THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Dems Still Beset By Indecision, Infighting And Intrigue: You’d think that with their numerical advantage in both houses of Congress, Dems would have Repubs all tied up in knots. But it’s the other way around, with Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Evan Bayh (D-IN) on record as joining AZ Sen. John McCain and other Repub colleagues in opposing the earmark-riddled spending bill, and calling on President Barack Obama to veto it. The New York Times calls “[t]he Republican-led blockade” of the omnibus spending bill “a quick and humbling lesson” for Congressional Democrats:
Despite significant electoral gains in both the House and the Senate, the Democrats have been stymied by Republicans and a few Democratic defectors in what began as a fairly routine push to enact the leftover measures, needed to finance spending in the current fiscal year and tethered together into one $410 billion catchall bill.
As a result, Congress had to pass an emergency five-day stopgap on Friday to prevent an embarrassing shutdown of the government in the opening weeks of the Obama administration.
The failure left Democrats fretting about how they would perform when dealing with more contentious and complex legislation sought by President Obama on health care, energy, taxes and education. …
This year was supposed to be different. Senate Democrats gained seven seats in November, with one more waiting in the wings, moving well beyond the narrow 51-to-49 divide that had hindered them for two years. And a handful of Republicans were willing to side with them in the current spending fight.
But at least four Democrats balked, citing the bill’s earmarks, its overall cost or its provisions on
The Associated Press describes the hurdles House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, (D-NV) are facing as they “adapt to new roles that increase their ability to enact legislation while reducing their powers to direct the Democratic Party”:
For two years, as the party's highest-ranking elected officials, they used their congressional majorities to thwart key elements of President George W. Bush's agenda. Now with Obama the Democrats' unquestioned leader, Reid and Pelosi play less visible and more intermediary parts.
They will oversee Congress' efforts to fill in the details of his legislative blueprint, working to keep Democrats on board and angling for Republican votes where possible. It's a balancing act: trying to put in place the new president's priorities while protecting the legislative branch's right to modify or reject executive branch initiatives. …
Pelosi's balancing act is trickier than Reid's. She owes her leadership post to House liberals, who would have Obama move faster to wind down the
Reid, who must pick up a few Republican senators' votes to overcome filibusters on most bills, has a ready excuse for moving toward the center, where Obama tends to be. Pelosi, meanwhile, is expected to uphold liberal ideals, and often does.
Perhaps hoping for Congressional Dems to “fail” is a tad harsh, but The Stiletto hopes that instead of a series of leftward leaps, Reid and Pelosi make like a pushmi-pullyu.
[B]usiness was up as customers confront new fears, be they losing money in failing banks or being robbed by desperate fellow New Yorkers. And they could get busier with the news that the chairwoman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation warned banks this week that its fund could become insolvent this year if they continue to close or fail to pay their annual assessments.
“We’ve had customers come in who are putting half a million to a million dollars in cash in a safe in their home,” said Richard Krasilovsky, 58, of Empire Safe in Midtown …
Mr. Krasilovsky said business was up 20 to 40 percent in recent months. “People do not want their lifestyles to be affected,” he said.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fifth item, Now Is Not The Time To Talk About Race): In an interview with The New York Times on Friday, President Barack Obama distanced himself from Attorney General Eric Holder’s characterization of Americans as “cowards” on the subject of race relations: “I think it’s fair to say that if I had been advising my attorney general, we would have used different language.”
According to The Times, when asked whether he agrees with Holder, Obama “hesitated for five seconds” before answering:
“I’m not somebody who believes that constantly talking about race somehow solves racial tensions. I think what solves racial tensions is fixing the economy, putting people to work, making sure that people have health care, ensuring that every kid is learning out there. I think if we do that, then we’ll probably have more fruitful conversations.”
Yeah, well, if doing all that requires a wholesale redistribution of wealth from those who pay taxes and create jobs to those who don’t, most Americans will be talking about which Repub has the best chance of making Obama a one-term president.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): This latest installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an unofficial ambassador focuses on a FL woman who wanted to give her dying 84-year old mother the best birthday present she’d ever had – and how a perfect stranger went out of his way to make it happen. The Associated Press reports:
[June] Pearce lives in a slow-paced retirement area near Lake Okeechobee in rural
But one memory has stuck with her: riding on the back of a boy's motorcycle in the 1930s. …
She told this story so many times that [her daughter Carol] Brown can recite it by heart. …
Brown thought of that story as she racked her brain, wondering what to do about the birthday. Then she had an idea.
"Come Give Granny A Ride On Your Hog," she typed into an ad on Craigslist. …
She got one response, from a man named Ron Borowski. He said he'd ride his Harley-Davidson Low Rider - electric blue, with dark blue flames and a chrome kickstand shaped like a skeleton's foot - from his house in
"My mom passed away from cancer, so the ad touched me," said Borowski, 45. "I just figured it would be an adventure." …
They went around the block twice, past the retirees watering their lawns, past the pastel colored mobile homes - and Pearce wore a tiny smile as they rumbled into the driveway.
"What we're giving today is a memory," said Brown. "She's not going to get rid of it in a garage sale, break it or throw it away. Memories are the best gifts, I think."
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, U.S. Businesses Gouge Americans, But Give Foreign Nationals A Better Deal): As The Stiletto suggested a couple of years back, Americans struggling with the monthly payments on their adjustable rate mortgages, or who have fallen prey to deceptive lending practices, should find out if their banks offer Sharia-style financial products. In case you’re wondering why, this article in The New York Times about a bank in Ann Arbor, MI, which “has done nearly $80 million in Islamically approvable 'mortgage-alternative' financing for residential and commercial real estate in 15 states,” is an eye-opener:
This past week, while the stock market plunged to its lowest point in a dozen years and close-to-home General Motors teetered near bankruptcy, University Bank recorded one of its best periods ever. It completed 11 home sales, more than twice the weekly average, to observant Muslim customers, and pushed four more closings into next week. …
To distill and simplify some complicated theological and financial concepts, the basis of Islamic finance is Shariah’s forbidding of “riba,” which can be variously translated as usury or interest. Mortgage alternatives, which are the most popular financial product for Islamic consumers in the
In one variation, the bank actually buys the house at a qualified customer’s direction, and then sells it to that customer through monthly installments modeled on the payments of a 30-year mortgage. In two other common methods, the customer either acquires the home from the bank on a lease-to-own arrangement or purchases the home in partnership with the bank and gradually buys out the bank’s share.