Monday Reads

barkus+2013-9701Good Morning and Happy Carnival Season and Super Bowl Madness!!

My city is hopping with all kinds of things for the next few weeks.  Yesterday, one of my favorite parade krewes rolled!  It’s the Krewe Of Barkus!!  Honey, Karma, and I used to do this all the time when we lived in the Quarter and they were alive. It’s a dog krewe and a fundraiser and adopt-a-krewe member event that raises funds for our NOSPCA.  It’s a great time.  Honey and Karma loved it because the parade attendees throw dog biscuits.  They used to think the streets of the French Quarter were lined with treats for weeks after the parade!!!  Kids and Dogs are just about the happiest I ever see them when this parade rolls!  Be sure too check out Channel 4’s photo gallery because it’s 100 photos of cuteness!!!

Meanwhile, the 49ers have landed and sportscasters from all over are begging we host the game every year.  I’m not sure we could handle that but it’s interesting for awhile.  We’ve been told to be nice to Roger Goodell despite the hooplah over the bounty fines and penalties.  Most Saints fans feel the team was unfairly singled out for punishment since it’s been a practice in other places too.  You can’t go very many places where fans go where there’s not a sign that says that a place won’t serve Goodell; and many of the krewes that have already had to roll due to the interruption have had floats that have also laid into him.

Political analysts James Carville and Mary Matalin have spent many years arguing their individual philosophies (in summary: He’s on the left, and she’s not) even as they’ve enjoyed a surprisingly happy marriage for most of the last two decades. One thing that brings them together right now is their work with the Super Bowl host committee in New Orleans, which they co-chair. It’s an especially meaningful honor for Carville, who was born and bred in Louisiana, and is a rabid football fan.

Carville and most other Louisiana natives seem to firmly believe that having the Super Bowl back in New Orleans is a great measuring stick for the ways in which the city has not only moved on, but rebuilt and improved, after Hurricane Katrina devastated the landscape in 2005. Getting the game back here, and for the 10th time overall, was a big part of that.

“My hope is it can help bring some real closure here, and that the city can show what it can do,” Carville said in a recent host committee conference call. “But you just don’t know that feeling until you’re through with it. All of us on the committee are trying not to focus on that. We’re trying to focus on the mission at hand. Sometimes I wake up at night and say if this thing goes well this can really help people put a lot of things behind ‘em. Yes, that thought has crossed my mind. But I can’t allow myself to think like that. We’re a little bit like these teams. You can’t think what it’s like to win, you just gotta prepare. That’s been the attitude here.”

Paul Krugman says the Republicans have a new “welfare” queen” stereotype to flog.  This time it’s “disabled deadbeats”.  Once again, they can’t seem to do the math to figure out the aging of the baby boom generation is going to cause the numbers to go up in absolute, but not relative terms.

So yes, there has been some liberalization of the criteria — if you have multiple interacting conditions or mental illness, you may qualify in ways you didn’t before — but that liberalization is pretty reasonable. It’s still quite hard to qualify for DI.

What strikes me, however, isn’t just the way the right is trying to turn a reasonable development into some kind of outrage; it’s the political tone-deafness.

I mean, when Reagan ranted about welfare queens driving Cadillacs, he was inventing a fake problem — but his rant resonated with angry white voters, who understood perfectly well who Reagan was targeting. But Americans on disability as moochers? That isn’t, as far as I can tell, an especially nonwhite group — and it’s a group that is surely as likely to elicit sympathy as disdain. There’s just no way it can serve the kind of political purpose the old welfare-kicking rhetoric used to perform.

The same goes, more broadly, for the whole nation of takers thing. First of all, a lot of the “taking” involves Social Security and Medicare. And even the growth in means-tested programs is largely accounted for by the Earned Income Tax Credit — which requires and rewards work — and the expansion of Medicaid/CHIP to cover more children. Again, not the greatest of political targets.

The point, I think, is that right-wing intellectuals and politicians live in a bubble in which denunciations of those bums on disability and those greedy children getting free health care are greeted with shouts of approval — but now have to deal with a country where the same remarks come across as greedy and heartless (because they are).

I made the mistake of watching bits and pieces of MTP yesterday where both Paul Ryan and Jim Demint –aided and abetted by Dancing Dave–tried to convince every one that we have a fiscal crisis.  That is so not true.  As we know here, it’s code for drown the Federal Government in Grover Norquist’s bathtub while starving granny and offing Big Bird.

