I have to admit to being really tired of a number of things. Last night, I was regaled with yet another anti-Muslim trope. This time it was about Muslim nurses refusing to wash their hands and you know, EBOLA! Several people jumped right on it even though right below was a Snopes piece clearly debunking the lie. Oh, and this was from those so-called Hillary Clinton supporters from back in the day. Some folks will pounce on any old piece of shined up shit.
Nothing quite characterizes this election year as way the so many Americans with short attention spans bounce around the Political Pin Ball table after the latest “shiny object”. They just panic then move to the next thing before finding out how wrong they are about so many things. What should they blame on Obama next? What should they pearl clutch about? Muslims? Ebola? Benghazi! Resurgent Communists?
The short-attention span generation has birthed the shiny-object election.
The theme of the 2014 midterms — to whatever extent one is discernable — has been an explosion of one crisis after another, each of which demands an enormous amount of media attention before fading for the next one.
From the Secret Service to ISIS, Ebola to immigration, mistreated veterans to Ferguson and race relations, candidates and the president have been forced to react to the controversy du jour.
Strategists and experts say the result has been bad news for Democrats, who have had a tougher time underscoring their preferred campaign messages on their party’s support for women and the middle class.
Instead, each shiny object captivating a media that craves the hottest story has helped Republicans making the elections for the House and Senate all about President Obama.
“Every time there is a major issue — or as were now referring to everything, crisis — it seems to reverberate on Obama,” said Democratic strategist Peter Fenn. “It plays into what was already a sour political mood and compounds it.”
Crisis management has forced the White House to name new czars, fire political appointees and drop bombs, even as Republicans point to missteps as signs of Obama’s weak leadership and the government’s lack of competency.
Vulnerable Democrats are put in the unenviable position of either backing the president or lobbing criticism at their party’s leader.
“It totally threw the Democratic game plan off,” said Princeton University political historian Julian Zelizer. “They wanted to focus on the economic recovery, Republican extremism, and it’s hard for candidates to speak about that with these issues coming up.”
Democratic strategists say that their candidates would have been better able to account for crises if they had done a better job organizing around a cohesive message earlier in the campaign.
Jamal Simmons, a veteran Democratic aide, said politicians never “get to choose what the public thinks is important so they must hit the balls that come their way.”
“What makes this cycle seem especially dominated by errant issues is the lack of policy proposals or substantive messages about agendas coming from either side,” he argued. “In campaigns about nothing, election debates tend to be dominated by anything.”
There’s also been a shift in media, with even the 24-hour news cycle appearing dated in the era of the internet and social media.
“Part of what’s going on is the way the media works,” Zelizer said. “It’s not necessarily that there’s more issues, it’s the quick attention span media cycle where we move from one crisis to another.”
Nothing says “look, shiny objects!” like anything on CNN. Candy Crowley actually thought the two heads of the ruling parties could rationally discuss issues pertinent to the U.S. vote. Alas! Too many shiny objects in such a short time!
A CNN “State Of The Union” debate on the midterm elections between Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus and Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) quickly devolved into complete chaos on Sunday.
Host Candy Crowley first asked Priebus if this election is about scaring voters into voting a certain way. And when he responded with a line about President Obama’s policies being on the ballot, Crowley asked Wasserman-Schultz if that was true.
As the DNC chair responded, Priebus jumped in to insist that Wasserman-Schultz answer the question about Obama’s policies.
After Crowley asked another question, the two chairs quickly started talking over each other again, discussing completely different topics.
“This is ridiculous,” Priebus noted.
Crowley then asked Wasserman-Schultz again whether Obama’s policies are on the ballot, and Priebus jumped in once more.
“Are they the president’s policies or not? Are the president’s policies on the ballot or not?” Priebus echoed.
“Reince, maybe you could let Candy ask me the questions rather than you,” Wasserman-Schultz retorted.
“She’s been doing a great job of it so far — you haven’t been answering them, though,” Priebus hit back.
The two party chairs continued to interrupt each other and bring up new topics for the rest of the debate.
