Happy Easter Sunday…Reads

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Good Morning and Happy Easter

(Cute illustration eh? Little fucking rabbits…or should I say little rabbits fucking? Well, about to at least.) Oh my, that is a bit too sordid for an Easter Morn, is it not? I don’t know, everything is still a bit hazy since Bebe got back from Chicago.  I have a couple of extra teenage “other people munchkins.” Friends of my son spending the entire long weekend with us…lets just say the big ham is already gone, and it is now 2 am Saturday night.

Vintage Easter Cards (14)The pictures for today’s post are from the 1920′s and 1930′s, that will tie in later. Let’s just kick off shall we?

Quick links to headlines:

Voice of America is reporting: 17 More Bodies Recovered from Sunken S. Korean Ferry, Death Toll at 50

While CNN has the figure up two : Death toll from South Korean ferry sinking rises to 52

This next article from the Irish Times is big news:  Third mate was steering ferry for first time ever before capsize

In the grocers corner, NY Times: General Mills Reverses Itself on Consumers’ Right to Sue

Enjoy your bacon and OJ now, because that stuff is going to get even more expensive: The 10 Fastest Rising Food Prices – 24/7 Wall St.

But that is okay, because you probably will not be able to afford the bacon anyway…since you have to deal with this shit: After foreclosure crisis, renters suffer under Wall Street landlords | Al Jazeera America

The poster child for the foreclosure crisis has been a middle-income suburban family. But low-income urban renters also saw their buildings over-mortgaged at the height of the crisis, and now faceless hedge funds and nameless investors are replacing their desperate landlords — sometimes with disastrous consequences.Vintage-Easter-with-Chicks-and-blimp

Six years after the foreclosure crisis helped tank the world’s economy, investors are snatching up “distressed” properties — those that are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure — and seeking to turn a profit on them. Advocates for affordable housing worry that this profit comes at the expense of tenants.

Joanna Paulino knows this all too well. She lives in a lower-income neighborhood in the Bronx borough of New York City. Her home is a prewar building, a once attractive structure like many others in the city’s outer boroughs. But after years of neglect, it is crumbling; there are more than 140 violations registered against the premises.

Pathetic and disturbing.

Over the last several months, Wall Street firms have snapped up an estimated 200,000 single-family homes with the intention of renting them out. The New York–based hedge fund easter-witch-10pBlackstone Group is now America’s largest landlord of rental homes after purchasing over 40,000 foreclosed single-family homes in 14 metro areas around the country, from Atlanta to Phoenix, to convert into rental properties. But certain investors are also snatching up “distressed” urban rental buildings like the one where Paulino lives in the South Bronx. Unbeknownst to many low-income renters, their buildings were over-mortgaged during the bubble. In New York, many of those buildings are due for refinancing now — making them vulnerable to acquisition by hedge funds.

“Since these buildings are so over-mortgaged,” said Harold Shultz, an affordable-housing expert who works with the Citizens Housing Planning Council of New York, “the likelihood is that they are not going to be able to be refinanced.”

Desperate landlords and banks are looking for new owners and investors. And Wall Street is ready to step in and help out.

These groups often purchase buildings sight unseen, with little knowledge of the conditions a foreclosed building might be in. Sometimes, especially in the case of apartments, foreclosures can take years to resolve.

So while old owners, banks and new owners or investors sort out the debt, buildings languish in disrepair. And when an agreement is eventually reached, there is no guarantee for tenants that conditions will improve.

a860979fb322efa0d91f46f82ff54f11That is just a couple of excerpts. Go and read the whole thing.

I will use those last few stories to tie into the post that Boston Boomer wrote Friday: Friday Reads: American Oligarchy, South Korean Tragedy, and Hillary Under the Microscope | Sky Dancing

Where she focused her post primarily on the study results of Martin Gilins and Benjamin I. Page of Princeton and Northwestern Universities, and a recent article by Larry Bartels, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University.

The word Oligarchy and its various forms were used heavily throughout. (I always have to sound out the word oligarchy in my head when I am reading that word to myself. Even then I am not confident my mind’s voice is pronouncing it correctly.) ;)

On Friday I found this op/ed while looking for cartoons and it struck a chord, but it did not give an answer: How Not to Talk About Wealth Inequality by Tina Dupuy

 

Have you heard we live in an oligarchy? Perhaps you’ve been told America is a plutocracy? Is that because of widespread demagogy?

Circumlocution: a big word meaning using unnecessarily lofty words to express an idea.

137658 600 How Not to Talk About Wealth Inequality cartoons

Pat Bagley / Salt Lake Tribune

Welcome to the baffling world of liberal-speak.

Oligarchy, plutocracy and demagogy: The holy trinity of sesquipedalian polysyllable liberal loquaciousness.

This language liberals, in particular, have chosen to talk about elitism is, well, really snooty. When we talk about a tiny fraction of people having undue influence on our politics—we use words barely anyone understands.

Marinade in that irony. It’s like if we were broadcasting NASCAR only in Latin. Oligarchy? That sounds like a German cabbage dish. Demagoguery sounds like a flourish in square dancing. Plutocracy sounds like we should just be friends.

I write for a living and these words make my eyes glaze over. And they’re used all time, often by well-meaning liberal-types attempting to advocate for the have-less in this nation. Case in point: Paul Krugman. His columns “Oligarchs and Money,” “Oligarchy, American Style” and “Graduates Versus the Oligarchs”—do cover how economic policies favor a fraction of 1 percent of Americans but his go-to word is comprehended by even fewer.

Go see what else Tina has to say. One thing she does not mention is some examples of substitutes for Oligarchs, Oligarchy etc.

