THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Living In These Mad, Mad, Madoff Times: To paraphrase a famous aphorism: A recession is when you stop shopping at Costco and start shopping at Wal-Mart. A depression is when you stop shopping at Wal-Mart and start shopping at Family Dollar. The New York Times reports that “[d]ollar stores have shown the biggest gain in shopper visits over the last year out of all the retailers that sell basic consumer goods”:
Manufacturers are racing to package more affordable versions of products common at those stores, and other budget retailers, feeling the loss of customers, are trying to duplicate their success.
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is adding thousands of items to its shelves, including inexpensive ones, and is asking dollar-store suppliers to create small, under-a-dollar packages for its stores, too. In areas with high unemployment, Wal-Mart is grouping together its less than $1 items in a clear challenge to the dollar stores. …
At Family Dollar, most customers have incomes under $40,000 and have “really curtailed discretionary spending out of necessity,” said Kiley Rawlins, a spokeswoman. But customers are shopping more frequently, she said, and buying a greater variety of items, a reflection of the items like cleaning products that the store now carries.
Some of the stores have even managed to reach some middle-income shoppers, by increasing products from well-known brands like Hanes, Quaker Oats and Nabisco.
“This is a break from historical trends, where dollar stores really catered almost entirely to lower income shoppers,” Ms. Viamari of SymphonyIRI said.
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus describes a week of observing focus groups of 30 women in the three battleground states CO, MO and PA discussing the election, and found that they scorn Congress and pity President Barack Hussein Obama:
These were, literally, Wal-Mart shoppers - the retail giant sponsored the discussions - and split evenly between 2008 supporters of Obama and John McCain.
These were homemakers and teachers, dental assistants and billing managers. Most had at least some college education. All made less than $100,000 annually, most closer to $50,000, and for many the recession had hit painfully close, with husbands who had lost jobs and homes foreclosed or underwater. …
If I were a member of Congress listening to these women, I would have been horrified by their perception of lawmakers as elitists disconnected from - indeed, uninterested in - their concerns. …
If I were the president, I would have felt relieved. Not great, but relieved.
Not because these women were going to vote for Obama. Even his 2008 supporters were, for the most part, unwilling to recommit. The word "disappointed" was used with regularity, along with some stronger language, such as "fraud" and "scares me." …
"I feel sorry for him," said one woman at the first focus group, in suburban Philadelphia.
"I do, too," interjected another.
Yup, he’s one sorry president.
Police busted Queens, NY, residents Youngil Kim, 48, and Byung Ho Choi, 55, outside [Five Guys Burgers and Fries] restaurant. …
The men used a canary yellow van outfitted with a hose that was attached to a generator. The oil was stored in a plastic bladder in the truck, which was confiscated by police. …
Waste oil can be turned into biodiesel fuel, and Five Guys sells its grease to a contractor for a little more than $1 a gallon. …
The manager of the restaurant recognized the yellow van from the previous theft and called the police when the men arrived again. …
The men were arrested on two counts of theft each after they were identified in surveillance video from the Sept. 11 [theft].
Kim and Choi are being held at Hudson County Jail in lieu of $10K bail.
† What It’s Like To Be A Christian Living Under Sharia Law: As The Stiletto recently observed, "Only in today’s topsy turvy world of moral relativism, historic amnesia and multicultural miasma, can Christian victims of genocide at the hands of Muslims be scorned by the likes of Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his insensitive ilk for opposing Sharia law and the Ground Zero mosque." This post by Robert Mackey, who writes for New York Times blog "The Lede, provides another example:
Last week, one day after Americans opposed to the construction of an Islamic center in Lower Manhattan pledged to “Stop the Islamization of America,” a group of Islamists rallied in Bekasi, outside the Indonesian capital, to fight the “Christianization” of Indonesia, by blocking the planned construction of a church.
Two leaders of the small congregation of Indonesia Christians in Bekasi were seriously wounded when the rally against their planned church by vigilantes from the Islamic Defenders’ Front, or F.P.I., turned violent. Murhali Barda, who leads Bekasi’s chapter of the Islamist vigilante group, was arrested on suspicion of leading the attacks on a church elder, who was stabbed in the stomach, and a female priest, who was hit in the head with a plank.
