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    • And They Made A Desert: 80 to 90% Drop In Nutrients In Food
      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Bribing North Korea

It looks like Karl Rove and his Crossroads GPS group are in a heap of trouble.  Very wealthy people gave mucho dinero to Karl and all they have to show for it is pretty much the same thing they had before the election.

But these guys didn’t get to the top by playing pattycake.  There’s a reason why many industries committed genocide against their employees.  They don’t want to be tied down.  They want to be “weightless”.  All the pension, social security and health benefits costs were keeping their hard earned money out of their own pockets.  So, they went on purges and listened to consultants from McKinsey and Boston who made them believe that they could get much of what they wanted by stressing the superstars to the breaking point and outsourcing everything else.  And what they couldn’t produce themselves, they could license in from the desperate startups.  Right?  You know I am.

Of course, that won’t really work out for many reasons that are unfamiliar to them.  If you’re a scientist, you’re better off developing your hobby for photography or serving tables in a restaurant than in an insecure startup or the crazy world of the corporate lab where all your hard work could get you laid off at any moment.  Or relocated to an expensive area of the country.  And then laid off again. As a lifestyle, it sucks.  But at some point, they’re going to have to hire some of us back.  Maybe there will be some nasty superbug that will need an antibiotic that no one has been working on or maybe the “Christians” will need medication to help them adjust to reality.  Social Security is still out there weighing the wealthy down.  They find it profoundly irritating.

Anyway, regardless of the sturm und drang on the Republican side and the fact that they are just now getting around to asking whether they made the “Christians” too hard assed, self-righteous, condescending, rigid, judgmental, mean-spirited, sex-crazed, irrational, willfully ignorant and just plain unbearable to be around, they aren’t going to give up trying to gut social security while they still have a lame duck session.  And when they have so many legislators retiring or leaving involuntarily, the billionaires still have a few tricks up their sleeves.  For instance, if those newly liberated reps and senators don’t do this one last favor for them, they’ll never work again.  How’s that?  You think you have a posh office at some K Street lobbying firm waiting for you when you get out or a nice Board of Directors appointment or financial industry position?  Think again. They can make all of that go away and leave you with nothing but a rented U-Haul for you to cart your papers back to Indiana.

Maybe there’s an opportunity here for the rest of us.  This situation reminds me of North Korea in the Clinton years, always threatening to go nuclear if they didn’t get what they wanted.  The answer to ratcheting down the threat was to pay them off.  We fed them during a famine, if I recall correctly and sent them oil.  If it kept North Korea from behaving badly, it was a small price to pay.

So, maybe we can offer to pay these retiring and defeated legislators to go away and do it without hurting anyone.  And anyway, if they gut social security to save their cushy jobs, they might have a fat bank account but they may never be safe again from the raging grannies and people from New Jersey who will break their knees (metaphorically).  It would be an ignominious demise, heaped with utter shame and disgrace.  They might have to leave the country.  But if they’re willing to take the money from the rich and powerful to cast a final vote in favor of the people who already have too much money at the expense of the ones who will soon have none, then shame might not be a problem for them.  You might as well take money from the middle and the left.  Our money is good.

So, name your number.  How much will we need to collect to make you go away without touching Social Security or changing Medicare?  We can all chip in and put the money in an escrow account called the “Retired Legislators and Mashie Niblick Lifestyle Readjustment Fund” or something like that.  We promise not to invest in mortgage backed securities with it.  Then, after you leave office and your successor is sworn in, we will dispense the funds to you.  Consider it our parting gift, a nice little nest egg for you to start the next phase of your life.  (Sorry, no Obama Phone.  We’re talking about serious payoffs here.)

No, don’t thank us.  WE will thank YOU.

Whaddya say?  Get back to us ASAP because I think there are some people in New Jersey who are doing practice swings with their lead pipes.