More on this after the jump… Read the rest of this entry »


Lazy Saturday Reads: Friday Document Dump and Clinton Conspiracy Theories

Cassidy, Arlene - Tranquility base.png

 

Happy Saturday!!

 

Some pretty big news broke late yesterday: President Obama has again delayed his final decision on whether to go ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline. Presumably the announcement was deliberately held until the Friday news dump to reduce public attention to the inevitable Republican screams of outrage. From Reuters: 

The Obama administration further delayed its decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project on Friday, with no conclusion now likely until after the U.S. mid-term elections in November.

President Barack Obama has said he will have the final say on whether to allow the pipeline connecting Canada’s oil sands region to Texas refiners, and several government agencies had been given until May to weigh in. This had raised expectations of a final decision by mid-year.

But the State Department said on Friday it was extending that agency comment period, citing a need to wait until the Nebraska Supreme Court settles a dispute over what path the $5.4 billion TransCanada Corp project should take.

“That pipeline route is central to the environmental analysis for the project and if there are changes to the route it could have implications,” a senior State Department official told reporters.

Mary Landrieu

Mary Landrieu

I have to admit I was surprised and pleased. I have long suspected that Obama really wanted the pipeline, but I think I was wrong. He seems to be trying his best to avoid it. Naturally Obama has already been accused of political calculation in pushing the decision past the midterm elections. Of course the decision won’t help Democrats from oil-producing states like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, who has already announced that “I plan to use my power as chair of the Senate Energy Committee to take decisive action to get this pipeline permit approved.”

The State Department told Buzzfeed that politics was not involved in the decision.

“I can’t render judgement on when the final decision could take place,” a senior State Department official said on a conference call Friday after the department announced another delay in the State Department process that could bring with it the approval or rejection of Keystone. “We want this to move as expeditiously as possible, we recognize that this is an issue of great concern to the American public, to American business and we take that extremely seriously.”

The State Department review — necessary because the pipeline crosses the Canadian border into the United States — is being held up by a state court ruling in Nebraska in favor of pipeline opponents, department officials said. That decision, which endangers the existing planned pipeline route, is under appeal andobservers say final judgement won’t come until 2015.

More reactions reported by Politico:

…the delay drew immediate scorn from pipeline supporters on both sides of the aisle in Congress. Republicans derided it as a “shameful” concession to “radical activists,” while Democratic Senate energy Chairwoman Mary Landrieu called it “irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable.”

Both of Alaska’s senators condemned the move. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the ranking member on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, called the delay “a stunning act of political cowardice,” and Democratic Sen. Mark Begich said he was “frankly appalled at the continued foot-dragging by this administration.” Begich, like Landrieu, faces a tough reelection fight this year.

Some environmentalists complained about the Friday news dump announcement

“It’s disappointing President Obama doesn’t have the courage to reject Keystone XL right now, but this is clearly another win for pipeline opponents,” said Jamie Henn, spokesman for the climate activist group 350.org, which staged mass sit-ins outside the White House to protest the project. “We’re going to keep up the pressure on the President to make the right call.”

Naturally Canadian politicians are “disappointed.” CBC News:

“We are disappointed that politics continue to delay a decision on Keystone XL,” a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said. “This project will create tens of thousands of jobs on both sides of the border, will enhance the energy security of North America, has strong public support, and the U.S. State Department has, on multiple occasions, acknowledged it will be environmentally sound.”

Canadian politicians have grown increasingly irate over delays.

Alberta Premier Dave Hancock expressed frustration about “yet another delay” in the approval process of an issue he argued has been debated thoroughly enough.

“Keystone XL has been rigorously studied. We believe the project is in North America’s best interest as it provides energy security, jobs and a dependable energy source from an environmentally responsible and democratic friend and ally,” Hancock said in a statement.

TransCanada’s president and CEO Russ Girling called the delay “inexplicable” in an email to CBC News.

Lots more Canadian whining at the link.

Chelsea Clinton and husband Marc Mezvinsky

Chelsea Clinton and husband Marc Mezvinsky

The Keystone Pipeline is controversial, but apparently not as controversial as the daughter of a female potential presidential candidate getting pregnant. The bizarre conspiracy theories about Chelsea Clinton expecting a baby have already begun and they’ll probably never end.

From John Amato at Crooks and Liars: Will Chelsea Clinton’s Pregnancy Become Another Right Wing Conspiracy? Give me a break. Is the Pope Catholic? Amato knows it’s a silly question:

I’m forgetting myself because Hillary is not allowed to be a happy mother. We may see a normal life unfolding, but Teabirchers see coverups and conspiracies.

Limbaugh recently said he believes that Hillary Clinton staged the now famous shoe-throwing incident.

Maybe in my subconscious I think it was staged or set up. Lookit, I’m so, I know these people so well…I just do not attach much genuineness to them.

There were a host of others who were saying the same thing in Wingnuttia.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Hillary gets asked to comment on Chelsea’s pregnancy by the media, since that’s only natural, right? But after that happens more than once I really expect Limbaugh and all the wannabees to scream bloody murder that Chelsea’s announcement was staged, a set-up plot which is being aided by the librul media to cover up Benghazzzzzzzziiii!

And away we go! From Mediaite: Right-Wing Host Thinks Chelsea Clinton May Have ‘Staged’ Pregnancy to Help Hillary.

If you thought the Hillary Clinton “shoe truthers” were bad, wait until you meet the “baby truthers.” So far, conservative host Steve Malzberg is leading the charge with this video suggesting Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy is being effectively “staged” to help her mother win the 2016 presidential election.

And excited Malzberg announced the 34-year-old Clinton’s pregnancy, saying, “Lo and behold, Hillary was by her side” when she made the announcement. “Hillary Clinton is going to be a grandmother when she runs for president!” he exclaimed.

