It’s looking like Massachusetts may be on the verge of electing another Republican governor, and suddenly I’m feeling even sicker than I have been with this cold I can’t get rid of.
Breaking news this morning from The Boston Globe, Charlie Baker jumps 9 points in new Globe poll.
Republican Charlie Baker has opened up a 9-point lead over Democrat Martha Coakley, 45 percent to 36 percent, according to a new Globe poll that depicts a far more comfortable advantage than either candidate for governor has enjoyed in months.
The poll reflects an October surge in independent voters toward Baker’s column. It was independents who provided Governor Deval Patrick with his margins of victory in 2006 and 2010.
Baker’s standing has improved from last week’s poll, which showed the two candidates dead even. It can be attributed largely to the gains he has made in voters’ perceptions of who would improve the economy and manage state government, areas that already were tilting his way. At the same time, Baker has offset the deficits he faced on issues such as education and health care, where Coakley still holds an edge, but a diminished one.
“There is just positive movement in every single metric we can ask around Baker,” said pollster John Della Volpe, chief executive of SocialSphere Inc., which conducts the weekly poll for the Globe. “The more voters have gotten to know him, the stronger he performs.”
What is it with this supposedly liberal state? Since I moved here more than 40 years ago, we have had mostly Republican governors. I can’t understand why Massachusetts would elect another one, especially after our experience with Mitt Romney. We’ve also never had a woman elected governor. Republican Jane Swift was governor for two years, but that was because, as lieutenant governor, she took over for Paul Celluci, who resigned to become ambassador to Canada under George W. Bush.
As for getting to know Baker, what does that mean? Do voters really know his history? Or are they responding to political advertising?
Overall, Baker has moved from 38 percent support to 45 percent since late August. Coakley dropped 5 points this week, the poll found, after having held steady throughout much of the fall. Baker’s growth, said Della Volpe, has come almost entirely from voters who have made up their minds since the beginning of September. Eleven percent of voters remain undecided….
The poll depicts an electorate highly susceptible to the recent barrage of political advertising on television. Two weeks ago, Coakley, the state’s attorney general, led Baker by 5 points in the same poll. According to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, a firm that tracks political television commercials, $2.2 million in ads paid for by gubernatorial candidates and allied groups — more than 1,700 individual spots — aired on broadcast television from Oct. 12 through Oct. 19.
I didn’t know much about Baker until I read a very disturbing story in the Globe this week, Mental health record may be predictor for Charlie Baker. It turns out Baker was the architect of a damaging mental health privatization policy in Massachusetts that is still reverberates across the state today. (I’ve emphasized some points in the article with bold type.)
It was early 1991, Baker was Massachusetts’ new undersecretary for health, and the 34-year-old Harvard grad was having his first look at the state’s decrepit mental hospitals.
Soon after, a special state commission recommended closing nine of the state’s most antiquated institutions, including Danvers and two other hospitals for mentally ill patients, and moving much of that care to the community. It was Baker’s job to get it done. His strategy involved a first-in-the-nation use of a for-profit company with power to approve or deny treatments for low-income mental health patients.
Baker’s blueprint saved Massachusetts millions of dollars at a time when the state was staring at a nearly $2 billion deficit, but it left thousands of mental health patients often waiting weeks for treatments. The controversial approach became his template for rescuing financially ailing Harvard Pilgrim Health Care a decade later.
The aftershocks of both initiatives are still being felt as the now 57-year-old Republican runs for governor, and those experiences, say Baker supporters and critics, provide a window into how he might handle similarly fraught and costly issues if elected.
Baker’s claim to fame is that as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, he kept the company from going bankrupt. Democratic ads have publicized the fact that he “raised premiums 150 percent and tripled his own salary to $1.7 million during his decade at Harvard Pilgrim.” One of the ways he saved money for Harvard Pilgrim was by laying of lots of workers and outsourcing their jobs to India. He even won an “Outsourcing Excellence Award” in 2008.
Back to the Globe article on Baker’s mental health record. There were vast financial profits for the state, and some low income mental health patients did benefit short-term. But overall,
…the separate move to privatize mental health care, with a for-profit company controlling treatment and costs, meant 800 state mental health workers were laid off and their work farmed out to private clinics that received less state money. Long waiting lists ensued for community services.
“It was a disaster,” said Dr. Matthew Dumont, former director of the Chelsea Community Counseling Center, where the number of psychiatrists and other caregivers, including Dumont, was cut from 23 to six. Dumont said the clinic was no longer able to provide a critical service he believes was a lifeline for mental health patients — home visits.
Over the next several years, suicide rates among mental health patients who had received state services soared. That prompted a blistering 1997 report from a legislative panel that criticized the Weld administration for lax monitoring of patients and failing to investigate their deaths in a timely way.
Two years later, a Brandeis University study gave the state high marks for innovative community-based mental health programs launched during the 1990s, but found too many patients waiting for services….
“It’s still a revolving door,” said Dumont, the former director of the Chelsea counseling center who lives with the legacy of privatizing mental health services when he evaluates patients for the state’s public defender agency. He said he has to scrounge to find places that will take indigent defendants who have been in and out of mental health facilities.
Read about Baker’s future plans for mental health care in Massachusetts at the link.
What’s happening in Kentucky?
Is Mitch McConnell getting nervous about holding onto his Senate seat? The Hill reports today that McConnell has just written a personal check to his campaign for $1.8 million dollars to counter the recent DSCC purchase of TV ads in support of challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes. From The Hill:
A week ago it appeared the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was giving up on the race when it pulled the plug on television advertising after a $1.4 million buy.
But the Democratic Party committee plunged back into this fight this week by announcing it would spend another $650,000 on television ads to help Alison Lundergan Grimes against McConnell. The Senate Majority PAC, a Democratic super-PAC, followed up with a pledge to spend $850,000 in the state.
McConnell has a stable lead in polls, but doesn’t want to let the new Democratic ads go unmatched. He has long pledged to his Republican colleagues that he would not take any party funds to help win reelection.
Maybe it doesn’t mean anything; we’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile a couple more articles on the Kentucky Senate race.
The Courier-Journal, Grimes pledges to fight for Kentuckians’ rights.
On the stump, she’s a Clinton Democrat. In GOP attacks, she’s a cheerleader for Barack Obama. Political allies — and opponents — know her as the daughter of Jerry Lundergan, former head of the Kentucky Democratic Party.
For her part, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes calls herself a “Kentucky filly,” charging toward victory in her bid to unseat Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell and become the state’s first female U.S. senator.
“This is a strong … independent Kentucky woman,” Grimes tells crowds on the campaign trail, while pledging to defend Medicare and Social Security benefits, fight for a higher minimum wage and support pay equality for women.
“She will fight for the people of Kentucky like we have never been fought for before,” she promises, speaking in the third person.
But 16 months after announcing her candidacy, political observers say Grimes still faces challenges in defining herself to Kentucky voters who overwhelmingly dislike Obama and have largely turned away from Democrats in most federal elections.
Apparently, it’s all about how much Kentuckians feel about Clinton and Obama. I hope Bill has plans to stump for Grimes again close to election day.
Brian Beutler at The New Republic reports on McConnell’s refusal to respond to questions about privatizing Social Security.
The reporters appear to be referencing this encounter McConnell had at the Louisville Rotary Club with reporter Joe Sonka. At the event, McConnell had expressed remorse that he couldn’t wrangle any Democrats into supporting George W. Bush’s 2005 effort to, as McConnell put it, “fix Social Security.”
Sonka asked him if he’d revisit that effort in 2015, and McConnell said, “I’m not announcing what the agenda would be in advance. We’re not in the majority yet. We’ll have more to say about that later.”
So McConnell dodged a pretty straightforward question about the Republican policy agenda, and, should he become majority leader, his own substantive goals.
