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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Stories to Watch: 4/17/14

A new study out of Princeton University finds that the United States is no longer a democracy, but an oligarchy. Try to act surprised. Class warfare? We already had that war. the rich won. What the right calls "class warfare" is actually more in line with what the Chinese used to call "counter-revolutionary" -- i.e., trying to undo the new order and restore the previous system.

 Related" Dick Morris says the popular vote is just a way for Democrats to steal elections. You know, by being all counter-revolutionary and everything.

Obamacare signups are now at 8 million -- way over the target of 7 million. And that problem where the young "indestructibles" decide not to sign up? Yeah, that didn't actually happen. "This is good news—very, very good news," reports Jonathon Cohn. Well, it's good news unless you're a Republican and politically invested in America's failure -- then it's not good news at all.

A rightwing PAC shuts down after an uproar of it's offensive name -- "Boats 'N Hoes PAC." At this point, if Republicans want to convince people that they aren't waging a War on Women, it would probably be wisest to avoid any mention of anything remotely female ever again. They clearly have no idea how to talk about women respectfully.

You might want to go through your Facebook and see if you ever liked anything from General Mills. The food giant argues that liking a brand online means you can't sue them if you get a bad batch. This seems like marketing suicide to me -- why on Earth would you ever like one of their products now?

American ex-pat whistleblower Edward Snowden embarrasses Putin by putting him on the spot on live TV.

Finally, New York City is considering raising their minimum wage to $15 an hour.

[cartoon via Truthdig]

Racism, inequality is literally in the very air we breathe

Raw Story - Study: People of color breathe air that is 38 percent more polluted than white people’s
Raw Story: A study released by the University of Minnesota this week indicated that people of color are exposed to air that is 38 percent more polluted than the air breathed by white people.

In an interview with The Minnesota Post, the study’s lead researcher, Julian Marshall, an associate professor of civil engineering at the University of Minnesota, said that “the main [factors in how polluted the air breathed in was] are race and income, and they both matter. In our findings, however, race matters more than income.”

When Marshall compared the exposure gap between high-income Hispanics and low-income whites, for example, the nitrogen dioxide (NO2) concentrations were still higher among high-income Hispanics.

“We were quite surprised to find such a large disparity between whites and nonwhites related to air pollution,” Marshall told The Minnesota Post. “Especially the fact that this difference is throughout the U.S., even in cities and states in the Midwest.”
That income inequality is a factor in the purity of the air you breathe is nothing new. When it comes to polluting industries, people are protected by their wealth and power — you’re never going to see an incinerator or a fracking site move in next door to a multi-million dollar mansion. This is one of the ways in which income inequality is a very real problem that creates very real dangers. It’s not about people being “jealous” of rich people — despite what Republicans and blowhards on Fox News tell you — it’s about very real dangers that people at the bottom of the ladder face every day. If we really were a society dedicated to equality, the poor person’s health would be as much a concern as the rich person’s. They voices would be equal. But they aren’t — and people are literally and inarguably suffering because of it.

The disparities in race paint an even darker picture. There, it’s not as much about income, but about status. People of color breathe dirtier air because they’re automatically lower on the societal ladder, regardless of income. These are both very real problems and the people who bring them up aren’t just bellyaching. Conservatives who talk about free market solutions should take a closer look at what this market does and ask themselves if the people at the bottom rung — measured by income, race, or both — are by any stretch of the imagination free.

Or are they just worthless peasants in a nation that’s increasingly governed by a new aristocracy based on income and a racist class system? When working people have to literally consume the waste of the rich, calling those working people “free” is a ridiculous joke.

Here’s your “trickle down economics.” That’s not money that’s trickling down.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Stories to Watch: 4/15/14

Republicans are clawing their own eyes out in fake outrage over news that the Obama administration is adjusting census healthcare tracking. "They'[re trying to cover up what a trainwreck Obamacare has become!!!" the right is shrieking with ear-piercing hysteria. Sarah Kliff points out a big, big problem with this argument: "What's being missed here is that the Obama administration will use the new survey questions to collect data for 2013, the year prior to Obamacare's health insurance expansion," she writes. In other words, the Republican Outrage of the Day is the same as what every other Republican Outrage of the Day -- carefully packaged horseshit.

If Republicans were really interested in convincing people there is no War on Women, they'd actually wage war on women like Phyllis Schlafly, who inexplicably seems to despise her own gender.

