Wednesday Reads: Link Dump in the Morning

chF3Good Morning

Just a link dump today, so think of this morning’s post as an open thread.

In US news, 1 dead in same NC motel room where 2 died in April

North Carolina police are investigating why an 11-year-old South Carolina boy died and his mother was injured in the same motel room where two elderly guests were found dead almost two months ago.

Yeah, two months go by without anyone knowing that the first two people died from carbon monoxide poisoning? And they still had people using the room?

BOONE, N.C.: NC health dept.: Poison gas not in pool inspection

Inspectors checked a motel where three people were presumed killed by carbon monoxide fumes six weeks before anyone died, but their review didn’t include investigating for the poisonous gas, the local health agency said Tuesday.The Appalachian District Health Department said it inspected the swimming pool at the Best Western Blue Ridge Plaza in Boone six weeks before a Longview, Wash., couple were found dead of carbon monoxide poisoning in their motel room. Boone Police Sgt. Shane Robbins said the room is near the indoor pool, which is warmed by a natural gas heater.

Turns out the local coroner who did the autopsy report missed the carbon monoxide in the first couple. You can see a video report here: Hotel Room Where 3 Died Had Carbon Monoxide Leak | Video – ABC News

Here is another southeastern news story for you, but it touches on something that we have been talking about for months: 4 Ga. youth lockups among worst for sex assaults

The results of the 2012 National Survey of Youth in Custody included four Georgia juvenile detention centers among a list of 13 with the highest rates of sexual misconduct nationally. The data, released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, was based on anonymous surveys completed by 8,707 youth randomly sampled from at least one facility in every state and the District of Columbia.

The four Georgia facilities were a regional youth detention center in Paulding County; the Eastman Youth Development Campus in Dodge County; the Augusta YDC in Richmond County; and the Sumter YDC in Americus, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Paulding County facility led the nation with 32.1 percent of youth inmates reporting last year that they were victimized sexually by staff or other juveniles. That was more than three times the national rate of 9.5 percent.

The survey results were released as Georgia tries to overhaul its juvenile justice system, which has been plagued by reports of attacks on teenage inmates and abusive behavior by staff members.

Researchers found that 15.8 percent of the 497 juveniles in Georgia’s criminal justice system who were surveyed had had a sexual encounter with a staff member, which is a felony even if it is deemed consensual. Just at the four Georgia facilities cited among the worst in the nation, nearly 300 boys reported sexual abuse last year.

Niles, the state commissioner, said the state has been working to build a “reporting culture” among the youth in custody and said officials had expected an increased number of survey responses from Georgia.

“DJJ will take a hard look at this,” Niles said. “DJJ will always teach our youth to break the silence and say ‘NO’ to sexual abuse.”

Just say no to sex abuse? Gee…yeah like that is going to go far in changing the “culture” of reporting sex abuse.

Speaking of which, Allen West And Michael Savage’s Dismissal Of Military Rape Exemplifies Why It Is So Under-Reported –

On Thursday’s airing of right-wing wackadoodle Michael Savage’s radio program, Savage Nation, Allen West agreed with Savage’s assertion that “Khmer Rouge feminists” are attempting a “coup” against the military by proposing to change the military chain of command in sexual assault cases. Allen West also took the opportunity to blame sexual assault on Liberals for allowing women in combat. Savage began with an audio recording of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) proposing a change in the way sexual assault cases are handled. The Senator wants the cases to be handled outside the victim’s chain of command. Savage, clearly not in favor of this proposal said the Senator sounded like a “college chick at a dorm” (whatever the hell that is supposed to mean) and made the Feminist claim:

 SAVAGE: “When I watch these Khmer Rouge feminists try to take over the military, this looked like an attempted coup to me, Colonel West.”

WEST: “Nah, you’re absolutely right and that’s a big concern that I have because when you start to get — you know, I understand civilian oversight of the military. We all understand that as all officers who served in uniform. But when you start to have this interjection of, you know, political, you know, will against, you know, the military, good order and discipline, where you start to try to usurp the commanders’ authority and I guess replace it with some type of political, legal officers, and things of that nature. Then the next thing you know, it goes from just dealing with this, you know, sexual assault thing to, you know, making decisions on the battlefield.”

Yes, because wanting a to change the way rapes are handled is clearly a military coup. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that many perpetrators of rape get away with it because they are buddy-buddy with their commanding officer. It has nothing to do with the fact that military rape is less likely to be reported than civilian rape because of the stigma attached to it. Nope. That’s not it at all.

