Book of the Month

Ramona's picture

Goodwill Misses the Meaning of Good Will


When 19-year-old Andrew Anderson started working at the Goodwill store in East Naples, Florida, he thought his job was pretty cool. He was working in a place where poor and low-income people came to buy the things they couldn't afford anywhere else.  

"It makes you feel amazing," he said, "makes you feel you can actually be the person to help them."  
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jollyroger's picture

Privatizing warfare, prisons and security clearances-a recipe for disaster

Today's news explicating in part the ostensible shortcomings in the process by way of which Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis received their security clearances ought to give pause to the insane stampede of contracting out government that began during the Reagan years. [Read more]

Shutdown Prediction

Since Articleman is not here to give us his more discerning take, I will predict that the Republicans in the House, led by Speaker Boehner, will not pass a 'clean continuing resolution', or any government spending Bill the President will sign, by this Monday. Their ultimate list of demands for federal law and  finances includes everything from means testing for Medicare, less regulation of Wall Street, tax cuts for the rich, approving the XL pipeline to deregulation of environmental laws.  [Read more]

Theodore Fancy Pants Underestimated.

The political repercussions of the latest budget and debt hostage-taking exercise by tea Republicans in Congress won't be known for another week or two when we find out whether or not the government has been shut down, if the nation's credit rating has been lowered again, and what concessions Obama has made this time around. And the long term aftermath of this latest tea party act of sabotage is unpredictable. What is knowable is that Ted Cruz has name recognition on a level that rivals anyone in politics or the entertainment industry. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Papal Utterances

Posts like these generally start with a pronouncement of lapsed Catholicism on the part of the author.  I can be very atheisty.  I do not study the church.  I do not consider its views when I make any of my own decisions, be they moral, social, financial or dietary.  This means that I have something of a tin ear for the nuance of the papal utternance.

Pope Francis says that maybe his church, at least in the developed west, has overemphasized culture war issues like same sex marriage, other gay rights, contraception and abortion.  For those who follow such things, this is big.  As an outside observer I raise an eyebrow and say, "you think?" [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Republicans Vote to Keep Folks Hungry and Sick and Their Base Loves It. The Rest of Civilization is Appalled.


Yesterday the Republicans in the House voted to slash 40 billion dollars in annual food stamp (SNAP) coverage over 10 years, putting some 3.8 million poor people in jeopardy of losing their pitiful but essential pennies-a-day government food support.  (There are some 47 million people at the poverty level here in the United States.  A shameful fact that should point out the absolute need to keep the SNAP program alive rather than killing it.  But apparently in the People's House in Washington facts are sticky things to be ignored or stretched or blasted to smithereens.)
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Doctor Cleveland's picture

Larry Summers Is Not the Main Problem

I'm as pleased as anyone that Larry Summers has withdrawn from consideration as the next Chair of the Fed. I thought he would do a terrible job. But Summers himself was never the real problem. His candidacy was only a symptom. The real problem is that we have a President who wanted to nominate Summers in the first place. Obama does not understand what's wrong with the American economy, and five years into his term, he persists in some basic misunderstandings.
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Michael Maiello's picture

It's Too Soon To Taper

Reuters had me back today in advance of the sixth Federal Reserve meeting of 2013, the meeting that is meant to signal the beginning of the end of quantitative easing and the eventual return to normal Fed operations.

It's too soon.

Worse, though Ben Bernanke has done a very good job and has tried his best, he hasn't done near what the economy required.  Jim Reid at Deutsche Bank argues that the Fed should have followed a far more audacious path by targeting GDP growth rather than inflation.  I'm convinced. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Julian Assange Lost Big Time. Look Out, Australia!

WHEN asked to explain why he was running for a seat in the Australian Senate while holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Julian Assange quoted Plato: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.” 
Plato was “a bit of a fascist,” he said, but had a point.
Imagine the chagrin Mr. Assange must feel now, given that not only did he fail to win a place in the Senate in the recent election, but he was less successful than Ricky Muir from the Motoring Enthusiasts Party. Mr. Muir, who won just 0.5 percent of the vote, is most famous for having posted a video on YouTube of himself having a kangaroo feces fight with friends. 
 [Read more]
Michael Maiello's picture

Bloomberg, Syria and the Wisdom Of People

On another blog I got into a bit of a dust-up on Syria.  While not really advocating for anything, I asked the writer, some one recommended high by Princeton foreign affairs pundit Anne Marie Slaughter on Twitter, why he wasn't giving much weight to the idea the fact that American voters from both parties were mildly to intensely against military intervention in Syria.  I laid out the usual concessions to the nature of a Democratic Republic and the problems inherent in foreign policy by opinion poll but still, I insisted (and insist) the public appetite for something like this should carry some weight. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Why Obama Won't Make College Cheaper

Education reform in America is always an attempt to get something for free. It has been that way for at least twenty-five years. No matter what the scheme of the hour is (charter schools, Teach for America, No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top) or whether you're talking about K-12 or college, every reformer makes one of two promises. Either they promise to make education better without spending any more money, or they promise to make education better while spending less money. Education reformers basically say, "Four dollars is too much to pay for a hamburger. Bring me a three dollar steak."
 [Read more]

Ramona's picture

9/11/2001. It Will Be With Us Forever.