The situation in Ukraine is rapidly deteriorating.

Florida Republican Rep. Ted Yoho tells an African-American constituent that he's not "100 percent" sure the Civil Rights Act is constitutional. I'm not 100 percent sure Ted Yoho has a functional frontal lobe.

This one's sure to generate an avalanche of victim cards: following an antisemitic mass shooting in Kansas, CNN crunches the numbers and finds that rightwing extremists have been more dangerous and deadly post-9/11 than Islamic jihadists. We told you so.

Finally, a few tax day facts from ThinkProgress.

[Cartoon via Truthdig]

Monday, April 14, 2014

Stories to Watch: 4/14/14

From Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast, where the headlines says it all: "The GOP Just Screwed Ukraine Out of Billions to Hurt Obama." Republicans can stop pretending they're foreign policy geniuses now. They can also stop pretending that they give a damn about Ukraine. Like BENGHAZI!!, Republicans only care about Ukraine to the extent that they can use it to bludgeon the president. This would make Putin their ally, while they insist he's America's foe. If politicizing the conflict means actually making the situation worse, then they'll go ahead and sabotage it -- despite the fact that such an action could come with a death toll. Republicans are not good people.

Mike Huckabee says that sometimes he thinks people in North Korea are freer than Americans. This is the most hyperbolic thing anyone on Earth will ever hear in any one's entire life, by a factor of about a jillion. it says a lot about the GOP base that the way to win their hearts is to say things that are unbelievably dumb. Needless to say, the Huckster also dives into the stupid end of the pool on the subject of marriage equality as well.

Apparently, Pinterest is for godless, hellbound heathens. Conservative Christians often create "Christian alternatives" to mainstream sites, warning that using the original version will somehow harm your family. It strikes me that this is less of real concern and more of a way to rationalize stealing an already successful idea. It's a con. I'm waiting for the Christian alternative to, where you can safely peruse people's work histories without being subjected to all that graphic porn people put in heathen resumes.

A conservative "rising star" compares Stephen Colbert's satire of rightwing blowhards to racist blackface acts -- because that's not unbelievably offensive and insensitive at all. It takes a conservative to make an offensive argument while playing a phony victim card. Again, these are not good people. And they wonder why people keep saying they're racists.

An incident where a nutjob threw a shoe at Hillary Clinton inspires a new conspiracy theory that's taking the right by storm -- "shoe trutherism."

A University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh professor reminds everyone that when it comes to jobs, Scott Walker has turned Wisconsin into a smoking crater.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office revised it's estimates and projected that the Affordable Care Act will cost even less than previously forecast -- by a significant amount. Like $100 billion less. This is bad news for Republicans, because good news for America is always bad news for Republicans.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry's got himself some very serious legal trouble.

Finally, marriage equality gets a foot in the door in Ohio. A federal judge rules that the state has to recognize marriages performed in other states. It's not the full recognition of the right that comes with performing ceremonies in Ohio, but if past cases are any indication, it's the beginning of the end for inequality there.

[cartoon via McClatchy Newspapers]

Friday, April 11, 2014

Stories to Watch: 4/11/14

Pres. Obama calls out Republicans for their efforts to steal elections by suppressing the vote. No Republican will ever convince me they love freedom while they back voter suppression laws. It would be a lie.

The story about a Wisconsin Republican caught on video discussing illegal campaign tactics has moved quickly since it broke yesterday. State Senate president Mike Ellis's campaign has already ejected a staffer in an attempt to get the story under control. When that didn't work, Ellis announced he would not seek reelection. I'm guessing that's not going to work either.

Joan Walsh on how Stephen Colbert's move to CBS puts "Papa Bear" Bill O'Reilly in his place.

This could turn out to be a new front in the GOP Civil War; religious conservatives warn the Republican Party not to hold it's 2016 convention in Las Vegas because it's Sin City and all. You have to wonder how that makes billionaire casino magnate and top GOP donor Sheldon Adelson feel. The religious right may be biting the hand that feeds.

A free clinic for poor and uninsured residents in Arkansas is closing its doors because -- post-Obamacare -- it no longer has any customers. This is what Republicans want you to believe is a "train wreck."

Yet more evidence linking fracking to earthquakes.

Finally, neocon pundit Charles Krauthammer declares the BENGHAZI!!!! nontroversy over -- and the right loses it in response.