C0ntrol of the U.S. Senate is coming down to the wire, with Democrats and Republicans locked in tight races in the key contests that will determine the majority in that chamber of Congress, according to six new NBC News/Marist polls.
The momentum in these races, however, has swung mostly in the Republican Party’s direction, giving the GOP a clear path to winning the majority.
- In Colorado’s Senate contest, Republican challenger Cory Gardner holds a one-point lead among likely voters over incumbent Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., 46 percent to 45 percent. Back in September’s NBC/Marist poll, Udall was ahead by six points, 48 percent to 42 percent.
- In Iowa, Republican Joni Ernst edges Democrat Bruce Braley by three points, 49 percent to 46 percent. Earlier this month, Ernst’s lead was two points, 46 percent to 44 percent.
- In Kansas, independent Greg Orman has a one-point advantage over Republican Sen. Pat Roberts, 45 percent to 44 percent – down from Orman’s 10-point lead earlier this month in the NBC/Marist poll.
- In Arkansas, Republican challenger Tom Cotton gets the support of 45 percent of likely voters, versus incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., at 43 percent. In September, Cotton’s lead was five points.
- And in North Carolina, incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., and GOP opponent Thom Tillis are tied at 43 percent each. That’s down from Hagan’s four-point lead earlier this month. Libertarian Sean Haugh gets 7 percent of the vote.
“Senate contests are coming down to the wire,” says pollster Barbara Carvalho of Marist College’s Institute for Public Opinion. “ In a reversal from 2012, when there were multiple paths for [President] Obama, now the Democrats are struggling to protect their firewall in Iowa, North Carolina and Colorado.”
All five of these races are within the polls’ margins of error. The lone exception is the NBC/Marist poll of South Dakota, where Republican Mike Rounds enjoys a 14-point lead over Democrat Rick Weiland, 43 percent to 29 percent, while independent Larry Pressler, a former Republican senator, gets 16 percent. To win control of the Senate, Republicans must gain a net of six seats. Two pick-up opportunities – in Montana and West Virginia – appear to be slam dunks for the GOP. And South Dakota, per the NBC/Marist poll, looks to be a safe bet for a third.
That means Republicans need to win three out of these seven other Democrat-held seats to get to a majority: Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.
But if Democrats win a GOP-held seat – say Georgia – or if Orman decides to caucus with Democrats, that means Republicans must win an additional seat (or two) to net six Senate seats.
The truth, though, is that the most-hyped threats are often not actually that threatening to Americans, while larger dangers go mostly ignored. That should tell you something about how our political system and media can distort threats, leading Americans to overreact to minor dangers while ignoring the big, challenging, divisive problems — like climate change — that we should actually be worried about.
Obsessing about possible threats is something of a beloved national past-time here in America, which is objectively one of the safest places on Earth, so we want to help you do it right. Here, then, is a highly un-scientific and incomplete ranking of threats to the United States — sorted by the current danger to Americans, worst-case danger to Americans, and how freaked out you should be.
We’re a lot more likely to have our lives impacted by heart disease, cancer, or gun violence than Ebola or ISIS, so why do so many people follow the imaged threat over the real?
Danger to Americans: Guns kill more than 30,000 Americans every year, about as many deaths as caused by motor vehicles. But only about one in three of those deaths is a homicide. A few thousand are from accidents but most are due to suicide.
Worst-case scenario: We have already chosen to live in a society with the world’s highest gun ownership rate and some of its loosest gun control laws, so the worst-case scenario is pretty much here. Still, gun deaths per year are on the rise.
How freaked out should you be: It all depends on whether you see America’s uniquely permissive gun laws as worth the trade-off. But you — and, yes, your children — are at risk, regardless of your views about gun regulations.
White House officials warned the governors of New York and New Jersey of the “unintended consequences” of quarantining all medical workers returning from west Africa, as a political crisis deepened on Sunday over how to counter public fears about the spread of Ebola in the US.
Amid a barrage of criticism from aid organisations, medical experts and the mayor of New York, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, and his New York counterpart, Andrew Cuomo, staunchly defended their plans, which provide for the mandatory 21-day quarantine of anyone returning from west Africa after direct contact with people suffering from Ebola.
