I’m still not puzzled by the lack of the hopey changey stuff because,as you know, I was never completely convinced of it all from the get-go. However, I am confused by how Republicans are ruled by the shrillest of their shrill base and the Democratic Party–and its leaders–could care less about theirs. I still feel I have no place to go. So, let’s look at a few political headlines this morning and see if we can come up with some place other than an island of our own.
I guess no one takes you seriously unless you can endlessly fund some one’s political career. Voting for a republican is not even a rational choice any more because it’s the party of enslaving women. Voting for a third party candidate is a gesture signifying a lot but creating nothing. Voting democrat is just damned depressing. There is a real messed up set of people in charge of things these days.
First, a very good question is why the electorate soundly rejects right wing policies but we still have right-wingers running America. Here’s a discussion of that from Salon and Amitai Etzioni as reprinted by Alternet.
There is more than may appear in President Obama’s plan to cut the social safety net in his new budget proposal. The offer, on the face of it, reflects a significant violation of a major liberal creed, discarding the strongest liberal political card and Obama’s peculiar negotiation style of making major concessions at the opening of a give-and-take session. But it also reflects the sad but true fact that the dynamics of American politics cannot be understood in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans. Party labels aside, the nation is still being ruled by what I call a majority “conservative party.”
If Democrats and Republicans were the true divide, the meager gun control measures recently introduced in the Senate would have the majority needed to pass. After all, there are 53 Democratic Senators (and two Independents who generally side with them). Moreover, this time, the threat of a GOP filibuster is not to blame. Yet the Democratic majority leader, Senator Harry Reid, removed the assault weapons ban from the draft bill because some 15 Democratic senators, in effect, supported the conservative pro-gun position, making up — with the Republican senators — that majority “conservative party.” Thanks to this party, the same legislative defeat is about to befall liberal proposals to curtail high-capacity magazines. This leaves only better background checks on the table, but these, too, will inevitably be rendered ineffective by the conservatives via the underhanded gutting of enforcement (more about this shortly).
Social security and gun safety are but a couple of the numerous issues on which conservatives in Washington get their way and the minority liberal party loses out. Most recently, every Republican and 33 Democratic conservatives came together to repeal a tax on medical devices, a major source of funding for Obamacare. And on Dec 28, the conservative party — 42 Republicans, 30 Democrats and 1 Independent senator — voted to extend the foreign intelligence law known as FISA, opposed by civil libertarians. We should further expect that the conservative party will keep winning on many fronts, from greatly limiting all new investments in education to unduly slashing social spending.
We still have a president that gives the right an extremely good deal right off the top and it does nothing more than piss them off while they ignore him to run a full scale war on every one that’s not a straight white christian male in this country. The nation turns its lonely eyes to a future President Hillary Clinton. Some times you just have to spend your week end shaking your tired old head. I can’t imagine that right wing republicans will treat a woman any better than a black man. Here’s how the Brits at the Sunday Times see it. BTW, the Times is a Murdoch Publication. So, be very concerned.
A TOP Democratic fundraiser and confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton for more than two decades is advising a new group laying the foundations for a possible 2016 presidential bid by the former secretary of state.
Clinton has a 61% approval rating — 10% higher than Obama’s, making her the most popular politician in the US. A McClatchy-Marist poll released last week found she would defeat any Republican opponent. She is also far ahead of the vice-president, Joe Biden, her nearest Democratic rival.
A recent National Journal poll of senior Democratic insiders found that 81% believed Clinton would be their 2016 nominee. “Just the perception she may run has already cleared the field,” said one.
Hillary jokes that people regard her hair as totemic, and just so, her new haircut sends a signal of shimmering intention: she has ditched the skinned-back bun that gave her the air of a K.G.B. villainess in a Bond movie and has a sleek new layered cut that looks modern and glamorous.
In a hot pink jacket and black slacks, she leaned in for a 2016 manifesto, telling the blissed-out crowd of women that America cannot truly lead in the world until women here at home are full partners with equal pay and benefits, careers in math and science, and “no limit” on how big girls can dream.
“This truly is the unfinished business of the 21st century,” she said. But everyone knew the truly “unfinished business” Hillary was referring to: herself.
“She’s gone to hell and back trying to be president,” Carville said. “She’s paid her dues, to say the least. The old cliché is that Democrats fall in love and Republicans fall in line. But now Republicans want a lot of people to run and they want to fall in love. And Democrats don’t want to fight; they just want to get behind Hillary and go on from there.”