A central theme of McConnell’s campaign is that Kentuckians shouldn’t replace a guy who stands to become an agenda setter in Washington with Grimes, who would be a freshman with comparably little power. Vis a vis less politically contentious issues, he’s more than happy to explain how he’d use that power.
One of the goals McConnell has been open about is “going after the EPA,” which he claims is hurting Kentucky’s economy.
So it’s inconsistent of him to hold his cards close to the vest when the issue is privatizing Social Security rather than gunning for the EPA. It would’ve been easy enough for him to say that private accounts are going to stay on the shelf, where they’ve been, for all intents and purposes, since 2005. Or that it wouldn’t be worth the hassle, since President Obama would surely veto such a bill. Instead he said the agenda isn’t up for public discussion until he’s granted the agenda-setting power.
I’m sure McConnell realizes that his constituents wouldn’t be too happy about attacks on Social Security . . .
The Texas Voter ID Law
From MSNBC, a depressing story about the Texas voter ID law, Texas woman threatened with jail after applying for voter ID.
An Austin, Texas woman told msnbc she was threatened with jail time for having an out-of-state driver’s license when she went to apply for a voter identification card so she could vote under the state’s controversial ID law. She said she was so intimidated she left without getting the ID she needed — and which she’d been trying to get for a year.
Lynne Messinger’s account highlights the obstacles that some Texans face as they try to obtain a voter ID — despite the state’s assurances that getting one doesn’t pose a burden.
Messinger, 62 and a musician, said she brought her birth certificate to aTexas’ Department of Public Safety (DPS) office in south Austin Thursday in an effort to get a voter ID. She needs one because Texas’s strict ID law doesn’t accept out-of-state driver’s licenses.
Messinger said she spoke to a clerk at the desk, and explained that she had a California driver’s license. She has houses in both California and Texas and goes back and forth between the two, but decided several years ago to switch her voting residency to Texas.
The clerk left for a few minutes, then told her to take a seat. At that point, Messinger said, a state trooper summoned her into his back office, saying he needed to speak to her. Once inside his office, Messinger said the trooper insisted on seeing all the documentation she had brought, and demanded to know where she lives and pays taxes. He even told her she could be jailed for driving with a California license.* It is illegal to drive in Texas on another state’s driver’s license 90 days after moving into the state.
“It was like a Nazi interrogation about how I cant be driving with a California ID,” Messinger said. “I was completely intimidated and freaked out.”
Here’s a very interesting read on Chief Justice Roberts and Voter ID laws from The Atlantic, On Race and Voter ID, John Roberts Wants It Both Ways. The author, Garrett Epps discusses Roberts’ views on race, and concludes that “[t]he idea that government must not discriminate by race seems to be important to the chief.” But . . .
Which brings us to Veasey v. Perry, the voting-rights case in which the Court issued its 5 a.m. order on Saturday. That order allowed Texas’ draconian voter-ID law, known as SB 14, to take effect for the midterm elections next month—the first general election to which it will be applied. It is customary to speak of SB 14 as a “tough” voter-ID law, but it might be better to speak of it as a discriminatory voter-ID law, inspired by the intent to disfranchise black and Latino voters.
That’s not my inference; it was the considered factual finding of federal district Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos. (Ramos is an Obama appointee, but one endorsed for the bench by Republican Senators Kay Bailey Hutchinson and John Cornyn.) Ramos based her conclusion on a nine-day trial in which both the state and the plaintiffs presented evidence about SB 14’s history and effect. That effect is startling—Ramos found that the law might disfranchise as much as 4.5 percent of the state’s eligible voters. But more important is her conclusion about the law’s intent (emphasis added):
The record as a whole (including the relative scarcity of incidences of in-person voter impersonation fraud, the fact that SB 14 addresses no other type of voter fraud, the anti-immigration and anti-Hispanic sentiment permeating the 2011 legislative session, and the legislators’ knowledge that SB 14 would clearly impact minorities disproportionately and likely disenfranchise them) shows that SB 14 was racially motivated.
This is a devastating finding. The judge is not saying that the law has a disproportionate effect on minorities; she is saying that it was specifically written to prevent them from voting. Because it was intentional race discrimination, she found, it violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, the prohibition of racial restrictions on the vote in the 15th Amendment—and also the prohibition of poll taxes in the 24th Amendment.
Read much more at the link. It’s an important article.
Washington School Shooting
More details are coming out about the school shooting in Washington state. From The Seattle Times, Teen shooter targets 3 girls, 2 male cousins.
A freshman homecoming prince, reportedly angry about a girl, pulled out a gun and opened fire in a crowded cafeteria at Marysville-Pilchuck High School Friday morning, killing one classmate and wounding four others before fatally shooting himself.
At 10:39 a.m., as hundreds of students gathered for lunch on the sprawling campus, Jaylen Fryberg walked up to a cafeteria table, pulled out a gun and shot three teen girls and two teenage male cousins, witnesses and authorities said….
Fryberg and a girl were confirmed dead. The girl’s name was not released.
Two boys and two girls were taken by ambulance to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. As of Friday night, the two girls were alive and in intensive care with gunshot wounds to the head, said Dr. Joanne Roberts, chief medical officer for Providence. It will be several days before a prognosis could be made, she said.
The wounded boys were identified by family members as Andrew Fryberg, 15, and Nate Hatch, 14 — both cousins to Jaylen Fryberg. Both also were shot in the head. They were initially taken to Providence and later transferred to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, where Andrew was in serious condition and Nate was in critical condition.
“He shot people he cared about,” said friend and football teammate Dylen Boomer.
I guess we’ll learn more as time goes on. These school shootings make no sense to me.
So . . . what stories are you following today? Please share your links in the comment thread and enjoy your weekend!
Tonight’s cartoons touch on the terrorist attack in Canada. One in particular: The Canadian Political Cartoon That Has Everyone Talking | Mediaite
Canada’s The Chronicle Heraldran a cartoon this morning that many on social media are lauding as a powerful and uplifting message after yesterday’s deadly shooting in Ottawa that left a Canadian soldier dead and two others wounded.
The cartoon, produced by artist Bruce MacKinnon, portrays the fallen soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo being helped by one of the men on the war memorial where he was killed, and simultaneously becoming a part of the memorial itself.
It is a good one indeed…
This is an open thread…
One of the most awful results of the Reagan years has been the creation of mainstream paranoia over policy using data evident from the scientific method, intellectuals and academics that spend years researching and learning theory and empirical evidence, and the idea that government can’t ameliorate issues through policy but is somehow a potential enemy of the governed.
This kind of paranoid drivel used to be the realm of militia types like Clive Bunday and John Birchers like the Koch Brothers and father. It had no place in mainstream discourse until Reagan started pumping up the idea that poor people game the government and the government games every one else. Its now spread to Christian extremists, the NRA, and most of the Republic Party.
Let me give you the latest example of someone who is possibly going to be a Senator from Iowa. Joni Ernst is doing the Sharon Angle thing of declaring any government issue she doesn’t like her potential enemy and any one supporting that view as a potential target of her nice little gun that she carries with her everywhere.
Joni Ernst, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Iowa, said during an NRA event in 2012 that she would use a gun to defend herself from the government.
“I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere,” Ernst said at the NRA and Iowa Firearms Coalition Second Amendment Rally in Searsboro, Iowa. “But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”
Ernst made the remark a little more than a month after gunman James Holmes allegedly killed 12 people and injured 58 in a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Ernst’s campaign did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for comment about the remark on Wednesday evening.
Earlier this year, Ernst released an ad in which she points a gun at the camera and vows to “unload” on Obamacare.
We’ve also experienced this massive attempt to rewrite secondary school textbooks and curricula to reflect the deeply held philosophical and religious views of these folks rather than theory or empirical evidence brought about by hundreds of years of research and scholarship. This also ignores primary documents that show just the opposite to be factual.
