Thursday, June 21, 2012

Last Call

Last July I talked about how the financial crisis and recession had all but destroyed the middle class for African-Americans and Latinos.  2009 numbers were heart-stopping:  the average median household worth among whites was 18-20 times greater than black or Latino families, and Asian-Americans had seen their average household wealth cut in half from 2005.

Unfortunately, the new 2010 numbers based on the Census are even worse.

White Americans have 22 times more wealth than blacks -- a gap that nearly doubled during the Great Recession.

The median household net worth for whites was $110,729 in 2010, versus $4,995 for blacks, according to recently released Census Bureau figures.

The difference is similarly notable when it comes to Hispanics, who had a median household net worth of $7,424. The ratio between white and Hispanic wealth expanded to 15 to 1.

The gap between the races widened considerably during the recent economic downturn, which whites weathered better than blacks, Hispanics and Asians.

The latter three groups saw their median household net worth fall by roughly 60% between 2005 and 2010, while the median net worth for white households slipped only 23%.

The subprime mortgage scam may have hurt most of America, but for African American and Latino communities, it was absolutely devastating.  And the GOP budget plan isn't just to pull the ladder up and cut the net out from under minorities, it's to burn them ashes and forget we ever existed.  We talk, and rightfully so, about the GOP war on women and the LGBT community, but they are absolutely conducting a scorched earth campaign against minorities:  against schools, health care, food stamps, housing, social programs, unionization and our right to vote.  Anything that you would consider necessary for the maintenance and growth of a middle class is being phased out by Republicans who have decided that America's poor (and increasingly that means America's minority population) needs to be jettisoned as dead weight to save the country.

Literally decades of progress have been wiped out in the last several years, and all I hear from Republicans is that "those people" at the bottom of the pyramid have to sacrifice even more to pay for the financial crisis because "we can't afford it" anymore.

Tell me this isn't war, a strategy with the intent of crushing minorities and putting us in our place.  Austerity for the austerity god!  Tax cuts for the tax cut throne!

The Kosher Weenie Conundrum

ConAgra Foods Inc has been sued by consumers who contend that hot dogs and other products sold under its Hebrew National brand are not kosher.
The lawsuit alleges that meat processing services provided to ConAgra by privately held AER Services Inc fell short of the standards necessary to label Hebrew National products as kosher. As a result, they said, ConAgra misled consumers and was able to charge premium prices.
Eleven individual consumers filed their complaint in May in Minnesota state court. ConAgra moved the case this month to a federal court in St. Paul. The lawsuit was reported last week by American Jewish World, a publication based in Minnesota.
According to the complaint, Omaha, Nebraska-based ConAgra marks Hebrew National packages with a "Triangle K" symbol, and represents that the contents are kosher "as defined by the most stringent Jews who follow Orthodox Jewish law."
I sincerely hope this is a mistake.  It is such a violation of principles that I can't quite wrap my head around it.  This is going to be a big deal over hot dogs, but think of how many millions of people believed they were consuming a product held to certain standards, and were not.  This level of fraud is deadly to an industry that relies on loyal customers and their brand name.

So Long, Sister

Producers said Wednesday that the musical based on the 1992 film starring Whoopi Goldberg will play its final performance on Aug. 26, a 16-month run that included more than 561 performances.
"Sister Act" opened on Broadway in April 2011 after a stint in London and was nominated for a best musical Tony last year. It has original tunes by songwriter Alan Menken and lyricist Glenn Slater.
I had no idea this was going to happen, and just today I mentioned how much I miss the music.  Sister Act was a fun movie, and I say it is one of the best Hollywood casting jobs ever.  Several careers were made, and a few were revived.  Jumping Jack Flash was a long time ago.

It's possibly time for Sister Act to leave Broadway, every good run must end.  It will still be in other places, and thanks to Netflix it's just a few clicks away.

Microsoft Tablet Has Potential

Microsoft today announced a new tablet called "Microsoft Surface," a device with a 10.6-inch screen that runs on the company's new Windows 8 operating system.
It features a magnesium case and built-in stand, said the company. A keyboard and touch pad are built into its cover, and cameras are built into the front and back.
It will come in two versions, the company said, each weighing less than two pounds.
"It's a whole new family of computing devices from Microsoft," said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO, from the stage of a Los Angeles auditorium packed with reporters. "It is a tool to surface your passions and creativity."
Some critical specifications were not mentioned -- including price, screen resolution, battery life or the specific release date.

