; Life is like champagne......: 2009-02-22

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fact check on Obama's Speech

Politics for Moms posted the fact check via Associated Press. Well done and great points. One item of note people tend to forget is that the President does not control taxing and spending. He can only propose legislation and then sign or veto whatever bills Congress passes.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama knows Americans are unhappy that their taxes will be used to rescue people who bought mansions beyond their means.
But his assurance Tuesday night that only the deserving will get help rang hollow.
Even officials in his administration, many supporters of the plan in Congress and the Federal Reserve chairman expect some of that money will go to people who used lousy judgment.
The president skipped over several complex economic circumstances in his speech to Congress — and may have started an international debate among trivia lovers and auto buffs over what country invented the car.
A look at some of his assertions:
OBAMA: "We have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages. It's a plan that won't help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values."
THE FACTS: If the administration has come up with a way to ensure money only goes to those who got in honest trouble, it hasn't said so.
Defending the program Tuesday at a Senate hearing, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said it's important to save those who made bad calls, for the greater good. He likened it to calling the fire department to put out a blaze caused by someone smoking in bed.
"I think the smart way to deal with a situation like that is to put out the fire, save him from his own consequences of his own action but then, going forward, enact penalties and set tougher rules about smoking in bed."
Similarly, the head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. suggested this month it's not likely aid will be denied to all homeowners who overstated their income or assets to get a mortgage they couldn't afford.
"I think it's just simply impractical to try to do a forensic analysis of each and every one of these delinquent loans," Sheila Bair told National Public Radio.
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OBAMA: "And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it."
THE FACTS: Depends what your definition of automobiles, is. According to the Library of Congress, the inventor of the first true automobile was probably Germany's Karl Benz, who created the first auto powered by an internal combustion gasoline engine, in 1885 or 1886. In the U.S., Charles Duryea tested what library researchers called the first successful gas-powered car in 1893. Nobody disputes that Henry Ford created the first assembly line that made cars affordable.
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OBAMA: "We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before."
THE FACTS: Oil imports peaked in 2005 at just over 5 billion barrels, and have been declining slightly since. The figure in 2007 was 4.9 billion barrels, or about 58 percent of total consumption. The nation is on pace this year to import 4.7 billion barrels, and government projections are for imports to hold steady or decrease a bit over the next two decades.
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OBAMA: "We have already identified $2 trillion in savings over the next decade."
THE FACTS: Although 10-year projections are common in government, they don't mean much. And at times, they are a way for a president to pass on the most painful steps to his successor, by putting off big tax increases or spending cuts until someone else is in the White House.
Obama only has a real say on spending during the four years of his term. He may not be president after that and he certainly won't be 10 years from now.
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OBAMA: "Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn't afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day."
THE FACTS: This may be so, but it isn't only Republicans who pushed for deregulation of the financial industries. The Clinton administration championed an easing of banking regulations, including legislation that ended the barrier between regular banks and Wall Street banks. That led to a deregulation that kept regular banks under tight federal regulation but extended lax regulation of Wall Street banks. Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, later an economic adviser to candidate Obama, was in the forefront in pushing for this deregulation.
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OBAMA: "In this budget, we will end education programs that don't work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don't need them. We'll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we're not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don't use. We will root out the waste, fraud and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn't make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas."
THE FACTS: First, his budget does not accomplish any of that. It only proposes those steps. That's all a president can do, because control over spending rests with Congress. Obama's proposals here are a wish list and some items, including corporate tax increases and cuts in agricultural aid, will be a tough sale in Congress.
Second, waste, fraud and abuse are routinely targeted by presidents who later find that the savings realized seldom amount to significant sums. Programs that a president might consider wasteful have staunch defenders in Congress who have fought off similar efforts in the past.
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OBAMA: "Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation's supply of renewable energy in the next three years."
THE FACTS: While the president's stimulus package includes billions in aid for renewable energy and conservation, his goal is unlikely to be achieved through the recovery plan alone.
In 2007, the U.S. produced 8.4 percent of its electricity from renewable sources, including hydroelectric dams, solar panels and windmills. Under the status quo, the Energy Department says, it will take more than two decades to boost that figure to 12.5 percent.
If Obama is to achieve his much more ambitious goal, Congress would need to mandate it. That is the thrust of an energy bill that is expected to be introduced in coming weeks.
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OBAMA: "Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs."
THE FACTS: This is a recurrent Obama formulation. But job creation projections are uncertain even in stable times, and some of the economists relied on by Obama in making his forecast acknowledge a great deal of uncertainty in their numbers.
The president's own economists, in a report prepared last month, stated, "It should be understood that all of the estimates presented in this memo are subject to significant margins of error."
Beyond that, it's unlikely the nation will ever know how many jobs are saved as a result of the stimulus. While it's clear when jobs are abolished, there's no economic gauge that tracks job preservation. The estimates are based on economic assumptions of how many jobs would be lost without the stimulus.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Champagne Food Friday



For Fat Tuesday, I made my version of a Kingcake, a Mardi Gras cupcake. Kingcakes are colorful, sweet and kind of messy to eat. The cupcake version had to be similar. I had fun making these and it was super easy! I did not insert a baby in a cupcake, easy choking hazard for adult and child, since this was a play date party for kids!


