Archive for Misc.
Pope Francis last week issued Evangelii Gaudium, or Joy of the Gospel, an “apostolic exhortation.” Less than an encyclical on church doctrine, Evangelii Gaudium nonetheless stamps papal authority across Francis’ recent speeches. The National Catholic Reporter likened it to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.
For conservative pundits it’s more of a nightmare:
Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. 
Commenters looking for moral wiggle room at Free Republic debated the accuracy of the translation — not of the whole document, just the passage above. A National Review critic argued that nobody said markets were sufficient to bring down poverty. Still, people working sweat shop jobs in developing nations are less impoverished. Those who lost jobs in this hemisphere? Well, those are the breaks.
The Tampa Bay Times, the home of PolitiFact.com has gone online with PunditFact. The new site fact-checks your favorite (and least favorite) pundits.
PunditFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and the Poynter Institute, dedicated to checking the accuracy of claims by pundits, columnists, bloggers, political analysts, the hosts and guests of talk shows, and other members of the media.
The site has been live for less than a month, so the quantity of the rulings is small. But it’s entertaining to see who has gotten the most “Pants On Fire” rulings to date.
Please return to consuming mass quantities.
Something to lighten up the blackness of the consumer frenzy.
Our food banks here are struggling to keep up. Please help if you can this holiday season.
The $5 billion cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will affect 47.7 million people, one out of every seven Americans. A family of four will lose $36 a month in food assistance, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, dropping from $668 to $632 a month.
In New York City, with 63 percent of pantries and kitchens reporting shortages, the cuts will add stress to an already strained system, says Triada Stampas, a spokesperson for Food Bank for New York City. That food bank, the nation’s largest, delivered 72 million meals last year. The organization calculates that across the five boroughs, SNAP cuts will mean that New Yorkers who get assistance will eat a total of 76 million fewer meals acquired with food stamps in the next year.
“We’ve been talking to private donors for months about these cuts,” said Stampas. “But I want to dispel the notion that private charity can make up for the cuts, that’s simply not possible.”
It’s been Web 2.0 for a while now but it didn’t take social media to invent the Internet’s oldest frenemy: the troll. What makes a troll a troll? I’ll attempt to provide a commonly used definition of internet troll. But behavior of this type varies so much from context to context that it is important to remember what a wise soul once said about what makes pornography.
I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.
Here is a troll “definition” or description I like. There are others.
Named for the wicked troll creatures of children’s tales, trolling is purposely sowing hatred, bigotry, racism, misogyny, or just simple bickering between others. Trolls themselves are emotionally-immature users who thrive in any environment where they are allowed to make public comments, like blog sites, news sites, discussion forums, and game chat.
That last part is key: any environment where they are allowed to make public comments. Like maybe a nationally broadcast radio show? Obviously Rush Limbaugh comes to mind when thinking about radio trolls. We can’t forget the infamous attacks on Sandra Fluke. Fortunately, Rush has had a huge drop in advertising revenue since then. But with his complete record it’s a wonder anyone would associate their brand with this troll.
But just think. The Supreme Court of the United States is going to hear a case about contraception coverage in Obamacare. This was at the heart of Sandra Fluke’s testimony for which she was treated so poorly by Rush. Hope the Supremes don’t go a-trollin’. If they do, we’ll know it when we see it.
“America’s descending into madness,” writes Henry Giroux in his latest book. The author appeared on Bill Moyer’s program Friday as the nation observed the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination. Since the Reagan-Thatcher era, Kennedy’s calls to public service and national aspiration have been systematically supplanted with an ethos of radical self-interest and tawdry appeals to men’s basest instincts. It is a world, Giroux asserts, in which elites consider that “survival of the fittest is all that matters” and that “democracy is an excess.” Giroux is appalled.
… the notion that profit making is the essence of democracy, the notion that economics is divorced from ethics, the notion that the only obligation of citizenship is consumerism, the notion that the welfare state is a pathology, that any form of dependency basically is disreputable and needs to be attacked, I mean, this is a vicious set of assumptions.
Fifty years ago today, November 22, I was in Scout Room in the basement of St. Celestine’s Catholic School in Elmwood Park, IL, a close-in Chicago suburb. It was, like today, a Friday. Friday afternoon. I was sitting on the right side of the classroom, halfway down the row of wooden desks against the windows that looked out into the window well. The sun was streaming in through the grating above when the news came over the P.A. that President John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president, had been shot in Dallas. There was no further news on his condition. We prayed the rosary, then school let out early. The world had stopped.
It was not the first death I had experienced as a child. Three years earlier, my uncle had died in the Park Slope mid-air collision over New York City. Still, the news was dramatic and alarming, yet incomprehensible.
Last night while driving back to my hotel, NPR’s “All Things Considered” aired a feature about the reaction at a Boston Symphony concert when the news arrived. Conductor Erich Leinsdorf delivered the news and, as the shocked audience’s gasps echoed in the hall, announced that the orchestra would play the funeral march from Beethoven’s Third Symphony. A second wave of gasps, as the finality of the news sank in.