I thought MoDO was only capable of bromance? At this point, the entire political establishment is ignoring voters so why will the pundits eventually behave differently?
Oh, well, there are still those men that really are beside themselves thinking of the good old days when women were at their beck and call. Consider the case of Fat Tony Scalia who makes decisions upon which all of our lives and rights depend. BB sent me this one and I nearly dropped my phone when I read this quote.
Here’s what he says when describing a class picture:
“The teacher standing in the back—that was a lady named Consuela Goins, and she was a wonderful teacher. Every cloud has a silver lining, and one of the benefits of the exclusion of women from most professions was that we had wonderful teachers, especially the women who today would probably be CEOs.”
In a single sentence, Scalia manages to imply that wonderful teachers are a thing of the past — and that being a business leader automatically makes somebody an excellent teacher.
Then, there’s those guys that insist they’re on the side of women, but you know … we really just need to get a sense of humor, or perspective or something … Tom Matlack is once again telling women they have feminism all wrong because, well you know, father knows best. It’s another whining boy! The girls just don’t understand his sensibilities!
Just today, Matlack published another whiny post that basically equates to “Why me? WHY. (Me)” opining, yet again, feminist “attacks” on men, cloaked in this “I really care about women’s liberation, but women are doing it wrong” thing he’s become so fond of.
When a commenter says the following:
If feminists were truly concerned about equality they would not be seeking superiority. There are more challenges that we as men are facing today that females are not. Frankly society is not stepping up to the plate to bat for us. “They just don’t care.”
Tom responds saying he “couldn’t agree more.” These aren’t the words of an ally. This is MRA stuff, plain and simple.
So here’s the thing, Tom. Feminism doesn’t want you. The last thing we need is some rich, white dude explaining to us how REAL liberation should happen. You’ve proven yourself over and over again to be a sexist douche who thinks feminists are bashing all men simply because they call YOU out on your bullshit. YOU are part of the problem. And anyone with two brain cells can see that a man who goes around calling feminists crazy isn’t of any help to the feminist movement.
So here’s my suggestion: Stop talking about feminism. Stop talking about equality. Stop pretending to be on women’s side. You aren’t. You’re on your side. Your opinion on our movement is irrelevant and we keep telling you as much, yet you continue trying to force your opinions about women and “equality” onto the world and then get all butthurt when we tell you, once again, that you aren’t helping. What do you need from us? You’re already making more money than any of us evil feminist bloggers. Do you need attention? Kind of like a spoiled child? LOOK AT ME. ME. ME. Why not just come out, once and for all, as just another MRA who can’t put together a coherent argument to save his life?
Yes, yes yes … men have “special challenges” like trying to figure out which higher paying job to take. Sheesh. Just think of how rough the new leader of North Korea has it … it’s just tough out there being a manly man …
A South Korean newspaper is reporting that North Korean troops are scurrying around the site where it tested a nuclear bomb on February 12, its third ever. All signs point to a fourth, and the timing couldn’t be worse. “There are recent active movements of manpower and vehicles at the southern tunnel at Punggye-ri,” says the newspaper JoongAng Ilbo. “We are monitoring because the situation is similar to behavior seen prior to the third nuclear test.” Meanwhile, South Korean officials say that they expect North Korea to test another missile this week, probably on Wednesday.
Well, this isn’t good. The tense situation between the North Korea and, well, pretty much everyone on Earth has been escalating in the weeks since that third test and has become increasingly severe since last week, when supreme leader Kim Jong Un’s top brass promised a “merciless” attack on the United States. South Korea is more or less preparing for a war, while the United States has threatened a swift and decisive response it there is an attack. Even though President Obama’s senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer played down the threat of violence — he said this is just “a pattern of behavior we’ve seen from the North Koreans many times — the U.S. military’s been drawing up a plan in case it does. Accordingly, the U.S. commander in South Korea canceled a pre-planned trip to Washington, just in case something does go down this week.
This all puts the U.S. in a really awkward position. On one hand, it needs to be prepared for the worst, hence the planning. However, it doesn’t want to overdo it, since that might scare the North Koreans into a launching a preemptive attack. At the same time, the U.S. is working hard to keep South Korea calm, because if they get too anxious and launch their own attack or even appear to be preparing one, North Korea could try to hit them first. That would be bad. On the other hand, the government really doesn’t want to scare the bejesus out American citizens.
Cannonfire argues that this may be a show while lil Kim sends us a smaller package in a shipping container. Could NK have a portable nuke?
