Saturday Quick Hits

Predictions 2014

Predictions 2014

Good Morning!!

I’m really struggling to get going this morning, so I’m going to start you off with a few cartoons and some quick links. I have another post planned for later on today, and I hope you’ll stop by then.

Right wing “Christian” hate was a dominant characteristic of 2013,

so I guess it’s appropriate that the year is ending with an incredibly disgusting and ludicrous example of what some Americans have become.

Duck Dynasty Camoflage

Duck Dynasty Camoflage

The New York Times finally weighed in on the disastrous decision of A&E to revoke their suspension of ridiculous hate monger Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

The indefinite suspension of Phil Robertson, the patriarch of the family at the center of the A&E Network’s huge ratings hit “Duck Dynasty,” became definite Friday — at zero episodes. The network announced he would not be suspended after all.

A&E released a statement, noteworthy both for its concessions to the Robertson family’s refusal to accept the suspension as well as its timing — at close of business on Friday of a holiday weekend on the slowest week of the year in the entertainment business.

The bottom line: Phil Robertson will resume work on the show when it begins taping new episodes in the spring.

The network moved to suspend Mr. Robertson on Dec. 18 after comments he made about gay people in a magazine interview. At the time A&E described the comments, which described homosexual acts in crude terms and labeled them a sin, as extremely disappointing and not reflective of the network, which considered itself “champions of the L.G.B.T. community.”

Shame on you, A&E!! And don’t forget the racism, misogyny, pedophilia, religious bigotry, and general overall ignorance in Roberton’s interview. A&E now tacitly supports those “values” as their “core principles.”

Way back in 1968 when I first saw Kubrick’s magnificent 2001: A Space Odyssey, I never could have imagined that the future of the U.S. would be so pathetic and embarrassing. Sigh . . . We’ve left 2001 far behind us, and this is what has become of the dreams of my generation.

The good news, at least about gay marriage, is that the battle is over and the good guys won.

Josh Marshall:

Since the Supreme Court ruling in June, the writing has been on the wall for banning of marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples in the United States. Since June the number of states with marriage equality has jumped from 12 to 18. But last week’s lower court decisions in Utah and Ohio leave little doubt that the political fight over gay marriage is now essentially over and that gay marriage will be the law of the land in every state in the country in the pretty near future.

The fact that gay and lesbian couples are now lining up to get married in Utah of all places – arguably the most conservative state in the country – might tell you this on a symbolic level. But the logic that points to the end of the political fight over gay marriage is more concrete, specific and undeniable.

Utah, rightly, got the most attention. But there were two cases last week. The other one in Ohio dealt with a much narrower question: whether the state had to recognize gay marriages in the issuance of death certificates. But both cases rested on the same essential premise: that if the federal government can’t discriminate against gay couples, states – by definition – cannot either.

As Judge Timothy Black put it in the Ohio case: “The question presented is whether a state can do what the federal government cannot — i.e., discriminate against same-sex couples … simply because the majority of the voters don’t like homosexuality (or at least didn’t in 2004). Under the Constitution of the United States, the answer is no.”

The other huge story of the day (which the mainstream media will probably play down) is that more than a million Americans will lose long-term unemployment benefits today.

Here are some links, and so far I haven’t seen any on Google news from the big media outlets.

The Columbus Dispatch: 1.3 million set to lose U.S. jobless benefits

More than 1 million Americans are bracing for a harrowing, post-Christmas jolt as extended federal unemployment benefits come to a sudden halt this weekend, with potentially significant implications for the recovering U.S. economy. A tense political battle likely looms when Congress reconvenes in the new, midterm-election year.

Nudging Congress along, a vacationing President Barack Obama called two senators proposing an extension to offer his support. From Hawaii, Obama pledged yesterday to push Congress to move quickly next year to address the “urgent economic priority,” the White House said.

For families dependent on cash assistance, the end of the federal government’s “emergency unemployment compensation” will mean some difficult belt-tightening as enrollees lose their average monthly stipend of $1,166.

