Saturday Reads: A Mixed Bag of Stupid, Crazy and Sad, with Some Awesome Thrown In

MezenzevDenis_Mad_hatter_tea_party

Good Morning!!

Did you hear about how Tennessee Republican Rep. Marsh Blackburn tried to argue against President Obama’s proposal to increase the minimum wage and then index it to inflation–and then ended up demonstrating why the increase is desperately needed? She claimed that we need to lower the minimum wage to help young kids get into the work force–the way it was back in the late 1960s or early 1970s when she got her first job in Mississippi and the minimum wage was $2.15.

Quoted at Think Progress:

BLACKBURN: What we’re hearing from moms and from school teachers is that there needs to be a lower entry level, so that you can get 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds into the process. Chuck, I remember my first job, when I was working in a retail store, down there, growing up in Laurel, Mississippi. I was making like $2.15 an hour. And I was taught how to responsibly handle those customer interactions. And I appreciated that opportunity.

Too bad Blackburn forgot (or didn’t know) that $2.15 was worth a hell of lot more in 1968 than it is in 2013.

Blackburn was born in 1952, so she likely took that retail job at some point between 1968 and 1970. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ inflation calculator, the $2.15 an hour Blackburn made then is worth somewhere between $12.72 and $14.18 an hour in today’s dollars, depending on which year she started.

At that time, the minimum wage was $1.60, equivalent to $10.56 in today’s terms. Today’s minimum wage is equivalent to just $1.10 an hour in 1968 dollars, meaning the teenage Blackburn managed to enter the workforce making almost double the wage she now says is keeping teenagers out of the workforce.

These poor math-challenged Republicans just can’t help themselves. They’re stuck on stupid.

Yesterday Dakinikat posted about Elizabeth Warren’s questioning of bank regulators during her first appearance at a Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing. Oh my, the big bankers are freaking out about it. From HuffPo:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) meeting with bank regulators Thursday left bankers reeling, after she questioned why regulators had not prosecuted a bank since the financial crisis.

At one point, Warren asked why the book value of big banks was lower, when most corporations trade above book value, saying there could be only two reasons for it.

“One would be because nobody believes that the banks’ books are honest,” she said. “Second, would be that nobody believes that the banks are really manageable. That is, if they are too complex either for their own institutions to manage them or for the regulators to manage them.”

That set off angry responses to Politico’s Morning Money. “While Senator Warren had every right to ask pointed questions at today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing, her claim that ‘nobody believes’ that bank books are honest is just plain wrong,” a “top executive” emailed the financial newsletter. “Perhaps someone ought to remind the Senator that the campaign is over and she should act accordingly if she wants to be taken seriously.”

So if she wants to be “taken seriously,” she should act like a doormat and let bankers walk all over her?

During the hearing, Warren asked why ordinary people often faced prosecution while banks do not.

“You know, I just want to note on this. There are district attorneys and U.S. attorneys who are out there every day squeezing ordinary citizens on sometimes very thin grounds. And taking them to trial in order to make an example, as they put it. I’m really concerned that too big to fail has become too big for trial,” she said. “That just seems wrong to me.”

Like the Aaron Swartz prosecution, for example?

According to an article in the Washington Post this morning, the proposed new assault weapons ban isn’t likely to be particularly effective: Latest try at new assault weapons ban would exempt more than 2,200 specific firearms

Congress’ latest crack at a new assault weapons ban would protect more than 2,200 specific firearms, including a semi-automatic rifle that is nearly identical to one of the guns used in the bloodiest shootout in FBI history.

One model of that firearm, the Ruger .223 caliber Mini-14, is on the proposed list to be banned, while a different model of the same gun is on a list of exempted firearms in legislation the Senate is considering. The gun that would be protected from the ban has fixed physical features and can’t be folded to be more compact. Yet the two firearms are equally deadly.

“What a joke,” said former FBI agent John Hanlon, who survived the 1986 shootout in Miami. He was shot in the head, hand, groin and hip with a Ruger Mini-14 that had a folding stock. Two FBI agents died and five others were wounded.