Oh, the misogyny didn’t stop there. It’s not enough that the two pigs insulted lawmakers that are fighting for justice for thousands and thousands and thousands of rape victims; No, they also had to insult the actual victims of these rapes and call into question whether or not there is a wide scale problem:

SAVAGE: … Am I mistaken in assuming the following: When you say sexual assault, according to the new liberal interpretation of such a phrase, does that not include, “Hey honey, let’s go for a beer?” Could she turn him in and say that was a sexual assault because it was an unwanted advance?

WEST: Well she could. I mean that’s the –

SAVAGE: Alright, so amongst the 23,000 — amongst the 23,000 so-called cases that the Commander-in-Chief Obama talked about last, two weeks ago, at a commencement address, how many of them are fraudulent claims? We don’t know, do we?

WEST: No we don’t. And furthermore, Dr. Savage, we don’t know how many of them are female against male, you know, sexual assaults, or same-sex sexual assaults. So we don’t have those numbers either.

There is absolutely no doubt that the military has a rape problem. The Pentagon estimates that there were 26,000 rapes in 2012. A six percent rise from the previous year. Military rapes and sexual assaults reach over 70 per day. The head of the Air Force’s sexual assault prevention program was charged with assaulting a woman. Furthermore, only 34% of women and 24% of men report assaults. All of this information is easily available to Savage and West, but they choose to stay ignorant and spread they’re filth over the airwaves. These are the kind of comments that motivates victims of sexual assault to stay silent.

Like I said, this is a link dump so…

In nation’s breadbasket, Latinos stuck in poverty

On a warm spring day, farmworker Cristina Melendez was bedridden and unable to make her way back into the asparagus fields of central California for the kind of backbreaking work she’s done since childhood.

The 36-year-old mother of seven was desperate. Her bank account had been at zero for months, the refrigerator was nearly empty, and she didn’t have enough to cover the rent. Lacking health insurance, Melendez couldn’t see a doctor or afford medication, so her illness dragged on – and another day came and went without work or pay.

A native of Mexico who was smuggled into the United States as a child, Melendez had once dreamed big: to be a bilingual secretary, to own a house and a car, to become a U.S. citizen. Agriculture, she hoped, would be the springboard to a better life – for her and her U.S.-born children, the next generation of a family whose past and future are deeply rooted in the fertile earth of America’s breadbasket.

California’s San Joaquin Valley is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, with Fresno County farmers receiving a record $6.8 billion in revenues last year. But the region also consistently ranks among the nation’s most impoverished. Sometimes called “Appalachia of the West,” it’s where families, especially Hispanic immigrants and their children, live year after year in destitution.

Boston Boomer sent me this link yesterday, The Most Epic Supercell Thunderstorm Footage You Will See Today «TwistedSifter

The Booker Supercell

Take a look at that link for more images.

No more ferry tales for New Orleans | Grist

Come the end of this month, New Orleans may lose its one and only ferry, thanks to a state uncommitted to keeping it financially afloat and a city even less sure about who’s responsible for keeping it from going under. This is the ferry that since 1827 has crossed the Mississippi River, transporting “West Bank” residents to jobs downtown. It’s the ferry featured in the HBO series Treme that carries the populist scold Creighton Bernette, a hopeless romantic for New Orleans, to his death at the end of the first season. Now, with its original funding stream dammed off for good, the ferry’s own ending is imminent.

Your Hidden Censor: What Your Mind Will Not Let You See: Scientific American

…when attention is occupied with one thing, people often fail to notice other things right before their eyes.

The Ghosts of Europe Past

THE cheerleaders of the European Union like to think of it as an entirely new phenomenon, born of the horrors of two world wars. But in fact it closely resembles a formation that many Europeans thought they had long since left to the dustbin of history: the Holy Roman Empire, the political commonwealth under which the Germans lived for many hundreds of years.

Some might take that as a compliment; after all, the empire lasted for almost a millennium. But they shouldn’t. If anything, today’s Europe still has to learn the lessons of the empire’s failures.

Then you have this little shit at Fox, here is a laugh. I had found this last link while looking at the way Fox News, Drudge and other news outlets were covering the latest California shootout as it was happening. As you might as well have guessed Fox News and Drudge had nothing on their websites alerting to the shooting, ABC News also was downplaying the shooting as well. Even after the crisis was over, to find any news coverage of the “event” on Fox News you had to go searching for a link to an article. Anyway, here is some of the quality reporting over at Fox News. Like I said, it is just a little shit but it is funny in a racial/hypocritical/typical asshole Fox News way:  Baby names reveal parents’ political ideology | Fox News

Quick, make a guess: Are Liam’s parents Obama voters, or did they pull for John McCain? How about Kurt’s mom and dad?