But, facts be damned, there’s children’s minds to warp. Biased ideas are not at the center of legitimate academic pursuit. Folks that follow agendas tend to live at the edges of universities and most departments are quite embarrassed by them. I spent time in a department where one research professor’s favorite pursuit was proving that iqs and brain sizes among varying races were the reason for underachieving groups in an economy. All DNA evidence shows that race is a social construct but this guy spent a life time trying to show the relationship between brain sizes of races and incomes and jobs. So, most time when you see folks that believe this stuff, they reside some where on the fringes. However, since the Reagan years, there’s been a major attempt by right wing religious zealots to teach propaganda and there’s been a rather significant increase in the level of ignorance on things from incoming freshmen.
This is happening even in economics where you would think that paranoia about “communism” would’ve gone away since the fall of the USSR. Not true, however. They prefer to fear imagined boogey men and to set up imagined fairy tale rescuers over doing policy that’s be proven effective in years of empirical study.
The standards’ authors are clearly fans of the free enterprise system, consistently emphasizing the advantage of American capitalism over other structures.
For example, the high school standards state that students should be able to “understand how the free enterprise system drives technological innovation and its application in the marketplace.” The middle school standards clearly promote free enterprise capitalism over other economic systems, saying that students should be able to “compare and contrast free enterprise, socialist, and communist economies in various contemporary societies, including the benefits of the U.S. free enterprise system.” Finally, the standards connect capitalism with the conservative ideal of limited government, asking students to be able to “explain why a free enterprise system of economics developed in the new nation, including minimal government intrusion, taxation, and property rights.”
It really takes very little time spent in economics to realize that political constructs are not economic constructs. For example, the United States economy was founded on Mercantilism which began with monopolies, charters, grants and largess of royalty and aristocracy. The concepts of Capitalism and of Communism had the same roots and they were a lot more philosophical than ever real. Even, now, we have a modified market system. There has never EVER been a “free market” system or “communism” in an economic sense. Socialism is just one end of a modified market system and still relies heavily on private ownership of the majority of factors of production. Most facets of government policy are to make a market behave closer to a free market model because it can’t possibly d0 so under one factor, characteristic, or situation that exists. I mean really, who wants to leave the market for uranium to the free market? That’s just an extreme example.
The problem is that dogma has overtaken reality among folks that now find themselves in office. It’s bad for the country. It’s bad for business. It’s bad for nearly every one. The one thing that’s becoming abundantly clear since the Clinton Presidency and definitely during the Obama Presidency is that the Democratic Party is the party of Wall Street and Big Business. It’s not the Republicans. No where is this more evident than economic reports written by the private sector. Today’s Republicans scare the shit out of big business and finance. The last few battles to keep the federal government and the deficit funded has nearly caused market meltdowns twice. You also don’t see them complain about increasing the minimum wage or decreasing the current level of income equality. NO REALLY. This means Chris Christie is really going to have some ‘splaining to do over this statement.
Labor Secretary Tom Perez on Thursday panned New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s comments that he’s “tired” of the minimum wage debate.
“Chris Christie’s got his head in the sand if he’s getting tired about the minimum wage,” Perez said according to Bloomberg Politics.
President Barack Obama and Democrats have led the push to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10, and the issue has made its way onto the campaign trail this year.
“Chris Christie needs to talk to his economists, who will tell him that 70 percent of GDP growth is consumption,” Perez said Thursday.
The criticism came just days after Christie said he was “tired of hearing about the minimum wage” at a U.S. Chamber of Commerce conference on Tuesday.
“I really am,” the Republican governor and potential 2016 hopeful said. “I don’t think there’s a mother or a father sitting around the kitchen table tonight in America saying, ‘You know, honey, if our son or daughter could just make a higher minimum wage, my God, all of our dreams would be realized.'”
“Is that what parents aspire to for our children?” Christie asked. “They aspire to a greater, growing America, where their children have the ability to make much more money and have much great success than they have, and that’s not about a higher minimum wage.”
Before the Labor secretary chimed in, the remark drew fire from other Democrats, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest even quipped during a briefing Wednesday that people living on a minimum wage are those who are really tired.
Christie also used his time at the podium to make a 2016 prediction.
“I am convinced that the next president of the United States is going to be a governor,” Christie said. “We’ve had this experiment of legislating .. and getting on-the-job training in the White House. It has not been pretty.”
So, this kind’ve talk is really making the economists of Wall Street and of huge corporations very nervous. They’re quite aware that today’s Republican Party is tanking the economy.
Even though Republicans depict themselves as the party for business and banks, it turns out that the GOP’s economic policy is detrimental to their bottom lines and continued existence; particularly rising costs and stagnant wages since the Bush-Republican Great Recession. What both bankers and retailers really want instead of tax cuts, deregulation, and more Republican austerity and budget cuts are better incomes for all Americans that will lead to increased consumer confidence and greater purchasing power to trigger higher business profits. What they have learned after thirty years of “trickle-down” is that the trillions of dollars taken by the 1%, especially since 2009, have failed miserably to stimulate the economy. Instead, they demand more buying by the masses that Wall Street firms and analysis of 65 of the nation’s top retailers claim will only happen with, as President Obama preaches, growing the economy from the middle-out.
For example, in a report last month titled Inequality and Consumption, Morgan Stanley economists said, “Despite the roughly $25 trillion increase in wealth since the recovery from the financial crisis began, consumer spending remains anemic. Top income earners have benefited from wealth increases but middle and low income consumers continue facing structural liquidity constraints and unimpressive wage growth. To lift all boats, further increases in residential wealth and accelerating wage growth are needed.” Republicans completely disagree and either resist consideration of raising the minimum wage or promote abolishing it altogether. According to the Republicans, increasing income inequality must continue and it is crucial that they convince the population that no wage is too low. It is a belief the Koch brothers espouse but it is rapidly losing favor in circles whose survival depends on a population of consumers.
Standard and Poor’s (S&P) rating agency concurred with Morgan Stanley’s economists in their August report, How Increasing Income Inequality Is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, And Possible Ways To Change The Tide, and strongly advised the federal government to create “a path toward more sustainable growth, that in our view, will pull more Americans out of poverty and bolster the purchasing power of the middle class. A rising tide lifts all boats…but a lifeboat carrying a few, surrounded by many treading water, risks capsizing.” To “lift all boats,” S&P suggests a “high degree of rebalancing” that includes increased “spending in the areas of education, health care, and infrastructure to help control the income gap that, at its current level, threatens the stability of an economy still struggling to recover.” Contrary to wisdom of real economists concerned with America’s economic survival, Republicans across the country have been laser-focused on their austerity crusade to cut spending on education, infrastructure, and healthcare including the cruel heartlessness of refusing free Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.
Despite the call from both banks and businesses to increase the minimum wage and spending on essentials for a robust recovery, congressional Republicans have obstructed and outright blocked each and every attempt by the President and Democrats to stimulate the economy. Despite trailing every developed nation on Earth in infrastructure, Republicans consistently refuse the President’s calls to increase spending on desperately-needed infrastructure repairs including roads, bridges, public buildings, and sewers that numerous economists, including some highly respected conservatives, say is crucial for job-creation, increased consumer spending, and a vibrant recovery. Increased consumer confidence, and spending, is something all economists agree is for the good of the country’s economy but can only happen if incomes rise for the majority with higher wages and more well-paying jobs.
