Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Last Call

Your Chart Of The Day comes from TPM, showing the percentage change in hourly compensation and hourly productivity since 1948:

Any questions as to what anti-union and anti-labor policies have done for the American worker since 1970 or so? Wages have stagnated for 40 years now. If the minimum wage had kept pace with productivity, Americans would be making 17 bucks an hour or so at the floor. Instead, those massive productivity gains have been going straight to the CEOs and shareholders. No wonder our economy crashed. Now these same people say Americans need to pay more to support tax cuts for the people at the top. Unreal greed on a staggering scale, folks.

The GOP's Big Love

One of the more interesting battles in the House this year will be for Utah's newly-created 4th congressional district as the state has gained a House seat after the 2010 Census, consisting of the areas in and around Salt Lake City.  It's pitting current Utah Democrat Jim Matheson of the 2nd district (who has now seen all the urban vote split and moved into the new 4th) against Saratoga Springs mayor Mia Love, who surprised everyone in April's primary by becoming the first African-American Mormon woman to become a congressional candidate in the state.

Love, who has attracted lots of national Republican support, also stands out because of her religion: She’s a Mormon. The politician is a poster child for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ campaign to present a more diverse face to a historically very white church.

“There are a lot of people who have tried to define me as a person,” Love, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, told CNN’s Kyra Phillips in an interview Tuesday. “I’m not a victim, and I don’t allow anybody to put me in a box.”

Speaking from Salt Lake City, she said, “There may be some challenges. But ... I love this place and love the people that are here, and I represent their beliefs and values.”

Love is featured in a video series produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as part of its “I’m a Mormon” campaign, which aims to bring the faith of about 14 million members worldwide into the mainstream.

In the CNN interview, Love talked about how Mormonism would affect Mitt Romney’s candidacy more than her own, which is happening in the most Mormon state in the nation.

“You know I don’t think those are the issues that Americans really care about,” Love said when asked about the role of Romney’s religion in the presidential campaign. “I think Americans care about jobs, the economy; they care about the debt and deficit spending. … Being a Mormon is part of who he is as a person, and I don’t think it should deter from the issues.”

I'm glad that Mia Love is expanding people's views in the state, lord knows Utah needs it.  But her political stance is pure Tea Party nutjob.

If elected in November, Love would be the first black Republican woman in Congress and Utah's first black representative. She said she would join the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington, D.C., should she win.

"Yes, yes. I would join the Congressional Black Caucus and try to take that thing apart from the inside out," she said.

Though officially nonpartisan, the caucus has been more closely identified with the Democratic Party.

"It’s demagoguery. They sit there and ignite emotions and ignite racism when there isn’t," Love said. "They use their positions to instill fear. Hope and change is turned into fear and blame. Fear that everybody is going lose everything and blaming Congress for everything instead of taking responsibility."

The caucus isn't the only thing Love said she would dismantle in Washington. The departments of education and energy must go, she said. States, she said, should take back those duties along with health care.

Needless to say, the Republicans would dearly want to have Mia Love as the new face of their big tent.  Unfortunately she's being used to see their same old crazy ideas.  Take apart the Congressional Black Caucus from the inside, because why should African-Americans have a group in Congress?  Good grief, she's Allen West in heels.

Democrat Joe Matheson is going to need some help, as the national GOP will certainly be invested in Love's win.  Polls taken before the primary showed Matheson had a narrow lead at best against any of his GOP challengers, including Love.  You can bet Karl Rove and his Crossroads buddies are going to try to bury Matheson under a tsunami of cash tying him to the Obama administration, which is annoying because he's one of the few remaining Blue Dogs in the House right now and voted against the PPACA, raising the debt limit, for the 2011 GOP House budget, he's got a lousy NARAL record (30%), etc. but he voted for Dodd-Frank and a number of other regulatory issues.

But if the choice in Utah's 4th is between a Blue Dog and the female version of Allen West, I'm going with the Blue Dog every time.  Period. 

Totally Organic Assistance

I normally append the Privacy Stupidity tag on to just about any Facebook story (because Mark Zuckerberg owns the 64,000 ton Privacyosaurus in your family room and increasingly at your workplace) but every now and then the beastie learns a trick that really does help the planet out.

On Tuesday, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg released a joint statement announcing a new feature. Users in the U.S. and the U.K. can now add a new post to their Timelines, the individual chronological life histories on the website, indicating when they decided to register as an organ donor.

The new feature can be found in the “Life Event” tab at the top of a user’s profile page, located immediately below the “About” section.

After clicking “Life Event,” a user can choose between five categories. Clicking “Health and Wellness,” the user can see a list of options to add to their Timeline, and “Organ donor” is at the top. Clicking it, a user can choose to share with specific groups of Friends or the public at large that he or she has registered.

If a user isn’t yet a registered organ donor or would like to become one, Facebook has also attached a database to the tool directing users to their official local registry. 

Organ donor registrations were up Tuesday by 800% or so over normal.  I'm pretty sure that Facebook might be able to give such a movement legs.  If you do decide to become a donor on Facebook, make sure you've registered on your state's official registry too.  The Facebook organ donor page does have a link to the various state registries, so make it official, folks.

Pretty awesome, Facebook.  Pretty awesome.

And Speaking Of Bullying...

And in a textbook Republican move, they are now pushing to remove mention of anything that might possibly lead to sexual thoughts.  In high school.

This is crazy.  Just crazy.

Sticking your head in the sand hoping something will go away simply will not work.  I tried, and Sarah Palin is still around.  Pretending teenagers won't have sex or experiment with sexuality is not only insane, it's putting them at risk for disease and ruined lives through unwanted pregnancies.  Just so some smarmy, equally sinful folks can feel good about the hoops they made you jump through.