Jobless rates could drop, but analysts say the economy might suffer with less money for consumers to spend on everything from clothes to cars. Having let the “emergency” program expire as part of a budget deal, it’s unclear if Congress has the appetite to start it anew.

Voxxi: What you should know about the expiration of unemployment benefits This article lists seven reasons why the decision by Republicans to hurt so many American families will be a disaster. Highly recommended. Long-Term Unemployed Face Life Without Emergency Benefits

The federal program, which was expanded in 2008 to provide extra income to the long-term unemployed who have exhausted their 26 weeks of state benefits, lapses Saturday because Congress failed to extend the federal program into 2014. For much of the recession, the government not only offered extended benefits beyond those 26 weeks, but also introduced the EUC program to offer up to 99 weeks of assistance in many states.

In the first six months of 2014, 1.9 million additional Americans will use up their state-funded benefits and find themselves without a federal safety net waiting if the program is not renewed. That number will jump to 3.6 million people. According to a report from the White House Council of Economic Advisors and the Labor Department, in October the average length of unemployment was 36.1 weeks – two and a half months longer than state benefits will last with no extension. The long-term unemployment rate is 2.6 percent, roughly one-third of the overall employment rate of 7.3 percent.

“In no prior case has Congress allowed special extended benefits to expire when the unemployment rate was as high as it is today,” the report says.

It’s also been quite a while since anyone was able to receive 99 weeks of benefits, which average about $300 per week. Over the past two years, the average maximum weeks of available benefits has dropped from 85 to 54, or 36 percent, according to Congressional Research Service data.

That’s just sick. In fact it is so far beyond sick, I don’t even know how to begin to characterize it.

Why are the Republicans doing this?

Christmas GOP and Obama

Christmas GOP and Obama

And don’t forget what’s happening to people on food stamps.

Food Stamps Removed

Food Stamps Removed

I wish I had some cheerful news for you. I’ll look around and try to find some. For now, I’d better get this post published before everyone gives up on me!

Have a great day, and please post any links that have caught your eye in the comment thread.

45 Comments on “Saturday Quick Hits”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    This is scary:

    Military-style raid on California power station spooks U.S.

    Around 1:00 AM on April 16, at least one individual (possibly two) entered two different manholes at the PG&E Metcalf power substation, southeast of San Jose, and cut fiber cables in the area around the substation. That knocked out some local 911 services, landline service to the substation, and cell phone service in the area, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Foreign Policy. The intruder(s) then fired more than 100 rounds from what two officials described as a high-powered rifle at several transformers in the facility. Ten transformers were damaged in one area of the facility, and three transformer banks — or groups of transformers — were hit in another, according to a PG&E spokesman.

    Cooling oil then leaked from a transformer bank, causing the transformers to overheat and shut down. State regulators urged customers in the area to conserve energy over the following days, but there was no long-term damage reported at the facility and there were no major power outages. There were no injuries reported. That was the good news. The bad news is that officials don’t know who the shooter(s) were, and most importantly, whether further attacks are planned.

    “Initially, the attack was being treated as vandalism and handled by local law enforcement,” the senior intelligence official said. “However, investigators have been quoted in the press expressing opinions that there are indications that the timing of the attacks and target selection indicate a higher level of planning and sophistication.”

    • RalphB says:

      If someone or group is planning a further attack, they learned a lot from that little raid. Any follow-on operation would be much more damaging.

    • Fannie says:

      I couldn’t figure out why this was being report now as it it happened back in April:

      Interesting to note that this is a substation, and not a power plant. PG& E does own the substation, and over mile away is the Metcalf Center, which is owned by Calpine. I think they sold it to them in 2000……….This is located in South San Jose, and near Morgan Hill, and Gilroy California. There was a community college in that area that I was familiar with many years ago.

    • Fannie says:

      There was a meeting on 5 Dec 2013, that Henry Waxman attended, and spoke at, calling for passage of legislation to strengthen FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission).

