Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman: A Good Man R.I.P

Paul Newman died yesterday of cancer.

The first Paul Newman movie I saw was Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid. My mom is a big Paul Newman and Robert Redford fan and she would always watch it when it came on TV. (This was before VCRs.) As a kid I never liked the ending, but as an adult I could see that, of course, there was no other way for that movie to end. I went on to watch other great Paul Newman movies like Cool Hand Luke, The Color of Money and The Sting but I've always love BC & TSK the best. Paul Newman was a really good actor, but I think where he made his best contribution to the world was in his charity work.

Way back in 1982 Newman and A.E. Hotchner started up a company to sell salad dressing that they had come up with. Newman's Own was set up to sell the salad dressing and pledged to donate all of their profits to charity. Their motto is "Shameless exploitation for the Common Good." I may be wrong but I think this was the first time a company was created with the sole purpose of making money to do good. I find that incredibly inspirational and one of a few things that restores my faith in humanity.

Over the next 25 years Newman's Own expanded to over a hundred different products (mostly organic/free trade and made in America) and gave over $250 million to charities including the Hole in the Wall Camps which he founded for children with life threatening illnesses. I'm a big fan of the Newman's Own food (especially the salsa and pasta sauce) and a bigger fan following the fun Newman seemed to have coming up with products and stories for the labels (in the first few years anyway). Its pretty incredible to think that a couple of people could put so much effort into creating something that would only profit them by giving them the satisfaction of helping others.

I know this is a kind of rambling post but I'm pretty sad today. A good man died but he does leave a legacy that will go on to help people for years to come. Good bye Mr. Newman, you were a good man.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What do Treasury Sec. Paulson and Klinger have in common?

You absolutely MUST go look at this bailout proposal and call your representatives.

All other points aside, the fact that they are trying to push Section 8 (below) boggles the mind.

Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Those of us who are old enough to have watched MASH will probably remember that Klinger was crossdressing to try to get out of the Army on a Section 8 which is a psychological discharge.

Well you'd have to be insane to allow the Sec.8 above to be passed into law. Basically it says that the Treasury Secretary can do anything he wants and be subject to ABSOLUTELY NO review. None! So we hand over $700 Billion and say go for it dude! The Democrats won't let this pass into law. They cannot and have any shred of intelligence left in their brains.

Progressive Conditions for a Bailout

Here are some good ideas from Dean Baker over at TPM Cafe'.

Progressive Conditions for a Bailout

If we are going to bail out Wall Street, and I think we have to, we need to make sure the people who got us into trouble in the first place don't profit. We also need to make sure we put conditions on the money that makes sure that we have some control over the companies we are bailing out so we can at some point put some of this money back into the treasury; or at least pay back China for buying the T-bills or bonds or whatever they will be buying to give us the money for the bailout. Finally, the bailout must include legislation to put back the regulations like the Glass Steagall Act that were created as a result of the crash that caused the Great Depression. Personally I think that most of the problems this country has can be traced back to allowing mega-corporations to be created starting back in the '80s when the Reagan Administration stopped enforcing the anti - trust laws for the most part.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

What Digby Said...

Ok, I'm stealing a tag line from Atrios over at Eschaton, but this post from Hullabaloo:

It's one thing to tell 23 years-olds that they get to have fun with their social security taxes. They are young and dumb and don't have clue about saving. But once people get into their 30s and have kids and old parents they start to think about the future.

is pretty much said what I thought when the shit started hitting the fan in Wall Street and Mr. McPrivatization started talking about our economy be fundamentally strong. Well, the first thing was, "See...see you dumb asses! THAT'S why we shouldn't invest our Social Security in the stock market."

The thing that really kills is one of my friends looked at me when I said this and replied, "Yeah but I still think we need to invest the SS money in something like mutual funds." This friend is really a fairly normal, intelligent guy but somehow he had some kind of disconnect in his brain that mutual funds were actually a collection of various investments including stocks and that they would almost assuredly would get hit by the same economic problems that would crash the stock market.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Hooray for grass roots activists the American Chemical Council

Well it looks like the American Chemistry Council/Coalition to Stop the Seattle Bag Tax got enough signatures to get a question on the ballot for next August.

The 20-cent bag fee for paper and plastic bags in Seattle will not take effect on Jan. 1. A referendum campaign to hold a citywide election on the fee has collected enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot next year.

In response, the city has decided to delay implementing the law until the vote can take place. Well I agree with the delay, it would be a waste of time and money to start up a program to support the law when it will most likely be overturned 8 months later. Bully for the plasti-holics.


I found this bit interesting (bolding mine):

The King County elections division on Monday verified the anti-fee coalition had collected 15,099 valid signatures out of 22,292 submitted. A referendum required 14,374, or 8 percent of the ballots cast in the last mayoral election. According to election records, the coalition spent $180,625 collecting signatures.

I have no idea what the normal percentage of invalid signatures is, but 23% seems awfully high. In fact, they only made the number they needed by 725 signatures. That's a pretty close margin.

As a comparison a statistical sample of the signatures gathered by I-1000 had about 10% disqualified although that is admittedly for a statewide initiative which may affect the percentage of invalid signatures. I don't know if I have a point here, just musing.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

$180,625 to Fight 20-cent Bag Fee

The American Chemistry Council is apparently very committed to getting the Seattle bag tax/fee repealed. They have invested about $180,000 or about $8.00 a signature to get a repeal on the ballot in the next election. It looks like they are fighting it as well as fighting a similar fee proposal in the California State Legislature.

I've addressed this issue twice before and it's getting on my nerves more and more. This devastating fee or tax (I'm not sure when it changed to a fee from a tax) is entirely avoidable by investing in a set of reusable cloth or canvas bags. Seriously. All you have to do is go out and buy yourself some reusable bags. A $5.00 investment or less will do you for almost all of your shopping need and will have a positive environmental impact. In fact as a part of this new law Seattle is planning on giving out at least one free reusable bag to everyone in Seattle (the exact details of this plan haven't been forthcoming though and that is a bit worry some.)

It is true that even $5.00 is a trial to people who are only just making it or even not making it well. What I'd like to see is one of the local environmental groups get some money together and bulk buy bags to distribute in the lower income areas of the city. Something like this would eliminate what I see as the only legitimate objection to this fee/tax.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Rachel Maddow Gets A Show on MSNBC... YAY!

Rachel Maddow: MSNBC's New Voice - TIME - Check it out and best of all she brought back Kent Jones!

Rachel Maddow is probably the smartest of the progressive radio hosts on the air today and that includes Thom Hartmann who is truly a genius in many ways.

I've been listening to Rachael Maddow since her show Unfiltered with Lizz Winstead and Chuck D. What I think sets her apart from Thom and all the other radio hosts is the way she seems to take seemingly disparate facts and come up with logical conclusions that I, and probably most people, never would have. I also like the way she seems to stay really grounded in reality, likes to talk about making cocktails, she reads comic books and she has never failed to make us keep the crap going on in Iraq in the front of our minds.

Congratulations Rachel. Go forth and make people smarter.

edit - Looks like her ratings are kicking ass too.