I used a white cake recipe for the cupcake itself, baked them the day before. I wanted to use a filling for the center, found a recipe on line here. I can tell you I would do something different next time like a pudding/cream or a fruit and cream mixture. I was not too thrilled with the milk processing and the texture of the final product.


For the topping, I made a confectioner's sugar glaze to dip the cupcakes in, sprinkled them with the sugar crystals while it was still wet. That is it!

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hello Kitty Cake Pops


Oh my goodness these are so cute! I admit that these are way out of my league, I have not played with fondant yet. I think I will try out my Build-a-Bear cake with the fondant first before I try these. Thanks to Bakerella for posting the pictures and 'how to' on these cute pops!

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

The day after Fat Tuesday, forgot to get my Polish donuts yesterday also...darn! I don't need the calories anyway. What are you giving up for Lent? You know it does not have to be food related, that seems to be most people answers. You can be a little more creative and better yourself plus help someone else along the way. An example can be giving up an hour of your TV time to visit someone or give up that cup of coffee you buy at the local coffee store everyday and give the money to a charity.

What am I giving up? Time I would be doing meaning less things to spend that time with my daughter going for a walk everyday.

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Obama Speech Highlights

Here are a few of the highlights of the speech last night. Thanks to Politics for Moms for live blogging during the speech.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

State of the Union Address


Tonight President Obama will be making a State of the Union Address at 8pm EST. Let's see if Bill Clinton's advice for keeping away from the "doom and Gloom" speech worked.


If you want to get a little more political insight and great commentary, check out Politics For Moms. No guarantees you will agree with everything but certainly valid points.

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Fat Tuesday

Today is Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, also known as Mardi Gras or Shrove Day. Basically it is a celebration day when we eat what we want before a long fasting period. It is also a day of fun, food, drinking, music and parades in New Orleans, the last day of the Mardi Gras Festivities.
My Fat Tuesday will be having a play group get together today where we will make some masks, have a parade, listen to music, throw some beads around(what's a Mardi Gras parade without beads) and have some King Cake cupcakes. Pictures to come this week.

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How bad is the economy?

I sometimes feel like a victim with the media constantly pumping information on how bad the economy is, loss of jobs, housing market and store closings. Then of course our President doesn't exactly paint a pretty picture every time he is on TV, hence Bill Clinton stepping in and giving him a little advice on not being a "doom and gloom" person all of the time. I don't think it is as bad as the media makes it.

Take for instance the New York Yankees. We are five year season ticket holders and have been waiting to hear what our new package would be for the new stadium. All along we have been told that we would be getting an equivalent package, but we just assumed that the price would be increasing like everything else. My husband happened to check on the updates for the tickets and was taken by surprise. We originally had 4 seats in the main level on the third base side in the old stadium, they had now given us 4 seats on the upper deck third base side. We went from $50 a ticket to $18 each. Of course I pushed him to call and see if we can get better seats, which he did and there were none available. When we started the season ticket package, this was where we had tickets and built up to our current seats, we are pretty much back to where we started. Basically they sold more seats with the 81 game package than the 15 game package we have, and more corporate seating was offered. I thought we had it bad but then started to find out we did not have it as bad as other ticket holders. One person we talked to had been moved to non-alcoholic bleacher seats and we heard many who got bumped completely! We will just have to rebuild our seats all over again. The economy did not seem to effect the ticket sales here.

Then there are the shopping malls. My aunt works part time at a Coach store and she has stated that it has not slowed down at all since she has been there. Every weekend their store is packed and they are making their quota. I worked at Coach for five years in a resort area and I was feeling the effects the economy when I had left in 2000. It seems there is still a lot of residual income out there to be spending on luxury goods.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Knits


Here is a sequel to last weeks picture. Sometimes felting doesn't come out the way it should, especially if you did not do a test swatch! This tote was suppose to be long, came out wide and not as shaped. I had to do a little finagling by cutting a few holes in the side, making a felted I-cord and gathering it up. This kind of worked, no other choice to make it work!

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Does your dog have SGS?


Does you dog randomly run around the yard looking for sticks and dropping them at your feet? Then your dog has Stick Gathering Syndrome(SGS). It seems to be popular among herding dogs such as Border Collies. They will find any stick, any size and drop it at your feet, waiting for you to 'pick it up' and throw it away.

There isn't much you can do about it except for cutting down all of your trees or keeping your dog indoors while you sweep the yard of sticks every day. SGS stays with your dog for life and you just have to learn to live with it. Try a ball or a Frisbee, but if you own a border collie, you know there is also OWF(obsessed with the Frisbee) to worry about and that can be much worse!

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