Quote Of The Day: Black Turnout

by TKOEd • Friday, Dec 28, 2012 • no responses - be the first

This year marks an increase in black turnout for the fourth consecutive presidential election

So our turnout has been increasing since well before Barack ran for POTUS. Surprise, surprise.

Source.

 

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Quote Of The Day: Rich White Guy

by TKOEd • Friday, Dec 21, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Chris Arnade:

I have recently lived two lives, during the day working on Wall Street and at night documenting New York’s poorest neighborhoods, mostly in the Bronx.

I get asked often, “What have you learned from your experience?”

The answer is this: The notion that everyone is given an equal chance, that success is about hard work, no matter your beginning, is simply untrue.

We do not, nor have we, in America, ever lived in a meritocratic society.

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Quote Of The Day: More Guns, More Fear

by TKOEd • Thursday, Dec 20, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Via T-NC, Alan Jacobs writing at The American Conservative:

…what troubles me most about this suggestion — and the general More Guns approach to social ills — is the absolute abandonment of civil society it represents. It gives up on the rule of law in favor of a Hobbesian “war of every man against every man” in which we no longer have genuine neighbors, only potential enemies. You may trust your neighbor for now — but you have high-powered recourse if he ever acts wrongly.

 

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Quote of the Day: Norman Ornstein

by TKOEd • Monday, Dec 10, 2012 • no responses - be the first

…what are you there for? What’s the whole notion of a free press for if you’re not going to report without fear or favor and you’re not going to report what your reporters, after doing their due diligence, see as the truth?

“And if you don’t do that, then you can expect I think a growing drumbeat of criticism that you’re failing in your fundamental responsibility.

Your job is to report the truth. And sometimes there are two sides to a story. Sometimes there are ten sides to a story. Sometimes there’s only one.

“Somebody has got to make an assessment of whether the two sides are being equally careless with their facts, or equally deliberate with their lies.”

I LOVE this quote. As Erika can attest to, this is a point I’ve made for a very long time. Forget balance, that’s a canard. Report the fucking truth, and report as much of it as you can find out. Don’t be a fucking stenographer. Don’t tell me 6 days in a row that a pol said X when he or she has said X for months. That’s not news. Find out why they keep repeating it. Find out if their record backs up what they’re espousing. Enlighten us, don’t infantilize us.

Source.
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The Big Story: Jeffrey Goldberg’s Gunsmoke!

by TKOEd • Monday, Dec 10, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Jeffrey Goldberg advocates for more guns, and more gun control in this month’s Atlantic magazine:

I shared—and continue to share—the view that muscular gun-control regulations, ones that put stumbling blocks in front of criminals seeking firearms, are necessary. But I was also seized by the thought that, had I been on the train, I would much rather have been armed than unarmed. I was not, and am not, under the illusion that a handgun would have necessarily provided a definitive solution to the problem posed by Colin Ferguson. But my instinct was that if someone is shooting at you, it is generally better to shoot back than to cower and pray.

The problem with this, and Goldberg’s entire argument is that it’s mostly built on the back of fighting back an assailant who also has a gun. Goldberg asks victims of gun violence if they would have preferred to have been armed on the day they were shot, and all them dismiss the idea to varying degrees. Now the people who were actually in the middle of it all are highly skeptical that being armed would have done them any good, but Goldberg is pretty damn sure it would have. Lots of people like to think they would have saved the day had they been in the theater in Aurora, but the folks who went through it are much less sure. That should give us all pause. Not Jeffrey Goldberg though:

But the worst thing that could have happened to Daniel Mauser did, in fact, happen. The presence in the Columbine library of a well-trained, armed civilian attempting to stop the killers could hardly have made the situation worse.