Kaci Hickox, a nurse who was detained in New Jersey despite testing negative for Ebola, described her treatment as “inhumane” and said she had been made to feel like a criminal.
The White House made it clear that it objected to the hurried introduction of “policies not grounded in science”.
The tougher rules were introduced hurriedly on Friday by Christie and Cuomo after it emerged that a New York doctor, Craig Spencer, had moved widely around the city in the days before he tested positive for Ebola.
Spencer, who worked for Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital. Hickox was stopped at Newark airport in New Jersey just as the new rules were announced.
On Sunday evening Bill de Blasio, the mayor of New York City, hit out strongly against her treatment. “The problem is this hero, having come back from the front, having done the right thing, was treated with disrespect, was treated with a sense that she had done something wrong when she hadn’t,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference at Bellevue, de Blasio added: “We respect the right of each governor to make decisions that they think are right for their people. But we have to think how we treat the people who are doing this noble work and we must show them respect and consideration at all times. And we owe [Hickox] better than that and all the people who do this work better than that.”
The White House indicated that it was urgently reviewing the federal guidelines for returning healthcare workers, “recognising that these medical professionals’ selfless efforts to fight this disease on the front lines will be critical to bringing this epidemic under control, the only way to eliminate the risk of additional cases here at home”.
“We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and others states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa,” an administration official said.
The governors’ moves have created another political crisis for the Obama administration, which is already facing criticism of its handling of the Ebola crisis in the run up to the midterm elections.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, on Sunday became the highest-ranked administration official to officially comment on the crisis. She told NBC: “We need to make sure [returning healthcare workers] are treated like conquering heroes and not in any other way.”
Power, who was in Guinea’s capital Conakry on the first leg of a tour through the three West African nations hardest hit by the epidemic, said: “All of us need to make clear what these health workers mean to us and how much we value their services, how much we value their contribution.”
In New Jersey, Hickox, who returned from a stint working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone, appointed a lawyer to free her and called her treatment “inhumane” and “poorly planned”.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Disease, said quarantining health workers could have the unintended consequence of stopping US aid workers from tackling the disease at its source in West Africa.
“There’s a big, big difference between completely confining somebody so that they can’t even get outside and doing the appropriate monitoring based on scientific evidence,” he said on CNN. “The harm is that it is totally disruptive of their life. We want them to go because they are helping us to protect America to be over there.”
Ebola cannot be transmitted until someone with the disease begins to display symptoms; even then it is only transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids.
A spokesman for Doctors Without Borders said a total of 52 people from the US have worked with the organisation in west Africa on the Ebola response since it began in March. The spokesman said 31 Americans were currently working in West Africa, with 20 due to return sometime in the next four weeks.
A spokesman for SIM, Palmer Holt, said the international missionary organisation had one American doctor in Liberia, “who is planning to return to the States soon, but if he has to undergo mandatory quarantine, he may not be able to do that, as his plan is to do a brief visit and then quickly return.”
Meanwhile, we can’t even get through the hysteria of this election season before some one starts going off the rails on the next one. The journalistic magpies are at it already.
In November’s Harper’smagazine, Doug Henwood, a longtime progressive economics writer, editor and publisher, takes a deep dive into Hill-and-Bill land and resoundingly bursts the bubble that’s now taking shape across America’s Democratic provinces.
His article, “Stop Hillary: Vote no to a Clinton Dynasty,” turns the notion that Hillary and the White House are an inevitable match made in heaven into a restive rejoinder filled with deflating details from the Clintons’ long careers in high offices.
“What Hillary will deliver, then, is more of the same. And that shouldn’t surprise us,” Henwood writes, saying the country would be far better served by anyone but Hillary the hawk, Hillary the centrist, Hillary the corporatist, and Hillary the appendage of Bill. “Today we desperately need a new political economy—one that features a more equal distribution of income, investment in our rotting social and physical infrastructure, and a more humane ethic. We also need a judicious foreign policy, and a commander-in-chief who will resist the instant gratification of air strikes and rhetorical bluster.”
