Saturday, December 09, 2006

(And in my final catch-up post of the day, a Last Call-style Shot and Chaser that I jotted down a week and a half ago.)

Shot: "There’s one thing I’m not going to do: I’m not going to pull the troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete." -- President Bush, November 30, 2006.

Chaser: "[Mission accomplished.]" -- President Bush, May 1, 2003.


The New York Times Book Review has named its 100 Notable and 10 Best of the year. If you haven't seen the lists already (this post was actually timely when I wrote it two weeks ago...), they're always worth a look.

(Note: this is way out of date, but I wanted to put it up anyway.) A week and a half ago, before Silvestre Reyes was announced as HPSCI chair, there was a mini-groundswell of support within the blogosphere – TPM, Matthew Yglesias, Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly, David Corn at The Nation, and Joe Conason at Salon, et al – for a low-ranking New Jersey Democrat named Rush Holt. And that groundswell pleased me.

When it became clear (in mid-November) that Alcee Hastings wasn’t going to get the chairmanship, Rush Holt was my first thought. He's smart, he's well-liked, and he's got the background (the man's literally a nuclear physicist) to be very effective. But I was all the same surprised to see him get so much support among the lefty muckety-mucks. Because my second thought – the one that came right after "Hey, Holt would be good for that" – was "Who am I kidding? I'm not even sure the leadership knows who Holt is."

As it turned out, the political stickiness of sidestepping the CBC would have made it very difficult for Pelosi to tap Rush Holt even if she'd wanted to. I understand that, and I have no problem with Reyes; I'm sure he'll do a fine job. But I wanted to note for the record that I think Holt would have been the right choice. And apparently, I'm not alone in that.

If Jerry Bruckheimer did shuttle launches. (Photo by AP's Nigel Cook; a few other nice pictures are available at NASA's Kennedy Media Gallery.)

Friday, December 08, 2006

From a cheery article about the recent strong performance of wages relative to inflation:

For now, though, with the number of unemployed Americans actively seeking work at a five-year low, help-wanted signs are proliferating again and many businesses are having a harder time finding employees.

That means even lower-wage workers like Mercedes Herrera, an immigrant from Mexico who cleans at San Felipe Plaza, a high-rise office building in Houston, are enjoying more leverage with their employers. Last month, Ms. Herrera’s union, the Service Employees International Union, settled a monthlong strike and secured raises of more than $2 an hour over the next two years for some 5,300 janitors in Houston.

The pay of Ms. Herrera, a 37-year-old mother of four, will increase to $6.25 an hour on Jan. 1, from $5.65 now. "It’s going to be a big difference in my personal finances," she said, speaking through a translator. With the extra money, she said, she hoped she would no longer have to ask for food from churches.
Jesus Christ. That's the saddest thing I've read in a week. "And what are you planning to use your raise for, Area Woman?" "Oh, you know... a small second home, a big-screen TV, maybe play the market a little. Oh, and I was thinking I might finally be able to afford food."

$6.25 x 2,080 hours: $13,000.
2006 federal poverty guideline for a family of five: $23,400.
Ms. Herrera's increased salary as a percentage of the federal poverty level: 55%.

Now that's a strong economy.

Monday, December 04, 2006

"The tobacco industry: proudly seeming a little sillier every time you read something about us."