The fact that extremely few civilians are “well-trained” in the use of firearms doesn’t seem to faze Goldberg in the least. Furthermore he knows that it wouldn’t have made the situation worse. Because he was there! Wait, no, he was not. He doesn’t consider how a shoot-out could have easily made things worse. He moves on to Columbine after talking to an Aurora survivor who’s pretty sure that armed civilians wouldn’t have been helpful at all. You know because it was a theater, and it was fucking dark, and who knows who’s shooting at who? And did I mention the shooter was wearing body armor?

The whole piece seems built around a fantasy Goldberg seems to have about taking down someone shooting at him or someone else. He mentions places with less gun violence in passing, but only to say that we’ve gone past the point of no return, and that we already have so many guns so the only answer is MORE GUNS. Or he posits that the U.K. has more home break-ins when people are home because they have less gun ownership. Never mind that those places have far less gun violence, and crime in general.

Goldberg mentions Trayvon Martin, but only to call Zimmerman a “cowboy.” I’m also thinking of Jordan Davis, and Robbie Tolan, and Oscar Grant, and Sean Bell. All of who were killed or shot by people who were lawfully carrying guns. I point this out because that’s the crux of Goldberg’s argument. Lawful gun owners. He puts up lots of statistics to show that concealed-carry laws don’t create more gun violence. But when I look at how many people seem to have an irrational fear of Black men more guns on the street, no matter how they were obtained doesn’t make me feel any safer. I also think that’s what makes it easier for Goldberg to be so dismissive of the idea that more people with guns could be a problem. It’s doesn’t seem to be a problem for people who look like him. All the most famous instances of people being shot by someone who legally carried a weapon are Black men.

Goldberg seems to assume that when a law-abiding citizen pulls a gun on a criminal the criminal will flee. But given his focus on fighting guns with guns, then what seems more logical is to assume is a shoot-out. Does a shoot-out sound safer then a stick-up for the general public? Shouldn’t we also assume that faced with an increasingly armed populace that more, and more criminals will take up James Holmes’ lead, and wear body armor when they go out to commit crimes? There are so many issues & questions he fails to consider in what is a relatively long piece. In addition his other “evidence” he strongly implies that the rise of concealed-carry laws has played a significant part in bringing down the crime rate in America:

Today, the number of concealed-carry permits is the highest it’s ever been, at 8 million, and the homicide rate is the lowest it’s been in four decades—less than half what it was 20 years ago. (The number of people allowed to carry concealed weapons is actually considerably higher than 8 million, because residents of Vermont, Wyoming, Arizona, Alaska, and parts of Montana do not need government permission to carry their personal firearms. These states have what Second Amendment absolutists refer to as “constitutional carry,” meaning, in essence, that the Second Amendment is their permit.)

He throws out a couple more stats like that in other parts of his piece. But he also hints that his attempts at providing causation between c-c, and less crime might be bullshit:

Others contend that proving causality between crime rates and the number of concealed-carry permits is impossible. “It’s difficult to make the case that more concealed-carry guns have led to the drop in the national crime rate, because cities like Los Angeles, where we have very restrictive gun-control laws, have seen the same remarkable drop in crime,” Winkler told me. (Many criminologists tend to attribute America’s dramatic decrease in violent crime to a combination of demographic changes, longer criminal sentencing, innovative policing techniques, and the waning of the crack wars.)

He attempts to refute it in the very next paragraph though. The above quote mentions L.A., and its restrictive gun-control laws, but leaves out many other cities like say, NY or D.C. Large cities are responsible for a large majority of the reduced crime in America, and they are also the places most likely to have strong gun-control laws.  All of this gives me the sense that rather than going in trying to find the best resolution to out gun problem, Goldberg went in trying to figure out how to have it both ways. He wants to have his gun so he can one day be a hero, but he wants to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill & criminals. All of this is supposed to make us safer. Despite all the stats he throws out in this piece, at no point does he even hint at any other country where more guns = less crime. Only America do we have this backwards logic. He says 47% of people in this country own guns, he wants us to believe the only real way for the rest of us to stay safe is by getting one ourselves.