[cartoon via Truthdig]

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stories to Watch: 4/10/14

The Hill runs a story on Maine's Indie Senator Angus King, sayng he's dropping hints he may caucus with Republicans if the Senate switches. If it were true, it wouldn't actually have any impact on control of the Senate, so it's more of an "adding insult to injury" sort thing than an actual injury. In any, Josh Marshall files the story under "BS" -- it just doesn't make any sense.

Billionaire media mogul and Fox News owner Rubert Murdoch makes conservative heads explode by saying that he "could live with" a President Hillary Clinton. Across the nation, a confused cry rises up: "But... but... what about BENGHAZI!!!!"? Obviously, this opinion of Clinton isn't exactly shared by the rest of the wingnuts.

A Justice Dept. report finds the Albuquerque Police Department exhibits a "pattern or practice of use of excessive force" in an investigation of the killing of 23 people over the course of four years. There are some departments in the US that are so riddled with thugs and goons that it would probably be easiest just to fire everyone and rebuild from the ground up. Albuquerque PD may be one of those departments.

Nancy Pelosi says that the GOP is avoiding immigration reform because of race. “I’ve heard them say to the Irish, ‘If it was you, it would be easy,'” the former speaker said during a news conference. Prepare for a blizzard of rightwing victim cards.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning.

Limbaugh says that the choice of Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman means that CBS is out to destroy middle America -- as if a filthy rich rightwing blowhard is completely in tune with the Average Joe.

Finally, a Republican Wisconsin state Senator is caught on tape discussing illegal campaign coordination between himself and a PAC. It seems like once every couple of weeks, we get wind of one of these crooks trying to steal an election. The Wisconsin Republican Party has become a swamp of political corruption. I no longer have any faith that our elections are free and fair. At this point, we're practically Florida.

[cartoon via McClatchy Newspapers]

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Privatization fail: WI public schools outperform private voucher schools

This is all actually very simple; public schools don’t have to turn a profit. Many private scools do. For the record, cost + profit is greater than just cost. In order for a for-profit to compete with a nonprofit on a cost basis, the for-profit i going to have to cut corners — i.e., what conservatives spin as “efficiency.” Here we see the results of these efficiencies; a half-assed education program that’s the predictable outcome of taking money away from actual education to line the pockets of pointless middlemen and bean counters.

So the proper way to accept this news is, “Well duh, of course…” If you’re having a different reaction, maybe you didn’t go to public school.

[photo by Bart Everson]

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Stories to Watch: 4/8/14

An informal study confirms what you already knew about the power of your voice in Washington -- if you're not filthy rich, no one gives a hot crap what you think This is now a democracy in much the same way that Burger King is a steak house; it's kinda-sort like one, but really not one at all.

Louisiana Republican Rep. Vance McAllister is having a very bad day after getting caught on vdeo making out with a staffer -- and then venting via text message about it to a complete stranger. Whether any of this dents his reelection chances remains to be seen, despite having run as a hyper-moral super-Christian. Louisiana voters have been very tolerant of moral hypocrisy in the past.

It's Equal Pay Day and as President Obama signs executive orders doing what he can about closing the pay gap between male and female workers, the right goes into overdrive denying that a pay gap even exists. You have to wonder who they think they're fooling here; half the populaton knows a pay gap exist, because they're subject to it. They do this about everything -- racism, homophobia, sexism, etc. They try to convince the victims of discrimination that the discrimination doesn't exist. It's not only a massive waste of time, but it only serves to further alienate the people they're already having trouble with. Want to convince female voters there's no Republican War on Women? Try something other than telling them they're imagining things when they point out inequalities. That'd be a tremendous step in the right direction right there.

Conservatives engage in yet another retreat from the promise to repeal Obamacare. That actually makes two today.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he plans to finally finish college. I'd say it was an election year stunt, but Scooter says he wants to wait until the right courses become available online, the signs are favorable, and the stars are aligned correctly -- i.e., he wants to talk about it, he doesn't really want to do it. So not so much an election year stunt as it is pretending to stage an election year stunt.

It's a between Attorney General Eric Holder and Republican clown car driver Rep. Louie Gohmert. You didn't have to be a psychic to predict how that turned out.

Finally, support for Windows XP ends today. While I doubt it'll be an immediate problem, I'll probably spend the weekend trying to set up a drive with Ubuntu -- just in case. Guess I should've done that last weekend.

[cartoon via McClatchy Newspapers]

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