Minxy’s out surfing samsara this afternoon. I’m trying to muster up some good vibes today for her as she faces all the “it’s a short life” kind’ve stuff that goes on with the early passing of a friend. As for me, I seem to be entering my blue period. Maybe it’s because I just get cannot this friggin’ gravity model specified correctly and maybe it’s just my parameters that are tangled up and BLUE. Okay, you won’t know what BLUE means for a regression estimator (Best Linear Unbiased Estimator e.g. BLUE) unless you’re as steeped in econometrics as I am but it’s a good play on words. REALLY. Chuckle sympathetically because I need it today. I wish I could like football like normal people. Instead, I follow the bloodsport of politics and its inherent nastiness these days and I have way too many degrees in the dismal science. The results are bound to get to you one way or another.
So this little piece is about the U.S. and blue to match my mood. I’m going to start out with some blue estimators of a different sort.
There was a bit of poll that showed a glimmer of true hope instead of the manufactured sort out today. Recent entrant into the Massachusetts Senate Race, Elizabeth Warren, is polling ahead of glamor boy Republican Scott Brown who replaced the late Ted Kennedy.
Elizabeth Warren has had an incredibly successful launch to her Senate campaign and actually leads Scott Brown now by a 46-44 margin, erasing what was a 15 point deficit the last time we polled the state in early June.
Warren’s gone from 38% name recognition to 62% over the last three months and she’s made a good first impression on pretty much everyone who’s developed an opinion about her during that period of time. What was a 21/17 favorability rating in June is now 40/22- in other words she’s increased the voters with a positive opinion of her by 19% while her negatives have risen only 5%.
The surprising movement toward Warren has a lot to do with her but it also has a lot to do with Scott Brown. We now find a slight plurality of voters in the state disapproving of him- 45%, compared to only 44% approving. We have seen a steady decline in Brown’s numbers over the last 9 months. In early December his approval was a +24 spread at 53/29. By June it had declined to a +12 spread at a 48/36. And now it’s continued that fall to its current place.
Meanwhile, the mixed up mess of Republican presidential candidates is shaking up to a two white man race. Gallup reports that Perry has a better chance than Romney of sealing the nomination at this point, but Romney has a better chance than Perry to beat Obama. No surprises there.
Rick Perry leads Mitt Romney by 31% to 24% in a new USA Today/Gallup poll of Republican presidential nomination preferences. The two are well ahead of the rest of the GOP field, with Ron Paul the only other candidate in double figures.
Perry seems to have momentum, but that could be slowed in the coming weeks if Republicans start to perceive that Romney is more electable in the general election. The new poll finds the slight majority of Republicans, 53%, prefer to see their party nominate the person who has the best chance of beating Obama, even if that person does not agree with them on almost all of the issues they care about. Forty-three percent would prefer a candidate who does agree with them on almost all of the issues, even if that person does not have the best chance of winning in November 2012.
Romney currently edges out President Barack Obama by 49% to 47% in national registered-voter preferences for the November election, while Perry trails Obama by 45% to 50%. However, neither Romney nor Obama is ahead by a statistically significant margin.
It’s no wonder Perry wants out of Texas. This poll should direct Perry into the Even Cowgirls get the Blues line. Texans do not like Governor Goodhair if you believe PPP’s numbers.
The poll, released Tuesday, showed Perry with a negative approval in Texas: while 45 percent of the state’s voters approve of Perry’s job performance, 48 percent of Texas voters say they don’t approve.
Obama should have The Blues over this poll from Marist. Will this lead to calls for a primary challenger on calls on him to pull an LBJ?
President Barack Obama faces a litany of bad news. The president’s job approval rating, his favorability, and his rating on the economy have hit all-time lows. To compound matters, three in four Americans still believe the nation is in a recession and the proportion who thinks the country is moving in the wrong direction is at its highest point in more than a decade.
According to this McClatchy-Marist Poll, the president’s approval rating is at 39% among registered voters nationally, an all-time low for Mr. Obama. For the first time a majority — 52% — disapproves of the job he is doing in office, and 9% are unsure.
You’ve always known that Wall Street is only True Blue to profits and not the country right? Grok this headline at Politico via the WSJ. It looks like a lot of hedge funds were betting the US to lose its AAA standing with S&P. The SEC is launching insider trading probes. Can we please get some perp walks now, please?
Securities and Exchange Commission officials have sent subpoenas to financial firms in a probe of whether there was insider trading — betting on a market crash — before the United States’ long-term credit rating was cut by S&P last month, reports The Wall Street Journal.