If your gut suggested that Kurt’s parents might swing conservative while Liam’s are liberal, congratulations. A new study of baby names does, indeed, show that parents in liberal neighborhoods are more likely to choose softer, more feminine sounds, such as “L,” for their babies’ names, while conservative parents go for macho-sounding K’s, B’s and D’s.

The same research finds that liberal, well-educated parents are more likely to pick obscure names for their children, while conservative, well-educated parents take a more conventional naming path. Both methods seem to be a way of signaling status, said study researcher Eric Oliver, a political scientist at the University of Chicago though it’s unlikely parents realize what they’re doing.

Okay so you can probably guess where this is going, look at this:

Lots of research has focused on American political polarization, particularly whether liberals and conservatives in the general public are moving further apart. Some possible examples of the gulf focus on consumer choices, including stereotypes like Whole Foods-loving liberals and Walmart-shopping conservatives.

The results revealed that overall, the less educated the parent, the more likely they were to give their child either an uncommon name (meaning fewer than 20 children got the same name that year in California), or a unique name (meaning only one child got that name in 2004 in California). When parents had less than a college education, there were no major ideological differences in naming choice.

However, among college-educated whites, politics made a difference. College-educated moms and dads in the most liberal neighborhoods were twice as likely as college-educated parents in the most conservative neighborhoods to give their kids an uncommon name. Educated conservatives were more likely to favor popular names, which were defined as names in the top 100 in California that year.

For boys, 46 percent got a popular name in conservative areas, compared with 37 percent in liberal areas. For girls, 38 percent were given a popular name in conservative neighborhoods, compared with 30 percent in liberal neighborhoods.

Notably, the kinds of uncommon names chosen by upper-class liberals differed from the unusual names picked by people of lower socioeconomic status, Oliver said. Lower-status moms tend to invent names or pick unusual spellings of common names (Andruw instead of Andrew, for example).

“Educated liberal mothers are not making names up,” Oliver said. “They’re choosing more culturally obscure names, like Archimedes or Finnegan or, in our case, we named our daughter Esme.”

The liberal Obamas named their daughters Sasha and Malia, both names heavy on As and Ls, whereas the conservative Palin family picked more masculine-sounding names for both their boys and girls, particularly Track, Trig, Bristol and Piper (although third daughter Willow got a softer-sounding moniker).

What, so no comment about the “unconventional” names that Palin picked for her brood?

Anyway, that is all I got for you now, have a great day.

Wife Beating, Union Thugs and an “old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme”

I don’t pretend that I detest the Right Wing and the ideals they champion. That disgust I feel towards Republicans primarily comes from their stance on choice and their War on Women. But…when I see some of the other crap that is coming from the mouths of GOP Representatives and GOP “surrogates” and DINOs, I have to laugh and shake my head and say out loud, “What the fuck?”

Take the three things I have mentioned in the title of this post…here’s a summary of my WTF opinions for you.

First off, the Wife Beating 101 course in being taught by non-other than recent Romney campaign BFF Pat Robertson. Not that this asshole has ever said anything outright misogynistic, racist, hateful shit before (snark)…but this latest comment so soon after appearing with the Republican Nominee for PRESIDENT has to be addressed by Romney, or at least called out by the MSM, for christ’s sakes.

Pat Robertson: Since ‘We Don’t Condone Wife-Beating These Days’ Husband Should ‘Move to Saudi Arabia’ to Beat Her |

Mitt Romney this weekend stumped alongside televangelist Pat Robertson, not minding Robertson’s legacy of incendiary, insensitive, heartless and apocalyptic rhetoric that has gotten him in trouble in the past. Apparently, Robertson’s own CBN has become aware of Robertson’s problematic statements, and may even be editing his controversial claims out of episode archives.

For example, today on the 700 Club’s “Bring It On” segment where viewers ask Robertson questions, one man wondered how he should go about repairing his marriage with a wife who “insults” him and once tried to attack him.

“Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her,” Robertson responded. “This man’s got to stand up to her and he can’t let her get away with this stuff,” Robertson continued, “I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done.”

What the Fuck?

Pat Robertson to humiliated hubby: ‘Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her’ | The Raw Story

Reacting to a letter from a viewer who said he’s lost his self confidence due to his wife insulting him, Robertson said Monday: “Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her.” He then turned to his female co-host, who seemed to balk at the offhanded remark, and asked: “You don’t want to go to Saudi Arabia?”