Microsoft has failed in the cell phone market.  This is a chance for them to diversify and move forward.  If this fails, they may consider sticking to what they know best.  They are surely desperate to branch out after seeing the inevitable end of office software domination and compatibility issues.  Coders who want to be successful now strive to reach multiple platforms, and their stranglehold on the masses has loosened.

The keyboard design is intriguing, and something that people have been clamoring for.  An elegant solution would give them a real edge.  Price and other important factors would be nice to know.  As they release specs and other details, I'll update.

Jackasses Abound

(CBS/AP) NEW YORK - Former television writer Ted Shuttleworth was arrested Saturday for punching a poodle in the face so hard that it died of a brain injury, police said.
New York Post reported that the former "NYPD Blue" writer could face up to a year in prison for punching his dog on May 29. 

Jackass is about the nicest thing I can say about this guy.  But then there's this guy to take it to even higher levels of concentrated jackass.

FREEHOLD, N.J. — A New Jersey man was indicted Monday on charges that he murdered his two-year-old daughter by tossing her into a creek while she was strapped in her car seat.
Authorities say that after failing to return Tierra Morgan-Glover to her mother, from whom he was estranged, he tossed the child into a creek at a park in Wall Township, then fled the state.
An autopsy determined the child was alive when she hit the water. 
There's just nothing else to say here.  I'm rendered speechless by the awfulness of these two people, and what they did.

The Paranoid Huckster Style

Mike Huckabee really does need to check his water because there's something in it.

Fox News host Mike Huckabee, who is an ordained Southern Baptist Minister, recently warned that President Barack Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could force his religion to begin using less water to baptize believers.

During a Tuesday evening interview with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, Huckabee worried that if president could mandate that Catholic institutions’ health insurance cover birth control for women then what would be next?

“It’s becoming increasingly clear to a lot of believers that this administration is not just indifferent to people of faith, it’s hostile,” the Fox News host explained. “And that’s not something I say lightly. I say that with a great burden in my heart to even have uttered the words. But how else can you look at it?”

“If the government can tell the Catholic Church what it must do, how it must practice, what it must do to accommodate the government mandate then the next time the government may say that Baptists can’t — maybe the Baptist won’t be able to immerse because the EPA will determine that’s using too much water,” he added.

How long before the House GOP passes legislation exempting all religious institutions from EPA regulations?  I mean at this point we already have the Conference of Catholic Bishops directing parishioners to go after Democrats.

On Thursday (June 21), Catholics across the country will amplify what is an already loud outcry from the hierarchy over the federal government’s so-called contraception mandate.

With rallies, marches, lectures and special publications, the U.S. Catholic Bishop’s Fortnight for Freedom campaign will seek to galvanize Catholic opposition to President Obama’s proposed mandate to require employers — including religious institutions — to provide free contraception insurance coverage to employees.

But while Catholic leaders frame the events as a fight for religious liberty, critics see signs of political partisanship and electioneering. Questions over the financing of the bishops’ campaign have caused those suspicions to multiply.

“The activities around the Fortnight for Freedom cost money,” said Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington. “What groups are paying for this, and what’s the accountability for that money?”

Those kinds of questions were asked of key Catholic leaders like Baltimore Archbishop William Lori last week as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Atlanta.

Lori, who heads the bishops’ committee on religious liberty, told reporters that gifts “from Catholic groups and foundations” would help sustain the campaign. “The generosity we’ve experienced has been heartening,” he said.

The campaign, Lori said, “is not in any way partisan, either in its spirit or in its funding.”

Sure it's not.  They're just dedicated to the defeat of a sitting President through cynical manipulation of their congregations and taking in millions in order to do it, in direct violation of their tax exempt status because making contraception available to their employees for religiously affiliated institutions that aren't actual churches is intolerable violation of religious freedom.

Technically other religions besides Catholicism being allowed by the US government to exist in the country is violating the religious freedom rights of Catholics under this inane logic.

So glad I'm agnostic these days.  These people are crazy.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

And if there’s any doubt as to who controls the GOP leadership these days, the inmates are clearly not only running the asylum, they’re franchising it.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) announced Wednesday that the full House would consider a resolution finding Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress next week. The House Oversight Committe voted Wednesday afternoon to find Holder in contempt because they allege he failed to turn over documents related to the committee’s investigation into the botched ATF operation known as Fast and Furious.

So yeah, nothing like a good ol’ Constitutional crisis just before the 4th of July.  Executive privilege apparently doesn’t mean a damn thing now to the selfsame Republicans who defended Bush using it over a dozen times.  POTUS is being impeached by proxy here.  These guys are now fully insane.


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