“Now, pardon the skeptic in me,” Malzberg continued, before predicting the oncoming criticism from Media Matters and other watchdog website. “Malzberg said this was a staged, planned pregnancy?” he imagined they would ask.

“Well, now I’m not saying, when I say staged I have to believe she’s pregnant, if she says she’s pregnant,” he said. “I don’t mean that they’re making up she’s pregnant. But what great timing! I mean purely accidental, purely an act of nature, purely just left up to God.”

“And God answered Hillary Clinton’s prayers and she’s going to have the prop of being a new grandma while she runs for president,” he continued. “It just warms the heart, it brings a tear to my eye. It really does.”

I have so many more examples that I’ll have to do a link dump without excerpts:

Vanity Fair: The Worst Reactions to Chelsea Clinton’s Pregnancy Announcement.

Slate: If It Happened There: America Awaits Royal Baby.

LA Times: Chelsea Clinton’s pregnancy fuels presidential election speculation.

US News: Dumb Questions About a Grandmother-to-Be

Politico: What to expect when she’s expecting

Newsday: Bouie: Chelsea Clinton’s baby is already campaigning?

TPM: NYT Columnist Insists That Chelsea Clinton’s Baby Is A 2016 Game Changer 

ABC News: Will Clinton Baby Affect 2016, and Is It Sexist to Ask?

Honestly, can you imagine this happening to a man running for president? For example,

“How will his daughter’s pregnancy affect Rand Paul’s chances for the Republican nomination? Did he “stage” this to get positive media? Enquiring people want to know.”

Hillary beaming

In my post yesterday, I mentioned that a huge trove of papers from the Clinton administration was going to be released. Well they are out there now, and so the Clinton haters are really having a field day what with drooling over ancient history and inventing conspiracies about Chelsea’s baby.

There are tons of articles on the document dump too; I’ll give you a few examples.

ABC News: Monica Lewinsky E-Mail Omitted From Latest Batch of Clinton Documents

An email from Monica Lewinsky was omitted from the Clinton library’s latest document dump for privacy reasons….

Included in a list of withdrawn/redacted documents (commonly interspersed in the large .pdfs), midway through a batch of documents concerning Gen. Wesley Clark, is an email from Monica Lewinsky’s Pentagon email address.

Vaguely referenced as concerning a “medical record,” the omitted email is listed as four pages long.

The recipient, Ashley Raines, is identified as a Lewinsky friend and confidante in the infamous Starr Report, produced by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr. The report would later disclose details of the Lewinsky affair and trigger a major scandal that led to Clinton’s impeachment. Raines served as White House Director of Office of Policy Development Operations and Special Liaison to Management and Administration, according to the report, working in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.

In 1996, after an initial affair with the president had stopped according to the Starr report, Lewinsky described the relationship to Raines and showed her gifts allegedly given to her by Bill Clinton, including “a hat pin approximately eight inches long, an antique looking brooch the size of a half dollar, special edition copy of ‘Leaves of Grass’ by WALT WHITMAN, items from Martha’s Vineyard with ‘Black Dog’ logo, including a ball cap, and a short, baggy summer dress, and an autographed photo of the two of them wishing LEWINSKY ‘Happy Birthday,’” Raines told Starr’s investigators, with lawyers present. Lewinsky told Raines that she had confided in Linda Tripp about her relationship with Clinton.

Many more breathless details at the link.

LA Times: For Hillary Rodham Clinton, archives evoke fiery White House years.

…the latest batch of archived documents from the Clinton White House – while not particularly newsworthy — were a rather bracing reminder that the very mellow former first lady has emerged in her current happy state after many years in a White House that often took on the tone of war zone.

Mark that down as one reason why Clinton might not want to go racing back….

The documents once again underscored the combative fashion in which the Clinton White House drove its agenda, and its obsession with the administration’s adversaries.

One unsigned and undated document contained in the files of Jane Sherburne, a Special Counsel to the White House between 1994 and 1996, details theories about how the right wing, with the help of think tanks and conservative publications, was funneling “fringe” stories to the media. It also expounds on the financial powers and connections of billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, who was referred to as “The Wizard of Oz.”

Part of the problem, the memo suggested, was the fact that the Internet “allows an extraordinary amount of unregulated data and information to be located in one area and available to all.”

“The right wing has seized upon the Internet as a means of communicating its ideas to people,” the unsigned memo continues. “Moreover evidence exists that Republican staffers surf the Internet interacting with extremists in order to exchange ideas and information.”

If the LA Times thinks that is shocking, I don’t think they are following current events.

The WaPo: The most interesting tidbits from the Clinton document dump This one includes a list of 12 gossipy examples of supposed Clinton political machinations.

Here’s the best one I’ve seen yet from Buzzfeed: This Unsent Shade-Filled Letter From Clinton Staffers To A ’90s Radio Host [Don Imus] Is A Goddamn Masterpiece.

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I wish it had been sent!

I’m running out of space and time, but I do have a few more serious items I want to share. I’ll put them in the comments.

So . . . What stories are you following today? Please share your recommended links in the comment thread and have a fantastic weekend!!


Friday Nite Lite: Stupid White Supremacist

Good Evening

Damn Windstream. My internet has been acting up again, so this will be a quick cartoon post while my service is working….