I’ve said this a million times but it’s true. If you have an economy that’s 70% reliant on consumer spending for growth and 99% of the population has stagnant to falling real income, you’re going to run into trouble. Especially since a huge part of that 99% spends high levels, all of, or beyond their income and wealth levels. Years and years of evidence has shown that consumers are the real job creators. No business hires workers if no one is buying their goods and services. Rich people–especially with some of the horrid changes we’ve had in the tax code during the Dubya years–are spending more and more of the income and wealth on gambling paper for paper profits. This does not create anything of value in a real economy but it sure creates asset bubbles and the potential for financial meltdowns. One has only to survey retailers to figure out the relationship between incomes of the middle and working classes and their bottom lines and their hiring plans.
Former Walmart U.S. CEO Bill Simon, whose company had seen consumer traffic drop for six straight quarters and same-store sales drop for five quarters, explained in July 2014 that “we’ve reached a point where it’s not getting any better but it’s not getting any worse—at least for the middle (class) and down.” Kip Tindell, CEO of the Container Store, put retailers’ feelings best when he said, “consistent with so many of our fellow retailers, we are experiencing a retail ‘funk.’” The culprit is obvious: low wage and income growth for the middle class. Median household income in 2013 stood 8 percentage points below its 2007 prerecession level.
The simple fact of the matter is that when households do not have money, retailers do not have customers. The failure of incomes to keep up with the growing cost of college, child care, and other middle-class staples leaves even less money for retail spending. A previous analysis by the Center for American Progress shows that this so-called “middle-class squeeze”—stagnant incomes and the growing cost of middle-class security—leaves the median married couple with two kids with $5,500 less to spend annually on food, clothes, and other essentials that retailers sell.
Or, as officials of J.C. Penney—whose sales fell 9 percent in 20136—put it when listing the risks to its stock value: “the moderate income consumer, which is our core customer, has been under economic pressure for the past several years.”
Moreover, retail spending—which includes spending on everything from clothing to groceries to dining out—has broad implications for the entire economy since it accounts for a large fraction of consumer spending, which itself makes up 70
percent of U.S. gross domestic product, or GDP.
Even Walmart is concerned even while not paying living wages, not providing good benefits, and not creating an environment where a worker feels secure about his/her future. Now the weird thing is that fringe economists are still overly scared about inflation and high taxes. These things, however, are not at the top of any one’s concerns that would be invited on any Fox News program. Here’s a headline from Forbes: “Want a Better Economy? History Says Vote Democrat!”. In 2012, a number of books evaluated the results of the economy under Democratic vs Republican administrations. The results are startling.
Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan is attributed with saying “everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.“ So even though we may hold very strong opinions about parties and politics, it is worthwhile to look at historical facts. This book’s authors are to be commended for spending several years, and many thousands of student research assistant man-days, sorting out economic performance from the common viewpoint – and the broad theories upon which much policy has been based. Their compendium of economic facts is the most illuminating document on economic performance during different administrations, and policies, than anything previously published.
The authors looked at a range of economic metrics including inflation, unemployment, corporate profit growth, stock market performance, household income growth, economy (GDP) growth, months in recession and others. To their surprise (I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Goldfarb) they discovered that laissez faire policies had far less benefits than expected, and in fact produced almost universal negative economic outcomes for the nation!
From this book loaded with statistical fact tidbits and comparative charts, here are just a few that caused me to realize that my long-term love affair with Milton Friedman‘s writing and recommended policies in “Free to Choose” were grounded in a theory I long admired, but that simply have proven to be myths when applied!
- Personal disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents
- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents
- Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)
- Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)
- Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents
- The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations
It was no joke on Thursday when I asked Austan Goolsbee, a pretty fair amateur comic, to rattle of key economic indicators that are trending in very positive ways right now.
“Jobs created. Weekly U.I (jobless) claims. Unemployment rate. Auto Sales. Gas Prices,” said Goolsbee, former head of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and a onetime winner of the annual “D.C.’s Funniest Celebrity” contest.
And, yet, as a headline in Politico.com also noted Thursday, “Economic Anxiety Dominates 2014.” So what’s really and truly up? What explains the disconnect between seemingly very strong numbers and the lack of love for Obama and the Democrats?
“You can’t brag about the economy because people can’t feel it,” said Thomas Bowen, a Chicago-based Democratic political and policy consultant.
“I’m sure (some) Democrats have polled this: ‘The recovery isn’t working for you.’ That’s why they’re not running on the economy improving.
Not long after, I was driving past a state unemployment office along a rather somber commercial strip on Chicago’s Northwest Side. The parking lot was full. And then I mulled the folks I know working part-time involuntarily or sticking with jobs they don’t especially like out of fear of the limited alternatives.
“You’re talking about indicators in the last six months,” said Bowen. “But look at the start of the recession until today. We’re just getting out of the hole from jobs losses. And the jobs aren’t the same. They’re not higher paying construction jobs.” “Not all indicators equate with average folks,” said Anna Greenberg, a Washington-based Democratic pollster.
“Wages and salaries are stagnant,” she said. “Yes, the stock market is up and the jobless rate down. But the cost of living is up and you may not have more money.”
So, a lot of economists like me remain very confused. It’s not like there’s not support by people and businesses for good policy like infrastructure projects, improving the terms of student loans so more folks can access higher and continuing education, and a reasonable minimum wage. The cities and states that have raised the minimum wage are even those that are doing well among states. States that have raised their minimum wages have better job growth.
New data released by the Department of Labor shows that raising the minimum wage in some states does not appear to have had a negative impact on job growth, contrary to what critics said would happen.
In a report on Friday, the 13 states that raised their minimum wages on Jan. 1 have added jobs at a faster pace than those that did not. The data run counter to a Congressional Budget Office report in February that said raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, as the White House supports, could cost as many as 500,000 jobs.
“In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent.
“Nine of the 13 states increased their minimum wages automatically in line with inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Four more states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — approved legislation mandating the increases.”
The AP notes: “[The] state-by-state hiring data, released Friday by the Labor Department, provides ammunition” to the camp in favor of raising the minimum wage.
“Economists who support a higher minimum say the figures are encouraging, though they acknowledge they don’t establish a cause and effect. There are many possible reasons hiring might accelerate in a particular state.
” ‘It raises serious questions about the claims that a raise in the minimum wage is a jobs disaster,’ said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. The job data ‘isn’t definitive,’ he added, but is ‘probably a reasonable first cut at what’s going on.’ “
So, it just appears that there’s a huge portion of the United States electorate and elected that would rather live in their dream world of imaginary beings and dogma than have their lives made better by using what we know and what we’ve learned.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
So much has been happening in the news for the past couple of weeks, it’s hard for me to decide what to write about.
I guess I might as well begin with the latest breaking outrage–the attack on Canada’s Parliament yesterday.
Reuters reports: Canada’s parliament attacked, soldier fatally shot nearby.
A gunman attacked Canada’s parliament on Wednesday, with gunfire erupting near where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking, and a soldier was fatally shot at a nearby war memorial, stunning the Canadian capital.
The gunman in the parliament building was shot dead, and Harper was safely removed in incidents that may have been linked to Islamic militants.
Witness accounts indicated the man who shot dead the soldier guarding the National War Memorial in central Ottawa, went on to attack the parliament building minutes later. Canadian police said however they could not “at this point” confirm it was the same person….
Witnesses said a flurry of shots were fired after a gunman entered the parliament building, pursued by police.
The assault took place very near the room where Harper was meeting with members of his Conservative party, a government minister said.
“PM (Harper) was addressing caucus, then a huge boom, followed by rat-a-tat shots. We all scattered. It was clearly right outside our caucus door,” Treasury Board Minister Tony Clement told Reuters.
The shooter was later identified as “Michael Joseph Hall, 32, a convert to Islam who was using the name Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.”
On Monday, there had been another incident in Quebec in which a man “deliberately drove a car into two soldiers.” One of the victims died and the other was injured. The suspect, Martin Couture-Rouleau, who was shot and killed by police, was among about 90 people who were being monitored by the Canadian government as possible domestic terrorists.
