Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Darkness Before Dawn

Another dull sunrise this morning. It wasn’t without its charms. It’s just that none of them translate to film -- or electrons I guess it is in these digital days. You can feel Fall in the morning air -- even though it’s going to 93º (almost 34ºC) again today. I try to do a little bit of exercise (or clear some brush) while I await the sunrise and the cool air is a welcome relief over Summer’s swelter.

The herons are acting strange these days. It turns out there are at least three of them. Instead of being the sneaky, quiet creatures I’m use to, they have been croaking at each other and flying all around the lake. One even flew straight overhead this morning, long before there was enough light to photograph him. It looked like a pterodactyl in the amber sky. Which reminds me, does anyone else get that creepy feeling when a shadow passes overhead? To me, it’s an ancient feeling of dread -- as if, at some point in humankind, there was something terrible that came from the sky.

Before I went out this morning, I had time to read through the NTSB report about the mid-air collision over the Hudson River. That was depressing.

”The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was (1) the inherent limitations of the see-and-avoid concept, which made it difficult for the airplane pilot to see the helicopter until the final seconds before the collision, and (2) the Teterboro Airport local controller’s nonpertinent telephone conversation, which distracted him from his air traffic control duties, including correcting the airplane pilot’s read back of the Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) tower frequency and the timely transfer of communications for the accident airplane to the EWR tower.”

You can pick whichever link in the chain gets your motor running. There are plenty to go around. I like phraseology and communications. But it’s hard to get people to focus on something as natural as talking -- something as commonplace as a frequency change. However, if you’ll look back, you might be surprised how much trouble you can get into on a frequency change.

And so it goes in life. I was watching Fareed Zakaria on Sunday and his first comment was that TARP worked. Nobody likes the fact that it worked. It certainly wasn’t my idea. I would have nationalized the banks, split them up and sold them off. I still think that was a better idea. It doesn’t change the fact that TARP worked -- and for almost no money. It’s mostly been paid back already. George Bush and Barney Frank working together. No wonder no one is excited about it. But it worked.

Another unpopular (and possibly an even better) piece of legislation is the stimulus bill -- The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. If you don’t want to be totally surprised in the future, you might want to read this article from Time.

How the Stimulus Is Changing America

”Yes, the stimulus has cut taxes for 95% of working Americans, bailed out every state, hustled record amounts of unemployment benefits and other aid to struggling families and funded more than 100,000 projects to upgrade roads, subways, schools, airports, military bases and much more. But in the words of Vice President Joe Biden, Obama's effusive Recovery Act point man, "Now the fun stuff starts!" The "fun stuff," about one-sixth of the total cost, is an all-out effort to exploit the crisis to make green energy, green building and green transportation real; launch green manufacturing industries; computerize a pen-and-paper health system; promote data-driven school reforms; and ramp up the research of the future. ”

People want to call the stimulus package a failure and it hasn’t even ended yet. Again, I thought it should have been twice as big, but that doesn’t mean I was right. Unemployment is still too high. That doesn’t mean the stimulus was a failure.

It seems as if everybody and their brother believes the Democrats will get waxed in November. Maybe they will. History certainly tells us that they will lose seats in an off-year election. But I don’t see it. Granted, my track record on political elections is miserable. But still, have you looked at what the Democrats are up against?

Rand Paul? Blacks are equal except at the lunch counter? Joe Miller? Privatize Social Security after Americans just lost so much of their 401ks to the “private” market? While unemployment (what 401k?) is still almost 10%? Sharon Angle? She not only wants to privatize Social Security but Medicare too. Because your 401k didn’t take a big enough hit and health insurance is so affordable -- especially when you’re unemployed. Christine O'Donnell? Where do you start? No abortions. No exceptions. It only gets “wacky”(er) from there. If I was a cynical guy, I’d be making donations to the Tea Party. They are the Democrats best hope.

“Yeah but, Obama is so unpopular.” Yeah but, Obama ain’t running. Those other folks are.

It’s human nature to curse the darkness. But the dawn always comes. No matter how long or dark the night might seem, the dawn always comes.

Don Brown
September 21, 2010

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