Fed to Prop Up Economy

I guess propping up is better than no help at all. The Fed says it will prop up the economy, and things should be better in 2011:

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — The Federal Reserve chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, said Friday that the central bank was determined to prevent the economy from slipping into a cycle of falling prices, even as he emphasized that he believed growth would continue in the second half of the year, “albeit at a relatively modest pace.”

So things are looking up, unless you listen to people like James Howard Kunstler who say that we’ve peaked and the new normal is going to be scaled way back from the kind of luxuries we enjoy now.

KUNSTLER: The peak-oil problem means that we can no longer expect to run an economy based on never-ending growth, which means ultimately that we can’t service our debts at any level — personal, corporate, governmental. We’re comprehensively broke. The securitization of mortgages was one of the so-called products that allowed the financial industry to swell from around 8 percent of our economy thirty years ago to over 20 percent just before the crash of 2008.

The commercial-real-estate sector, which accessorizes the suburban-development pattern by providing strip malls and big-box stores near suburban neighborhoods, is now imploding, as well. Unfortunately in the last several decades we’ve gotten rid of our manufacturing economy and replaced it, not with a postindustrial economy or an information economy or any of these other bullshit economies we think we created, but with a suburban-sprawl-building economy. We built more suburban tract houses, more strip malls, more highways, and more chain stores. That system has now entered a state of terminal decline.

Sometimes it’s hard to know who to believe.

Save the ‘P’

Extraordinary Rendition at India Point Park

Sorry I missed the mayoral debate last night, but I was down in India Point Park watching Extraordinary Rendition marching band and the sunset.

However, reading the ProJo report today, I see that Angel Taveras is the only candidate who would not toss out the ‘P’ that stands for Providence, the Creative Capital.

All the candidates, with the exception of Taveras, said they would get rid of the city slogan (“the Creative Capital”) and symbol (an orange capital ‘P’) that Cicilline spent more than $100,000 to develop.

“People think it’s a parking sign,” said Costantino.

Folks, in these difficult times I would not throw out anything that costs $100,000. I’m unhappy that Mayor Cicilline didn’t hire local talent to create it (maybe we’re the creative capital that can’t create a logo), but I actually think it’s pretty good and I like seeing it around town. If the other candidates are promising to fork out more money for a new logo, and tear down all those signs and make new ones then that’s the stand they are taking.  Myself,  I would rather have my property taxes used for the schools or outdoor concerts like last night. And with all respect to Mr. Costantino, we Providence residents know there is no parking anywhere, we simply choose the space that is least illegal.  It’s called creative parking.

I agree with Angel Taveras– branding takes time and starting from scratch is a waste of money and time needed elsewhere. And I like the ‘P’. That is my stand and I’m sticking to it.

Starhawk in the Washington Post

This was posted by Kladner on Buzzflash— Starhawk, a writer, activist and prominent voice in Pagan spirituality comments on the political hysteria around plans to build an Islamic community center a few blocks away from the World Trade Center Site.

Paganism has been growing in the US since the 1970’s and Pagans have experienced misunderstanding and persecution by some of the same people who are making news by burning copies of the Koran– an act that only disgraces themselves.

Pagans know that when politics and public discourse descend to a hate-fest of blame and condemnation, we could be next. And as someone born Jewish just six years after the defeat of the Nazis, when you start burning books and demonizing religions, I start asking, “When will you be coming for me?”

Read the rest here, it’s brief and to the point.

I’m so glad to see Starhawk in the Washington Post. She opened my eyes to my own spirituality with her book, ‘Dreaming the Dark.’ She has a long career as an activist for human rights and environmental justice. I only wish that some of the religous and political leaders in the Christian faith would speak out as clearly for religious freedom and mutual respect. One Catholic bishop, one Evangelical minister, one Rabbi, one brave politician could do a great deal to bring us back to the angels of our better nature.

Republicanism is a Choice

Ken Mehlman, Republican National Committee chairman during the Bush administration, has come out as gay. He’s now working as an attorney in a private equity firm. He’s no longer in a place where telling the truth could have rocked the establishment and slowed down the momentum of the anti-gay activists.

Back when he had some power in Washington, when he was close to the President and his advisers, he went along with the cynical decision to create an ‘enemy’ to rev up the base…

Mehlman said President Bush “is no homophobe” but acknowledged that the Bush administration used antigay initiatives for political gain. In private conversations with senior Republicans, he said, he fought back against attempts to demonize same-sex marriage.

Well, we all know how much good that did. What I’d like to see is more of the ‘family values’ crowd coming out as political players who will slander innocent people whose only crime is being in the minority–and do it for political gain.

