Excerpt:”To appeal to moderate suburban voters, Bush would make education a priority and promise a “compassionate conservatism.” To strengthen the party’s hold on white evangelicals, Bush emphasized his Christianity and worked to polarize the country over abortion, same-sex marriage and other questions of sexual ethics and morality. Bush courted Black and Hispanic voters with the promise of homeownership and signed a giveaway to seniors in the form of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. He also made it a point to have a diverse cabinet, elevating figures like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales.”
A good beginning to understand how Congress got to gridlock and polarization. We need a functioning Congress to rebuild outdated infrastructure and keep our edge in trade and tech, combat natural disasters, etc.
“The populist backlash came in different forms in different parts of the world. In Central and Eastern Europe it came in the form of nationalist strongmen — Victor Orban, Vladimir Putin, the Law and Justice party in Poland. In Latin America it came in the form of the Pink Tide — a group of left-wing economic populists like Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro. In the Anglosphere it was white ethnic nationalism of Donald Trump and Brexit. In the Middle East it was Muslim fundamentalism. In China it was the increasing authoritarianism of Xi Jinping. In India it was the Hindu nationalism of Narendra Modi.”
“County legislators passed a resolution Thursday urging the U.S. Congress to reject a recent proposal that some officials worry could increase erosion and cause property damage along the shores of Lake Ontario.”
Once again Congress manages to screw rural America as many communities’ economic base now supports the tourism of National parks. Something is wrong with Congressional action when it cost more to keep the parks closed than to keep them open and running – example: Statue of Liberty which is reopening thanks to help from NY. Here is an excerpt from article:
“The governors of several other states—including Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, and Alaska—are also speaking with Jewel about the possibility of reopening federal lands. However, some lawmakers say that fully funding these areas may not be a viable solution.
“The requirement to ‘fully fund National Park Service personnel’ is an arbitrary and costly burden forced on these governors to, once again, maximize the political pain of the National Park Service’s own decisions,” said Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Utah officials say that the benefits are more than worth the price. The state’s popular Zion National Park may cost $50,000 a day to run, but a week-and-a-half of closure has already cost the local economy $3.5 million.”
This report is just out from the USGS upon request of the Congress on ‘substantial’ drop in Ogallala water levels in certain areas. Link to report provided. This is USGS posting:
The U.S. Geological Survey has released a new report detailing changes of groundwater levels in the High Plains Aquifer. The report presents water-level change data in the aquifer in two separate periods: from 1950–the time prior to significant groundwater irrigation development–to 2011, and 2009 to 2011.
In 2011, the total water stored in the aquifer was about 2.96 billion acre-feet, an overall decline of about 246 million acre-feet (or 8 percent) since pre-development. Change in water in storage from 2009 to 2011 was an overall decline of 2.8 million acre-feet. The overall average water-level decline in the aquifer was 14.2 feet from pre-development to 2011, and 0.1 foot from 2009 to 2011.
The study used water-level measurements from 3,322 wells for pre-development to 2011 and 7,376 wells for 2009 to 2011.
The High Plains Aquifer, also known as the Ogallala Aquifer, underlies about 112 million acres (175,000 square miles) in parts of eight states Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. The USGS, at the request of the U.S. Congress, has published reports on water-level changes in the High Plains Aquifer since 1988. Congress requested these reports in response to substantial water-level declines in large areas of the aquifer.
This multi-state, groundwater-level monitoring program has allowed water-level changes in all eight states to be tracked over time and has provided data critical to evaluating different options for groundwater management. This level of coordinated groundwater-level monitoring is unique among major, multi-state regional aquifers in the country.
Another non water reference nonetheless this brings us closer to understanding the struggles facing the Securities and Exchange Commission, Dodd-Frank, Congress and POTUS roles in regulating financial institutions. Here is Excerpt from Commissioner Daniel Gallaghers address: “….Although the Commission continues to stare down an overflowing plate of Dodd-Frank mandates in addition to its other responsibilities, as an expert, independent agency, the Commission must not allow itself to assume a secondary role in the regulation of matters squarely within its jurisdiction and core competencies. This, I’m afraid, is exactly the role that the Commission has taken thus far with respect to critical initiatives, including the Volcker Rule. Pursuant to Section 619 of Dodd-Frank, the three Federal banking agencies, the SEC, and the CFTC must together adopt regulations to implement the Volcker Rule’s two prohibitions on banking entities and their affiliates: its prohibition on engaging in proprietary trading and its prohibition on sponsoring or investing in “covered funds” such as hedge funds or private equity funds. Unfortunately, there is little doubt that notwithstanding the valiant efforts of the SEC staff, the Commission for too long has taken a back seat to the banking regulators in this rulemaking process. As I have said in the past, despite the Rule’s ostensible application to banking entities, the Rule is actually focused on the conduct to be regulated, not the entities that engage in this activity. There is no question that the specific trading, hedging, and investing activities to be regulated under the Rule fall firmly within the Commission’s core competencies, as they deal directly with SEC registrants and registration requirements. It makes little sense, therefore, for the Commission to defer to the banking regulators in this area when for decades it has regulated securities market-making in order to facilitate liquidity and promote the efficient allocation of capital. The implementing rulemaking for the Volcker Rule was proposed in October 2011. Almost a year and a half — and over 18,000 comment letters — later, the Volcker Rule remains at the proposal stage. Indeed, it appears that the proposal’s broad definitions of statutory terms have taken a bad situation and made it worse. Commission staff continue to engage in discussions with the bank regulators and the CFTC regarding the many concerns raised in those 18,000-plus comment letters. For this rule to get done and get done properly, the SEC must take a leadership role. In fact, I believe it is our duty as the independent financial regulator with primary authority over, and expertise in, the activities to be regulated to ensure that the final Rule meets the aims of Congress without destroying critically important market activity that the Rule explicitly intends not to eliminate. Moreover, in accordance with its core mission, it is the Commission’s responsibility to balance the bank regulators’ focus on safety and soundness and Dodd-Frank’s overarching focus on managing systemic risk with legitimate considerations of investor protection and the maintenance of vibrant markets. This brings me to the elephant in the room: FSOC. FSOC was created, in part, to respond to the realization during the financial crisis that regulatory balkanization had resulted in a lack of communication and information-sharing among financial services regulators, which undoubtedly led to poor policy decisions during the crisis. None of us who lived through the crisis on the ground floor would argue against improvements to the regulatory structure that would facilitate coordination and information-sharing among regulators. However, with FSOC the threats to the Commission’s independence move from the theoretical to the immediate, for already in its short existence, this new body has directly challenged the Commission’s regulatory independence. It is also where just one member of the Commission, the Chairman, can defend that independence. Pursuant to the provisions of Dodd-Frank establishing FSOC, the group is composed not of agencies, but the individual heads of agencies, acting ex officio.” See link for entire address. http://www.sec.gov/news/speech/2013/spch022213dmg.htm
Obama in State of the Union: Middle class is job one : http://wapo.st/12K2Bkq From the Washington Post, transcript paints a different picture by stripping away the applause and pauses the visuals that cloud the literal message to Congress and the nation. If you really want to hear what the President is saying read the transcript otherwise void of the emotions that video bring.