THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: In what The Washington Times calls “a vivid display of President Obama's diminished clout,” Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) together with Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) voted with Senate Republicans to block a vote to confirm Craig Becker to the National Labor Relations Board, which resolves disputes between unions and management:
The final tally was 52-33 in favor of a vote on the nomination, eight short of the 60 votes need to proceed. …
Dubbed a friend of organized labor, Mr. Becker had been fiercely opposed by business and employer groups, who feared his support for the proposed Employee Free Choice Act, called "card check," which would give unions a stronger hand in organizing employees. Republicans strongly oppose the legislation, which could come up for a vote in the Senate later this year. …
Mr. Becker, who was first nominated in July, is an attorney for the AFL-CIO and the Service Employees International Union. …
All Democrats who voted on Tuesday, except for Mr. Nelson and Mrs. Lincoln, voted to move forward with Mr. Becker's nomination. All Republicans opposed the nomination. Fifteen senators did not cast a vote as a second-round snowstorm began in
† Chicago On The Potomac: In an op-ed for Politico, former Gov. Doug Wilder (D-VA) – an early supporter of Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential candidacy (he wasn’t using his middle name back then; only “racists” were) - writes that “the Chicago way” is not cutting it:
Obama’s West Wing is filled with people who are in their jobs because of their
One problem is that they do not have sufficient experience at governing at the executive branch level. The deeper problem is that they are not listening to the people. …
Obama's job approval ratings are sliding, but we Democrats are told not to worry. We are told that he remains personally popular with the American people. …
Yet, they keep going to the polls to rebuke him resoundingly every chance it is presented.
Unless changes are made at the top, by the top, when the time comes for voters to show how they really feel about Obama, his policies and the messages he sends directly or through the people around him, the president will discover that Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts were not just temporary aberrations but, rather, timely expressions of voters who always show that they are ahead of the politicians.
Observing that “[a]ny serious survey of the Obama administration's accomplishments and setbacks over the last year has to conclude that the administration is deeply in the red,” Steve Clemons, publisher of the political blog The Washington Note, spotlights an article by Financial Times Washington Bureau Chief Edward Luce about “those who hold the keys to the inner most sanctum of Obama Land - Rahm Emanuel, Robert Gibbs, Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod. Based on Luce's “portal into the heart of today's Obama machine” Clemmons concludes that “If current trends continue, this once mesmerizing Camelot-ish operation will be be [sic] seen in the history books as the presidential administration that - to distort slightly and inversely paraphrase Churchill - never have so many talented people managed to achieve so little with so much.”
† A “Bastard” Sues A “Bum” -- The "Bum" Countersues: A judge has granted Houston lawyer Harry Arthur's motion for a nonsuit without prejudice in the suit filed against Christ Church Cathedral and The Beacon, a homeless day center by Arthur and The Marine Building, which he owns, reports Texas Lawyer. Arthur dropped his lawsuit, which claimed the facility was a "private nuisance" and created "health hazard" but is free to refile it in the future. Meanwhile, his wife will sit on the board of the Cathedral Health & Outreach Ministries, which operates The Beacon to address the issues raised in her husband’s lawsuit. A countersuit against Arthur for $2.4 million in actual and punitive damages by a homeless veteran who uses services at The Beacon is still pending.
† Itfadalou Fi Wal-Mart (second item): As Wal-Mart was one of the first major retailers to market directly to the Muslim community, a job discrimination claim filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging that managers told 10 West African employees in CO that Americans should have their jobs, and that they were denied prayer breaks while other employees were allowed cigarette breaks, seems farfetched – despite the company’s past history of discrimination and labor complaints. Here’s the story as The New York Times tells it:
In January 2009, six complainants said, a new manager at the
Three other men, who worked at the Glenwood Springs store, said in the complaint that an assistant manager there, also new, had made a similar comment at a meeting of mostly West African workers. …
Most of the employees said they had been repeatedly disciplined for not meeting production requirements. Eventually, they were fired. Most of the workers had never been reprimanded before, and non-African workers were not subject to the same criticism, they said. …
[Greg] Rossiter, the Wal-Mart spokesman, denied that the West Africans had been singled out for discipline and said many other workers at the
“Since that time, the
All 10 complaints also stated that West African workers, who are Muslim, were refused short prayer breaks. White and Hispanic workers, they said, were permitted unscheduled cigarette breaks.
Wal-Mart denied the accusation, and Mr. Rossiter said the company followed the law with respect to requests for religious accommodation. …
“We have an extraordinarily diverse base of customers and an extraordinarily diverse base of associates.” Mr. Rossiter said. “We understand and embrace that commitment.”
† What It’s Like To Live In The Bronx: The Bronx started out as a farm and as recently as 1950 much of the northeast Bronx was farmland and woods. Residents of the borough - no doubt unaware of its rural roots - are surprised to find a flock of three dozen wild chickens and roosters roaming
"They're all over the place," observed Tommy Surdak of Fort Washington Auto Body Shop [contextual link added by The Stiletto].
"Did you ever think, in the
A whole chorus of [roosters] welcomes every sunrise here as if this were
"My grandkids come down from
Another child who delighted in the chickens was 4-year-old Jack Nuciforo, who fed them chocolate chip cookies.
"They're not afraid of anybody," his father, James Nuciforo, said. "Next thing you know, there'll be squeegee chickens."