      • Fannie says:

        Statement of Rep. Henry A. Waxman, ranking member of Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing on “Evaluating the role of FERC in a changing Energy Landscape”, subcommittee on Energy and Power, December 5, 2013

        The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has a broad range of important issues before it- from renewable energy integration and electric transmission modernization to hydropower licensing and enforcement actions to prevent energy market manipulation. But I want to focus on an issue that has not gotten enough attention during this congress: grid security.

        The nation’s critical infrastructure and defense installations simply cannot function without electricity. Yet it is clear that the electric grid is not adequately protected from physical or cyber attacks.

        These are not theoretical concerns. Just this April, there was an actual attack on our electricity infrastructure.

        This was an unprecedented and sophisticated attack on an electric grid substation with military-style weapons. Communications were disrupted……………..and Rep. Waxman’s continues on……….

        That explains why we are reading it in the news today.

        • Fannie says:

          Rep. Waxman must have forgotten the Weather Underground, and New World Liberation Front (back in Aug 1977, they bombed a substation, causing over 100,000 people to be evacuated, and a blackout in Sausalito, Ca. It was a big deal back then, and other bomb threats against PG&E, like the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, which is located near San Luis Obispo was always in the paper. I remember they were threaten several times, mostly via the telephone, and more guards and equipment was put in place. The radicals were demanding lower utility bills for the poor and elderly. So, I will have to disagree with Waxman saying the Apr 2013 attack was unprecedented.

          Somehow they got to Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska because she gutted the Grid Act of 2010. She blocked it, and now Waxman wants to take the issue up.

          About FERC. They are all appointed by the Pres. Their are currently 5 people on that committee, Cherly Lafluer heads it up, other commissioners Phillip D. Moeller (appt. by Obama), John R. Norris (appt. by Obama), and Tony Clark, was first nominated by George W. Bush, 2006, and serving a second term, he is a republican and appt. by Obama. They are under FBI, and called in to investigate. Another thing about FERC it is run by many engineers and scientist, and most of them from outside USA.

          I think we remember Enron, and Texas did not, does not want anything to do with FERC. Haven’t you notice how they thumb their noses at a lot shit?

          I’ll tell you something else, anybody who believes you can protect PG&E facilities by putting up metal sheets for $125 or whatever is pretty damn stupid. It’s one thing to be site specific, another to bring down the entire system. I have read about floods wiping out substations, they know how to deal with it, pretty quickly I might add.

          I don’t think this is going anywhere, the GOP doesn’t want to be distracted just yet.

      • Fannie says:

        The above article doesn’t do justice, national journal sounds like the GOP Rag………it’s misleading in my opinion.

        • RalphB says:

          National Journal, since Ron Fournier has been editing, is virtually a GOP rag. Texas has it’s own independent electrical grid, thus not caring too much about FERC.

    • Holy shit, that is fucking scary indeed.

  2. bostonboomer says:
  3. bostonboomer says:

    Photo taken from Lanza home shows Adam Lanza as a toddler, surrounded by guns and ammo. Very creepy!

    I think something was very wrong between Adam and his mother.

  4. NW Luna says:

    Dr Krugman making too much sense again:

    The economic recovery has, as I said, been weak and inadequate, but all the burden of that weakness is being borne by workers. Corporate profits plunged during the financial crisis but quickly bounced back, and they continued to soar. Indeed, at this point, after-tax profits are more than 60 percent higher than they were in 2007, before the recession began. We don’t know how much of this profit surge can be explained by the fear factor — the ability to squeeze workers who know that they have no place to go. But it must be at least part of the explanation. In fact, it’s possible (although by no means certain) that corporate interests are actually doing better in a somewhat depressed economy than they would if we had full employment.

    What’s more, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to suggest that this reality helps explain why our political system has turned its backs on the unemployed. No, I don’t believe that there’s a secret cabal of CEOs plotting to keep the economy weak. But I do think that a major reason why reducing unemployment isn’t a political priority is that the economy may be lousy for workers, but corporate America is doing just fine.