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 04/18/2014

Cartoon by David Horsey -

 

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 04/17/2014

Cartoon by David Horsey -

 

Nick Anderson: White Supremacist – Nick Anderson – Truthdig

 

White Supremacy by Political Cartoonist Mike Keefe

147288 600 White Supremacy cartoons

 

New SAT by Political Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies

147286 600 New SAT cartoons

Putin cooks up trouble by Political Cartoonist John Cole

147283 600 Putin cooks up trouble cartoons

 

Campaign Finance

147270 600 Campaign Finance cartoons

Racial Hatred by Political Cartoonist Kevin Siers

147260 600 Racial Hatred cartoons

 

Political Ventriloquism by Political Cartoonist Jeff Koterba

147259 600 Political Ventriloquism cartoons

KKK – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 04/17/2014

 

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - KKK

 

Bundy Ranch Bull by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

147075 600 Bundy Ranch Bull cartoons

 

Climate Change Report by Political Cartoonist Martyn Turner

 

147109 600 Climate Change Report cartoons

 

EQUAL PAY – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 04/16/2014

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - EQUAL PAY

 

This is an open thread…


Friday Reads: American Oligarchy, South Korean Tragedy, and Hillary Under the Microscope

 

bastards_1

 

Good Morning!!

 

Yesterday Dakinikat quoted from a WaPo article by Larry Bartels on the Republican Party’s increasing identification as white and anti-every other ethnic group. (Of course he failed to mention that Republicans also focus almost exclusively on the needs of men who identify as Christians, but I’ll let that go for now.)

Bartels, a professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, is the author of  Unequal Democracy:The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age. In the WaPo article, Bartels argues based on his research that, despite its seeming choice to ignore the needs of the majority of Americans and the growing ethnic diversity in the U.S. population, the demise of the GOP may not be immanent.  Bartels writes:

Even momentous demographic changes occur slowly; non-Hispanic whites will remain a majority of the U.S. population for the next 30 years, and (allowing for differences in age profiles, citizenship status and turnout) a majority of the electorate even longer. (According to Census Bureau tabulations, non-Hispanic whites were 65 percent of the U.S. population in 2012, but 74 percent of the electorate.) Thus, if white voters “continue to migrate toward the Republican Party” in response to demographic change, “it will be a long time before it finds itself unable to win elections.”

Just look at demographically diverse but stubbornly Republican Texas, always just about to turn blue. The changing American polity may come to look more like Texas than like the multicultural Democratic stronghold of California. In an increasingly diverse America, identity politics will continue to cut both ways.

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Take a look at the illustration at the top of this post and you’ll see why Bartels is probably right. According to a recently released study (pdf) by Martin Gilins and Benjamin I. Page of Princeton and Northwestern Universities respectively, we are no longer living in a democracy. The U.S. has already become an oligarchy. Sure we knew that already, but now we have confirmation from a scientific study. From BBC News:

[T]he two professors have conducted exhaustive research to try to present data-driven support for this conclusion. Here’s how they explain it:

“Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organised groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.”

In English: the wealthy few move policy, while the average American has little power.

The two professors came to this conclusion after reviewing answers to 1,779 survey questions asked between 1981 and 2002 on public policy issues. They broke the responses down by income level, and then determined how often certain income levels and organised interest groups saw their policy preferences enacted.

“A proposed policy change with low support among economically elite Americans (one-out-of-five in favour) is adopted only about 18% of the time,” they write, “while a proposed change with high support (four-out-of-five in favour) is adopted about 45% of the time.”

oligarchy4

On the other hand, Gilins and Page conclude:

because of the strong status quo bias built into the US political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favour policy change, they generally do not get it.

Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organisations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.

These study’s results reinforce Larry Bartels’ findings about the tendency of white Americans to support the goals of the super rich even when it is not in their own best interest. Another quote from the study via Gawker:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism…

Recent research by Larry Bartels and by one of the present authors (Gilens), which explicitly brings the preferences of “affluent” Americans into the analysis along with the preferences of those lower in the income distribution, indicates that the apparent connection between public policy and the preferences of the average citizen may indeed be largely or entirely spurious.

Oligarchy2

Hamilton Nolan at Gawker:

The theory of Economic Elite Domination is fairly self-explanatory. The theory of Biased Pluralism holds that policy outcomes “tend to tilt towards the wishes of corporations and business and professional associations.” In essence, the researchers found that government policy changes are correlated with the wishes of the wealthy and with interest groups, but not with the wishes of the average American—even though the whole idea of “Democracy” is to ensure that the wishes of the majority tend to carry the day.

The study notes that the position of the median American and the position of the affluent American are often the same; therefore, regular people tend to think that their political interests are being represented when they see the triumph of some political position that they agree with. In fact, the researchers say, this is a mere coincidence. Yes, the average American will see their interests represented—as long as their interests align with the interests of the wealthy.

Yes, it’s extremely depressing, but we have long sensed this and now science has confirmed our intuitions. Now we have to figure out how to change it.

In other news . . .

Ferry sinking off South Korea with 450 people on board...epa0416

We haven’t talked much about the disastrous sinking of a ferry loaded with South Korean students and their families. So far 28 people are known to be dead and 268 are still missing–including 246 students. From the Wall Street Journal:

On Monday night, Kim Si-yeon and her family took her mother out for a late birthday dinner. Ms. Kim pushed for a cheap Korean barbecue restaurant and family members say they reluctantly obliged because the young musician and actress was leaving the next day for a four-day high school trip.

The next morning, the father of Cho Eun-jung, another student at the same school, didn’t want to wake his daughter before he left for work. So he cuddled her in his arms and kissed her forehead, he said in an interview.

Student Lee Hye-gyeong later that morning said a quick goodbye to her boyfriend as she left for the bus ride to the ferry port where the three students and more than 300 of their classmates would set sail for a 13-hour journey to Jeju Island, a popular South Korean vacation spot.

An annual trip for high-school juniors from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, the trip was designed as a break before the students began intense preparations for college entrance exams next year. Last year’s class was the first to take the boat; in the past, student groups had flown.

