Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Last Call

As we approach graduation season, a new poll in TIME Magazine finds some five out of six college graduates are heading back home to Mom and Dad's basement, with unemployment for new graduates in the US over 50% in some cases.

Surprise, surprise: Thanks to a high unemployment rate for new grads, many of those with diplomas fresh off the press are making a return to Mom and Dad's place. In fact, according to a poll conducted by consulting firm Twentysomething Inc., some 85% of graduates will soon remember what Mom's cooking tastes like.

Times are undeniably tough. Reports have placed the unemployment rate for the under-25 group as high as 54%. Many of these unemployed graduates are choosing to go into higher education in an attempt to wait out the job market, while others are going anywhere — and doing anything — for work. Meanwhile, moving back home helps with expenses and paying off student loans.

The outlook isn't sunshine and roses: Rick Raymond, of the College Parents of America, notes, "Graduates are not the first to be hired when the job markets begins to improve. We're seeing shocking numbers of people with undergraduates degrees who can't get work."

I can believe it.  At the end of last year the unemployment rate for college graduates overall was the worst in four decades.  The cost of a four year degree at even a public university is almost 80 grand these days, and $140,000 for a private school.  When you're starting out six digits in the hole and you have to take a job at the big box store, you're in real trouble.  It was bad enough in my day in the late 90's and especially after the dot-com bubble popped ten years back, that knocked a whole lot of folks in my generation back big time.

It's a lot worse for graduates now, and it's not going to get any better anytime soon.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Amanda Marcotte notes that South Dakota may have become the first state to functionally outlaw all abortions, period.

How did South Dakota do it?  The new law requires women seeking abortion to speak to the doctor, then wait 72 hours, then get counseled at an anti-choice propaganda station called a “crisis pregnancy center,” only after which would she be allowed to obtain an abortion. This law received quite a bit of attention for overt misogyny inherent in the implication that women are too stupid to be aware of what they’re asking for when they seek abortion, or that women are so ignorant and incurious that they can’t be expected to have considered anti-choice arguments unless forced.  But it’s looking like this law may do more than that, and may actually make abortion impossible to get in South Dakota.

This works in two ways.  Right away, it was clear that the 72-hour waiting period was an attempt to force the sole abortion provider in the state, a Planned Parenthood in Sioux Falls, to drop the service.  The doctor that performs abortions flies in to provide the service, and this requirement is obviously intended to push out any doctor who doesn’t work full time at the clinic by making the travel requirements onerous.

The “counseling” requirement seemed more condescending than truly burdensome at first, though it is true that many women seeking abortion really don’t have the flexible schedule to work in a few hours to be hectored by anti-choicers before obtaining their abortion, which pushes this requirement from being irritating and sexist to being truly an obstacle.  But recent news indicates that something more devious is likely going on. As Robin Marty reported last week, not a single crisis pregnancy center has agreed to counsel patients seeking abortion so that those patients can fill their requirements to get their abortions.  Not even the centers that lobbied to get the requirement pushed through.  Without centers willing to say they saw the patients seeking abortion, patients could be caught in a red tape nightmare that makes getting abortions impossible.

It’s always possible that this is a paperwork oversight, but experience tells us that anti-choicers don’t play by the normal ethical rules of fair play (which comes with the territory when you’re organized around the immoral desire to force unwilling women to bear children), so we have to consider the alternative, that this was the plan all along.  At the end of the day, the “counseling” requirement is using bureaucratic nonsense to create a situation where women who want abortions have to get consent from people who think that every woman should be forced to have a many children as possible, whether she likes it or not.  Of course they’re going to refuse to give that consent.  Through a paperwork shuffle, the state of South Dakota has given the power to control abortion access to anti-choicers, and their choice---surprise, surprise---is a ban.

And thus, it's virtually impossible for a woman in South Dakota to now get an abortion.  There's no way the requirements of the law can be satisfied, literally no way a woman can jump through all the hoops the new law requires.  Because there are no crisis pregnancy centers that have registered to give "counseling" to women who want an abortion, no abortions can be performed in the state.

Sure, the provision will be challenged in the courts.  But by that time, the state's lone provider will be long gone.  Game, set, and match.

The Ultimate Hoffman Effect

If there's one bright spot in the GOP taking control of the House, it's that the conserva-schism between the country club Wall Street types and the Tea Party wingnuts has gotten bad enough now that for the first time a majority of Republicans now say a major third political party is needed in order to reflect their views.

Fifty-two percent of Republicans, and an even stronger number of Tea Party supporters, support the creation of a major, third political party, underscoring the occasional tensions between grassroots conservatives and the GOP establishment.

