Watercooler – Goodbye 2010, Welcome 2011!

photo: Toni Blay via Flickr

As each new year begins I think of this small poem for which I have not been able find an author:

The New Year lies before you

Like a spotless tract of snow

Be careful how you tread on it

For every mark will show.

Every day is a new day, full of promise; every new entry here at MyFDL a fresh, blank slate.  I thank you for the entries you’ve made here  this past year at MyFDL as community members, and for your patience as we migrated to our new platform. I thank our editorial and moderation team for helping us keep it on the road through it all, and I look forward to the great new things with which you will fill MyFDL this coming new year.

Best wishes to you all for a peaceful, restorative holiday to begin this New Year!

Gelukkige nuwe jaar! Afrikaans
Feliz Año Nuevo! Argentine
Feliz Ano Novo! Brazilian
Chestita nova godina! Bulgarian
Bon Any Nou! Catalan
Stastny novy rok! Czech
Godt nyter! Danish
Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar! Dutch
Happy New Year! English
Bonan Novjaron! Esperanto
Onnellista uutta vuotta! Finnish
Gelukkig nieuw jaar! Flemish
Bonne Année! French
Ein glückliches Neues Jahr! German
Kainourios chronos! Greek
Hauoli Makahiki Hou! Hawaian
Felice Anno Nuovo! Italian
Annum Faustum! Latin
Godt Nytt Aar! Norwegian
Prospero Ano Novo! Portuguese
An nou fericit! Romanian
Próspero Año Nuevo! Spanish
Gott Nytt Ar! Swedish

What’s on your mind tonight? What do you have planned for the coming year? Do tell.

Late Night: Seeking Resolution(s)

So it’s that time of year, at long last — the time when bloggers run out of ideas and resort to making lists we reflect thoughtfully on the past year and make resolutions to improve ourselves in the next one.

2010 was a particularly rough year for progressives, and so a few well-considered principles for dealing with the challenges that lie ahead should prove to be especially useful.  Here’s a start on my list:

1.  I will not throw things at the TV/computer* when a White House official/congressperson/corporate media talking head tells me there’s nothing more that the government can do to create jobs.  (*Note: This includes not throwing the computer itself, if it is a laptop.)

2.  I will not throw things at the TV/computer when President Obama or a surrogate informs me that the latest Trojan-horse proposal by Republicans to destroy a progressive goal/program is a “useful starting point” for “compromise” on the issue.

3.  I will not throw things at the TV/computer when some talking head argues that the latest piece of blatant judicial invention from the corporatist Supreme Court majority is in fact the logical result of their strict adherence to the Constitution’s intent.

4.  I will not throw things at the TV/computer when a GOP presidential contender is described as “capturing the imagination of the American people” because the utterly batshit insane portion of the conservative base has to be treated like the true heart of America in a way that progressives can never dream of.

5.  I will not throw things at the TV/computer when… wait, this is all sounding awfully repetitive and downbeat, isn’t it?

Maybe instead of making resolutions to restrain myself, I should turn this into a year-long drinking game instead — you know, drink a shot when any of the above things happens.  It would be more fun.

Then again, alcohol poisoning would be a pretty awful way to die.

Happy new year (if you can bear to think about it)!

Support the FDL Writers Foundation

A note from FDL friend Ryan Grim:

I’ve been a guest at FDL’s Book Salon twice — first for the hardback and again for the floppy — and a reader of it more times than I can count.

I’m thrilled that they picked my book as one of the five readers can pick with a donation and glad to do anything I can to help the salon grow.

There are precious few online spaces for progressive authors to connect with an audience and FDL is doing a tremendous service with the Book Salon. I’m looking forward to seeing what the FDL Writers Foundation yields.

Can you please make a tax-deductible contribution of $25 or more to support the FDL Writers Foundation?

If you contribute $100 or more, we’ll say “thank you” with a gift: your choice of a book by FDL Book Salon authors Matt Taibbi, Arianna Huffington, Ryan Grim, Bill McKibben, or Yves Smith. Know that your donation will go toward developing and promoting the work of other talented authors just like them. You can choose from any of these books:


Third World America
by Arianna Huffington

Griftopia
by Matt Taibbi

This Is Your Country On Drugs
by Ryan Grim

Eaarth
by Bill McKibben

ECONned
by Yves Smith

New federal task force on LGBT youth suicide prevention is launched

Welcome news!  As promised, The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention (“Action Alliance”) has launched three new task forces to address suicide prevention including one for youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention today added three new task forces to address suicide prevention efforts within high-risk populations:  American Indians/Alaska Natives; youth who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT); and military service members and veterans. …

Studies from organizations such as the Suicide Prevention Resource Center report that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are from 1.5 to seven times more likely to report having attempted suicide than their non-LGBT peers, while transgender youth are believed to have higher rates of suicidal behavior as well.  