All the news coming out of North Korea indicates war. The only thing that does not indicate war is the simple, obdurate fact that Kim’s situation is hopeless. He cannot win. I doubt that he could keep the fight going for longer than a day. If he strikes, he dies, along with many of his countrymen (presuming he cares about them).So the question comes down to this: Does Kim Jong-Un want to fulfill his sick, violent fantasies more than he wants to live?Suddenly, I’m flashing on Adam Lanza…
So, speaking of neanderthals, let’s end with the US idiot who supports weapons of mass destruction. Here’s what Connecticut governor said about the NRA’s Wayne La Pierre yesterday.
Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy had some harsh words for NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre on Sunday, comparing the gun lobby chief to “clowns at the circus.”
Appearing on CNN‘s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley, Malloy hit back at LaPierre over his dismissal of Connecticut’s strict new gun laws.
“Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus. They get the most attention,” Malloy said.
“And that’s what he’s paid to do. But the reality is is that the gun that was used to kill 26 people on Dec. 14 was legally purchased in the state of Connecticut, even though we had an Assault Weapons Ban. But there were loopholes in it that you could drive a truck through.”
Malloy also noted poll after poll that show around 90 percent of Americans supporting a federal expansion of universal background checks.
“This guy is so out of whack, it’s unbelievable — 92 percent of the American people want universal background checks. I can’t get on a plane as the Governor of the state of Connecticut without somebody running a background check on me.
“Why should you be able to buy a gun? Or buy armor-piercing munitions? It doesn’t make any sense. He doesn’t make any sense. Thus, my reference to the circus.”
What’s on you reading and blogging list today?
Well, you have probably heard the news about the new pope….Cardinals Elect Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina as New Pope.
The new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio (pronounced Ber-GOAL-io), will be called Francis, the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church. He is also the first non-European leader of the church in more than 1,200 years.
In choosing Francis, 76, who had been the archbishop of Buenos Aires, the cardinals sent a powerful message that the future of the church lies in the global south, home to the bulk of the world’s Catholics.
I don’t know about that global south statement, but I wonder if there any Catholic Church sex abuse trials going on in Argentina. Bergoglio was runner-up to Ratzinger in 2005…and he is a Jesuit…okay, enough of that.
You also may have heard about the shooting in Herkimer, New York: Four Killed in Shootings in Upstate New York
As firefighters made their way to battle the blaze, the police said, a man made his way to a barbershop at the heart of the village and then a carwash, about one mile away, in neighboring Herkimer, killing four people and wounding two others before fleeing and setting off a manhunt that still was unresolved by late afternoon.
Updates to this shooting can be found here.
And….here is the latest on the US Senate Democrat budget plan.
Annual U.S. deficits under a new plan from Senate Democrats would be in the $400-600 billion range for much of the next decade, a level they say would allow stronger near-term job growth than Republicans’ balanced-budget vision.
Full details of the plan released by House Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray on Wednesday showed that deficits would average 2.4 percent of U.S. economic output through 2023, a rate many economists view as sustainable.
U.S. deficits have exceeded $1 trillion during each of the past four years due largely to economic damage from the recent financial crisis. Under the assumptions used in Murray’s budget, the fiscal 2013 deficit is forecast at $891 billion, or 5.6 percent of gross domestic product.
The Democratic plan would add $5.2 trillion to U.S. public debt over the decade, pushing it above $18 trillion in 2023. As a share of a growing economy, however, the debt would decline gradually to 70.4 percent from 76.6 percent now.
The plan, given to Budget Committee members only after the panel opened debate on it, aims to shrink U.S. deficits by $1.85 billion over 10 years – including the replacement of about $960 billion in automatic spending cuts known as the sequester.
It adds $100 billion in new spending to rebuild roads, bridges, schools and workers’ job skills and prescribes $975 billion in spending cuts and $975 billion in new revenues from the elimination of tax deductions and loopholes that benefit the wealthy.
“The highest priority of our budget is to create the conditions for job creation, economic growth, and prosperity built from the middle out, not the top down,” Murray told the committee.
Blah, blah, blah….yada, yada, yada…I just don’t have the energy to comment on any of these news stories.
I will however end with this very cool discovery out of Africa: Ancient Chinese coin found on Kenyan island
A joint expedition of scientists led by Chapurukha M. Kusimba of The Field Museum and Sloan R. Williams of the University of Illinois at Chicago has unearthed a 600-year-old Chinese coin on the Kenyan island of Manda that shows trade existed between China and east Africa decades before European explorers set sail and changed the map of the world.