“I think this man’s got to stand up to her,” Robertson continued. “He can’t let her get away with this stuff. And, uh, you know, I don’t know… I don’t think we condone wife beating these days, but something’s got to be done to make her…”

“Not physically,” Robertson’s co-host injected. “But I mean, why would she not want to talk through their problems? That’s so…”

The televangelist cut her off. “She is just totally, well, she’s rebellious,” Robertson said. “Chances are she was rebellious with her father and mother, she’s a rebellious child and she doesn’t want to submit to any authority. And she probably had temper tantrums when she was a kid, you know, the little girl, ‘I hate you, I hate you,’ and she wants to slap her father. Well, that’s the same kinda thing.”

“She’s transferred the father now,” he continued. “I hate to say everything’s gotta be some kind of psychological counseling, but that’s the problem. She does not understand authority. When she was growing up, nobody made her behave, and now you’ve got a 13-year-old in a 30-year-old woman’s body. Now, what do you do with that? Well, you can’t divorce her according to scripture. So I say, move to Saudi Arabia.”

Of course, Romney must condone the diarrhea that flows with such force from Roberson’s mouth…but it ain’t like Pat hasn’t spewed before.

In another relationship advice segment from July, Robertson recommended a man “dump” his Muslim girlfriend, calling it “Christ-like” because the Bible prohibits religious inter-marriage. He justified that by saying that Jesus didn’t want Christians to be “nice and friendly” all the time.

You know, here in Banjoville…we have our fair share of Christians who aren’t “Nice and Friendly.” They are outright assholes and since Pat Robertson is obviously a “approved” Romney supporter and surrogate, it seems to me that Mormons can be just as “not” nice and friendly as Christians can. Hypocrisy and hate brought to you by the religious right.

In other “WTF” news, Allen West: Obama Campaign Has ‘Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist Theme’ | Video Cafe

Yeah, check this out…

Tea party favorite Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is slamming President Barack Obama for using the word “Forward” as his campaign slogan, insisting that it is an “old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme.”

“This is about whether we continue to be a republic governed by the Constitution,” West told a Republican Jewish Coalition rally in Boca Raton, Florida on Sunday. “Or will we become a liberal-progressive, bureaucratic, welfare nanny state, which is exactly what the other side wants?”

He continued: “They want to bring out an old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme for their campaign called ‘Forward’. I have to ask you one simple question. Where is the Soviet Union today?”

After the Obama campaign unveiled its campaign slogan in April, conservative outlets like The Washington Times and warned that the word had a ties to Marxism.

Hmmmm…ya know, when I was in Washington, DC this summer I made the discovery that the DC Metro slogan is…”Forward.”

Well, if there was one “old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist” themed “thing” out there…it’s gotta be public transportation. But as that link to C&L pointed out…

“The Obama campaign apparently didn’t look backwards into history when selecting its new campaign slogan — or maybe they did,” Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said at the time. “That’s because ‘Forward’ has a very long history with Marxists and socialists and communists.”

“Forward” is also the motto of Wisconsin, where Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan serves as a congressman.

(h/t: Think Progress, Shark Tank)

Alrighty then…now for the Union Thugs.  As you all know, Chicago teachers are striking, for the first time in 25 years.

4 Reasons Chicago’s Teachers Are on Strike | Alternet

Editor’s Note: For additional information on this topic, check out AlterNet’s Education page and two recent AlterNet stories, A Chicago Teacher Speaks Out: This Is Why We Fight and Why I’m Striking .

Across mainstream media and through the megaphone of city government, Chicago public school teachers have been consistently demonized and criticized for everything from self-serving greed, to negligence of their duties, and lack of care and respect for students.

Mayor Emanuel and his hand-picked school board—stacked with millionaires and former charter administrators—along with CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard, have continued to use their dominion over the school system to apply a corporate model of school reform to the Chicago Public Schools.

This type of “reform” has allowed private operators to take control of public schools, undermine the teachers union, close and turn around neighborhood schools rather than invest in them, and over-test students rather than provide them a comprehensive and nurturing education.

Meanwhile the Chicago Teachers Union, numbering nearly 30,000 members, is demanding that CPS cease this drift toward putting control of schools in private hands, and provide the necessary conditions for effective and equal public education—putting the needs of students ahead of corporate and government powerbrokers.

So what are the teachers fighting for?

Go to the link to read about the four things…I know that Dakinikat covered it on Sky D this morning.

