Yes, housing starts are dismal along with virtually every other economic indicator. But, I believe I know a way to improve that, at least in housing starts. This is just a beginning , mind you but it seems to have lots of potential.
I read a blurb in Sports Illustrated the other day about Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard. Mr Howard is by any estimation a baseball star and plays for what is probably the best team in baseball. For that he is well compensated. For purposes of this post, I make no comment about what Howard makes, except to say that it is enough to afford a nice home.
Mr Howard has plans in place to have a home constructed in the Tampa area that has an estimated completion date of sometime in 2014. With a cost estimate of $23 million, that should be no surprise. The only catch is that the regs in that area require a maximum construction time of 24 months which has required a bit of negotiation with local officials. While they are involved in that, they should not miss a great opportunity to boost the housing starts there and maybe even start a nationwide trend.
Here is my suggestion. Divide the estimated construction cost by ten and voila , you have 10 housing starts. Numbers look better which is really all that matters anyway, right? Besides an expensive home should count for more than a less expensive one. And the trend catches on, before you know it there is a housing “boom” that inspires confidence and inspires companies to hire, consumers to spend etc. Bet the Obama Administration would love this plan. No need for thanks, just trying to do my part.
I wrote on Thursday about Pastor Terry Jones from Gainesville, Fl and his threat/plan to burn copies of the Koran on 9/11. For the moment that plan has been cancelled although there are others expressing a willingness to take over. This event has been so confusing on so many levels it reminds me a little of Bizzaro superman in whose world everything was opposite or perhaps like Alice in Wonderland when she follows the White Rabbit into a strange universe all its own.
Let’s see, what else? Thus far I have only seen a comment from Michael Bloomberg that defended Jones’s actions under the aegis of religious freedom, no matter how distasteful they may be.
I wanted to lead with a this is what we know approach but I am uncertain as to what we really know. For starters, the president weighed in during a press conference with his main point a defense of Islam. He also confirmed that he ordered Sec Gates to call the Florida pastor which seems to be a bit of an unusual approach. He has since been questioned about what role the White House may have played in escalating the situation. Predictably, none at all was the response.
So now a little time has passed and Jones was true to his word. He burned no Korans. There was an unidentified person who did and some others who shredded pages of the Koran. There were reports of demonstrations in Afghanistan but nothing of any consequence .Unsurprisingly, the misguided folks of Topeka’s Westboro Baptist Church proceeded with their Koran burning as well as an American flag. The quite apropos headline on The Topeka Capital Journal website said that the church’s flames produced little heat. No phone calls, no comments from celebrities, no demonstrations,etc.
So, are there lessons here worth learning? Michele Malkin produced a post entitled the ” Eternal Flame of Muslim Outrage” which detailed current and past examples of events that have stirred passions among Muslims. Some were silly, others were scary in their escalation. Ann Coulter wrote an article way back on Wednesday entitled ” Bonfire of the Insanities” which also seems well titled, even more so in retrospect. There were good points vis-a-vis Gen Petraeus comments on threats to American troops as well as the wingnuts right to burn a Koran, stupid though it may be.
Is there a bottom line yet other than an obscure pastor gaining unneeded notoriety? Probably not.
Several years ago, Billy Crystal starred in the movie, City Slickers. It was a movie that I thoroughly enjoyed for its comedy, Norman the calf, crusty old Jack Palance, as well the comic genius of Crystal himself. But it was much more than a comedy. Its premise of three friends in various stages of midlife crisis was really well done and thought-provoking as well. I am uncertain if I have had my mid- life crisis although I have definitely passed the mid-life part. Unlike Crystal and friends I have zero desire to go on a cattle drive .
There was a phrase spoken by one of the main characters which has begun to resonate with me of late, or rather its meaning has. For me, it goes something like this. What if you have already done the best you’re going to do, achieved your potential whatever it was, in life and career and relationships. And therefore, everything from here on out is a gradual downhill slide into mediocrity or even worse irrelevance? Maybe this says it better, you’ve done the best you’re going to ver do and it wasn’t all that good?
Sounds sorta morose does it not, which is exactly how Crystal and friends felt in the movie. But as often happens in the the c inematic world, there is not closure but rather a chance for redemption, another chance one might say.