The coin, a small disk of copper and silver with a square hole in the center so it could be worn on a belt, is called “Yongle Tongbao” and was issued by Emperor Yongle who reigned from 1403-1425AD during the Ming Dynasty. The emperor’s name is written on the coin, making it easy to date. Emperor Yongle, who started construction of China’s Forbidden City, was interested in political and trade missions to the lands that ring the Indian Ocean and sent Admiral Zheng He, also known as Cheng Ho, to explore those shores.
“Zheng He was, in many ways, the Christopher Columbus of China,” said Dr. Kusimba, curator of African Anthropology at The Field Museum. “It’s wonderful to have a coin that may ultimately prove he came to Kenya,” he added.
Dr. Kusimba continued, “This finding is significant. We know Africa has always been connected to the rest of the world, but this coin opens a discussion about the relationship between China and Indian Ocean nations.”
Cue the “It’s a small world” music…well maybe we will just stick with Carmen Miranda.
This is an open thread.
Well, after having a good evening, watching a couple of Italian films last night, Life is Beautiful and Miracle on Madonna Street, I have a few links for you this morning.
The New York Post has an article about the battles being fought in Africa: A Trail of Bullet Casings Leads From Africa’s Wars to Iran
The first clues appeared in Kenya, Uganda and what is now South Sudan. A British arms researcher surveying ammunition used by government forces and civilian militias in 2006 found Kalashnikov rifle cartridges he had not seen before. The ammunition bore no factory code, suggesting that its manufacturer hoped to avoid detection.
Within two years other researchers were finding identical cartridges circulating through the ethnic violence in Darfur. Similar ammunition then turned up in 2009 in a stadium in Conakry, Guinea, where soldiers had fired on antigovernment protesters, killing more than 150.
For six years, a group of independent arms-trafficking researchers worked to pin down the source of the mystery cartridges. Exchanging information from four continents, they concluded that someone had been quietly funneling rifle and machine-gun ammunition into regions of protracted conflict, and had managed to elude exposure for years. Their only goal was to solve the mystery, not implicate any specific nation.
When the investigators’ breakthrough came, it carried a surprise. The manufacturer was not one of Africa’s usual suspects. It was Iran.
Read the rest at the link, it is a long article.
In other news, this time out of Brazil: Fast New Test Could Find Leprosy Before Damage Is Lasting
A simple, fast and inexpensive new test for leprosy offers hope that, even in the poorest countries, victims can be found and cured before they become permanently disabled or disfigured like the shunned lepers of yore.
American researchers developed the test, and Brazil’s drug-regulatory agency registered it last month. A Brazilian diagnostics company, OrangeLife, will manufacture it on the understanding that the price will be $1 or less.
“This will bring leprosy management out of the Dark Ages,” said Dr. William Levis, who has treated leprosy patients at a Bellevue Hospital outpatient clinic for 30 years.
Even more important, he said, it is expected to detect infections as much as a year before symptoms appear. And the earlier treatment begins, the better the outcome. Leprosy is caused by a bacterium, Mycobacterium leprae, related to the one that causes tuberculosis, but reproducing so slowly that symptoms often take seven years to appear.
This new test requires just a drop of blood and the results are given after only ten minutes.
The disease has historically been hard to diagnose, despite the popular, but inaccurate, image of fingers and toes dropping off victims. As the bacteria kill nerves, muscles atrophy and those digits curl into claws. After disuse and repeated injuries, the body reacts protectively by absorbing the bone calcium in the bones, shrinking the digits.
For centuries, some observant doctors have noticed early signs: the numb skin patches, missing eyebrows, drooping earlobes, bulging neck nerves, the flat “lion face” caused by nasal cartilage dissolving.
Since nothing could be done for them before the age of antibiotics, victims lost the use of their hands and had to beg. Some also went blind as the blinking muscles degenerated and their eyes dried out. In the Middle Ages, some towns banned lepers, while others required them to ring bells to warn of their approach. Religious charities created “leper colonies.”
And they still exist, even in the United States. A few elderly residents have chosen to stay on in Carville, La., and Kalaupapa, Hawaii, despite having been cured. Several thousand live at one in northeast Brazil, said John S. Spencer, a leprosy researcher at Colorado State University who has worked there. “People say things like ‘People outside won’t understand what’s wrong with my face,’ ” he said.
Nowadays, he said, most patients are cured before their faces are severely disfigured. Still, he said, he had read a survey in which health experts asked Brazilians whether they would rather have the human immunodeficiency virus or leprosy. Most chose H.I.V. — even though leprosy does not kill, can be cured, and does not make a victim risky to have sex with. “The stigma is that strong,” he said.
