Timing is everything.

Soon after I posted the "Quote of the Week" I read that White House Economic Advisor Christina Romer declared our economy fundamentally sound. That would have been a slam-dunk for the "Quote of the Week" a day earlier, but starting the week...with six days to may not make the final cut. It doesn't help that what she said is getting all kinds of play in the traditional media, particularly because John McCain got pounded for saying it during the campaign.

But in politics...those are the breaks. And in politics, timing truly is everything. (McCain would probably be the first one to say that.)

So we'll see if anyone can top Christina for a quote this week, but she has to be an early favorite.

...Win some, lose some. Crap happens!
...Win some, lose some. Crap happens!

* * *

Have we "turned a corner?"

There's nothing I'd like better than to start calling these posts the "Pretty Darned Nasty Recession Chronicles." (I do think the current title is catchier, though!)

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: Quote of the Week (March 8-14, 2009)

A Dubious Accomplishment...
A Dubious Accomplishment...

"...It is a wonderful accomplishment for the area." - Congressman Paul Kanjorski (D) Pennsylvania, commenting in a press release on the $6.3 million his district will receive from the $410 billion pork pie cooked up by Congress and signed by President Obama earlier in the week. Nearly 20%...a mind-numbing $1,248, earmarked to Wilkes University for a "rural geo-spatial information systems program."

Among other "stimulating" projects in his district will be a $200,000 "surveillance camera system" for Wilkes-Barre and $95,000 in equipment and renovations for the Wyoming Valley Health Care System, which is in the process of becoming a for-profit entity.

There is no word as yet on how many of the district's growing army of unemployed will be put to work mounting cameras near Wilkes-Barre donut shops (to protect law enforcement's food chain) or flying Cessnas over rural areas to create aerial maps.

Perhaps a truly "wonderful accomplishment" for the whole nation would have been for Kanjorski (Chairman of the Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance and Government Sponsored Enterprises) to tell us all last year to get the hell off the tracks...there's a train wreck-a-coming.

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: "...We're off to see the Wizards!"

If you read my post about skewering alive...sorry...about stigmatizing bankers, I suppose it sounds like I've lost all compassion for these poor banker folks.

That's not so. Let me clear this up right now. Bear with me.

The nation's financial and political landscape is kind of like the Land of Oz. But instead of the Emerald City there's T.A.R.P. City, where the Wonderful Wizards of the Treasury, Fed and Oval Office rule the land. There's also a Munchkin Congress ...largely useless and always up to some scheme or other to dip into the wallets of the citizens of T.A.R.P. City.

Instead of Good Witches and Wicked Witches, there's bankers ...those from the Good Banks, and the those from the Wicked Banks.

We're not on Wall Street anymore, Toto...
We're not on Wall Street anymore, Toto...

Now, I know what you're thinking: Wait a second. Back up. ...Did Jimbo say "Good Banks?!?"

Yes, Jimbo did.

Some Friday Night Fun....

Okay...time to take a little break from all the gloom and doom. I am bone-tired, feeling goofy, and I have a great big plate of bleu cheese chunkies and monterey pepperjack slices in my lap. I've had half a can of beer, kids, so watch out. I'm out of control.

For tonight's entertainment, let's have some fun with news headlines that made me go "Hmmmmm..."

From CNN Europe: British couple die at assisted suicide clinic.

Umm...wasn't that the point of the trip? Why is that news? They go to a suicide clinic and...ummm...they die.

Now this would be a worthy headline: Freak meteor strike destroys Swiss suicide clinic. Suicidal British couple, lone survivors, pulled alive from rubble.

Irony from the sky...
Irony from the sky...

From AOL: Bus Beheading Suspect Ruled Insane

Well, geeze, I'd certainly hope so. But this ain't exactly news either, is it? One would expect that someone lopping the heads off folks on a Greyhound is likely shooting pool with a crooked stick.

How about this for a headline: Crazed man with sword goes berserk on bus full of midgets. No serious injuries. 12 dwarves suffer bad haircuts.

THE GREATER DEPRESSION CHRONICLES: Let's open a can of Whoop-Ass Stigma!

Thou Shalt Not Stigmatize Thy Banker...
Thou Shalt Not Stigmatize Thy Banker...

Stigma (courtesy of something that detracts from the character or reputation of a person, group, etc.; mark of disgrace or reproach.

Back in November of 2008, Bloomberg News sued under the Freedom of Information Act to find out who has received nearly $2 trillion dollars in emergency money from the Fed.

Taking a position I find absolutely stunning and appalling, the Fed refuses to divulge the information. According to a story by Mark Pittman and Craig Torres at Bloomberg, the Fed says revealing this information would "cast a stigma" on the folks who got our tax dollars.

I have to be just a tad vulgar here: This is the kind of thing that just flat-out pisses me off.

Our banking system is insolvent, and the Fed is worried about stigmatizing those responsible.'s going to be one long, long recovery.

