Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rescue Me

It's the last day of Christmas, or Orthodox Christmas, or Armenian Christmas, or the Epiphany, as you prefer. So, now it's just boring old January. The sky is grey and it's too long until spring. But the fancy Christmas food is marked down at Tesco's, so brandy butter on toast makes a nice breakfast.

Tonight's panelists on Virtually Speaking Sundays are Joan McCarter (McJoan) and Fiscal Cliff Schecter.

Well, at least Obama didn't find a way to prevent Tom Delay being sentenced to three years in prison.

"Why Tom Harkin and a Handful of Other Progressives Opposed the Deal: The deal also makes tax benefits for high income earners permanent, while tax benefits designed to help those of modest means and the middle class are only extended for five years. In essence, this agreement locks in a tax structure that is grossly unfair to middle class Americans, one which provides permanent tax assistance to wealthy Americans, and only temporary relief to everyone else. Every dollar that wealthy taxpayers do not pay under this deal, we will eventually ask Americans of modest means to forgo in Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid benefits."

Tim Carney: How corporate tax credits got in the 'cliff' deal: "The "fiscal cliff" legislation passed this week included $76 billion in special-interest tax credits for the likes of General Electric, Hollywood and even Captain Morgan. But these subsidies weren't the fruit of eleventh-hour lobbying conducted on the cliff's edge -- they were crafted back in August in a Senate committee, and they sat dormant until the White House reportedly insisted on them this week." Got that? The White House insisted on them this week.

On Twitter, Charlie Savage says: "Obama signed NDAA but issued signing statement claiming authority to lawfully bypass detainee transfer restrictions" - the .pdf is here.

Dave Johnson says "Don't Feed The Debt-Ceiling Trolls." But of course, that's Obama's whole MO - feed the trolls and maybe he can find an excuse to roll on "entitlements". Even Bruce Bartlett has admitted that Obama is a Republican.

Down With Tyranny! "For Once Congressional Republicans Are Right And Obama Is Completely Wrong" - guess who Obama wants to give a raise to?

Interesting article from Kevin Drum in Mother Jones on what he calls "America's Real Criminal Element: Lead", on research suggesting that lead may be even more toxic than we thought, both physically and criminalogically. One might still find reasons to question it, but it would explain a number of curious things. (I've always been confused, for example, with why violent crime seemed to be declining at a time when economic and other factors should have been driving it up. It's up in Detroit, apparently.) (On the other hand, it doesn't explain all those nasty little younger folks who even physically intimidated people in the Dem primary caucuses and write ugly comments at blogs when you don't fall in love and in line with Obama.) The blog post version is here. (via)

"Conjuring a High-Tech Labor Shortage [...] It's worth noting that Microsoft is currently campaigning to flood the high-tech labor market by dramatically opening our immigration system to foreign high-tech workers. Microsoft's talking points align with their policy demands for more foreign workers. However, labor market statistics and graduation rates say we have plenty of workers, a conclusion backed up by the life experience of thousands of unemployed and underemployed domestic workers."

It may be kind to refer to it as a "myth" or "illusion", but the idea that there is a "skills gap" between the needs of businesses and workers is very simply a lie. If you want more workers than you can find, you supply training and better salaries and then you have them.

How Peter Baker at the NYT sees us: "While Mr. Obama got most of what he sought in the agreement, he found himself under withering criticism from some in his liberal base who accused him of caving in to Republicans by not taxing the rich more. Just as Speaker John A. Boehner has been under pressure from his right, Mr. Obama faces a virtual Tea Party of the left that sees his compromise as capitulation." Or are those really just Peter Baker's words?

Jeff Stein at SpyTalk says the directors of Zero Dark Thirty "may go down as the Leni Riefenstahl of their time."

7 Facts About Government Benefits and who gets them

13 Wall Street voices to ignore (or not) in 2013

Bargain books: hundreds of pictures of the Beatles from unusual views - only $500!

F. Scott Fitzgerald in drag - and again.

Dammit, my favorite kick-ass radio station is down for lack of funds. If you wanna hear some great music, maybe you can send a few bucks to BellyUp4Blues to bring them back.

RIP: "Beate Gordon, Long-Unsung Heroine of Japanese Women's Rights, Dies at 89: Beate Sirota Gordon, the daughter of Russian Jewish parents who at 22 almost single-handedly wrote women's rights into the Constitution of modern Japan, and then kept silent about it for decades, only to become a feminist heroine there in recent years, died on Sunday at her home in Manhattan. She was 89."
"Gerda Lerner, a Feminist and Historian, Dies at 92: Gerda Lerner, a scholar and author who helped make the study of women and their lives a legitimate subject for historians and spearheaded the creation of the first graduate program in women's history in the United States, died on Wednesday in Madison, Wis. She was 92."
Fontella Bass, 72s, whose biggest hit was "Rescue Me", but here she is doing one of my all-time favorite torch songs to a video that, ah, wasn't what I expected.


  1. The effects of lead levels reported are pretty convincing. It's the differences in when leaded petrol use was reduced. It's the differences in local lead levels in the environment. And there's all sorts of detailed knowledge of how lead affects the brain and body.

    But what I have seen of crime stats suggests they may be a bit imprecise for timing. They often use 10-year-wide age ranges. It would be very interesting to see what the pattern is for the standardised tests in schools, which get a 1-year age cohort, and which for some countries give us data for more than one age.

    And there are the politicians complaining that the tests aren't working because the students keep getting better results. It's a few years before we get the last of the lead-in-petrol kids coming through the GCSE and A-level exams in the UK.

    The politicians are still a bit too old to have benefited from the big reduction, even our young Prime Minister.

  2. One of the things I have seen recently is a tendency for people in America to call everything the government spends a "benefit". And then saying that the government spends more on benefits than it gets in taxes.

    I can't be sure, but there are some very obvious motives for such phrasing and arguments.

    The thing is, as the article you linked to on "7 Facts about Government Benefits" shows, the word "benefits" does have the same usual meaning in both our countries. There is other government spending, and it does get spent in the country, and it does benefit the economy.

    The last time I saw this distortion the guy eventually published a list of what he was classing as benefits, including armed forces.

    Those expensive missiles being fired by drones at the melanin-challenged regions of the world are certainly built in the USA, the spending doesn't just vanish into thin air. They have a use-by date, just like a packet of noodles in a supermarket. But calling them "benefits" when welfare payments are a hot political issue is hardly honest.

  3. Great article about Beate Gordon!

    Also good to hear that Tom DeLay has a chance of going to prison. But rather than worry about Barack Obama, who has nothing to say about state-level prosecutions, I suggest focusing on the likelihood that the Texas judicial system or the governor, both Republican, will rehabilitate The Hammer.

    1. Oops. DeLay article is from 2011.

    2. Yeah, I noticed that and couldn't find anything indicating there'd been a change in his status (free awaiting appeal of 2011 sentence.)

      Paul Rosenberg agrees with Jay.

  4. And the liberal clowns still pretend that the purpose of government is anything other than the looting of the governed.

  5. Or are those really just Peter Baker's words?

    Sockpuppet with a White House hand up his ass.