• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    CB on The Employment Index
    katiebird on The Employment Index
    abc on The Employment Index
    Sweet Sue on The Employment Index
    Sweet Sue on The Employment Index
    bernard jenkins on The Employment Index
    CL on The Employment Index
    riverdaughter on The Employment Index
    riverdaughter on The Employment Index
    riverdaughter on The Employment Index
    riverdaughter on The Employment Index
    Sweet Sue on The Employment Index
    CB on Gah! Need assistance.…
    Sweet Sue on Gah! Need assistance.…
    bernard jenkins on Gah! Need assistance.…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama big pharma Bill Clinton Chris Christie cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos debate Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean Joe Biden John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Keith Olbermann Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    December 2012
    S M T W T F S
    « Nov   Jan »
     1
    2345678
    9101112131415
    16171819202122
    23242526272829
    3031  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
  • Top Posts

Wayne LaPierre is not crazy.

He says we can call him crazy but I don’t think that’s his problem.

He was on Meet the Press and here’s some of what he had to say:

“If I’m a mom or a dad and I’m dropping my child off at school I’d feel a whole lot safer” if there were trained armed security guards or police protecting the school from people such as Lanza, LaPierre said, although he conceded that “nothing is perfect” as a deterrent against crime.

LaPierre also said, “We have a mental health system in this country that has completely and totally collapsed. We have no national database of these lunatics” and complained that de-institutionalization of the mentally ill had put too many dangerous people on the streets of America. “We have a completely cracked mentally ill system that’s got these monsters walking the streets,” LaPierre said.

LaPierre goes on to suggest that we spend $2 billion on training armed school security guards.  Ahhh, but that could be a problem.  We don’t pay non-teacher school personnel too terribly well and these days, they’re all on contract without bennies.  You’re going to have to find a lot of very altruistic people for that kind of job.  And if they’re altruistic, aren’t they also likely to not see guns as an answer?  Besides, the vast majority of armed school security guards will never see action in their entire careers, if you can call that kind of job a career.  What will they do with their time besides frisking the odd MILF who drops off cupcakes at the office but forgets to bring her driver’s license?

It’s a problem when people are this tense, but one which LaPierre promotes anyway.  Before 9-11, parents were not terribly worried about dropping their kids off at school.  But as soon as everyone started to see an elementary school as a soft target of terrorism, the electronic doors and intercoms went up, the security cameras are mounted on every corner and no one feels safe.  It doesn’t help that the local news and Fox is broadcasting a steady diet of molestation and kidnapping in numbers disproportional to the actual statistics.

But all that security comes with a price and the price will continue to rise as long as there are people roaming the streets with guns.  In LaPierre’s world, the people with the most liberty and freedom are the lunatics with the guns.  The rest of us have to live behind barricades.

As for the databases to check the mentally ill, doesn’t LaPierre know that the Republican party sees maintenance of such databases as “discretionary spending”?  If we left it up to the Tea Partiers and Libertarians, the government would consist of a military and not much else.  Besides, I believe it was the NRA that fought tooth and nail against background checks.  But whatever.

The mentally ill are not all violent and I’d be pissed off if I had autism or aspbergers and suddenly started to be treated like a loose cannon.  Same goes for convicted felons.  Not all of them are dangerous.  Some felons go to prison for securities fraud or embezzlement or for possession of drugs.  And I’ve never met a video game that has killed anyone.

What makes people dangerous is not a video game or paranoid schizophrenia or a felony record.  It’s the ready access to a gun.

The solution seems like a no-brainer, which is why I think LaPierre is not crazy.  He just has no brain.

Rogers and Astaire. Verdon and Fosse. Temple and Robinson. Miller and Flanagan?

Something lighthearted and fun this morning.  This is 10 year old Autumn Miller working on a combo with her Hip-Hop dance instructor Todd Flanagan.

There are a couple of other Miller-Flanagan combinations on youtube.  Here’s another to Nicki Minaj’s The Boys.

Republicans bringing back the bad old days

William Tell keeps his hat on

You have to give Republicans credit for their dogged persistence.  They are going to drag us kicking and screaming back to the bad old days if it takes them a lifetime.  Look at all of the systems and bad ideas that western civilization got rid of over the past couple of centuries that the Republicans have updated and passed off as new and shiny.