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, BAM To DOJ: KSM In NYC Is DOA): A New York Post editorial asks rhetorically: “Does President Obama truly fail to understand just how opposed New Yorkers are to holding 9/11 terrorist trials here - and why? “ In case he is – to use Paul Krugman’s adjective – clueless, he should invite Attorney General Erick Holder to join him in looking at newly released aerial photos of the World Trade Center taken from a police helicopter obtained by ABC News via a Freedom of Information Act request filed with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which investigated the collapse. The Associated Press notes that only the NYPD Aviation Unit was allowed in the air space near the towers on Sept. 11, 2001:
ABC said the NIST gave the network 2,779 pictures on nine CDs, saying some of the photographs had never been released before.
The network posted 12 photos this week on its Web site, all taken by ex-NYPD Aviation Unit Detective Greg Semendinger, who was first in the air in a search for survivors on the rooftop. He said he and his pilot watched the second plane hit the south tower from the helicopter.
"We didn't find one single person. It was surreal," he told The Associated Press on Wednesday. "There was no sound. No sound whatsoever, but the noise of the radio and the helicopter. I just kept taking pictures."
He took three rolls of film with his Minolta camera, plus 245 digital shots. Semendinger said he gave the digital images to the 9/11 Commission and believes those images were released by the NSIT. In the days after the attack, he e-mailed some of the photos to friends and several were posted on the Internet.
If Obama and Holder can look at these photos and insist on focusing the attention of every wanna-be jihadi (fourth item) in the U.S. and the Middle East on NYC, then to quote Krugman again, “we’re doomed.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, Is Hasan A Crazy Terrorist, Or A Terrorist Crazy?): At the annual Army anti-terrorism conference in February 2008 more than 350 force protection and anti-terrorism professionals from major Army installations and commands worldwide listened to presentations by counterterrorism specialists Patrick Poole, Army Lt. Col. Joseph Myers and Terri Wonder on how to spot Islamic jihadism in the ranks. Their tutorials on the nature of domestic Islamic terrorist threat fell on deaf ears, reports The Washington Times:
Col. Myers said he told the conference that senior military and defense officials were involved in outreach programs to "organizations affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and snapping pictures with its foundational leaders in our country."
"The Muslim Brotherhood, also known as the Ikhwan al Muslimeen, is a global jihad organization that fundamentally shares the same objectives as the 'combat jihad' groups like al Qaeda, but orients on 'cultural jihad' - subversion, infiltration and proselytization," he said. "By its own long-standing strategic documents, … they say they exist in
"These embarrassing photo-ops occur because the military is not well-schooled on the jihadist threat in
Col. Myers said the Army's recent report on the
"We continue to act and talk as though we don't understand it and that there is a level of 'uncertainty' - a word overused today in military parlance - as to who our enemy is and at this point, that can no longer be tolerated," he said.
"All federal and commissioned officers take an oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic, and that mandates a duty to be clear on who the enemies of our Constitution are, and a failure to know is a failure of duty."
Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan is not the only officer who should be court-martialed over the
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, Fed Up With Farmers): Nothing is as certain as death, taxes and farm subsidies. The Associated Press notes that “Congress twice overrode President George W. Bush's veto of the 2008 Farm Bill” and that President Barack Hussein Obama’s reform effort was “dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, where farm state lawmakers largely control the agriculture committees.”
Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN), who supports subsidies, plans hearings on the 2012 Farm Bill next month on the Obama administration’s new agriculture budget proposal, which cuts direct payments 25 percent to $30,000 per person per year and reduces income eligibility limits over three years to $250,000 for non-farm adjusted gross income and $500,000 for farm adjusted gross income. AP reports that while “[m]ost think the proposal is dead [but] “changing political winds could give [critics of subsidies] an opening”:
Sallie James, an analyst with the libertarian Cato Institute, said it will be interesting to see whether anti-Washington sentiment, shown by the rise of the Tea Party movement, helps turn farmers against government supports.
"If subsidies were eliminated markets would adjust," the Heritage Foundation's [Brian] Riedl said. "Nobody would starve and farmers would stay in business. Obviously people aren't going to stop buying food."
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times): After a year of concealing their outsized buying power by walking out of high-end designer stores with their purchases ensconced in plain white shopping bags, the ultra-rich have had enough and are spending like it’s 1999. But upper middle class “aspirational shoppers” are only browsing and not buying, reports The Wall Street Journal:
Core luxury consumers - those with assets of at least $5 million - have re-emerged from the spending slump, and people with at least $1 million in assets are on their way back as well, says Hana Ben-Shabat, partner at management consultancy A.T. Kearney.
Noticeably absent, however, are the "aspirational shoppers" who, before the recession began, drove a boom by stretching to buy higher-priced prestige items. With credit tight and unemployment high, they remain on the sidelines - but are still window shopping and keeping track of trends, says Ms. Ben-Shabat.
Retailers are looking for ways to woo them back, primarily by pushing designers to create lower-priced collections.
High-end footwear brand Jimmy Choo has expanded its assortment of value-conscious styles, such as rubber-soled flats that retail for around $365. "We were thinking about what the customer needs, and what is her psychology right now," says founder Tamara Mellon.
Designer Tory Burch, whose collection is already in the lower-end of the luxury pricing spectrum, is adding more small leather goods as well as categories such as eyewear, with sunglasses for less than $200. "We're having great success with that," Ms. Burch said last month.