That anyone would be against what these teachers are fighting for is beyond me. (That goes along with my “WTF” attitude to the GOP and their anti-union platform.) However…I do feel that this particular issue in Chicago is key…showing that my disgust does not adhere to party lines. I am equally painting Democrat and Obama supporter/surrogate Rahm Emanuel with my “What the fuck?” brush here.   Romney Tries to Bait Obama Over Chicago Teachers Union Strike | FDL News Desk

Mitt Romney is clearly trying to pick a fight over the Chicago Teachers Union strike, and force Barack Obama into making a statement on the issue that will wedge him between his base’s beliefs and his policy preferences, which in this case stand at odds with one another.

Here’s Romney’s short statement:

I am disappointed by the decision of the Chicago Teachers Union to turn its back on not only a city negotiating in good faith but also the hundreds of thousands of children relying on the city’s public schools to provide them a safe place to receive a strong education. Teachers unions have too often made plain that their interests conflict with those of our children, and today we are seeing one of the clearest examples yet. President Obama has chosen his side in this fight, sending his Vice President last year to assure the nation’s largest teachers union that ‘you should have no doubt about my affection for you and the President’s commitment to you.’ I choose to side with the parents and students depending on public schools to give them the skills to succeed, and my plan for education reform will do exactly that.

The problem with this statement is that the preferences of the teachers and the children are in concert. Larger class sizes in schools without air conditioning have led to classes being taught in 96-degree heat. The 20% longer school day and increased class size and workload on teachers, without renumeration (the 16% proposed increase over four years is less than the 20% increase in class time, especially when you account for inflation), does not serve teachers or students who get less one-on-one face time and dedicated learning opportunities. And because of the revamped teacher evaluation system, based largely on standardized testing, the mostly minority students in Chicago will get taught toward a test biased against them and unable to provide them with the skills needed to survive in a 21st-century job market.

And I completely agree with David Dayen here on this point:

The more important part of this is Romney trying to pick a fight with the President, by putting him squarely on the side of teachers unions, and drawing a false contrast where Romney sides with “parents and students.” He cites a speech given by Vice President Biden at the American Federation of Teachers conference. However, it’s completely unclear where President Obama, were he to weigh in on the CTU strike, would come down. His former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is on the side opposite the union. His DNC convention featured a screening of the right-wing, anti-union film “Won’t Back Down.” His Education Secretary, Arne Duncan, used to be the head of the Chicago Public Schools, and is seen as a leading reformer. His education policy has consistently favored the kind of reform policies that the unions in this case are trying to stop, including charter schools, teacher evaluations based on student testing (though in recent years he has rejected “teaching to the test), longer school days and turnarounds for “failing” schools.

Romney wants to bait Obama into a response to change the subject on an election slipping away from him. He figures that someone will get angered no matter how Obama chooses to respond, seeing as the union/reform split is a contentious one inside the Democratic coalition.

And here I have to agree on the narrow point that I would like a response from the President. I would like to know exactly where he stands on the right to strike, on the idea of teachers being paid commensurate with their time in the classroom, on class sizes and teaching to the test and funneling money meant for public schools into charters. I think it would be quite illuminating.

UPDATE: The alleged 16% increase in pay over four years offered by the Chicago Public Schools (or 19% if you believe ABC’s Terry Moran) is actually nowhere near a 16% increase.

Yeah, where does Obama stand on this one? I know he is being silent…but it only goes to prove that anyone in politics these day deserve to be questioned…you know…accountability for both Romney and Obama when it comes to their supporters, endorsers and surrogates. I think that when you have silence from both candidates when it comes to the Robertsons, Allens and Emanuels it only proves one thing, they must agree with the opinions of their supporters…and to that I say, “What the Fuck?”

The Audacity of No Hope

I don’t recall a time when political discourse has been so disconnected with reality. It’s like there’s some form of drug that’s been planted in the Potomac that’s created a stupor from which the media and politicians refuse to awake.  They seem to think if they create the message, we will come.  The truth is that most Americans are not quite that stupid.  It’s really a shame that the looking glass of TV political discourse does not reflect Main Street. It reflects only Wall Street, K Street, and Madison Avenue.

How more out of touch can punditry and pols become? This is the reality that US households see.

Confidence among U.S. consumers plunged in August to the lowest level since May 1980, adding to concern that weak employment gains and volatility in the stock market will prompt households to retrench.

The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary index of consumer sentiment slumped to 54.9 from 63.7 the prior month. The gauge was projected to decline to 62, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey.

The biggest one-week slump in stocks since 2008 and the threat of default on the nation’s debt may have exacerbated consumers’ concerns as unemployment hovers above 9 percent and companies are hesitant to hire. Rising pessimism poses a risk household spending will cool further, hindering a recovery that Federal Reserve policy makers said this week was already advancing “considerably slower” than projected.