Wow. Dr Lewis says he hopes the Brazilian test becomes available in the US so he can test the families of his patients. It takes many antibiotics given over 6 months to a year to cure the disease…these new test provide doctors with more time to could help diagnosis leprosy before permanent nerve damage is done.
I guess my PAD is getting the best of me, I just don’t have the energy to give you more than these…and instead of posting links to more of the same news, give a look at some of the artsy reads below.
With the Academy Awards later tonight, I have two links about film and films.
Hollywood is getting ready to hand out the industry’s most prestigious film awards: the Oscars.
Among the contenders for best documentary is a film directed by an Israeli, and another by a Palestinian.
Both the Israeli The Gatekeepers and Palestinian 5 Broken Cameras tell the same story, but from two quite different perspectives.
Video at the link, and…
Digital is taking over Hollywood, but celluloid’s fans intend to fight on
They are some of the most powerful people in one of the most powerful entertainment industries in the world. And when Hollywood’s grandest gather at tonight’s Oscars there will be no end of smiles and handshakes. But they are also fans, and like all fans, they are given to apparently arcane squabbles. The latest is whether films should be shot on, well, film.
Some of the most successful directors, such as James Cameron and George Lucas, are so obsessed with having the best special effects that they have spent millions embracing computer-generated imagery and abandoned 35mm film. Others, such as Quentin Tarantino and Christopher Nolan, are wedded to traditional celluloid, which is becoming the film equivalent of the vinyl record.
Epics such as Les Misérables and Lincoln – both shot on 35mm – and digital creations such as Life of Pi have all made millions at the box office. While film buffs may talk about the “feel” of film, with all its subtleties, the reality is that pixilated perfection is winning – the whirring of 35mm film projectors silenced by the hum of digital machines.
Just take a look at the films nominated for best picture:
Although many love a sharp, digital picture with high definition, others prefer something a bit less “real”. The split among directors is highlighted in the nominations for Best Picture. Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Silver Linings Playbook and Lincoln were shot on film. While Argo, Amour, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty were shot on digital. As was The Hobbit nominated in three technical Oscar categories.
David O Russell, director of Silver Linings Playbook, said: “Maybe I’m old-fashioned, maybe I’m superstitious, maybe I’m romantic – I love film and it has a magic quality, it has a warmth. I may use digital cameras in a pinch because they are small and fast but I like film for its humaneness.” He is one of a number of directors determined to continue shooting on 35mm. Another is Nolan, who made the Dark Knight trilogy: “I am now constantly asked to justify why I want to shoot a film on film,” he said. Nolan likens digital to an “amazing” cookie until you realise “this is some horrible chemical crap that’s giving you this bad illusion that fools you at first.”
You can read more about what actors, cinematographers and directors think about digital vs film at the link up top. I tend to agree with the folks who love film…and think that digital sucks.
Another archaic form of technology that gets lost in this day in age is the typewriter. Take this woman’s use of the typewriter:
As romantic as the idea of working on a typewriter now seems, in reality they’re rather clunky and temperamental things. Writing with one would probably take us an age – and if we made a mistake? Well, forget it.
So imagine trying to draw with one.
London based artist Keira Rathbone, originally from Dorset, does exactly that; clustering together marks made by letters, numbers and symbols, to make brilliant, one-off images.
The English artist clusters letters, numbers and symbols from a typewriter keyboard to composite images; from portraits of friends and celebrities to landscapes and still life. A closer look at what looks like a sketch of Wimborne Minster, a church in East Dorset, England, reveals swirls of ampersands and the ticks of quotations marks.
Watch the video below to see the artist at work, and click through the slideshow to see examples of her typewriter art. Visit keirarathbone.com for more examples of her work.
Be sure to take a look at the pictures, Rathone’s art is impressive…
Another obsolete form of technology is shown below…Keypunch Orchestra: 1937 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive
June 1937. “Baltimore, Maryland. For every Social Security account number issued an ‘employee master card’ is made in the Social Security board records office. Testifying data, given on the application blank form SS-5, is transferred to this master card in the form of upended quadrangular holes, punched by key punch machines, which have a keyboard like a typewriter. Each key struck by an operator causes a hole to be punched in the card. The position of a hole determines the letter or number other machines will reproduce from the master card. From this master card is made an actuarial card, to be used later for statistical purposes. The master card also is used in other machines which sort them numerically, according to account numbers, alphabetically according to the name code, translate the holes into numbers and letters, and print the data on individual ledger sheets, indexes, registry of accounts and other uses. The photograph above shows records office workers punching master cards on key punch machines.” Whew. Longest caption ever? Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
That is all I have for you this morning. Hope you all enjoy your Sunday, see ya later on tonight…should be quite a show.