It’s clear to me that Goldberg has succumbed to “The Seductive Dream of Standing Your Ground”, but the biggest fantasy is the idea that we can get even get moderate forms of gun control passed at a national level. We’d get more guns, and but no more control.

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Black Republicans & The “Plantation”

by TKOEd • Monday, Dec 10, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Why do Black GOPers like Herman Cain & Shirley Husar like to refer to Black Democrats as being on the “Democratic plantation” or in “bondage” to Democrats? Why do they always seem to do when addressing white Republicans? And why are they surprised after making such statements that a Black person might call them a “sell-out” or some variation?

I don’t know about you, but when you say that I’m a slave to the Democrats I suddenly don’t think very highly of you. And when you do it while addressing nearly all white audiences I’m become extremely skeptical of your motives. Because you’re clearly not trying to convince me to come over to your side. You’re not even talking to me. Usually you’re in the middle of giving advice to white GOPers about how they should “recruit” Black folks.

Herman Cain described himself as a “modern-day Harriet Tubman.” Shirley Husar (who? exactly) said:

It is time to lay down the tracks of a new “underground railroad,” a movement to help a people who are in bondage to the Democratic Party find hope and encouragement in the GOP…

These self-styled Harriet Tubmans didn’t do so well this year, Obama won 93% of the Black vote. Damn those stubborn coloreds. They really love their massa.

We have values that resonate strongly with GOP values – love of family, the desire to succeed, hatred of cronyism and concentrated power, which are often used against us.

Let’s break this down a bit.

Love of Family: The GOP is generally considered the party of “family values”, but are they really? The Family & Medical Leave Act passed, but nearly all who voted against it were Republicans. They’re anti-gay marriage. They’ve been anti-programs like S-CHIP. They’re anti-family planning.They voted against the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

Desire to Succeed: I’m not sure what this is referring to specifically, but I’m assuming it has something to do with work. GOPers are often cited as being on the side of “small business”, but who are they really in the pockets of? Big Business. Who are they always working for? Rich investors and/or rick business owners. They’re virulently anti-union. Again, they voted against Lily Ledbetter. They are generally the ones voting against raising the minimum wage. All these are ways in which people try to better themselves, and the lives of their families.

Hatred of Cronyism & Concentrated Power: Is she really serious with this one? “Heckuva of job Brownie.” Enron. The Wall Street recession. Iran Contra. Blackwater. As far as concentrated power goes, all I’ve got to say is reproductive rights.

Do these people think we’re stupid? Shirley says no:

Blacks and Latinos aren’t genetically Democratic. We aren’t stupid. We aren’t blind.

You’re right, Shirley. We’re not stupid. That’s why we aren’t persuaded by charlatans like yourself looking to bamboozle & swindle us. This isn’t about helping Black folks. It’s about selling the white GOP establishment on how you can magically bring minorities to their side, by telling them to get off the plantation.

Again you’re right, we’re not stupid, and we’re not blind. As a matter of fact, we see right through you.

 

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The Big Story: Taxes

by TKOEd • Friday, Nov 30, 2012 • no responses - be the first

Ms. Thole, like many in Belleville, is also convinced that governments could avoid raising taxes by adopting more frugal habits.

“There’s some days we stay home and we eat peanut butter,” she said.

What would she like governments to cut?

“I really like it when they cut the weeds along the highway,” she said. “I like it when there’s good roads to drive on. The schools, I don’t know, I don’t want to pull back from the schools. I don’t have the answer of where to pull back.

“I want the state parks to stay open. I want, I want, I want. I want Big Bird. I think it’s beautiful. What don’t I want? I don’t know.”

