Sunday F*ck You Trump and Other Reads

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Good Afternoon

This post is more of a link dump than anything else, we are still working on the move…and it seems like it will go on forever.

The articles will be presented to you in a certain way…

Starting with the deep south…Florida:

Student found biting victim’s face after killings dared police to drug-test him | US news | The Guardian

In Florida, Pregnant Women Cover Up and Stay Inside Amid Zika Fears – The New York Times

Moving westward…Civil suit will cost parents of Ga. teen found dead in gym mat – NY Daily News

Trump has been causing the usual fuck ups at campaign rallies in North Carolina, Wisconsin and Michigan…

Being Donald Trump Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry

Trump’s Second Amendment Comment Is Part of an Ongoing and Troubling Trend

Trump To Black Voters: ‘What The Hell Do You Have To Lose?’

Trump Surrogate Snidely Suggests African American Voters Prefer ‘A Backdrop With A Burning Car’ | Crooks and Liars

(Just a couple of more links on Trump that I have to include.)

Jerry Falwell Jr.: Trump is the Churchillian leader we need – The Washington Post

Churchillian? What the fuck is that?

Here is TPM’s take on that op/ed by Jerry Falwell Jr: Jerry Falwell Jr.: Americans Must Elect Trump Or ‘Suffer Dire Consequences’

Jerry Falwell Jr. penned a Washington Post op-ed posted Friday evening that compared Donald Trump to Winston Churchill and warned that Americans will “suffer dire consequences” if they don’t line up behind the GOP nominee.

“We are at a crossroads where our first priority must be saving our nation. We need a leader with qualities that resemble those of Winston Churchill, and I believe that leader is Donald Trump,” Falwell wrote.

 

Westward ho….to a new study out of Colorado: Contraception’s Role In Fighting Poverty

And in Washington State…Interracial Couple Allegedly Stabbed For Kissing by White Supremacist | LawNewz

Next up is a long read from the Grist: This California couple uses more water than all of the homes in Los Angeles | Grist

I don’t know I always find the topic of water rights laws interesting.

The Resnicks are the world’s biggest producers of pistachios and almonds, and they also hold vast groves of lemons, grapefruit, and navel oranges. All told, they claim to own America’s second-largest produce company, worth an estimated$4.2 billion.

The Resnicks have amassed this empire by following a simple agricultural precept: Crops need water. Having shrewdly maneuvered the backroom politics of California’s byzantine water rules, they are now thought to consume more of the state’s water than any other family, farm, or company. They control more of it in some years than what’s used by the residents of Los Angeles and the entire San Francisco Bay Area combined.

Such an incredible stockpiling of the state’s most precious natural resource might have attracted more criticism were it not for the Resnicks’ progressive bona fides. Last year, the couple’s political and charitable donations topped $48 million. They’ve spent $15 million on the 2,500 residents of Lost Hills — roughly 600 of whom work for the couple — funding everything from sidewalks, parks, and playing fields to affordable housing, a preschool, and a health clinic.

Last year, the Resnicks rebranded all their holdings as the Wonderful Company to highlight their focus on healthy products and philanthropy. “Our company has always believed that success means doing well by doing good,” Stewart Resnick said in a press release announcing the name change. “That is why we place such importance on our extensive community outreach programs, education and health initiatives and sustainability efforts. We are deeply committed to doing our part to build a better world and inspiring others to do the same.”

But skeptics note that the Resnicks’ donations to Lost Hills began a few months after Earth Island Journal documented the yawning wealth gap between the couple and their company town, a dusty assemblage of trailer homes, dirt roads, and crumbling infrastructure. They claim the Resnicks’ influence among politicians and liberal celebrities is quietly warping California’s water policies away from the interests of the state’s residents, wildlife, and even most farmers. “I think the Wonderful Company and the Resnicks are truly the top 1 percent wrapped in a green veneer, in a veneer of social justice,” says Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore the Delta, an advocacy group that represents farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, east of San Francisco. “If they truly cared about a sustainable California and farmworkers within their own community, then how things are structured and how they are done by the Wonderful Company would be much different.”

In other California news, Hearst Castle threatened by fast-moving Chimney Fire – LA Times

Keeping with the Go West…theme: vintage everyday: Girls of Western United States in the early 20th Century: The Real Cowgirls of American West

Cowgirl – It’s not just a word it is a way of life! The Beauty of a Cowgirl must be seen from her eyes because that is the doorway to her heart, her true beauty is reflected in her soul.

Here are what images of badass cowgirls in the early 20th century looked like.

And just a few more articles, dealing with worldly news:

Why a 1995 speech proved formative for Clinton | PBS NewsHour -This is a post about that famous speech of Clinton’s given in China in 1995.

Refugees in Greek camps targeted by mafia gangs | World news | The Guardian

Not so jovial after all: how historians misunderstood William the Conqueror | Books | The Guardian

1-click exodus: Online ‘check out’ option sees Norway Church lose 15k parishioners in just 4 days — RT News

That is all the links I have for you today…this is an open thread.


Wednesday Make-Up: A Laugh and Two, Ending on a Sharp Note.

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Uh, Boy!

 

I slacked off on Friday…with Christmas and all…there was no Friday Nite Lite thread. Well, I will make-up for it now with a comic filled post. I’ll throw some links in that you might find interesting.

 

 

12/29/2015 Cartoon by John R. Rose

Cartoon by John R. Rose -

 

Trump Cards: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Trump Cards

 

This next one is a local NC cartoon, but the same could be said for the GOP asswipes in any double red State:  12/29/2015 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

 

In Louisiana and several other states: 30,000 Louisianans Scheduled to Lose Food Stamps | Al Jazeera America

Joanika Davis relies on the $194 per month she receives in food stamp benefits every month to help her get by as she searches for employment.

But on Jan. 1, Davis is set to lose that financial lifeline — one of approximately 31,000 Louisianians set to suffer as a result of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to reinstate the work requirement for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in his state.

SNAP rules typically allow full benefits to single able-bodied adults only if they have jobs or are enrolled in a job-training program. Otherwise, they may access food stamp benefits for no more than three months every three years. States with high unemployment can apply for a federal waiver, dropping that work requirement and allowing single adults to access full benefits regardless of their job status.

Since the beginning of the Great Recession, nearly every state in the country sought and was granted a federal waiver at some point. But recently, a number of states with Republican governors have allowed their waivers to expire, citing improved economic circumstances and a desire to get their food stamp recipients back to work. Jindal, a Republican, allowed Louisiana’s waiver to lapse on Oct. 1.

“We continue to seek opportunities for SNAP recipients to increase their self-sufficiency. Engaging in work activities is a key step in that transition,” said Suzy Sonnier, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services, in a Sept. 30 statement.

Starting in January, Davis, who told Al Jazeera that she is still hunting for a job, will have to find ways to make up a monthly shortfall of nearly $200. “Why should I have to fight for food right now?” she asked. “Why should I have to fight to drink water?”

And it is not only people in Louisiana who are losing out.

Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming have recently allowed the work requirement to be reimposed, leaving 28 states with their food stamp waivers intact in fiscal year 2016.

The people affected by the reinstatement of the work requirement tend to be among the poorest of the poor, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an economic think tank. In 2014 able-bodied, childless, unemployed adults on food stamps had an average of $2,200 in gross income, the center found.

It also found that states that reimpose the work requirement tend to see a sudden sharp drop in SNAP participants, suggesting that thousands of unemployed recipients are unable to find work and maintain their eligibility.

“The idea that anybody is choosing not to work because of $190 dollars a month in food stamps — that’s really kind of a stereotype,” said Steve Spires, a senior policy analyst for the Louisiana Budget Project. “The reality is a lot of people want to work. There simply aren’t jobs…”

 

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

On the latest Trump news: 25% of Donald Trump’s political spending goes to his own companies – Quartz

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” Donald Trump told Fortune in 2000, during his first abortive run for president.

He was referring to a $1 million motivational speaking deal he got from Tony Robbins that he timed to coincide with his campaign stops. Then, he didn’t dominate the headlines—apparently the Clinton-Bush-Gore psychodrama was more compelling—and Trump’s greatest accomplishment was winning the Reform party nomination in California with a scant 15,311 votes. (His bon mots haven’t changed much—Fortune refers to “his usual critiques of Pat Buchanan (‘a Hitler lover’), Bill Bradley (‘a total disaster’), George W. Bush (‘no Einstein’), Fidel Castro (‘a bad guy’), North Korea (‘run by some very bad people’), and Russia (‘totally mixed up’).”)

This time around, as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, he operates on a more rarified and lucrative plane: Trump’s companies have already earned $1.4 million from his campaign.

The billionaire builder often argues that his wealth guarantees his political independence, and describes his campaign as “self-funding.” That’s no longer true: While he was the main source of campaign funds during the early part of his run, the most recent financial disclosures through the end of September 2015, show Trump put less money into his campaign than his donors—and he stands to profit in particular from their backing.

Like the article says…”Follow the money.” And read the rest at the link.

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: That Drone: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: That Drone

12/29/2015 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

 

The storms this Christmas have been terrible….The Mississippi River Is About to Have a Record Flood Completely Out of Season

The Mississippi River is flooding in a big way right now, at the wrong time of year, and is forecasted to match or break 22-year-old crest records over the next few days. Meteorologists are calling it “insane.”

Over the next three to four days, the Mississippi is predicted to reach a crest height of 49.7 feet at Chester, Illinois, one of several locations where the National Weather Service records data about the river. As of Tuesday afternoon, the river has already risen to 40.8 feet. According to Taylor Trogdon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Memphis, that is an “absolutely remarkable” forecast.