“Is Hillary Clinton the answer to these prayers?” Henwood asks, then answering, “It’s hard to think so, despite the widespread liberal fantasy of her as a progressive paragon, who will follow through exactly as Barack Obama did not. In fact, a close look at her life and career is perhaps the best antidote to all these great expectations.”
Harper’s and Henwood, to their credit, are trying to jump ahead of the curve and answer the most obvious question looming in American politics. That question is not, as posters from her rallies pose, “Are we ready for Hillary?” According to Henwood, it’s more like, “Really, Hillary? Really?” as he offer readers an answer filled with details we thought we had forgotten.
Some days it just doesn’t pay to look at the news. I’m feeling it’s going to be a long November.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
It is all I can do to get myself out of bed lately, sleep is the thing that seems to hold me down. This is worse than usual. Yesterday Boston Boomer titled her post Extra Lazy…no way.
But the inability to lift my fat ass from the mattress of late does not owe itself to “laziness” or the fact that I am still recovering from one of the worst bouts of bronchitis…it is due to DISH induced depression.
Yes! That is it! That has to be the only explanation, because I cannot tell you just how upsetting this whole TCM blackout has been for me. This week alone I’ve missed The Innocents, The Woman in White (which is the one that hurts the most) and tonight’s Diabolique .
The thought of this ongoing DISH disaster really does have me screaming in agony and disgust…that is, when I am not in bed sulking.
So, any lawyers out there? Tell me. Can I sue Dish for causing my depression to become overwhelming and my general mental health to deteriorate? Fuckitall.
Today’s post is the way it is…not because of laziness. Nope.
It is the way it is because of lack of giving a shit about anything else, because the Basturds at Dish Network have made it impossible for me to think about anything but Eleanor Parker appearing in the shadows as a ghostly figure dressed in white.
So, the links are out-of-order and all over the place. The images are varied and generally photos from Hollywood Horror flicks…with a few behind the scenes shots.
All that being said, here we go:
Really? You think?
The extent of Newtown school shooter Adam Lanza’s growing rage, isolation and delusions when he was a teenager were apparently overlooked by his mother, psychiatrists and counselors, according to a report expected to be issued next month.
The report found that Lanza, who gunned down 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook Elementary School nearly two years ago, did not have to become a violent adult, Scott Jackson, chairman of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, said on Friday.
Say that again…
It says better screening and evaluation might have helped detect earlier the 20-year-old’s potential for violence.
We’ll definitely talk more about that later on next month…
For a quick infographic: The Most Popular Words Used In Classic Books (INFOGRAPHIC)
Personally, I would have edited the thing to get rid of the little words, but I guess that is the whole point.
Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass has a reputation for championing the individual (“I am large, I contain multitudes”), so it’s surprising that the most frequently used word in the poem — “all” — applies to the collective or universal.
A word cloud generated on WordItOut.com shows that “one,” “body,” “old,” “new” and “man” — words more adherent to the contemporary conception of Whitman — are also among his favorites. The unexpected appearance of “all” reveals the less readily clear heart of the poem: that all individuals are connected by their primal, natural desires, and that upholding the importance of the individual simultaneously romanticizes the universal.
In a way, the visualization of Whitman’s language can serve as a map to understanding the underlying emotions his work is meant to evoke. “All” is a nexus around which more specific details (“sea,” “land,” “war,” “words,” “woman”) float.
Hey, look here…there may be a chance: HUFFPOLLSTER: New Polling Gives Michelle Nunn An Edge In Georgia
In other happy news: Government recognizes same sex marriages in six new states | MSNBC
The federal government will now recognize marriages between same-sex couples in six more states, Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Saturday.
Same-sex married couples in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, North Carolina, West Virginia, and Wyoming will now qualify for Social Security benefits and other types of social insurance typically reserved for married couples.
“With each new state where same-sex marriages are legally recognized, our nation moves closer to achieving of full equality for all Americans,” said Holder in a Justice Department statement.
