Archive for February 14, 2011

Booze Around the World

Check out this map of global alcohol consumption:

You go Russia!  Is it any wonder the “live” video sites are loaded with clips of car crashes there?

February 14, 2011 at 9:48 PM Leave a comment

To John Kerry and the DSCC: Get Back to Us When Democrats Start Being Democrats

Mr. SayItAin’tSoAlready and I got a solicitation from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee today in the form of an ahem, personal note from John Kerry.  It warns about Republicans concentrating on “profits for the super rich” and not approving “any help for the middle class.”

It’s ironic we received it on the same day Obama released his 2012 budget:

The cuts the president has outlined barely offset the tab of temporarily extending the Bush tax cuts, which added $858 billion to the deficit over two years, including $125 billion for Americans making over $250,000 and slashing the estate tax. If Obama ends up once again extending the Bush tax cuts in 2012, the savings he envisions in the current budget will be completely nullified. Meanwhile, his unwillingness to play hardball with the GOP last year will result in increased hardship in real time for millions of Americans who are struggling to survive this recession. We’re living in odd times when a Democratic president is okay spending billions of dollars on an unpopular and seemingly unwinnable war in Afghanistan but has no problem cutting heating aid for poor Americans in the midst of the coldest winter in memory.


Yet the president is playing on the GOP’s turf. The debate is over cuts vs. cuts. At a time of 9 percent unemployment, neither party is laying out a roadmap for how to put people back to work and lift the country out of its economic morass.

And then there’s this:  Obama’s 2012 Defense Budget Bigger Than Bush’s or Reagan’s — Largest Since WWII — but he proposes cutting heating aid for the poor?

Yo, John, get back to us when Democrats start being Democrats.

February 14, 2011 at 7:33 PM Leave a comment

The Indescribable Hubris of DirecTV

Geezus.  It’s a sign of the times that a corporation would even think to do this much less act on it:

For years, DirecTV has been advertising its “refer your friends and get $100” promotion. But for one DirecTV customer in Florida, that referral didn’t end up profiting her; in fact, it ended up draining her bank account after that friend passed away.

The woman referred her friend to DirecTV a few months ago, but when that friend died unexpectedly, DirecTV debited at least $800 — without notifying her — from her bank account to pay for her late friend’s unpaid service.


There is nothing in the DirecTV terms and conditions that ties a referrer’s account to anyone they refer to the company.


It wasn’t until after the local TV news got involved that she got any sort of response from DirecTV, who wrote, “This is definitely not part of DirecTV’s policy. If a customer refers a friend, they are not responsible for making payments on their friend’s account.”

Eventually, she received a call from the company’s president, who told her that DirecTV would be refunding all the money that was taken from her account.

WHAT?  This is mind-boggling arrogance and hubris.

Wonder how many other small, defective people they’ve ripped off who haven’t taken it to their local news outlet.

February 14, 2011 at 6:10 PM Leave a comment

Those Valentine Flowers Probably Came From Colombia

No, we don’t even grow flowers in the United States anymore:

With steady sunshine and cheap labor, Colombian farms yield $1 billion in exports, dominating the United States market. Photo: Ivan Kashinsky


In 1967 David Cheever, a graduate student in horticulture at Colorado State University, wrote a term paper titled “Bogotá, Colombia as a Cut-Flower Exporter for World Markets.” The paper suggested that the savanna near Colombia’s capital was an ideal place to grow flowers to sell in the United States. The savanna is a high plain fanning out from the Andean foothills, about 8,700 feet above sea level and 320 miles north of the Equator, and close to both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. Those circumstances, Cheever wrote, create a pleasant climate with little temperature variation and consistent light, about 12 hours per day year-round—ideal for a crop that must always be available. A former lakebed, the savanna also has dense, clay-rich soil and networks of wetlands, tributaries and waterfalls left after the lake receded 100,000 years ago. And, Cheever noted, Bogotá was just a three-hour flight from Miami—closer to East Coast customers than California, the center of the U.S. flower industry.

