Saturday, February 28, 2009

Obama Submits First Budget to Congress

President Obama Submits His First Budget to Congress



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For years, congressional Democrats tried to avoid anything that would let Republicans slap the tax-and-spend label on them. But on Friday, they cautiously embraced President Barack Obama's budget, with its ambitious blend of new spending and tax increases, calculating that they can turn the old attack line to their benefit.

As they began to digest the administration's fiscal blueprint, even Democrats with reservations hailed it as a long-overdue example of honesty in federal budgeting after years of what one lawmaker called "fudgeting."

Several said they saw the tax increases as reasonable ones that could be sold to the public in difficult economic times, especially because middle-class taxes would be cut under the president's plan.

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Read or download a pdf of President Obama's first budget.

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plez sez: there's no such thing as a free lunch. you have to pay the cost to be the boss... i think there's at least one more cliche' in there, but i'm not up to ferreting it out at this time!

at least the republicans can trot out there "tax & spend liberal" moniker... even though, it took the country almost 30 years to figure out that reaganomics would never work!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the San Jose Mercuty News article about support amongst Democrats is tenuous for Obama's budget.

Read the CNN.com article about key budget figures, by department (must read).

Read the CNN.com article about Obama's $3 trillion budget.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Recession Worsens in Georgia

Foreclosed property in metro AtlantaI read a report last week that said Atlanta is third in the nation behind Las Vegas and Detroit in vacant houses! USA Today reports that a record 1 in 9 US homes are vacant, a glut created by the housing boom and subsequent collapse.

Yesterday's AJC.com reported that there are over 6,000 unsold NEW condos in Atlanta! That doesn't count the hundreds of foreclosed and abandoned units in the metro area. There is a glut of housing in the Atlanta area, as the recession and foreclosures and unsold units push the market values south along with the rest of the economy.

On Saturday, 40 condos in plush Atlantic Station are going on the auction block. Element at Atlantic Station was said to be sold out three years ago... the place is half-empty today! Some Atlantic Station residents fear the Element auction will further depress values. Homeowners across the country are making mortgages payments higher than what their dwellings are worth today because of plummeting values. That’s led to property abandonment.

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3,000 line up for job fair in metro AtlantaThe jobless rate in Georgia hit a record high in January, jumping to 8.6 percent, the state’s Labor Department announced Thursday. The rate the previous month was 8.1 percent, but the layoffs have continued across broad segments of the economy.

“We are officially sailing in uncharted economic waters,” said Michael Thurmond, state labor commissioner.

The jobless rate has climbed 65 percent from its level a year ago. The previous record was 8.3 percent in 1983, as the economy was emerging from what had been at the time, the longest recession since the Great Depression.

The current recession began at the end of 2007 and is widely projected to continue at least until late this year. Pessimists say it will linger into next year or even beyond. Unemployment typically crests near the end of a downturn or after the expansion has begun.

Nearly 413,000 Georgians were looking for work, an increase of 62.9 percent over the year, according to the Labor Department. Fewer than half of those people are receiving unemployment insurance benefits.

The current rate is the highest since the U.S. Labor Department standardized jobless numbers among the states in 1976.

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State coffers have confirmed what the rest of the data have said: The recession in Georgia has deepened. Revenue from tax collections in January came up $262 million short of the amount received during the same month a year earlier — a 14.3 percent decrease, the Georgia Department of Revenue announced Friday.

The shortfall provides a look in the rearview mirror, reflecting what has been a contracting economy — the cutbacks of profit-squeezed companies and debt-laden, paycheck-challenged consumers.

For tax collection, the economic currents have nearly all been head winds. On the corporate side, company spending is down, with many businesses nervous about the future and others coping now with falling sales. The result is fewer purchases, which means lower tax revenue.

But lower corporate profits also mean lower tax payments, and a series of companies in recent weeks have announced lower earnings, including metro Atlanta companies such as Rubbermaid and Equifax. Company cost cutting also translates into insecurity at best and hardship at worst for Atlanta workers. And that translates into less consumer spending on taxable items.

It has been a painful spiral: As jobs were lost, spending retreated, which meant companies cut and more jobs were lost. Unemployment in Georgia has jumped from 4.5 percent to 8.1 percent in the past year — climbing even faster than the national numbers. About 400,000 Georgians are officially jobless, according to the state Labor Department. If workers worried about layoffs tend to spend less on taxable items, those without a job are likely to be even more frugal. All of that’s bad for tax revenue.

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plez sez: the picture above shows the more than 3,000 people who were lined up for a job fair in atlanta... there were 3,000 people in line at 7:00 am waiting for the 10:00 am opening!

the economic prognosis is bleak... at best. there are no signs that the recession is letting up in georgia. we'll keep plugging away in hopes that the stimulus plan signed into law by PRESIDENT OBAMA will loosen things up just alittle. times are really tight in plezWorld... i'm ready for the recovery... NOW!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the USA Today article about the record number of vacant homes in the US.

Read the AJC.com article about vacant condo auction in Atlanta.

Read the AJC.com article about record unemployment in Georgia.

Read the AJC.com article about the big drop in tax revenue in Georgia.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Justice for Kathryn Johnston?

