Archive for March 18th, 2011

March 18, 2011

The Middle Class v. GOP

by Vince
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March 18, 2011

Quote of the Day II

by Vince

“I think the presidency is beneath her. There’s more power in being Oprah Winfrey than in being Barack Obama. It would be my goal for Palin to become Oprah and be the ultimate kingmaker for twenty-odd years. Oprah anointed Barack Obama.”
Andrew Breibart in GQ magazine referring to Sarah Palin.

Can we say wow to the first sentence? Hasn’t Palin been trying to be a media/culture mogul since resigning from her governorship and going for the bacon with her books and job at Fox News? By the way, when will people stop calling her governor? She has been out of formal office for a few years now.

March 18, 2011

Limits in Nature and American Politics

by Vince

John B. Judis over at The New Republic is one of my favorite writers. His articles are usually quite eloquent in their brevity and hit on topics interesting to me. His latest gives a brief (not exhaustive) history of the changes in outlook towards nature by American political parties and how they affect us today. It is worth a full read. These two paragraphs sum things up well:

Yet during the last year, we’ve seen two disasters that show the price humanity can pay for harboring illusions about the workings of nature. First was the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that occurred in early 2010. Yes, it occurred due to lax regulation from the Department of Interior and a rush to profit by BP and Halliburton. But the reason behind the failure of the Interior Department to regulate, and the failure of BP to heed the dangers of a spill, was a belief that nature would not exact revenge. It was a refusal to take the limits set by nature seriously.

The Japanese, of course, cannot be blamed for the calamity that has befallen them. Lacking domestic access to oil, they relied on nuclear power, and they built their reactors to withstand the largest earthquakes and tsunamis—though they didn’t count on both happening simultaneously. Yet what happened in Japan shows vividly that millions of years after humans began inhabiting the earth, nature is still a force to be reckoned with, and it still imposes limits on the decisions we make as a society. Will Republicans come to understand that? Or will they continue to believe that the only limits worth acknowledging are those that government puts on the bank accounts of their corporate sponsors?

March 18, 2011

Quote of the Day

by Vince

“To be faithful to God means not only to love God, but to love that which God loves – namely, the neighbor, and indeed the whole of creation.”
-Marcus J. Borg in his book The Heart of Christianity (p.34)

March 18, 2011

“The War Against” Rhetoric

by Vince

Radley Balko at Reason breaks this down:

From the early 1980s to the mid-2000s, University of Eastern Kentucky criminologist Peter Kraska conducted an annual survey on the use of SWAT teams in the United States. Until the late 1970s, SWAT teams were generally used in emergency situations to defuse conflicts with people who presented an immediate threat to others, such as hostage takers, bank robbers, or mass shooters. But beginning in the early 1980s, police departments across the country began using SWAT teams to serve drug warrants.

Kraska found that the number of SWAT deployments in America increased from 3,000 per year in the early 1980s to around 50,000 by the mid-2000s. That’s about 135 SWAT raids per day. The vast majority of those are for drug warrants.

Money quote:

Unlike the targets and crosshairs that ultimately had nothing to do with the Tucson shootings, the willingness of politicians to define drug prohibition policies in terms of war has had real consequences—namely, cops who approach drug law enforcement as if American streets were battlefields. Ronald Reagan once compared the drug war to the World War I battle of Verdun. Drug warriors have described the narco-carnage in Mexico as a positive sign. One Georgia sheriff recently likened his own anti-drug efforts to the invasion of Normandy.

One of the final scenes in the movie Traffic explains this to a T but on a more personal level.

March 18, 2011

A Century of “Tax Burdens” in one graph

by Vince

The creator of the graph, Stephen von Worley, explains:

That’s a line for every year from 1913 onward, sized and colored by the tax burden: the amount of tax due relative to the long-term average at each income level. Above-average burdens appear thick and red and below-average thin and blue. We adjusted everything for inflation to ensure an apples-to-apples comparison, with the caveat that the effects of Social Security, Medicare, and other taxes are not included. The underlying data comes from The Tax Foundation, IRS, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, and is the same information we used in last year’s bracket graph, updated for 2011.

Hat tip: Andrew Sullivan

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March 18, 2011

The Grey Areas of Unemployment Coverage

by Vince

Readers continue to write in to Andrew Sullivan. Here is a portion of one’s letter:

In an era when those who brought down our financial system get multi-million dollar salaries and bonuses, when the wealthy pay the lowest taxes in 50 years, when there are huge tax breaks for corporations with billions in profits, it blows my mind to see teachers, the poor, and those with disabilities attacked.

Explicit fraud should never be tolerated, and the Obama administration efforts to root out Medicare fraud are necessary and admirable.  However, when there are gray areas (instances where abuse seems obvious but can be difficult to prove), percentages matter.  When the percentage in the gray area is relatively small, the moral and financial costs of rooting out abuse far exceed any benefits to society.

It is sad when those who have never needed unemployment coverage (minus Rush Limbaugh) paint all who need or use it as parasites.

March 18, 2011

Credit is Due

by Vince

A helpful guide for citing an image.

Hat Tip: swissmiss

March 18, 2011

Tax Breaks for the Rich vs. Budget Cuts in one graph

by Vince

Again and again, who in a sane mind believes that the GOP is out for the middle class guy? Unless by middle class you mean millionaire.

Hat tip: Good