 

The “great flood of 1993,” as it has come to be known, was “one of the most significant and damaging natural disasters ever to hit the United States,” according to a National Weather Service hydrologist, writing in 1996. “Damages totaled $15 billion, 50 people died, hundreds of levees failed, and thousands of people were evacuated, some for months.”

TRUMPNADO: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - TRUMPNADO

JEB RESOLUTION: 12/28/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - JEB RESOLUTION

NAUGHTY LIST: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - NAUGHTY LIST

THE DONALD: 12/17/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - THE DONALD

Cruz’s Daughters: 12/27/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Cruz's Daughters

 

A few links regarding Cruz:

Cruz supporters are just as bonkers as Trump’s: Obama ‘ruined our country, ruined Christmas’

A woman spoke to C-SPAN at a recent Cruz rally in Mechanicsville, Virginia, where she explained that she intended to vote for the Texas Republican to drive President Barack Obama, who is constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term, from office.

“I don’t like Obama no more,” the woman explained. “He’s ruined our country, ruined Christmas. He’s let the Muslims in. We can’t say that word, we’ve got to be ashamed of it — and we’re not ashamed people. We’re a proud people, and we’re gonna take our country back. So watch out, Obama! We’re coming.”

The reporter asked the woman to explain how Obama had ruined Christmas.

“He’s scared the little children,” she said. “They’re not allowed to have Santa Claus in the schools where, you know, it might offend the Muslims. But what about us?”

The woman’s loopy rant was reminiscent of remarks made earlier this month by Trump supporter Susan DeLemus, a New Hampshire state representative, during a CNN focus group.

“We’ve got people in positions of power who I know for a fact are liars. Liars!” DeLemus said. “I watch the TV — My president comes on the TV and he lies to me! I know he’s lying. He lies all the time.”

Cruz himself is a nut:

Via Conservative Tribune. com (I won’t quote the thing cause I don’t want any crazy Cruz troll nuts here making trouble…) you can look it up by the title of the article: Ted Cruz Issues Huge Statement on What the Bible Says About Killing Muslims… This Is Brutal

Sen. Ted Cruz said that he would not be violating his Christian faith if he followed through on his vow to “carpet bomb” Islamic State group militants — a statement that’s sure to upset liberals across the country.

The Texas Republican and presidential candidate told Newsmax Wednesday: ”Let’s be clear, the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not murder,’ which is different from ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”

“Defending yourself is an obligation of any president. It is not murder,” Cruz added in the interview with Ed Berliner on “The Hard Line.”

What the fuck is that? Justified killing for “Jesus.” Sounds like what a religious zealot says after shooting and killing a bunch of innocent people at a Planned Parenthood Clinic.

But wait there is more:

Cruz pointed out that while America killed Nazis in World War II, it wasn’t murder.

“When you have the face of evil that has declared war … then it is the essence of duty to defend your nation, to defend the innocent,” he said. “When it comes to jihadists, they have declared war on us, and that’s what President Obama and Hillary Clinton refuse to acknowledge.”

The leader of the United States should fight radical Islam the same way President Ronald Reagan fought the Soviets when bringing an end to the Cold War, Cruz said. Reagan aimed his foreign policy around the notion of defeating communism — a strategy of “we win, they lose.”

Reagan “championed tax reform and regulatory reform,” Cruz said, which “unchained the American economy.” The economic growth that resulted from from his reform allowed the former president to rebuild the military and challenge Soviet communism “on every front, strategically we bankrupted the Soviet Union and won the Cold War.”

There is recorded sound from the interview at the conservative tribune link…if you must hear it. Five fucking minutes of this shit. Of course the CT (cuntservative tribune) is all hard for Cruz.

Speaking of Reagan…up next, a link sent to me from Boston Boomer: Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed” – Salon.com

Reagan embarrassed himself in news conferences, Cabinet meetings. Recalling how GOP cringed at his lack of interest

I always thought Reagan was much further gone with Alzheimer’s than we’re all led on now to believe…if that makes any sense. (As I am probably in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s myself.)

For BB: The Six Most Interesting Psychology Papers of 2015 – The New Yorker

I thought many of you would find this a good read: Sudan’s midwives take on Female Genital Mutilation

And this: 15 Remarkable Women of Color Who Rocked 2015 | Colorlines

This little tidbit: 8 Crazy Cuban New Year’s Eve Traditions — My Big Fat Cuban Family: A Cuban-American Blog

My Granny would throw a bucket of water out the back door, to wash away the bad luck from the last year…I don’t remember if it was dirty water or not.  Actually…I think she would toss a big pot of water. (One of her big cooking pots full…) So it would not be “dirty” and maybe that is why it never worked? She always had terrible luck…

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Bill and Hillary; Running Mates: 12/27/2015 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Bill and Hillary; Running Mates

12/26/2015 Cartoon by John Branch

Cartoon by John Branch -

Trump’s Flying Monkeys: 12/28/2015 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Trump's Flying Monkeys

 

After U.S. Refuses Entry To British Muslims, Indian Students Are Being Turned Away In Droves | ThinkProgress

Twenty Indian students carrying valid student visas for colleges in California were denied entry in Chicago and put on planes back to India on Sunday, following other incidents of the U.S. turning away people from certain countries.

The U.S. is in a heightened state of vigilance since the terror attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California. One of the shooters in San Bernardino came in on a fiance visa, prompting concern that potential terrorists could find loopholes to enter the country on valid visas or through the visa waiver program, which allows citizens of friendly countries to visit the United States without visas.

Some foreigners have already been barred from entering the country without being told why. Last week, a British Muslim family planning a trip to Disneyland was told by United Kingdom border officials that they wouldn’t be allowed to board a plane to the United States. Another 20 British Muslim families were reportedly denied entry into the United States without explanation.

 

12/28/2015 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Present Danger: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Present Danger

Jingle Trump: 12/22/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Jingle Trump

All Purpose Hate Speech: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Monte Wolverton

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - All Purpose Hate Speech

So Long to the Year of Trump: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Sage Stossel

Cartoon by Sage Stossel - So Long to the Year of Trump

From Riese via AutoStraddle.com: Our Picks For 2015’s Best Longform By Women

Hey, so, maybe you’ve heard about this gender byline gap? Like how in print, men make up about 62% of bylines in the most widely circulated newspapers, and 58% of those at the top four online news sites, (according to the Women’s Media Center). Or how women head fewer major US newspapers today than they did 10 years ago and are underrepresented in op-eds, book reviews and photojournalism. Or maybe you read that article by Dayna Evans on Matter about the otherwise progressive Gawker Media’s treatment of women, which noted that if Jezebel was excluded from the company’s editorial statistics, its staff would be 28% female. (It’s 38% female with Jezebel included.) Perhaps you’re aware that racial diversity in media is even worse — people of color account for only 13.34% of journalists at daily newspapers.

I’ve been assembling weekly, and then bi-weekly, lists of the web’s best longform for Autostraddle for four years now, and because of all those reasons above (and because we love women around here), I wanted to do a year-end round-up of the best longform written by women. I qualified “longform” as containing 3,000 words or more, but there are ten or so articles I included despite falling under that word count. I wanted a racially diverse group of writers and I wanted to represent as many independent and women’s publications as possible — which was tougher than I’d hoped, as most mainstream women’s magazines and even some of the most hyped new media sites for women rarely publish articles over 2,000 words. Independent women’s publications, like ours, face serious budget constraints when it comes to commissioning longer pieces outside of personal essays. But even well-funded properties go light on women’s longform; it remains far easier to find longform by women in major men’s magazines like GQ and Esquire than their female counterparts, like Elle and Vogue. As Amanda Hess wrote in Slate following a controversy regarding a male-dominated Port Magazine feature about the future of print media, “I hope we can also take this opportunity to question why women’s writing is aligned so heavily with personal essays and service journalism — the forms that are the cheapest and ad-friendliest to produce.”

That being said, it wasn’t hard to find women writing amazing shit all over the internet. Longreadswas an incredible resource for me when putting this together, and if you don’t follow them, you really ought to. Specifically, Emily Perper does some incredible work over there. And although I remain bitter that Longform.org has yet to include our site on their app or website, I’m madly in love with their app and their website, and have been for years.

In some of the reporting pieces, men also were writers of the piece. I only selected a piece that had men involved if there were equal or more women involved.

In other news dealing with Women and GLBT’s Issues:

Hospital Refuses Pregnancy-Related Care Again Because of Religious Directives | American Civil Liberties Union  Another Catholic Hospital..

Religious Universities Get Exemption to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Students, Faculty

Forty-three religious universities applied for waivers in 2015 that will allow them to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Department of Education approved twenty-two of those requests, and the rest remain pending,BuzzFeed reported.

The number of schools seeking these waivers has spiked in recent years, jumping from one school in 2012 to 43 this year, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

Another story not getting much notice: Manning: Healing Continues 125 Years After Wounded Knee Massacre – ICTMN.com

This year marks the 125thanniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre. On December 29, 1890, as many as 300 innocent and unarmed Lakota men, women, children, infants, and elders were gunned down by the United States 7thCavalry at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. After the bloodshed, Chief Big Foot (Spotted Elk) and his band lie dead in the snow where they remained frozen for three days, until all were buried in a mass grave.

For decades, the Wounded Knee massacre was masqueraded as a battle, and marked in many American history books as such. A few months following the massacre, the United States government awarded 20 troops of the U.S. 7thCavalry with the Medal of Honor, and to this day, those medals have yet to be rescinded.