Alas, life does not always imitate art and I am abit apprenhensive that it will not in my particular case. This would be a good time to be a politician, if there ever is. At the time when the careers of most are winding down, the career of the politician is just getting underway. Think otherwise, then look at the ages of our senators and representatives. And vying to join them from the Tar Heel State is 64-year-old Elaine Marshall. She is now our Secretary of State but running for the U S Senate. Seems that Ponce de Leon was off on the location of the Fountain of Youth by a few hundred miles. It is not in Florida, but 749 miles to the north in Washington, DC.
For the vast majority of us, we never find that fountain at all.
Just a few days ago, some 10 people affiliated with our local school system attended a conference in Tampa,Fl sponsored by the Schlechty Center, based in Louisville,Ky. This is at least the second trip to a Schlechty conference, as a delegation went to Albuquerque,NM last year. Final numbers are not available but the costs will exceed $14,000 since the registration fee alone was $1,400 per person according to a Daily Advance article by Kristin Pitts.
Finances are tight in our local system as they are in most school districts. So, how does one justify the costs incurred on this trip? Of those who attended, four were school board members( out of six total members) , 2 were elementary school principals and four were administrators, including the superintendent and assistant superintendent.
Frankly, I do not know, although I would like to give the attendees the benefit of the doubt. Only one of those attending was available for comment and he acknowledged that cost was an issue. But, he added, if you talked to any who attended this year or last they would say that the conferences were beneficial. That may be true but one wonders no one else could be reached for comment.Don’t you just hate it when that happens? Nine people, several of them school system employees and they could not be reached? Amazing!
Throw this comment in from a member who went to New Mexico last year but not to Tampa this year. Quoting from the Daily Advance, Board member Bill Luton said that last year’s conference stressed transparency and the value of listening to the public. Maybe the transparency part did not sink in so well. A quote from Luton stated,” I can certainly understand why in this economic climate people might be at least concerned about expenditures.” Ya think?
As some of the online comments said, if the system were flush with money, costs would not be an issue. But the system is not flush, the teachers are in a constant struggle for needed supplies and costs are an issue.
When public money is spent, accountability is of the utmost importance and oh yes, transparency. Maybe next year when conference time rolls around, the entourage could be a bit smaller?
Any conferences any closer to home?
There are some members of Congress whose names are familiar to most people. Those would include Pelosi, Murtha, Conyers,Boehner, Kasich, Pence, William( the refrigerator) Jefferson, Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, Sheila Jackson-Lee, to name a few. Some are known because of the position they hold or their tenure or even their propensity to say nonsensical things. My representative is G K Butterfield, D, NC. As far as I know Rep Butterfield is not widely known and does not fit into any of the preceding categories.
But, we also have another category.It seems to be occupied by only one person and that person is Florida Democrat Alan Grayson. He is a first termer who narrowly won election, 52%-48%. Why, one might ask is Florida’s historically Republican 8th district congressman well-known? Perhaps it is because he is trying very hard to live up or down to a title just bestowed on him, “The Biggest Jerk in Congress.” Human Events writer Ross Kaminsky has so anointed the congressman in an article from February 3. I don’t know about the title. I was kinda leaning towards Al Franken, myself.
Kaminsky makes some pretty good points though. Grayson shares a profession with John Edwards and ranks as the 12th richest member of Congress and #7 in the House of Representatives. But, alas his wealth has bought him no immunity from foot-in-mouth disease or his I never saw a Republican I did not want to attack affliction.
He has a particular disdain for Dick Cheney, likening him to a vampire and wondering if Satan did the intro for his new book. He called Rush a” has-been hypocrite loser.” So many untrue metaphors in one sentence. Maybe my favorite is this one since it includes me. Fox News and the Republicans who collaborate with them are the “enemy” of America. Really. I had no idea.
At last count, there were 8 Republicans lines up to challenge Grayson this fall, I certainly hope the good people of Orlando and vicinity can find one to their liking, please.