In November 2006, a group of Atlanta police officers executed a "no knock" warrant at the home of Kathryn Johnston in a drug infested part of Atlanta. Thinking someone was breaking in, 92-year old Johnston squeezed off a warning shot from the old pistol she kept by her side. The police officers burst in behind a hail of gunfire, leaving the elderly woman riddled with bullets in her own home.

The police officers planted some marijuana in the house and "lamented" the old lady's loss of life while trying to protect her "drug empire"! Yeah, a 92-year old drug dealer!

Well, two and a half years later, the cops who perpetrated the crime are finally brought to justice.

Excerpts from AJC.com story:
A federal judge who sent three fallen cops to prison for a notorious drug raid that left an elderly woman dead said Tuesday that Atlanta Police Department performance quotas unduly influenced the officers’ behavior.

At the close of an emotional two-day hearing, Carnes sentenced former officers Gregg Junnier, Jason R. Smith and Arthur Bruce Tesler to between 5 and 10 years in prison.

At the hearing, Tesler’s lawyer provided examples of other Atlanta police officers breaking the rules or violating the law and said a disturbing culture of misconduct pervades the force.

Carnes imposed the most severe sentence — 10 years — on Smith, 36, who obtained the illegal, no-knock search warrant allowing officers to batter down 92-year-old Kathryn Johnston’s door.

A terrified Johnston, thinking she was victimized by a home invasion, fired a warning shot through the door. Narcotics officers responded with a hail of gunfire, killing her.

Carnes sentenced Junnier, 42, to 6 years in prison. Junnier, the most experienced officer, was the first to cross the “blue line” — the unspoken code of silence among police — and divulge to the FBI what really happened at Neal Street and how the officers concocted a sophisticated coverup.

For Junnier’s cooperation, Carnes cut his time from the 10 years recommended by sentencing guidelines.

The judge gave the biggest break to Tesler, saying prosecutors’ recommendation of a 10- to 14-year term was “unduly harsh” because, overall, he played a “minor role.” She sentenced Tesler, 42, to five years in prison.

The FBI also found performance quotas of 9 arrests and 2 search warrants a month expected of officers, McKenney said. Officers who failed to meet their quotas risked being transferred, he said.

This helped explain, Carnes said, why Smith, Junnier and Tesler — three men who were devoted family men and who gave selflessly to the communities — began cutting corners through lies.

Carnes also ordered all three former officers to reimburse Johnston’s estate the $8,180 it cost to bury the 92-year-old woman.


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plez sez: but will there ever be justice for Kathryn Johnston? she's still dead. it may be years before the family sees the $8,000 for her funeral costs. what ever became of her house?

this is one of those stories that have no happy endings. these cops will do some time, but nothing equal to first degree murder during the commission of a crime. ms. johnston's family will never be adequately compensated for their loss. and i'll bet my paycheck that to this day, drug dealers are still slinging crack down the street or around the corner from where ms. johnston was slain.

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the AJC.com article about the illegal drug raid on Ms. Johnston's home.

Read the CNN.com article about the sentences handed down on the officers who raided Kathryn Johnston's home.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President Obama Goes to Capitol Hill

Photo courtesy of AJC.com

President Barack Obama opened his first speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday by telling the nation we will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before. From there he launched into a litany of initiatives that will get us from here to there.

Obama outlined an ambitious agenda to revive the economy, saying it's time to act boldly "to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity." Obama focused on the three priorities of the budget he will present to Congress later this week: energy, health care and education.

Read a transcript of the speech:
President Obama: Thank you very much.

Madam Speaker, Mr. Vice President, members of Congress, and the first lady of the United States, who's around here somewhere.

I have come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others, and rightly so. If you haven't been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has: a friend, a neighbor, a member of your family.

You don't need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It's the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It's the job you thought you'd retire from but now have lost, the business you built your dreams upon that's now hanging by a thread, the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope.

The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken, though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this: We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don't lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and our universities, in our fields and our factories, in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth.

Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Now, if we're honest with ourselves, we'll admit that for too long we have not always met these responsibilities, as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or to look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we'll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.

The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank.

We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy, yet we import more oil today than ever before.

The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform.

Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for.

And though all of these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity, where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election.

A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations...

Regulations -- regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well, that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely, to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.

Now is the time to jump-start job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that is what I'd like to talk to you about tonight.

It's an agenda that begins with jobs. As soon...

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by Presidents Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't -- not because I'm not mindful of the massive debt we've inherited -- I am.

I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. And that's why I pushed for quick action.

And tonight I am grateful that this Congress delivered and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.

Over -- over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90 percent of these jobs will be in the private sector, jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges, constructing wind turbines and solar panels, laying broadband and expanding mass transit.

Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis, [Minnesota] tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.

Because of this plan, 95 percent of working households in America will receive a tax cut, a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1.

Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college.

And Americans -- and Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm. Now I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work, and I understand that skepticism.

Here in Washington, we've all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.

And that's why I've asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort, because nobody messes with Joe.

I have told each of my Cabinet, as well as mayors and governors across the country, that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend.

I've appointed a proven and aggressive inspector general to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud.

And we have created a new Web site called recovery.gov so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.

So, the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track, but it is just the first step, because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.

