily shedding workers since the crisis struck, with 586,000 fewer jobs than in December 2008... The unemployment rate would be far lower if it hadn’t been for those cuts: If there were as many people working in government as there were in December 2008, the unemployment rate in April would have been 7.1%, not 8.1%." Where did most of those job losses take place? In states that saw Republicans take control in the Tea Party wave of 2010.

In a display of his true character, Mitt Romney continues to take credit for the auto industry rescue, even though his plan would have sent the automakers into liquidation and cost America over a million jobs. Doesn't matter how many times he is called out on his mendacity, he's going to continue to double-down on his story and spew this falsehood. Leadership?

The Fortune 500 list was released yesterday. GM, number 5. Ford, number 9. Any questions?

Senate Republicans will block federal nominees until after the election. The Federal Reserve is short-handed and "(l)eaving the central bank short-staffed deprives it of top-notch monetary policy and financial market expertise that could prove valuable given the stop-and-go nature of the U.S. recovery and economic threats coming from Europe," but Republican Senator David Vitter doesn't really care about all that because he has an ideology to serve over the good of the American people. Same... stuff, different day.

In other Senate Republican obstruction news, John Kyl vows to block the bill that would keep student loan interest rates from doubling later this year. "Last week, Senate Republicans had signalled a willingness to at least move on to the bill and appeared inclined to give Democrat the 60 votes needed." But this week, they've decided that they like the House bill that slashes health care funding as an off-set instead, so filibuster it is.

House Republicans continue to break the deal set last year in the Budget Control Act. Besides yesterday's vote in a House committee to slash food aid, health care and other services to protect defense spending, the House has also tried the same trick with the Commerce and Justice Department funding bill that cuts $1.6 billion from critical areas of national importance. The White House has threatened a veto on ALL "of the 12 annual spending bills, even if they make it through the Democratic Senate, unless the House GOP abandons its overall budget plans." Look for this to be an ongoing story for the rest of the year.

Thought the war over lightbulbs was over? Think again. Republicans plan to revive the issue over the complaints of manufacturers who have been moving towards the new standards for a long time now. Petulance or silliness, you decide.

Gas prices are falling sharply, easing fears of the $5 a gallon predictions made not so long ago. "The average price of regular gasoline dropped to $3.790 a gallon as of Monday, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said, down 3.8% from the 2012 peak of $3.941 reached April 2." Time to plan that summer vacation!