“The mood is very depressed,” said Chris Christopher, an economist at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “Consumers are very fatigued and very uncertain. In the short term, people are going to pull back on spending.”

Estimates of 69 economists for the confidence measure ranged from 59 to 66.5, according to the Bloomberg survey. The index averaged 89 in the five years leading up to the recession that began in December 2007.

Here’s one example of the reality disconnect via Michelle Bachmann who has been cheering on the idea of a US default and had the temerity to suggest last night in the Ames Alternate Reality Debates that the S&P downgrade occurred because the debt ceiling was raised.  The S&P downgrade stemmed from her brazen example–as well as those of her compradres–of a complete disconnect from economic reality. How much time was spent on discarded notions like gold standards and politically controlled central banks?  This is the stuff that only dictators in banana republic adopt!

A Standard & Poor’s director said for the first time Thursday that one reason the United States lost its triple-A credit rating was that several lawmakers expressed skepticism about the serious consequences of a credit default — a position put forth by some Republicans.

Without specifically mentioning Republicans, S&P senior director Joydeep Mukherji said the stability and effectiveness of American political institutions were undermined by the fact that “people in the political arena were even talking about a potential default,” Mukherji said.

“That a country even has such voices, albeit a minority, is something notable,” he added. “This kind of rhetoric is not common amongst AAA sovereigns.”

I mentioned in this morning’s post the brazen political rationale behind the President’s persistent message that it’s the deficit driving the bad economy.  This too is a message that’s not based in reality. This Reich quote bears repeating here.

So rather than fight for a bold jobs plan, the White House has apparently decided it’s politically wiser to continue fighting about the deficit. The idea is to keep the public focused on the deficit drama – to convince them their current economic woes have something to do with it, decry Washington’s paralysis over fixing it, and then claim victory over whatever outcome emerges from the process recently negotiated to fix it. They hope all this will distract the public’s attention from the President’s failure to do anything about continuing high unemployment and economic anemia

Krugman–who shall now be known as the depressed one--made similar claims today in his NYT op-ed.  He tells us that we should be angry.  I think he needs to get out of the confines of his New York condo or his Princeton office, because we are angry out here in the great fly over.  I’d say if he went to the right parts of New York City or New Jersey, he’d likely find the anger there too.

But there’s another emotion you should feel: anger. For what we’re seeing now is what happens when influential people exploit a crisis rather than try to solve it.

For more than a year and a half — ever since President Obama chose to make deficits, not jobs, the central focus of the 2010 State of the Union address — we’ve had a public conversation that has been dominated by budget concerns, while almost ignoring unemployment. The supposedly urgent need to reduce deficits has so dominated the discourse that on Monday, in the midst of a market panic, Mr. Obama devoted most of his remarks to the deficit rather than to the clear and present danger of renewed recession.

What made this so bizarre was the fact that markets were signaling, as clearly as anyone could ask, that unemployment rather than deficits is our biggest problem. Bear in mind that deficit hawks have been warning for years that interest rates on U.S. government debt would soar any day now; the threat from the bond market was supposed to be the reason that we must slash the deficit now now now. But that threat keeps not materializing. And, this week, on the heels of a downgrade that was supposed to scare bond investors, those interest rates actually plunged to record lows.

What the market was saying — almost shouting — was, “We’re not worried about the deficit! We’re worried about the weak economy!” For a weak economy means both low interest rates and a lack of business opportunities, which, in turn, means that government bonds become an attractive investment even at very low yields. If the downgrade of U.S. debt had any effect at all, it was to reinforce fears of austerity policies that will make the economy even weaker.

So how did Washington discourse come to be dominated by the wrong issue?

When political gamesmanship and legal outcomes funded by corporations and not votes by people become the central goal of policy, a democracy not only loses its authenticity, it ceases to exist.  People have been voting for gridlock and throwing the bums out only to create a gridlock that is bringing down the economy and bums so virulent that we can no longer stand for either.  People like Allen West, Michelle Bachmann, and Rick Santorum shouldn’t even be given keys to a car, let alone the country.  Leaders that would rather distract people from reality than make actual policy decisions–like Obama–need to be called out for their cynical political ploys; not re-elected. How much more of this can our economy and democracy take before we completely collapse into something worse than a banana republic?