Whatever good is left in the Republican party, conscienceless opportunists like Ken Mehlman helped diminish it. His ‘homosexual agenda’ was to stay undercover when being himself would have hurt his career. His ‘family values’ led him to hang out with the valuable families while others advocated for rights like marriage and adoption as outsiders holding signs at protests.

In related news, the current chairman of the Republican National Committee has come out with an admission that his party uses race to energize the base. Follow this link to Bob Cesca’s shocking revelations.

My first president was Kennedy, and I’ve heard a lot of things said. But I’ve never before heard claims that a president was not an American, not a Christian. The message is not ‘one of us’, and people believe it first and look for proof second.

It’ used to be said that ‘gay is the new black’. Now it seems that brown is, and ‘illegals’ and Muslims are playing the role of national scapegoat. Playing the divisive card may be a winner in the short term, but it hurts our country to divide our people.

Some of my best friends are Republicans, they are decent people. A two-party system where both parties offer a real choice is good for our country. Republicans who know better should speak up, and not wait until they are safely away from the consequences. It won’t put them on the right side of history to say that they knew all along they were using bigotry for political gain.

Books on the Street

The Bookstore


I had a day to myself and got to walk around Harvard.  

I stopped by this bookstore to check out some vintage titles, and get a look at Penny the dog and Charley the cat curled up in the cart sleeping through all the noise– that is until another dog walked by. Then Penny would start barking furiously and wag her tail in Charley’s face causing Charley to give her that look of disdain that only cats can master. I figured that the couple sitting in lawn chairs were there as official Cambridge vendors, since they were clearly running a business.  

Minding the Store

Their story is more complicated than that. The proprietor, Ken O’ Brien, and assistant manager Frenchie, are homeless. The sidewalk bookstore was almost ousted by the city but Ken and friends, including other nearby bookstore owners, prevailed. He says it is a good business nine months of the year. His books, an eclectic collection culled from sales and donations, are arranged neatly in heavy-duty banana boxes with plastic tarp stashed by in case of rain. Ken pays homeless people to collect the boxes. 

It’s been a struggle every step of the way…

O’Brien, 56, has been on the streets for 35 years. He met French, known as Frenchie, five years ago when he was panhandling in the square. She eventually joined him on the streets, and the two formed a family with their dog, Penny, who was rescued from a puppy mill, and their cat, Charlie, who was found on the busy streets of Harvard Square.

They run Almost Banned, a sidewalk book table that the city shut down earlier this year. But O’Brien reopened the Harvard Square business soon after, hoisting a brightly colored sign on a pole daring authorities to close it again.

The book table, where books sell for $2 each, is their lifeline.

He says he doesn’t want government support, just to run his own business and  employ other homeless people. He’s worked since he was a boy, rode the rails, begged for change when there was no other way. He created his own job but was arrested for flagrant bookselling until he won in court…

The city continued to arrest them for not having the proper permit. However, O’Brien believed the permit the city instructed him to acquire did not apply to his circumstances. It required a $5,000 surety bond as well as $1 million in liability insurance to be approved by the city, fiscal requirements that didn’t bode well for a man who lives on the street with his family.

A glimmer of hope for O’Brien came in the form of an old Cambridge ordinance, entitled “Peddlers”. The ordinance reads: “No person shall place or keep any table, stall, booth or other erection, in any street, public place or any sidewalk, for the sale of any merchandise, without permission from the Superintendent of Streets. The fee for the permit set out in this chapter shall be fifty cents.”

You can read the rest of the story here.

Chris Young Puts Rhode Island on the Map

And not in a good way. Here is Huffington Post with links to Fox TV.

Projo.com says that Young publicly proposed marriage to his campaign manager on condition that he wins. Words fail me.

Some time back I reviewed some of the highlights of Young’s career, including a link to an astounding photo in the ProJo of Young being hauled away by police, here in Serial Obstructor.

A Little Perspective

I will admit that there are times I succumb to self-pity or bemoan my lot in life. On more than one occasion, I have railed at the heavens for some perceived injustice, annoyance, or mishap. I have felt aggrieved at Fate’s toying with me like a cat with a rodent (or an investment broker with a Ponzi scheme). I have questioned why I must suffer so. Why me? What did I do to deserve this leaky faucet, hairball on the stairs, wilting tomato plant, flat tire, chipped glass, overcharge, snotty attitude, broken appointment, etc., etc.?

In addition to opposable thumbs, one of the benefits of being human is having the capacity to reflect on one’s own existence and mortality. Sometimes, I just wish I had the thumbs. (When opening a jar of pickles, they come in quite handy.) Self-reflection is a double-edged sword, and I’m always nicking myself. It helps to have a sense of humor and sense of perspective. I try to maintain both. Some days are more successful than others.

Today, I am soberly reminded that I truly have little to complain about:

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