The other drone war is in Washington. The drones are in groups with names like the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and Campaign to Fix the Debt. They drone on, and on, about the calamities that await unless we cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

That the goal of the deficit drones is to cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has been plain for years to anyone who looks at where the money comes from. It comes largely from Peter G. Peterson, a billionaire former secretary of Commerce under Nixon, who is Captain Ahab to Social Security’s Moby Dick. And when one trick, such as privatization, falls flat, his minions always have another, whether it’s raising the retirement age or changing the COLA. But a cut by any other name is still, and always, just a cut.

Peterson’s influence is vast; practically the entire DC mind-meld has bought his line to some degree.

The other day I was on CNBC, supposedly to discuss the debt ceiling, but the topic was Social Security all the way. My host, Andrew Ross Sorkin, was very blunt: “If now isn’t the time to cut entitlements,” he asked, “when would be?” My answer – in a word, never – is not one he seemed to have thought possible before.

Yet there is no good reason to cut Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. These are insurance programs. They keep the elderly, their survivors and dependents, and the disabled, out of dire poverty. We can afford this. There is also no financing problem; if there were, investors would not be buying 20-year US bonds at 3 percent. These days when some economists say that cuts are needed, they say it’s only for show – to establish “credibility.” Old-timers may remember, that’s what DC insiders once said about the war in Vietnam.

Jim DeMint’s performance on the MTP panel was so abysmal that the camera actually caught Andrea Mitchell shaking her head no in disgust at something he said and furrowing her brow.  The worst part was his response to how the Republican Party Race baits to get to the Dixiecrats.  When asked if the Republicans were going to quit campaigning to the lowest common denominator, Demint went off on abortion for a good 3 minutes.  He totally avoided the question which I suppose is part of their new messaging strategy.  Yes the answer to republican racism is a rant on aborted fetuses.

Pressing DeMint, Gregory asked if he regretted “some of the comments about abortion in this last cycle, about rape, about, again, what Colin Powell thought were veiled racist comments from the party?”

The former South Carolina senator ignored the reference to “racist comments,” instead responding with a rant about fetal personhood.

“The fact that we are losing over 3,000 unborn children a day is an important issue,” DeMint opined. “But Republicans or conservatives should not engage in a wish list about exceptions for abortion when the other side will not even agree that we have real people, real human beings. And we need to fight the battle where it should be fought. Life is important. We know from all the new technology and improved sonograms that we do have a baby.”

“Instead of just offering my opinion on some hypothetical debate about exceptions for abortions, we need to move it back and particularly work with the states that are fighting just for the personhood of the child. And if we can start there, I think America will move with us.”

“Little different than the question about rhetoric and how it reaches voters,” Gregory noted as he moved on to the next topic.

You can see the performance at Raw Story.   Talk about your “offensive and bizarre comments” after Demint went crazy-go-nuts after Dancing Dave played the Jindal  “Party of Stupid” lecture.  You can watch Andrea shake her head at about 1:48 as he take after Detroit and LA for being devastated as the result of Liberal agendas. The fetus rant is shortly after that.   It’s jaw dropping.  Also, Demint seems to think that Louisiana is a success story.  I just don’t even know what to say to that.

Economist and head of the IMF Christine LaGarde said women were diminished at Davos as women outdoors protested the treatment of women by taking off their shirts.

Thirty-nine years after the forum’s annual meetings began in Davos, Switzerland, female participation hasn’t topped 20 percent of delegates. And that’s for the entire conference: Excluding moderators, there were only men among the bankers and policy makers discussing “Global Financial Context,” for instance, and executives and lawmakers on the “Global Energy Context” were also all male.

“The debate is still dominated by males frustrated by the crisis created by male-oriented industries,” said Kim Sung Joo, a businesswoman who co-chaired the election campaign last year for South Korea’s first female president. “The forum is reflective of the industries that used to lead. It’s not broad enough.”

Kim, whose Sungjoo Group owns German fashion brand MCM, joins delegates who point to an array of mechanisms the forum, Activist from the women's rights organisation Femenlike the business and political world, could adopt to be more inclusive. The shift from a manufacturing to a knowledge, Internet-based economy is one element the forum is overlooking, and cheaper access might lure a wider spectrum of delegates including younger leaders, Kim said.