What happened next, not long after sunrise on Wednesday morning, has become a national tragedy in South Korea. The students had just finished a breakfast of bulgogi, a Korean beef dish, rice and kimchi when the ferry capsized and sank.

So heartbreaking. From NBC News: South Korea Ferry: 30-Minute Evacuation Delay Trapped Dozens.

A half-hour delay in evacuation orders may have trapped hundreds on board the doomed South Korea ferry, according to new details which emerged Friday about how the disaster unfolded.

A transcript of a ship-to-shore exchange, and interviews with surviving crew members, reveal that the vessel was listing too heavily for passengers to escape by the time the captain issued orders to abandon ship….

Oh Yong-seok, a helmsman on the ferry with 10 years of shipping experience, told The Associated Press that when the crew gathered on the bridge and sent a distress call, the ship was already listing more than five degrees, the critical angle at which a vessel can be brought back to even keel.

The first instructions from the captain were for passengers to put on life jackets and stay where they were, Oh said. A third mate reported that the ship could not be righted, and the captain ordered another attempt, which also failed, Oh said.

 A crew member then tried to reach a lifeboat but fell because the vessel was tilting, prompting the first mate to suggest to the captain that he order an evacuation, Oh said.
About 30 minutes after passengers were told to stay in place, the captain finally gave the order to evacuate, Oh said, adding that he wasn’t sure in the confusion and chaos on the bridge if the order was relayed to the passengers.

“We couldn’t even move one step. The slope was too big,” said Oh, who escaped with about a dozen others, including the captain.

I guess the old saying that the captain must go down with the ship no longer holds true. There is an arrest warrant out for the captain though. From the WSJ again:

SEOUL—Arrest warrants were issued for the captain and two crew members of the sunken South Korean ferry on Friday, as a crew member confirmed accounts that the captain was among the first to abandon the sinking ship.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, crew member Oh Yong-seok, who isn’t a target of an arrest warrant, re-created the chaotic final moments before the ship capsized on Wednesday morning. He said that while members of the crew did abandon the boat, they did everything they could to first evacuate the vessel’s passengers.

The focus on the crew members’ final actions came during a third day of frustration, confusion and tragedy that offered no new breakthroughs in attempts to rescue the nearly 300 passengers who remain missing.

Investigators also didn’t appear to be any closer to understanding why the ship made what it called a “radical right turn” shortly before it began to sink.

In another tragedy, a vice principal who escaped the sinking ferry has committed suicide. First Coast News:

SEOUL – The vice principal rescued from the doomed South Korean ferry has been found hanged, Korean police said Friday.

Out of the ferry’s 475 passengers, 325 had been second year high school students from Danwon High School in Ansan, about 20 miles south of Seoul. They were on a four-day trip to the island of Jeju, a popular South Korean tourist destination.

The vice principal was identified only by his surname, Kang. He was on the island of Jindo, where rescued passengers had taken shelter. A police officer said he was hanging from a tree.

Read more details at the link.

Prepare yourself for another outbreak of Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

Hillary orange

The New York Times reports: New Batch of Clinton Documents to Be Released.

The National Archives on Friday was preparing to release its largest batch yet of previously withheld documents from the Clinton administration, with topics to include the conflicts in Somalia and Rwanda, Middle East peace negotiations, the Oklahoma City bombing and public figures like Richard M. Nixon, Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey.

The bundle that is likely to receive the most attention, though, is one that covers Hillary Rodham Clinton’s ill-fated attempt as first lady to overhaul the health care system. Mrs. Clinton, who ran for president in 2008, is considering a second attempt in 2016.

The roughly 7,500 documents — consisting of memos, transcripts, speeches and emails — were to be posted by the Clinton Presidential Library at 1 p.m.

Also from the NYT, the claim that Hillary Clinton Struggles to Define a Legacy in Progress.

It was a simple question to someone accustomed to much tougher ones: What was her proudest achievement as secretary of state? But for a moment, Hillary Rodham Clinton, appearing recently before a friendly audience at a women’s forum in Manhattan, seemed flustered.

Mrs. Clinton played an energetic role in virtually every foreign policy issue of President Obama’s first term, advocating generally hawkish views internally while using her celebrity to try to restore America’s global standing after the hit it took during the George W. Bush administration.

But her halting answer suggests a problem that Mrs. Clinton could confront as she recounts her record in Mr. Obama’s cabinet before a possible run for president in 2016: Much of what she labored over so conscientiously is either unfinished business or has gone awry in his second term.

From Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and the grinding civil war in Syria to the latest impasse in the Middle East peace process, the turbulent world has frustrated Mr. Obama, and is now defying Mrs. Clinton’s attempts to articulate a tangible diplomatic legacy.

Horrors! I guess Hillary should just drop out then (“Why won’t that nasty bitch quit?”). And now that she’s going to be a grandma, she probably should give up all her ambitions and become a babysitter. From The Christian Science Monitor: Chelsea Clinton baby: Will Hillary Clinton be less likely to run in 2016? Would anyone ask that about a man running for president?

hrc-cover

There are tons of Hillary headlines today, so I’ll give you a sampling:

NPR: Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Chess Board.

WaPo: Poll: Hillary Clinton’s numbers worst since 2008, as GOP brand surges (Sigh . . . Whatever. 2016 is a long way down the road.)

WaPo: Hillary Clinton says she’s ‘a huge supporter’ of immigration reform.

Bloomberg: Hillary Clinton’s Diplomacy Memoir Will Be Called ‘Hard Choices’

Snarky commentary on the upcoming book by Joe Coscarelli at New York Magazine: Hillary Clinton Wants You to Know That She Faces Very ‘Hard Choices,’ Like, For Instance, Running for President in 2016

So . . . what else is happening out there in the world? Please share your links in the comment thread and have a fantastic Friday!!