Co-leading the LGBT Youth Task Force are Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, U.S. Department of Education, and Charles Robbins, Executive Director of The Trevor Project, the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among LGBT youth.

“This task force will bring together the best minds in the country to combat suicide and make sure that every LGBT youth has the opportunity to grow up in a supportive, accepting community and to enter adulthood safely,” Robbins said.

Encouraging is the systematic, scientific approach Action Alliance is taking.  As we know with anything LGBT related, data collection and reporting can be woefully lacking.  Back in November Action Alliance launched its first batch of task forces to “identify and develop systems and strategies to improve data collection and surveillance of suicidal behaviors, prioritize research on suicide prevention, and update the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.”

The Data and Surveillance Task Force will address many critical issues including the need for more timely data on suicides and suicide attempts, both of which would improve intervention and prevention efforts.  This represents a major advancement for suicide prevention since it currently takes several years to detect new trends as they develop.

“The Research Task Force will develop a dynamic, ongoing process that capitalizes on the latest discoveries, identifies the most significant gaps in current knowledge of suicide prevention, and prioritizes the nation’s research efforts,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, and Research Task Force co-lead.  “We will develop a process to prioritize topics in suicide prevention research; and with my co-chair, Phillip Satow of the National Council for Suicide Prevention and The Jed Foundation, the task force will look for ways to integrate science and service, which is essential if we are to bend the curve of suicide rates and ensure that suicide deaths decrease dramatically in the next decade.”

The Action Alliance is coordinated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) at US Department of Health and Human Services.  SAMHSA also administers the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.  SAMHSA’s Administrator is Pamela Hyde, an openly gay Obama appointee. (more…)

Chris Christie’s Christmas

Here’s how Republican Governor Chris Christie handled the giant snowstorm that buried his state right after Christmas:

Christie made international news when the storm dumped nearly three feet of snow in some places and he remained in Florida. He said he had promised his children that he would take them to [Disney World] the week between Christmas and New Years and didn’t want to go back on that promise. He said since he flew on a commercial airline it would have likely been impossible for him to return to the state earlier, adding that his flight this morning was delayed several hours.

“I wouldn’t change the decision even if I could do it right now,” Christie said. “I had a great five days with my children. I promised that.”

(…)

“You can decide to be a showboat, hop on a plow and act like you’re doing something or you can actually put leadership skills to work that put competent people with good character in important positions,” Christie said.

You have to admire the way Christie honors his commitments.  A lot of people don’t have the kind of moral courage necessary to endure five days of fun in Disney World rather than insulting their constituents’ intelligence by showboating around on a plow.  You know, like Newark’s Democratic Mayor, Cory Booker:

For the past two days, Booker has been responding non-stop to residents’ concerns over Twitter. Booker’s Twitter feed has offered a fascinating window into how a public official can harness social media to handle a city crisis.

(…)

On Tuesday, one Twitter user asked: “Can we can we please have trucks on Wainwright Street ASAP? My street is terrible!” Booker quickly shot back: “On it.”

Another notified Booker today about a street that needed to be dug out. “I’m heading over there to look at ur st,” Booker responded.

If coordinating snow removal wasn’t enough, Booker also delivered diapers to one resident and apparently helped lift a car Monday night. One resident asked Booker how he was feeling the next day: “Thanks 4 asking, back killing me: Breakfast: Advil and diet coke.”

What a grandstanding jerk that Booker guy is!  If he really wanted to help people, he should have gone on vacation so he could order his subordinates around by phone.  But I guess he couldn’t because he didn’t hire a crack team of trustworthy ultracompetent professionals like Christie did.  Loser.

Booker’s not the only mayor who’s part of the problem, though:

When asked about mayors who said they were forced to divert their resources to unplowed state roads instead of clearing local roads Christie said, “I know who these mayors are and they should buck up and take responsibility for the fact that they didn’t do their job.” [This was right after he said that “If someone is snowed into their house, that’s not our responsibility,” unless they live on a state road.]

