“About as genuine as polyester.”

October 10, 2012 at 9:34 am | Posted in elections, environment, Historical | Leave a comment
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Hunter carrying a large bear. c1909. (courtesy of the Library of Congress)

(Worcester Telegram & Gazette) A wildlife biologist and avid hunter, who asked not to be named and worked for the state when Romney was governor confided, “I really don’t recall the Romney administration and its appointees having much interest in sportsmen or wildlife conservation. … We were small potatoes with little political or financial power … inconsequential in their estimation. …. I recall that when the Romney administration came to power, it immediately seized all state funds, including the Inland Fish & Game Fund.

“The IFGF cannot, by law, be spent on anything but fisheries and wildlife management. … The Romneyites … held onto it for months, long enough that multiple requests (from Mass Fish & Wildlife) failed to get it back, and the United States Fish & Wildlife Service finally had to write a letter informing the governor that the Massachusetts Division of Fish & Wildlife would be forfeiting a huge sum — $3.2 million, I think — in federal funds if the IFGF weren’t returned to the control of the Massachusetts Wildlife board. This finally got the Romneyites motivated, and they finally relinquished control.

“They held a press conference, and the governor came out to field headquarters and made a speech about how good it was to help out and get this funding for the sportsmen! It was almost surreal: the guy who took the Fish and Game money and held onto it, despite many calls for reason, spins the spectacle to make it sound like he’s a hero for somehow getting it back for us! … Watching that scene play out sure convinced me that he is about as genuine as polyester.”

Five hunters with hunting dogs, carrying two deer. c1922 (courtesy of the Library of Congress)

(ThinkProgress) In response to a question about whether he would sell public lands back to the state [so they could sell them to commercial interests], Romney stated that that “I haven’t studied it, what the purpose is of the land, so I don’t want to say, “Oh, I’m about to hand it over.” But where government ownership of land is designed to satisfy, let’s say, the most extreme environmentalists, from keeping a population from developing their coal, their gold, their other resources for the benefit of the state, I would find that to be unacceptable.

Elvis Has Left The Building

September 15, 2012 at 11:24 am | Posted in Foreign Affairs, Obama!, politics straight up, Reality Bites, State Department, terrorism | Leave a comment
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When I saw the story teaser — “Why Can’t Muslims Remain Calm?” — I was expecting more “they’re subhuman” bullshit that’s popular again after the killings of Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, and three members of his staff. The teaser misled me. This is the gist of the author’s argument:

Tombs of the Mamluk Sultanate (photo c1867-1899, courtesy of Library of Congress)

“This week’s events have certainly reminded us that there are Americans who hate Muslims, and there are Muslims who hate Americans. And if friendship between Egypt and the United States is contingent upon no American ever saying anything that will offend the religious sensibilities of Egyptians, then it is time to declare that friendship dead. President Obama can no more control anti-Muslim bigotry in America than President Mohammed Morsi can put a lid on anti-Americanism in his country. But the haters don’t have to win the day. In this, Egyptians (and, more importantly, their political leaders) could take a lesson from the United States.”

While I believe the author is correct that the American government led by President Obama has reacted in a measured way to recent events, he gives Americans too much credit. America only appears to be better behaved.

Just as politicians and political actors in Egypt and Libya are playing on emotions to control power, the Bush/Cheney administration used the emotions of the American people after the attacks of September 11, 2001 to justify what turned out to be an enormously expensive (both in money and lives) yet ultimately failed attempt to move Iraq’s assets into the hands of a small group of people. Americans aren’t marching in the streets, throwing rocks at foreign embassies, but we don’t have to. We outsource the violence. We can — and do — sit comfortably in our Barca loungers while drones drop bombs on the people we hate. Americans are, in the end, no more adult than Egyptians or Libyans. We are just as easily manipulated by those who foment hate as a means to their particular end.

Why I am a Democrat

September 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Posted in elections, immigration, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Charlie Pierce Tom Junod (my apologies!) explains it as I never could.

Men standing in line in corridor of naturalization office in New York City. c.1916

Indefensible Priorities

August 23, 2012 at 2:56 am | Posted in Economy, elections, Occupy, politics straight up | Leave a comment
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Drawbridge Republicans are flesh and blood human beings peddling indefensible priorities.

Wankers Whipping Up Fear

August 23, 2012 at 12:15 am | Posted in civil rights, elections, health, terrorism | Leave a comment
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This is a problem we need to address

October 23, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Posted in House of Representatives, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites, senate | Leave a comment
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Occupy America

October 22, 2011 at 6:18 pm | Posted in Economy, Occupy | Leave a comment
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Southeast Missouri Farms. Children sitting in living room of shack home. 1938 May.. Russell Lee, photographer (Library of Congress)

(Vanity Fair) The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent. Their lot in life has improved considerably. Twenty-five years ago, the corresponding figures were 12 percent and 33 percent. One response might be to celebrate the ingenuity and drive that brought good fortune to these people, and to contend that a rising tide lifts all boats. That response would be misguided. While the top 1 percent have seen their incomes rise 18 percent over the past decade, those in the middle have actually seen their incomes fall. For men with only high-school degrees, the decline has been precipitous—12 percent in the last quarter-century alone. All the growth in recent decades—and more—has gone to those at the top. In terms of income equality, America lags behind any country in the old, ossified Europe that President George W. Bush used to deride. Among our closest counterparts are Russia with its oligarchs and Iran.