Thursday Reads: Let’s Get Real Here!!

Good Morning!

Snake Handler Draping Rattlesnake on Congregation MemberI must be a political junkie because I certainly have the elections of fall 2014 on my mind. Democrats appear to be gaining some ground. I just can’t help but wonder how far right of bat shit crazy the Republican Party will go because it certainly seems that it’s gone far off the rails these days.  It seems odd that the party whose roots came from the civil war and the fight to preserve the union while ending slavery has switched to the party of sedition and oppression.

The problem is that so many billionaire donors–in a system that favors billionaire donors–have made sure that only those willing to sell their souls to them will get money.  It is also clear that only those pols that will sell their souls to the misogynistic, homophobic, religious crazies in this country will get the grass roots support.

How much more of this can the country take? Are the Republicans sounding a swan song or a death trumpet for our democracy? It is clear that the Republican Party has now established itself on a white identity that doesn’t even include all the white people in this country. Republicans are losing ground with Asians and Hispanics each election cycle. It isn’t because they don’t agree with some of their economic or even social positions.  It’s the racism, the xenophobia, the religious exclusivity, the homophobia, the misogyny, the anti-science bent, and the general tendency to hate all things not white and male. Larry Bartels at the WaPo:

working paper by Alexander Kuo, Neil Malhotra and (my Vanderbilt colleague) Cecilia Hyunjung Mo examines the basis of growing Democratic identification among Asian Americans. Among other analyses, they report the results of an experiment in which Asian American college students were randomly subjected to a seemingly incidental but carefully staged “microaggression”—having their U.S. citizenship questioned by the experimenter. This minor but socially charged interaction boosted Democratic partisanship by 13 percentage points,  a remarkable shift. (The corresponding effect among white students was only three percentage points.)

Asian Americans who experienced the insensitive questioning were also “more likely to view Republicans generally as closed-minded and ignorant” and to express more negative feelings toward them — despite the fact that Republicans were never mentioned by the experimenter or connected to the microagression. Thus, the authors’ findings “suggest that Asian Americans associate feelings of social exclusion based on their ethnic background with the Republican Party.”

Those folks are not homogeneous in that they have the same interests, aspirations, or even religions.  However, they all feel that there is a key holy-ghost-4demographic of white people that reject their claim to the identity of America and the American Dream.  I can’t help but wonder if the rest of the country is watching those states run by republicans and wondering wtf is going on?  Right now, in Baton Rouge,  our legislature is debating making one particular version of the bible the state book and what to do with alcohol infused ice cream. Why just this week I learned that Phyliss Schlafly thinks all women should be glad that men make more money because it makes women head straight for the altar.

Now three days later, a prominent member of the Republican movement further undermined the party’s campaign to appeal to women voters by suggesting that the current pay gap isn’t wide enough. In an op-ed published by the Christian Post, Phyllis Schlafly — the founder of the Eagle Forum — maintained that increasing the pay gap will help women find suitable husbands:

Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don’t have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.

While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.

Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate.

Obviously, I’m not saying women won’t date or marry a lower-earning men, only that they probably prefer not to. If a higher-earning man is not available, many women are more likely not to marry at all. [...]

The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap.

Schlafly has long been crusader for “traditional values” within conservative movement and the Republican party, serving as a member of the National GOP Platform Committee as recently as 2012 and as a delegate to the National Convention. Her Eagle Forum PAC has also donated thousands to prominent Republicans like Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann, Steve King, and Ted Cruz.

e89905f1fc6212b814ac4221a08a1a8fThen, I found out that nullification can work downwards as well as upwards if you want to improve the lives of working people.  Big government is good as long as it’s used to stamp out the local efforts to improve people’s lives.

At a time when many states and cities are working at passing minimum wage increases, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) has gone in the opposite direction and signed a law banning cities from passing higher wages. The bill also bans them from enacting paid sick days or vacation requirements.

The law will stymie the efforts of activists in Oklahoma City, where a labor federation has led the push on a petition to raise the city’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The state’s current minimum has been set at the federal level of $7.25. In 2012, 64,000 workers in the state earned $7.25 an hour or less, making up 7.2 percent of all hourly workers, a larger share than the 4.7 percent figure for the country as a whole.

Fallin said she signed the bill out of the worry that higher local minimum wages “would drive businesses to other communities and states, and would raise prices for consumers.” She also argued that “most minimum wage workers are young, single people working part-time or entry level jobs” and that “many are high school or college students living with their parents in middle-class families.” She warned that increasing the minimum wage “would require businesses to fire many of those part-time workers” and harm job creation.

But that’s not what the typical American minimum wage worker looks like. Nearly 90 percent of workers who would be impacted by an increase in the wage are older than 20, while the average age is 35. More than a quarter have children to support. More than half work full time, and 44 percent have at least some college education, while half a million minimum wage workers are college graduates.

Meanwhile, experts have analyzed state minimum wage increases over two decades and found that even at times of high unemployment, there is no clear evidence that the hikes affected job creation. Five other studies have come to the same conclusion. The same has held true for the city of San Francisco, where employment grew by more than 5 percent after it passed a higher minimum wage while nearby counties experienced declines.

Oklahoma is not the only state to pass a blanket ban on raising the wage. Wisconsin lawmakers recently considered doing the same, and Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (R)signed a law that prevents local governments from requiring contractors to pay higher wages last year. According to Paul Sonn, general counsel and program director at the National Employment Law Project, a handful of mostly Republican-leaning states passed these kinds of bans about a decade ago, including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Oregon, and Texas. But the states that are the most likely to see campaigns to raise minimum wages are not the ones that are likely to pass similar bans, he told ThinkProgress.