1.) Sumptuary Laws: Wiki defines them as “are laws that attempt to regulate habits of consumption. Black’s Law Dictionary defines them as “Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc.””  The Chained CPI is the perfect way to restrain consumer spending, to the eventual detriment of the economy.  Back in the middle ages, the aristocrats didn’t want to have to compete with the commoners for things like purple dye and fine cloth.  If some merchant could buy that stuff for his daughter and supplies were strictly limited, that meant a duchess might have to do without.  We can’t have that.  In a similar way, the chained CPI is almost guaranteed to keep seniors from spending too much.  The working assumption is that they will scale down their purchases, going for cheaper consumer goods, probably of lower quality as well.  This will save the upper salaried from having to give up their Bush tax cuts or have their payroll taxes increased.  More money for them to spend on whatever their hearts desire, less for everyone else.  Too bad for poor seniors who scrimp and save for the meagerest luxuries.  This is what you get for a lifetime of work and getting laid off in your middle age.

Besides, it’s so much easier to tell who the lower classes are at a glance.

2.) The Truck System: Wiki defines it as “an arrangement in which employees are paid in commodities or some currency substitute (referred to as scrip), rather than with standard money. This limits employees’ ability to choose how to spend their earnings—generally to the benefit of the employer. As an example, scrip might be usable only for the purchase of goods at a company-owned store, where prices are set artificially high. The practice has been widely criticized as exploitative and similar in effect to slavery, and has been outlawed in many parts of the world.”

The proposed Medicare voucher system comes pretty close to a truck system.  Employees pay into the Medicare system throughout their working lives with the expectation that when they are of age, they will be paid their deferred compensation in the form of Medicare benefits.  Instead, they would get a voucher whose worth is much less than the originally promised benefit and it could only be used to purchase health care from a private insurer, who has no incentive to compete because there is no public option.

Truck systems have been outlawed in much of the world because it is seen as a form of slavery. Note that the proliferation of unpaid internships for college students is also a form of truck.  They cost parents a lot of money, the student gets no pay and the internship itself is frequently of questionable value in terms of acquiring further employment.

3.) Fear and lawlessness: In Republican world, the only people who have any true liberty are insane people with guns.  Apparently, there is nothing anyone can do to stop them.  Absolutely nothing. Everyone else is at their mercy and must either pay handsomely for security or fight gunfire with gunfire.  That leaves the rest of us afraid to walk around or go to school safely without fear of being gunned down.  We’re the ones huddled behind castle walls while the lawless roam at will.

4.) Serfdom: This trend is disturbing.  This is what you get when you make precariats out of workers.  The more insecure their lives are, the more they are willing to take whatever work they can get to pay their bills and they’ll do it at remarkably low prices. The attacks on labor unions is designed to create more insecurity.  Note that when you decide to go along with this trend, it’s bloody hard to win back your rights without some major socioeconomic shock, like a Great Depression.  As much as people might dislike labor unions, it’s better to have them to push around the management than not have any.

5.) Exploitation: If you want to know what the Republicans and their allies in the 1%, listen to this This American Life* episode about the The Little War on the Prairie.  This war was between the Minnesota Dakota against the US government who cheated them out of their lands.  You might be surprised to find that Thomas Jefferson was the guy who laid out the strategy of how the government was going to acquire the Dakota off their lands.  Basically it goes like this: we want the Indian lands, they aren’t going to give it to us nicely.  So, we’ll sell things to them that they want and get them deeply into debt.  When they see they’re in a hole they can’t climb out of, we make them an offer they can’t refuse.  We’ll cancel the debt if they give up their land.

It worked.  It also lead to the largest mass execution on American soil in the 1860s.  Go listen to the whole thing.  Abraham Lincoln turned out to be a decent guy but he must have been overwhelmed by the Civil War.  It’s a sad story.

So, how does this apply to Republican strategy?  As I’ve been saying for a couple of years now, it’s the Republican plan to put us in thumbscrews.  The idea is to basically turn down the heat on the economy so that people ain’t got jobs, people ain’t got money.  The corporations will stop investing, bankers will sit on the cash like the greedy dragons they are and the whole executive branch of government will be invaded by financial industry moles who will make sure that no one outside of their little evil group to which no one we know belongs gets any relief for the debt they can’t get out from.  And let’s make this clear, we’re not talking about the people who stupidly took out mortgages on homes they couldn’t afford.  Those people got their comeuppance early.  No, the squeeze is now going to be on the middle class, including the college educated, whose wages have plummeted but whose living costs have not.  As long as there is an ongoing crisis of funding the government, unemployment insurance and all the other things that keep the economy barely chugging along, the screws on us will get tighter and tighter.