The bill propopsed by CA Sen. Diane Feinstein

…would ban 157 specific firearms designed for military and law enforcement use and exempt others made for hunting purposes. It also would ban ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.

Yet there are firearms that would be protected under Feinstein’s proposal that can take large capacity magazines like the ones used in mass shootings that enable a gunman to fire dozens of rounds of ammunition without reloading.

Feinstein said in a written response to questions from The Associated Press that the list of more than 2,200 exempted firearms was designed to “make crystal clear” that the bill would not affect hunting and sporting weapons.

Sigh…

A couple of days ago, Molly Ball of The Atlantic tried to figure out why 22 conservative Republicans voted against the Violence Against Women Act when do so has the effect of making Republicans “look bad.”

Surely Republicans, whatever you may think of them, are not actually in favor of violence against women. But if they’re going to absorb all this terrible publicity, they must have significant substantive objections to the legislation in question, right?

If you say so, Molly. I think they’re just plain mean and stupid.

The objections can be grouped in two broadly ideological areas — that the law is an unnecessary overreach by the federal government, and that it represents a “feminist” attack on family values. “The ideological foundations of the law are flawed and have led to an inability to help victims effectively,” Christina Villegas, a visiting fellow at the conservative Independent Women’s Forum and adjunct professor of political science at Cal State San Bernadino, told me.

VAWA, Villegas said, is premised on the theory that violence against women is a product of sexism and patriarchy — “men’s desire to keep women down” and the sexes’ unequal social status. But research shows that such violence has many sources, from substance abuse to marital conflict, according to Villegas. “VAWA provides so much funding [based on this model] that could be so much more effective if it focused on the proven causes of violence,” she said.

And so on, you can read the rest at the link. But what Ball’s straight-faced reporting of conservative objections to the bill really demonstrates is that their excuses are just cover for the simple truth that a lot of Republicans think that protecting them from rape, murder, and beatings by husbands and boyfriends violates men’s “rights.” As Amanda Marcotte wrote in her response to Ball’s piece, Republicans “have issues.”

WTF?!

WTF?!

Molly Ball of the Atlantic decided to delve into why it is that Republicans have caved into conservative pressure groups who oppose the Violence Against Women Act. The reasons that conservatives gave her were, she had to admit, shallow and idiotic and, if she delved in deeper (the claim that VAWA is making domestic violence worse is simply not true), straight up dishonest, but she didn’t make the obvious leap and realize that perhaps conservatives oppose VAWA because they are misogynist, and that all the excuses they give are attempts to deflect people from seeing the obvious.

But in case you are still struggling to accept that straight-up misogyny might be driving the fight against VAWA, consider this: Talking Points Memo discovered the conservative super-PAC and advocacy group [that] has been behind the push against VAWA. You don’t have to dig very deep to discover that their reasons are blunt force misogyny:

In a blog post, FreedomWorks criticized the cost of the legislation — $660 million — and pointed out that domestic violence is “already illegal in all 50 states.” It added: “Supporters of the VAWA portray women as helpless victims – this is the kind of attitude that is setting women back.”

Well what do you know? Freedom Works again. Marcotte continues:

In other words, the solution to domestic violence is to simply refuse to label a woman whose partner is beating her a “victim”. Got it. I’m curious if FreedomWorks is willing to expand this attitude towards other crimes. Mugged? Well, it’s disempowering and bad for you to call you a “victim”—god forbid!—so let’s just say you’re generous to people who wield guns and call it a day. FreedomWorks also claims that simply having laws on the books banning domestic violence is enough—as long as we formally say we’re against it, we don’t need to do anything silly like make sure the laws are enforced by directing resources to them. They also make the facetious claim that feminists are demanding that men be thrown in jail for merely yelling at women. It’s an amazing show of minimizing domestic violence, pretending that it’s just couples fighting, and seeking any way possible to make sure that abusive men aren’t held accountable.