And now they have sent a bill to Gov. Bill Haslam that would bar sex-ed teachers in public schools from promoting “gateway” sexual activity. Teachers must “exclusively and emphatically” endorse abstinence or risk a $500 fine. They may mention contraceptives only in the context of pointing out their inferiority to simply not having sex.
This bill is a disaster in the making: It relies on the definition of sexual activity in state law, which includes any contact with even the clothed inner thigh of another person. Critics say it’s so vaguely written that if a teacher doesn’t stop a student from sitting in another person’s lap, he could face punishment.
But don’t get the wrong idea. Tennessee’s Republican legislators know the government can only do so much to enforce morality. Last year, they revised an anti-bullying law so as to exempt anyone who voices a religiously motivated belief.
Sure, said Rep. Jeremy Faison, a few teenagers committed suicide after getting bullied about their sexuality, but “they committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.”
“We can’t continue to legislate everything,” he said.
Only when it suits them, and works against the people they view as enemies.  Never mind the fact that "those people" were citizens given the same rights and protection, right?

Bullying Not A Problem? Really?

It amazes me how the topic of bullying, which people have endured since Cain slew Abel, has divided the popular crowd.  To further complicate the matter, we have people who claim bullying any time someone hurts their little snowflake's feelings.

And then we have this.

SAVANNAH, Mo. — A teenager appeared in court Monday for allegedly pouring gasoline on a child and then setting that child on fire.
The child sustained first- and second-degree burns on his face, right arm and in his nose and throat on April 19. The child was transferred from Heartland Regional Medical Center to the Kansas University Hospital burn center for treatment.
The state charged Joseph Gardner, 17, with first-degree assault for the alleged burning. Court records alleged that the teenager threatened to hit the child in the face unless he let Mr. Gardner pour the gasoline. Mr. Gardner allegedly threatened to murder the child and his family if he told anyone about his bullying.
According to a probable cause statement filed by Tommy Hudson, an Andrew County sheriff’s deputy, after allegedly setting the child on fire, the defendant stood there and laughed.

I really don't think kids are born evil, but this has to be the exception that proves the rule.  This is more than hormonal aggression, or mommy issues.  This goes so far beyond bullying that I don't think it belongs in the same ballpark.

Still, maybe cases like this will bring  about change. Maybe this is what it will take, which is scary but if it works I'll call it a victory.

The Promised Land

If you're wondering what the PUMA contingent of the Democrats Who Aren't Sure If They Should Vote For Obama Or Not are up to, Taylor Marsh is a pretty reliable weather vane when it comes to accepting the Big Dog is backing POTUS.

What many anti-Obama Democrats simply will not accept is that when your average Democratic voter meets his or her choices inside the voting booth, looking at Mitt Romney’s willingness to adopt Paul Ryan austerity, as well as the hard right’s war on women, there isn’t a more practical choice than to pull the lever for Pres. Obama, even if it requires holding your nose to do it.

Pres. Clinton’s presence makes this more palatable.

Yeah, it's not like Obama actually did anything other than stop Hillary from winning and ushering in a Golden Age of something or other, but at least he's letting Big Dog play, right?

Who should really be holding their nose is the people who backed President Obama the whole way, putting up with insufferable egotists like Taylor here, because we have to accept that her statement is more or less correct.  We need the votes to stop Romney and his GOP nutjob friends, period.

Of course, let's not forget Taylor's real goal here:

Left out in the cold are The Gays, as Kathy Griffin would say. Neither Obama or Romney have the courage required to make equality a reality for all families. In 2016, you can bet Republicans still won’t be on board with that one, but just maybe if Hillary Clinton runs she will. 

Yep.  Why would LGBT people vote at all, especially when, you know, Hillary husband gave us DADT and Obama ended it?  Hmm.

Meanwhile In Afghanistan

President Obama made a trip to Afghanistan on Tuesday, sending a clear message on the anniversary of Bin Laden capture and death, and signed a deal with Afghan President Karzai to lay out the plan to leave.

“As we emerge from a decade of conflict abroad and economic crisis at home, it is time to renew America. An America where our children live free from fear, and have the skills to claim their dreams. A united America of grit and resilience, where sunlight glistens off soaring new towers in downtown Manhattan, and we build our future as one people, as one nation."

The details of the Afghan deal are pretty specific

The agreement, completed after 20 months of arduous negotiations in Washington and Kabul, pledges American support for Afghanistan for 10 years after the withdrawal of the last American soldiers at the end of 2014. More symbol than substance, it nevertheless marks a pivotal transition for the United States from the largest foreign military force in Afghanistan to a staunch, if faraway, ally. 

For the president, facing a re-election battle in which his conduct of the war is likely to be debated into November, the visit is laden with political significance. Senior officials said the agreement showcased Mr. Obama’s determination to end the war responsibly, even as they conceded that the country that American troops leave behind will be a messy, violent place, where the Taliban will keep a foothold. 

Still, the agreement, a senior administration official told reporters traveling on Air Force One, will give the United States “the capacity to carry out the counterterrorism operations that are necessary for Al Qaeda not to resettle,” and help ensure “a regional equilibrium that serves our national security interest — and that’s ultimately why we went in there in the first place.” 

No doubt Republicans will tell us that having a timetable is an impeachable offense, and the usual suspects on the left will tell us having even one support troop in place is worthy of letting Mitt Romney win the White House.

On the other hand, he's ended the war in Iraq and is now ending the war in Afghanistan.  There will also be no permanent bases there, unlike every other US war that we've fought in the last 70 years or so.  No, the GOP wants to fight the President on his foreign policy accomplishments?  Go right ahead, gentlemen.

Last Call

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