Tuesday, September 2, 2014

MID-WEEK READING (9-02-14)

69 years ago today (9-02-45) Japanese Foreign Minister reads surrender documents before signing.

Iowa poll shows GOP is desperate enough to give Mitt Romney another shot in 2016 (Politicus USA).

20 jokes that are so bad they're actually funny (Tickld).

Here's how many ridiculously hot days your city will have in the future (Mother Jones).

They need food too? National Guard in Texas contacts food bank to ask about food and gas because they haven't been paid (Chron).


TOPICS TO JUMP START THAT NEXT CONVERSATION
Health care spending in America is slowing, with Medicare now spending $1,000 less per beneficiary than the Congressional Budget Office projected four years ago (NY Times).

Ecuador: WikiLeaks cables show how U.S. used 'democracy promotion' to push corporate interests (Green Left Weekly).

White Privilege: An insidious virus that's eating America from within (Salon).

As court fees rise, the poor are paying the price (NPR).

The expanding world of 'poverty capitalism' (NY Times).

With the exception of one developed country (need a hint?) clear majorities in every highly developed country say you can have strong moral values without believing in god (Salon).


THE MEEK STILL NOT INHERITING THE EARTH
More workers claiming wage theft (NY Times).

One of the best op-eds on immigration that I've read (Houston Chronicle).

Michael Brown's mother laid flowers where he was shot - and police crushed them (Mother Jones).


WHY OUR MARKETS ARE STILL IN TROUBLE
Chris Christie's donors profit from transferring New Jersey's pensions to Wall Street (Politicus USA).

Market socialism, again ... Government selling distressed FHA-backed loans to private "vulture squads" that will make a killing by kicking out distressed homeowners and renting homes back to - you guessed it - the growing number of people who don't own homes (Wall Street Insights & Indictments).

The Institute for Energy Research, which aggressively opposes any effort to curtail oil and gas tax breaks, was founded and is funded by Charles Koch (Nation of Change).

How HFT is effectively legalized insider trading, and why it will continue even as banks high frequency trading desks leave (Wall Street Insights & Indictments).


MILITARY OPERATIONS
U.S. operations in Iraq cost $7.5 million per day (The Guardian).

NATO planning rapid-deployment force of 10,000 troops to counter Russia (RT).


OUR SEX CULTURE
Sex drive-in hailed as a success after a year-long experiment in Zurich (The Guardian).

The untold story of how a culture of shame perpetuates abuse (The Guardian).

Years of rape and 'utter contempt' in Britain (NY Times).


MISCELLANEOUS
Worth the read ... An interesting biography of Earl Warren's life (M. Dean Sutton).

Study blows the lid off of the Republicans big lie by revealing that Citizen's United helps GOP win political races (Politicus USA).

10 Supreme Court rulings - before Hobby Lobby - that turned corporations into people (Mother Jones).

Smart social policies in Finland, dumb ones in the U.S. (Nation of Change).

- Mark 

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S 5 BIG ACHIEVEMENTS



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#1: For the record, here's the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 2009 through 2014. The reality is that the DJIA is more than 10,000 points above where it was when President Obama entered the White House (this chart only goes back to fall 2009) ....


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#2: It was a week ago today (September 2, 20014) that the S&P broke 2,000 for the first time in its history. 



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#3: Then we have the millions of jobs created since President Obama came into office ...


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#4: We also have the millions who have signed up (over 100% of CBO projections) for health care insurance under Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act  ...



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#5: Then we have President Obama's record when it comes to new spending. He's the lowest spender since President Eisenhower, another notorious socialist (according to the John Bircher Society, the intellectual godparents of the Tea Party, Ike was a socialist) ...



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OK, #6: Since we're at it, let's not forget this ...




- Mark 

Monday, September 1, 2014

LABOR DAY & THE PULLMAN STRIKE

The history of Labor Day through 1894 ...
Federal troops sent by President Cleveland to break up the Pullman strike in 1894.



For the record, the 1894 Pullman Strike was initiated by organized labor against the Pullman Railway Company (PRC). It was opposed by the PRC, organized industrialists (the General Managers' Association), organized thugs (the Pinkertons), the President of the United States (Grover Cleveland), and the U.S. Supreme Court, who favored industry over worker rights.

The strike was a sisyphean task, to say the least.


A very readable history of the Pullman Strike can be accessed by clicking here.

- Mark

ENJOY LABOR DAY ... WE CELEBRATE IT FOR A REASON



And, in case you need a reminder why we need organized labor, the following requires no additional commentary ...