The Republicans want to break the social insurance programs.  We know this because if the deficit was really bothering them, they could end the Bush Tax Cuts on the highest earners and end the wars.  If they really wanted to cure the deficit problem, they would enthusiastically back a jobs program and fund unemployment benefits so that money could go back into the economy through consumer spending and so that people could pay their taxes again.

This is not what they are advocating.  So, I can only conclude that they are willing to risk severe injury to some industries, like pharma, and the economy in general and have people lose their houses and careers because they want to push us to the point where we are overwhelmed with living expenses that we can’t pay.  Then they will generously offer to turn the money tap back on if we just give up our social insurance programs.

The temptation is going to be great in the next couple of months, especially for the state of New Jersey.  Unemployment rates here were already above 10% when Sandy hit.  Now that one of the state’s major industries, tourism, has suffered a devastating blow, there will be a lot of pressure on our Congressional delegation to cut a deal so the money can flow.  I expect every one of New Jersey’s representatives and senators to crumble.

What would happen if we don’t give in?  I don’t know but it sounds to me like taxes will go up on the wealthiest among us.  I don’t know about you but my Bush tax cut never did amount to very much.  I’d never even miss it.  But I’m guessing that if you make between $250K and $800K, it amounts to quite a bit of money.  It might mean a change in social status. I suspect that’s why the White House press corps was so anxious to find out what the plan was when Obama gave his post Sandy Hook shooting presser.  They’re trying to figure out where they will stand after January 1, 2013.

So, that’s my theory and I’m sticking with it.  The wealthy and their political arm think they can wait us out.  It’s all they’ve got left at this point.  They’re never going to be able to swing another wave election with social issues.  That demographic is dying off.  So, they’ll just keep us in pain until we give in.  Maybe it will work, maybe not.  Either way, they’re going to strangle the economy until they are no longer under any obligation to participate in social insurance.  And then they’ll move in and take everything.

That’s the Republican party in it’s modern form.  It’s still the same bunch of rapists and pillagers.  They’ve just got a formal party organization to hide behind now.  We’re now back to the bad old days of the Sheriff of Nottingham.  It’s hard to believe the middle and working class happily squandered their advantage over the past 30 years over such tripe like “family values” and “patriotism” and the “moral majority”.  I thought people would have learned their lessons by now but the Tea Party has signed up a whole new set of gullible Americans who are more than happy to bash the head of the person lower than them in the hierarchical scheme.  Some people never learn.

* I know nothing about semiotics but I find it interesting that Ira Glass, the semiotics major, manages to find stories that tie in so well to current events in a metaphorical sense.  Accident?  Coincidence?  Intentional?

Senator Menendez hedges on the Chained CPI

Here is the response I got from him following the email I sent the other day.  Menendez is a pretty liberal guy so if this is the best he can do, we’re screwed.

There are two things that Menendez should keep in mind. 1.) If in doubt, ask the actuaries for the data.  Modeling the numbers is not difficult.  Then you will be able to see if there is a cut and how big it is. 2.) Think about the generation that is between 45-55 years old.  We worked our asses off for this country with fewer days off or retirement compensation than most developed countries. Imposing a Chained CPI on us would be like an American version of a sumptuary law, forcing us to forgo goods and services we had planned on acquiring when we retired.  If we had known 30 years ago that a bunch of hard ass Republicans and media pundits would sacrifice us in order to keep their Bush tax cuts, we would have never put up with the surplus payroll tax.  It’s fraudulent to change the rules now.

We’re not stupid enough to believe this is going to strengthen anything, especially social security.:

Dear Ms. X:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition to the use of the Chained Consumer Price Index (C-CPI-U).  Your opinion is very important to me, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to you about this important issue.

As you know, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) is a very important measure of inflation used by the federal government.  The current CPI does not take into account the changes in consumer spending patterns as consumers substitute more expensive goods for similar less expensive goods.  To get an alternative estimate of the effect of consumer substitution, the Bureau of Labor Statistics created the C-CPI-U for consumers, which reflects changes both in prices and the composition of consumer purchasing habits.

While the C-CPI-U may calculate a more accurate estimate of inflation that consumers face, some are concerned that this change will have the effect of reducing future Social Security benefits if it is used to calculate the annual cost-of-living adjustments.