In June, the Bekasi F.P.I. leader told The Jakarta Globe, “All Muslims should unite and be on guard because … the Christians are up to something.” He also suggested that it might be necessary for mosques to establish militias and be prepared to fight a “war” to prevent “Christianization.”
As Al Jazeera explained in a video report last week, the small Christian group said that it had obtained all the necessary signatures from local residents who agreed to allow them to build their church, but then the Islamist vigilantes pressed people to withdraw their approval.
Yes, you read that right. Mackey equates Americans who lost families in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks who peacefully protest building a mosque in the vicinity of Ground Zero with Indonesian members of the Islamic Defenders’ Front, who protest the building of a church by violently assaulting Christians? This goes beyond blaming the victim to confusing the victim with the villain.
† There’s Many A Slip ‘Twixt The Cup And Lip: Aetna Inc., Cigna Corp., WellPoint Inc., Humana Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc.'s Golden Rule subsidiary will no longer sell new child-only policies to offset the cost of having to cover children with pre-existing conditions under the healthcare “reform” law, which takes effect tomorrow, reports The Wall Street Journal:
The moves prompted outrage from some Democrats, who noted that insurers, through their trade association, pledged to comply with the rules in March when the law passed. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D. Calif.) said, "Earlier this year, the companies pledged to cover children with pre-existing conditions – in keeping with the spirit of reform that requires they no longer drop coverage for these children. Now, some companies are backtracking on writing new policies, potentially leaving many children without the health insurance they desperately need." …
Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for America's Health Insurance Plans, said its pledge in March pertained to concerns at the time about children getting access to their families' policies, not to the "small, niche" market of child-only policies.
Mr. Zirkelbach said there is a much greater likelihood that parents will wait until their child gets sick to purchase a child-only plan than a health policy for the whole family, and the industry is worried that the pool of members it is covering will skew increasingly toward the very costly.
† All The News That’s Fart To Print: Giving new meaning to “concrete jungle,” when a man living on the 19th floor of an apartment in the Soundview section of The Bronx entered his bathroom the other night, he found a 3-foot yellow-and-white corn snake “perched on his toilet seat,” reports The Wall Street Journal:
While the incident evoked urban myths of reptiles slithering out of city toilets - not to mention alligators in sewers - it remains unclear how the nonvenomous corn snake made its way into the 19th-floor apartment. …
The breed is native to Florida and other Southeastern states; such snakes are popular as pets because of their docile nature.
One possibility is that it crawled up plumbing pipes and out of the toilet, a proposition that is unlikely and scary but "within the realm of possibility," according Jack Conrad, a herpetologist.
"Corn snakes are not particularly known for being fond of water, but all snakes are good swimmers," said Mr. Conrad, who co-curates an exhibit on snakes and lizards at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. …
In 2007, a Brooklyn woman found a 7-foot-long python with its head poking out of her toilet bowl inside her Cobble Hill apartment.
Apparently, this is not an uncommon occurrence. The Stiletto has read about snakes emerging from commodes in Guam, and The Journal cites the case of a Taiwanese man who was bitten on his genitals while on the pot.
† Updates To Previous Posts (DA Sexts Domestic Abuse Defendant’s Girlfriend): Two more women have come forward to accuse Ken Kratz of sexting them when they had sought his assistance in his official capacity as Calumet County District Attorney, reports The Associated Press:
A law student said Tuesday that a Wisconsin prosecutor under fire for sending racy text messages to a domestic abuse victim also sent her similar texts in 2008 after agreeing to help her seek a pardon for a decade-old drug conviction.