The above is a perfect example of how many people view taxes in America. They believe that government is spending too much. On what? They don’t know, but they’re sure it’s something. A bunch of things even. Just not any of the things that they like or want or need. People who drive think we spend too much on public transit, people who take public transit think we spend too much on roads (we do, but I digress). Frequently, people think too little money is being on spent on them. “Where’s all this money going?” they say to themselves. The answer is, everywhere. Our local, state, and federal governments do much more than most people comprehend, and it costs much more than they think. Would Ms. Thole want more holistic, and sensible crime policy if she knew that corrections is the 2nd largest state expenditure after Medicaid?:

one out of every 15 state dollars is spent on corrections in this country. Not coincidentally, one in 31 American adults are adrift in this bloated corrections matrix, stretching resources razor thin. Now swing the recession sledgehammer, and you have a nationwide crisis requiring states to come up with creative solutions to meet enormous budget deficits.

There’s something we could cut. Because you know, drug addicts should get treatment not go to jail. Especially when treatment is a far cheaper option (PDF):

…the average cost of placing a participant in DTAP, including the costs of residential treatment, vocational training an support services was $32,974—half the average cost of $64,338 if the participant had been sent to serve the average term of imprisonment for participants, 25 months.

Sometimes my mind is boggled by this stuff, just about everyone wants more services, but many don’t expect to pay more for those services. Nowhere else do you find that attitude except when it comes to the government. No one would walk into a spa for a massage, and then expect to a facial as well for the same price, but everyone wants better schools, and lower property taxes.

Then we have the people who think poor folks are ballin’ out:

Mr. Siemens does have a concern about fairness. He believes that lower-income households are not paying enough in taxes.

“By any measure, the wealthy are still paying a disproportionate amount of their income in taxes,” he said. “Is that fair or not fair? I don’t know, but I have an issue with the dramatic reduction of taxes at the low end because I think everybody needs some skin in the game.”

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The share of Americans who think lower-income households pay too little in taxes increased to 24 percent in 2012 from 8 percent in 1992, according to Gallup.

What a “skin in the game” is going to make poor people do, I don’t know. But clearly those poor people have it good so to make things more “fair”, they should pay more. Because, “some skin” will make you do stuff (*wink*) or something. Meanwhile, Mr. Siemens’ state doesn’t have a progressive tax rate. Which means that the poor are more than paying their fair share in state taxes:

…Illinois, like most states, takes a larger share of income from those who make less. Illinois households earning less than $25,000 a year on average paid 14.3 percent of income in state and local taxes in 2010, while those earning more than $200,000 paid 9.4 percent

We have a couple of people in this article who represent a powerful sentiment across large swaths of America: The idea that rich people work harder than less well off folks, and that’s why they’re rich. Now hard work is 9/10 a prerequisite for wealth, but I’d say it’s a prerequisite for poverty as well. Growing up, I knew many, many people who lived below the federal poverty line (which @ 23 grand for a family of 4 is extremely low). None of them were headed by people who didn’t work. The working poor exist, and education seems like the key to higher wages, and ability to lift oneself out of poverty. Meanwhile California is spending almost a year of room & board at Harvard on incarcerating people for the same length of time. All the while cutting back on their own awesome public colleges & universities. This is perverse. This is a America. Where we lock up drug users, and states like S.C. increase prison spending by %500 only to see recidivism rates increase.But I guess things will get better by admiring the rich, and making poor people pay more.

 

 

 

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Costco, Wall Street & Sacrifice

by TKOEd • Tuesday, Nov 27, 2012 • one response - join in

“How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart”:

…not everyone is happy with Costco’s business strategy. Some Wall Street analysts assert that Mr. Sinegal is overly generous not only to Costco’s customers but to its workers as well.

Costco’s average pay, for example, is $17 an hour, 42 percent higher than its fiercest rival, Sam’s Club. And Costco’s health plan makes those at many other retailers look Scroogish. One analyst, Bill Dreher of Deutsche Bank, complained last year that at Costco “it’s better to be an employee or a customer than a shareholder.”