Peter Daou has written an excellent analysis that talks about how this toxic environment has brought the country to its knees.  He has a list of exactly how far down we’ve gone on the list of countries for many things.  Today’s new number is 23.  We used to rank 6th in infrastructure, we have now fallen to number 23.  Sweden tops the list of countries for global technology and net work readiness.  The US has moved to 5th place behind Sweden, Singapore, Finland and  Switzerland.  This is what we’re supposed to be good at?  Right? Information Technology?  The only thing we seem to excel at any more is perpetual war.

The basic question is then, what will it take to get these people to listen?  Well, in the case of Michelle Bachmann and reality-deniers, there’s no hope there.  They cling to religious myth and free market fairy tales over science, economics, and reality.  In the case of those who cynically change the political discourse to “distract the public’s attention”, I’m not sure. What do you do with the power hungry who are more driven by campaign contributions and donor concerns, than votes and people?  This toxic political environment is bringing toxic results.  In other parts of the world, there are protestors risking their lives for real change.  People are being gunned down in Syria as we speak.  Rioters in England–fed up with no future and no jobs–are burning things to the ground.

Daou points to Bob Hebert’s farewell column for perspective.  It’s worth reviewing.

The U.S. has not just misplaced its priorities. When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely.

Nearly 14 million Americans are jobless and the outlook for many of them is grim. Since there is just one job available for every five individuals looking for work, four of the five are out of luck. Instead of a land of opportunity, the U.S. is increasingly becoming a place of limited expectations. A college professor in Washington told me this week that graduates from his program were finding jobs, but they were not making very much money, certainly not enough to think about raising a family.

There is plenty of economic activity in the U.S., and plenty of wealth. But like greedy children, the folks at the top are seizing virtually all the marbles. Income and wealth inequality in the U.S. have reached stages that would make the third world blush. As the Economic Policy Institute has reported, the richest 10 percent of Americans received an unconscionable 100 percent of the average income growth in the years 2000 to 2007, the most recent extended period of economic expansion.

Americans behave as if this is somehow normal or acceptable. It shouldn’t be, and didn’t used to be. Through much of the post-World War II era, income distribution was far more equitable, with the top 10 percent of families accounting for just a third of average income growth, and the bottom 90 percent receiving two-thirds. That seems like ancient history now.

The current maldistribution of wealth is also scandalous. In 2009, the richest 5 percent claimed 63.5 percent of the nation’s wealth. The overwhelming majority, the bottom 80 percent, collectively held just 12.8 percent.

This inequality, in which an enormous segment of the population struggles while the fortunate few ride the gravy train, is a world-class recipe for social unrest. Downward mobility is an ever-shortening fuse leading to profound consequences.

What profound consequences await a country where the leaders find these extraordinary levels of income inequality, infrastructure ruin, and joblessness an acceptable status quo?  Will parts of the US eventually resemble West London or Damascus where disenfranchised, jobless, and hopeless people  resort to measures beyond desperation?  These events are truly the results of the audacity of no hope. It’s easier for the media blame  the dogs fighting for scraps under the table than to look at the table top and to call out the masters that have stacked the decks in their favor so that the meat never hits the floor. Can simply living in a land of economic fairy tales ala Bachmann and trust fund babies like Romney prevent the US from seeing similar unrest?  Corporations are people too?  Really?  Can giving multiple speeches distract the jobless from their plight or blaming social security recipients and the long term unemployed keep the electorate in a stupor of false hope? I’d say that one check of polls and the consumer sentiment index provides a resounding no answer.

I have never seen a period of time when the issues are so clear, the answers are so obvious, and the political and punditry class appear so clueless. Something better change fast before the growing restless in our undeveloping nation turns into something more than disenchanted polling numbers and falling indexes. How much more disconnect will this country’s citizens take?

SDB Evening News Reads for 072111: Anti-American Pledges and neo-Nazi Pilgrimages

Evening News Van

Good late afternoon!  So… is everyone staying cool this hot evening? The fickle barometer here in Banjoland is reeking havoc on my arthritic hands.  Damn, sure wish it would rain!

I have some juicy bits for you today, so let’s dig in shall we?

Well someone has chosen to play the race card, can you guess who?  West: Wasserman Schultz And Dems Attack Me Because I’m A Black Conservative (AUDIO) | TPMDC

Rep. Allen West (R-FL) is now making the rounds of the right-wing talk radio circuit, in the wake of his e-mail to DNC Chair and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), in which he declared that she has supposedly “proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!” His message for the GOP base: Liberals hate African-American conservatives like him for leaving their “21st-century plantation.”

Uh, no Mr. West. Liberals are not attacking you because you are an African-American conservative, they are attacking you because you are a sexist, misogynistic, asshole. And I hate to bring up generalized GOP characteristics…but it seems to me the people most pissed off about a black man leaving the “21st century plantation” are usually part of that far right wing ideology from which he is trying to get his message to.