Organized labor challenged the Black Codes and prison labor camps after the Civil War.


- Mark

Sunday, August 31, 2014

LABOR DAY SMACKDOWN FOR THE AGES


To help celebrate workers on Labor Day, let's watch Matt Damon zero in on a smug libertarian wannabe, who thinks tenure is a bad thing since it creates a disincentive for teachers ...


And, for the record, initiative, creativity, and innovation are human constants that go beyond the mind-numbingly narrow threat of being fired, or even the promise of tax cuts, as I make clear here.

- Mark 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE EVOLVING "NEW" NEW TESTAMENT IN AMERICA



Yeah, I know ... but you want to keep in mind that this makes about as much sense as the U.S. Supreme Court saying in their Citizen's United decision that corporations are people too.

- Mark

Friday, August 29, 2014

READING FOR LABOR DAY WEEKEND (8-29-14)


After 75 years of state-owned oil, Mexico is reforming its oil industry by opening it up to foreigners. Here's a couple of thoughts on what it means for big oil (EconoMonitor).

Does inherited wealth really help the economy as economist Greg Mankiw suggests? A reply to Greg Mankiw (EconoMonitor).

How Wall Street tobacco deals, which were supposed to help state governments financially, left states with billions in toxic debt (Pro Publica / Buzz Flash).

Whether you're into conspiracies or not, this is still worth reading: "Syria intervention plan fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapon concern (The Guardian).

5 simple reasons Americans are getting fatter (Salon).


FOX NEWS CONTRASTS
How "the stupidest man on the internet" helped jump start the Ferguson lie that Fox News - and especially Sean Hannity - ran with as they smeared Michael Wilson (Alter Net / Salon).

Surprise, surprise ... Bill O'Reilly gets schooled on 'white privilege' by Megyn Kelly (Salon).


JUST WRONG
Back to school: Widening inequality increasingly explains who gets a good education, and who doesn't  (Robert Reich).

Do as we say, not as we do ... Our inside-trading Congress tells Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) investigators to take a hike (Zero Hedge / Wall Street Journal).

Shaking down the elderly for student loan debt should not be allowed (Buzz Flash).

No censorship, but YOU don't have access? Government blocking certain journalists for access to information (Buzz Flash).

Poverty Capitalism: Outsourcing state duties to the private sector, and making the poor pay for it (NY Times).

Sugar plant removed safety device 13 days before temp workers death (Pro Publica).


OBAMACARE NEWS
How's that Obamacare thingy working out for the GOP? Not very good (The National Memo).

Dire predictions of endless waits for a doctor under Obamacare have proven unfounded (Center for Public Integrity).


MEANWHILE, IN CRAZY LAND
Did you know that contraception is a conspiracy designed to ruin the family? This and other crazy myths told by the religious right (Alter Net).

Watch these painfully ignorant Mississippians explain why they hate Obama and the government, but love 'murka (ATTP).

Florida county unanimously bans atheists from delivering invocations at public meetings (Alter Net).


OUR MILITARIZED POLICE
What happens when America's police become America's mental-health workers (New York Magazine).

Close to 200 police departments in the U.S. have been "suspended" for losing U.S. military-grade weaponry (RT).


MISCELLANEOUS
Top 10 Center for Public Integrity investigations that you may have missed (Center for Public Integrity).

Irreversible damage from climate change, according to leaked UN draft report (Bloomberg).

Fearing for the Second Amendment, anti-government militia groups growing in the U.S. (Center for Public Integrity).

Christian Evangelicals and American foreign policy (Council on Foreign Relations).

Host of Emmy winning Cosmos series Neil de Grasse Tyson discusses backlash from religious groups who don't agree with evolution, why he doesn't debate, and other interesting stuff (Alter Net).

- Mark

Thursday, August 28, 2014

AMERICAN WAGES, AMERICAN DEBT ... A 50 YEAR TREND THAT'S TIED TOGETHER, OR JUST COINCIDENCE?



Not coincidentally, during this period the amount of credit card debt and total household debt carried by middle class America soared ...


Credit Card Debt in America, 1965-2010: Source: St. Louis Federal Reserve.
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Household Debt in America, 1960-2010. Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

Question of the Day: Are these wage and debt dynamics tied together, or just coincidental?

I have a few thoughts on the topic here.

- Mark

FYI:  While GM has cut hourly pay significantly since the early 1960s, it's still better than Walmart's. Check it out here. Also, Robert Reich has some different numbers for GM and Walmart here. Whatever numbers you want to cite, the larger point remains: There's a race to the bottom going on in America, and the middle class is losing out, big time.