 

12/24/2015 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

12/23/2015 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

12/24/2015 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

12/24/2015 Cartoon by Tim Eagan

Cartoon by Tim Eagan -

Now some other links…Science, History and Art, oh…and a huge ass natural gas leak in California:

Training The Immune System To Fight Cancer Has 19th-Century Roots : Shots – Health News : NPR

Ancient DNA sheds light on Irish origins – BBC News

Genetic Study Traces the Origins of the Irish – Archaeology Magazine

Fishermen Report Medieval Shipwreck Off Italy’s Southern Coast – Archaeology Magazine

We Ask Some Art World Luminaries to Pick the Best & Worst of 2015

Here’s what the English language sounded like 500 years ago

“Unstoppable” California gas leak being called worst catastrophe since BP spill

 

Gas is escaping through a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and it shows no signs of stopping,” as according to the California Air Resources Board, methane – a greenhouse gas 72 times more impactful in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide – has been escaping from the Aliso Canyon site with force equivalent “to a volcanic eruption” for about two months now.

New infrared footage exposes the massive leak…

Go to link to see that video…also looks like Erin Brockovich is working on this…

Infographic of leak (and potential solution)

As TheAntiMedia.org’s Claire Bernish details, methane gas continues spewing, unchecked, into the air over southern California from a fractured well to an underground storage site — at such an alarming rate that low-flying planes have necessarily been diverted by the FAA, lest internal combustion engines meet highly volatile gas and, well, blow the entire area to hell.  

This is, indeed, the biggest environmental catastrophe since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; and for now, there is no way to stop it.

This methane disaster is worse than can be sufficiently described in words, because while it’s estimated well over 100,000 pounds of methane spew into the atmosphere every hour, the leak can’t be halted, at least until spring. Even then, that stoppage depends entirely on the efficacy of a proposed fix — which remains a dubiously open question.

Yeah, I am ending it on that disturbing note. There is plenty more at the link…it is a very long read. (I will say it is via a website called intellihub.com. I am not familiar with that site, however…they do quote from reliable sources i.e. LATimes, CBS News, NY Daily News, court documents etc., which you can also verify by clicking those links within the article itself.)  In fact I would also suggest you read the comments…it may lead you to research into more natural gas leaks you can look up on Google…some fun for ya on the crust of the shitty year “2015” as we head over the cusp of the new year “2016.”

12/28/2015 Cartoon by Ann Cleaves

Cartoon by Ann Cleaves -

 

That does it for this Wednesday’s post…y’all enjoy this last couple of days of 2015!

What is going on in your part of the world? This is an open thread…


Wednesday Reads: It is good cape weather.

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Good Early Afternoon

I found that image on Facebook. I got the idea for the capes from a friend of mine who is doing a pimp thing for Halloween…at least I think that was the look he was going for. Anyway, he said he thought capes were cool and that they should come back into style. Which made me think of the Seinfeld episode…about the man in the cape.

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Yeah it is good cape weather, don’t ya think?

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Anyway, here are the other quick scenes that go with this episode:

 

 

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Then of course I got sucked into the youtube vortex and found this nugget of clips. The best of Frank:

 

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Tell that to Bobby Colby….all that kid wanted to do was go home…well he went home alright….with a crater in his colon the size of a cutlet.

Alright then, enough of the fun stuff. Let’s get down to the shitty gritty.

c7ff49fe7fe434bfc6a2453ba9b2ecd8As you read these articles remember this:

The numbers are staggering: US is ‘world leader’ in child poverty

That is from back in April of this year…Don’t forget the mortality rate in newborns either:

U.S. infant mortality rate worse than other countries – CBS News

That link is from a year ago…

The point I am trying to make is, there is a GOP debate tonight…cough, cough…

What’s at stake for tonight’s GOP debate?

I doubt very seriously the candidates will be asked pointed questions about their party’s compliance and cause of the figures above. But what the fuck right? As long as this shit continues:

dab7e0891b3ce4f6fb310b55a509dee9How the f*** did we get here?! Why Trump & Carson have demolished all comers—and why you should keep an eye on Rubio & Cruz – Salon.com

That is Digby at Salon.

Not sure you saw this…but I think it may have been posted earlier in the week here on the blog…anyway, back to the shit talking from Slate, Monday this week:

Joe Cannon: Cannonfire

I have to quote the whole post, sorry Joseph…but if I were to write my own response to that shit said, it would sound like a Samuel L Jackson monologue. (Which is not to say I haven’t done anything like that before on the blog, but with my dysfunctional brain at the moment…I don’t think I can give my rant the kind of linguistic attention it deserves…)

63f8b0ea02f1b2c5a3e0383b01a39f19The turning of the worm, the eating of the crow (redux)

Attention, irony fans! Dig:

Clinton is framing Sanders as a sexist who accuses women of shouting when they try to speak up. It’s a lie. She’s manipulating women and abusing feminist anger for her own advantage.

It’s great that we’re more aware of bigotry than we used to be. But we should also beware false claims of bigotry: the race card, the sex card, the homophobia card. In 1991, Clarence Thomas, a well-connected federal judge, evaded sexual harassment allegations and won confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court by accusing his interrogators of a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.” Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, says anyone who advocates a boycott of his country “should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot.” Sexism, racism, and anti-Semitism are real. But sometimes they’re fabricated.

606a8f815bf99c35aafd931873e39a33For more from that Slate shit, we go back to the William Saletan article:

That’s what Clinton is doing. She’s misrepresenting an exchange that took place at the Oct. 13 Democratic presidential debate. During the exchange, Clinton accused Sanders of voting with the gun lobby. Sanders replied: “All the shouting in the world is not going to do what I would hope all of us want, and that is keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns and end this horrible violence.” Sanders argued that people on both sides of the gun debate should agree to “strengthen and expand instant background checks, do away with this gun show loophole,” “deal with the straw-man purchasing issue,” and “address the issue of mental health.”

b271a48fb9fe1521ea6063076bec7735The man standing to Clinton’s left during this exchange, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, joined in the attack on Sanders. To this, the Vermont senator answered with the same message: “Here is the point, governor. We can raise our voices. But I come from a rural state, and the views on gun control in rural states are different than in urban states, whether we like it or not. Our job is to bring people together around strong, common-sense gun legislation.”

Two days after the debate, Clinton brought up the exchange during a speech to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in San Antonio. She promised to stand up to the gun lobby and, dropping her G’s, added: “I’ve been told by some to quit talkin’ about this, to quit shoutin’ about this. Well, I’ll tell you right now, I will not be silenced, and we will not be silenced.” The crowd loved it. The next day in New Hampshire, Clinton tried the same line in a Yankee-friendly accent: “Some people say that we shouldn’t talk about it. Some say we shouldn’t shout about it, that I shouldn’t shout about it. Well, I think we have to keep talking. But more importantly, we have to act.”

014ca0c1a6507444546648b899843859A week went by. Clinton prepared for her Oct. 22 testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. When she returned to the campaign trail on Oct. 23, in a speech to the Democratic National Committee Women’s Leadership Forum, her account of the exchange with Sanders was no longer just about guns. It was about sexism. “You know,” she began—clearing her throat to signal the sound bite ahead—“I’ve been told to stop, and I quote, ‘shouting’ about gun violence. Well, first of all, I’m not shouting. It’s just [that] when women talk, some people think we’re shouting.” The audience hooted, screamed, and cheered. Clinton grinned. “I will not be silenced, because we will not be silenced,” she declared.

dfc024ea42346fe1d37e2d23c8c144d5It goes on that the Clinton campaign then proceeded to adopt a new catch-phrase/slogan: “When women talk, some people think we’re shouting”…Maybe the “shouting should be changed to “shrill?”
Again from the Slate piece,

On social media, Clinton’s campaign made the new line—“When women talk, some people think we’re shouting”— her message of the day. Her team posted it on her Twitter feed at 8:30 Friday morning, two hours before her speech to the DNC forum, as a rebuke to “those who tell her to ‘stop shouting’ on issues that matter.” Superheroes who are window washers at a children's hospital in Pittsburgh.The quote also went up on her Facebook page and her campaign website, under the headline, “Hillary Clinton Just Said Something Women Have Been Thinking for Years.” The next day, at a Democratic dinner in Iowa, Clinton repeated the applause line: “I’ve been told to stop shouting about ending gun violence. Well, I haven’t been shouting. But sometimes, when a woman speaks out, some people think it’s shouting. But I won’t be silenced, and I hope you won’t be either.”

Clinton doesn’t use Sanders’ name when she tells this story. She doesn’t have to: Everyone who saw the debate or heard about it knows she’s talking about him. She’s using the story to bond with women, to paint Sanders as a patronizing old fart, and to portray herself as a victim.

7b93313acd70651890f18f7e1844f7e5Let’s be clear: This isn’t what happened. During the debate exchange, Sanders answered O’Malley with the same point about “raising our voices.” Sanders has been giving this answer for years. He did it in July, after an O’Malley super PAC ad attacked him (“We have been yelling and screaming at each other about guns for decades,” said Sanders). He did it again in August, after a male surrogate for Clinton attacked him (“I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other”). He did it again in October, after the mass shooting in Roseburg, Oregon (“People on both sides of this issue cannot simply continue shouting at each other”). Sanders gives this answer to everyone.

e451c87c71dd3eff2124d312d8345b2aThe charitable explanation of Clinton’s behavior is that she sincerely perceived Sanders’ rebuke during the debate as sexist. But if that were true, you’d expect her to have said so in her first accounts of the exchange. She didn’t. She waited more than a week before embellishing the story. She prepared it as a sound bite for social media, and she unveiled it at a women’s forum. And it worked, so she’s still using it.