At issue are trades that were made by hedge funds and other firms shortly before the rating agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded U.S. debt from triple-A to double-A-plus on Aug. 5 and cited the dysfunctional political climate in Washington as one of the reasons.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 635 points, or 5.5 percent, on Aug. 8, the first day of trading after the downgrade. This was the sharpest one-day decline since the financial crisis in 2008, but it also made bets against the market very profitable.
Securities regulators are looking for firms that bet the stock market would drop — in particular, bearish trades that seem unusually large or were made by firms that typically do not make them.
An SEC spokesman declined to tell The Wall Street Journal which investment firms have received subpoenas.
My guess is it’s the usual vampire squid suspects and all the rest of the guys whose blue balls we pulled out of the bankruptcy fire with TARP and tax dollars. Bets any one?
So here’s the a nifty chart from Paul Krugman–with blue bars–that will make you scream until you’re blue in the face. Look whose been winning the class war since 1979. So the deal is not only is their share of income and assets way up, but their after tax income has gone way up too.
Changes in tax rates have strongly favored the very, very rich.
Now, they’re only a fairly small part of the huge growth in the after-tax inequality of income. But tax policy has very much leaned into that growing inequality, not against it — and anyone who says otherwise should not be trusted on this issue, or any other.
So, of course the moment we get a whiff of anything slightly Democratic coming from the President we experience blue dogs howling at the blue moon and the beltway press.
Centrist Democrats, a dwindling breed on Capitol Hill, were quickly faced with another rough choice once Obama went public with his plans: Reject their president or back what Republicans are already calling the largest tax increase in the nation’s history.
Florida Sen. Bill Nelson, who is up for reelection in 2012, has supported raising taxes on millionaires but was still weighing whether he’d support higher taxes on those who make more than $200,000 a year, said spokesman Dan McLaughlin.
Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), a key moderate who’s up for reelection next year, didn’t mince words: “There’s too much discussion about raising taxes right now, not enough focus on cutting spending.”
But Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), who likely will face GOP Rep. Denny Rehberg in next year’s reelection bid, hedged a bit, saying he backs provisions in Obama’s plan that call for closing tax loopholes that benefit millionaires and corporations
“This plan isn’t the one I would have written, nor is it the one that will end up passing Congress,” Tester said. “But I welcome all ideas to the table so Congress can work together to create jobs, cut debt and cut spending.”
Blue blooded villager David Brooks admits to being an Obama sap and refers to Beltway Bob as “appreciative”. I prefer the term deep-throating, but hey, there’s a glint of recognition, right? It’s a two for one villager idiot piece! Look! I’ve managed to use some blue language.
Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around.
But remember, I’m a sap. The White House has clearly decided that in a town of intransigent Republicans and mean ideologues, it has to be mean and intransigent too. The president was stung by the liberal charge that he was outmaneuvered during the debt-ceiling fight. So the White House has moved away from the Reasonable Man approach or the centrist Clinton approach.
It has gone back, as an appreciative Ezra Klein of The Washington Post conceded, to politics as usual. The president is sounding like the Al Gore for President campaign, but without the earth tones. Tax increases for the rich! Protect entitlements! People versus the powerful! I was hoping the president would give a cynical nation something unconventional, but, as you know, I’m a sap.
Being a sap, I still believe that the president’s soul would like to do something about the country’s structural problems. I keep thinking he’s a few weeks away from proposing serious tax reform and entitlement reform. But each time he gets close, he rips the football away. He whispered about seriously reforming Medicare but then opted for changes that are worthy but small. He talks about fundamental tax reform, but I keep forgetting that he has promised never to raise taxes on people in the bottom 98 percent of the income scale.
I nearly had to stop reading the damned thing since I was about to pass out from putting my palm to my forehead just a few too many times. Yes, it’s turning black and blue. How are we supposed to get grown up discussions about policy when the two largest newspapers in the country insist posting self serving drivel on a near daily basis.
Okay, here’s my last offering which really does show the best of the Red, White and Blue. Today is the formal removal of DADT. 0penly Gay and lesbian members of our military no longer have to live double lives or be subject to dismissal.
With Tuesday’s repeal of the military’s ”don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, gays and lesbians are now free to serve openly in the U.S. armed services.
The U.S. military has spent months preparing for the repeal, updating regulations and training to reflect the impending change, and the Pentagon has already begun accepting applications from openly gay men and women.