CNN has a background article on the events in Canada, Canadian shooting: What we know — and don’t know — a day later; and here’s another from The Globe and Mail: Attack on Ottowa: What We Know So Far. One more story from Fox News, Pal says Ottawa gunman wanted to go to Middle East, seemed ‘mentally ill’.
Back in the USA, there was another White House fence jumper last night about 7:30 ET. From The Washington Post, Another man jumps White House fence, is apprehended on lawn by K-9 squad.
A man jumped the White House fence Wednesday night and was taken into custody after being bitten by a guard dog, officials said, just weeks after another fence jumper made it deep into the executive mansion amid a series of security failures.
Secret Service agents and K-9 units quickly apprehended the latest fence jumper, who authorities identified as Dominic Adesanya, 23, of Bel Air, Md. He was taken to a hospital with injuries from a dog bite, and charges against him were pending, authorities said.
Two of the Secret Service dogs — named Hurricane and Jordan — were taken to a veterinarian and treated for minor bruising they suffered during the incident, according to agency spokesman Edwin Donovan. “Both K-9s were cleared for duty by the veterinarian,” Donovan wrote in an e-mail….
Adesanya has been charged with two counts of assault on a police officer — a charge that stems from his attack on the dogs — along with one count of making threats and four counts of resisting and unlawful entry, Donovan added. All charges except for resisting and unlawful threats are felonies; Adesanya was unarmed at the time of his arrest.
It’s a good thing the dogs were there; they seem to be better at apprehending crazy people than Secret Service agents. A couple more links:
Yesterday, NW Luna posted a link from the Seattle Times about a lawsuit against Backpage.com, Backpage.com asks high court to throw out lawsuit.
A lawyer for Backpage.com told the Washington Supreme Court on Tuesday that a lawsuit filed by three young girls who were sold as prostitutes on the website should be thrown out because Backpage didn’t write the ads, so it is not liable.
But the victims’ lawyer said Backpage doesn’t have immunity under the federal Communications Decency Act because the website markets itself as a place to sell “escort services” and provides pimps with instructions on how to write an ad that works, making Backpage a participant in the largest human-trafficking website in the U.S.
The justices plan to rule on the case at a later date….
Suggesting they might be skeptical about Backpage’s argument, the justices asked lawyer Jim Grant about the website’s content.
“Your client wouldn’t say with a straight face that ‘escort service’ doesn’t mean something else most of the time?” Justice Steven Gonzalez asked.
Justice Charles Johnson asked whether this was an “ostrich issue.”
“We escape liability if we stick our head in the sand and not pay any attention — as long as you don’t affirmatively contribute?” Johnson asked.
Backpage.com is where recently arrested Indiana serial killer Darren Vann found his last victim. The Washington Post reports:
On the Internet, 43-year-old Darren Deon Vann went by the name “Big Boy Appetite.” On the Chicago-centric landing site for Backpage.com, which has become the king of online sex ads, he apparently thought he could be anonymous.
That all changed Monday when Vann, a convicted sex offender,was charged with murdering a woman. Police said they are investigating his alleged role in the killings of six others whose bodies police say he helped find in abandoned homes dotting Gary, Ind., over the weekend.
It’s unclear how many of Vann’s apparent victims were targeted using Backpage, but it was his final act — finding his victim through classifieds on the site — that led police to his doorstep, authorities said.
Like many sex-crime victims whose services were openly advertised on the Internet (sometimes unwillingly), the dead northwest Indiana women seemed to share the commonality that they “might be less likely to be reported missing,” said Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, according to the Chicago Tribune. Of the seven women found with Vann’s help — some of them long dead — only one, 35-year-old Anith Jones, had been reported missing.
Police said Vann found the most recent woman, 19-year-old Afrika Hardy, on Backpage a week before he allegedly killed her. He had met her, according to police, by responding to one of the hundreds of ads for “body rubs,” “escorts” or “adult jobs” that populate the site.
An update on the police investigation of Vann and his crimes: From AP via ABC News, Police Track Indiana Slaying Suspect’s Movements.
Investigators are using the cellphone records of an Indiana man already charged in the slayings of two women to pinpoint his movements after he told police he liked to check on the status of bodies he’d previously stashed after a fresh kill, authorities said.
Illinois law enforcement officials told The Associated Press Wednesday that Darren Vann, 43, may have traveled to Chicago’s south suburbs between the time 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy’s body was discovered Friday in Hammond, Indiana, and Saturday when Vann was arrested in nearby Gary. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the investigation.
Indiana police say Vann, a convicted sex offender, has confessed to killing Hardy and six women whose bodies were found over the weekend in abandoned houses in Gary. He has been charged with murder in the deaths of Hardy and 35-year-old Anith Jones, whose body was found Saturday in Gary.
Yesterday, at his arraignment, Vann refused to respond to the Judge’s questions.
A judge ordered Vann be held in contempt of court Wednesday when the former Marine refused to even acknowledge his name during an initial court hearing in Hardy’s slaying.
Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan asked Vann if he understood the reason for the hearing but he just stared back silently.
“Mr. Vann, are you choosing not to take part in this hearing?” Sullivan asked the shackled Vann, who was flanked by two Lake County Jail guards at the lockup in Crown Point.
Sullivan urged Vann’s public defender, Matthew Fech, to tell his client “that he stays in jail the rest of his life until this hearing takes place.” Fech urged Vann to speak, but he again offered no response. Sullivan found Vann in contempt and said she would schedule another initial hearing for next week.
Apparently, Vann was upset because there were so many media people in court. Hey, court hearings are open to the public. When you murder a lot of people, reporters show up. I guess Vann doesn’t understand that he’s no longer a private citizen.
Boston.com, US to Track Everyone Coming From Ebola Nations.
All travelers who come into the U.S. from three Ebola-stricken West African nations will now be monitored for three weeks, the latest step by federal officials to keep the disease from spreading into the country.
Starting Monday, anyone traveling from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will have to report in with health officials daily and take their temperature twice a day.
The measure applies not only to visitors from those countries but also returning American aid workers, federal health employees and journalists. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the new step Wednesday.
CDC Director Tom Frieden said monitoring will provide an extra level of safety. Passengers already get screened and temperature checks before they leave West Africa and again when they arrive in the United States.
‘‘We have to keep our guard up,’’ Frieden told reporters on a conference call.
A few more links on Ebola:
Sweden has been looking for a mysterious submarine for the past week or so: Sweden gets two new sightings, as hunt for undersea intruder goes on.
ABC News on University of North Carolina Chapel Hill academic fraud report, Probe: UNC Academic Fraud Was ‘Shadow Curriculum’ (faculty were involved for decades in giving breaks to athletes).
ABC News, The Hilarious Moment When a Guy Told Obama ‘Don’t Touch My Girlfriend’ (I don’t see it as hilarious; it’s part of a pattern of disrespect toward this President).
Discovery News, 45,000-Year-Old Man Was Human-Neanderthal Mix (how will the fundies deal with this?).
What else is happening? Please share your thoughts and links in the comment thread.
A horrible thing happened yesterday. Dish network took the Turner classic movie channel off the air. This event is disastrous….it is like the end of the world in my house. According to Turner Network at savemyshows.com: DISH dropped your shows
Despite our best efforts, we were unable to reach an agreement with Dish Network, and they have unilaterally decided to pull CNN,Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, truTV, TCM, HLN, CNN en Espanol and Boomerang off the air upon the expiration of our current deal. Turner has worked diligently for months to come to a fair agreement including multiple extensions and compromises, and it’s unfortunate that Dish is once again operating in a disruptive manner that takes away networks and programming from their customers. We are hopeful our counterparts will return to the negotiating table, and we’ll get a deal completed.