I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family's well-being. You should also know that the money you've deposited in banks across the country is safe, your insurance is secure. You can rely on the continued operation of our financial system; that's not the source of concern.

The concern is that, if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins. You see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education, how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.

But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. And with so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or even to each other.

When there's no lending, families can't afford to buy homes or cars, so businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further.

That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, to restore confidence, and restart lending.

And we will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small-business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.

Second -- second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages.

It's a plan that won't help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values, Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped to bring about. In fact, the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.

Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy.

Now, I understand that, on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives bank bailouts with no strings attached and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions, but such an approach won't solve the problem.

And our goal is to quicken the day when we restart lending to the American people and American business and end this crisis once and for all. And I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer.

This time -- this time, CEOs won't be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks, or buy fancy drapes, or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government and, yes, probably more than we've already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade.

That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.

Now, I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and the results that followed. So were the American taxpayers; so was I.

So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you: I get it.

But I also know that, in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger or yield to the politics of the moment.

My job -- our job -- is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility.

I will not send -- I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can't pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can't get a mortgage.

That's what this is about. It's not about helping banks; it's about helping people.

It's not about helping banks; it's about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend. And if they can get a loan, too, maybe they'll finally buy that car or open their own business.

Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.

So -- so I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary, because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system.

It is time. It is time.

It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation and punishes shortcuts and abuse.

The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we're taking to revive our economy in the short term, but the only way to fully restore America's economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world.

The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care, the schools that aren't preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we've come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or a laundry list of programs.

I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America, as a blueprint for our future.

My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we've inherited: a trillion-dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber -- Democrats and Republicans -- will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars, and that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges.

I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves, that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity, for history tells a different story.

History reminds us that, at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas.

In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry.

From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age.

In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history.

And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn't supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again.

That is why, even as it cuts back on programs we don't need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we've fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well, I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders, and I know you don't, either. It is time for America to lead again.

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We've also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history, an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, in science and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, to protect our security and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy.

So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. That's what we need.

And to support -- to support that innovation, we will invest $15 billion a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power, advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

Speaking of our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not and will not protect them from their own bad practices.

But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it; scores of communities depend on it; and I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

Now, none of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don't do what's easy. We do what's necessary to move this country forward.

And for that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, 1 million more Americans have lost their health insurance.

It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it is one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold. We can't afford to do it.

It's time.

Already, we've done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last 30 days than we've done in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for 11 million American children whose parents work full-time.

Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives.

It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American, including me, by seeking a cure for cancer in our time.

And -- and it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that's one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

This budget builds on these reforms. It includes a historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform, a down payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It's a commitment

It's a commitment that's paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue, and it's a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform. That's why I'm bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. Once again, it will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and our conscience long enough.

So let there be no doubt: Health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.

The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.

In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite.

Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, and yet just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation, and half of the students who begin college never finish.

This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education, from the day they are born to the day they begin a career. That is a promise we have to make to the children of America.

Already, we've made a historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We've dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life.

We've made college affordable for nearly 7 million more students, 7 million. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children's progress.

But we know that our schools don't just need more resources; they need more reform. And that is why...

That is why this budget creates new teachers -- new incentives for teacher performance, pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We'll invest -- we'll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.

It is...It is our responsibility as lawmakers and as educators to make this system work, but it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it.

So tonight I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.

And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself; it's quitting on your country. And this country needs and values the talents of every American.

That's why -- that's why we will support -- we will provide the support necessary for all young Americans to complete college and meet a new goal: By 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That is a goal we can meet.

That's a goal we can meet.

Now -- now, I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why, if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education.

And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Sen. Orrin Hatch, as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country, Sen. Edward Kennedy.

These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children, but it is up to us to ensure they walk through them.

In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a parent, for a mother or father who will attend those parent-teacher conferences, or help with homework, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, read to their child.

I speak to you not just as a president, but as a father, when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home. That is not a Democratic issue or a Republican issue. That's an American issue.

And there is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children, and that's the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. That is critical.

I agree, absolutely.

See, I know we can get some consensus in here.

With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that, as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down. That is critical.

Now, I'm proud that we passed a recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.

And yesterday, I -- I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs.

As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time, but we have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade.

In this budget, we will end education programs that don't work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them.

We'll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq and -- and reform our defense budget so that we're not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use.

We will root out -- we will root out the waste and fraud and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn't make our seniors any healthier. We will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.

Now, let me be clear. Let me be absolutely clear, because I know you'll end up hearing some of the same claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people. If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, a quarter-million dollars a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime.

In fact -- not a dime.

In fact -- in fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut -- that's right, a tax cut -- for 95 percent of working families. And, by the way, these checks are on the way.

Now, to preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing cost in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come, and we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.

Finally, because we're also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead 10 years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules and, for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For seven years, we've been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.

Along with our outstanding national security team, I am now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.

And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism, because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world. We will not allow it.

As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: We honor your service; we are inspired by your sacrifice; and you have our unyielding support.

To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.

To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend, because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. And that is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists, because living our values doesn't make us weaker. It makes us safer, and it makes us stronger.

And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture. We can make that commitment here tonight.

In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun, for we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America.

We cannot shun the negotiating table nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand.