It’s events like this that give you a sense that in some way, it’s still
WE THE PEOPLE of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity
I’m going to get some iced tea and head back to my trade and foreign direct investment research. But, here’s two of my favorites: Dylan’s Tangled up and Blue done by the Indigo Girls for you on this afternoon in New Orleans under a blue sky.
and every one of them words rang true
and glowed like a burning coal
pourin off every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up and Blue
I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the cafes at night
And revolution in the air …
I found this article at the CSM that highlights that we actually had a Do-a-Lot congress this year and it has a nifty self test on political knowledge in 2010 you may want to take. They highlighted six big laws that were passed this year. All of them were definitely steps in the correct direction even though they had flaws that will have to be worked out. I’m not sure I’d consider all of them great successes but when you look back on the list, you’re sure to find something naughty and nice.
Here’s there intro to the list.
The post-election lame-duck session – typically a mopping-up operation to get out of town – also made history, passing key pieces of legislation, often with greater input from Republicans than had earlier been the case. People can argue the merits of what Congress did, but it’s hard to quibble with the scope of the undertaking. Here are six of this Congress’s major accomplishments, in the order in which they were approved.
Here are their list of “six big achievements”.
1. American Recovery & Reinvestment Act
The $819 billion economic stimulus package, signed into law February 2009 less than a month after Barack Obama became president, is the largest stand-alone spending bill in US history. It included tax cuts, as well as new spending for public works, education, clean energy, technology, and health care.
2. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
Congress battled for a year to pass health-care reform, which was finally a done deal March 23, 2010. The law mandates that all Americans obtain health insurance coverage, and it sets up entities called health exchanges to provide people with affordable options.
3. Financial regulatory reform
Known officially as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the new law is the most significant regulatory overhaul of the financial system since the Depression ended in the 1930s. Signed into law in July 2010, it aims to end bailouts forced on taxpayers by financial institutions deemed “too big to fail” and to protect consumers. Included in the legislation is a powerful, independent consumer-protection bureau, an early-warning system for financial groups deemed too big to fail, new oversight of credit agencies, and lower fees on debit-card charges. It also directs much of the $600 trillion over-the-counter derivatives trade through clearinghouses and exchanges.
4. Big tax-cut extension, plus new stimulus
Congress averted the largest tax increase in American history by voting in December to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for two years, including for the highest-income households.
5. Repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’
Fulfilling campaign pledges of the last two Democratic presidents, Obama on Dec. 22 signed a law that repeals a 17-year ban on gay men and women serving openly in the US armed services.
6. New nuclear arms pact with Russia
The new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with Russia reduces the US and Russian arsenals of deployed strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550 apiece within seven years. The Senate ratified the treaty Dec. 22 by a vote of 71 to 26.
Okay, I’ll put it to you!
Naughty or Nice list?
See, even JuJu the Christmas Cat wants in on the project!!! (I guess my youngest daughter still hasn’t gotten through the doll phase yet.)
I think we can all agree that the service men and women in this picture and the folks that helped pass this repeal deserve a great big booyah! from us all. It was great to see some of our country’s heroes get some credit and recognition. Let’s hope the president’s signature is the first step in tearing the entire DADT infrastructure down and that the radical right groups working to repeal the repeal FAIL.
Just one small step for Human Kind …
The guests at the ceremony included Joe Solmonese, head of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group; Vice President Biden; Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.); and Dan Choi, a former U.S. Army soldier who was discharged under “don’t ask, don’t tell” and was arrested in November after chaining himself to a White House fence to protest the policy.
Several other soldiers who have been discharged from military service because they are gay attended the ceremony as well.
Among the guests on the stage with Obama was Eric Alva, a former Marine staff sergeant who lost a leg in Iraq and who, following a medical discharge, has been working for the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” Another participant was Navy Cmdr. Zoe Dunning, a repeal advocate who fought to remain in the Navy Reserves and ultimately retired in 2007 after 13 years of service as an openly gay officer.
This is morphing into a mid afternoon Senate news post so you can consider it an open thread for other news besides the DADT signing ceremony.
Senators on both side of the aisle came together to unanimously pass a bill to give continuing health benefits and compensation to first responders who got sick after the 9/11 terror attacks.
The bill passed after Senate Democrats struck a deal Wednesday with Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who agreed to drop his objections when the cost of the bill was reduced by about $2 billion.
The Oklahoma Republican had come under withering criticism for opposing the bill on the grounds that it provided “overly generous funding” and included “unnecessary and duplicative compensation funds.”
Coburn emerged Wednesday from a closed-door meeting that included Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and New York Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to reveal that that a deal has been worked out that will likely enable the bill to pass the Senate – and then the House – by the end of the day.