TCM his my only reason for living. This channel is my lifeline…It gets me through the day, especially when the Zoloft is just not enough. Some people are addicted to booze, some people have to take pills or chase women, hell some need to shoot heroin with a meth back. Well I have to watch TCM, it is my drug of choice…and right now I am going through severe withdrawal. I’m not kidding. It is fucking bad. We are taking methadone clinic withdrawals…we’re talking Cartman on zero KFC Gravy:
(Starts at the 5:14 mark)
The TCM/Turner site continues…
The media landscape continues to progress at a rapid pace and finding solutions to complex business issues that respond to evolving viewer consumption habits takes time. Turner has worked diligently for months to find solutions to address these issues. In an effort to find workable solutions, we have provided numerous extensions over the course of the past few months — with the latest deadline to reach a new deal expiring on October 21 at 2 am (EST). Despite this pause in our negotiations, we remain committed to reaching an agreement and are hopeful Dish will return to the negotiating table and, we’ll get a deal completed.
Dish customers do not have these specific networks on their channel lineup and are no longer able to watch these networks on TV or online. Our viewers have alternate ways to receive these popular networks though by calling their local cable operator, telco or another satellite provider to switch services or by calling 1-800-233-SAVE to ask for these channels back.
And you just know I called Dish and gave them the what for…I will change satellite providers if need be, but we have had Dish for..evah, so this is a very upsetting situation. And how long can this shit fuck go on?
Having these popular networks go dark is not something that we wanted to happen. As programmers, our most important relationships are with our viewers and distributors. We are disappointed that, despite our best efforts, we were unable to come to terms with Dish, and they have elected not to continue our long-standing relationship. We regret the interruption of service for Dish customers who rely on us for quality programming. Despite this pause in our negotiations, Turner remains committed to reaching an agreement, and we are hopeful Dish will return to the negotiating table to get a deal completed.
Dish customers have lost these leading networks due to unreasonable demands by Dish. Turner has worked diligently for months to find solutions to complex business issues that address the future of the multi-screen world, while creating additional viewing opportunities for Dish’s customers we both serve. It is disappointing, but not surprising considering its history, that Dish has decided to involve viewers in this particular way, and have elected, yet again, to try and advantage its business at the expense of its customers.
Dish will not credit our account for the amounts we are paying on these channels that we are not receiving at the moment…fuck Dish.
But I was so pissed off about what they have done….they gave me a pitiful $30 bucks off our next bill. I told them I could not give two shits about this measly $30 dollars…I want my TCM back! It is fucking outrageous.
Of course Dish has their own webpage set up…fuck them: www.dishstandsforyou.com
This is not the first kind of dispute for Dish Network: CNN, Cartoon Network Among Networks Dropped By Dish In Carriage Dispute | Deadline
Dish has been involved in several high-profile carriage disputes over the past decade that have led to the pulling of cable networks, including the 2012 standoff with AMC Networks, in which AMC and its sibling channels were off Dish’s platforms for months, and a similar blackout of Viacom nets, including MTV, in 2004.
Dish was recently in a dispute with Disney,..
Dish has been in the midst of several content negotiations recently, including a lenghthy legal dispute with Disney, which ended with a deal that would allow Dish to option several Disney properties, including ESPN, ABC, and Disney content for its forthcoming OTT (over the top) network, a stand alone Web TV network designed to appeal to cord cutters.
During that negotiation, Dish leveraged its AutoHop feature, which allows subscribers to auto-skip commercials for network programming during next-day viewing, as a bargaining chip. In exchange for unprecedented online access to Disney’s cache of content, Dish agreed to delay AutoHop programming for Disney-owned ABC for three days proceeding the original air date.
That deal puts things into perspective: How big media channels feel about online streaming services – Business Insider
The Information’s Martin Peers wrote an interesting column on Thursday arguing traditional media companies are simply denying how online streaming services, like Netflix and Amazon, are disrupting the $100 billion-plus TV network industry.
And more disruptive services are coming. Dish Network, for example, plans to launch an online service with a smaller package of channels but programs from big media companies like ESPN, A+E Networks, and Scripps Networks Interactive.
…the TV networks getting involved with Dish’s fledgling service are clearly wary of what it might mean in terms of cannibalizing their other deals with cable networks. Peers offers this particularly startling bit of information:
To be sure, programmers are taking steps to limit erosion in their deals with Dish. One industry executive says the Disney agreement with Dish has a provision that if the streaming service signs up more than a certain number of subscribers, the deal is off. Dish declined to comment.
In other words, Disney will play along with Dish Network’s new service, but if it succeeds to a certain extent, they will be forced to pull out — likely to honor their partnerships with longstanding cable providers like Time Warner and Comcast.
Peers offers two potential reasons for why big media companies like Time Warner are downplaying streaming and other disruptive services:
The simple answer is that most media company CEOs are nearing the end of their careers and are more focused on short-term quarterly performance than trends that might or might not happen for a decade. Another answer is that they’re in denial about the implications of what they’re doing.
I am more inclined to think that those CEOs are looking to take the money and get the fuck outta there!
Few more thoughts on the black out here:
“I live on a 52-acre farm, and, when I moved out here, cable was not an option,” Ashley Phipps of Julian, North Carolina told me via Facebook message. “TCM is one of the few channels I watch – almost all day, every day. Without it, and with DISH’s high prices, I’m thinking of ending my service.”
Unfortunately for Phipps and other DISH subscribers, TCM’s streaming app will not provide an alternative while the linear TV channel is blacked out.
“Watch TCM will not be available to DISH customers while the network is off the air,” a TCM spokesperson told me in an email message.
It’s a good thing cable TV companies aren’t in the car business. If they were, they’d probably come and confiscate your car every time they got into a pricing dispute with a parts supplier.
The latest to use this negotiation-by-consumer-abuse tactic is Dish Network, which has dumped CNN and other Turner Broadcasting channels from its line-up. Or if you prefer, Turner has pulled its programming from Dish. Either way, consumers lose the programming they thought Dish was obligated to provide under its contract with them.
It’s a common tactic and one that leaves consumers fuming.
“I am sick of being affected because two rich corps won’t kiss and make up,” said Lori of New York, N.Y., in a ConsumerAffairs review. “DISH… I pay each month for certain programming. I want it. Fix this.”
Judy of Carlsbad, N.M., echoed Lori’s comments: “I will have to get rid of Dish if these chanels are not back. I have been with Dish several years and love it, in fact have referred several people, but this will end it.”
Hey, I am seriously having a Rain Man breakdown here! And wouldn’t you know The Innocents was being shown later this week…ugh.
For your news round-up:
Did you see who died yesterday? Ben Bradlee: Ben on Ben: In memoir, Bradlee shared thoughts about himself – The Washington Post
On Watergate: “When it finally happened, when the president said, ‘Therefore, I shall resign the presidency effective at noon tomorrow,’ I remember folding my hands together between my knees and laying my forehead down on my desk for a very private ‘Holy Moly.’…Nixon — not the Post — ’got’ Nixon, but the Post’s reporting forced the story onto the national agenda, and kept it there until the world understood how grievously the Constitution was being undermined.”
More Obits here:
That one from the Guardian is a thorough one…
In Maryland: Teen convicted of rape in high school hallway
The verdict for the first count was read: Guilty.
A gasp came from the courtroom gallery.
Then the same verdict was read four more times.
And loud sobs could be heard.
Jocori Scarborough, 18, of Delmar was found guilty Tuesday on all five counts he faced in connection with a May 5 rape of a fellow student at Parkside High School.
In addition to second-degree rape, a Wicomico County jury found him guilty of false imprisonment, second-degree assault, reckless endangerment, and disturbing or threatening a student.
You may remember this case…the victim was blamed for the rape…victimized twice.
Wicomico County Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Karen Dean said in her closing argument that Scarborough forcibly had sex with the victim, who testified Monday. The Daily Times and USA TODAY do not name victims of sex crimes.
