ebyOn the shelf behind me is a polar bear with a cub figurine, a gift from my own mother because she regards me as an alarmist about climate change.

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John Eby: First it was the polar bear, now this…

Published 6:52pm Sunday, September 26, 2010

As this woman sails into the sunset of her 70s, she continues to surprise me.
First, she got a cat.
Then I ran into the original Mama Grizzly at a Tea Party rally.
Sept. 22 she dropped a huge bombshell.
After holding out for 46 years, she “kind of likes” the Beatles.
Guess that makes Herman’s Hermits a gateway drug.
Maybe in another 46 years I can persuade her to reconsider climate change, except we don’t have that long.
Glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are losing ice at twice the rate in 2002 — 400 billion tons a year.
By the end of the century, 153 million people could be refugees.
New Orleans, Miami and Tampa are likely to be underwater, hurricanes and tsunamis more frequent.
I’m thinking of writing new lyrics to the tune of “And Your Bird Can Sing” — “Hope My Bear Can Swim.”
Then there was the clipping she brought me from a Missouri newspaper, the News-Leader, where Lyndon Pitcock of Fair Grove wrote Sept. 12:
“There was a period of time when I wasn’t interested in politics, or that it mattered who was elected to an office. However, after witnessing the actions and subsequent outright lies of the Nixon, Reagan and both Bush administrations, particularly the latter Bush, my interest increased, and if only as one, I had to make a difference. I realized where the Republicans stood, which was and is for the corporations and the rich. I also saw where the Democrats stood, which was and is for the working man and the middle class. This is so blatantly obvious with the former administration, which pushed for and got the so-called ‘free trade’ with every country possible. Republicans want to know where the jobs are? They don’t remember? The jobs are in the other countries, where the only ones to profit from it are the corporations. Meanwhile, the middle class dies … When one cuts through all the misinformation and propaganda which is promoted by Fox News, a sound and sane decision can be made this November on who to vote for, and it’s not for anyone who claims to be a ‘Republican,’ or an insane ‘Tea Partier’ for that matter.”
Whoa! Mom, I never considered the Tea Party “insane,” not like Professor Beck and his chalkboard, ranting about the Civil War and the violent left.
If I have a hard time taking Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell seriously, it’s not because she dabbled in witchcraft, but because I remember her as a regular panelist on Bill Maher’s “Politically Incorrect.”
Mostly tea baggers are ordinary folks fed up until their rage boiled over in a rebel yell.
The conservative revolt from the moneymen who control the GOP is remaking the Republican Party, with Karl Rove feeling the need to diss O’Donnell.
I was intrigued at the Democratic candidate forum in Cassopolis Sept. 23 by the old lawyer arguing for a “Coffee Party” to similarly jolt the left.
Time political columnist Joe Klein’s road trip brought him through Michigan: “I’m not finding much of the fist-shaking Tea Party anger that you see on television. People are freaking out, though. They’re frustrated and anxious. They’re not too thrilled with Barack Obama’s policies — although even his detractors see him as sincere and trying his best to turn things around — and they’re not at all convinced that the Republicans are prepared to offer anything better, but the anti-incumbent, anti-establishment mood is palpable … Even devoted Obama supporters are frustrated with the President.”
Klein spoke with one 61-year-old man laid off for 17 months who sent 4,000 to 5,000 resumes around the world and received 2,300 rejection letters.
“This is my full-time job. I do it seven days a week.”
Time pays particular attention to Detroit with a special project, but gave the usual story a twist about suburbs where the “grip on middle-class life has, for some families, become tenuous” with a four-page spread, “Real Moms of Grosse Pointe,” who are “handling reality in their own way” and “fostering frugality without embarrassment. For $35 a year (the Moms Club) offers a weekly roster of playdates and social gatherings. A walking group offers an alternative to gym memberships.”
The Great Recession admitted some new desperate housewives, like the couple who picked up a four-bedroom Tudor that sold for $355,000 four years ago for $180,000 last year.
Meanwhile, over at the Wall Street casino, the two biggest scandals of our time, in the spirit of still too big to fail, merge.
Despite all the distracted cable talking heads yakking incessantly about Lindsay Lohan bouncing in and out of jail and our politicians’ desire to buffalo the American people into thinking Wall Street excesses were reined in by reform, only Matt Taibbi seems inclined to examine the likelihood of another financial meltdown.
“A company may have only taken out $1 million in loans, but scores of banks, hedge funds and other financial players might cumulatively wager $100 million on whether or not the company will pay off that single million on time,” Taibbi writes in the Sept. 30 Rolling Stone. “That’s why, if a behemoth as large as BP goes under, it can cause losses beyond its own liabilities: Derivatives now comprise a shadow economy 100 times larger than the federal budget.”
“Selling not just actual debt but bets on debt is the essence of the derivatives market, where the aim is to create more for the banks to sell by magically creating loanlike products out of thin air. ‘Synthetic lending’ is how one market analyst put it. Imagine a Foot Locker floor manager sticking a new set of Nikes in front of a three-way mirror and selling off each of the images as a new pair of sneakers, and you get an idea of what we’re dealing with here,” Taibbi writes.
Quips, quotes and qulunkers: “What did the American taxpayer get for bailing out Citigroup? Tim Geithner and other government officials behind the effort will tell you … (that) it … is stronger, holds more capital and takes less risk than ever before … One point that’s not debatable is whether banks like Citigroup are now more willing to level with … the taxpayers they owe their existence to when they screw up. They haven’t.”
— Charlie Gasparino, writing at the Daily Beast about Wall Street’s obliviousness
•••
“It’s kind of like a slime highway.”
— University of Georgia marine-science professor Samantha Joye on the discovery of miles of oily sediment on the Gulf of Mexico seafloor. The muck suggests that much of the oil from the BP spill didn’t dissipate

•••
Rock really is dead: Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart issued new guidelines Sept. 9 forbidding the playing of rock or pop at Catholic funerals. The edict sent to more than 200 Australian churches says funerals should be a “secular celebration of the life of the deceased.”
John Eby is Daily News managing editor. E-mail him at john.eby@leaderpub.com.

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