“We are acting as quickly as possible with agencies throughout the government to ensure that same-sex married couples in these states receive the fullest array of benefits allowable under federal law.” he added.
That graphic is interactive so go check it out.
Hillary…in North Carolina: Clinton: ‘Protect women’s rights’ | TheHill
“The fact that women in North Carolina still get paid less than men for the same work costs those women and their families thousands of dollars every year. Imagine what a working mom could do with the money she is owed, the better home she could rent or even buy?” she said. “This is not just a women’s issue, this is a family issue, a fairness issue.”
“Women’s rights are the canary in the mine. If you don’t protect women’s rights here at home and around the world, everybody’s rights are lost,” she said. “You have to ask yourself, do you want a senator who will always defend a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions and won’t ever shame or judge a woman for decisions that are complex and deeply personal, or do you want a senator who will push so-called ‘personhood’ laws that would outlaw common forms of birth control and ban abortions even in cases of rape or incest?”
I took out the usual snarky shitass commentary.
On Monday, Oct. 20, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-2 to endorse the Arizona House Bill 2625, which would allow Arizona employers to repudiate health insurance coverage for contraceptives based on religious affirmations.
This would give Arizona businesses license to request that female personnel being prescribed birth control pills verify they’re using them for intentions that are non-sexual or non-reproductive, such as acne treatment or hormone control.
“I believe we live in America. We don’t live in the Soviet Union,” said Majority Whip Debbie Lesko, R-Glendale, who penned the bill. Lesko also stated that said bill corresponds with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which was endorsed March 2010. “So, government should not be telling the organizations or mom and pop employers to do something against their moral beliefs.”
However, many people, like Planned Parenthood Arizona President Bryan Howard, say the Arizona House Bill 2625 would intrude on women’s rights in regards to preserving the confidentiality of their medical records. Howard also noted that zero grievances have been filed by insurance companies since 2002 when Arizona passed the Contraceptive Equity Law, which barred religious establishments from refusing its personnel contraceptives for non-sexual or non-reproductive reasons.
…abortion opponents here who believe that Tennessee has for too long been a Bible Belt outlier due to a State Supreme Court decision in 2000 that ruled that the state’s constitutional guarantee of a right to privacy includes the right to an abortion. Over the years, the ruling has served as a partial bulwark against the wave of abortion restrictions that have swept other conservatives states.
Now, anti-abortion forces are trying to change that at the ballot box by passing Amendment 1, which states that nothing in the Tennessee Constitution “secures or protects” a right to abortion.
Two other states, Colorado and North Dakota, are also trying to restrict abortion this Election Day with so called “personhood” ballot measures, which would extend extra rights and protections to the unborn. Colorado has previously voted twice against versions of the measure.
Here in Tennessee the ballot fight has taken center stage this political season, and abortion opponents are buoyed by the Democratic Party’s comically poor chances of recapturing the governor’s mansion. The party’s challenger to incumbent Bill Haslam, a Republican, is Charles V. Brown, a retired construction worker and political neophyte best known for his suggestion that Mr. Haslam be strapped to an electric chair.
“When there’s no real candidate to vote for, it’s hard,” said Rebecca Terrell, the executive director of Choices, a clinic in Memphis that offers abortions, in acknowledging that abortion rights forces face a hard time getting out the liberal vote.
That is beyond pathetic.
But not that it will make any difference. Right? Supreme Court and circuit court rulings on voter ID and abortion: Poor and powerless don’t count.
The Supreme Court of the John Roberts era gets one thing very right: It’s one of the most free-speech-protective courts in modern history. There is no purveyor of semi-pornographic crush videos, no maker of rape-aspiring violent video games, no homophobic funeral protester, no anti-abortion clinic counselor, and no filthy-rich campaign contribution–seeker whose rights and privileges will not be treated by the court with the utmost reverence and solicitude.
