Archive for the ‘government’ Category

Centennial: Southern Civil War Revisionism vs. the Civil Rights Movement

July 10, 2015

Centennial: Southern Civil War Revisionism vs. the Civil Rights Movement

On Thursday the South Carolina State Legislature voted to end display of the Battle Flag of the Army Northern Virginia (“Confederate Battle Flag“) on the State Capitol Grounds, and the flag came down on Friday. Defenders of the flag appeal to “Tradition” and “History,” but this statehouse flag “tradition” only dates from April 11, 1961, and its “history” is really in the Civil War Centennial (1961-1965), when symbols of the Confederacy were adopted and manipulated by white Southerners opposed to the era’s desegregation, the Civil Rights movement, and Federal efforts to guarantee racial equality in elections, education, employment opportunity, and residential choice. Chief among those symbols: the Battle Flag.

Laura McCarty of the Georgia Humanities Council explains this aspect of the Centennial:

“The anniversary coincided with the height of the civil rights movement in Georgia and the South. Some white Georgians used the commemoration to glorify the Confederacy, adopting its leaders, rhetoric, and symbols as a means for expressing resistance to civil rights ideals. While not all centennial efforts were driven by that agenda, the official commemorations upheld an idealized vision of antebellum plantation culture, celebrated Confederate military heroes, and omitted references to slavery as a cause for the war ….”

Southerners now in their fifties and sixties absorbed this symbolic system as children, and passed it on to their children and the children they educated and influenced. That’s the “heritage” the flag represents for them, not 150-year-old military gallantry but the ugly race politics of the 1960s.

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Q & A: 2 Minutes with Elizabeth Warren

June 4, 2015

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at the re/code Conference, May 26, 2015.

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The Tax On People Who Are Bad at Math

May 26, 2015

The Lottery: The Tax On People Who Are Bad at Math
Ambrose Bierce defined the lottery as “a tax on people who are bad at math,” but it’s really a tax on the dreams of the poor.

Last year Americans spent $70 billion on state-sponsored lottery tickets, more than on books, video games, movies and sporting events combined. The poorest third of households buy half of all lottery tickets, and state lotteries advertise most aggressively in poor neighborhoods, as Derek Thompson points out in The Atlantic.

Why do the poor play the lottery?

“It’s not that poor people don’t understand that the lottery has a near-zero chance of making them dynastically wealthy. It’s that they think everything else has an actually-zero chance. ….  State lotteries, in other words, don’t just prey on poor people’s dreams—they do that for everyone—but rather on desperate dreams.”

— “Why you should never, ever play the lottery,” Matt O’Brien, Washington Post

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Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch

April 25, 2015

Senate Confirms Loretta Lynch

After symbolically stonewalling for 161 days, the U.S. Senate finally confirmed the appointment of federal prosecutor Loretta Lynch as Attorney General of the United States on Thursday by a vote of 56 to 43, with 10 Republicans voting “Aye.” Maybe those 10 GOP senators wanted a tough prosecutor running DOJ or were anxious to see the back of incumbent AG Eric Holder, but several may have thought they were voting for country singer Loretta Lynn.

Not country music fan Ted Cruz, though. The Texas Tea Party senator skipped the vote, the only senator to do so. He was too busy raising campaign money in Dallas for his presidential crusade.

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Schock & Awe

March 17, 2015

Schock & Awe

Aaron Schock, Earl of Peoria and the Viscount Sangamon, has retired from the Imperial Government and will return to his country estates. Lord Aaron was aghast to discover he was sitting in the House of Commons, not the House of Lords.

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Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

February 25, 2015

Court Okays Secret Government Internet Switch

From the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC):

“The federal court of appeals based in Washington, DC has ruled that the Department of Homeland Security may withhold from the public a secret procedure for shutting down cell phone service. EPIC pursued the DHS policy after government officials in San Francisco disabled cell phone service during a peaceful protest in 2011. EPIC sued DHS when the agency failed to release the criteria for network shutdowns. A federal judge ruled in EPIC’s favor. On appeal, the D.C. Circuit held for the DHS but said that the agency might still be required to disclose some portions of the protocol.”

