It’s ironic that the deadline for the Friday News Dump is in the afternoon, well before the actual dump happens, a customary practice of politicians of any party to put out news they don’t want noticed on Friday evenings.
Last week was the very first Friday News Dump at ICTMN, and that evening California Rep. Kevin McCarthy (the third ranking member of the House GOP leadership) announced that they would have no vote on immigration reform this year because they are short of time. Short of time? This House, the least productive in US history, is scheduled to meet only another 13 days. If the House keeps up this blistering schedule, they will have worked 151 days over a period when the people they represent have worked 260, less a number of holidays that varies by state. If those 151 days in session represented eight hours each, which they do not, that would put the hourly wage of this do-nothing Congress just north of $144. I went to ask Cousin Ray Sixkiller’s opinion, but he was out painting “Sixkiller for Congress” signs.
Also last week, President Obama announced his support for a bill filed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA) to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 an hour. It was unclear whether the bill could attract the 60 votes necessary to defeat a Republican filibuster in the Senate, but it was virtually certain to be denied even a vote in the GOP-controlled House. In sympathy with hard-working Americans, the House was in session for a grueling four days this week.
Toronto mayor, Rob Ford: The gift that keeps on giving
On Saturday, Hawaii Representative Jo Jordan, who is openly lesbian, voted against the bill to legalize gay marriage, telling Honolulu Magazine “the religious exemption was not adequate enough.” Your correspondent, who does weddings, believes no minister can be forced to marry anybody but one who has the power as a public official is obligated to serve the public. Nothing is required in the law to reach that result, so we will see whether the voters find Rep. Jordan’s excuse “adequate enough.”
On Sunday, Nasiruddin Haqqani, believed by US intelligence to be a major fundraiser for Haqqani terrorist network, was shot dead by a man on a motorcycle on the streets of Lahore, Pakistan. Barack Obama had an ironclad alibi, since his computer log proved he was at his desk still trying to log on to healthcare.gov.
On Monday, there was a vigorous debate in the Australian parliament over a bill to regulate franchise agreements. Opposition leader Tony Abbott contributed a remark that is sure to become infamous: “No one, however smart, however well educated, however experienced, is the suppository of all wisdom.” Cousin Ray made a remark about where the Hon. Mr. Abbott had put his head when seeking “wisdom” that I shall not repeat here.
On Tuesday, President Obama announced his appointment of Timothy G. Massad to chair the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the agency charged with regulating some of the dangerous activity that brought the entire world economy to its knees in 2008. Should Massad navigate the Republican mine field and get confirmed, he will replace Gary Gensler, who was tough on Wall Street in spite of his background with the investment behemoth Goldman Sachs. Cousin Ray points out that the five member CFTC is down to two members for lack of confirmations and “this guy has no chance unless he gets endorsed by Golden Sacks.”
On Wednesday, documentary historian Ken Burns released an inspiring video mash-up of various entertainers and politicians reading the Gettysburg Address to kick off his Learn the Address Project. http://www.learntheaddress.org ABC News reported this event on its blog under the headline “Taylor Swift and All 5 Living Presidents Recite Gettysburg Address.” Who’s Taylor Swift?
Thursday’s news was full of a stiff competition for most snarky tweet arising from a public relations idea hatched by investment bank JPMorgan, otherwise in the news for trying to settle with the Justice Department over numerous allegations of misconduct. The bank put one of its senior executives on line to take questions. CNNMoney headed the result “JPMorgan in Twitter s#itstorm.” My personal favorite was a parody of the diversification game from Jim Cramer’s CNBC show: “I have Mortgage Fraud, Market Manipulation, Credit Card Abuse, Libor Rigging and Predatory Lending AM I DIVERSIFIED?” Cousin Ray was partial to “What’s the best way to get blood stains out of a clown suit?” The bank went with “Tomorrow’s Q & A is cancelled. Bad idea. Back to the drawing Board.”
Friday’s on line New York Times carried a video report from Georgia, which just hosted the first of many planned “running of the bulls” events imitating the famous original in Pamplona, Spain. Several runners were interviewed to illustrate that they were ordinary people seeking thrills. One woman declared, “I’m an RN in an ICU.” Cousin Ray remarked that she’s taking a roundabout way just to get to work.
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announced his intent to run for reelection, using the money to be generated from his NSFW “Mayors Gone Wild” video. The announcement provoked conflicting stands from professional associations for political comics and political satirists. The comics were happy but your correspondent’s satirist colleagues complained that between Mayor Ford and the US Tea Party, it has become very difficult for satire to stand out from straight news.
The New York Times reported that Bloomberg News has spiked an investigative report about the links between the wealthiest men in China and the Chinese government for fear they would be kicked out of China. Cousin Ray asked, “So what’s new?” pointing out that most media already avoid similar stories in the US.
A fresh batch of opinion polls showed President Obama’s popularity to flirting with George W. Bush territory. One talking head on MSNBC explained by referring to Obama as “the face of Washington.” Cousin Ray agreed that Washington has been “beat with the ugly stick” lately and suggested for Obama an ear cropping and a bulk purchase of Building Websites for Dummies.
Leaks from the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program attributed the stall in the process to France, which held out for terms tougher on Iran, leading to a cheerleading editorial in the Wall Street Journal, which has banished the term “surrender monkeys” from the editorial page. The Congressional cafeteria changed its menu to “freedom fries” and “freedom toast” so as not to appear Francophile when France opposed the second Iraq War. Cousin Ray was dispatched to check out the current menu, but had not finished eating by this column’s deadline.
Lydia Polgreen, Johannesburg bureau chief for the New York Times, published a piece that could be datelined on many Indian reservations. The theme was how “cronyism and corruption” has made it thinkable for black South Africans to vote against the party that was the instrument of their liberation, the African National Congress. She’s right, although it probably won’t happen until the great lion, Nelson Mandela, is laid to rest. Cousin Ray and I got in an argument over whether the exact words of Lord Acton’s famous dictum were “Power corrupts white people?”
The Burger Wars reheated this week when Burger King reintroduced the Big King, a knockoff of the Big Mac, weighing in at 510 calories compared to 550 for Big Mac, a goal apparently reached by leaving off a few sesame seeds. Cousin Ray Sixkiller has a different understanding of calorie goals, and he is rolling out his Big Chief for next year’s Cherokee National Holiday. He claims Big Chief will do for burgers what the Indian taco has done for tacos. He proudly points out that each piece of fry bread in his Big Chief sandwich will have more calories than an entire Big Mac or Big King, making the filling, by calorie count, “just gravy.” Ray got a cease-and-desist demand letter from the makers of Big Chief tablets and he is also weighing a cease and desist begging letter from the American Diabetes Association.