This is important and vital, and one doesn’t want to slag the court for the boundless attention and care it lavishes upon the most obnoxious speakers in America. After all, the First Amendment is kind of the constitutional gateway drug, the portal to the rest of the Bill of Rights. And without securing meaningful protection for the rights to speak, assemble, worship, and publish, so many of our other rights might be illusory. Great. Stipulated.
That makes it extra weird whenever the assorted (lets call them largely “conservative”) justices of the Roberts court, and judges on lower courts across the land, turn their attention to the protection of other rights—equally crucial but perhaps less sexy—like, say, the right to vote or to obtain an abortion. That’s when the nameless, faceless rights seekers all blur into oblivion, a great unwashed mass of undifferentiated shadow people. And that is when some judges find it all too simple to bat these rights away with a stroke of the pen.
In the past few weeks, it’s been astonishing to contrast the regard afforded to individual speech rights with the cavalier dismissal of other, equally precious hallmarks of democracy.
Oh yeah, sing it sister. You go and read the rest of Dahlia Lithwick’s article at the link.
One thing is certain…it all stinks like shit…or something else? Scientists say Rosetta’s comet stinks — literally – LA Times
Researchers from the University of Bern in Switzerland say that if you could take a whiff of the cloud of gas surrounding the icy nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko you would smell a pungent mix of hydrogen sulfide (rotten eggs); ammonia (horse stable); and formaldehyde.
There would also be a hint of the smell when a match is struck (sulfur dioxide) and a whiff of alcohol (methanol). Carbon disulfide would add just a touch of sweetness, the scientists say.
Rotten eggs and horse piss.
What does not smell like bullshit is these chicks who are speaking up for women’s right to choose abortion: Meet 5 kick-ass women advocating for abortion rights
There are a few interesting flicks coming out or already playing that have women behind the camera…or writing the checks.(I told you this post was going to be all over the place.) Weekly Update for October 24: Women Centric, Directed and | Women and Hollywood
And for those with an art history bent: Classical trends in Byzantine and Western Art in the 13th and 14th centuries Medievalist.net
Oh yeah…check this out: Vatican’s manuscripts digital archive now available online
Then again, if you want to look at one book which tracks our human history, look no further than a dictionary: New Statesman | The joy of dictionaries
You could write a history of the world just by looking at the words that got into the dictionary, and disappeared from it. You would of course have your great scientific advances: oxygen, aeroplane, penicillin, and boob job. But politics would play its part, for it was the world of politics that gave us Cold War, glasnost, ayatollah and suicide bomber. New habits make themselves known through phrases like sofa-surfing and texting. And art and music can be seen with the arrival of impressionism, ragtime, heavy metal, hip-hop, and emo. New social types arrive. Before the 1980s there was no such thing as a Sloane Ranger or a yuppie (from “Young Urban Professional”). And the 1990s gave us Britpop and ethnic cleansing.
Sometimes these words merely involve a new label applied to something that already exists. The teenager was never heard of before 1942. This doesn’t mean that the ages thirteen to nineteen didn’t exist before then. It was merely that they weren’t considered that important. You were a child and then you were a young man or woman. You played with toys, then you put those toys away and got yourself a job. The teenage phenomenon could only start when the teenagers were separated out by language. They were given a name and with it they were given an identity and very soon they were able to listen to teenage music, dress in teenage fashions, and do teenage things like dancing and sulking.
More at the link.
Those of you in LA, hopefully you can see this show: Over 800 Living Folk Artists Come Together For Massive Iboamerican Exhibition
Blue gal makes a point at that link.
Another interactive infographic at this link: WHO: global Ebola cases now exceed 10,000 | Ars Technica
Oh, and something more on Ebola: Ebola’s evolutionary roots more ancient than previously thought — ScienceDaily
Sticking with history…and cinema (of sorts.) The tragic genius of Alan Turing and The Imitation Game | Stephen Liddell
If you’re not familiar with the name Alan Turing, the chances are that you soon will be with the release of the new film, The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the starring role. Alan Turing holds a unique place in history as being someone who not only one of the greatest minds in history who helped save his country and the free world in WW2 but one whose personal life was mired in secrecy which led to a terrible end for him and a shame to his country and a loss to the world.