So what are you all reading and blogging about today?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Evening everyone, hope your Valentine Day is going well. Usually I get a kick out of V-Day, but this year…meh.
The past two days have been a kind of fog for me, and other than the news that another athlete has shot and killed his girlfriend, I have no idea what is going on in the world. Heavy duty pain medication and a case of PAD is keeping me from reading and watching the news.
That is why today’s evening reads are going to be rather thin.
First this from “Pepe” LaPierre( I wish I could draw, if I could I’d do a caricature of LaPierre as a skunk, like Pepe Le Pew….kissing an AK15…saying, “Come wiz me to ze Casbah – we shall make beautiful musicks togezzer!”) from Huffington Post : Wayne LaPierre: More Guns Needed For ‘Hellish World’ Filled With Hurricanes, Kidnappers, Drug Gangs
Wayne LaPierre, CEO of the National Rifle Association, adopted on Wednesday a significantly more ominous and expansive line of reasoning than he has before in order to make the case that newer, more dangerous threats require Americans to buy more guns, join the NRA and organize opposition to gun control measures.
“Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are perils we are sure to face — not just maybe,” LaPierre wrote in a commentary published by The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. “It’s not paranoia to buy a gun. It’s survival. It’s responsible behavior, and it’s time we encourage law-abiding Americans to do just that.”
“Tens of millions of Americans are already preparing to Stand And Fight to protect their families and homes,” LaPierre declared, but the threats are growing “during the second Obama term.”
Good Lawd, what horrors!
…LaPierre wrote that “the American people clearly see the daunting forces we will undoubtedly face: terrorists, crime, drug gangs, the possibility of Euro-style debt riots, civil unrest or natural disaster. Gun owners are not buying firearms because they anticipate a confrontation with the government. Rather, we anticipate confrontations where the government isn’t there — or simply doesn’t show up in time.”
New York City in the wake of Hurricane Sandy was LaPierre’s prime example of just such a disaster: “After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.”
The facts, however, indicate the opposite was true. In the five days following Hurricane Sandy, there were no homicides at all in New York City — which is unusual, considering historical data.
You can click the link to that HuffPo article, which goes on to point out other facts LaPierre has twisted to his will.
I think this cartoon from Signe Wilkinson fits perfectly with this discussion. NRA Shoppe
The Guardian has a cool interactive poking fun at the dumbing down of the US President’s State of the Union Address: The state of our union is … dumber: How the linguistic standard of the presidential address has declined
How the linguistic standard of the presidential address has declined. Using the Flesch-Kincaid readability test the Guardian has tracked the reading level of every state of the union.
Just go and check it out!
Also from The Guardian: Horsemeat scandal deepens as minister says bute may be in food chain
Eight horses slaughtered for food in the UK have tested positive for the veterinary painkiller phenylbutazone, known as bute, new tests from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) revealed on Thursday.
The minister for food and agriculture, David Heath, told the Commons that 206 carcasses had been tested. Six of the carcasses that tested positive may have entered the food chain in France in the last few weeks, according to the FSA, and efforts were being made to recall them. Heath said the Findus lasagne found to contain horsemeat had tested negative for bute. The FSA confirmed that all tests on the food products analysed so far, including Tesco burgers, were negative.
Heath said: “It is unacceptable that bute at any level has been found in horsemeat. We are investigating and anyone found to have broken the law will be dealt with.”
In other horsemeat news, Oklahoma State Senate committee advances bill on commercial slaughter of horses
A state Senate committee unanimously passed a bill to allow the operation of horse slaughterhouses in the state.
Senate Bill 375 – written by Sen. Mark Allen, R-Spiro – passed the Senate Agriculture and Rural Development Committee on a 9-0 vote without debate or question.
Before the bill was considered, Allen announced that he had substituted new language in the bill that would ensure that meat produced at an equine slaughterhouse would be consumed only outside the state and that animals would be allowed to come to a facility only through a livestock auction and a livestock dealer, meaning horses couldn’t be sold directly to a slaughterhouse.
Cynthia Armstrong, state director of the Humane Society of the United States, said the changes to Allen’s bill didn’t make it any less horrible and unacceptable for the state.