And from the annals of rape culture, Alternet reports on “How police treat rape in America.”

In some of the most disturbing and sickening news of the day, New York state police have decided that a 15-year-old girl who was sexually assaulted by three boys was in fact not sexually assaulted because both she and the boys are mentally handicapped.

In May of last year, three boys attacked a 15-year-old mentally challenged student at Martin De Porres Academy, a school for students with special needs in Long Island. According to the police report, one of the boys repeatedly banged her head against the table while the other two forced her to give them oral sex and then tried to have forcible anal sex with her. In interviews with the police, the girl explained how she repeatedly said “no” and “stop” but that the boys continued to assault her. When she came home from school that day, her mother noticed that she had blood on her underwear.

But when the police learned that the alleged rapists were also mentally challenged, they withdrew the charges.

The department’s spokesperson told the New York Daily News , “It was more of a consensual situation with their mental capabilities.”

Of course, head-banging, blood and repeated pleas to “stop” are never consensual situations–regardless of the IQ level of the attackers. But, in this case, the police department is even further off target. As the family’s lawyer explained, the girl has an IQ of about 50 points, which puts her below the cognitive functioning level to consent to sex at all.

Here’s another outrageous child abuse story from the Smoking Gun: FBI: Man Slapped Crying Toddler On Delta Flight

After demanding that the mother of a crying toddler “shut that nigger baby up,” a male passenger allegedly slapped the 19-month-old across the face as a flight prepared to land in Atlanta last Friday evening, The Smoking Gun has learned.

The shocking February 8 incident aboard Delta Airlines Flight 721 resulted in Joe Rickey Hundley, 60, being charged with simple assault, according to a U.S. District Court affidavit. Hundley…is president of an aircraft parts manufacturer headquartered in Hayden, Idaho.

Can you believe that? I guess the FBI got involved because this may be a hate crime.

As detailed by FBI Agent Daron Cheney, Hundley was traveling to Atlanta from Minneapolis in seat 28A on the MD-90 twin-engine jet. He was seated next to Jessica Bennett, who shared seat 28B with her son Jonah.

Bennett, 33, told investigators that the “aircraft was in final descent” to Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when her child “started to cry due to the altitude change.” Bennett added that she “was trying to get [her son] to stop crying, but he continued.”

At this point, Bennett recalled, Hundley used the racial epithet as he told her to shut the child up. He then allegedly “turned around and slapped” the toddler in the face “with an open hand, which caused the juvenile victim to scream even louder.” The slap, Bennett said, “caused a scratch below [the child’s] right eye.”

Thanks to Dakinikat for alerting me to this story.

And thanks to JJ for this one from The Guardian UK: Every meteorite fall [that we know about] on earth mapped. Please go check it out. The known incidents go all the way back to 2,300 BC!

Those are my recommendations for today. What’s on your reading and blogging list? I look forward to clicking on your links!

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28 Comments on “Saturday Reads: A Mixed Bag of Stupid, Crazy and Sad, with Some Awesome Thrown In”

  1. RalphB says:

    Good morning. Gotta check those meteorite strikes. The scumbag who slapped the baby has been in trouble before with his temper. This time it’s a federal crime because it happened in the air.

    According to Virginia state court records, Hundley was arrested in 2007 following a fight with his girlfriend. Initially charged with simple assault, carrying a concealed weapon, and public intoxication, Hundley subsequently pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor assault rap.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Bizarre “journal article” claims to analyze Sasquatch genome and “prove” that it is the product of mating between human and ape.

    What can I say? I love this stuff! LOL

  3. No idea if anyone has posted this? FreedomWorks produced Clinton sexual parody video

    Mother Jones has produced another revelation related to the internal disputes at the tea party-aligned group FreedomWorks. The liberal magazine reported that staffers produced a parody video that featured a staffer in a panda suit simulating a sex act on a staffer wearing a Hillary Clinton mask.

    Multiple sources have confirmed the Mother Jones report.