Maria Ruskiewicz said she believes Calumet County District Attorney Ken Kratz wanted sexual favors in return for supporting her pardon. …
"The reason why I'm coming forward is he abuses his power, not only with women, but with women in certain situations who are extremely vulnerable to his authority," Ruskiewicz, 31, an Appleton native, told The Associated Press in a phone interview. Gov. Jim Doyle pardoned her last month, a move Kratz supported. …
A second woman complained to Doyle's office last week that Kratz invited her to an autopsy after they went to dinner "provided I act as his girlfriend and would wear high heels and a skirt." The governor has blasted Kratz's behavior on as an "unimaginable" abuse of power if true.
Kratz's attorney, Bob Craanen, has denied that he invited the second woman to witness the autopsy and has apologized for the test messages to the abuse victim. He announced earlier this week he was going on medical leave indefinitely but has rejected calls to resign from lawmakers, his peers and victims' advocates.
Gov. Jim Doyle (D) – himself a former district attorney and attorney general - who leaves office in January, said he would start the process to consider removing Kratz and he hopes to make a decision in a month.
For more than a year, The Washington Times has been reporting that [Attorney General Eric Holder’s] top political appointees intervened to force the abandonment of serious sanctions against the Black Panther members who threatened voters at a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008. The Justice Department denied the claim, with spokesman Tracy Schmaler asserting to the contrary that only "career employees" engaged in what supposedly was a decision based entirely on "the facts and the law." …
Rather than cooperate with requests for more information, the Justice Department claimed that all its documents related to the Black Panther case were "privileged." A court ordered it to provide Judicial Watch a list of withheld documents with an explanation for each "privilege" asserted [source link added by The Stiletto] …
Much more can and will be said about the gold mine of information unearthed by Judicial Watch, which continues to press for the release of more documents. For now, this much is clear: The department's claim that political appointees were not involved in the case appears to be false. If so, Mr. Perez should be held to account for his sworn statements to the contrary.
† Updates To Previous Posts (sixth item, Sometimes, Nanny Knows Best): The Summer of Recovery saw President Barack Hussein Obama’s economic advisors skulking out the back door of the White House one by one: White House Budget Director Peter Orszag left in July, White House Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer left earlier this month and now, Director of the National Economic Council Larry Summers says he’s gonzo. That leaves Treasury Secretary Tiny Timothy Geithner as the cheese that stands alone – though given this tepid endorsement of his performance at the CNBC Town Hall the other day (video link), The Stiletto won’t be surprised if Obama cuts the cheese.
† Updates To Previous Posts (Now Is Not The Time To Talk About Race): An enduring disappointment for those of us whose families are biracial is that President Barack Hussein Obama has chosen to shun his dual heritage. Demographic trends suggest we will soon have another biracial president, according to this Los Angeles Times op-ed by filmmaker Eli Steele, who wonders what this will mean for his own children:
The birth of my son two years ago, and my daughter four months ago, marks the third interracial generation in my family. At first glance, their names - Shelby Jack Steele and June Rose Steele - signify little. But in fact these are what might be called melting pot names.
Shelby is the name of their paternal great-grandfather, who was born to slaves and married a white woman he met in the early civil rights movement. Jack is their other paternal great-grandfather, who survived the Holocaust and rebuilt his life in New York City. June is their maternal great-aunt, who was a flower child and a direct descendant of the first Mormons. Rose is their paternal great-great-grandmother (great-grandfather Shelby's mother), a slave who gave birth to 13 children. Rose is also Rosario, their maternal great-grandfather, who raised cattle in the Sonora mountains of Mexico. …
Jack and June may have a hard row to hoe. Identity politics have made racial identity a social currency, rewarded by preferences in college admissions, government contracts and employment. Jack and June have the bloodlines to win preferences. But if they do, they enter into a world where no choice is clean-cut. Do they join the black, Jewish or Latino organizations - or all of them? Do they publicly cultivate one racial identity while privately living free of such categories with family and friends? Or do they come to the conclusion that identity politics cannot offer anything but the pretense of racial purity? …
My hope is that my children and their peers will restore a weakened American legacy: the self-invented and self-made individual. If they do, they will be free, as their ancestors were, to carve out identities and contribute to an already rich heritage for future generations.
The Stiletto hopes that our next biracial president will comfortable enough in his or her skin to be a role model for Jack and June and others like them.