Years and years ago, one of my favorite cartoons was Rocky and Bullwinkle. By today’s standards, the animation was not so good and perhaps the” plots” left a bit to be desired. But the irony was rich and it was enjoyable to watch. One of the common features of the show was to title an episode and then to give it a second title with a bit of a twist . That is my intent with the following. ….Or, “Being Top Dog Isn’t Always As Good As You Think It Is.”
In this case, we speak of Tiger Woods, who is definitely famous but is probably wishing for just a bit of anonymity right about now. Less than 5 hours after an early morning traffic accident or something, the internet was literally rampant with theory, speculation and just about all the salacious stuff one could imagine.
I know, I know, it may be true. Perhaps he and his wife are having issues and maybe there will be a lot more juicy stuff to surface in the next few days. But, I sincerely hope not. I would like to believe that the incident was nothing more than a traffic accident and a minor one at that. I recall that I was in disbelief when the rumors surfaced about trouble in Michael Jordan’s marriage. In that case, the rumors were all too true, but I still regretted it for the entire Jordan family.
Historically, Tiger Woods’ personal life has been remarkably personal, considering his stature as one of the world’s most famous athletes. Got a bad feeling that his privacy is turning into quicksand and very quickly at that.
Reports are that he and his wife will speak with the authorities tomorrow. This fan hopes for the best while anticipating something less.
November 11,1918 marked the end of the war to end all wars or WWI. Alas, as we know all too well, that was not to be. Truth be told, it had no chance to achieve that goal. Wars have continued and continue; in all sizes and for a multitude of reasons. The day we call Veterans Day remembers those who served, those who returned,those who didn’t and honors those who serve now. We know all too well about those in Iraq and Afghanistan but also South Korea, on ships around the world, in numerous other countries and on bases here at home like Ft Benning and particularly Ft Hood.
The day originated as Armistice Day on November 11,1919, the first anniversary of WWI’s conclusion, at the urging of Pres Woodrow Wilson. It did not become a national holiday, however,until 1938. The name changed to Veterans Day until 1954 when President Eisenhower signed legislation to honor those who had served in any and all wars. Appropriately so, since he was the Supreme Allied Commander in WWII.
We have around 24 million living veterans, about 10% of whom are women and slightly over 10% are African-American. Some the more interesting facts I discovered was that about 40% of of our living vets are over 65 but only 10% of our living vets are from WWII. That is a number that is rapidly declining. Numbers also indicate that about 1/3 of veterans live in just 5 states; California, Texas, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania. I know numbers can be mind numbing but just a couple more. The number of living veterans comprises roughly 1/2 of the veterans that served in wartime since Revolutionary War days .
So, today, we salute them all (the approximately 1.5 million on active duty) those who have served and remain and in particular those who are gone.
I cannot believe I just wrote that title. It is in fact one of the more unlikely pairings that I could imagine. And until just recently, totally unimaginable. For the comparison, i must thank MSNBC’S Chris Matthews. So, how are these two individuals to be compared. Rep. Grayson, D, Fl has just recently made a speech in which he said the Republican health care plan was for people to die or else get sick and die quickly. Predictably, Republicans complained, Speaker Pelosi said it was no worse than Republicans had said, etc.
There have been calls for Mr Grayson to apologize or disavow , which he has steadfastly refused to do. Heady stuff for a first termer who barely squeaked into office. He has the limelight so why not run with it. Understandable since among other things it sure improves one’s name recognition. Shucks it may even help his fundraising. This aside that is really not connected to my title, but was so interesting I couldn’t resist a mention. Commenting on the media furor about Grayson’s comments, New York Times writer David Brooks said it was all a “media circus”. What he said next was just was so funny to me, although he surely did not mean it to be. Remember the circus phrase. He said that the Republicans have guys that ” I consider loons and harmful for America-Glenn Beck,Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin-all those guys…” He should know there are no loons in a circus. I would mention that his degree is from the university of Chicago but that would be a total diversion.
Ok, on to our comparison. Matthew had Grayson on his show on Friday and started off by mentioning his being in Berlin in 1989 when the wall fell and asking his colleague, John McLaughlin how Martin Luther was able to stand against the church, presumably referring to his nailing of the 95 theses to the church door at Wittenberg on Halloween, 1517. Matthews asked how Grayson, like Luther against the church, knew he could stand against”clowns” like Limbaugh and the Republicans. Strange on multiple levels. How Limbaugh fit into Grayson’s health care comments and please tell me how did Luther make the conversation?