Today marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. [Read more]

Putin---don't play me!

Putin's now universally known initiative on chemical weapons control in Syria has, in my opinion, opened the door to essential American character traits which may preordain our getting more involved in Syria's war.

We don't like to be lied to. We particularly don't like to be played for chumps. When we do decide to address a problem, we are impatient. We are capable of revenge, but as one pundit has put it, "...we have the watches, the Middle Easterners have the time."  We don't have the patience for cold revenge, we like ours hot. And if Putin is playing us for chumps, he has all but written a scenario for American intervention. [Read more]

TimDanahey's picture

A Nation of Sheep Will Beget a Government of Wolves

When one discovers a friend has lied or an associate has stolen, a trust has been violated and the pre-existing bond is broken - often irrevocably.

Such is the case with our current government versus U.S. citizens allied with people aroud the world.  Each day, new revelations detail how our government has spied on its own citizens, foreign leaders, and allies.  Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who covers the Edward Snowden story, is rumored to be preparing a story how the U.S. government assigned the CIA to spy to benefit U.S. multi-national corporations on matters not affecting U.S. security,  In essence, spying for fun and profit.  This was made legal during the Clinton administration but it was never made ethical or honorable - nor was it made widely public. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Congress: What Is Good For?

Those of you who know me know that I torture myself with The New York Times Op-Ed page, allowing many of my first post gym hours to be consumed by perplexed rage at the chosen few who have access to the most coveted op-ed space in all the land.  [Read more]

Orion's picture

Mr. Rodman Goes To Pyongyang

In the chaos surrounding the possible Syria strike, mass shootings, George Zimmerman and all sorts of other things, you might have missed out on a really strange story - Dennis Rodman's apparent new job as ambassador to North Korea. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Can Everybody Be Right?

Whatever is ultimately decided regarding Syria, I think that we have finally found an issue where both sides, in the main, have very reasonable and persuasive arguments.

The arguments for action are humanitarian, have long term implications for global stability and, as recently argued by Secretary of State John Kerry, have a certain timeliness in that failing to act now could conceivably result in our having to react to something worse later on.  I also buy Michael Wolraich's argument that the use of chemical weapons is more akin to sending soldiers house to house to kill the families of the opposition than it is to the conventional use of weapons on the battlefield. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Three Years ago Julian Assange Lost his Luggage. He Just Now Noticed?

It was a long weekend and I was devilishly busy and exhausted to the point of just plain weary, so you'll have to forgive me if I didn't get this right:
I read today that on September 27, 2010--almost three years ago--Julian Assange of Wikileaks fame checked a bag at an airport in Sweden containing three laptops filled with Wikileaks stuff, including some top secret "war crimes" information that, if it hadn't been stolen by some shady government dudes, would have knocked our socks off with revelations of dirty deeds so devastating, if they had ever, ever been revealed, the world as we know it might just stop spinning.  Or heads would roll.  Or Assange would be hailed as the hero he fancied he already was.  Whatever.  Something BIG would happen if ever those revelations saw the light of day.  So, of course, they were stolen by one or more shadowy government dudes who were not about to let that happen.
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Michael Maiello's picture

What Is The Norm on WMD?

The best argument for intervening in Syria is that the U.S. would enforce a normal surrounding the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction that, whatever the short run costs, would benefit the world in the long run.  We would seek to create a world where, I don't care if the rebels are at your door, you're not allowed to infect their home village with a disease or unleash the mustard gas.

The notion that war needs rules was hard learned.  A lot of what we call WMD today was just ordinary brutality for much of history.  Diseases were used against Native Americans.  Mustard gas was used in World War I.  Agent Orange was used in Viet Nam and might be considered a WMD today.  Of course, the U.S. has twice used atomic weapons. [Read more]

Ramona's picture

Labor in America: Those were the Days - (A Repeat)

Note:  Labor Day weekend is here once again, and let's enjoy it while we can.  I have a feeling, if things keep going this way, anything that smacks of celebrating labor in this country will disappear. 
I guess you've heard that Michigan, my Michigan has become a Right-to-Work state?  Who would have dreamed it would ever happen to Michigan?  Are businesses flocking to our border now, wanting to take advantage of cheap, unprotected labor?  Do I even have to answer that?  (I'm throwing this in because I'm still so mad about the whole damned thing.  I may throw it in many more times in future posts. Because I'll never stop being mad about the whole damned thing.)
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