Under the deal, the total cost of the bill over ten years would be reduced from $6.2 billion to $4.2 billion. Of that $4.2 billion, $1.5 billion will go to health benefits for the first responders, while $2.7 billion will go to compensation for them.
update from CNN: “House OKs measure providing free health care to first responders of NYC 9/11 attacks, sending the bill to the president.” The House and Senate bills have gone through reconciliation are now consistent and will become law.
The START treaty has just been ratified too via The Boston Globe (obviously a Kerry Fanzine.)
In one of the biggest victories of Senator John F. Kerry’s legislative career, the US Senate today voted to approve an arms control agreement with Russia, by a bipartisan 71 to 26 vote, with Vice President Joe Biden presiding over the chamber and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the floor. The treaty needed at least 67 votes to be ratified.
The treaty, known as New START, will reduce strategic warheads by about a third on each side, to 1,550, and set up protocols for inspections of each nation’s warheads. The vote is a major foreign policy victory to President Obama, who considered approval of the treaty a top priority of the lame-duck congressional session.
Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat and head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was in charge of shepherding the treaty through the Senate.
“This historic Senate vote makes our country safer and moves the world further away from the danger of nuclear disaster,” Kerry said in a statement. “The winners are not defined by party or ideology. The winners are the American people, who are safer with fewer Russian missiles aimed at them, and who benefit knowing that our cooperation with Russia in curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions and supplying our troops in Afghanistan can be strengthened.”
Guess those folks really wanted that long Holiday Break! All 58 Democrats and both Independents supported the Treaty Ratification. It was supported by 13 Republicans.
In other surprises: Obama press conference at 4:15 pm (Does this mean he’s going to take questions?)
There was a terrible oil pipeline explosion in San Martin Texmelucan, Mexico.
A massive oil pipeline explosion lay waste to parts of a central Mexican city Sunday, incinerating people, cars, houses and trees as gushing crude turned streets into flaming rivers. At least 28 people were killed, 13 of them children, in a disaster authorities blamed on oil thieves.
The blast in San Martin Texmelucan, initally estimated to have affected 5,000 residents in a three-mile (five-kilometer) radius, scorched homes and cars and left metal and pavement twisted and in some cases burned to ash in the intense heat.
Relatives sobbed as firefighters pulled charred bodies from the incinerated homes, some of the remains barely more than piles of ashes and bones.
The disastrous accident is being blamed on thieves who were attempting to steal crude oil.
Investigators found a hole in the pipeline and equipment for extracting crude, said Laura Gurza, chief of the federal Civil Protection emergency response agency.
“They lost control because of the high pressure with which the fuel exits the pipeline,” he said.
The oil flowed more than half a mile (one kilometer) down a city street before diverting into a river. At some point a spark of unknown origin caused both to erupt in flames.
I found that story on Fox News. I’m not sure how much attention it will get in the U.S. Cudos to Fox for covering it.
The National Journal has a preview of what we’re in store for in 2012 if we can’t dump Obama and find a qualified, electable liberal to replace him. According to the author, Ronald Brownstein, there are two types of Republicans who might run for president: “managers” like Mitt Romney and “populists” like Sarah Palin.
The most prominent populists are former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. The leading manager is Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, although he could face competition from such current governors as Indiana’s Mitch Daniels, Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, and, conceivably, New Jersey’s Chris Christie. Onetime House Speaker Newt Gingrich straddles both camps but leans toward the populist side. Outgoing Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, a self-described “Sam’s Club” Republican with an equable manner, also straddles the line but probably tilts toward the manager camp, as would Sen. John Thune of South Dakota if he ran. Conversely, if Texas Gov. Rick Perry reverses his decision and joins the race, he would enter as a full-throated populist.
No matter which type we get stuck with, it’s going to be a nightmare.
The two groups disagree on some issues (trade, aid to banks), but the most important differences between them are cultural and stylistic, not ideological. The populists thunder; the managers reassure. The populists stress their social values; the managers tout their economic competence. The populists rage at the elite; the managers mingle easily with them.
To their supporters, the populists represent a cultural statement: Who they are is more important than what they will do. For the managers, that equation is reversed: Their biggest selling point is their agenda, not their identity.
Of course, Obama might be able to get some of his base back now that Congress has suddenly handed him DADT repeal. IMHO, Obama didn’t really want it, but he’ll take the resulting bump it will probably give him. It’s not clear yet what results the tax cuts will have on Obama’s popularity. I guess we’ll have to wait and see about that.