The tide is turning it seems: The Shifting Politics of Cuba Policy – NYTimes.com
There was a time, not too long ago, when any mainstream politician running for statewide or national office in Florida had to rattle off fiery rhetoric against the Cuban government and declare unquestioning faith that the embargo on the island would one day force the Castros from power.
For generations, among Cuban-Americans, once a largely monolithic voting bloc, the embargo was a symbol of defiance in exile — more gospel than policy.
That has changed dramatically in recent years as younger members of the diaspora have staked out views that are increasingly in favor of deepening engagement with the island. Cuba still looms large in Florida politics, and to an extent nationally. But it is far from the clear-cut issue it once was.
Yesterday, I saw this The View From Your Window « The Dish and thought…damn that looks familiar. Turns out it was taken just a spit away from Banjoville:
Blue Ridge, Georgia, 12.22 pm
Look carefully. You may see some NRA card carrying Republicans stalking a deer in the underbrush.
This is a terrible story out of Gary, Indiana and it is not about the serial killer: Indiana man shoots and kills 13-year-old neighbor for laughing at him
A Gary, Indiana man shot and killed a 13-year-old neighbor boy for laughing at him on Friday night.
According to the Gary Post-Tribune, police have not released the shooter’s name, but said that he shot Kobe Jones, 13, nine times. The boy was pronounced dead at the scene at 6:31 p.m. on Friday by the Lake County Coroner’s office.
Gary Police Lt. Thomas Pawlak told the Post-Tribune that the gunman’s home was broken into and robbed some time on Friday afternoon. The man arrived home around 5:00 p.m. and discovered the robbery and flew into a rage.
As he was having a noisy tantrum in his back yard, a crowd of neighborhood residents gathered. Jones made the mistake of laughing at his neighbor’s histrionics, which drove the man to even greater heights of rage.
He produced a gun and shot Jones nine times, killing him. The shooter and his girlfriend fled the scene in a car, but returned at around 7:00 p.m. and surrendered to police.
They are both currently being held at Gary City Jail. Charges are reportedly pending.
In world news:
In out of this world news:
Y’all see the shit going on in Reality TV land?
This comes after: ‘Sons of Guns’ reality show star Will Hayden arrested for rape of 11-year-old child and his own daughter when she was 12 years old.
But the big story this weekend is: Mama June — Dating Man Who Molested Her Relative | TMZ.com
53-year-old Mark McDaniel. He was convicted in 2004 for aggravated child molestation. Prosecutors say he molested an 8-year-old child — forcing oral sex. June was dating McDaniel at the same time he molested the child.
McDaniel served 10 years and was released this past March. He is now a registered sex offender in the state of Georgia.
The show has since been cancelled. Turns out the 8-year-old was that shitass Mama June bitch’s little girl…
In the wake of the cancellation news, June took to Facebook on Friday to deny the reports that she is romantically involved with the registered sex offender.
“The statement of me dating a sex offender is untrue,” she said to the camera in what she described as a “truth video.”
“I would not ever ever put my kids in danger I love my kids too much,” she continued. That is my past. I have not seen that person in 10 years.”
Despite her denials, new photos of June and McDaniel continue to emerge. TMZ published pictures of the two house-hunting in Georgia on Saturday, including one photo of the two appearing to hold hands. The site reports that the photos were taken last month.
Now the reason I post all this Boo Boo Reality crap is so that this next link makes sense:
Saying that he didn’t “give two shits” if they had to knock on the door of every trailer and halfway house in the country, TLC producer and programming director Mark Livingston reportedly told his staffers Friday that he expects to see a list of at least 100 fucked-up families on his desk by the end of the workday. “We’re up shit creek right now, so I need each one of you assholes rooting through every gutter in the goddamn Ozarks to find me a household of inbreds, addicts, or fat-as-fuck morons that we can put in primetime,” a visibly aggravated Livingston said to his staff following the cancellation of the network’s popular Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, stressing that the new families had better be “borderline brain-dead” and “messed up as all fuck.” “If they have 20 dipshit kids, that’s great. If they only have one greasy dimwit kid who can barely string a sentence together, that’ll work too. Hell, you get me some snarl-toothed family of backwoods idiots who all call their dad Papa Pig or some shit like that, and I’ll sign them immediately. Just find me some family of sewer people I can throw in front of the goddamn camera, got it?” At press time, Livingston was angrily telling his staffers that they could all find a new job wiping asses at the Disney Channel if they brought him one more suggestion for a morbidly obese teen mother.