 And of course, we still have so much to discuss about the continual obsession with blastulas, and zygotes, and fetuses that are no where near viability. snake-handling

What is it about abortion that gives it such political staying power? One obvious answer it is that for opponents it is an issue of life and death. For pro-choice women, it is a question of personal autonomy and bodily integrity.

Take a look at the history of the fight for women’s rights, as argued by the feminist legal scholar Catharine MacKinnon. In her 1989 book, “Toward a Feminist Theory of the State,” MacKinnon wrote, “male dominance is perhaps the most pervasive and tenacious system of power in history.” The goal of the feminist project, she argued six years earlier, “is to uncover and claim as valid the experience of women, the major content of which is the devalidation of women’s experience.”

Lisa Tuttle, in the “Encyclopedia of Feminism,” described reproductive freedom “as a basic human right, it includes the right to abortion and birth control, but implies much more. To be realized, reproductive freedom must include not only woman’s right to choose childbirth, abortion, sterilization or birth control, but also her right to make those choices freely, without pressure from individual men, doctors, governmental or religious authorities. It is a key issue for women, since without it the other freedoms we appear to have, such as the right to education, jobs and equal pay, may prove illusory.”

These thoughts are by no means the opinions of women only. In an effort to explore the politics of abortion rights I contacted a disparate group of contemporary experts.

While none of these theorists could be categorized as politically correct – if anything, some have been accused of just the opposite — all see the anti-abortion movement as driven in part by the determined effort to control the reproductive rights of women.

Steven Pinker, a professor of psychology at Harvard, is no stranger tocriticism from feminists. In his book “The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature,” Pinker wrote: “Feminism as a movement for political and social equity is important, but feminism as an academic clique committed to eccentric doctrines about human nature is not. Eliminating discrimination against women is important, but believing that women and men are born with indistinguishable minds is not. Freedom of choice is important, but ensuring that women make up exactly 50 percent of all professions is not. And eliminating sexual assaults is important, but advancing the theory that rapists are doing their part in a vast male conspiracy is not.”

When I asked Pinker in an email about abortion, however, his response was very much in line with the thinking of feminist theorists.

Abortion may “touch on a characteristic male obsession: controlling the sexuality of women,” he said, noting that in most traditional societies “a woman’s male relatives, and then her husband, will try to control her sexuality in a variety of ways: veils, wigs, clothing, chaperones, segregation by sex, chastity belts, engagement rings, terms of address (‘Mrs. John Smith’), ceremonies (as when a father gives away the bride to her husband), and laws that make a woman the property of her husband.”

These efforts, Pinker said, are driven, in part, by fears of “paternity uncertainty”: “The ultimate evolutionary reason is presumably to guarantee paternity, since a cuckolded man is in the worst imaginable evolutionary scenario: investing in the child, and hence the genes, of a rival man.”

Along similar lines, John Hibbing, a political scientist at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, who specializes in the study of how “biological variations mitigate the way in which individuals respond to politically relevant environmental occurrences,” argues that reproduction is both a core political issue and a core evolutionary issue.

Hibbing’s comment focused on themes consistent with Pinker’s: “Those most concerned with security and tradition tend to be politically conservative and those most open to new lifestyles and who are less focused on security will tend toward the political left. Issues of reproduction are likely to be at the core of the conflict between tradition and new lifestyles since these issues are about as basic as they come. Fundamentalism in some parts of the world is often driven by the desire of males to control reproductive opportunities. These issues form the evolutionary core.”

 We have one of the two major political parties showing signs of radical extremism and elements that are truly dangerous, and yet, no one pays tumblr_lxg6uvekLT1qapkmyo1_500attention.  I have written a lot about right wing terrorism and it grieves me to see that we saw yet another predictable incident in Kansas City. I can’t imagine what it feels for the folks who have been following this inside law enforcement and inside groups that truly fear these hate groups.  If you didn’t see this bit from Rachel Maddow, you should.  It sums up a lot of history that we’ve basically ignored since the 1980s.  There are some really dangerous, violent white men out there.

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security concluded a years-long study of right-wing extremism in the U.S. and released a report saying that ultraconservative white nationalists and other extremists pose a much greater threat to U.S. citizens than Islamic terrorists from overseas.

Conservatives like Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh pitched a huge tantrum, accusing the Obama administration of staging an anti-conservative pogrom, even though the DHS study was commissioned by the Bush administration. In the end, the full study was never released, and the outcry forced DHS to divert resources away from U.S. extremists.

When authorities raided the apartment of deceased Boston Marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, they found stacks of right-wing conspiracy theory newsletters, angry screeds against blacks, Jews and the New World Order.

“How weird is it to have Chechen-speaking Russian immigrant Muslim guys reading 9/11 ‘Truther’ conspiracies and ads for Nazi message boards while also espousing violent jihad and allegedly setting off bombs that killed Americans?” Maddow asked.

According to the New America Foundation, she said, since the 9/11 attacks, 21 people have been killed in the name of Islamic extremism in the U.S., whereas the number of people killed by right-wing extremists stands at 34 after the three deaths in Kansas.

Nevertheless, huge swaths of U.S. policy are dedicated to fighting Islamic terrorism abroad, “But when it comes to the proven and interconnected threat of the armed, American extreme right wing, we’re still treating every attack by them like a surprise, still treating those attackers like a lone wolf, regardless of however many letters you find between them,” regardless of the places where they talk to each other online, “regardless of the tide of evidence that these organizations exist and are operational.”

Why won’t the country at large acknowledge the real threat of right-wing extremism, she asked. “Should that change?”