God forbid there’s a large company that actually seems to be taking care of its employees. God forbid there’s a company who isn’t squeezing every last bit of life, and productivity out of its employees just so shareholders can make few more bucks. Who are these shareholders? Michael Lind has the answer:

Most publicly traded companies have shares that are bought and sold constantly on behalf of millions of passive investors by mutual funds and other intermediates. Some shareholders invest in a company for the long term; many others allow their shares to be bought and sold quickly by computer software programs. Unable to identify what particular shareholders want, CEOs with the encouragement of Wall Street have treated short-term earnings as a reliable proxy for shareholder value.

That last line is an important one. It’s exactly why Wall Street analyst, Emme Kozloff, thinks Costco CEO, Jim Sinegal:

“…has been too benevolent,”…”He’s right that a happy employee is a productive long-term employee, but he could force employees to pick up a little more of the burden.

Yes. That’s exactly what we need more of in this country, service industry workers picking up more of the burden for companies with billions in revenue. Why? The shareholders. Who could possibly be more important?

You might wonder I’m writing focusing on an article from 2005. I really wanted to highlight the kind of sacrifice that many on Wall Street (and their sycophants in the Senate & House) support. In their eyes, working people need to give up things, gifts the right-wing might call them. Meanwhile, rich people? They don’t have to give up shit. In fact if we don’t give them more shit, they won’t work. They won’t be the “makers” or “job creators” that they are so adamantly convinced they are. Right. If you believe that, I’ve got some pre-election polling that proves Mitt Romney should have won. These people won’t stop “working.” They are the walking, talking epitome of C.R.E.A.M. That picture of Mitt Romney & his boys at Bain with money everywhere? An outtake from that Wu-Tang video. They live to make money, and if some working stiff has to make a few less bucks or have shitty or no insurance so that people like Mitt Romney can make a few more bucks so be it. That’s America, that’s capitalism. Specifically that’s shareholder capitalism as Michael Lind put it. If they really stop working, trust me when I say it’s not big loss, they’re probably too stupid to be in business anyway.

CEOs need to make sure their employees get crumbs, and nothing more. Sometimes even crumbs are just too good for them. The CEOs themselves? They should get the whole slice of bread. Unless they don’t want the crust, that they can feed to the dogs strapped to the roof of their cars. This is the world according to Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner & Wall Street “analysts.” They cry, and moan about having to pay a few percentage points more of marginal income tax, but they support sacrifice from everyone else. Fuck that. Yes they will whine heavily about the tax increase, but then they’ll remember they’re rich & get over it. They’ll go back to making up more nonsensical ways to make money. Some other way to scam a whole bunch of people, and then scurry away with a nice severance package before any realizes the great damage that’s been done.

Jim Sinegal said he was trying to have a sustainable company that will be around for many decades to come, but the “Street” doesn’t want to hear that:

On Wall Street, they’re in the business of making money between now and next Thursday,” he said. “I don’t say that with any bitterness, but we can’t take that view. We want to build a company that will still be here 50 and 60 years from now.”

Bingo. I could not agree more. These people don’t do “in 10 years.” They can barely think past the next financial quarter. Meanwhile shareholder capitalism isn’t great at its main purpose. Again, Michael Lind:

Shareholder value capitalism in the U.S. since the 1980s has even failed in its primary purpose — maximizing the growth in shareholder value. As Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman Business School at the University of Toronto points out in a recent Harvard Business Review article, between 1933 and 1976 shareholders of American companies earned higher returns — 7.6 percent — than they have done in the age of shareholder value from 1977 to 2008 — 5.9 percent a year.

Even that scumbag, Jack Welch thinks it’s stupid:

For his part, Jack Welch has renounced the idea with which he was long associated. In a March 2009 interview with the Financial Times, the former head of GE said: “Strictly speaking, shareholder value is the dumbest idea in the world.”