And Matthews (aka Mr Tingles) calls others clowns. By the way, Rep. Grayson professes not to care if his comments cost him re-election. He jus wants to save lives. Yet another example of a sacrificing Democrat.
We evilllllllllll Republicans are at it again. According to 1st term Florida congressman, Alan Grayson (landslide Alan 52-48% winner), Republicans want people to die. That is the Republican health care plan, he says. Either don’t get sick or get sick and die quickly. He quotes from a study that says some 40-45 thousand people die annually from lack of good health care. How in the world does someone verify such a number? Don’t know that you can but if the numbers suite your purposes you use them as Rep Elijah Cummings did today in an interview on MSNBC.
And just wait, there is much, much more. Many people are familiar with Garrison Keilor of Prairie Home Companion. He has been in declining health in recent years due to a stroke but has apparently not mellowed in his old age which isn’t all that old, just 67. Shucks,almost 40% of the Senate is at least that age or older. Keep that figure in mind.
Mr Keilor is rather crotchety about the state of political doings, specifically health care but encompassing other issues such as abortion, euthanasia, the Supreme Court.etc. Another expert preparing to sound forth, so here it comes.
He heard Minnesota Governor tim Pawlenty critiquing the education speech and apparently lost it. Keillor says in regard to republicans, “One starts to wonder if the country wouldn’t be better off without them and if Republicans should be cut out of the health-care system entirely and simply provide with aspirin and hand sanitizer.Thirty two percent of the population identifies with the Republicans , and if we cut off health-care to them, we could probably pay off the deficit in short order.”
Thanks to the Chicago Tribune for publishing that uplifting article. Kinda makes yo wonder how many people agree with him and just haven’t said it aloud. You know of course, what a one party political system looks like. I think you could look at several examples; Russia, China, etc.
For the icing on te cake he went on to say these words. “Old men shouldn’t be allowed to doze off at the switch and muck up the works for the young who will have try to repair the damage. Get over yourselves. Your replacements have arrived,and you should tink about them now and then. Enough with the shrieking. Pass health-care reform.”
Wonder who is dozing at the switch? Is it Byrd, Spector, Lautenberg, Feinstein? All are in the old category to which he refers.
Just hope that no one with real power believes like he does. At my age, I need a bi tmore than aspirin and hand sanitizer, don’t you?
For quite a while, I have been convinced that civility and tact and just ole fashioned good manners are doing a slow, unmourned death. This is hastened along by cell phones and ipods and earbuds and headphones along with a conviction that many seem to have that the universe revolves around them. Granted, we all have that a bit at times , but it doesn’t have to be our modus operandi.
Now, having put myself squarely on the side of manners, let me relate a story that may seem about manners but really isn’t at all, but maybe the opposite. Deerfield Beach, Fl is a resort city not far from Miami. The mayor of this fine city is one Peggy Noland.
Seems that a couple of weeks ago, maintenance worker Cassandra Moye passed the mayor in a hallway and failed to acknowledge her( not a first offence in this regard, either). According to Bob Norman in his Daily Pulp blog(what a cool name, huh) her supervisor George Edmunds told her that she would be suspended for 2 days without pay. Sounds like a pretty stiff penalty to me. Anyway, she was told that the mayor indicated(meaning that the mayor knew of this pending action) that this was not the first time for such behavior. Now, get this quote, it is a priceless example of well, let’s see, overkill, killing an ant with a tank, misuse of power and just all around needless action. ” Your actions have caused irrevocable damage to the welfare of the department and your fellow workers.” Methinks that the damage has occurred now that this info has gotten into the public eye. However, the employee in question had received a citation just two years ago for rescuing an individual from a burning car. Now, she has a written reprimand in her file to accompany that. Although the suspension was lifted when the news surfaced, it seems that a reprimand is still too much.
Believe that Elgin Jones at the South Florida Times gets original credit for bringing this matter to light. Wonder if bosses reading this article will get ideas of their own? Wonder what will happen the next time Ms Moye passes the mayor in the hallway. Do I salute or what?
What a great country.
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