Enough. Sanders’ record as a feminist is as good as Clinton’s. No honest reading of his career or his comments about guns can construe him as a sexist. Clinton is trying to connect with women who have felt bullied by men, and to turn them against Sanders, by smearing him. And what’s true of racism and anti-Semitism is just as true of sexism: The more seriously you take the real thing, the more you should revile people who use it as a fraud.

Uh, Fuck You William Saletan.

dea95ff9bec0d9ad92f1256fc9ff7452Okay, back now to Joseph. Like I said above, my response would not be so coherent.

My (sic Cannon’s) response: 2008.

Remember?

Remember when anyone who called Obama a progressive poseur was considered an unhooded Klansman?

Remember when I was called a “racist” every minute of every hour of every day for weeks simply because I pointed out that Obama had lied about his opposition to NAFTA?

8da9e32d15b429480830e29b33b89c31Remember when I was considered kin to George Wallace simply because I dared to mention the easily-proved fact that Obama did not denounce the Iraq invasion during his 2004 convention speech (or at any other time during his senate campaign)?

Remember the death threats against Hillary published on Democratic web sites like Daily Kos?

5dec80adb212cb2edc44e83eb07cc5b9Remember how every sentence, word and phoneme uttered by the Clintons was hyper-parsed and subjected to bizarre interpretations in order to prove that they hated all black people? (As if anyone could withstand that kind of attack. Using the same smarmy tactic, I could prove that you are a racist, whoever you might be.)

Remember that shit?

I’ll never forget.

I’ll never forget either…those smarmy muthafuckaz. On that note. Something funny, because some of the other links are really depressing.

 

Oh my gawd…Dubya is Ricky Bobby!

af360befa72972ef674d75483af9bc0eChristian marriage adviser: Use ‘fear and dread’ to control your wife — as God intended

Responding to comments from a men’s rights activist on a posting about finding enjoyment in sex with a wife who grudgingly agrees, the host of a website providing tips on proper Biblical “gender roles” agreed that keeping a woman in a constant state of fear is an appropriate way to control her actions.

Pointing to a column he wrote on “Female dread,” Rollo Tomassi explained that Christian men go about seeking sex with women all wrong by trying to “diffuse sexual anxiety and tension.” Instead, Tomassi said husbands should make their wives “unintentionally uncomfortable” in order to achieve “the rough, hard-core, make-up sex you never thought you’d have.”

Larry Solomon of Biblical Gender Roles agreed enthusiastically — albeit from a biblical perspective —  writing: “So should a wife Biblically speaking have a little healthy fear or dread of her husband? Absolutely!”93ce6e2944cfcf98ebb8db9ea556e0f2

According to Solomon — who agreed with Tomassi’s distaste for feminism — the Bible says that women should submit to their husbands “’as unto the Lord’ (Ephesians 5:22)”

Solomon lamented the fact that he believes that most Christian husbands fear their wives.

“Men show their wives they are either afraid to lose them (be alone) or afraid of the prospect of divorce and the financial or child custody repercussions that it may bring, ” he wrote.

edb882611e39ad24d1b2b918add92712Solomon suggested that Christian husbands should use what he calls the “there’s the door” method.

“So when a woman acts out in rebellion toward her husband and tries to act as if she does not need her husband or that other men would treat her better the Christian husband should tell his wife “there’s the door”.  Will some women be foolish enough to walk out that door? Yes, ” he wrote. ” But the moment a man allows his wife to put him in a position of fearing her, rather than her fearing him the relationship has just changed from the design God intended it to be.”

Solomon added that there is a limit to what a husband needs to provide for his wife and that the minimums  should be withdrawn if she gets out of line.

49420e1b5590397d5f9090c7b8bd03b6“While we are required to know our wives and talk to them, that does not mean we need to spend every bit of our free time in conversation with them. We do not need to hang on every word our wife says. While we are required to give them food, clothing and shelter – that food does not have be the fancy food she wants, that clothing does not have to be the fancy clothing she wants and that house does not have to be the fancy house she wants,” he wrote, before adding that one night of wild sex is insufficient.

“I don’t just mean she just rocks his world one night, and then he lavishes her with all these things.  No – she sees that in order to get ‘some’ of her wants met she must FIRST reverence her husband outside the bedroom and she must ravish him inside the bedroom and this becomes the pattern of her behavior toward her husband, He explained. ” If either the reverence or ravishing goes down, he pulls back on these other things so she understands the correlation.”

7a5fef36edeb98080c53039f2649c85eUgh…fuck you Solomon and Tomassi and the rest of these assholes.

Patriarch of Duggar-like family with 19 kids and reality show accused of sexual misconduct cover-up – No surprise there.

No More Mister Nice Blog: KEEP TELLING YOURSELF THAT GOP CRAZIES WILL CALM DOWN ANY DAY NOW

Hobby Lobby investigated for trying to import ancient artifacts from Iraq | US news | The Guardian

Customs agents seized thousands of years-old tablets imported by owners of the Christian chain of craft stores and intended for the $800m Museum of the Bible

d838490526f858ec1e2b760a239087bcFox News Turns To A Panel Of Men To Debate Whether Women Should Be Allowed To Wear Leggings | Video | Media Matters for America

Fox & Friends continued their history of on-air sexism when they turned to a panel of men to literally judge whether three women were appropriately wearing leggings. Fox News’ flagship morning show has a long history of promoting sexism on-air, whether it’s co-host Brian Kilmeade introducing his female colleagues by stating, “Let’s see if the girls have clothes on,” or spending 13 minutes questioning women’s driving abilities. To be fair, the network’s programming overall isn’t much betterFox & Friends‘ overt sexism reached a new level during its October 27 edition in which a panel of three men were asked to judge the appropriateness of three women’s appearances. Co-host Steve Doocy started things off by asking panelist Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty, “Are you comfortable with the women in your life parading in public in leggings?” Throughout the segment the panelists weighed in on each outfit, with Robertson quipping, 3abf4570fac084261f713e5ac6385851“I’d like a photo” of one of the models, and Fox’s Arthur Aidala saying of another model’s “physique,” “God bless you, you’ve worked out, you’ve earned that.” Aidala then joked, “We all took nitroglycerin pills before she came on, just to make sure.” To conclude the panel discussion, Doocy speculated that, “I don’t think anybody is in too much trouble,” with Aidala agreeing, “No, I think we made it.” From the October 27 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

Fox’s Kilmeade Blames Student Thrown To The Ground By Officer: “Have Some Respect For Your Teachers” | Video | Media Matters for America

In related news: Sheriff to Decide Fate of Deputy in Classroom Arrest

7f37f4082f13dbc793bc3a4420b5b331This…Blackmail is one way to get on base – The Washington Post

Disgraced former baseball player Lenny Dykstra, who played center field for the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets, apparently developed an innovative way to get on base: Blackmail umpires. From Philly.com:

Dykstra admitted while being interviewed, with no provocation, that he used half a million dollars to hire a private investigation team to get dirt on umpires, including extramarital affairs and gambling, that he would then use to shrink his personal strike zone.

“It wasn’t a coincidence I led the league in walks the next few years, was it?”

ae75cb4e128a046aaca173803d8921d0WTF?

Former NYC jailhouse will be turned into a women’s center – NY Daily News

A former women’s prison located in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood is being converted into a women’s center, Gov. Cuomo said Monday.

The former medium-security Bayview Correctional Facility will be redeveloped by the NoVo Foundation, a not-for-profit group funded by Warren Buffett, and the Goren Group.

6978649930f2d30f6306cdc8d2c833e8The 100,000-square-foot “Women’s Building” will include office space for activists and groups that focus on women’s issues, community space for a female adolescent wellness clinic, a women’s art gallery and a restaurant.

“We are continuing our efforts to shatter the glass ceiling by taking down an institution of defeat and turning it into opportunity and social reform for women,” Cuomo said.

Good.

That is all I have today, and get one last laugh, from this little pug video.

 

 

 

What are you all looking at today?

 

 


Monday Reads: Years of Living Dangerously

Good Morning!homeless-old-woman

Recently, I’ve been cooking a lot of my Nana’s depression years recipes and thinking of ways to tighten my belt.  I’ve been watching the stock market go crazy and corporate profits improve in the macroeconomy.  It’s beginning to translate into the labor markets but it really varies state to state.  As you know, my right wing Republican Governor Bobby Jindal has been running away from his responsibilities and record here in Louisiana and spending time on the road.  He’s made visits to CPAC and FOX and even the lawn of the White House trying unsuccessfully to draw attention to his “possible” presidential bid.  He’s going nowhere but down in Republican Straw polls which is karma as far as I’m concerned.

What has been getting attention is his record of failure here.  It’s a doozy. It doesn’t get much worse than having MSN’s Wall Street 24/7 call your state the worst place to do business and then list the reasons that your state resembles Somalia more than a developed nation.

> Real GDP growth, 2012-2013: 1.3% (17th lowest)

> Average wages and salaries, 2013: $44,828 (23rd lowest)

> Pct. of adults with bachelor’s degree, 2013: 22.5% (5th lowest)

> Patents issued to residents, 2013: 395 (13th lowest)

> Projected working-age population growth, 2010-2020: -3.2% (13th lowest)

No state fared worse on 24/7 Wall St.’s business climate index than Louisiana. The state is not the worst place to run all businesses, however. The manufacturing sector accounted for more than 20% of Louisiana’s economic output in 2013, the fourth highest such contribution in the country. Despite the strong sector, Louisiana generally provides poor conditions for business.

Nearly one in five residents lived in poverty in 2013 — nearly the worst rate in the nation — contributing to both the low quality of the labor force as well as a low quality of life in the state. The working-age population was projected to decline by 3.2% from 2010 through 2020, one of the worst declines in the nation. While nearly 30% of Americans had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, only 22.5% of Louisiana adults had at least such a degree, also nearly the lowest rate. Poor education contributed to poor scores in innovation. The state was one of only a handful of states where the average venture capital investment was less than $1 million.