To seek progress towards a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century -- from terrorism to nuclear proliferation, from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty -- we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power.

And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe, for the world depends on us having a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world's.

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us, watching to see what we do with this moment, waiting for us to lead.

Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege, one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans, for in our hands lies the ability to shape our world, for good or for ill.

I know that it's easy to lose sight of this truth, to become cynical and doubtful, consumed with the petty and the trivial.

But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places, that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of ordinary Americans who are anything but ordinary.

I think of Leonard Abess, a bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn't tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, "I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."

I think about -- I think about Greensburg -- Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community, how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay.

"The tragedy was terrible," said one of the men who helped them rebuild. "But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity."

I think about Ty'Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina, a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom.

She had been told that her school is hopeless. But the other day after class, she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this chamber. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp.

The letter asks us for help and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself, and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina, but also the world. We are not quitters."

That's what she said: "We are not quitters."

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that, even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres, a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

I know that we haven't agreed on every issue thus far.

There are surely times in the future where we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed.

I know that.

That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do, if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis, if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity, if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then some day, years from now, our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, "something worthy to be remembered."

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you.


~ ~ ~

Gov. Piyush Jindal - that's his REAL name - of Louisiana gave the Republican response. First, he tried to "out immigrant" President Obama by recounting the story of his parents' landing in America a few months before his birth. And then launched into a Republican boilerplate repudiation of the stimulus package that was recently signed into law with no Republican support in the House of Representatives. At some point in his rambling monologue, he called the stimulus "irresponsible." And then jumped into his tax breaks spiel.

The speech was flat. He was flat. And neither he nor his response were elevated to the high quality delivery of President Obama.

~ ~ ~

plez sez: PRESIDENT OBAMA owned the evening! i watched the speech on MSNBC with their Obama voters and McCain voters "Approval Meter" on the bottom of the screen. for the entire speech, Obama's approval was very high - at some points, off the chart high - for both sets of voters... and it never went negative.

this was a great speech. the kind of uplifting tome to serve as a salve for these bad times. Obama acknowledged our issues and set forth specific programs to address them. he even extended an olive branch to those on the right and asked them to join him in correcting the ills of our economy. the republicans will further damage their brand if they do not work with Obama to fix the economy.

~ ~ ~

gov. jindal was a dud! i know the republicans wanted to showcase the face of their "new future" for a national audience... he was not up to the task. his speech was jilted and his attempt at "straight talk" about his background and his katrina-ravaged state fell flat.

and in an effort to beat the rush - in the unlikely event this bozo ends up being the republican nominee for president in 2012 - where is jindal's birth certificate?!?

and why is jindal going around calling himself "Bobby" when his real and legal name is "PIYUSH"?!? Guess that foreign-sounding name wouldn't play well with the Fox News crowd!


it's understandable that since the democrats have a Black president, it would be cool if the republicans could cart out their own "darky" for the response! something tells plezWorld the gop would've done better with rnc chairman michael steele or that redneck sen. lindsay graham from south carolina.

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the New York Times article about President Obama's speech.

Read the AJC.com article about President Obama's speech.

Read the CNN.com article about President Obama's speech.

Read the CNN.com article about Gov. Jindal's response and his bad reviews.

Read the CNN.com article about the effect of Obama's speech on America.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Dow Down to 12 Year Lows

The Dow slipped to near 7,100 points... it hasn't been this low since mid-1997!

Excerpts from CNN Money story:
The Dow and S&P 500 tumbled to levels not seen in nearly 12 years Monday, as investors continue to worry that the government's efforts to slow the recession won't be sufficient.

The Dow Jones industrial average (INDU) lost 250 points, or 3.4%, ending at the lowest point since May 7, 1997.

The S&P 500 (SPX) index lost 26 points, or 3.5%, ending at the lowest point since April 11, 1997.

The Nasdaq composite (COMP) lost 53 points, or 3.7%. The tech-fueled index has held up better than the rest of the market so far this year, closing at the lowest points since Nov. 20, 2008.


~ ~ ~


plez sez: the remnants of my 401(k) are just that: remnants. my wife's 401(k) losses were in the 5-digit range... yeah, that bad!

i can't even imagine what has happened with people who are on fixed incomes or living off of 401(k) money that loses value by the hour.

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the New York Times article about the shrinking Dow.

Read the CNN Money article about how all markets continue to lose value.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Monday, February 23, 2009

Grandstanding GOP Governors

The Sunday morning political talk shows were littered with GOP governors, some of whom made a show of turning down stimulus money. Well, in reality, appearing to turn down stimulus money for the cameras.

Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said, "The $100 million we turned down was temporary federal dollars that would require us to change our unemployment laws. That would have actually raised taxes on Louisiana businesses. We as a state would have been responsible for paying for those benefits after the federal money disappeared."

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi said, "If we were to take the unemployment reform package that they have, it would cause us to raise taxes on employment when the money runs out -- and the money will run out in a couple of years."

Even Georgia's red state governor, Sonny Perdue, made a point of saying that he may not accept all of the stimulus money, saying that "it might not be in the state’s long-term interest to accept it."