    FreedomWorks Executive Vice President Adam Brandon produced and appeared in the video. Two female interns were asked to appear in the offending scene, part of a film meant to be shown at the FreePAC conference last July. The parody video was screened for about fifteen staff members before the conference; it was killed after several staffers voiced loud objections, noting that thousands of social conservatives would attend the event. At least two staff members went to the organization’s Human Resources department with complaints. Brandon defended the video, according to a former FreedomWorks staffer.

    Report: Tea Party group made fake-Hillary with fake-panda sex video — MSNBC

    Y’all probably already talked about this…

    • bostonboomer says:

      We talked about it already, but that’s OK. It’s evil enough for several days of discussion.

      • I really need to catch up. Every time I start to read the news of the past few days I get distracted.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Why bother? Just write off the last few days and start with today. Believe me, other than the meteorite in Russia, it’s all the same old sh&t.

        • You are right, I think I will. Hey did you see this: This Week in God – The Maddow Blog

          Looking at this map, put together by Gallup, the lighter colors show states with fewer religious residents, and the darker colors show the opposite. Overall, Vermont is easily the state with the smallest religious population, followed by New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts, while Mississippi is on the opposite end of the spectrum, followed by Utah, Alabama, and Louisiana.

          Vermont is looking better to me…

      • RalphB says:

        Vermont looks great to me.

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Don’t ya’ll find this somewhat ironic/hypocritical? These “conservatives” proclaim marriage is one man/one woman, no to contraceptive because sex outside marriage is immoral & that pregnancy is a gift from their god and that fetal personhood should be the law of the land. This just seems like a weird choice of how to make a mockery of Hillary Clinton – what about their values they want to legislate into law for ALL Americans? Plus I’m surprised they didn’t ask Anne Coulter to wear the Hillary mask. She, no doubt, would have jumped on the chance.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    This is interesting. Indiana farmer challenges Monsanto in Supreme Court on Tuesday.

    With his mere 300 acres of soybeans, corn and wheat, Vernon Hugh Bowman said, “I’m not even big enough to be called a farmer.”

    Yet the 75-year-old farmer from southwestern Indiana will face off Tuesday against the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, in a Supreme Court case that could have a huge impact on the future of genetically modified crops, and also affect other fields from medical research to software.

    At stake in Mr. Bowman’s case is whether patents on seeds — or other things that can self-replicate — extend beyond the first generation of the products.

    It is one of two cases before the Supreme Court related to the patenting of living organisms, a practice that has helped give rise to the biotechnology industry but which critics have long considered immoral. The other case, involving a breast cancer risk test from Myriad Genetics, will determine whether human genes can be patented.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    Three Brookline, MA high school students “track asteroid, set up live feed.”

  6. bostonboomer says:

    We’re getting more snow tomorrow. Unfortunately, they don’t know how much–could be anywhere from 2 to 6 inches.

  7. Fannie says:

    Hey, if I recall, back in 1968, California, I was making $1.25 or $1.35 at most………And Marsha
    Blackburn was making $2.15 in Mississippi……………Marsha of all women should know what poverty is like, coming from Laurel. She’s seen the farmers, and the uneducated, and the living conditions in those Ms. shacks. I was there, and I too saw it from the inside out. She’s looking to “moving on” up with the republicans. Of course there are those in Laurel, who thought she’d never amount to anything, and she is proving them wrong.

  8. janey says:

    My first job at age 16 at a drive in restaurant paid 50 cents an hour. I brought home after deductions about 11 dollars and something. Maybe we should go back to that wage? I wonder if Rep Blackburn would accept that?

  9. prolixous says:

    All these cross-currents on rebranding the Republican Party just makes my head spin, they should just stick with what works — Vote Republican where we value putting the poverty and beatings back into our families where they belong.

  10. RalphB says:

    Nice blog piece from Paul Krugman …

    Gratifying Signs of Desperation

    On both sides of the Atlantic, the austerians seem to be freaking out. And that has to be good news, an indication that they realize, at some level, that they’re losing the debate.