So now we know the first of the Fed's 10 Commandments: Thou Shalt Not Stigmatize Thy Banker. (Commandments 2-10, refer to Commandment #1)

You know what I say?


Not a happy camper...
Not a happy camper...

"...Yesterday, after it was reported that AIG lost $62 billion last quarter, an estimated $460,000 per minute, the federal government offered AIG yet another check. Small businesses across the country, who played by the rules, paid their bills on time, can't get a line of credit, while AIG seems to have an open spigot for taxpayer money." - Senator Ron Wyden (D) Oregon, grilling Federal Reserve Chairman Ben "Moneybags" Bernanke on March 3, 2009

* * *

In Memory....

Mary and Courtney

There is a headstone in an Irish cemetery with the following inscription: Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.

When my mother-in-law, Mary, passed away this past week I took these words to heart. They are simple words, but infinitely wise. They acknowledge that the pain of loss stays with us all of our lives. But these words also remind us that we are all…each of us…a gift to those who love us, and they, likewise are God's gift to us. Though we will pass, each of us, from this earth, we will live on in the memories of those we loved, as they shall in those they loved, and so their children shall, and their grandchildren shall, for as long as people walk this Earth. Those we lose are not truly gone…they will dwell in our hearts forever all the days of our lives.

Someone once said: "…There are things that we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and people we can't live without but have to let go."

Why does it have to be that way? Why is it that the people we love are taken away from us? Why must we experience such deep pain and loss in our lives? Is God being cruel when he takes those we love? Is He punishing us for some sin, real or imagined, when he takes away from us those we cherish the most?

I don't claim any special insight into the Almighty, but I just don't think God works that way.

Perhaps there is another answer. Perhaps death is God's way of telling us that we need to cherish those we love, to take no one for granted, to take joy in every moment our loved ones are here with us, and we are here with them, because tomorrow…tomorrow is a possibility, but not a promise.

...And Still I Say: SHUT IT DOWN!

Shut it Down!!!
Shut it Down!!!

Several weeks ago I wrote a post about the Luzerne County Courthouse, which I consider the most dangerous court in America. My feelings at the time were summed up in one phrase: Shut it Down.

In the weeks since I posted that my feelings haven't changed, despite what I consider to be the honorable efforts of current President Judge Chester Muroski to clean house. I am heartened that Judge Muroski began immediately taking steps to restore public confidence in the Luzerne County Courts. And, so, a tip of the hat to Judge Muroski.

With literally each passing day, however, the story gets worse. It is evident that corruption spread like an insidious cancer, a web of deceit that hopelessly entangled anyone it touched. Recent stories in two local papers paint a clear and unpleasant picture:

In Juvenile Court, Justice was Silent (The Citizens Voice)

Newspaper's Lawyers Allege Reputed Mobster Linked to One or Both of Disgraced Judges. (The Times Leader)

No Cognitive Defect - Part XI

No Cognitive Defect - Part XI

By James M. O'Meara, © 2009

(Need to catch up on NCD,? Just click here!)

The Tower of the Plains...

The Nebraska State Capitol in Lincoln is that rare public building: completed within budget and fully paid for when it opened in 1932. The mammoth limestone edifice, a decade in the making, features a gold-domed tower atop a three-story square limestone base. The tower, Nebraska's tallest structure until 1969, rises four hundred feet into the Nebraska sky and is referred to in polite or mixed company as The Tower of the Plains. In looser social gatherings, it's often called The Penis of the Plains, and in looser company still, Lincoln's Pecker.

Atop the tower is an intricate mosaic frieze featuring a series of thunderbirds…rain and life, so say the Indians…framed in limestone. Capping the tower is a golden dome which darkens and shift hues in cloudy weather, but blazes in the sunlight of a clear day. Crowning the dome is The Sower, a nineteen foot tall bronze sculptor of a strapping plains farmer. He has a sack of seeds on his left shoulder, and with his right hand he is skillfully casting them into Nebraska's fertile soil. The Sower faces northwest, where all of Nebraska seems to stretch out forever past Lincoln like a vast carpet of corn and soybean farms, far-flung hamlets and towns, and the occasional larger city.


My sink runneth over...

My sink runneth over...

For the most part I handle this going deaf thing pretty well.

For the most part.

True, I make too many jokes about it, poke a little too much fun at myself, and I can see where that causes an uncomfortable silence in people...a silence that even I can hear.

But I deal with it. I remain functional. I seem to get my job done, and people who know me and work with me get around it. They jot me notes. They talk slow on the off-chance I'll read their lips correctly. If I'm in the warehouse at work, the folks driving the pallet jacks know I sometimes don't hear them coming and they follow along slowly behind me until I see them and get out of their way.

So, again, I work around it. The people around me work around it. We make allowances, together. I forget sometimes that the deafness isn't just about me, but everyone who must interact with me. It must be an extremely frustrating thing at times for everyone else, but God bless them they put up with it...and with me.

But sometimes going deaf frustrates the hell out of me, and tonight was a night that got to me.

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