Also at the National Journal, there’s an interesting piece by Michael Hirsch: Obama Tried to Placate Liberal Economists
At a White House news conference on December 7 in which he announced a deal to extend the Bush tax cuts, Barack Obama chastised his liberal base for sticking unrealistically to their “purist” positions.
What the president didn’t say was that a few hours earlier he had met with and tried to assauge some his most vociferous liberal critics — economists Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Jeffrey Sachs, Alan Blinder, and Robert Reich, the former Labor secretary.
Excuse me? Why the hell did it take so long for this story to get out?
“He didn’t really respond,” said one of the participants. “He said it was hard to change the narrative after 30 years” of small-government rhetoric and policies dating back to Ronald Reagan. “He seemed to be looking for a way to reassure the base. Or maybe it was just to reassure himself.”
Um…presidentin’ is hard. Part of the job is influencing “the narrative.” Maybe if Obama had actually tried, he could have accomplished something. But why try? Might as well just relax, play basketball, and vacation in Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii, and let the other Reaganites control “the narrative.” The article even harks back to Obama’s praise of Reagan during the primaries.
We just have to dump this loser!
There’s a great post on Washington’s Blog arguing for a causal connection between income inequality and the crashes of 1929 and 2008.
…recent studies by Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty are waking up more and more economists to the possibility that there may be a connection.
Specifically, economics professors Saez (UC Berkeley) and Piketty (Paris School of Economics) show that the percentage of wealth held by the richest 1% of Americans peaked in 1928 and 2007 – right before each crash…
Please go read the whole thing.
Raw Story reports that a new study supports the hypothesis that the “Supreme Court is becoming a tool of corporate interests.”
A study has found that the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts has undergone a fundamental shift in its outlook, ruling in favor of businesses much more often than previous courts.
According to the Northwestern University study, commissioned for the New York Times, the Roberts court has sided with business interests in 61 percent of relevant cases, compared to 46 percent in the last five years of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who passed away in 2005….
Meanwhile, a second study, from the Constitutional Accountability Center, has charted the growing influence of the US Chamber of Commerce on the courts. The chamber started filing amicus briefs with the top court three decades ago in an effort to prompt more business-friendly rulings.
According to the study, the Roberts Supreme Court has sided with the Chamber 68 percent of the time, up from 56 percent under the Rehnquist court, and noticeably higher than the 43 percent during the relevant part of Chief Justice Warren Burger’s court, which ended in 1986.
Fox News reports the results of another study, one that finds that “Prime Time TV ‘Objectifies and Fetishizes’ Underage Girls”
According to a new study conducted by the Parents Television Council (PTC), Hollywood is shockingly obsessed with sexualizing teen girls, to the point where underage female characters are shown participating in an even higher percentage of sexual situations than their adult counterparts: 47 percent to 29 percent respectively.
PTC’s report, entitled “New Target: A Study of Teen Female Sexualization on Primetime TV” is based on a content analysis drawn from the 25 most popular shows in the 12-17 demographic throughout the 2009-2010 television season.
“The results from this report show Tinseltown’s eagerness to not only objectify and fetishize young girls, but to sexualize them in such a way that real teens are led to believe their sole value comes from their sexuality,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “This report is less about the shocking numbers that detail the sickness of early sexualization in our entertainment culture and more about the generation of young girls who are being told how society expects them to behave.”
“Storylines on the most popular shows among teens are sending the message to our daughters that being sexualized isn’t just acceptable, it should be sought after,” Winter said.
I have to say, this study reflect what I’ve noticed in the small sample of TV I expose myself to. Prime time is sure different than when I was a teenager.
At the Washington Post, there’s a story about (surprise!) hypocrisy in the Senate.
The Senate Armed Services Committee prohibits its staff and presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation from owning stocks or bonds in 48,096 companies that have Defense Department contracts. But the senators who sit on the influential panel are allowed to own any assets they want.
And they have owned millions in interests in these firms.
The committee’s prohibition is designed to prevent high-ranking Pentagon officials from using inside information to enrich themselves or members of their immediate family.
But panel members have access to much of the same inside information, because they receive classified briefings from high-ranking defense officials about policy, contracts and plans for combat strategies and weapons systems.
Of course it’s not just hypocrisy. It’s a wide open invitation to corruption.
Since I’m a psychologist, I’m going to throw in a story about psychological research. The author, Tyler Burge, is a professor of philosophy at UCLA. He discusses one of my pet peeves–the way brain imaging research is glorified in the media, even though it’s really just based on correlations between brain activity and specific behaviors. While the results of these studies can be interesting, they aren’t sufficient to actually explain human behavior.