129d41ccb95b927c789fadb0f7bff41d There is a huge movement made up of angry, armed, white men that is threatening the health and safety of a huge number of people.  They are not a majority of people and they are not a majority of white men.  But, they are central to maintaining the power structure right now and can run amok in white male privilege and get away with a lot more than any one else would.

At the heart of this murderous continuum are race and xenophobia (a fear of others) and a violent reaction to those fears. To many in the dominant culture, their America is changing. The “browning” of America has evoked a return and acceptance of the murderous continuum. Former Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo best expressed this sentiment when he proclaimed: “I want my country back.”

Conceal Carry permits, Stand Your Ground laws and inept prosecutors are creating a climate that provides the Zimmermans and Dunns of the world with a license to kill as long as juries are predisposed to letting them do so.

As the American economy continues to contract and full-time, well-paying jobs become harder to find, the face of poverty in America is changing. The stereotypical “urban” or “black” poor have now become the “suburban” or white poor. According to CBS, “Hardship is particularly growing among whites, based on several measures . . . More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line . . . accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.”

According to the Christian Science Monitor, “Suburbs are increasingly becoming the address of America’s poor. Suburban poverty across the country grew 53 percent between 2000 and 2010, more than twice the rate of urban poverty . . . ” Many of those newly poor suburbanites are white and many of them are angry, blaming people of color for their misfortunes, instead of directing their ire toward corporate greed, the outsourcing of factory jobs to overseas companies, and governmental policies that favor the wealthy.

 What is truly scary to me, is that this is a celebration of lawlessness. 

Local journalists covering Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s case stress he is no victim and is breaking the law, regardless of conservative media’s sympathy for his defiance of government orders to remove cattle from federal land.

Those reporters and editors — some who have been covering the case for 20 years — spoke with Media Mattersand said many of Bundy’s neighbors object to his failure to pay fees to have his cattle graze on the land near Mesquite, NV., when they pay similar fees themselves.

“We have interviewed neighbors and people in and around Mesquite and they have said that he is breaking the law,” said Chuck Meyernews director at CBS’ KXNT Radio in Las Vegas. “When it comes to the matter of the law, Mr. Bundy is clearly wrong.”

Bundy’s case dates back to 1993, when he stopped paying the fees required of local ranchers who use the federally owned land for their cattle and other animals. Local editors say more than 85 percent of Nevada land is owned by the federal government.

Bundy stopped paying fees on some 100,000 acres of land in 1993 and has defied numerous court orders, claiming the land should be controlled by Nevada and that the federal government has no authority over it.

Last year a federal court ordered Bundy to remove his cattle or they would be confiscated to pay the more than $1 million in fees and fines he’s accumulated. The confiscation began earlier this month, but was halted because the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had “serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public” when armed militia showed up to block the takeover.

Despite his lawlessness, Bundy has become a sympathetic figure for many in the right-wing media.

But for local journalists, many who have been reporting on him for decades, that image is very misguided.

“He clearly has captured national attention, among mostly conservative media who have portrayed him as a kind of a property rights, First Amendment, Second Amendment, range war kind of issue,” Meyer noted. “That’s how it has been framed, but the story goes back a lot longer and is pretty cut and dry as far as legal implications have been concerned.”

He added that, “Cliven Bundy and his supporters are engaged in a fight that has already been settled. There are a number of people around these parts who have strong reservations about Bundy’s actions.”

Las Vegas Sun Editorial Page Editor Matt Hufman said depicting Bundy as a victim is wrong.

In what is undoubtedly one of the worst stories I have read in years,  Police in California actually had GPS trackers on two serial killers/rapists who snake-handlerswent out then killed women while they were under surveillance. 

Two parolees raped and killed four women while wearing GPS trackers, and there may be more victims, a California police chief said.

Registered sex offenders Franc Cano, 27, and Steven Dean Gordon, 45, were both wearing ankle bracelets when the female victims were assaulted and killed last fall and earlier this year, Anaheim police Chief Raul Quezada said Monday at a news conference. The suspects were arrested on Friday and are each facing four felony counts of special circumstances murder and four felony counts of rape, reportsCBS Los Angeles.

The naked body of Jarrae Nykkole Estepp, 21, was found March 14 on a conveyor belt at an Anaheim trash-sorting plant. Quezada said it was the key to breaking the case, according to CBS Los Angeles. The probe led detectives to connect the two suspects to her slaying, and the disappearance of three women – Josephine Vargas, 34; Kianna Jackson, 20; and Martha Anaya, 28 – who frequented a Santa Ana neighborhood known for drug dealing and prostitution.

The Orange County Register reports that Cano and Gordon were convicted of lewd and lascivious acts on children under 14 years old. As a requirement of the convictions, both were required to wear GPS tracking bracelets.

Authorities at the news conference did not explain how Cano and Gordon allegedly managed to carry out the killings while under GPS supervision, but Quezada said data from the devices “was one of the investigative tools we used to put the case together.”

Our country spends billions of dollars tracking foreign terrorists who practice what is a minority religion in this country, while domestic grown terrorists who follow the majority religion appear to get a pass. Not only do they get a pass, they get enabled by the likes of Schafly and other Republican Politicos and financed by John Birchers like the Koch Brothers who now have a hand picked Supreme Court.

I’m really getting tired of reading and writing about this stuff.  Are there only a few of us that really see the connections here between the nullification efforts and the neoconfederate longings of folks like the Pauls and their droogies?  Are there only a few of us that object to the racism, the homophobia, and the misogyny of these folks?  It doesn’t seem so if you read polls and if you see the demographics.  But, damn, getting rid of the entrenched group that benefits from all the damage they’ve done over the years is just getting more difficult all the time.   I cannot wait to upload a Youtube of myself Dancing On Their GRAVES.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?