As I am sure it true for you too, it's getting busy around here. Lots of planning, ordering, shopping and cleaning for the Thanksgiving feast at my place next week (how come my turkey baster is nowhere to be found?) along with some dinner guests – friends from Texas - on Tuesday too.
And I'm scrambling to meet some other obligations. Even so, I spend too much of my day, as is my wont, trying to keep up with Washington politics and commentary which seems to change, sometimes, by the minute.
So today, some stray thoughts and short impressions on the state of our union (if that's not too high falutin' a phrase) which may be of interest – or not - but without links or much explanation (I'm too busy to be careful about citations today).
The Republicans in Congress have gone all austerity on us by pledging to outlaw earmarks – you know, those billions of dollars for state projects, often as flimsy as a can opener museum, that get tacked on to serious congression bills. Well, all Republicans except for Representative Michele Bachmann who says her state, Minnesota, should be exempt from the ban.
People in the reality-based world know that earmarks make up less than one percent of the federal budget so that eliminating them will have next to zero affect – and that's even if you believe deficit reduction is important right now.
It's not that I necessarily support earmarks, although some are of value. But I don't want Republicans taking credit for budget cutting with this move. How stupid do they think the American public is? (Don't answer that.)
When President Obama tried to hold a long-announced bipartisan dinner at the White House this week - just a dinner together - the Republican Congressional leadership refused the invitation which is a pretty good indication of how they intend to govern in the 112th Congress.
If the president still believes bipartisanship legislation is possible, he is living in fantasyland. If it couldn't be done with an all-Democratic Congress during the past two years, it won't happen now with a Republican House, especially with 80 new members most of whom owe their allegiance to the rabid Tea Party.
I join the chorus from some quarters that the president doesn't know his own power or is unwilling to use it. Unless he finds his inner Lyndon Johnson, we'll have two years of gridlock.
NO PUBLIC SUPPORT FOR DEFICIT REDUCTION
Nearly all our legislators – Republican and Democrat - are running around in Washington flapping their arms yelling, “Cut spending,” “Reduce the deficit,” But on 11 November when a CBS News/New York Times poll (okay, one link) asked what Congress should concentrate on in January, 4 percent – that's FOUR PERCENT or the equivalent of NONE – chose “budget deficit.”
At the top of list with 56 percent is “economy/jobs.” DUH!
The single thing the president could do to jump start the economy and, incidentally, recoup a lot of his mojo would be to create some New Deal-style job programs which would also begin to repair the country's rusting infrastructure.
If that's all he did in the first couple of months of 2011, the Congressional switchboard and email servers would be buried in an avalanche of phone calls, emails, letters and petitions demanding that they pass the legislation.
Okay, no one who can do anything is listening to me, but I'm far from the first person to say this and no one – no one - in Washington, least of all the president, responds.
PALIN FOR PRESIDENT
You didn't think she isn't running, did you?
”I know that a hurdle I would have to cross, that some other potential candidates wouldn't have to cross right out of the chute, is proving my record. That's the most frustrating thing for me - the warped and perverted description of my record and what I've accomplished over the last two decades.
“It's been much more perplexing to me than where the lamestream media has wanted to go about my personal life. And other candidates haven't faced these criticisms the way I have...”
That's from next Sunday's cover story in The New York Times Magazine which may be online by the time you read this. (Well, two links.)
God help us, two more years of all Sarah all the time. As of today, if the Republicans nominated her, she hasn't a chance, but there's no telling how things change in two years and that is terrifying.
I had more on my list, but I need to get moving and you've probably had enough anyway. Let's all take a Washington break until after what has always been my favorite holiday – lots of food, friends and family.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Steve Kemp: LONG LOST NEWS: Chicken Soup Balm For Asian Markets?