An overall majority of Americans, 52 percent, said that a third political party was needed; the most profound shift has come among Republicans.

The number of Republicans who said that a third political party was necessary was at an all-time high since Gallup first began tracking opinion on the issue in 2003. And while support for a third party has crept steadily upward in the GOP, for the first time, it represents a majority opinion.

Supporters of the Tea Party are even more likely to back a third party, the poll found. Sixty percent of Tea Party supporters back a third party, while 32 percent say the existing two parties are adequate. By contrast, 47 percent of Tea Party opponents said the bipartisan system is adequate, and 44 percent favored a third party. 

It's painfully clear that the Tea Party right finds the current GOP wholly inadequate in implementing their fundamentalist theocracy, and this is literally only after three and a half months of actual GOP control of the House.  It will be interesting to see how bad this split gets.  Many believe that no matter how mediocre the GOP candidate is in 2012, you won't see the Tea Party sit out the election like Democrats did in 2010.

On the other hand, if some sort of third party candidate shows up and pulls a Ross Perot, things could get very, very interesting.  Either way, expect the GOP to continue to lurch to the right on a daily basis.

Pak-ed With Questions, Part 3

Things between the United States and Pakistan have gotten considerably worse since the raid May 1 that ended OBL, and Pakistan is delivering sharp warnings to President Obama to back off...or else.

Amid a deepening crisis between the two uneasy partners, Washington pressed for access to three of the dead Al-Qaeda chief's widows, who it believes may have valuable information on bin Laden's movements and on the terror group.

In a further sign of tension over last week's daring covert raid in Abbottabad, the New York Times meanwhile reported that Pakistani authorities had retaliated by leaking the name of the CIA chief in Islamabad to the media.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, under intense domestic pressure over his country's failure to detect the stealth US special forces raid, earlier hit out at American unilateralism and warned against future US action.

He also insisted Pakistan reserves the right to "retaliate with full force," although he stopped short of spelling out what, if anything, would be done if US President Barack Obama ordered another unilateral anti-terror raid.

But at the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was convinced he had done the right thing by sending in special forces at the dead of night in a raid in which bin Laden was killed in his Pakistani lair.

"We obviously take the statements and concerns of the Pakistani government seriously, but we also do not apologize for the action that we took, that this president took," Carney said.

Pakistan ratting out the CIA station chief in Islamabad should have been expected, but the rest of the chest beating is clearly a sign that Pakistan expects the status quo to continue, including the country receiving billions in foreign aid from the US as well as military aid.

On the other hand, that's going to be a tough sell unless Pakistan gives us somebody to blame for bin Laden hiding in the country for six years plus while calling us a valuable ally.  The negotiations on the price of the final bill will be interesting, but in the end I don't see how much will change between the US and Pakistan...co-dependent relationships are like that.

Pretty Darned Cool

Zombies aside, it's cool to see common house architecture return to safety and thoughts of potential disaster.  The world is full of uncertainty, and why have a panic room when you can have a panic house?

Check this page to see the Zombie Apocalypse Home Of The Future!

Brainsssssss - sorry, it had to be said.

Choice Of A New Generation

(CNN) -- The days of sliding a few coins into a vending machine and waiting for a can of soda to tumble down are now numbered.

Last week PepsiCo unveiled a prototype of a "social vending system" branding it as "the next generation in interactive vend technology."

The machine features a touch-screen that allows users to buy a drink as well as gift one to someone. By entering the recipient's name, mobile number and a personalized text message, the machine generates a code and instructions on how to redeem the beverage at another social vending machine.

Some folks are skeptical, but I think this is a neat idea. It lets people stay connected and share a cold beverage.  There's nothing wrong with that.  And as someone who drops money for the person behind me in line, I like the random acts of beverage idea as well.

Rice-A-Phony, Part 2

Undeterred after her shellacking at the hands of Lawrence O'Donnell on Thursday night, Condi Rice went on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS on Sunday morning to deliver more "Well we were the ones really responsible for getting bin Laden."

“Now it is absolutely the case that the United States of America has been fighting this war for at least ten years, and really a bit longer,” she said. “And so this is a victory across presidencies. It’s a – it’s a victory for having learned more how to fight the counter terrorism fight. But there’s no doubt that as President Bush had to make some very, very hard calls that frankly helped to set this up, President Obama had to make some very difficult calls to bring it to conclusion.”