The Republican governors of Idaho, Alaska, Texas, South Carolina and Louisiana expressed similar concerns... except ALL of them plan to accept a bulk of the stimulus package money that comes to their states. The amount that Jindal is "turning down" amounts to about 2 percent of the stimulus money that is slated to go to Louisiana. And similarly with Mississippi, that governor isn't turning down all of the money coming to his state.

And California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said his state is almost broke, so he's going to take whatever is offered.

~ ~ ~


plez sez: petty politics, as usual. those governors found the area with the least amount of money and then acted like they were doing something big, by turning it down.

plezWorld laughs!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the New York Times article about the disagreement amongst GOP governors over the stimulus money.

Read the AJC.com article about the Georgia's Republican Governor Sonny Perdue thinking about turning stimulus money down.

Read the CNN.com article about the grandstanding GOP governors.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Sunday, February 22, 2009

Open Thread for Sunday in plezWorld



The Commodores sang, "That's why I'm easy... easy like Sunday morning."

plezWorld is taking it easy today, so write what you'd like.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Saturday, February 21, 2009

NY Post - That Apology



After Rev. Al Sharpton-led protests clogged the street in front of the NY Post headquarters, the Post released the following apology - to some:

THAT CARTOON

Wednesday's Page Six cartoon - caricaturing Monday's police shooting of a chimpanzee in Connecticut - has created considerable controversy.

It shows two police officers standing over the chimp's body: "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill," one officer says.

It was meant to mock an ineptly written federal stimulus bill.

Period.

But it has been taken as something else - as a depiction of President Obama, as a thinly veiled expression of racism.

This most certainly was not its intent; to those who were offended by the image, we apologize.

However, there are some in the media and in public life who have had differences with The Post in the past - and they see the incident as an opportunity for payback.

To them, no apology is due.

Sometimes a cartoon is just a cartoon - even as the opportunists seek to make it something else.

~ ~ ~

plez sez: so... the apology was only for people who tend to agree with everything the post publishes? by following that logic, it would seem that the people who tend to agree with everything the post publishes probably weren't offended by the cartoon.

which leads me to the "go to hell" statement for those would seize upon the "opportunity for payback." who would more than likely include MOST of the people who were offended by the cartoon.

which begs the question, why apologize? those who weren't offended haven't sought an apology and they said "eff you" to the ones who were offended. i'm perplexed.

plezWorld is no fan of the ny post... it is too sensational and "over the top." i wasn't particularly offended by the cartoon because it wasn't funny and it completely missed the mark for whatever it was trying to satirize: the wayward chimp with a couple of bullet holes in its chest? barack obama? the simians in congress? nancy pelosi? you can't really tell what the artist was trying to say, which left the entire thing up to speculation... and allegations of racism.

if the caption had read: "they'll have to find someone else to SIGN the next stimulus bill," then the knee-jerk, attention-grubbing crowd (oh yeah, and al sharpton) would've had something to go after. as it reads, it doesn't really point to obama, because he didn't WRITE the stimulus bill!

just speculating here, maybe it had read "sign" and the editor thought that would be too inflammatory, so the artist changed one word... yeah! that's the ticket.

to my way of thinking... "big whup"! who would've guessed that an instrument of rupert murdoch would harbor some racist views?!? come on, ya'll... grow a thicker skin, because i'm guaranteeing a next time!

i don't oppose the cartoon as much as i despise that inept non-apology!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the mealy mouthed NY Post apology about chimp cartoon.

Read the New York Times take on the NY Post apology.

Read the MSNBC.com article about cartoonists quandry of drawing President Obama without exploiting racial stereotypes.

Read the Yahoo! News article about the NY Post apology.

Read the CNN.com article about the NY Post apology.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Friday, February 20, 2009

He's Back... Tiger Woods Returns Next Week

plez sez: "Pssst. Hey, Phil Mickelson, I don't want you to lose your lunch, but it is being widely reported that Tiger Woods plans to return to tournament play next week in Tucson, Arizona for the Accenture Match Play Championship. As you know, he's been off healing from surgery on his left knee for the past eight months after winning his fourteenth major title in a playoff at the US Open on his one good leg. Yeah, that tournament where you barely showed up and he won it on one leg. And get this, he plans to defend the title he won last year at the Accenture Match Play Championship!"

The entire golf industry from players, tournament organizers, sponsors, fans, broadcasters, and anyone with even a marginal interest in the sport is hailing his return. In essence, NO ONE has watched any golf since he limped off the green at the US Open with that big ass trophy. He limped badly over the final few days of the U.S. Open, later saying the swelling was so bad at night that he couldn't see his knee cap. A week after winning, he had reconstructive surgery, the third operation on his left knee in five years.

Television ratings have been in the crapper through the last two majors, the Ryder Cup, and the FedEx Cup. Everyone - including plezWorld - is anxiously awaiting the return of Tiger Woods... well, I'm not sure Phil Mickelson is jumping up and down with the prospect of returning to his losing ways against one Tiger Woods.

"He was ready to go weeks ago," Stuart Appleby said at Riviera. "I don't think he needs to do a couple of laps around the track. He'll be on that horse and he'll be whipping it."