Imagine that reports of the mid-20th-century breakthroughs in biology had focused entirely on quantum mechanical interactions among elementary particles. Imagine that the reports neglected to discuss the structure or functions of DNA. Inheritance would not have been understood. The level of explanation would have been wrong. Quantum mechanics lacks a notion of function, and its relation to biology is too complex to replace biological understanding. To understand biology, one must think in biological terms.
Discussing psychology in neural terms makes a similar mistake. Explanations of neural phenomena are not themselves explanations of psychological phenomena. Some expect the neural level to replace the psychological level. This expectation is as naive as expecting a single cure for cancer. Science is almost never so simple.
Correlations between localized neural activity and specific psychological phenomena are important facts. But they merely set the stage for explanation. Being purely descriptive, they explain nothing. Some correlations do aid psychological explanation. For example, identifying neural events underlying vision constrains explanations of timing in psychological processes and has helped predict psychological effects. We will understand both the correlations and the psychology, however, only through psychological explanation.
Unfortunately, Burge wants to replace the evidence from brain imaging research with perceptual research. Okay, but perception doesn’t fully explain human behavior either.
I could make the same argument for other psychological fields. For example, what about child development? One problem with research on brain structures is that every child’s brain develops differently, depending on the experiences the child has with his or her environment. The brain is so flexible that each human brain is truly unique–even though there are obviously many similarities across individuals.
Anyway, it’s an interesting article. Check it out if you’re interested in psychology.
Soooooo… what are you reading this morning? Please share!
To achieve any greatness in life, one must confer their crocodile deliverances with the utmost skill and try to fool the rest of us. The ability to effectualize sympathy and understanding in the man standing next to you, whether you care if he breathes air or not, is a quality most treasured by those who want to lead. Become an expert in this and you will go far. For there is nothing like genuine indifference to get ahead in life, to demand a following, that of prestige and service.
Minx here with your Sunday Reads. The paragraph above is something I wrote and is a thought that I have worked on for a little while. With the recent events that have gone on in DC lately, and all the crocodile tears being shed by our politicians, I just wanted to touch on this a bit. So here is my opinion of the following politicians and their ability to shed those crocodile tears.
Obama: He does not even try to identify with “the little people,” so your won’t see any crocodile tears from him. I think he has such a disconnect with the population. His elitist and narcissistic attitude does not allow him to relate to the experiences and situation that so many of us are dealing with now. Not that he really gives a damn anyway.
Boehner: This guy is overdoing it! His tears are way too easily accessible for him to be healthy. I tend to think that perhaps this ability to cry at almost anything is connected to his alcohol intake.
Gore: Now, if you want to see a professional crocodile tear deliverer in action, this is the guy to watch. He has just the right amount of pseudo genuine concern, yet still has the ability to relate to people. (Especially if they are certified massage therapist…sorry I could not resist. ) **No offense to those who are fond of Gore.
Palin: She is also a pro at delivering the tears when they are needed, and is a powerhouse when it comes to connecting with people, but they have to be her “kind” of people. Put her in a room full of women making the decision to abort a pregnancy because they cannot afford to have another child, or are victims of rape, or have health issues, or have a severely deformed or disabled fetus…you see where I am going with this…and there is no amount of crocodile tears that would connect her to these women.
Clinton: Hillary does not need to produce fake tears to connect her to the people. She is always genuine and sincere. She is not indifferent to the concerns and hardships that many of us are facing now. I know I put her on a pedestal, but there is no one like her.
Okay, I will admit it…I like Shepard Smith. (So let the harassing and teasing begin.) I have been posting links about the wonderful job that Jon Stewart has been doing reporting this story.
Looks like at least one person over at Fox News watched Jon Stewart’s segment with 9-11 first respondersreacting to the Senate filibuster and decided to let everyone know how they felt about it.
A wonderful moment of pure outrage–and classic television–from Shepard Smith on Fox News Friday afternoon as he and Chris Wallace waited for President Obama’s tax cut signing ceremony.
Discussing the amount of money on “tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them,” Smith railed against the very same lawmakers who somehow couldn’t get relief passed for 9/11 first responders.
How do they sleep at night after this vote on Ground Zero first responders from 9/11? Are they going to get that done, or are we going to leave these American heroes out there to twist in the wind? [...]