Soup_Kitchens_2Jindal’s  been slavishly following Grover Norquist’s prescriptions for drowning the state government in his bathtub.  He’s also part and parcel passed legislation straight from ALEC and the Koch Brothers.  As a result, we have a $1.6 million dollar deficit that’s going to be challenging to eliminate. This is especially true since he’s spent the last 6 years pulling every slight of hand accounting trick in the book, sold off all possible state assets, and siphoned most all reserve funds.  His first draft basically put all the state’s public universities in financial exigency which is a public entity’s version of bankruptcy reorganization. It also looks like the public health system is on the verge of collapse.

So, this is now the “new” idea being floated by some..   There’s discussion going on to basically tell a lot of the universities to go privatize themselves.

Years of deep cuts to state funding for Louisiana’s colleges and universities — and the threat of even further reductions in the near future — have some leaders looking at drastic measures that could change the face of Louisiana higher education.

One idea that has recently been floated: Why not encourage some of the state’s public schools to go private?

The idea, which experts agree is radical and may not ever be feasible, came up during a recent meeting of the state Board of Regents, a group appointed by Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, whose administration has led the charge for recent state budgets that have left Louisiana with some of the nation’s most severe cuts to higher education funding. Regents board members have instructed state higher education staff members to examine the concept and report back on whether the plan would work and what it would take.

“You look at some areas of the state, there may be a university or a college inside of a university that could do better as a private entity,” Board of Regents Chairman Roy Martin said in a follow-up interview with The Advocate.

Martin stressed that he was speaking as an individual, not for the board.

It’s hard to describe how the years of defunding basic education, roads, and public health and safety service has impacted everyone’s life around here. I see homeless people on every major street corner.  I have friends looking for second jobs or first jobs. Many people I know have either left town or moved out of the historical districts.  This is not the post Katrina revival that we were promised.  However, it’s not that way for some folks.

One of the strangest things that’s going on here is the boom121113-poverty-children-lg in real estate which is being driven by the purchase of huge, million dollar homes.  A group of us have been trying to figure out where the jobs are to support these kinds of purchases.  Essentially, we found out that most of these sales are going to people who are looking for second homes and they’re coming from out of state.  So, the feel of a banana republic tropical island is getting a complete workout here.

The top-of-the-market houses are “rising in price at least as fast as the market as a whole,” Ragas said, based on conversations with Realtors.

“In the higher market, it is a much brisker market now,” said Rick Haase, president of Latter & Blum Inc., which sold nearly one-third of the 158 homes priced at $1 million or more that were sold during the 12-month period ending Jan. 31.

The highest-priced home to sell in the New Orleans area last year was advertised as a “stately Queen Anne home” featuring seven bedrooms, 5 ½ bathrooms, “lush gardens with organically grown citrus trees and grapes,” and a heated pool. The property at 3 Audubon Place was listed for sale at $5.25 million and sold 86 days later for $5 million, or $583.57 per square foot.

Haase said the average number of days that properties selling at more than $1 million stay on the market has dropped from more than 150 to 90.

It took just one day for the sixth most-expensive New Orleans-area property to sell last year. The three-bedroom, three-bathroom single-family home at 828 Chartres St. in the French Quarter sold for its full asking price of $2.3 million, or $575 a square foot.

“It’s not like every house flies off the market. But if it’s priced appropriately, in the right location, has the right pedigree, then, yeah, the numbers are going up and up,” said Keller Williams Realtor Ricky Lemann, who was the listing agent on a $2.25 million property on First Street that sold last year. “There will be no adjustment in that luxury market until the (interest) rates go up.”

I’ve really noticed that the kinds of people moving into my part of town are not the same kinds of people that are selling and leaving. The house next door went from rental property to a starter home using the Obama Tax incentives to a home away from home for two Northeasterners within a period of about 5 years.  It now spends most of its time as an unlicensed short term rental which is basically illegal.  But, one owner is in NJ and the other came from Philadelphia so they don’t seem to care much about that.

The split between rich and poor is becoming more accentuated and its address is changing as the downtowns of large cities have become gentrified and homes priced out of the reach of middle and working class families. 73b94127d7f84777a04ab56c35df0c23 This is having some appalling impacts on children as the majority of U.S. public schools now have children that are classified as living in poverty.  It’s now first tier suburbs where poverty issues are playing out.

For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.

The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.

“We’ve all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it’s here sooner rather than later,” said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. “A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school.”

More Americans are now living in poverty in suburbs than in urban areas.  This is pushing problems into areas ill-equipped and financed to handle them.

City centers around the country are becoming younger, more affluent and more educated, while inner suburbs are seeing poverty rates rise, according to a new study from the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service.

The new study is based on an analysis of demographic changes in 66 cities between 1990 and 2012. It comes just months after a surge of headlines about suburban poverty following a Brookings Institution study that found that more Americans are now living in poverty in the suburbs than in rural or urban areas.

News of this demographic shift comes as no surprise to suburban school superintendents and school boards. They know their student populations are shifting, and they are wrestling with how to adequately serve the rising number of poor children who come to class with far more needs than their more affluent peers.

71221-004-07A51C33Children and Seniors are being particularly hard hit by the defunding of services on both the state and federal level but zealous Republicans look to score points by poor shaming. They make scapegoats of the nation’s most vulnerable people. While Social Security has been indexed to increase with price increases, Seniors are not exempt from income inequality. Part of the issue with Social Security funding is the cap on income subject to FICA taxes.  The cap has created a funding gap.

As America recovers from the recession, wealthy households are recovering faster than low-income ones, whose incomes have stagnated or declined since the crash. A new report says that this widening gap is sapping Social Security.

Currently, two-thirds of seniors rely on the program for their retirement income. The wage gap may have cost Social Security$1 trillion over the last 30 years, according to a report last week from the Center for American Progress.

And as more Americans reach retirement age, Social Security is set to eat through its funding by 2033, assuming that Congress takes no action to bolster it. After that it would only be able to cover 77 percent of its claims.

“For low-income seniors, Social Security represents nearly 85 percent of income. Even for seniors right in the middle, Social Security represents nearly two-thirds of their retirement income,” said Rebecca Vallas, director of CAP’s poverty program.

Small wages, big shortfalls

The pension and disability insurance program is funded by a payroll tax that applies to wages of $118,500 and below. But the money flowing into the program is not as large as it could be, according to the report, now that an increasing share of wage growth is going to people who make more than that, and low-wage workers make less.

Why does that matter for Social Security? Because highest earners reach the$118,500 “cap” quickly and stop paying into the fund for the rest of the year. “Social Security funding is directly tied to the full wages of low and middle income workers,” Vallas says. “It’s their wages that matter.”

The payroll tax cap was set in 1983 by President Reagan, which at the time captured 90 percent of wages. “Reagan essentially said, let’s go for 90 percent, and we will let 10 percent go,” says Vallas.

But since 1983, that cap hasn’t been adjusted for wage growth to keep up with the 90 percent goal. “What they didn’t anticipate is income inequality,” says Vallas. “The highest earners have seen growth much faster than the average worker.”

Now the tax cap only captures 83 percent of wages,  instead of 90. The missing 7 percent is part of the Social Security shortfall.

Of course, all of these issues have come because we’ve shifted the burden of paying for things from businesses and the wealthiest.  We’ve also shifted the subsidizes to businesses and the wealthiest.  As a result, fewer and fewer services are being offered, few people are covered, and fewer jobs are available.

Hand-in-hand with reducing taxes and reducing government services has been the demonization of public servants. Scott Walker–one of the front runners for the Republican presidential nomination–likened fire slide_352875_3828872_freefighter and teacher unions to ISIS while talking to CPAC over the weekend. 

At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) just outside Washington, DC, Wisconsin Governor and likely presidential candidate Scott Walker was asked what his plan would be, were he in the White House, to combat the terrorism perpetuated by the Islamic State In Syria (ISIS).

As an enthusiastic crowd cheered, he responded not with a plan but with an argument for why his battles against organized labor in his state makes him the most qualified for the job.

“We need have someone who leads and ultimately will send a message that not only will we protect American soil, but…freedom-loving people anywhere else in the world. We need that confidence,” he said. “If I can take on a hundred thousand protesters, I can do the same across the world.”

These kinds of jobs have been central to working and middle class upward mobility in the past.  They’ve also been jobs that have traditionally been much more integrated and diverse.  Scott Walker linked public servants to terrorists.  Think about that. 

In 2011, Walker pushed through a law, Act 10, that slashed the power of public employee unions to bargain, and cut pay for most public sector workers.  As a special slap to teachers, Walker exempted the unions of police, firefighters and state troopers from the changes in collective bargaining rights but not educators.  Teachers protested for a long time, closing schools for days, but the law passed, and the impact on teachers unions in Wisconsin has been dramatic: according to this piece by my Post colleague Robert Samuels. The state branch of the National Education Association, once 100,000 strong, has seen its membership drop by a third, and the American Federation of Teachers, which organized in the college system, has seen a 50 percent decline.

This week may bring down a central tenet of the ACA which has brought private health insurance to millions of people.  It has been one policy that has successfully increased the day to day life of ordinary people. Will the Supremes bring it down?  Will it be drowned in Scalia’s bathtub?  I am one of the 7 1/2 million people who were forced onto the federal exchange because my Republican governor is an asshole.  Will I join the ranks of uninsured this week?  Me with a chronic condition and a cancer history?