— “In EPIC v. DHS, DC Circuit Backs Agency Secrecy on ‘Internet Kill Switch,'” EPIC.org

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Bread Bags Full of Government Cash

January 23, 2015

Bread Bags Full of Government Cash

Montgomery County, Iowa is know as the site of the Villisca Axe Murders and as the childhood home of Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA). On Tuesday, in a recycled campaign speech mislabeled as a State of the Union Response, Senator Ernst explained that when it rained she and other Iowa school kids wore plastic bread bags over their shoes as galoshes, an example of Hawkeye State thrift and self-sufficiency.

But Ms. Ernst’s family may have paid for their Wonder Bread with money from the federal government. Her Uncle Dallas got a bushel full of agricultural subsidies, $370,000, and her Grandpa got $57,479. And while her Poppa pocketed a mere $38,395 in USDA corn subsidies and conservation payments, he landed $215,665 in building contracts from the Montgomery County Government during the years when daughter Joni was the County Auditor.

So much for pork-busting, honesty, and good government. Joni Ernst should be right at home at the slop trough that is the U.S. Senate.

Related:

“GOP Response: The Breadbags of Empathy,” Paul Waldman, The American Prospect

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The New GOP Math: ‘Dynamic Scoring’ Doesn’t Add Up.

January 7, 2015

The New GOP Math: 'Dynamic Scoring' Doesn't Add Up.

Republicans now rule Congress, so the House of Representatives has a new rule: “Above All, Do No Math.” From now on, there’s no problem that can’t be solved by cutting taxes for rich people and corporations. The GOP calls this “Dynamic Scoring,” but others have called it “Voodoo Economics” and “Magical Thinking.” Why? Because it doesn’t work. Paul Ryan wants to call it “Reality-Based Scoring,” but clearly he lives in an Alternate Reality.

The assumption underlying “Dynamic Scoring” is the “Trickle-Down Theory” of economics. In a pre-automobile age this was called the “Horse-and-Sparrow Theory,” because if you fed your horse enough oats surely some would filter through the horse, fall on the road, and feed the sparrows. Then as now, this produces pitifully few oats but a whole lot of horsecrap.

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Congress: Just Like You, Only Much Richer

December 7, 2014

Congress: Just Like You, Only Much Richer

“Congress is rich. The average net worth in Congress is a bit more than $6 million, while the median net worth is $1 million. To put that in context, $4 million in net worth is enough to put someone in the top 1 percent, and $660,000 is enough to put an individual in the top 10 percent. Meanwhile, the median family wealth for whites is $134,000 and for blacks is $11,000. Emerging political science research suggests that the implications of this class bias are profound and important.”

— “The death of working-class politics: How the wealthy conquered Congress and abandoned blue-collar America,” Sean McElwee, Salon

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GOP Health Insurance: Ryancare

November 17, 2014

GOP Health Insurance: Ryancare
Hey oldsters! You voted GOP? Congratulations, seniors, here’s what you get:

“. . . GOP congressional leaders are promising to act immediately on their budget-slashing ideas when 2015 begins. High on their list, according to the New York Times, is implementing Rep. Paul Ryan’s plan to ‘overhaul’ Medicare by replacing it with ‘premium support’ vouchers designed to privatize the system over the coming decades. They will also form a commission to examine ‘options’ for Social Security, which Ryan has also long favored privatizing.”

 — “Get ready for Ryancare, America! Why GOP’s all set to end Medicare as we know it,” Joan Walsh, Salon

Related:

“Yes, the Republican Obamacare Strategy Will Kill People,” Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

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Photo by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com  Note: Product pictured is not made from hair.

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