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A repository of random thoughts, odds and ends, and not-quite-fully-formed ideas.

Archive for September, 2008

House Web site crashes


The House Web site was overwhelmed by people seeking news about the bailout vote.

Here’s the article from the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The House Web site was overwhelmed Monday as millions of computer users sought information about the financial bailout bill rejected by the House.
“We haven’t seen this much demand since the 9/11 commission report” was posted on the site in 2004, said Jeff Ventura, spokesman for the House chief administrative officer. “We’re being overwhelmed with Web traffic about the bill.”
Ventura said the Web site is working, but many computer users are getting the equivalent of a busy signal when they try to visit the site. Once users are on the site, it works at reduced speed.
“You have to keep trying and eventually you get in,” he said.
Ventura said the slowdown is expected to last until Tuesday. n the meantime, technicians planned to work through the night to fortify the system.
“Our computer people aren’t going anywhere,” Ventura said.
The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation’s financial system, and the Dow Jones industrials plunged nearly 800 points, the most for a single day.
Ventura estimated that millions of computer users went to the Web site to e-mail their representatives and to learn about the bill. He was unable to provide a more precise estimate.
The computer slowdown is affecting all House-member Web sites, he said. The site has an application that enables computer users to send e-mails to their representatives.
“It’s all tied into one system that is clearly being overloaded at this point,” he said.

To take a look yourself: “http://www.house.gov.”:http://www.house.gov

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 29th, 2008 at 6:11 pm |

Just how far those markets plunged


“Bloomberg News”:http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aFVo3p8GzeWk&refer=home reports that equities lost $1.2 trillion in market value today.

Cost of the bailout: $700 billion.

The Dow Jones fell 778 points as the bailout plan failed.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 29th, 2008 at 5:41 pm |
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Let the debates begin


So Sen. John McCain decides to debate after all.

Here’s his explanation:

“Senator McCain has spent the morning talking to members of the Administration, members of the Senate, and members of the House. He is optimistic that there has been significant progress toward a bipartisan agreement now that there is a framework for all parties to be represented in negotiations, including Representative Blunt as a designated negotiator for House Republicans. The McCain campaign is resuming all activities and the Senator will travel to the debate this afternoon. Following the debate, he will return to Washington to ensure that all voices and interests are represented in the final agreement, especially those of taxpayers and homeowners.”

Others were less sanguine.

Bush delivered a terse statement from outside the Oval Office of the White House, acknowledging lawmakers have a right to express their doubts and work through disagreements on the $700 billion plan, but declaring they must work to avert an economic meltdown, the Associated Press reported.

“There are disagreements over aspects of the rescue plan,” he said, “but there is no disagreement that something substantial must be done. We are going to get a package passed.”

And House Minority Leader John Boehner released a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, demanding that “serious consideration” be given to a radically different proposal that provides no government money up front for a financial rescue.
“If such consideration is not given, a large majority of Republicans cannot — and will not — support” the administration’s plan, Boehner wrote.

I’m looking forward to the debate. It should be a good one.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Friday, September 26th, 2008 at 12:37 pm |


Spitzer emerges


From the Associated Press, Spitzer returns to the public eye (sort of).

NEW YORK (AP) — In his first public remarks since resigning in disgrace, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer answered e-mail questions that had nothing to do with his sudden fall in a prostitution scandal.
Spitzer gave Time Out New York tidbits such as his favorite New Yorker (Teddy Roosevelt), his favorite spot in the city (Central Park reservoir at dusk) and his personal favorite New York moment (crossing the finish line at the end of the New York City Marathon in 1983).
The magazine did not ask Spitzer about the scandal that led to his resignation in March but did ask how it felt not to be involved in government for the first time in years. Spitzer, who has refused repeated requests for interviews since his downfall, declined to answer that one.
He was more forthcoming when asked to complete the sentence, “New York is … .”Spitzer replied: “The place where no dream is too big to come true.”
The interview in the Sept. 25 issue of Time Out was part of the entertainment magazine’s 40th anniversary celebration, in which they asked 40 prominent New Yorkers a series of New York City-related questions.
In explaining the magazine’s decision to feature the famously aggressive politician once dubbed the “Sheriff of Wall Street,” Editor-in-Chief Michael Freidson said, “His heart was in the right place even if his manner was steamrolly.”