“Oklahoma City has a reputation as the Horse Show Capital of the World,” Armstrong said. “We do not need to be known as the Dead Horse Capital of the U.S.”
Of course I have a cartoon for this story too: Oklahoma Horse Slaugherhouses – Political Cartoon by Bruce Plante, Tulsa World – 02/14/2013
Lastly, this year’s Oscar poster is cool, check it out: Oscar Poster Reveals Years Of Best Picture History, But Can You Guess The Movies? (PHOTOS)
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released a fun new poster on its website Tuesday. The Olly Moss and Gallery1988 project features 85 renderings of Oscar statuettes — one for each Best Picture winner from 1927 to 2012.
Go to the link to see a gallery of each statue. I like the ones that make references to the movie itself, and not just a costume. Like The Sting (finger to nose), The Apartment (tennis racquet and spaghetti), English Patient (melted head and shoulder) and All’s Quiet on the Western Front (butterfly).
Have a wonderful evening!
This is an open thread.
This is going to be sort of a cross between a morning reads post and a rant.
Yesterday, Dakinikat and I were talking about how lately it seems like it’s hard to find things to blog about because there’s nothing really new happening in the political world. Sure, there’s news coming out of DC, but it’s pretty much the same thing every day. The Republicans hate President Obama and continue to do their best to block everything he tries to do. Obama sort of sounds like a liberal at times, but he’s still offering that “grand bargain” to the Republicans who hate his guts and still letting down the voters who elected him in the process.
Republicans pretend to obsess over the federal deficit and debt and economic writers like Paul Krugman and Robert Reich repeatedly try to explain that the problem with our economy right now isn’t the deficit or the debt, but the high unemployment and stagnating wages that keep the lower 99 percent of us from spending our money as freely as we’d like.
As I looked around for Thursday reads last night, I began to feel as if I’d entered a surreal alternative reality–almost as if I had awakened to find myself in a Salvador Dali painting in which everything seems crazy and nothing ever changes. The only breaks from the tedium of the Village come when there’s news of another shooting and the media covers it for a few days–like the recent obsession with ex-cop “Rambo” Christopher Dorner.
Now that Dorner has gone down, there’s another high-profile shooting for the media to focus on. USA Today reports: Olympic runner Oscar Pistorius charged with murder.
South African police on Thursday said they would charge Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius with murder after his girlfriend was shot and killed at his home earlier Thursday morning.
The circumstances of the incident are still unclear but police in South Africa said they would oppose bail when the Paralympic gold medalist appears in court Friday. The hearing was scheduled for Thursday afternoon but was delayed to give forensics investigators time to do their work, the Associated Press reported.
Police in South Africa do not name suspects in crimes until they have appeared in court but police spokesperson Brigadier Denise Beukes said that Pistorius was at his home after the death of the victim and that “there is no other suspect involved,” The Associated Press reported.
Britain’s Sky News first named the woman as Reeva Steenkamp, a model and recent contestant on Tropika Island of Treasure 5, a South African reality TV show. A talent agent for Steenkamp said she was the victim. However, police have yet to confirm the woman’s relationship with the Olympic and Paralympic athlete.
Meanwhile, as the Villagers ignore the need for gun safety legislation and argue about the deficit and the supposed out-of-control government spending that isn’t actually happening, the rich get richer and the lower 99 percent get screwed. Case in point, please read this piece in The New Republic by Timothy Noah that the Villagers will either ignore or mock: The One Percent Gobbled Up the Recovery, Too. In fact, it put the 99 percent back in recession.
Emmanuel Saez, the Berkeley economist who (with Thomas Piketty, an economist at the École d’economie de Paris) first mapped the enormous 34-year run-up in income share for America’s top 1 percent, came up last year with a statistic that was widely quoted by people who care about rising income inequality. In 2010, the first year of economic recovery after the 2009-2010 recession, 93 percent of all pre-tax income gains went to the top 1 percent, which in that year meant any household making more than about $358,000. This was, I quipped at the time, a members-only recovery. No 99-percenters need apply.
Saez has now updated (PDF) this statistic to include 2011. When you look at the economic recovery’s first two years, the top one percent (which by 2011 meant any household making more than about $367,000) captured 121 percent of all pre-tax income gains.
How is it even possible for the one percent to capture more than 100 percent of all income gains since the last recession? Looked at from one point of view, it’s not. It is enough to say that in 2010 and 2011 all of the recovery went to the one percent. If you were in the bottom 99 percent, as by definition nearly all of us are, you didn’t see a dime of that recovery.
What happened to the rest of us then?