I have not taken a position on this specific issue, but rest assured that I will keep your views in mind. I strongly believe that we must protect and strengthen Social Security because it is the main source of retirement income for millions of seniors.  Social Security benefits provide essential financial security to our nation’s seniors.  Rest assured, as I have done throughout my career, I will continue fighting to keep Social Security strong for generations to come.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.  Please do not hesitate to contact me once again if I can be of further assistance.  I invite you to visit my website (http://menendez.senate.gov) to learn more about how I am standing up for New Jersey families in the United States Senate.

Wayne LaPierre wants to turn school into a combat zone

Getting ready for school

Getting ready for school

It’s hard to believe that the NRA thinks it can get any traction by upping the ante in school hallways.  But I was on the school board once upon a time and I know that when parents feel threatened, they become somewhat, um, irrational.  (Remind me to tell you about the woman who threw a baggie full of her daughter’s golden lice ridden hair at the BOE and demanded we shut the schools down until the critters were gone for good.  True story.  Oh, the stories I could tell.)

The NRA’s Wayne La Pierre said this today:

“The only way — the only way — to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection,” Mr. LaPierre said. “The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.”

Gun-free school zones identified by signs, he said, serve only to “tell every insane killer in America that schools are the safest place to effect maximum mayhem with minimum risk.”

“So why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect the president of our country or our police but bad when it’s used to protect our children in our schools?” he continued. “They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them; it’s our right to protect them.”

Clever.  LaPierre goes right to the gut, which has been well known to circumvent the brain, especially when it comes to parents and their children.  What might be lost on parents, but certainly not lost on LaPierre, is that the latest gun catastrophe is a primo business opportunity.

If you’re terrified that your kids are going to be slaughtered on the way to second period, no amount of protection will be sufficient. I don’t think making schools into fortresses with armed guards is enough.  Can we get some razor wire on the 20 foot fence?  How about kevlar body armor for everyone, K-12?  And forget gym class.  We can have target practice every day, mandatory.

Because, according to LaPierre, childhood is for sissies and slackers.  The “only way” to keep insane killers from killing our kids is to arm ourselves to the teeth, terrify parents and watch all that property tax money flow to the security industry instead of the string program or the arts teachers.

It’s the only way.  Increasing the separation between insane killers and their guns will not work.  Or we could try never allowing our kids to leave the womb.  That might work.  Don’t think it hasn’t crossed some parents’ minds.

But doesn’t that mean that the persons with the most freedom and liberty are insane killers with guns?  They’re apparently allowed to do whatever they want.  There’s no stopping them.  And if you aren’t packing heat, well, then you’re asking for it.  We can’t deprive these people of their right to be both insane and armed.

LaPierre is probably Ok with cuts to Social Security too.  Damn seniors need to learn to hunt for their dinner.

******************

In the same NYTimes article, US Rep Mike Thompson (D California) made this disturbing statement:

“Everyone agrees our schools, movie theaters shopping malls, streets and communities need to be safer,” said a statement by Representative Mike Thompson, Democrat of California. “But we need a comprehensive approach that goes beyond just arming more people with more guns to make this happen.”

I don’t agree that what we need is to make public spaces safer.  The burden and expense keeps getting dumped on the innocent who can’t move around freely and must always be on their guard.  I’m really shocked that a Democrat would make this statement.  It’s a complete capitulation to the security industry.  That’s how they want us to feel- like no place is safe enough.  Shame on Thompson.  He needs to be calming people down, not giving into their gut reactions to an insane act.

******************

Lenore Skenazy at FreeRangeKids posts about  the fallout of Sandy Hook that results in disintegration of community spirit and increase in distrust.  I doubt that insane killers care one way or the other but the 1% are absolutely delighted that we’re eyeing each other and keeping our distances.

Hmmm, maybe what we need is Family Movie Night:

Hey, We’re still here!

Another “End-of-the-World” Scenario has come and gone.  Of course, for those folks out there who absolutely refuse to enjoy this world and the people in it because it is not pure, there will be another calculation.  They’re probably checking their math this morning, wondering if they forgot to carry a ten.  Or maybe they’re debating Julian vs Gregorian calendars.  Or, more likely, they’re simultaneously guilty about using numerology and praying that God doesn’t strike them dead for trying to outfox him.

But it never hurts to be prepared for anything, zombies included.

 

Joy to the World in the Season of Light

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 450 other followers