Here’s hoping someone with Mayor Booker’s commitment to service buries Christie in the next election.  They might not be able to singlehandedly dig out the whole state, but at least they’d show up to help.

(h/t Atrios, Blue Jersey, & Engadget)

A Year of Investigation and Action: FDL’s Student Loan Activism Pays Dividends for Students, Taxpayers

FDL and our community of activists worked hard to pass legislation that changed the way student loans are handled, and that work paid off with the passage of the Student Lending and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA). Jane described the work that went into it from FDL and many others. The lenders fought with tons of money, and nearly won with their bogus arguments, which included the scary “government takeover” and the silly “competition benefits everyone”. We thought that the government would save a lot of money, and that industry would do nicely acting as loan servicers. Let’s see how things have worked out.

Sallie Mae is the largest student loan company. In its third quarter 10-Q filed with the SEC, it said results will change in three income categories (see p. 64), but it doesn’t give net income figures, only revenue numbers.

SLM originated student loans and sold them to the Government. In 2009, it generated $324 million in revenue and interest income, and expects to generate $417 million in revenue and interest income in 2010. SAFRA terminated that business. SLM earned money collecting on delinquent and defaulted loans and guarantor account maintenance fees. It collected $265 million in 2009, and $232 million in the first nine months of 2010. That will decline going forward as securitized student loan pools decline, as a result of SAFRA.

It earned revenue from guarantor issuance fees on new student loan guarantees, $64 million in 2009, and $31 million in the first nine months of 2010. That revenue stream was killed off by SAFRA.

All told, that looks like a drop of about $725 million in revenues. In addition, SLM wrote off $660 million of goodwill from its balance sheet (p. 85). In the last six months, the stock is up off its low of about $10.40 to a close of $12.81, a rise of 23.3%, although it is down from a peak of about $13.30 around the time SAFRA passed.

Nelnet is the 11th largest student loan company. Its third quarter 10-Q, says it earned $37.7 million selling student loans to the government last year, and $33.8 million this year. Its income from guarantee and servicing fees will decline, from a total of $80 million. Its net interest income of $280 million in the first nine months will decline as its loan portfolio is worked off. Other income will fall $6 million. The stock is up 36.2% in the last six months.

Please support FDL and victories like “Students, Not Banks” with a tax-deductible contribution to the FireDogLake Writers Foundation – even $25 will go a long way.

[cont’d.]

(more…)

Anti-gay VA official Eugene Delgaudio wants your contribution to his winger org NOW.

Oh the humanity! As non-profit and charitable orgs ask you for donations in the waning hours of 2010, look at who is begging for dollars to fund the anti-gay agenda — none other than  Eugene Delgaudio, the batsh*t member of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors in Virginia, who moonlights running Public Advocate of the United States. See the inspiring patriotic logo below. 

This is the elected official who made the Blend for his incredible statement a few weeks back about the latest pat-down procedures by the Transportation Security Agency, saying it will be an all-out grope-fest for horny homosexual TSA wage slaves – “the next TSA official that gives you an 'enhanced pat down' could be a practicing homosexual secretly getting pleasure from your submission.” 

He also sent out an e-blast saying “You see, Homosexuals do not reproduce. They must recruit our children into their filthy perversion to increase their numbers.”

So you can imagine how motivated you would be to open your wallet for Eugene on New Year's Eve as you read this e-blast… 

 


Dear Friend,


Just weeks remain before Public Advocate reaches a critical deadline — before every radical homosexual activist holds a copy of Public Advocate’s financial records in his conniving hands.

December 31st is the deadline for contributions to appear on the IRS 990, the public report that discloses how much money Public Advocate raised and spent in 2010.

But right now, our figures are falling short of my 2010 objectives.

If I’m to meet budget expectations this year, I must raise $102,595 with all checks postmarked before December 31st.

If I fail to raise $102,595 by December 31st, I’ll be forced to broadcast our weakness and vulnerability to the Homosexual Lobby.

After the brutal fights this year on the Gay Bill of Special Rights, the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the Homosexual Classrooms Act, the Homosexual Lobby must not find Public Advocate with little money left to fight next year.

Friend, don’t worry, no one in the Homosexual Lobby will ever know how much you’ve contributed to Public Advocate. 

 More below the fold… (more…)