Davos reflects a global community in which women are still struggling to become leaders.

Women represent just 17 percent of independent directors at companies in the U.S. Standard & Poor’s 500 (SPX) stock index, barely above the 16 percent level of 2007, executive recruiter Spencer Stuart said in a November report. In the European Union, women with board positions climbed to 15.8 percent in October, according to European Commission figures.

The Feminist Protestors were from the Ukraine.  You can watch a video report from the UK Guardian at this link.

Topless protesters from the activist group Femen clashing with police at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The Ukrainian protest group painted their chests with ‘SOS Davos’, calling attention to poverty of women around the world and what they perceive as sexism and male domination of the world economy

Well, I think that’s it for me today.  What’s on your reading and blogging list?

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25 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Why is the GOP so fascinated with reproductive rights and the inner workings of a woman’s body that they feel the need to harness and impede their right to make decisions without interference?

    Whose business is it anyway when a woman enters the sanctity of a doctor’s office for consultation? This constant movement to hinder women borders on obsession.

    In a nation that faces huge problems such as ours why is so much time spent going after women with the ferocity that the GOP has exhibited beginning with laws redefining rape as one example of their commitment to subjagate women going state by state?

    Again, don’t agree with abortion? Don’t have one. Simple as that. But these fools are not satisfied with the freedom of choice and manage to weave their own personal beliefs into the argument by simply setting aside the separation of church and state.

    A woman is no longer a baby making machine but you would never know that when listening to these fools who are given a forum to air their proposals.

    Reproductive rights are as much an economic consideration as it is a choice. Something these “fiscal authorities” seem to ignore.

    The stupidity of these people is astounding yet they are given a forum to express this crapola without much challenge.

    • RalphB says:

      Why do they do what they do? Ignorance, stupidity, fear, and just plain mean with a ton of greed thrown for bad measure.

      • dakinikat says:

        Because they treat anything related to science like they’re cavemen that just discovered fire. They toss their little sticks in the air and then turn to whatever supernatural being they’ve made up for the requisite myth to explain thing. Republicans, Taliban … same difference.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Taylor Marsh has a very nice assessment of the 60 Minutes interview last night.

    THE FLAWLESSLY effortless, if surprising, interview on “60 Minutes” revealed something that cameras cannot lie about. The fierce bond between President Obama and Secretary Hillary Clinton that seemed unimaginable to many, but especially the media, goes beyond what can be understood from outsiders, including their own staffs.

    “I consider Hillary a strong friend,” President Obama stated. “I mean, very warm, close,” Secretary Clinton added….

    If ever there was a time to be proud to be part of the Democratic Party it was during this interview. Never was there a starker picture of how the Republican Party suffers by comparison than in watching Obama and Clinton side by side.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      O/T bb, but I loved, loved, loved the Francona book. He came across just as he did when standing in the dugout watching the game: a nice man with a love of the sport who refused to take advantage of his celebrity.

      Great read!

      • bostonboomer says:

        Wow, you’re so fast. I’m going to start it today. I got hooked on a new mystery writer and kept putting it off. I’ve avoided reading the excerpts in the Globe, but I heard there’s lots of crazy stuff about Manny, lol.

    • RalphB says:

      Taylor had a good take on it. It’s a lot like my own.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Krugman was on Morning Joe this morning trying to talk sense to the wingnut austerity obsessives.

    • Fannie says:

      I watched Krugman, somehow everybody want to go for a swim on Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, the so called entitlement cuts needed right NOW.

    • RalphB says:

      “People like me have been saying for five years, don’t worry about these deficit things for the time being, they’re a non-issue,” Krugman observed. “Other people have been saying, ‘Imminent crisis, imminent crisis!’ How many times do they have to be wrong and do people like me have to be right before people start to believe this?”

      “You’re right until the day you’re wrong, and that’s a bad day,” Haass grumbled.

      The other side of the argument against Krugman has been wrong every day for years, They already have a lot of bad days to make up for their dumbass beliefs.

      People inside the beltway and on Wall St may buy this austerity bullshit but I don’t believe for a minute the average person on the street is stupid enough to want it, except in some abstract way.

  4. RalphB says:

    WAPO: Why Obama picked Hagel

    Bob Woodward proves the old adage that even a blind sow can sometimes find an acorn.