Over 2010 and 2011, it saw, on average, a slight net decline in pre-tax income of 0.4 percent. This “negative growth” is what, at least theoretically, boosts the one percent’s share of income gains from 100 percent to 121 percent. If you think of income distribution as a Pac-Man game, with the one percent as Pac-Man, imagine your Pac-Man consuming all the pac-dots in one game and then somehow, after you’ve left the arcade, gobbling up some of the pac-dots in the next player’s game too. Another way to put it is that the one percent didn’t just gobble up all of the recovery during 2010 and 2011; it put the 99 percent back into recession.
Sadly, airhead talking heads like Joe Scarborough will continue to have much more influence in the Village than actual economists like Emmanuel Saez and real reporters like Timothy Noah.
Speaking of airheads, after the SOTU speech on Tuesday night we had the pleasure of watching baby-faced Florida Senator Marco Rubio make a complete ass out of himself on the TeeVee. Hullabaloo blogger David Atkins, who–unlike Rubio–is somewhat knowledgeable about economics, tried to explain to the the latest “great Republican hope” (before his speech) that not only do deficits not cause unemployment, but also our federal deficit is steadily decreasing. Of course no reader of Dakinikat’s posts needs any of this explained. But I still want to link to Atkins’ concluding paragraphs.
Why is the deficit shrinking? Mostly, because of the pickup in economic activity. The elimination of some of the tax cuts for the wealthy will also help. The Affordable Care Act will also be taking a bite out of our extravagant healthcare costs.
4. None of this has any impact on unemployment. Generally speaking, there are two kinds of jobs: public sector and private sector. Even though the private sector is doing better, public sector jobs are still declining due to conservative policies theoretically designed to reduce deficits. Private sector jobs, meanwhile, depend on consumer demand–not corporate profit. American corporations are experiencing record profits, but they aren’t hiring because there’s not enough middle-class consumer demand for them to hire workers.
4a. The lack of consumer demand leading to poor private-sector job growth in spite of record profits has nothing to do with deficits or uncertainty in the investing climate. It has everything to do with income inequality and economic insecurity among the middle and lower classes.
4b. The obsession over deficits among conservative politicians is directly responsible for public sector job cuts that are helping to drive up the unemployment rate and kill consumer demand.
All of which means that politicians like Marco Rubio who insist that the deficit is directly hurting employment are either so ignorant of economics that they shouldn’t be handling public policy, or so cynically manipulative that they shouldn’t be handling public policy.
And no “reporter” in Washington or elsewhere should be covering Rubio’s statements without providing a basic lesson in macroeconomics as context for his fact-free response.
idiots “reporters” like Chris Cillizza pretty much ignored whatever substance there was in Rubio’s speech and approvingly reported on the personal history that Rubio discussed. But beforehand, Cillizza wrote that Obama should focus on deficit in State of the Union
It’s the deficit, stupid. A look back at Obama’s first three State of the Union speeches, plus the address to a joint session of Congress in 2009, suggests a similar thematic pattern: He starts with the economy, moves to education and then, in the middle section of the speech, addresses the deficit. (The exception was in 2011, when Obama began his speech with a riff on partisanship.) In 2012, Obama spent just five minutes on the debt — less time than he spent on partisanship (51/2 minutes) or foreign policy (six minutes).
He should flip that script in this State of the Union and spend the bulk of his time talking about the deficit. Here’s why: In January 2009 polling by Pew Research Center, 53 percent of respondents said reducing the deficit was a “top priority.” In January 2013, that number soared to 72 percent, by far the biggest increase of any issue over that time. (By contrast, 85 percent said strengthening the economy was a top priority in 2009, while 86 percent said so at the start of this year.)
The debt is the issue of the day, and one that, if Obama is beginning to eye his legacy as president, could go a long way toward shaping how history remembers him. Make this speech a deficit speech.
For Cillizza and his ilk, “the deficit” (or “the debt,” which he doesn’t seem to understand is not the same thing) is “the issue of the day,” and unemployment and the other struggles of the 99 percent are completely invisible. Oh, and by the way, Dick Cheney loved Rubio’s speech.
I could go on and on like this, but I’ll stop now. I just wanted to rant for a bit in hopes of pulling myself out of my current malaise. I’ve realized finally that there isn’t going to be any real change as because the Villagers (often including the President) are just going to continue focusing on cutting spending and ignoring the problems facing those of us who live in the real world.
If you stayed with me this far, thanks for letting me rant! Now, I welcome your links to whatever you are reading and blogging about today.