~ ~ ~


plez sez: i can't wait... i really can't! i know the guy who won the masters also won the british open, but his name escapes me. and i have no idea (and really don't care) who won the ryder cup nor the fedex cup... if any sport needs an asterisk, it is golf for all of the trophies it has passed out in the past eight months since tiger took a break from kicking their collective butts!

i'm overdue for some real competitive magic from the man who is TIGER WOODS! i can't wait!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the golf.com article about Tiger's return to golf.

Read the ESPN.com article about Tiger Woods ending his eight month layoff.

Read the AJC.com article about Tiger's return to golf.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Thursday, February 19, 2009

Shalamar - Night to Remember - 1982

This popped up while shuffling through my iPod earlier today and stayed with me all day... enjoy!




plez sez: i feel like today's generation of music lovers are being cheated by the drivel that they are forced to endure. i turn to a radio station that plays current music and i turn it off... i'd rather listen to static. save a few standouts like alicia keys, john legend, babyface, ne-yo, today's music, especially hip hop and rap is trash!

i wonder when the music died?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Stimulus... and Billions More

On Tuesday afternoon, President Barack Obama signed his first bill into law. And it was a hefty, too! The Stimulus Package became the law of the land with the stroke of his pen and over $787 billion is now ready to stimulate our lagging economy back to life.

There is a little problem, though, how will we know that the stimulus is working?

Mr. Obama didn't go as far to guarantee a win with this thing, as I'm sure he knows that there'll probably be a request for more stimulus money in the coming months. He said, "Today does not mark the end of our economic troubles. But it does mark the beginning of the end - the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs; to provide relief for families worried they won't be able to pay next month's bills; and to set our economy on a firmer foundation."

The signing ceremony was held at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Colorado.

~ ~ ~

The request for more billions didn't take long. General Motors Corp (GM) and Chrysler LLC requested nearly $22 billion in additional U.S. government loans and said they had reached tentative deals with the United Auto Workers union to reduce labour costs. It is estimated that they will trim close to 50,000 jobs... in exchange for the money. They claim that they need the funds to stave off bankruptcy.

The two automakers, which have so far received $17.4 billion in loans from the U.S. Treasury, also detailed plans to cut jobs and idle plants as part of sweeping restructuring plans submitted under the terms of their federal bailout.

GM is seeking an additional $16.6 billion from the U.S. Treasury -- for a total of up to $30 billion in loans -- and said it would run out of cash as soon as March without new federal funding. In addition, GM said it expected to be able to borrow up to $6 billion from foreign governments and nearly $8 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy. It warned that without $1.5 billion from asset sales in 2009 it would need even more cash.

GM also accelerated its job cut plans, saying that it would eliminate 47,000 jobs over the course of 2009. The company said it would cut about 20,000 jobs in the United States, or about 22% of its remaining U.S. staff. Previously, GM called for U.S. job cuts of between 20,000 to 30,000 workers, but it had stretched out those reductions through 2012. The company said it plans to close five additional U.S. plants by 2012 --in addition to the 12 planned closings announced in December.

GM added it plans to phase out the Saturn brand by the middle of 2011 if it is unable to sell or spin-off the brand. GM is also looking to sell its Saab brand, and will look for help from the Swedish government to support Saab until a buyer is found. There will be fewer Pontiac models, with a plan to reduce GM to four brands: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC (trucks).

Chrysler said it plans to cut about 3,000 jobs, or 6% of its workforce, and reduce capacity by another 100,000 vehicles this year as it tries to adjust to reduced demand. It also said it has won the concessions from the United Auto Workers union and its creditors that were demanded under terms of the loan from the Treasury Department.

~ ~ ~

Obama's pen could not keep world markets from continuing their downward spiral... this economic crisis is global and it ain't getting better: Japan is suffering its worst downturn in 35 years, England has had its worst decline in 30 years, Germany's decline is the worst in 20 years! And the US job market is the worst in over 20 years. The Dow Jones industrial average declined nearly 300 points on Tuesday to finish close to its lowest level of the financial crisis. Even China is feeling the pinch with unemployment growing over there.

Japan's economy, the world's second-biggest, after only the United States, shrank at an annual rate of 12.7 percent during the last three months of 2008 -- the biggest contraction since the oil crisis of the mid-1970s. The British economy, damaged by the credit crisis, will contract at 3.3 percent, almost twice as much as predicted three months ago, according to the country's biggest business lobbying organization. Those two pieces of data, released Monday, came on the heels of a report Friday showing that the German economy, Europe's largest, shrank by 2.1 percent, the steepest drop since the country's reunification in 1990. Some economists had argued that countries like Japan and Germany were better equipped to weather the downturn. Germany has little consumer debt, and Japan's banks are in better shape after the banking crisis of the 1990s. But their economies rely heavily on exports, and global demand for items such as Japanese and German cars has evaporated.

And emerging markets, the world's fastest-growing economies, whose demand for goods and services is considered key to a global recovery, showed signs of intensifying weakness. Russia's state-owned news agency said Tuesday that lower commodity prices and the financial crisis are expected to cause the economy to shrink by more than 2 percent this year. In Brazil, where commodity exports have fallen sharply, retail sales in December fell for the third straight month, marking the longest period of declines in six years. Taiwan said exports plunged by record levels. In Mexico, the government was forced to intervene in the foreign exchange market after the peso reached an all-time low against the dollar. In China, slumping demand for exports has trimmed the growth of its powerful economy to nearly half its 13 percent pace in 2007.