Who’s going to hold these people’s feet to the fire? We’re able to put a 52 story building so far down there at Ground Zero, we’re able to pay for tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them and it’s not going to stimulate the economy. But we can’t give health care to Ground Zero first responders who ran right into the fire? Went down there to save people? Do people know what this city was like that day? People were walking over bridges they were covered in ash they were running for their lives they were crying their family members were dead. And these people ran to Ground Zero to save people’s lives. And we’re not going to even give them medicine for the illnesses they got down there? It’s disgusting, it’s a national disgrace, it’s a shame and everybody who voted against should have to stand up and account for himself or herself.
I’m glad Smith pointed out what an outrage this is, but like his cohort Peter Johnson Jr., Smith didn’t bother to let the viewers know that it’s the Republicans blocking the bill.
I am glad that Heather pointed that obvious neglected admission of who exactly is blocking the bill, i.e. Republicans. I think that it is ridiculous to leave this part out…but I have come to expect this crap from Faux News. At least the issue is getting air time. I hope that these idiots get some sort of heart and stop the filibuster.
Did you all see the SNL opening skit? If you missed it check this out:SNL – Democrats Dream of Better Headlines in 2011 | Obama | Mediaite
Frosty the Snowman turned up on Saturday Night Live last night to reflect on the passing year and inspire hope for the new one. Democrats, he noted, are hoping the hardest, after a year of political losses. So he peered into the souls of some of Washington’s most prominent Dems to find out what headlines they’d like to see in 2011…
Hillary Clinton was dreaming of the Oval Office as well, envisioning the headline, “Obama To Hillary: Let’s Switch Jobs.”
Oh, if only Obama told Hillary that! There is a link to the video clip on that Mediate link above. The Jeff Bridges and Cookie Monster duet was great too.
Dakinikat had an awesome posts about this earlier this week. If you did not see them please check them out. This week saw the passing of the Obama-McConnell Tax Cut Bill. Ugh, what a mess. Well, I just wanted to bring David Dayen’s recent article to you all…US Wage Stagnation Leads to Rampant Inequality | FDL News Desk
Alan Blinder has a great story in the Wall Street Journal Friday about the US economy and how impossibly tilted it is toward the rich:
Those of us who live near the top of the income pyramid are doing very nicely, thank you. Yet our government keeps showering us with Christmas presents. Meanwhile, economic life is pretty miserable for those near the bottom and is getting worse for those in the middle. Does this strike you as fair?
The main story line of the U.S. economy over the last third of a century evokes Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol.” Starting in the late 1970s, the labor market turned ferociously against those with less education and in favor of those with more. This was not Ronald Reagan’s fault, nor George Bush’s (either one), nor Mitch McConnell’s. It just happened. And except for a brief shining moment during the Clinton boom, the Great Disequalization has continued unabated to this day [...]
When it comes to wages, the basic story of recent decades is redolent of Scrooge.Real average hourly earnings (excluding fringe benefits) now stand roughly at 1974 levels. Yes, that’s right, no real increase in over 35 years. That is an astounding, dismaying and profoundly ahistorical development. The American story for two centuries was one of real wages advancing more or less in line with productivity. But not lately. Since 1978, productivity in the nonfarm business sector is up 86%, but real compensation per hour (which includes fringe benefits) is up just 37%. Does that seem fair?
I’m focusing on wages, though the inequality throughout the rest of the economy is crucial as well. But basically, you have working people producing for their employers and not coming close to sharing in the benefit. You have stagnant incomes for the last 35 years, which is absolutely incredible.
And this leads necessarily to income inequality. This chart of inequality in New York City approaching that of a banana republic tells the tale. Income has become concentrated in the hands of a few. They set the political agenda, they use the commons to an expansive degree, and they don’t pay their freight on that use. Government policies for 30 years have bestowed gifts on the rich at the expense of the poor, something we just saw a few minutes ago with the signing of a tax cut bill which will effectively increase taxes on those making under $20,000 a year, and reduce them on the top 2%.
And yet the loudest voices among those who haven’t had to commit a fair share to the functioning of this country continually scream about the budget deficit, not the structural revenue gap. Blinder has a word for them too.
But here’s a stunning coincidence. The entire Bowles-Simpson plan would reduce federal borrowing by $3.9 trillion over 10 years, including interest savings. That’s a lot of money. In fact, it’s almost enough to cover the cost of extending all the Bush tax cuts for 10 years.
So here’s a choice: We can achieve nearly $4 trillion in budgetary savings by accepting everything on the Bowles-Simpson list—spinach, broccoli and all. Or we can get a bit more than $4 trillion simply by letting all the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012. Of course, ending those tax cuts would mean returning to the tax rates of the Clinton years—when, as I’m sure you recall, high tax rates killed incentives and left our economy dead in the water.
