Congress waffles in face of national Eggo shortage

eggohide1Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi  is calling for swift action in response to a national Eggo frozen waffle shortage. In a speech today at the International House of Pancakes, Pelosi (DNot Amused) said the nation could not wait while the nation’s children were forced to pick something else for breakfast.

“This poses a threat to the entire educational system,” she said. “The time lost to choosing another breakfast food will cause massive delays of school start times which could snowball through the entire school day.”

The issue of how to handle the shortage, expected to last until at least next summer, has further polarized an already divided, split, segmented and bisected Capital Hill.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-Cranky), accused the Obama administration of having a socialist Eggo agenda that posed a threat to national security and the economy. “Eggo! Al Qaeda! Dow Jones! Eggo! Al Qaeda! Dow Jones! Eggo! Al Qaeda! Dow Jones!” he said, until Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-To The Right Of You No Matter What) whacked the back of his head.

Earlier in the day, McConnell addressed the issue on a Fox News special, French Toast Sticks: Threat or Menace? At that time McConnell blamed the liberal media before offering to wipe some syrup off the chin of host Glenn Beck.

Pelosi said she would consider a bailout for the waffle industry and a public option for either butter or margarine. In a move widely seen as an attempt to placate moderate Democrats she promised there would be no government mandate for syrup.

Pelosi shattered any possibility of bipartisanship when she decried Republican attempts to link the crisis to Rep. Barney Frank’s waistline. Frank (D-“Those” People) defended himself by saying he owed his chubbiness to Dunkin’ Donuts. “The Massachusetts’ state constitution requires every resident to start the day with an extra huge coffee, regulah, and the donut of his or her choice.” Frank, who has an aide bring him his daily serving,  acknowledged that he may have a donut problem. “I don’t care if it’s sprinkles or coconut or icing,” he said. “But it BETTER HAVE SOMETHING!”

In an unprecedented move, the Obama administration offered a straight-forward opinion on the issue. When asked about the shortage First Lady Michelle Obama sighed, rolled her eyes and made us all feel silly for bringing up the issue in the first place. Later, she was crowned queen of Europe. Her husband is reported to have done something, too.

The shortage is a result of problems at Kellog’s Atlanta and Rossville, Tenn., plants. Eggo production won’t return to normal until it until the middle of 2010, said company spokeswoman Kris Charles. Already customers are noticing near-empty Eggo shelves on the freezer aisle at many grocery stores. This has scared many shoppers until they noticed the store brand frozen waffles.

Congress doesn’t even want to fiddle while Rome burns

I’ve got a gig as a guest blogger over at BlownMortgage.com. Here’s the start of my first post:

Every news story about the bailout makes it sound as if Friday is some sort of do-or-die deadline. It’s not. It is just the day Congress wanted to adjourn so they could get home and do some campaigning. Given the magnitude of the crisis and the size of the pig in this particular poke, it’s time for Congress to get its priorities in order. If ever there was a piece of legislation that needed to be carefully considered, this is it.

Click above to read more.

This is truly a bipartisan issue. Regardless of your political affiliation I urge you to do what I have already done and call your rep, senators and the Speaker of the House about this.

Do I think calling these people will make any difference? No idea. I take the approach of the baseball manager who was asked why he argued with the ump. “It’s all I can do.”

Some people are paid to be journalists and some people just are journalists

My old bowling buddy Karen Gadbois is featured in a glowing article in the NYT today. Amid Ruined New Orleans Neighborhoods, a Gadfly Buzzes. (Don’t be put off by the uber scary picture of her. If you know her you know that she’s about to start grinning like a fool.)

Karen lives in New Orleans and writes the truly excellent blog Squandered Heritage. What she does is listen to words of various pols and bureaucrats about what they say is being done to repair New Orleans and then goes to look and see if it is actually being done. Then she writes up any differences between promise and reality.

It has set off a bomb that has exploded in slow motion here in the past three weeks, largely thanks to Ms. Gadbois: the federally financed program to gut and repair the storm-damaged homes of the poor and elderly, on which the city spent $1.8 million, has been exposed as — at least partly — a sham.

That’s journalism. It reminds me of the great I.F. Stone who covered Congress by staying away from Washington as much as possible. He read transcripts of committee meetings and the fine print of legislation and budgets and found the facts there.

Back in the age of mastodons, Karen and I worked together at a bar called Leo’s. She was a waitress and I was an incredibly surly bartender. She was and is an artist and I was about to re-enter journalism after taking a year off to write a widely unpublished novel. Since then I’ve spent a couple of decades getting paid to be a journalist. I do not knock my own accomplishments when I say I wish I had accomplished half of what she has accomplished with her blog.

YAY!!!

Congress accuses oil companies of being successful

With motorists paying a national average of $3.29 a gallon at the pump and global oil prices remaining above $100 a barrel, the oil executives were hard pressed by lawmakers to defend their profits.

Hurrah! Washington has heard the call to battle and is taking up arms to protect us all from price gouging.

“Anyone who is trying to take advantage of this situation while American families are forced into making tough choices over whether to fill up their cars or severely cut back their budgets should be investigated and prosecuted,” House Speaker Dennis Hastert, (R-Ill), and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, (R-Tenn), wrote in a letter to President Bush.

Oh wait, I wrote that two years ago, during the last offensive in the War On Price Gouging. To update the story all you have to do is insert the names Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid in the above. (My favorite quote in today’s stories on the topic: “House Republican leader John Boehner mocked the hearing as a ‘politically motivated, made for TV’ event.”  Yep, it’s good when it’s us but ‘bad when it’s them.)

The only real difference in this year’s version of the hearings is that the oil companies are now being asked to defend the $18 billion in tax breaks they receive.  To which one nonplussed CEO responded, “Dude, you’re the ones that gave them to us.”

The House of Rep has passed a bill that would “phase out” these tax breaks over 10 years. Why it takes a decade to get your face out of the public trough, I have no idea. Not that it matters. The bill has about a good of chance of becoming law as the Cubs do in having a successful centennial season.

While I am all in favor of ending this sort of corporate welfare, Congress’ recurring interest in the profits of oil companies is a pointless PR exercise. It is just like their sudden fascination with baseball and steroids. Instead of accusing these execs of the sin of making “too much” money, maybe we could get them jobs at some of our larger financial institutions.

Excessive profits! Price gouging! Isn’t that another name for capitalism?

Just as no one can define terror, no one has any idea what price gouging is either. This fact is made plain in the GOP-sponsored House bill, which leaves it to the Federal Trade Commission “to develop a definition of price gouging.” You have to love a law that is so specific about the penalty and so vague about the crime.