Just a few more links.
Did anyone notice:
Frank Mankiewicz, the press secretary who went before television cameras to announce the death of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and later served as political director for presidential candidate George McGovern, died Thursday. He was 90.
Mankiewicz died of a heart attack at George Washington University Hospital, said a family friend, journalist Adam Clymer.
Mankiewicz was a longtime Democratic political operative as well as a lawyer, journalist and author. McGovern once recalled his former campaign aide as a perceptive, straightforward political adviser.
“I never got any bad advice from Frank,” said McGovern, a senator from South Dakota who was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972. “I found him just fascinating to travel with during the campaign. I picked up a lot of perspective, a lot of insights and a lot of humor from Frank.”
The son and nephew of Hollywood filmmakers, Mankiewicz studied journalism and law. He worked for newspapers in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles before assuming the role of President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps director in Lima, Peru, in 1962 and later was a regional director in Washington. In 1966, he became press secretary to Sen. Robert Kennedy, D-N.Y., who was assassinated two years later while campaigning for the party’s presidential nomination.
In June 1968, Kennedy had just won the California primary and finished his victory speech at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Mankiewicz left the entourage for a moment to help the candidate’s wife, Ethel, step off a platform.
“She was at the time three months pregnant, although I don’t think anybody knew it, except the inside group,” Mankiewicz recalled on the 30th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. “We helped her down. And then she said, ‘Go on,’ and we started to move off quickly to catch up. And that’s when we heard the shots.”
A scion of Hollywood, the son of Herman J. Mankiewicz, who wrote “Citizen Kane,” and the nephew of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who directed “All About Eve,” Mr. Mankiewicz grew up with an Algonquin West round table in his Beverly Hills home, regaled by movie stars and famous writers.
He became a journalist and lawyer and, inspired by the Kennedys, went to Washington at the dawn of the New Frontier and took an executive position at the Peace Corps, full of idealistic hopes. What he encountered were assassinations, the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandals.
Frank Fabian Mankiewicz was born in Manhattan on May 16, 1924, one of three children of Herman and Sara Aaronson Mankiewicz. His father, early on a drama critic for The New York Times and The New Yorker, began his celebrated Hollywood career in 1926. The household was awhirl with the famous: Regulars included F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, the Marx Brothers, Greta Garbo, James Thurber, Margaret Sullavan, Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles.
“They got serious about things that didn’t matter to me, such as clothes and how much money you made,” Mr. Mankiewicz said of his parents in a People magazine interview in 1982. “That kept me out of the movie business.”
He attended Haverford College in Pennsylvania for a year, then joined the Army infantry in World War II and saw combat at the Battle of the Bulge. After the war he resumed his studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, graduating in 1947, then earned a master’s degree in journalism the next year from Columbia University and found newspaper work in the Los Angeles area.
Mr. Mankiewicz married Holly Jolley in 1952 and had two sons with her. The marriage ended in divorce. In 1988, he married the novelist Patricia O’Brien.
Ms. O’Brien survives him, as do his sons, Joshua, a correspondent for NBC News, and Benjamin, a host of Turner Classic Movies; an older brother, Donald Mankiewicz, a novelist and screenwriter; four stepdaughters, Marianna, Margaret and Maureen Koval and Monica Krider; a 1-year-old granddaughter; and eight stepgrandchildren.
Hullabaloo–Saturday Night at the Movies Fright night at the art house: A top 10 list By Dennis Hartley
Have a great day…while I go back to bed and mope about missing out on TCM…enjoy the videos below by the way!
Photos found on Pinterest.
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.