“She said no,” Dean said. “She said no several times.”
“(The victim’s) account is all you have to believe to convict the defendant,” Dean said.
There was also DNA evidence that they had sex, Dean said, noting that Scarborough’s DNA was found on the victim’s underwear. Defense attorney Eddie Gonzalez said his client hadn’t denied Scarborough and the victim had sex.
In his closing argument, Gonzalez went over all the levels at which Scarborough would not be able to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Even if the jury felt Scarborough was probably guilty, that isn’t enough under the standard, he said.
He said the victim didn’t cry at the time of the incident, he couldn’t see tears on close-up photos of her face later and there was no screaming.
The victim also wasn’t injured, Gonzalez said, and while a nurse had testified it could have been because of her young age, he noted she did say that sometimes victims have injuries.
The rape of this 15-year-old happened in the hall of the middle school.
He also questioned why the state didn’t call as witnesses another student who had been in the hallway or another of the victim’s friends who saw her after the incident.
The victim said she was forced to have sex, yet Scarborough had asked for a kiss earlier that morning; and she said she didn’t want to go in the bathroom with him to have sex, but she later went up to him in the hallway, Gonzalez said.
And the girl didn’t report the incident to four school employees at Parkside she came across, he said.
“All you have to do is find one reasonable doubt,” he said. “Beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Dean said the victim wouldn’t have had anything to gain from lying. She didn’t get caught doing anything, she went through a lengthy exam and police interviews, and then gave her testimony in front of a large group of people in the courtroom gallery.
She said there’s a stigma about being a rape victim, with almost everyone assuming the victim is lying.
I am glad that there was justice in this case. Violence against women…it is never-ending: Accused Indiana serial killer’s violent past raises questions for authorities | Fox News
With hindsight, there were signs years ago of increasing violence against women by Darren Vann, who police say has confessed to killing seven women in northwestern Indiana and is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.
Indiana court records from 2004 describe him grabbing a woman in a chokehold, dousing her with gasoline and threatening to set her on fire. He was sentenced to a year in prison.
In 2009, he was convicted in Texas of raping a woman. She told police that when she went to his apartment in Austin he knocked her down and began to strangle her, hit her several times in the face and said he could kill her, court records show. He was released from prison last year, when he moved back to Indiana.
In both cases, the charges against Vann were reduced in plea bargains, and Texas officials deemed him a low risk for violence. He registered as a sex offender in Indiana and police made a routine check in September that he lived at the address he provided.
“He was not on our radar at all,” Gary Police Chief Larry McKinley said at a news conference Tuesday, adding that Vann was never suspected of taking part in homicides in the days or months before his arrest at the weekend.
The total so far is seven…seven women murdered, strangled.
Now Vann, 43, is charged with the strangulation death of one woman in Hammond, Indiana, and police say more charges are expected after he directed them to the bodies of six more in nearby Gary. Texas and Indiana authorities have been poring over cold case files and missing person reports to determine if there are more victims.
Family and friends of victims said police should have known Vann was a threat and taken reports of women disappearing more seriously.
And then in South Africa, this news after Pistorius is sentenced to 5 years: Reeva Steenkamp’s Parents: We Have ‘Forgiven’ Oscar Pistorius – NBC News
The parents of Reeva Steenkamp said Wednesday they have forgiven Oscar Pistorius for fatally shooting their daughter – but believe he has not told the full story of the night he killed her. Barry and June Steenkamp made the comments an exclusive interview with ITV News’ Good Morning Britain breakfast show one day after Pistorius was sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison for culpable homicide. “I’ve already forgiven a long time ago,” June Steenkamp said.
“The hatred a lot of people feel towards him as a person, you can’t carry that along with you…it will just make you ill.” She said they were “satisfied by the sentence” but “there’s more to the whole story than anybody knows. Only Oscar knows.” She added: “We don’t want revenge, we want a fair punishment under the circumstances of his disability. We wouldn’t have wanted him to go to jail and be abused, but he will realize that he can’t go around doing that, he can’t kill somebody like that.”
About that 5 Years: Shakesville: Pistorius Gets Five Years; Expected to Serve Ten Months
In sporting news: First openly gay NFL player Michael Sam released by Dallas Cowboys | Sport | theguardian.com It is a shame…
The latest NRA campaign: NRA: Guns Aren’t Scary Because They Are Just Like Vacuum Cleaners | Crooks and Liars
The NRA is hoping they can “Demystify Guns” in their new video from Bill Johnson because of the many “dust ups” as he calls them, over the new open carry laws that wingnut states have been passing recently. The problem isn’t the guns that people use to kill thousands of people a year, but the idea that we’re blaming the guns for the violence around them when they are nothing more than a few bits of plastic and metal, no scarier than your vacuum cleaner or lawnmower.
[…]I didn’t know that vacuum cleaners can hurl projectiles at a sufficient speed to blow somebody’s head clean off, did you? Or, if I’m armed with a lawnmower, I could protect my house under siege by a gang of marauding black youths. Just think what would have happened if George Zimmerman was armed with a cordless Dustbuster instead of a gun.
You will just have to go to the link to find out…
What going on in your world today?
I’ve had a bout of a really bad stomach flu and I’m just beginning to get some energy back, so I’m not going to post anything that takes any analysis. Hopefully, this will be a fun post after week after week of horrifying news. Oh, these tabloid covers don’t come from Fox News or any right wing blog, just so you know.
Jane Fonda has had a really interesting life. She recently gave an interview that opened up a lot of the more distressing things that she’s endured. You need to go to the link to watch/listen to the interview.
She talks about losing a parent to suicide (4:00), how being a tomboy with no period made her wonder if she was really a girl (4:30), how failed marriages forced her to look inward for strength (7:30), how she said goodbye to a slowly dying parent (13:30), how she manages being a caretaker for her partner with Parkinson’s (22:00), and what sex is like after celibacy (26:15). She’s not scared of anything anymore. You’ll love it.
She’s still working and has done these interviews as part of blitzing the airwaves for her new movie. Fonda’s life has been an open book but now so are many of her feelings about that life.
In a career spanning more than 50 years, the two time Oscar winning actress has always been hard to ignore. Before she was the video work-out queen of the 80’s, Fonda was a noted activist for Civil Rights and an outspoken opponent to the Vietnam War. She has repeatedly expressed regrets about the photographs taken of her posing with North Vietnam guns that shot down American planes.
“At your level of fame the easy thing to have done throughout your entire career was to seek privacy and instead you’ve spoken out about causes that you believe in. Why?” asked Bryan.
“I’m my father’s daughter, explained Fonda. “I grew up with Tom Joad. The Grapes of Wrath. 12 Angry Men. The Wrong Man. Ox-bow Incident.
“My dad never spoke much. He was very taciturn.But I knew that these movies had characters that he loved, and that’s what he felt the world should be like and he believed in sticking up for the underdog, for fairness and justice.”
“And so at a certain point in my life I found myself going in that direction and it’s made me a better person for sure. And I’ve learned a lot. I didn’t just sort of give money out like it’s a charity. I was down in the trenches and it really made me a better actor too, I must say.”
There’s something else Jane inherited from her famous father Henry. A tendency to get teary.
“My dad always said ‘Fondas cry at a good steak’, Fonda said.” It’s a sign of empathy I think. Because the crying doesn’t mean sad. It means your heart is open and your soul is open. And I found ( This Is Where I Leave You) full of those kind of moments that opened my heart and my empathy gene and I hope that it does for audiences. And I think it will.”
Yet another study has shown that the most conservative areas of the country are the most porn-addicted. Is it the misogyny, the down home religion, or the repression? This study argues that it’s correlated with defense mechanisms.