Thanks, Down With Tyranny!

Welfare Cheats

October 22, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Department of Defense, Economy, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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Migrant agricultural worker's family. Seven hungry children. Mother aged thirty-two. Father is native Californian. Nipomo, California. 1936 Feb. or Mar. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Hundreds of defense contractors that defrauded the U.S. military received more than $1.1 trillion in Pentagon contracts during the past decade, according to a Department of Defense report prepared for Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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One of America's new warships of the air, a mighty YB-17 bomber, is pulled up at a bombardment squadron hangar, Langley Field, Va. It is all set to taxi out to a runway and take off . 1942 May. Alfred T. Palmer, photographer. (Library of Congress)

USDA’s 15 nutrition assistance programs are the first line of our Nation’s defense against hunger. … In FY 2001, 17.3 million people recipients received a total of $16.0 billion in benefits. In FY 2008, average monthly participation increased to more than 27.7 million people and benefits totaled more than $31.8 billion – an increase of 60 percent in participants and 99 percent in benefits during that period.

Food stamp fraud isn’t people signing up who aren’t eligible, it’s retailers “paying EBT cardholders in cash for half of the value of their food stamp benefits, then pocketing the remainder.” But that is small potatoes compared to what the defense industry is getting away with.

How Times Have Changed

October 13, 2011 at 2:11 am | Posted in environment, politics straight up, transportation | Leave a comment
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In 1943 it was patriotic to take the bus.

A Greyhound bus trip from Louisville, Kentucky, to Memphis, Tennessee, and the terminals. Hailing a Macon-bound bus on the highway in Georgia. 1943 September. Esther Bubley, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Want some cheese with that whine?

October 12, 2011 at 3:08 am | Posted in Economy, Labor, Occupy, politics straight up, Reality Bites | Leave a comment
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This boy has worked in Payne Cotton Mill, for 2 yrs Macon, Ga. Runs 4 sides and earns 52 cents a day. Overseer has hand on boy' s shoulder. He said this mill made 70% profit last year and expects to make 100% this year. This is owned by Bibb Mfg. Co. Location: Macon, Georgia. 1909 January. Lewis Wickes Hine, photographer. (Library of Congress)

It seems to me that those who are bitching about their situation over at Ewick Ewickson’s “We Are the 53%” are bitching about the same things as the Occupy protestors and their supporters.  The only difference is, Ewick’s group thinks those making $20,000/year and less are responsible for our economic mess and should just die in a fire, or at least live in fear of their house catching on fire.

It’s pretty rich that Ewick should bitch about having three jobs.  His radio job alone pays well enough to comfortably support four families. 

Farm boy with sack full of boll weevils which he has picked off of cotton plants. Macon County, Georgia. 1937 July. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

The county in Georgia where Ewick lives?

Almost 22% of of his fellow residents have income below the poverty line (the threshold for a single person is $11,161; for a family of four, including two children, $21,756), an increase of almost three percent since the 2000 census.  The median household income in Ewick’s home county is $37,367.

Despite not selling the house he bought in 2001 because he would have to take a small loss, Ewick had enough cash laying around to spend over $400,000 on a second house.

The median value of owner-occupied homes where he lives? Approximately $115,000. In fact, 40% of the homes sell for between $50,000 and $100,000.

House in which cotton farmer has lived for fifty years. Macon County, Georgia, 1937 July. Dorothea Lange, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Ewick is not working two other jobs to put food on his family or a roof on their heads. If he’s so overburdened by his two extra jobs, perhaps he should consider quitting one or both so that someone who is looking for a job can have one. Unemployment in Georgia more than doubled between 2008 and 2011. Almost four out of five of Georgia’s children lives in poverty, one out of five of Georgia’s adults below age 65 lives in poverty. Less than one in ten Georgians over age 65 lives in poverty. Clearly, those old people are living high on the hog and Social Security benefits should be reduced, or at the least raise the retirement age to 70, so we get their numbers more in line with everyone else, so Ewick doesn’t have to pay the same or a higher percentage of his income in taxes than the moochers.

Ralph Small House, 115 Rogers Ave., Macon, Bibb County, Georgia. 1939 or 1944. Frances Benjamin Johnston, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Next time Ewick takes a flight from Georgia to wherever, perhaps he should contemplate how less safe he would be without government regulation of airplane construction, air-traffic controllers, pilots, airlines and government investment in airport infrastructure.

Eliminate all regulations and corporations can completely eliminate reports of airplane crashes. Ewick would have no idea how many passengers the airline operating his flight had killed that week, leaving the “free market” free to kill Ewick.

Gunter Field, Alabama. Loading airplane motors onto trucks. They are being shipped to Macon, Georgia for repairs. 1943 March. John Vachon, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Since poor people rarely fly, the only hazard to them would be planes falling on their houses. Certainly, a larger number of One Percenters, like Ewick, would be dead from preventable plane crashes, but if they want to live by the “free market” (except, of course, when their businesses fail and they get bailed out by the evil government), they’re going to die by preventable accident.

Let’s hope the other 99% don’t die from starvation or dangerous job conditions or curable disease or cancer caused by environmental pollution before enough of the One Percenters are dead from their beloved unregulated “free market” so that the surviving 99% can reestablish civilization.

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