Shortly after the A.C.A. passed, in 2010, a group of conservative lawyers met at a conference in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, and scoured the nine-hundred-page text of the law, looking for grist for possible lawsuits. Michael Greve, a board member of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian outfit funded by, among others, the Koch brothers, said, of the law, “This bastard has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene. I do not care how this is done, whether it’s dismembered, whether we drive a stake through its heart, whether we tar and feather it and drive it out of town, whether we strangle it.” In time, lawyers hired by the C.E.I. discovered four words buried in Section 36B, which refers to the exchanges—now known as marketplaces—where people can buy health-insurance policies. The A.C.A. created federal tax subsidies for those earning less than a certain income to help pay for their premiums and other expenses, and, in describing who is eligible, Section 36B refers to exchanges “established by the State.” However, thirty-four states, most of them under Republican control, refused to create exchanges; for residents of such states, the law had established a federal exchange. But, according to the conjurings of the C.E.I. attorneys, the subsidies should be granted only to people who bought policies on the state exchanges, because of those four words in Section 36B. The lawyers recruited plaintiffs and filed a lawsuit; their goal is to revoke the subsidies provided to the roughly seven and a half million people who were left no choice by the states where they live but to buy on the federal exchange.

The claim borders on the frivolous. The plaintiffs can’t assert that the A.C.A. violates the Constitution, because the Justices narrowly upheld the validity of the law in 2012. Rather, the suit claims that the Obama Administration is violating the terms of its own law. But the A.C.A. never even suggests that customers on the federal exchange are ineligible for subsidies. In fact, there’s a provision that says that, if a state refuses to open an exchange, the federal government will “establish and operate such Exchange within the State.” The congressional debate over the A.C.A. included fifty-three meetings of the Senate Finance Committee and seven days of committee debates on amendments. The full Senate spent twenty-five consecutive days on it, the second-longest session ever on a single piece of legislation. There were similar marathons in the House. Yet no member of Congress ever suggested that the subsidies were available only on the state exchanges. This lawsuit is not an attempt to enforce the terms of the law; it’s an attempt to use what is at most a semantic infelicity to kill the law altogether.

I spent the weekend and a few days before that watching people I went to high school with that mostly didn’t attend college squawk about people on disability, unemployment, and government waste and give away.  They say all Obama supporters are the ones that want images (1)benefits but no jobs. It’s just all kinds of drivel that Fox spews that’s easy to debunk with facts but impossible to debunk to hard core idiots who aren’t interested in facts, truth, or reality.  What has happened to the country that I grew up in and even to the state that I moved to 20 years ago?  I turn 60 this year.  I’ve never seen so much vitriol aimed at the wrong people in my life and for what?

I want to point you back to the kind of crap spewed by Republicans recently with a quote from an Indiana office seeker from the last election.  This guy basically said let the poor “wither and die”.  It’s basically what they all think but don’t say.

“For almost three generations people, in some cases, have been given handouts.  They have been ‘enabled’ so much that their paradigm in life is simply being given the stuff of life, however meager.

What you see is a setting for a life of misery is life to them never-the-less.  No one has the guts to just let them wither and die. No one who wants votes is willing to call a spade a spade. As long as the Dems can get their votes the enabling will continue. The Republicans need their votes and dare not cut the fiscal tether. It is really a political Catch-22.”

I’m sitting here wondering what you’re supposed to do to get a job any more in a state like mine.  I’m even wondering what you’ve got to do to get a decent education. I’m so glad my kids have gotten out of LSU so that they’re missing the impact of Jindal’s scourge.

 So here’s a good lesson in karma if you want one.  A gun loving Obama and Obamacare hating Sheriff who is now trying to recover medical costs by using Go Fund me.  Evidently, Obamacare was too bad for him but begging at this point isn’t.  Also, guess who is funding him the most?  Liberals.  Lessons are really hard to learn, aren’t they?

Sheriff Richard Mack is the right wing former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona. He is the head of an organization called “Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association,” a member of the NRA’s Hall Of Fame, and a staunch opponent of the policies of President Obama, including Obamacare.

Richard Mack has run into some medical problems and since he is uninsured, he’s asking for help. Mack suffered a heart attack on January 12. This apparently came right on the heels of some serious medical issues that were suffered by his wife. His son, Jimmy Mack, has set up a GoFundMe campaign, asking for donations to help offset the cost of medical treatment. Apparently the Macks were expecting right wing supporters to step up to the plate and help out but, judging by the comments that accompany many of the donations, Mack is getting the bulk of his support from liberals.

As of this writing, Mack has received close to $20,000 in donations from 439 people. The commenters are sympathetic to Mack’s situation — far more sympathetic than Mack and his supporters have been to the plight of those without health insurance. Many hope that he will use it as a learning experience, to change his views about the Affordable Care Act.

Some times I just want to cook my Nana’s hamhocks and beans and read Grapes of Wrath while never turning on the TV or computer again.  However, that never happens either.  I rant, therefore I blog. I blog, therefore I wonder why so few people really get it?

What’s on your reading and blogging list today? 


Friday Reads: A Sign of the Overlord Apocalypse

Good Morning!old store

It’s been since at least November since I’ve had some time to myself when I wasn’t completely in need of tons of sleep so I’m enjoying spending some time in bed with my feet up getting my reads on.  There’s not been a lot that’s intrigued me but it beats designing and updating an on line International Finance Class, believe me.  So, imagine my sheer joy when I found out that Walmart broke down and upped its wages.

There are several reasons the America’s #1 corporation and chain store made the leap.  It was probably a combination of fear of unionization and the incredible employee turnover rate.  It really costs to hire and train new workers so upping the salary is really the required move for that one.  There’s a lot of analysis on the deed so I’d thought I’d take a look at it.  First up, Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic discusses the move.

The CEO of Walmart announced earlier today that all of the company’s employees will, starting in April, be paid at least $9 an hour, nearly $2 more than the federal minimum wage. That’s still far short of the $15 per hour pushed for by OUR Walmart, a union-like group of Walmart workers. Still, it’s a change for a company that has stubbornly opposed such a raise for years.

Walmart’s CEO framed the raise as an act of corporate benevolence, but the reason his company will inch closer to paying all its employees fair wages has little to do with goodwill (few business decisions do). If Walmart has determined that it’ll need to start paying higher wages to stay competitive, then other retailers might arrive at the same conclusion. This isn’t an isolated act of corporate social responsibility—it’s a response to the current realities of labor economics that will likely inform the behavior of other American employers.

1922_Detroit_storeThis is a pretty good sign that the economy is doing well enough that workers are beginning to be able to trade up to better jobs.  It’s the best sign that I’ve seen yet that the economy has really started to recover from the financial crisis. 

Some companies have set even higher wage floors more in line with living wage expectations. Most recently, for example, Aetna set its floor for US workers at $16 an hour, twice the current federal minimum wage.

Higher wages are exactly what the financial doctors have ordered to cure America’s ailing economy. According to the Economic Policy Institute, it would take a wage growth of at least 3.5% to 4% for workers to feel the impact of the recovery. In 2014, the average hourly pay went up by just 1.7%.

“Raising wages among low-wage workers shifts income into the pockets of workers and families that are highly likely to quickly spend every additional dollar they earn,” says David Cooper, economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute.

“So even though some businesses have to pay their workers more, they see more customers coming through the door because now there’s additional dollars rippling out through local economies in a way that doesn’t really happen if those dollars just go back into the bank accounts of corporate shareholders.”

It’s taken awhile for the plight of low income workers to attract any kind of attention from decision makers despite the huge amount of media attention focused on income inequality and the general lack of demand at stores that cater to the majority of Americans.  Sooner or later, something had to give.  It certainly wasn’t going to be any Republican-led legislature.

So what has changed? The simple answer is that the world for employers is very different with a 5.7 percent unemployment rate (the January level) than it was five years ago, at 9.8 percent. Finding qualified workers is harder for employers now than it was then, and their workers are at risk of jumping ship if they don’t receive pay increases or other improvements. Apart from pay, Walmart executives said in their conference call with reporters that they were revising their employee scheduling policies so that workers could have more predictability in their work schedules and more easily get time off when they needed it, such as for a doctor’s appointment.

The giant question now is not whether there will be some meaningful wage gains in 2015; beyond the anecdotal evidence from Walmart and Aetna, the collapse in oil prices means even modest pay increases will translate into quite large inflation-adjusted raises. The question is whether wage gains will be strong enough to create a virtuous cycle in which rising pay for the workers at the bottom three-quarters of the income scale, who are most likely to spend the money and get it circulating through the economy, will spur more investment and hiring.

To the degree their logic was, “We think we’re going to need to raise wages this much in the next couple of years anyway to retain good workers and maximize profitability, so we may as well get ahead of the curve and get a public relations bump out of it and announce the plans in a big splashy way,” that would be the best news for American workers. Because that would imply that it won’t just be Walmart workers getting a raise in 2015.

Other news this week is not as good.  We continue to see people justify their bigotry through religious beliefs. Judges around the country aren’t buying it but the justification is popping up in some really odd places including a pediatrician who wouldn’t accept a 6 day old as a patient because her parents are lesbians. 160376_large

Sitting in the pediatrician’s office with their 6-day-old daughter, the two moms couldn’t wait to meet the doctor they had picked out months before.

The Roseville pediatrician — one of many they had interviewed — seemed the perfect fit: She took a holistic approach to treating children. She used natural oils and probiotics. And she knew they were lesbians.

But as Jami and Krista Contreras sat in the exam room, waiting to be seen for their newborn’s first checkup, another pediatrician entered the room and delivered a major blow: The doctor they were hoping for had a change of heart. After “much prayer,” she decided that she couldn’t treat their baby because they are lesbians.