I had never heard this tape before.
Later, during a scheduled intermission, the musicians debated backstage whether it was appropriate to go on. Ultimately, Henry B. Cabot, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s president of trustees, decided the music should continue.
Cabot addressed the audience, “The ladies and gentlemen of the orchestra came to me during intermission, and some of them felt that we should not continue the concert. I told them that I thought we should continue. And I told them that the day my father died,” Cabot said, his voice cracking, “I came to a symphony concert for consolation. And I believe you will receive it yourselves.”
Fifty years later, I teared up behind the wheel.
Some years ago, Johnny Carson was interviewing a NASA astronaut on The Tonight Show. Carson asked him what he thought of the bestselling book about alien visitations to Earth written by Erich von Daniken, titled “Chariots of the Gods.”
The NASA guy paused, took a breath and said, “Whenever Dr. von Daniken looks around the world and encounters something he doesn’t understand, he sees evidence of flying saucers. And since there is a lot in this world that Dr. von Daniken doesn’t understand, he sees evidence for them everywhere.”
Carson rolled his eyes for a laugh.
People who believe in widespread voter fraud are like that too, aren’t they? From the Washington Post, a study looks at a link between claims of voter fraud and alien abduction:
One of the findings of a new working paper by John Ahlquist, Kenneth R. Mayer and Simon Jackman is that “the lower bound on the population reporting voter impersonation is nearly identical with the proportion of the population reporting abduction by extraterrestrials.” Roughly 2.5 percent of the population effectively admit to one or the other.
The researchers use a clever set of survey questions in which subjects have only to admit to how many of the actions on a given list they have engaged in, without admitting to specific actions. The difference between the control and the subject groups is that the latter lists included the addition of vote fraud. But some people report to having engaged in all actions on the lists. To check for simple carelessness in reporting, another list adds being abducted by aliens. What they find again is people admitting to committing fraud and to being abducted in similar proportion.
The implication here is that if one accepts that 2.5% is a valid lower bound for the prevalence of voter impersonation in the 2012 election then one must also accept that about 2.5% of the adult U.S. population – about 6 million people – believe that they were abducted by extra-terrestrials in the last year. If this were true then voter impersonation would be the least of our worries.
Which is why photo identity cards are insufficient for preventing voter fraud. They might stop undocumented aliens, but not space aliens. GOP governors should be insisting on DNA testing for all voters.
Just where is Hans von Spakovsky from? I mean, really?
(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)
Randi Rhodes is going off the air. No more “It’s Friday, you bastards!”
Rhodes, whose nationally syndicated show airs Monday through Friday from 3-6 p.m., had suggested to her listeners since October that her days on radio were “totally numbered.” Premiere said today it will no longer carry her show after the year ends.
“Premiere Networks will no longer produce and distribute The Randi Rhodes Show after Tuesday, December 31, 2013,” Premiere’s public relations director Rachel Nelson told POLITICO in an email.
Wow! That’s terrific bunny …
Residents of Mount Gilead, a town of about 1,100 people in central North Carolina, are reeling from a police sting operation that netted 59 arrests the morning of Election Day. All of those arrested were African Americans, all for possession of drugs, alcohol and guns. Some there are questioning the timing of the bust and believe it was an attempt to intimidate African Americans from showing up at the polls that day.
StoneMor Partners, a Pennsylvania based cemetery company, has been quietly talking with Springfield Mayor Mike Houston and other top city officials about taking over management of Oak Ridge Cemetery.Calling StoneMor “a good company,” Houston acknowledged Tuesday that he has spoken with no other firms about taking over cemetery operations. He has said that the city plans to issue a request for proposals aimed at soliciting bids to privatize Abraham Lincoln’s final resting place. The city council must approve any management deal.
Rolling Jubilee, set up by Occupy’s Strike Debt group following the street protests that swept the world in 2011, launched on 15 November 2012. The group purchases personal debt cheaply from banks before “abolishing” it, freeing individuals from their bills.
By purchasing the debt at knockdown prices the group has managed to free $14,734,569.87 of personal debt, mainly medical debt, spending only $400,000.
UPDATE: I didn’t want people to miss part three of this series by Josh Holland at Bill Moyers’ place.
And the irony is that many households pay no income taxes as a result of a policy that conservative politicians have long favored. As David Cay Johnston, author of Perfectly Legal: The Covert Campaign to Rig Our Tax System to Benefit the Super Rich–and Cheat Everybody Else, told Moyers & Company in October, the situation is primarily due to the child tax credit Republicans put in place in the ’90s. “A married couple with two children does not pay any federal income taxes until they make at least $44,000 a year,” said Johnston. “And with a little bit of tax planning, you could make $70,000 and pay no federal income tax. So the Republicans create this situation where middle-income families with children pay no income tax and then they complain about it.”
That working couples with kids making up to $70,000 are routinely shamed as deadbeats and freeloaders says a lot about the nature of our political discourse regarding these issues.