When Spitzer was asked who, among the other Top 40, he would have a drink with, he said, “These days I prefer hanging out with my kids, having dinner and encouraging them to do their homework and put aside Facebook for awhile.”
On his hopes for the future of the city? “New York will continue to be the cultural and economic capital of the world — but only if we keep our doors open to those who want to live here.”
Asked what event had the biggest cultural impact on the city in the past 13 years, he said, “The emotional rebirth and unity of purpose that emerged in the city after 9/11.”
Spitzer also declined to answer a question about what he would say to readers who felt he wasn’t worthy of inclusion in the issue.
Spitzer resigned March 12 after it was revealed he was “Client 9” in a court document that listed the exploits of customers of an escort service. Four people who operated or worked the escort service have pleaded guilty to various federal charges; Spitzer has not been charged with a crime.
Time Out was started in London 40 years ago; its New York version has been around for 13 years.

PHOTO: AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at 5:20 pm |

Nuclear weapons and other questions


The Partnership for a Secure America has some questions for the presidential candidates:

* As president, how would you strengthen international cooperation to prevent nuclear capabilities from falling into dangerous hands and turn [our current] failing grade into an “A”?
* What alternative fuel, energy efficiency, and emissions reduction policies would you seek to implement nationally and internationally by the end of your first term as president in January 2013?
* How will you elevate both the level and effectiveness of U.S. government development spending to advance our national security and foreign policy goals?
* How will you reaffirm America’s global leadership in promoting human rights and the rule of law around the world?
* As president, how will you actively engage China while encouraging it to become a stronger stakeholder in the international system?

The group is truly a bipartisan collection of former senators, national security advisors, former U.N. ambassadors. It includes the former chairman and vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission.

Earlier this month, it gave the U.S. government a “C” for its efforts to prevent a nuclear, chemical or biological attack on the United States.

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, September 25th, 2008 at 5:08 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Sarah Palin and eBay


In my column today, I note that Gov. Sarah Palin’s claim about selling her predecessor’s corporate jet just doesn’t fly.

“That luxury jet was over the top,” Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, told the Republican convention. “I put it on eBay.”

But it didn’t sell on eBay, I wrote. It sold later — at a loss.

And readers wrote in to complain.

“I’d like to see you sell an eight year old plane for a profit,” wrote one.

Another commented online: “(D)id you ever sell a used car and make a profit? Alaska paid under $2.7 million for it and sold it two years later for $2.1 million. Tell us what the depreciated value should have been?…”

Fair enough as far as it goes. Only Palin implied that she sold the plane on eBay. And had a lot of people believing that she had. Including…

“You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor and sold it on eBay — and made a profit!” McCain said (two days after the convention.)


Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 22nd, 2008 at 5:58 pm |


The Lehmans today


Today, the Lehmans mostly have little to do with the firm that bears their name; they’re not even shareholders.

A look at the family as told to the “Forward”:http://www.forward.com/articles/14237/ by John Loeb of Purchase, a great-grandson of Mayer Lehman.


FILE PHOTO: John L. Loeb Jr., a former ambassador to Denmark, visits the Purchase School to commemorate the opening of the Ambassador John L. Loeb, Jr. Playground. Ambassador Loeb paid for a new playground when he heard that the PTA was raising money for that purpose. (Photo by Rohanna Mertens) 9-10-99

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 22nd, 2008 at 5:18 pm |

In defense of elitism


Sam Harris has written a column for “Newsweek”:http://www.newsweek.com/id/160080/page/1 in which he rips Gov. Sarah Palin.

He doesn’t like her candidacy for many reasons; here is one area I agree with him completely: elitism.

A key paragraph:

“Ask yourself: how has “elitism” become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth — in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn’t seem too intelligent or well educated.”

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Monday, September 22nd, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Palin’s fashion


Two months’ wait for Sarah Palin’s glasses.

More here on “CNN”:http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2008/09/17/lah.japan.palin.glasses.cnn

PHOTO: Republican vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin waves to supporters during an election night rally Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, September 18th, 2008 at 5:23 pm |


When the economy tanks


You know the economy is bad when….

New York mobsters allegedly team up with a Mexican drug cartel to ship cocaine to Italy because the euro is so much stronger than the dollar. Read more in “The Daily News.”:http://www.nydailynews.com/news/ny_crime/2008/09/17/2008-09-17_wiseguys_smoked_in_global_drug_bust-2.html

An Indiana drug dealer is accused of passing spiraling gas prices on to customers purchasing cocaine. Here on the “Smoking Gun.”:http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2008/0918081gastax1.html

Posted by Noreen O'Donnell on Thursday, September 18th, 2008 at 5:21 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

About the author
Noreen O'DonnellNoreen O'Donnell For the last 20 years, Noreen O'Donnell has written about Hillary Clinton's run for the Senate, rebuilding Ground Zero, the Korean immigrants who travel north each day from Queens to work in nail salons, deadly runaway fire trucks and other stories in Westchester and Putnam counties. Now she's a columnist.

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