Good news on the economic front is nowhere to be found!

~ ~ ~


plez sez: i held out such hope that this stimulus package would actually make a difference, but something tells me that the global economy is so eff'd up, that $787 billion will be like "spit in the wind!" i'm not sure the US mint will be able to print enough $100's to keep this ship afloat. consumer confidence is so low, orders for goods are at record lows, global markets continue to fall... i don't know if the US economy (which has been mortgaged to china and saudi arabia) has enough gas in the tank to save the rest of the world.

i said it before... i think we're going to have to witness one of the automaker's demise before anything substantial will change. i am not sure what propping them up with cash while they are slashing payroll will do... when NO ONE is buying the product!

plezWorld believes the answer lies in the mortgage crisis and the credit crunch. maybe things would loosen up a bit if ALL of those risky loans heading to foreclosure were renegotiated at bargain basement rates, and then if credit card companies would be compensated for working to drastically lower (or even eliminate) the interest rate or balances on outstanding accounts that are headed toward default. to my way of thinking, both of those acts would serve as a necessary catalyst to get consumers back into the malls, realtor offices, and auto showrooms.

and since our economy is such a leading market for the global economy, US companies should be incented to begin bringing the jobs that have been offshored to china and india BACK to the US. put americans back to work... and the rest of the world will soon follow. put money and credit back in the pockets of americans... and we will start buying the world's goods.

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the CNN Money article about measuring the success of Obama's stimulus package.

Read the AJC.com article about Obama signing the stimulus plan into law.

Read the Washington Post article about the downturn in global economies.

Read the CNN Money article about US automakers wanting more bailout money.

Read the Reuters article about US automakers needing additional bailout money.

Read the New York Times article about how GM plans to trim brands from their line-up.

Read the New York Times article about the big loss of white collar jobs in Detroit.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lincoln Tops List of Past Presidents

He saved the Union.

One Hundred and forty-five years after he became president, Abraham Lincoln appears at the top of a list published by CNN.com that ranks the nation's presidents. Using a list of categories, each president from George Washington to George W. Bush was ranked. When combined, it was quite easy to see who bubbled to the top AND who wallowed in the dregs of the rankings.

It's still a little early to judge the presidency of George W., but as one would expect, he came near the bottom of the list; he was number 36.

Abraham Lincoln came out on top based on his leadership (during the Civil War), moral authority (on the issue of slavery), and vision (keeping the United States together). James Buchanan (who?) came in dead last for his lack of leadership (he squandered the opportunity to address the slavery issue during the 1850's), moral authority (slavery again), vision (that peculiar institution in the south), and job performance (because of you know what).

All 42 presidents (remember that Grover Cleveland's two terms were separated by Benjamin Harrison, but he's only ranked once in the survey) were scored in the following categories:
  • Public persuasion
  • Crisis leadership
  • Economic management
  • Moral authority
  • International relations
  • Administrative skills
  • Relations with Congress
  • Vision/setting an agenda
  • Pursued equal justice for all
  • Performance within the context of the times


The Top Five Presidents:
  1. Abraham Lincoln - managed the Civil War
  2. George Washington - the first president of a young, fledgling nation
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt - ushered in the New Deal during the worst depression in nation's history
  4. Theodore Roosevelt - heralded as a visionary
  5. Harry S. Truman - provided crucial leadership after the end of World War II

The Bottom Five Presidents:
  1. James Buchanan - a Northerner who happened to be a Southern sympathizer who did nothing avert the Civil War
  2. Andrew Johnson - took over after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and barely averted getting removed from office after being impeached
  3. Franklin D. Pierce - another Southern sympathizer who supported the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and supported the Confederacy during the Civil War
  4. William Henry Harrison - died after only 32 days in office
  5. Warren G. Harding - only served 2 years before suffering a heart attack

~ ~ ~

plez sez: no surprises here. even though, it was part of the times, any president during the run-up to the civil war got pretty low scores (buchanan, pierce, and fillmore). the top ranked presidents provided crucial leadership and vision during the nation's most trying times (civil war, depression, the start, etc.).

george w. bush blew it during his eight years of manufactured terrorism fear; if he had actually thwarted an enemy or provided a positive impact on the fear he created, he would've been rated a lot higher.

after reading the results of the survey, President Obama has the perfect opportunity to provide vision and leadership during this trying time. if he can shepherd the country (and world) out of the doldrums of this recession, he will join lincoln, washington, and fdr. if we are still in a malaise (a la jimmy carter in 1980), then he will find himself keeping company with george w. bush at the bottom!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the CNN.com article about president top list.

Read the CNN.com article about how the presidents were ranked.


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Monday, February 16, 2009

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Open Thread for Sunday Morning in plezWorld V



The Commodores sang, "That's why I'm easy... easy like Sunday morning."

plezWorld is taking it easy today, so write what you'd like.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Saturday, February 14, 2009

Three Years Ago... Today

This is what appeared in plezWorld, three years ago, today:


HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, Ya'll!

Yeah, it was just a matter of time before I created my own BLOG. I'm a bit of an early adopter, but I've been a bit reticent about creating such a thing since my last foray into the Internet - the creation of a personal website - nearly consumed ME and all of my free time for a period of 3 years.

