Goodness me! It’s hard to believe that the last time I posted here was just over two weeks ago. I’ve been busy working on a few things for my friend, which I hope will soon go up on his excellent blogs, Loco’s Patronus and Loco in Yokohama. I’ve also been occupied with preparations to take up a gig in India. It’s been a real roller-coaster getting to this point. I may write about it some time at the other vanity project when I’m in a better place. I still haven’t the mouth with which to tell the tale.
So the Chancellor wanted to take credit for improved growth predictions last November, but now it has been revealed that the British economy shrunk by 0.5% in the last quarter of 2010 (zero growth if you account for the weather) he’s changed his tune:
These are obviously disappointing numbers, but the ONS has made it very clear that the fall in GDP was driven by the terrible weather in December.
I think Osborne mentions the weather about 15 times during his interview with the BBC. However, highlighting the fact that the UK was brass monkeys completely elides the reaction of the private sector to public sector cuts and anticipated tax increases. I find it interesting that the Chancellor still appears confident that the private sector will pick up the slack as public sector cuts continue apace.
A US congresswoman was shot in the head at point blank range today and six people killed, including a nine-year-old child and a federal judge, at a public meeting outside a grocery shop in Arizona.
Giffords’s assailant was last night named as a 22-year-old Afghanistan veteran Jared Lee Loughner. He was described by witnesses as a young white man who looked like a “fringe character”, clean shaven with short hair and wearing dark clothing.
This is as senseless to me as the murder of Salmaan Taseer, and as maddening. The US has looked to me to be awash with violent political rhetoric of late, and I really hope this fellow Loughner was not inspired by any of it.
Co-signing on Kevin Drum’s take:
You can’t pretend you’re willing to go to the mat against high-end tax cuts when there are half a dozen Democratic senators who support high-end tax cuts and Republicans know there are half a dozen Democratic senators who support high-end tax cuts. To fix this, you need more liberal Democrats, not tougher leadership.
I’ll add to that the difficulty of pretending to be willing to go to the mat when no deal means many desperate people will be denied some relief – over the holiday season no less. I too share Drum’s sympathy for compromise positions that help people in the here and now, though the thought that the cost of the continued tax cuts will most likely be paid by the working poor and middle class gives me pause.
Oh, and it cannot be said enough just how much the US Senate needs to be reformed. I understand that it slows things down by design, but I’m sure the filibuster shenanigans of late is not what the designers had in mind.
It looks a lot to me like a Culture of No, where Republican intransigence has given virtual veto power to lone dissenters within the Democratic Party, whose dissent is not aimed at encouraging an exploration of options, but defending parochial interests at the expense of the party as a whole… Yes, Senator Nelson, I’m looking at you.
Just caught an interesting interview of Jon Stewart by Rachel Maddow. Stewart is responding to the reception of his Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear from people who take issue with what they see as a false equivalence between the practices of the right and the left.
The full interview is up at Rachel Maddow’s site over at MSNBC, do give it a butcher’s. There are good discussions, including the problems with 24-hour television news, the FOX News model, and the left vs. right paradigm.
I don’t want to skew anyone’s perception too much, so I’ll put my own comments below the jump. (more…)
Joel Burns says what needs to be said.
I’m glad that Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project has helped draw attention to bullying, the social costs of homophobia, and the tragedies they can cause. I remember my own school years which, while full of genuinely good experiences, are marred by memories of harassment and humiliation. I know well the kind of despair that gives succour to thoughts of suicide.
Not every kid will be able to get out of unloving or violently hostile environments though. I hope that for them just knowing that there are other people like them, and people who do not think they are an abomination, freaks, or going to hell will be enough to mitigate their circumstances.
Afghanistan is now more dangerous than it has ever been since the US invasion. The New York Times reports on the deteriorating security situation:
“We do not support the perspective that this constitutes ‘things getting worse before they get better,’ ” said Nic Lee, director of the Afghan N.G.O. Safety Office, “but rather see it as being consistent with the five-year trend of things just getting worse.”