In October, two Toronto researchers, Cara MacInnis and Gordon Hodson, published a study that correlated the popularity of sex and adult material-related search terms across various regions or states with information from a Gallup pool asking about religious and political attitudes. Their study design involves a number of different comparisons and considered the effects of poverty, population, and other variables.
Unsurprisingly, higher levels of religiosity and conservatism correlated higher search rates sexual content – specifically, it meant more searches for phrases like “sex,” “gay sex,” or “sex images.”
While aggregate data can’t be used to draw conclusions about individual behavior and is open to alternative interpretations, it fits with information from other sources. For instance, Business professor Benjamin Edelman at Harvard found that states that place a higher esteem on traditional gender roles and sexuality have higher rates of paid subscriptions for adult materials – which seems to imply they have no idea how the Internet works in these states, as well.
It dovetails with claims made by strip club owners that they make up to three times as much during Republican conventions than Democratic conventions or even the Superbowl. MacInnis and Hodsen quote an exotic dancer named Layla Love who said in 2001 that the arrival of the RNC brought with it “15 to 17 hour shifts, every day” until the convention ended. She added that “So, for basically seven days straight, I will be in the club, every day, day shift and night shift.”
So we’ve stated the obvious; what’s this got to do with defense mechanisms?
There are several that are relevant to this discussion:
- Denial means simply refusing to acknowledge that some event or pattern is real.
- Repression involves pushing uncomfortable thoughts and feelings to the far recesses of the subconscious mind.
- Reaction formation is saying or doing the opposite of what you really want but won’t allow yourself to express.
- Projection means assuming that others share the impulses, feelings, and vices that you find unacceptable in yourself.
We’ve all encountered at least one of these before when dealing with a religious conservative: for instance, the Religious Right projects more than an IMAX theater. When factored into this discussion, however, it becomes easy to picture a group of so-called “Values Voters” at the convention after a night painting the town (Republican) Red:
Projection: Godless liberals are destroying this country-feminazi sluts demanding sex with no consequences and faggots pushing their gay agenda on our children.
Reaction formation: This town is full of trashy dancers who wag their big tits and tight asses at honest businessmen. We should lock them up and throw away the key.
Denial: Real Christians, through prayer, have the power to resist temptation. Only righteous men in public office can stop the moral decay of this sex-obsessed country.
Repression: Did you say something?
We all have our failings; nobody is perfect. But if you’re going to demand perfection from others and make no allowances for failure, you better damn well be perfect yourself. Not just “saved” – perfect.
Earlier this year, egyptologists from the American University in Cairo shed light on some of the bizarre burial rituals discovered in the tomb, including the fact the king’s penis was embalmed at a 90-degree angle – the only mummy to have ever been found with this feature.
On the outside of the tomb, decorations depicted Tutankhamun as underworld god Osiris, while wall paintings (pictured) showed the king being embraced by the underworld god. It is believed that if Tutankhamun was shown to be this powerful god it would quash a religious revolution taking place in the 1320s BC
Researchers from the American University in Cairo believe the king’s appendage was embalmed at a 90-degree angle to make the young pharaoh appear as Osiris, the god of the underworld.
The angling of the penis was a feature worn by ‘corn-mummies’, created in honour of Osiris.
The mummy was also covered in black liquid to resemble Osiris’ skin.
Elsewhere, Tutankhamun’s heart was missing when the tomb was discovered by Howard Carter in 1922.
Religious texts claimed Osiris’ heart was similarly removed by his brother Seth.On the outside of the tomb, decorations depicted Tutankhamun as Osiris.
They claimed that this may have been carried out on purpose to make the king appear like Osiris, the god of the underworld, in an attempt to frighten religious revolutionaries.
At the time of his death in 1323 BC, the father of the teenage Egyptian king was said to be leading a religious revolution in the country.
It is believed Akhenaten wanted to destroy the belief in the Egyptian gods and instead worship a sun disc called the Aten.
Tutanhkhamun was trying to tackle this revolution when he was believed to have broken his leg and died from an infection in the wound. DNA analysis in 2010 also found traces of malaria in his system.
During mummification a decision was made to not only embalm the erect penis, but also to cover the king’s body in black liquid – similar in colour to the skin of Osiris – and remove his heart.
These rituals, according to Professor Salima Ikram from the university, were done in order to make people think Tutankhamun was the underworld god.
Albert Zink, from the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Italy, deciphered the truth about the ruler’s parents by studying the royal family’s DNA.
He found that Tut was born after his father Akhenaten – dubbed the heretic king – had a relationship with his sister. Incest was not frowned upon by the ancient Egyptians and they did not know about the health implications for any offspring.
Hutan Ashrafian, a lecturer in surgery at Imperial College London, said that several members of the family appeared to have suffered from ailments which can be explained by hormonal imbalances. He said: ‘A lot of his family predecessors lived to a ripe old age. Only his immediate line were dying early, and they were dying earlier each generation.’
Egyptian radiologist Ashraf Selim: ‘The virtual autopsy shows the toes are divergent – in layman’s terms it’s club foot. He would have been heavily limping.
‘There is only one site where we can say a fracture happened before he died and that is the knee.’
Evidence of King Tut’s physical limitations were also backed up by 130 used walking canes found in his tomb.
Republican Candidates for all levels of office continue to say strange things too. This one is really weird. Is it just me or does it appear that many of them seem to have mental illnesses that should be treated? I mean isn’t religious delusion like an indicator of some really awful problems?
Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-S.C.) Republican challenger referred to same-sex couples as “gremlins” and “bullies” in a Facebook post urging supporters to oppose gay marriage at the polls this fall.
Anthony Culler, the GOP nominee for Clyburn’s seat, wrote a Facebook post on Oct. 14 decrying same-sex marriage as “a pestilence that has descended on our society, against our will, by those in the courts and government that do not value the traditional family.”
“Same sex couples that seek to destroy our way of life and the institution of marriage are NOT cute and cuddly but rather (for those of you that are old enough to remember the movie), Gremlins that will only destroy our way of life,” he wrote.
He adds: “These people are bullies and now that they are winning their true and hateful nature is much easier to see and hear.”
Culler goes on to charge that gays have “a strong tendency for substance abuse,” and urges readers to avoid the ” ‘over the top’ and ‘anything goes’ ceremonies or parties that these people revel in.”
“Stand against this and we will reverse it and drive it back into the darkness,” he writes.
One more before I go go too. This one is real but sounds like tabloid stuff. I kid you not. Although, really, what is Politico any way if not a beltway tabloid and only journalism in the minds of the originating stooges?
Federal law enforcement officials are taking an ISIL threat against Michele Bachmann so seriously that Capitol Police have given the Minnesota Republican her own security detail.
An online threat against Bachmann emerged recently, according to multiple law enforcement officials familiar with the situation. Last week, Bachmann was provided a security detail in response, according to the sources.
Members of the U.S. Capitol Police’s Dignitary Protection Division were briefed on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The police security will continue until Bachmann, who will retire at the end of this Congress, is no longer in office.
A police detail of this type typically means 24-hour protection when a member of Congress is on Capitol Hill or back in the home district.
Officials declined to outline the specific nature of the threat.
Bachmann’s office referred news media inquiries to Capitol Police. A Capitol Police spokeswoman declined to comment.
“The U.S. Capitol Police does not discuss law enforcement operations or security regarding Members of Congress,” spokeswoman Kimberly Schneider wrote in an email.
Bachmann has been publicly critical of not only ISIL, but also Islam, calling on President Barack Obama to declare war on the religion during a speech at the conservative Value Voters Summit at the end of September.
“And I believe if you have an evil of an order of this magnitude, you take it seriously,” Bachmann said. “You declare war on it, you don’t dance around it. Just like the Islamic State has declared war on the United States of America.”
Have a great day! What’s on your reading and blogging list today, because it’s a WIDE OPEN thread!