I have almost NOTHING to write about, since this thing was created out of the necessity of posting a comment to a friend's BLOG... So here goes...

When inspiration hits him OR when a turn in current events prompts him OR a particular feeling continues to haunt him OR when a incident causes a pause, prompts a belly laugh, or elicits a tear from him ... you can expect to (possibly) read about it here. How's that?

Currently listening to "Adore" by Prince on my iPod as I sign off... until next time.

02/14/2006 15:07 Eastern Time

~ ~ ~

plez sez: yeah, i started this blog on Valentine's Day 2006... and i'm still going strong. here's to three more.

oh yeah, HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, Ya'll!

the SugarPlum keeps hinting that i'm to receive breakfast in bed for Valentine's Day... how sweet!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the CNN.com article about how to salvage Valetine's Day.

Read Roland Martin's CNN.com article about Valentine's Day.

Read the AJC.com article about Valentine's Day in Atlanta.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~




Friday, February 13, 2009

Atlanta Falcons Move to Trade Michael Vick

BREAKING NEWS -- It is no surprise, but AJC.com reports the Atlanta Falcons are seeking to trade the rights of suspended and imprisoned quarterback Michael Vick.

Read the entire AJC.com article here:


Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said the team is preparing to trade Vick’s contractual rights in an interview that appeared on the team’s website on Friday.

“With regards to Michael Vick, we’ve decided to seek a trade of his contractual rights to another NFL club,” Dimitroff told the website. “We took a number of steps in the 2008 season, including using our first pick to draft a quarterback. We feel a trade is the best move for the Falcons, and it’s also in the best interest of Michael. This has been a really unique situation from a variety of standpoints and because we will actively be involved in a trade situation, I don’t envision our organization speaking any more about this subject publicly until it’s reached a resolution.”

Vick is currently in federal prison on felony charges related to dogfighting and is scheduled to be released in July.

Vick has a lucrative contract that runs to 2013 and calls for him to receive a base salary of $9 million and a bonus of $6.43 million in 2009. The remainder of the contract is worth $45.11 million, with another possible $3 million in Pro Bowl bonuses.

Vick is currently under indefinite suspension from the league. Dimitroff said he had not heard from the NFL about a timeline for Vick’s reinstatement once he is released from prison.


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plez sez: duh! the falcons used a first round draft pick last year to get matt ryan - a quarterback. he turned out to be a pretty good one, too!

atlanta doesn't need michael vick... and there's too much bad history here anyway. to my way of thinking, they should've been attempting to trade him a year before the whole dogfighting incident, neither vick nor the falcons were improving. there were never any plans to make vick a better qb and as a result, there was never a clear line of sight to making the falcons a better team!

given the right circumstance, matt ryan could conceivably meet michael vick in the playoffs in a few years... you heard it on plezWorld first!

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the AJC.com article about Michael Vick about to get traded by Atlanta Falcons.

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Peanut Butter Recall for Texas Plant




(CNN) -- The Texas Department of State Health Services on Thursday ordered the recall of all products ever shipped from the Peanut Corporation of America's plant in Plainview, Texas, after discovering dead rodents, rodent excrement and bird feathers in the plant.

The order, which applies to products shipped since the plant opened nearly four years ago, came a day after the discovery of filth in a crawl space above a production area during a health services inspection, the department said in a news release.

Inspectors also reported that the plant's ventilation system was pulling debris "from the infested crawl space into production areas of the plant resulting in the adulteration of exposed food products," the release said.

Officials at the plant, which opened in March 2005, voluntarily stopped operations Monday night. Under the order, they are not allowed to resume operations without health services approval.

The company's peanut butter and peanut paste products produced at its plant in Blakely, Georgia, have been linked to a nationwide outbreak of salmonella poisoning that has affected 600 people, killing nine.


Earlier today, Peanut Corporation of America filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy Friday in federal court in Lynchburg,Virginia. In its filing, the company said its assets were between $1 million and $10 million, and its liabilities were between $1 million and $10 million.

The salmonella outbreak so far has sickened more than 630 people and may have caused the deaths of nine people. It has led to one of the largest product recalls in the nation’s history, with more than 2,000 products recalled thus far, according to the FDA.

Under bankruptcy liquidation, creditors, including those who had filed damage claims against the company would not be paid in full for their damages. Instead they would be paid some fraction of their claims. Future lawsuits filed against the company could also be dealt with in the bankruptcy.

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plez sez: i wonder if this recall affects that Reese's Peanut Butter Cup i had earlier today?!?

lettuce. spinach. tomatoes. now peanuts... soon we won't be able to eat anything!

and now PCA is going to hide behind bankruptcy to get out of paying for the damages done by their tainted goobers. some have cited that in China the president of companies like this get the death penalty... that may the correct move, since this product is predominantly consumed by children.

~ ~ Citations ~ ~

Read the P.I.S.S.D. blog entry about peanut butter recall ramifications.

Read the CNN.com article about possible salmonella contamination at Texas peanut processing plant.

Read the CNN.com article about the plant shut down in Texas.

Read the AJC.com article about the peanut processor filing for bankruptcy.

Read the CNN.com article about how the Peanut Corp. of America filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

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