Yes, Bush had to make very, very difficult calls to help "set this up" like giving up the search for bin Laden in 2006.   Zakaria doesn't challenge this notion at all, even though he led off the interview by noting that it wasn't a top priority until after President Obama restarted the hunt.  Condi then immediately lies and says it was a top priority, that they spent every minute trying to get bin Laden, and she then even mentions that the CIA had a unit "dedicated" to bin Laden.

This is the same Alec Station unit of bin Laden hunters that Bush shut down in 2006. Zakaria says nothing and lets that massive lie slide.  Bush gave up on the hunt for bin Laden, period.

Astounding.  This was a fastball over the plate and Zakaria won't even swing.  Liberal media my ass.

Don't Let The Door Hit You On The Way Out

I'm glad this problem has been dealt with.

The Texas high school teacher who allegedly told a Muslim girl in his ninth grade algebra class that "I bet that you're grieving" over the death of Osama bin Laden will not be returning to work, a school spokesperson tells TPM.

The teacher was suspended last week after the girl complained about his comments to her, which came the day after bin Laden was killed by American forces in Pakistan. The girl's name has been kept out of reporting on the case, and a spokesperson for the Clear Creek Independent School District would not immediately release the name of the teacher to TPM.

The incident took place at Clear Brook High School near Houston. Parents and fellow students were outraged by the teacher's remarks to the girl, which allegedly included him calling bin Laden "your uncle."

Guy's gone for good.  The nasty-ass hatemongering machine behind remarks like this?  Well you can find it on your AM radio dial or on cable channels involving the names of vulpine animals.   The much larger problem of that still exists, unfortunately.

No Dealing On The Debt Ceiling, Part 7

Yesterday I mentioned John Boehner had been dragged before his Wall Street masters to explain why Republicans were risking the bond markets' bottom line in order to play politics.   But Orange Julius was entirely unrepentant, demanding trillions in immediate cuts in this year's budget, or else the gun to the country's head goes off.

House Speaker John A. Boehner said Monday that Republicans wanted trillions in budget cuts in exchange for their vote to increase the nation's borrowing limit and avoid default, adopting a hard line on the party's position in a speech before major players on Wall Street.

Boehner told the Economic Club of New York that his party wanted specific spending cuts — not future targets that would trigger spending reductions or revenue increases, as President Obama has proposed.

Laying down a marker on the eve of new budget negotiations, the Ohio Republican also said he wanted the amount of the cuts to exceed any increase in the nation's borrowing limit, a demand that probably would mean new spending reductions of $2 trillion or more — many times higher than the $38 billion in cuts approved last month in the 2011 budget.

"It's true that allowing America to default would be irresponsible. But it would be more irresponsible to raise the debt ceiling without simultaneously taking dramatic steps to reduce spending and reform the budget process," Boehner said.

His address before the New York audience came as Obama called lawmakers to the White House for several days of talks this week over raising the nation's $14.3-trillion debt limit.

This is Boehner going all in on the Tea Party line here.  The problem is the Tea Party wants far more before they'll even consider a raise in the debt ceiling, and Boehner himself argues that raising the debt ceiling would be worse than putting the country into default with its creditors.

Speakers from the Cato Institute's Dan Mitchell to a man dressed as George Washington to Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) -- who sent a written statement that was read aloud -- told a small crowd of reporters that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and his GOP leadership team were ignoring their tea party mandate by supporting an increase in the federal debt limit. They called on Republicans in the House to attach strict spending riders onto any deal they make with an Obama administration desperate to avoid government default.

For Bachmann, no less than the "complete defunding of Obamacare" would do. For others, a total spending freeze and a small, short-term limit increase was acceptable, provided it came with guarantees of deep spending cuts. For Tea Party Founding Fathers chairman William Temple, a reinstatement of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and keeping women out of combat roles would also be acceptable.

And the Tea Party seems to think it will get 100% of its demands, because frankly they don't care if the country defaults and the economy is decimated.

And remember, this is the GOP's current offer, and it's take it or our economy is destroyed.  It seems the influence Wall Street has on the House Speaker is less than the threat of the Tea Party removing him from office.


StupidiNews! She Ain't No Sarah Connor

It appears Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver are separating after 25 years of marriage.  After the usual blah statements that you expect in statements, they make a touching and firm appeal for privacy.  There is sure to be more detail in the following weeks, but the real news seems to be how surprised everyone was by the announcement.

The article above reads much like an obit, which makes a sad sort of sense.  Arnold has also announced his return to acting, and this press was poorly timed for the new Terminator movie. Shriver will undoubtedly avoid the spotlight and keep a classy approach, which is her superpower when you look at the headlines over the last two decades.  

More to come.
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