Doctor’s letter: Why she wouldn’t care for baby with 2 moms

“I was completely dumbfounded,” recalled Krista Contreras, the baby’s biological mother. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we hear that correctly?’ …. When we tell people about it, they don’t believe us. They say, ‘(Doctors) can’t do that. That’s not legal.’ And we say, ‘Yes it is.'”

The Contrerases of Oak Park are going public with their story to raise awareness about the discrimination that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community continues to face. There is no federal or Michigan law that explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals.

For months, the couple kept quiet about what happened to them and their baby — Bay Windsor Contreras — at Eastlake Pediatrics last October.

But the pain and frustration wouldn’t go away. So they broke their silence.

“We want people to know that this is happening to families. This is really happening,” said Jami Contreras, 30, who was blindsided that fall day in the doctor’s office. “It was embarrassing. It was humiliating … It’s just wrong.”

Old shops and stores in N.J (10)A judge in Washington state has made a meaningful decision on a Florist that refused service to a gay couple seeking flowers for their wedding.  The bottom line is that religion is not an excuse to refuse public accommodation under the law.

Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom rejected arguments from the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland that her actions were protected by her freedoms of speech and religion. While religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, actions based on those beliefs aren’t necessarily protected, he said.

“For over 135 years, the Supreme Court has held that laws may prohibit religiously motivated action, as opposed to belief,” Ekstrom wrote. “The Courts have confirmed the power of the Legislative Branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”

Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, sold flowers for years to customer Robert Ingersoll. She knew he was gay and that the flowers were for his partner, Curt Freed.

After Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in 2012, Ingersoll went to the shop the following spring to ask Stutzman to do the flowers for his wedding. At the time, floral arrangements for weddings made up about 3 percent of her business.

She placed her hands on his and told him she couldn’t, “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,” she said in a deposition. As a Southern Baptist, she believed only in opposite-sex marriages.

046618-unley-supermarket-grocery-storePeople use just about anything to justify bigotry but religion seems to be a source of refuge for a huge part of the hate-based discrimination.  You may want to take a look at a new documentary called “Hate in America” if you’d like to hear more about all the issues every one has with bigots.

For more than 30 years, Emmy-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, and Al Jazeera America anchor Tony Harris has reported on senseless and vicious acts of violence, many fueled by intolerance, fear and hate. In the new Investigation Discovery one-hour special HATE IN AMERICA, Harris partners with The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit that has been tracking hate groups across the country since 1971, and NBC News’ award-winning production arm Peacock Productions, to examine the current realities of intolerance in America.

According to the SPLC, more than 900 active hate groups currently exist across the United States, from neo-Nazis to anti-government militias, targeting entire classes of people for their race, religion, and sexuality, among other immutable characteristics. Largely propagated by anger and fear over the nation’s ailing economy and the diminishing white majority, that number has been on the rise for over a decade.

Traveling to communities torn apart by violence, Harris pulls back the curtain on what drives modern-day hate, and comes face to face with its victims to examine HATE IN AMERICA.

HATE IN AMERICA premieres on Investigation Discovery on Monday, February 23, at 8/7c.

I’ve often wondered why my attitude towards shopping has changed over time.  I used to love going to the big stores downtown and the clerks all seemed so cheery and glamorous.  The buildings were vast and had huge tall ceilings supported by ornate columns.  The window decorations were incredible during the holidays and they were up such a short period that you had to rush down there just to catch them. It was fun to walk from store to store and each store had its on personality and personalities.  This is so different from today’s megastore where every one is rude and seems to only care about low priced junk. The aisles are tight and packed with crap and the crap is hard to find.  There is very little help and only cashiers in far off places.

I used to think I started disliking stores and shopping just because I’d worked so much retail in high school and college. But, I still love to hit little antique stores in quaint places and will take hours staring down some bargain. I figured I’d just burned out on the entire store experience from those years. But, I still love hopping around the big stores in NYC and I used to love hitting the Maison Blanche in downtown New Orleans when I first moved here.  So much of the things I enjoyed about shopping as a customer are gone.  Also, when I was small, even retail store owners and employees had civilized work hours.  Now, all I can think about it how grumpy every one looks and how junky the merchandise has become since they work night and day on every day imaginable. I’ve taken to ordering a lot of stuff on line just to avoid the overall experience of the ugly buildings, merchandise and people.  The thought of going to a Walmart stresses me out. It’s something I avoid if I can.  So, I don’t know.  What happened?

Whatever happened to a fun day at a store?  Oh, well.  Everything changes and now it’s just all about returning profits to a few at the inconvenience and dismay of the many.

So, those are the two interrelated topics that I’ve been investigating this week.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?

 


Friday Reads: Economic Anemia

Good Morning!

MuslinVoodooDoll-2Since I’m in the middle of revamping my course for Graduate Finance Students in International Finance and reviewing textbooks and the usual stuff, I thought I’d focus on the economy for the morning.

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 Capitalismimages (3) 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.”

voodoo-doll-670So, 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 black-voodoo-dolltheir 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

The Obama economy is actually surprisingly good given that a large number of good economic policies have not been enacted due to Republican political kung fu.images (4)

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.”

images (5)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.

The Associated Press writes:

“In the 13 states that boosted their minimums at the beginning of the year, the number of jobs grew an average of 0.85 percent from January through June. The average for the other 37 states was 0.61 percent.

“Nine of the 13 states increased their minimum wages automatically in line with inflation: Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont and Washington. Four more states — Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island — approved legislation mandating the increases.”

The AP notes: “[The] state-by-state hiring data, released Friday by the Labor Department, provides ammunition” to the camp in favor of raising the minimum wage.

“Economists who support a higher minimum say the figures are encouraging, though they acknowledge they don’t establish a cause and effect. There are many possible reasons hiring might accelerate in a particular state.

” ‘It raises serious questions about the claims that a raise in the minimum wage is a jobs disaster,’ said John Schmitt, a senior economist at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research. The job data ‘isn’t definitive,’ he added, but is ‘probably a reasonable first cut at what’s going on.’ “

So, it just appears that there’s a huge portion of the United States electorate and elected that would rather live in their dream world of imaginary beings and dogma than have their lives made better by using what we know and what we’ve learned.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Lazy Saturday Reads: Economics Food Fight, Drive-By Mass Murder, and Other News

Thomas Picketty

Thomas Picketty

Have a Stupendous Saturday!

It’s too bad Dakinikat is so busy today, because there’s an economics food fight brewing. Perhaps she’ll still find time to comment on the controversy later the evening after she returns home with her newly adopted canine family member, Temple. Meanwhile, I’ll do my best to describe the dispute over Thomas Picketty’s conclusions about wealth inequality, published in his book Capital in the Twenty-first Century.

The Accusations:

At the Financial Times, Economics Editor Chris Giles has claims to have found problems with Picketty’s work: Piketty findings undercut by errors.

Thomas Piketty’s book, ‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century’, has been the publishing sensation of the year. Its thesis of rising inequality tapped into the zeitgeist and electrified the post-financial crisis public policy debate.

But, according to a Financial Times investigation, the rock-star French economist appears to have got his sums wrong.

The data underpinning Professor Piketty’s 577-page tome, which has dominated best-seller lists in recent weeks, contain a series of errors that skew his findings. The FT found mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets, similar to those which last year undermined the work on public debt and growth of Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

The central theme of Prof Piketty’s work is that wealth inequalities are heading back up to levels last seen before the first world war. The investigation undercuts this claim, indicating there is little evidence in Prof Piketty’s original sources to bear out the thesis that an increasing share of total wealth is held by the richest few.

Prof Piketty, 43, provides detailed sourcing for his estimates of wealth inequality in Europe and the US over the past 200 years. In his spreadsheets, however, there are transcription errors from the original sources and incorrect formulas. It also appears that some of the data are cherry-picked or constructed without an original source.

John Maynard Keynes

John Maynard Keynes

In one specific example, Giles says the corrected data do not show significant growth in Europe since 1970. In a second article, Giles goes into more detail. In addition, he argues that the U.S. data doesn’t support the conclusion that a greater proportion of the wealth is controlled by top 1% than in recent decades. He does admit to the top 10% controlling a greater share of wealth than previously.

An investigation by the Financial Times, however, has revealed many unexplained data entries and errors in the figures underlying some of the book’s key charts.

These are sufficiently serious to undermine Prof Piketty’s claim that the share of wealth owned by the richest in society has been rising and “the reason why wealth today is not as unequally distributed as in the past is simply that not enough time has passed since 1945”.

After referring back to the original data sources, the investigation found numerous mistakes in Prof Piketty’s work: simple fat-finger errors of transcription; suboptimal averaging techniques; multiple unexplained adjustments to the numbers; data entries with no sourcing, unexplained use of different time periods and inconsistent uses of source data….

A second class of problems relates to unexplained alterations of the original source data. Prof Piketty adjusts his own French data on wealth inequality at death to obtain inequality among the living. However, he used a larger adjustment scale for 1910 than for all the other years, without explaining why.

In the UK data, instead of using his source for the wealth of the top 10 per cent population during the 19th century, Prof Piketty inexplicably adds 26 percentage points to the wealth share of the top 1 per cent for 1870 and 28 percentage points for 1810.

A third problem is that when averaging different countries to estimate wealth in Europe, Prof Piketty gives the same weight to Sweden as to France and the UK – even though it only has one-seventh of the population.

Get even more detail and charts here: Data problems with Capital in the 21st Century.

Karl Marx

Karl Marx

The Pushback So Far:

Paul Krugman: Is Piketty All Wrong?