{{KIDDING!! Just kidding!}}

So, here’s a poll for all of you who want to retire someday on the money that you pre-paid for decades:

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Thursday Morning at The Confluence: Browsing at Nini’s Corner

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

In your mind’s eye, join me for a leisurely morning browse through the Nini’s Corner newstand in Harvard Square. Before the internet, it was great place to find local, national, and international newspapers and periodicals. For now the monsoons have stopped and Harvard Square is warm, sunny, and welcoming. We can buy a selection of newspapers, grab a cup of coffee and a muffin, and find a comfortable place to sit outdoors and catch up on what’s happening in the world. Many thanks to MABlue for sending along some recommended links.

Sotomayor Confimation Hearings

Legal experts’ views on the Sotomayor hearing

At Stake in Hearings Are Post-Sotomayor Nominations

After three days of testimony, Judge Sotomayor appeared to have made no major mistakes that would jeopardize her confirmation in a Senate dominated by Democrats. So both sides are trying to use the Judiciary Committee hearings to define the parameters of an acceptable nomination in case another seat opens up during Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Charlie Savage is such a good reporter–a real throwback.

Franken Stumps Sotomayor

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was breezing through her third day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee when she was tripped up by, of all people, the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken.

The comedian, in his second week on the job, noted that Sotomayor had, earlier in the day, said she was inspired to become a prosecutor by watching “Perry Mason,” who, in all his TV episodes, lost only one case to the nefarious Hamilton Burger. Franken’s question was deft and devastating: “What was the one case in ‘Perry Mason’ that Burger won?”

For the first time all week, the future justice was stumped.

[….]

“Didn’t the White House prepare you for that?” he asked with incredulity.

I remember that case. But I think Perry Mason won it on appeal.

Coburn might have some “splaining to do”

Of Pride and Prejudice: Latinos celebrate a milestone that Judge Sotomayor’s critics struggle to understand (h/t MABlue) Continue reading

Thursday Morning at The Confluence: Going to Carolina in My Mind

Can’t you see the sunshine, can’t you just feel the moonshire?

Here in the Boston area, you can hardly tell day from night anymore. The gray skies and rain have been with us day after day for more than a month. July 2, and it’s 57 degrees outside my house. I had to turn the furnace on for awhile last night! What the heck is going on with our weather?

The Eastern U.S. was expected to continue seeing severe storm development on Thursday from a slow-moving low pressure system hovering over the Great Lakes region.

Widespread scattered showers were to continue across the Northeast and New England, with moderate to heavy showers over New York.

A slow-moving low pressure system? I’ll say it’s slow-moving. It’s been hovering over us since May. Will we ever see the sun again? That’s what I want to know.

So what else is happening out there?
BostonRedSoxLogo
This time the Red Sox stole a win from the Orioles, rallying in the ninth inning for a 6-5 win.

One day after the team had left shards of dignity on the field at Camden Yards, their best-in-baseball bullpen obliterated by 10 runs in two innings, the Sox were down by four runs with three outs to go.

But Dustin Pedroia worked a walk. And, as Orioles manager Dave Trembley said afterward, “If you’re going to walk people, it’s not the time to do it in the ninth inning.’’

[….]

It spiraled, spurred on by an energizing two-run home run by Kevin Youkilis, and ended two innings later on a redemptive single by Lugo that capped off a 6-5 triumph in 11 innings that turned the night before on its head, turned the series around, and left the Sox with a celebration for the plane ride home.

And the Red Sox still lead the Yankees in the American League East by 2.5 games. All right! It sure doesn’t feel like summer, but at least the Red Sox are doing well.

Politics

Moving on from New England-centric news, in politics, Chris Cillizza has a lengthy wrap-up of how Al Franken finally won the Minnesota Senate seat from Norm Coleman. Apparently Franken had good lawyers and consultants, and he was smart to stay out of the limelight during his long legal battle.