So why do persist with this “stupid” idea? Greed. That, and the idea that’s seems to be pervasive among many right-wingers: If you’re not rich, it’s because you don’t deserve to be. Something is wrong with you. Not the way we do thing here, in America. But it’s you, your own fault, and society has had no hand in that. It’s one of the reason they hate Obama, he doesn’t subscribe to that world view. He thinks we’re all in this together. He thinks Americans should look out for one another. Especially those who are the worst off & the able to do it for themselves. They don’t like that one bit. Don’t you know that’s socialism? Bailing out the financial industry? Capitalism. Helping the poor, working poor & working class? Socialism. See how that works?

I’m ready for Obama to take the GOP, and all these fat cats (my apologies to actual fat cats) right up to edge the fiscal “cliff“, shove them off & toss a boulder off right after ‘em. Like Wile E. Coyote, they’ll be back, but this will be more than worth it.

 

(All emphasis in this post is mine.)

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Fatherhood Saturday: “Girls Don’t Know How To Play Football”

by TKOEd • Saturday, Nov 3, 2012 • one response - join in

Two Sundays ago I was sitting on the couch watching football. My daughter came over, and sat with me. Now this was a minor surprise,  because she’s never shown any interest in watching football or any other sport. I was pretty happy. It’s just another way for us to spend time together, and something else to teach her about. What she said next though really struck me: “Daddy, girls don’t know how to play football.” I was silent for a about a minute. Then I asked her what makes her think that. “I don’t know.” I asked if she’d heard that anywhere. “My head.”

Again, I was silent.

My mind was racing. My daughter is six. She rarely watches teevee. She spends most of her time at home playing with Legos, reading or drawing. I can’t think of a single instance where we’ve said to her or in her presence that anything is for boys or girls. In fact we do the opposite. Then I think “what about non-verbal cues?” Now this is much trickier. I spend many Sundays in the fall & winter watching football, and more often than not Erika is not sitting right there next to me even though she is a football fan. That being said I still come to the conclusion that she’s this getting this from school for the most part. Mostly other kids. The kids say “girls do X and boys do X” all the time. So where do I go from here? I do what I always do. I talk. A lot. I launch into a spiel that states that plenty of women, and girls know how to play football, and furthermore, lots of them DO play football. Not in the NFL, but a few times in college, and high school. I tell her that women & girls mostly play football with friends, and in organized leagues for fun. She nodded, and smiled. I don’t think she believed me though. Trying to raise a child in a world that’s constantly telling/pushing them in certain directions simply because of their gender is hard when you’re aware of that fact. Trying to raise a Black child in that world can be even harder. This country does not value your life as much as it values white lives. It’s not invested in your well being from the cradle to the grave. Ignorance can truly be bliss. I now believe that it’s not enough that I tell my child she can be anything, and that her being a girl makes no difference. Besides the simple fact that’s not true, it ignores all the non-verbal cues. It ignores the fact that when we watch teevee the people on MSNBC doing most of the talking are men (including guests). It ignores that most retail employees places we go are women. It ignores the fact that there are no women in the NFL. So I have to take a more holistic view, and these conversations are just one part of helping my daughter to not see her choices as limited by gender…or race.

As the week went along I kept thinking about it. Then the other day I got into what I guess you could call a debate on twitter over Black folks, and violence against women. The argument was being made that no other race celebrates violence against women the way Blacks do. I vehemently disagreed, but that discussion got me thinking about celebrations of violence in America. Many people argue that football is itself a celebration of violence. I do believe that to some degree it is. We are a country that cheers that degree of violence from high school on up. Probably even younger in a few places. To what degree does the celebration of violence between the end zones creep into the rest of our society? Or is it the other way around? We are a violent species. We’ve celebrated, and enjoyed violence for a long time. Does our celebration of violence on the gridiron help reinforce that some violence off of it is ok, or should be excused? I’m just thinking in public here. These were questions that I kept asking myself. Should I even want my daughter to come to love football? Is it selfish? Will it desensitize her to violence to any extent? Has it desensitized me? I don’t know the answer to either question. Or any of the questions above. I know I love my daughter, and I want to protect her. I also want us to share some interests.

Maybe football shouldn’t be one of them.

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