    And once you understand this, you also understand why it’s so important to change those priorities.

    • RalphB says:

      Krugthulu is almost the only major figure who does make good economic sense!

    • dakinikat says:

      The greedy refuse to do the math. You can only run a company that is driven by people buying things if the majority of people actually have money to spend. That’s why they ran off to the international economy; cheap labor AND new markets. But, again, they can’t sell things in countries where the workers make wages they can’t even eat with and there are other domestic companies there that can fulfill the needs of the consumers better. They better do the fucking math quickly or those corporate profits won’t last long. You can only cut so many workers, transfer so many jobs abroad, and even cut costs–ala walmart–so long before it still comes back to people have to buy what you sell. Also, they’ve ensured that no one can really borrow money any more too so they’ve basically are killing themselves.

      • Mary Luke says:

        I don’t understand anything really about economics, but why is it not possible for the corporations to sustain themselves by having, say 10-15%, or even 20-25% of the population be high-income people who can buy their goods, and the rest of us will be either the working or non-working poor?

  5. RalphB says:

    I agree with your sentiment BB that the dreams of our generation are almost dead, I really am starting to worry more about the futures of my grandkids. The alternative, which I prefer to be true, is that these outbursts of racism, sexism, and homophobia are the remains of a culture of hate as it burns itself out. The younger generations don’t seem like they are buying into the right’s rage-gasms. In fact, they seem to not care about them at all.

  6. dakinikat says:

    The NYT has completely researched away the Benghazi conspiracy not that any of those whacked republicans will read this:

    • RalphB says:

      That should be the last word on Benghazi. Then again, the last word should have been said a year ago and that didn’t work with the lying Republicans,

  7. RalphB says:

    Considering they’re Democrats this is probably impossible but it’s the only way to really defend themselves and the ACA.

    NoMoreMIsterNiceNlog: Full Frontal Assault The Only Way To Go

  8. RalphB says:

    Hilarious, the first time I’ve ever been sorry for not watching Anderson Cooper.

    wonkette: Anderson Cooper, Dan Savage, Anderson Cooper’s Mom, And Some Cunnilingus (No Verb Necessary)

  9. RalphB says:

    Dumbduckery (from wonkette)…

  10. Mary Luke says:

    I just heard some moron, whose name and occupation I didn’t bother to note, but it was either a pol or a corporate person they had dug up on WCVB, our local news in Boston, saying that it wasn’t so bad unemployment benefits were cut off today because it might persuade people to take lower wage or part-time jobs which they wouldn’t ordinarily accept.

    I think that statement is much more indicative of the real goal than just “not giving Obama what he wants.” I firmly believe the intent of the right and the corporations is to turn this country into a low-wage, hourly worker country. I can’t think of another explanation for the past five years.

    • RalphB says:

      Just like the English aristocracy during the Irish famine when over a million starved to death!

      Mahablog: A Hard Rain Is Gonna Fall

      One person happy about the loss of benefits is Paul Ryan, who seems to sincerely believe that cutting people off of benefits will inspire them to get jobs that aren’t actually there.

      Ryan has always defended his stinginess on safety net issues as tough love for the poor, giving them “incentives” to take a job, any job, to support their families.

      “We have an incentive-based system where people want to get up and make the most of their lives, for themselves and their kids,” he says. “We don’t want to turn this safety net into a hammock that ends up lulling people in their lives into dependency and complacency. That’s the big debate we’re having right now.”

  11. dakinikat says:

    Here’s something weird that’s being going on recently in our historic cemeteries:

  12. dakinikat says:

    First up from the God Machine this week is a closer look at Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s (R) apparent confusion over the meaning of religious liberty.

  13. RalphB says:

    Oh hell yes, this is classic…

  14. dakinikat says:

    Okay, this made me feel really old: Gene Wilder interviewed at 80