Colbert has a great segment on Republicans and their campaign to have only the right people vote…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Wednesday July 20, 2011
Colbert Report: Voter ID Laws
To safeguard against voter fraud and ensure that only the right people get elected, Republican lawmakers pass laws requiring voters to show government-issued photo IDs.

And so at this point I’ll link to a NYT article about neo-Nazi adoration of Rudolf Hess. Rudolf Hess’s Remains Removed From Grave –

The bones of Rudolf Hess, Adolf Hitler’s deputy, have been exhumed and disposed of because his grave in the small Bavarian town of Wunsiedel had become a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis, the town’s mayor said in an interview on Thursday.

Karl-Willi Beck, 56, who has been mayor of Wunsiedel since 2002, said the cemetery administrators removed Hess’s remains and his gravestone early Wednesday.

“It was the right thing to do,” Mr. Beck said.

He added that the bones would be cremated and scattered over a lake, but he gave no other details.


Hess requested in his will that he be buried in Wunsiedel, a town of 9,600 people where his family had a vacation home. His parents were also buried there. At the time, the supervisors of the graveyard, the local Lutheran Church, did not object, and said the wishes of the deceased could not be ignored, according to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Usually those Nazi officers in charge did not have marked graves…in fact, those executed at Nuremberg were cremated and scattered.

Since 1987, Hess’s grave has been treated as a shrine by neo-Nazis, who call Hess a “martyr.” Mr. Beck, the mayor, said that as many as 6,000 to 7,000 neo-Nazis would converge on the town each year around the anniversary of Hess’s death.

It’s a good thing he did not announce the name of the lake Hess’ ashes are being dropped on. Geez, imagine the convergence of neo-nazis if he did let the name leak out…and the Blues Brothers happened to be in the area.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Susie Madrak had this post up today over at her blog, and I linked to it in the comments. But it was such a damn good one I wanted to bring it to the front page.

Why Does The Corporate Media Ignore the GOP’s Un-American Pledge To Grover Norquist, An Enemy of the Constitution? | Crooks and Liars

Here’s the oath of office each congress member and senator takes:

“I, Joe Blow, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Okay, let’s start with this. They take an oath to “support and defend the constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This is from the 14th Amendment:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

So thanks to unelected GOP czar Grover Norquist and the oath he insists Republicans sign (235 congressmen and 41 senators from this Congress) under threat of a high-powered primary challenge, the elected members of Congress and the Senate have declared that their pledge to him takes precedence over their obligation to the Constitution and their responsibility to discharge their duties.

Don’t you think that’s a little, well, unAmerican? Not to mention against the very spirit of our constitution?

I’ve seen more profiles of Grover lately, but something important is missing from most of them. You’re supposed to be journalists. You’re supposed to sound alarms, afflict the comfortable. Why aren’t you doing your jobs?

Hell yeah…kick ass!

On the subject of the GOP and the debt ceiling compromise, Boehner: GOP prepared to compromise –

In a news conference at the Capitol, Boehner pressed anew for the GOP’s “cut, cap and balance” plan but also pushed back against conservatives in his caucus who are unwilling to move beyond it.

The Speaker was asked to respond to comments from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, who described the “cut, cap and balance” plan as “the compromise” and signed a pledge opposing other alternatives to raising the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

“I’m sure that we’ve got some members who [aren’t willing to compromise], but I do not believe that’s anywhere close to a majority,” Boehner said.

Well, I think before any of these GOP Norquist Pledgees cave in on any compromise, they need to get permission from “the Man” first. Sick bastards.

I will go ahead and end with this: FEC: John Edwards must pay back $2.3 million in campaign funds –

“It’s not at all unusual for a campaign to have a discrepancy,” Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said at the Thursday hearing. “It’s just a math problem, and that’s how the math turned out.”

Edwards, who dropped out of the race Jan. 30, 2008, pleaded not guilty to federal criminal charges that he accepted nearly $1 million from two supporters to hide his pregnant mistress while he was seeking the nomination.  A criminal trial is tentatively set to begin in October.

The FEC proceeding was not related to the criminal case. According to the agency’s records, Edwards’ presidential campaign had $2.6 million in cash at the end of June.

The Edwards campaign took in $57 million, including $7.4 million in matching funds and $39.6 million in contributions from individuals. By comparison, Joe Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign took in nearly $13 million, including about $860,000 in matching funds. Biden was ordered to repay about $220,000 to the treasury.

So what are you finding interesting this evening?