Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Howdy Howden


This is the Howden Building in downtown Oakland. Terra cotta tile, built in 1925 to showcase - you guessed it - a tile company. Intricate and beautiful. It's also for sale if you're interested.

So, the masters will meet on Friday, eh? Should be a swell time. In the meanwhile, let's identify what the hold-up is, shall we?

The Big Problem: Even Republicans Don't Like the Republicans: The Republican party’s family feud, exposed
The sexy headline out of the new Pew Research Center poll is that more than six in ten Americans view the Republican party as “out of touch with the American people” while a majority (52 percent) believe the party is “too extreme.” And, while those numbers are telling, a look deeper into the poll exposes the bigger problem for the GOP: The party is deeply divided (fractured?) — with many people who describe themselves as Republicans holding decidedly negative opinions about their side.

While the Crazy Rich Base is Still Purging the Unclean: Club for Growth targets Republicans
The Club for Growth, the anti-tax group that has spent heavily in Republican primaries in the past few cycles, is launching a new website that names nine GOP Congress members in safe seats and urges people to help find challengers to them.

GOP Can't Pass It's Own Agenda: House Republicans Backing Down On Violence Against Women Act
The original plan was for the Republican majority in the House to pass its version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization and then go to conference conference committee with the Senate. The Senate has already overwhelmingly passed a more aggressive bill, with protections for LGBT, Native American and undocumented women that have been at the heart of the dispute with House Republicans. But all that changed Tuesday night. The Rules Committee instead sent the House GOP’s version of the Violence Against Women Act to the floor with a key caveat: if that legislation fails, then the Senate-passed version will get an up-or-down vote.

But Obstruction Will Work Just Fine: A Clever Move by Senate Republicans
The cuts will kick in but in a week or two Congress will vote to repeal the sequester for now and extend the deadline. And that will carry us to the next deadline, March 27. The whole year is going to be a series of deadlines that the House GOP will force on the administration. They operate on the general assumption that if government looks bad, it may hurt them in the short term, but they benefit in the long run. They don't mind losing a leg as long as Obama loses a foot, as it were. So their incentive is to keep gumming up the works.

When You Elect People Who Hate Their Government: Austerity Kills Government Jobs as Cuts to Budgets Loom
The federal government, the nation’s largest consumer and investor, is cutting back at a pace exceeded in the last half-century only by the military demobilizations after the Vietnam War and the cold war... The cuts may be felt more deeply because state and local governments — which expanded rapidly during earlier rounds of federal reductions in the 1970s and the 1990s, offsetting much of the impact — have also been cutting back. Federal, state and local governments now employ 500,000 fewer workers than they did on the eve of the recession in 2007, the longest and deepest decline in total government employment since the aftermath of World War II.

The Vulnerable Will Pay the Price: CBPP: Sequestration’s Impact: It’s Real
Some skeptics have downplayed the impact of impending across-the-board budget cuts known as sequestration, arguing that federal spending will remain high and growing even if the cuts take effect Friday as scheduled. In fact, sequestration will have a real impact on Americans across the country. There is no way to cut $85 billion in a single year, mainly from discretionary programs — which include most defense spending as well as medical research, education, help for low-income families, food and water safety, law enforcement, and so on — and not see real impacts. That’s especially true because sequestration would come on top of the large cuts in discretionary funding that are already in place under the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA).

More Teaquester Fallout. And This Will Hurt Bad in the Long Run: The coming R&D crash
Thanks to budget pressures and the looming sequester cuts, federal R&D spending is set to stagnate in the coming decade. The National Institutes of Health’s budget is scheduled to drop 7.6 percent in the next five years. Research programs in energy, agriculture and defense will decline by similar amounts. NASA’s research budget is on pace to drop to its lowest level since 1988. As a result, scientists and other technology analysts are warning that the United States could soon lose its edge in scientific research — and that the private sector won’t necessarily be able to pick up the slack.

Look to Italy. Been There, Done That: Italy’s anti-austerity ‘rebellion’ promises to spread
Any doubts that Italians were fed up with tax hikes and economic reform vanished in an election that awarded more than half of the votes to anti-austerity parties. The question is whether the Italian-style uprising will ripple through the rest of Europe, especially in the countries deep in recession and saddled with high unemployment rates. Many economists, analysts and politicians think it will.

Mixed Economic Messages: Durable Goods, Way Up and Way Down
Orders for U.S. durable goods excluding transportation equipment climbed in January by the most in a year, indicating business investment is holding up. Bookings for equipment meant to last at least three years minus demand for things such as aircraft, which is often volatile, climbed 1.9 percent, exceeding the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg and the most since December 2011, Commerce Department data showed today in Washington... BUT.. Total orders slumped 5.2 percent, the first decline since August... Orders for defense equipment slumped 69.5 percent, the most since July 2000. Demand for military aircraft and parts slumped 63.8 percent.

A Green Moment: NYT calls for EO on Climate Change: Limiting Carbon Dioxide Pollution by Power Plants
ELECTRIC power plants spew about 40 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution in the United States, but, amazingly, there are no federal limits on utility emissions of this potent greenhouse gas. The Obama administration plans to remedy this situation by drafting rules that would curtail these discharges from existing plants. The president should make sure they are tough. Nothing he can do will cut greenhouse gases more.

Have an excellent day...