Right wing blogs are still buzzing over the Helen Thomas-led mutiny of the White House press against the Obama administration’s worse-than-Nixon efforts to control public perceptions. That Robert Gibbs sure is a smarmy, arrogant SOB, isn’t he? Continue reading

Saturday Open Thread: What’s Happening?

Captain Richard Phillips

Captain Richard Phillips

I’m not usually the bloodthirsty type, but I’ve been feeling pretty angry lately about the Somali pirates who have been holding an American ship captain hostage. Yesterday, when I heard he had tried to escape and then been recaptured, my head just about exploded.

The captain of the Maersk Alabama, Richard Phillips, tried to escape from the lifeboat he’s sharing with four pirates in the Indian Ocean and was quickly recaptured, a pirate said yesterday. Two U.S. warships in the waters off East Africa are monitoring the pirates.

“Negotiations are under way to free the American captain and the discussions are continuing,” a man calling himself Da’ud, who identified himself as one of the pirates, said yesterday in a telephone interview from the area of Eyl, Somalia. “The captain is unharmed and at this stage we aren’t going to hurt anyone.”

WTF?! Where is “President” Obama? Why doesn’t he want to answer questions about this situation? Yesterday, reporters asked him about it, and Obama gave a typically snotty response: “Guys, we’re talking about housing right now.”

You know, I would like an explanation. I understand there are U.S. Navy ships near the scene of these events. Why don’t they have sharp shooters to pick off the pirates in the lifeboat? Or Navy Seal types swimming under water to aid Phillips’s escape? How must Phillips feel knowing that even if he courageously tries to escape again, no one will come to help? Isn’t that what happened in Somalia during the “Black Hawk Down” incident–no one came to the rescue? Exactly how are we going to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan if our military can’t deal with some pirates? Is it too bloodthirsty for me to want to bomb the hell out of Mogadishu after this pirate incident is resolved? I don’t get it. And I’m willing to be educated. I heard on a radio last night that the fear is the pirates could kill Phillips if any attempt is made to rescue him through firepower. That’s probably true, but why can’t I hear an explanation from the U.S. President?

In line with the pirate standoff, how come Dear Leader isn’t doing anything about North Korea? They shoot off a rocket and what does the O-man have to offer in response? “Just words,” as far as I can tell. I found this hilarious commentary by a British Conservative in the comments from last night’s cocktail post. He refers to Obama as “President Pantywaist.”

Then came the dramatic bit, the authentic West Wing script, with the President wakened in the middle of the night in Prague to be told that Kim Jong-il had just launched a Taepodong-2 missile. America had Aegis destroyers tracking the missile and could have shot it down. But Uncle Sam had a sterner reprisal in store for l’il ole Kim (as Dame Edna might call him): a multi-megaton strike of Obama hot air.

“Rules must be binding,” declared Obama, referring to the fact that Kim had just breached UN Resolutions 1695 and 1718. “Violations must be punished.” (Sounds ominous.) “Words must mean something.” (Why, Barack? They never did before, for you – as a cursory glance at your many speeches will show.)

Is it wrong that I somewhat agree with this guy?

In other news, there are rallies around the country this afternoon, organized by A New Way Forward. William Greider and other former koolaid sippers are all thrilled about these actions. I still love Greider, but I’d feel a whole lot better about his judgment if he hadn’t fallen for Obama’s lies the first time.

Apparently the leaders of ANWF are Joe Trippi and Mike Lux, who as far as I know are still on the koolaid. Am I wrong to be a little bit suspicious? Another Conflucian suggested to me that this could be an “Obot army” effort to take the focus off the Obama administration’s complicity in the financial crisis and put it all on the bankers. Is that too tinfoil hat? After reading this article last week, I really don’t think so. Obama and his Axelrodian puppetmasters are some very manipulative M-Fers. Paging Cinie! If anyone could scope this out, she could!

So what are you reading/hearing/watching today? Please share your links. Our commenters are the best researchers evah!!