After graduating, Cheever put his theories into practice. He and three partners invested $25,000 apiece to start a business in Colombia called Floramérica, which applied assembly-line practices and modern shipping techniques at greenhouses close to Bogotá’s El Dorado International Airport. The company started with carnations. “We did our first planting in October of 1969, for Mother’s Day 1970, and we hit it right on the money,” says Cheever, 72, who is retired and lives in Medellín, Colombia, and New Hampshire.

It’s not often that a global industry springs from a school assignment, but Cheever’s paper and business efforts started an economic revolution in Colombia. A few other growers had exported flowers to the United States, but Floramérica turned it into a big business. Within five years of Floramérica’s debut at least ten more flower-growing companies were operating on the savanna, exporting some $16 million in cut flowers to the United States. By 1991, the World Bank reported, the industry was “a textbook story of how a market economy works.” Today, the country is the world’s second-largest exporter of cut flowers, after the Netherlands, shipping more than $1 billion in blooms. Colombia now commands about 70 percent of the U.S. market; if you buy a bouquet in a supermarket, big-box store or airport kiosk, it probably came from the Bogotá savanna.


February 14, 2011 at 5:30 PM Leave a comment

When Rich People Talk About Budget Cuts and Sacrifice

Tweet of the day:

February 14, 2011 at 5:03 PM Leave a comment

Michele Bachmann Just Screwed the Tea Party

Uh ho.  Tea Party fave Michele Bachmann just screwed her fan base:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), the Tea Party star and possible presidential candidate, says that there is no chance of a government shutdown.

“That’s not going to happen because that won’t serve anyone’s interest,” Bachmann said in an interview with Newsmax. “That’s a bugaboo that the liberals right now are trying to throw out to scare the American people. No one is going to agree to a government shutdown. That will not happen. So let’s just take that off the table.”

When Eric Cantor said essentially the same thing back in October, it did not sit at all well with the Teabaggers:

That’s completely unacceptable according to one Tea Party leader.

“Maybe I’m just one of those yahoos, but I think it’s crazy to take anything off the table,” said Mark Meckler, cofounder of the Tea Party Patriots. “Unfortunately i think Cantor is repeatedly making this mistake.”

“The closest thing we’re going to get to repeal right now is defunding,” Meckler said, and that won’t happen if Republicans take their biggest bargaining chip off the table. “In battle you don’t go in and tell the other side we’ll only go so far, so if you push us this far we’ll stop.”

So, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.  Watch Bachmann claim she’s the victim of who knows what — some concoction having to do with Democrats and liberals —  as is the wont of Republicans these days.



February 14, 2011 at 4:30 PM Leave a comment

GOP: Cut the EPA’s $1.6 Billion Budget, Keep $4 Billion Oil Subsidies

The GOP’s effort to pave the way for corporations to have their way in this country couldn’t be clearer given this nugget of Republican hypocrisy:

Republicans unveiled a budget plan on Wednesday that proposed a $1.6 billion cut [1] to the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency whose authority they have sought to curtail, while business trade groups [2] have complained about the burden placed on them by agency regulations. Politico also reported that the GOP’s proposal would hit the Energy Department hard  [3], with a proposal to cut energy efficiency and renewable energy programs in half.


This week, when Senate Democrats wrote a letter challenging GOP lawmakers to end to tax subsidies for oil and gas companies [6]—an agenda item that President Obama also referenced in his State of the Union speech—Republicans balked and equated ending those subsidies with raising taxes, which would “destroy American jobs [7].

Oil companies are subsidized by approximately $4 billion each year through deductions and loopholes in the corporate tax code.

It is insane — and an indication of how rigged the system is in favor of corporations — that we give subsidies to oil and gas companies, some of whom have raked in profits higher than any corporation in the history of the planet.

But hey, the big urgency for Republicans in their feeble pandering to the Tea Partiers and their pitiful attempt at “reducing the deficit” is to get rid of the EPA.  If they were serious about reducing the deficit, there are far more effective ways of doing so — like abolishing oil and gas subsidies.  But alas, what they’re doing is abolishing agencies they have long hated, under the guise of “reducing the deficit.”

February 14, 2011 at 4:02 PM 3 comments

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