Great buzz in the blogosphere over Chris Giles’s attack on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century. Giles finds a few clear errors, although they don’t seem to matter much; more important, he questions some of the assumptions and imputations Piketty uses to deal with gaps in the data and the way he switches sources. Neil Irwin and Justin Wolfers have good discussions of the complaints; Piketty will have to answer these questions in detail, and we’ll see how well he does it.

Krugman suggests that Giles may be doing something wrong.

I don’t know the European evidence too well, but the notion of stable wealth concentration in the United States is at odds with many sources of evidence. Take, for example, the landmark CBO study on the distribution of income; it shows the distribution of income by type, and capital income has become much more concentrated over time:

It’s just not plausible that this increase in the concentration of income from capital doesn’t reflect a more or less comparable increase in the concentration of capital itself….

And there’s also the economic story. In the United States, income inequality has soared since 1980 by any measure you use. Unless the affluent starting saving less than the working class, this rise in income disparity must have led to a rise in wealth disparity over time.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum notes that

Giles’ objections are mostly to the data regarding increases in wealth inequality over the past few decades, and the funny thing is that even Piketty never claims that this has changed dramatically. The end result of Giles’ re-analysis of Piketty’s data is [below] with Piketty in blue and Giles in red. As you can see, Piketty estimates a very small increase since 1970.

blog_ft_piketty_wealth_inequality_europe

 

R.A. at The Economist: A Piketty problem?

Milton Friedman

Milton Friedman

Mr Giles’s analysis is impressive, and one certainly hopes that further work by Mr Giles, Mr Piketty or others will clarify whether mistakes have been made, how they came to be introduced and what their effects are. Based on the information Mr Giles has provided so far, however, the analysis does not seem to support many of the allegations made by the FT, or the conclusion that the book’s argument is wrong.

There are four important questions raised by the FT‘s work. First, which data are wrong? Second, how did errors in the work, if they are errors, come to be introduced? Third, how do the errors affect the specific points made in the relevant chapters? And fourth, how do the errors affect the fundamental conclusions of the book?

Mr Giles focuses on wealth inequality, to which Mr Piketty turns in Chapter 10 of his book. Mr Piketty has not published nearly as much research on the question of wealth inequality, and it seems that much of the analysis in Chapter 10 was done specifically for the book, based on others’ research. Mr Piketty’s wealth-inequality analysis certainly matters as a component of the book’s argument, but it is not accurate to say, as Mr Giles does, that the results in Chapter 10 constitute the “central theme” of the book.

Are the data wrong? Mr Giles identifies discrepancies between source material cited by Mr Piketty and the figures that appear in the book. He identifies cases in which Mr Piketty appears to have chosen to use data from one source when another would have made more sense. Further, the calculations in Mr Piketty’s spreadsheets (which have been available online since the book’s publication) seem to include adjustments in the data that are not adequately explained, and some figures for which Mr Giles cannot find a documented source. Finally, Mr Piketty has made choices concerning weighting of data used in averages, and assigning of data from one year (1935, for example) to another (1930) when such assignments seem unnecessary or inadvisable.

Alan Greenspan

Alan Greenspan

The author concludes that, unfortunately, ideology will determine how many people respond to the Giles critique. Much more extensive analysis at the link.

Here is Picketty’s–presumably preliminary–response to Giles in a letter to the Financial Times:

Let me also say that I certainly agree that available data sources on wealth are much less systematic than for income. In fact, one of the main reasons why I am in favor of wealth taxation and automatic exchange of bank information is that this would be a way to develop more financial transparency and more reliable sources of information on wealth dynamics (even if the tax was charged at very low rates, which you might agree with).

For the time being, we have to do with what we have, that is, a very diverse and heterogeneous set of data sources on wealth: historical inheritance declarations and estate tax statistics, scarce property and wealth tax data, and household surveys with self-reported data on wealth (with typically a lot of under-reporting at the top). As I make clear in the book, in the on-line appendix, and in the many technical papers I have published on this topic, one needs to make a number of adjustments to the raw data sources so as to make them more homogenous over time and across countries. I have tried in the context of this book to make the most justified choices and arbitrages about data sources and adjustments. I have no doubt that my historical data series can be improved and will be improved in the future (this is why I put everything on line). In fact, the “World Top Incomes Database” (WTID) is set to become a “World Wealth and Income Database” in the coming years, and we will put on-line updated estimates covering more countries. But I would be very surprised if any of the substantive conclusion about the long run evolution of wealth distributions was much affected by these improvements.

I thought this was important:

my estimates on wealth concentration do not fully take into account offshore wealth, and are likely to err on the low side. I am certainly not trying to make the picture look darker than it it. As I make clear in chapter 12 of my book (see in particular table 12.1-12.2), top wealth holders have apparently been rising a lot faster average wealth in recent decades, at least according to the wealth rankings published in magazines such as Forbes. This is true not only in the US, but also in Britain and at the global level (see attached table). This is not well taken into account by wealth surveys and official statistics, including the recent statistics that were published for Britain. Of course, as I make clear in my book, wealth rankings published by magazines are far from being a perfectly reliable data source. But for the time being, this is what we have, and what we have suggests that the concentration of wealth at the top is rising pretty much everywhere.

Luckovich shooting

In Other News:

There has been a mass shooting in Southern California–this time perpetrated from behind the wheel of a car. From the LA Times, 7 dead in drive-by shooting near UC Santa Barbara.

The shootings began about 9:30 p.m., a sheriff’s spokeswoman told KEYT-TV. It wasn’t clear what the attacker’s motivation might have been.

An 18-year-old Newport Beach man who was visiting Santa Barbara described a confusing scene as the shots rang out.

Nikolaus Becker was eating outside The Habit, 888 Embarcadero Del Norte,  near the scene when the first set of shots was fired about 9:30 p.m. At first he thought it was firecrackers. A group of three to five police officers who were nearby started to casually walk toward the sounds, said Becker, but ran when a second round of shots broke out.

“That’s when they yelled at us to get inside and take cover,” Becker said.

The BMW took a sharp turn in front of The Habit, Becker said, and moments later a third round of shots was heard. Becker and his friends moved toward the restaurant’s kitchen but were told to wait in the seating area by employees.

He estimates there were at least 13 to 15 shots total at three locations. The locations were about 100 yards from one another.

The shooter, whose motivation is unknown, was found dead in his BMW. It’s not yet clear if he shot himself or was killed by sheriff’s deputies.

In another gun-related story, TPM reports that some gun nuts are reconsidering their campaign of carrying long guns into public places: Scaring The Crap Out of People Oddly Not Winning Fans.

Open Carry Texas and a group of other aggressive gun rights groups have issued a joint statement telling their members, Dudes, let’s stop taking our guns to restaurants. It’s freaking people out and making them hate us.

Read the full statement at TPM.

Shelly-and-Donald-Sterling1

Soon-to-be former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling has signed over the team to his wife and wants her to negotiate the sale.

Shelly Sterling, who previously shared ownership of the beleaguered NBA franchise with her estranged husband, is now in talks with the NBA over selling the team, the source said.

The NBA banned Donald Sterling for life from all league events after an audio tape became public that caught him on tape uttering racist comments to his assistant V. Stiviano. He told her not to post photos of herself with black people on Instagram — such as Magic Johnson — or bring them to his basketball games.

But the NBA isn’t buying it. From ESPN: Why the NBA won’t allow Shelly Sterling to control the Clippers.

At first glance, Donald Sterling’s gesture may seem like serendipitous news for the NBA. Taking him at his word, Donald Sterling has agreed to leave the league without a fight and has signed off on the sale of his team. Digging deeper, however, reveals possible ulterior motives on Sterling’s part to delay and potentially block the sale of the team. Do not forget a crucial point: capital gain taxes. As first reported by SI.com, the Sterlings have significant incentives under capital gain tax law to avoid the sale of the team and keep it in the Sterling family. Doing so, would save them hundreds of millions of dollars. Also, contrary to some reports, the Sterlings are unlikely to benefit from the “involuntary conversion” tax avoidance provision of the Internal Revenue Code. The bottom line is if the Sterlings have to sell the Clippers, they will probably pay hundreds of millions in state and federal taxes.

Along those lines, Donald Sterling’s proposed maneuver does not accomplish the NBA’s goal of ousting the entire Sterling family on June 3. As explained in a previous SI.com article, the NBA interprets its constitution to mean that ousting Donald Sterling on June 3 would also automatically oust Shelly Sterling as co-owner, with the Clippers then falling under the control of commissioner Adam Silver. Donald Sterling’s proposed maneuver risks the prospect of Shelly Sterling undertaking a slow-moving effort to sell the team. A sale process that takes months or years would clearly aggravate the NBA, which wants to erase the Sterling family name from the league as quickly as possible. A protracted sale of the Clippers by Shelly Sterling might also constitute a potential rationale for players to boycott NBA games.

Even of greater risk to the NBA, what is to stop Shelly Sterling from deciding to keep the Clippers? She could plausibly reason, on various grounds, that now is not the right time to sell the team. Also, her instruction from her husband to sell the team would not be legally binding; it would be a mere suggestion the moment she takes over the team.

Read much more at the link.

Ta-Nehisi Coates

Ta-Nehisi Coates

I’ll end with a long article that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I’m hearing it’s a must read: The Case for Reparations, by Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic. Here’s the tagline:

Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”

Some reactions:

The Guardian: The ‘Case for Reparations’ is solid, and it’s long past time to make them.

Slate: An Ingenious and Powerful Case for Reparations.

The Wire: You Should Read “The Case for Reparations.”

NPR: How To Tell Who Hasn’t Read The New ‘Atlantic’ Cover Story.

WaPo: Culture change and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s ‘The Case For Reparations’.

What else is happening? As always, please post your links in the comment thread.