  5. RalphB says:

    NYMag: Madam Would-Be Mayor

    Hanging out with the crude, playful, openhearted front-runner, Christine Quinn.

    Christine Quinn, Irish to the core, is possessed of the booming voice of a concrete-truck operator, the bada-bing timing of an outer-borough wiseguy, and the laugh of a pirate. You hear her coming down the great marbled halls and the carpeted ballrooms of New York—Aaaaaah-HA-HAHAHAHA-HAAAAA!!!! —well before she presents in the flesh. Her advance team is literally never caught off guard.

    She’s boisterous even on the most decorous of occasions. When President Obama was visiting Staten Island after Hurricane Sandy and shaking the hand of Republican assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, he told the 32-year-old she didn’t look a day over 23. At that, Quinn spontaneously burst into a hand-clapping cheer: Be-come-a-Dem-o-crat! Be-come-a-Dem-o-crat!

    Holy crap, I love this woman. Hope she becomes Mayor of New York City to break a couple of ceilings.

  6. RalphB says:

    Paul Krugman’s shrillness is especially impressive today.

    NYT: Makers, Takers, Fakers

    • dakinikat says:

      really good …

      But in deep red states like Louisiana or Kansas, Republicans are much freer to act on their beliefs — which means moving strongly to comfort the comfortable while afflicting the afflicted.

      Which brings me back to Mr. Jindal, who declared in his speech that “we are a populist party.” No, you aren’t. You’re a party that holds a large proportion of Americans in contempt. And the public may have figured that out.

    • prolixous says:

      Krugman’s has been right so many times, the deniers have had to move out of the forest, into the desert, and under the dunes as great sand worms. Yesterday’s MTP was classic. There was DeMinted as the newly invested and infected head of the Heritage Foundation spewing invective in time worn sound bites.

      Now honestly, if the Repubs are not going to continue being the “stupid party” as Jindal brayed about, why did the penultimate faux Repub research operation flag down the intergalactically pettiest of petty hacks to lead them on their quest for epic failure. Now honestly, Deminted is not only a hack, but career-wise, I dare not utter professionally in the same sentence, he was nothing more than a “tab house flimflam huckster” who had the Chapter 11 clerk on speed dial.

  7. dakinikat says:

    This is so great ….
    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/14428/new_orleans_superfail

    New Orleans’ SuperFail

    Downtown is being spruced up for the Super Bowl, but in neglected neighborhoods, roads remain unpaved.

    The hype over the Super Bowl has been huge. “New Orleans is back,” gushed Saints owner Tom Benson in brief remarks at the NFL Super Bowl award announcement.

    But try telling that to the people who live in the still-devastated Lower Ninth Ward or on the tattered lakefront of Lake Pontchartrain. Or to the city’s displaced population–30 percent fewer people than before the storm still live there–now scattered around the United States since being thrown on buses and planes after Katrina hit.

    Basic infrastructure in the Lower Ninth Ward isn’t just lacking—it’s non-existent. The new houses built by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right charity may look pretty when you crest the rise over the Claiborne Bridge, but they are half-vacant. People are reluctant to live in an area where few proper roads exist and basic amenities like groceries aren’t available.

  8. dakinikat says:

    Salon.com ‏@Salon

    #Mansplainer @DouthatNYT perfectly illustrates what conservatives don’t understand about feminism http://slnm.us/DBWLD75 via @irincarmon

    Douthat puts the hack in hack

  9. RalphB says:

    Charles Pierce: An Anniversary You Won’t See On Television

    It was 10 years ago today.

    Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent. In such quantities, these chemical agents could also kill untold thousands. He’s not accounted for these materials. He has given no evidence that he has destroyed them. U.S. intelligence indicates that Saddam Hussein had upwards of 30,000 munitions capable of delivering chemical agents. Inspectors recently turned up 16 of them — despite Iraq’s recent declaration denying their existence. Saddam Hussein has not accounted for the remaining 29,984 of these prohibited munitions. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed them. From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs. These are designed to produce germ warfare agents, and can be moved from place to a place to evade inspectors. Saddam Hussein has not disclosed these facilities. He’s given no evidence that he has destroyed them. The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb. The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.

    Let’s talk some more about Susan Rice Misled The American People because she was wrong on the Sunday showz, shall we?