On the US Political Scene & Other Thoughts: Notations For the Week-End

It was another challenging week around the World.    Nothing, though, was more hilarious as the Election Season formally got under way.     The foolishness of it all was underscored by the ever so perceptive one, Jon Stewart:

It has also been so interesting to see the polls out there.    Congress is ever so despised--yet over 90% of all incumbents will be re-elected.      The dynamics of the US Senate though will continue to keep the pundit class preoccupied as Nate Silver and the folks over at the Princeton Election Consortium (among others) will be in a duel among each other to figure out who is actually going to gain control of the US Senate.    Kansas got the latest buzz--and it was fun read to see it as the punditry all of a sudden figured out that somehow Kansas may hold the key to the future of the US Senate.

What was gratifying to observe was one trailblazing development in California.  The California Legislature banned plastic bags and Governor Brown noted that he would sign it.   Many cities (such as Dana Point, California) had already banned it and this trend was acknowledged as California approved this.  This from the Story of Stuff Project underscored the challenge that was bravely overcome by the California Legislature: 

Over 14 billion plastic bags are handed out each year, and in California only three percent are ever recycled. This regulation will have an enormous impact, removing hundreds of millions of bags from the waste stream annually. More than that, it sends a powerful message to the waste-creation lobby that we are sick of allowing it to trash our planet.
Led by plastics manufacturer Hilex Poly, the plastic lobby dumped nearly $13 million in ads and lobbying on Sacramento. The lobby had killed off five other attempts at passing bag bans in previous years, but it couldn't stop the rising call for regulation. Last week, the bill was stalled out by one single vote. That's when our members sprang into action, calling up their representatives in key districts and helping the legislation get written into law....
Governor Brown and the Republican Candidate for Governor, Neal Kashkari, had a debate.  It is the only debate that they would have.    The reviews were not that kind to Governor Brown.   But, unless something drastic happens, Governor Brown will be re-elected for a second time in  view of it.  November.    What was quite striking was how Mr Kashkari adopted the word of the manufacturing .  The toher challenge in California is the drought.   California is running out of  and it is taking out water from the ground at an alarming rate.   It may cause the San Andres Fault to be even more unstable.  industry and 
As the election season gathers steam,  one solid resource to consult is what the team @ the National Priorities Project does.   They have done some interesting work on the budget and a  realization of the realities as Congress continues to be faced with gridlock with no apparent end in sight.   Excepts of their guidance on it is noted below: 

That's why National Priorities Project is excited to share with you our 2014 Voter's Guide to the Federal Budget.

We've examined 13 critical election issues and created tip sheets that outline fast facts, implications for the federal budget, and key questions to ask your Congressional candidates.

Jump directly to the issues you care about using these links:

One very interesting development had to observe was the so-called fight for 15.   Fast Food workers all across the country went out on a one day strike to request a living wage.   The Real News had commentary on it on its' network:

100+ Arrested as Fast-Food Workers Escalate 'The Fight For $15'
Workers and advocates hold sit-ins and rallies in 150 cities to demand a living wage and the right to unionize
Go to story | Go to homepage

The challenging business environment is also a problem.    The jobs reports for August (at 142,000 new jobs) were below expectations.   This is as Europe is going in reverse in terms of its' Economic Growth.    The President of the European Central Bank came out and basically reaffirmed the zero interest rate in effect--and imposed a penalty on banks so that they can start lending and sprucing up business activity.     This is as the United Kingdom faces uncertainty with the Scottish Independence World that is also coming up--with profound implications for NATO and the United States if the Scots decide to go it alone.    The business climate itself has also been ever so a topic of discussion.      It is challenging to start a business and maintain it in lieu of all the regulations and the taxes.   It is understandable (purely from a business standpoint) when companies decide to do inversion deals--as Burger King and Tim Horton's Have done.    What was noted in a note from Verne's Insight addressed this: 

Inversion Deals -- Burger King and other large corporations are buying foreign companies, like Tim Horton in Canada, as a tax strategy. Rather than lambast these firms as President Obama is doing, the US should fix the problem and dramatically lower or eliminate corporate taxes - they are regressive, anti-competitive, and job killers. KPMG calculates that corporate tax costs are 46.4% lower in Canada than the US. Here's a list of corporate tax rates throughout the world. Yes, US corp's have various tax breaks and these should be eliminated as well.My full views are best articulate by Brett Arends in his recent column in Forbes. 

The challenge is that companies seem to be more interested in Financial Engineering (As Burger King has been with a multitude of changes) vs. actually being creative.     If one visits a Burger King establishment, one is disappointed to say the least.    There are also profound changes going on with the rise of designer burgers and more health conscious customers which seems to have caught the industry off guard.  It is part of the broader challenge of change that seems not to be embraced by all sides--and the end result is simply rhetorice and hot air.

America, though, somehow always overcomes.     The story of Wilson is just one example--as he noted that he was forcing the people "To Think": 

It was also quite striking as I had a chance to watch the depiction of another underrate President of the United States, Andrew Johnson having been so brilliantly portrayed by Van Heflin.

As the domestic political scene continues to be challenging and dynamic, the World is ever so tumulous as well.    One country that is pivotal right now is Brazil.  It is also in the midst of an Election season that is bound to give the incumbent a run for the money.  The former Environment Minister, Marina Silva, is leading in the polls.  If she wins, it will be a profound win for the Environment especially as Brazil is home to at least 80% of the Amazon--what I view as the World's Heart.      

Never a dull moment in the life an ordinary face.....
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