It’s only slightly related, but you have to read Moe Tkacik on Peter Orszag. The words “corporate oligarchy” come to mind.
I am sure Dak will chime in on this one.
And I will just add one more link…this one is about the repeal of DADT: Clinton hails repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as ‘historic step forward’ | Madam Secretary
Secretary Clinton hailed the Senate’s repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military as a “historic step forward for all Americans, a step toward a more perfect union and a more perfect reflection of our core values.” She made the remarks in a statement issued today in which she also said, “we are committed to universal standards abroad and here at home. Our progress on equality here strengthens our advocacy for human dignity everywhere.”
I was very excited that this passed.
From Minx’s Missing Link File:
This week was the 66 year anniversary of the beginning of one of the most decisive battles in the European Theater during WWII. On December 16, 1944, Hitler began his Operation Autumn Fog. According to The History Place – Defeat of Hitler: Battle of the Bulge:
At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 16, 1944, it all began. The offensive, which Hitler code named Operation Autumn Fog, erupted with an hour-long artillery barrage along an eighty-five mile front in the Ardennes which was thinly defended by six American divisions. Three of the divisions were new and had no battle experience while the remainder were experienced but tired-out men sent to recuperate in what had been the quietest sector of the Western Front. Now they watched in amazement, peering through the morning mist as 2,500 tanks and self-propelled guns, accompanied by 18 infantry divisions, rumbled toward them over ground lightly covered with new-fallen snow.
The Battle of the Bulge (also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Von Rundstedt Offensive) (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive (die Ardennenoffensive), launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes Mountains regionof Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name (Bataille des Ardennes), and France and Luxembourg on the Western Front. The Wehrmacht‘s code name for the offensive was Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (“Operation Watch on the Rhine“), after the German patriotic hymn Die Wacht am Rhein. This German offensive was officially named the Ardennes-Alsace campaign by the U.S. Army, but it is known to the English-speaking general public simply as the Battle of the Bulge, the “bulge” being the initial incursion the Germans put into the Allies’ line of advance, as seen in maps presented in contemporary newspapers.
I wanted to bring you this link especially, Forever tied to strangers in arms | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/16/2010 It is an article written by a WWII veteran who was one of the soldiers that experienced this battle first hand.
Forever tied to strangers in arms
By Seymour I. “Spence” Toll
During some part of my daily life for the past 66 years, I have relived the night of Dec. 16, 1944.
World War II’s Battle of the Bulge began at dawn that day, when a German force of 200,000 attacked 75,000 American troops defending an 80-mile front in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg. On the befogged and bitterly freezing first night of the Wehrmacht’s assault, as an unremarkable 19-year-old American infantryman, I was wounded in a German rocket mortar (or “screaming meemie”) attack.
Please read the entire article, it makes you think. These were young men who were drafted into this war and they seemed to perform superhuman feats…they accomplished so much and their success here in the Ardennes Mountains was instrumental in finally defeating Hitler and coming to grips with the horrible atrocities that he enacted.
Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:
Book Review – Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 – NYTimes.com
Sam intended to give us an unblushing autobiography on the order of Casanova’s or Rousseau’s “Confessions” or Samuel Pepys’s diary, which Sam heartily admired, with its matter-of-fact inventories of parties attended and meals enjoyed and the skirts of chambermaids raised, but he knew that frankness comes with a price — “None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned,” he said. “The man has yet to be born who could write the truth about himself”
I think Garrison Keillor, who wrote the review was not impressed by the autobiography. He writes:
Here is a powerful argument for writers’ burning their papers — you’d like to be remembered for “The Innocents Abroad” and “Life on the Mississippi” and the first two-thirds of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and not for excruciating passages of hero worship of General Grant and his son Fred and accounts of your proximity to the general and your business dealings as the publisher of his memoirs, which only reminds the reader that the general wrote a classic autobiography, and you tried to and could not.
Think twice about donating your papers to an institution of higher learning, Famous Writer: someday they may be used against you.
I have this book and it is one of the most interesting insights to how Mark Twain worked and wrote. I am enjoying it, even if it takes a while to get to the meat of the autobiography. The first half of the book is discussing the work of putting the autobiography together, and I must admit that part is kind of dry. But, it is fascinating to see copies of his handwritten drafts, and I still would recommend it.
Okay, that is what I have to say this morning. So what are you reading, or thinking about today?