Monthly Archives: March 2010

mentioned in passing

I don’t have much time to write these days, but want to make note of several items which have caught my eye in recent days.

1) Remember those FEMA trailers which had to be taken away from the Katrina victims after it was discovered they contained unusually high levels of formaldehyde?   FEMA had purchased those trailers and mobile homes as temporary housing for those left homeless in the deep south after Katrina roared through.  The CDC investigated, however, after people began to complain of head-aches, nausea, and nose-bleeds and found that the trailers were contaminated with formaldehyde.  “Long-term exposure to levels in this range [5 times higher than expected for indoor air] can be linked to an increased risk of cancer…and risk of respiratory illness,” the CDC report read.

The families were moved out of the trailers and the trailers stored.  Now the Obama administration will be offering for sale to the public more than 100,000 of these very same trailers.  They will be sold for pennies on the dollars and will come with a warning sticker that they should be used for storage or for only occasional use  (such as for hunting trips or for short week-end get-aways).

I wonder how many people will purchase these, despite the warning stickers, to house their families as more and more lose their homes due to unemployment or foreclosure. I wonder why they aren’t being destroyed, as the CDC as already declared them unlivable.

2) Due to outsourcing, we’ve lost 2.1 million manufacturing jobs in the past two years.  5.5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000. 42,400 factories in the US have closed since 2001 and 90,000 more are considered to be at severe risk of closure. Here’s the solution to those sad numbers as suggested by the Obama administration’s  budget proposal: stop looking at the numbers.  The federal office that counts how many jobs are being shipped overseas will simply be eliminated in that budget.  See? Now you won’t hear about this issue any more and have to think about this depressing (and unaddressed) problem.

3)  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is in the process of installing 450 full-body x-ray scanners in the country’s airports, in response to the “underwear bomber” incident.  Do not pay any attention to the fact that a) this attempt was a failure: nobody was hurt, and b) the State Department was informed about this guy before he ever boarded the plane and declined to pull his visa in the hopes that he would land here and pass along information to our security teams.   Just as before the events of 9/11, the people in charge had pieces of information which they deliberately chose not to act on.  In other words, the passengers on board this plane were less valuable to our government than the underwear bomber himself.

DHS has also asked for another 214.7 million bucks to buy 500 more of the scanners – beyond the 450 already purchased – so that eventually all our airports will have them.  Someone is making a boatload of money out of this.

4) Back a few years ago, it seemed as if then-President Bush was expressing interest in going after Iran.  At the time, anti-war activists (and people getting worried about our costs of never-ending and expanding wars in the Middle East) were much relieved to hear Admiral William Fallon (predecessor to General Petraeus in Central Command) quoted as saying that a war with Iran would not “occur on his watch”.  NOT reported was the end of that interview.  It is true that Fallon did not want an immediate attack on Iran because of “other pots boiling over” in the Middle East.  The interviewer finally pressed the point and asked well, yeah, but what if it DOES come to war with Iran?  Fallon replied, “Get serious.  These guys are ants.  When the time comes, you crush them.”

This is how our military thinks.

5)  You need to know about the Business Roundtable.  President Obama spends quite a bit of time with them and they have a lot of input on our fiscal policies and the future of business in America.  They have regular audiences with Obama, either as a group or individually.  You can read who they are here:

I suggest you read this in full.  In fact, you should take the time to read all six parts of this essay; links to all the parts are imbedded in the article.

6) In Sept. ’09 – a few months ago – Obama declared we were still under Bush’ national State of Emergency. He specifically mentioned the state of emergency “as declared” by former President, Bush, and said that he was “continuing” it as he felt it still warranted.

What does this mean? What laws are in effect under a state of emergency? Do you know? I don’t. Some people know some of the emergency laws, but it turns out that Congress itself is in the dark about what some of them are. Congress does not know some of the laws they are invoking when they allow the President to declare a state of emergency. Think about that. Talk about blind faith! (Turns out one little part allows financial institutions to be exempt from disclosure of financial risk management actions – handy, eh? Think we’re ever going to find out the entire truth about the financial melt-down? They protected Wall St. well in advance through a Bush presidential directive.)

There is an interesting article about the state of emergency here:

This article mentions other related articles well worth reading.