Book of the Month

Ramona's picture

Hillary Clinton takes those mugs on and wins! (So what's new?)


So yesterday was the day Hillary Clinton finally testified on the Benghazi tragedy at hearings in both the House and the Senate.  The Republicans have been after her for months now to get it done, but things happened, including Influenza and her fall and subsequent hospitalization for a concussion in late December. (A clear stall, wicked lady. Hmmpph!)

No surprise, was it, that if the Republicans pushed that hard to get her on the stand, it would be theater less like Shakespeare's Globe and more like Gonzo Gaiety.  Satisfying, isn't it, that they didn't disappoint?
 [Read more]

Ramona's picture

On this Second Inauguration: Our Chance to Hope Again


Monday, January 21, 2013 - 7 AM:
As I'm about to begin the fifth year of my blog on this morning of Barack Obama's second Inauguration (held on the anniversary of Martin Luther King's birth, a most appropriate and fitting confluence), I feel I should write something so powerful, so moving, so wise, nothing anyone ever writes about this day will even come close.
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Michael Wolraich's picture

Evaluating the Teachers

Unlike New York City teachers, most Americans have no say in how their employers evaluate their job performance. The process, if there is a "process," usually emerges from an obscure H.R. task force that bases its guidelines on whatever trendy corporate gobbledygook some associate vice president read in the latest issue of Human Resources Executive.

Once the process reaches its lofty conclusion, the employee has to live with the consequences. A glowing evaluation may mean a raise and promotion. A scathing report may trigger demotion or even termination. The processes are not necessarily fair. Bosses often use them to justify whatever they wanted to do all along. Good bosses treat their people fairly. Bad bosses exploit their power for petty politics. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

State Power!

Oh, the states.

Those of us educated in one of them have learned since childhood that Federal law is "the law of the land."  When federal law contradicts state law, federal law wins.  State law is rock.  Federal law is paper.  The practical challenges of living together, though, are scissors.

In the last election two states decriminalized marijuana use.  Prior to that, numerous states made it legal for doctors to prescribe marijuana, on a pretty wide variety of pretexts.  Almost everyone I know in California, for example, has prescribed access to marijuana.  My friends and associates are not all sickly people. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

Social Security's Haters (or, Payas Gonna Hate).

Jay Ackyroyd at Eschaton flagged this interesting Matt Yglesias piece about the rationale of Social Security haters.  It's worth a read.  Here's the money bit, as Ackyroyd quoted: [Read more]

Ramona's picture

NRA "disappointed" in White House visit. Current Occupants refuse to Budge. Could get Ugly


For weeks now, since the tragic murders of 20 sweet children and six dedicated educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, (one month ago today, and that is some sad anniversary) we've been in the middle of some serious, long overdue gun control arguments.  The gun nuts see any form of gun control as "an infringement of their right to bear arms". (Oh my God, I can barely type that one more time. It's so stupid.  Even in quotes, it's stupid.  But I must go on.)
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Michael Maiello's picture

No Gimmicks

I've always been skeptical of the two alternatives floated that Obama could use to avoid a debt ceiling standoff, but I've also liked them both and I continue to like them both far more than the option of the U.S. voluntarily defaulting on its debt, which is a silly thing considering that the U.S. controls its currency supply. [Read more]

William K. Wolfrum's picture

Scientists discover human body will stop a bullet in a "legitimate" shooting

TEXAS – Scientists at the University of Texas-El Paso have discovered that the human body will deflect bullets in a “legitimate” shooting.

“We have seen that, when the human body is stressed out and about to be legitimately shot, the bullet will not harm them,” said Dr. Phil Gingrey. “The obvious conclusion is that people who do have a bullet enter their body actually want to be shot.” [Read more]

Ramona's picture

An already belligerent 21st Century enters its Teens


Just two weeks from today, on the 21th of January, 2013, Barack Obama will be inaugurated for the second time as president of these United States.

Obama, as you may remember, is our first half-black president and the man so loathed by his political archenemies, for four full years jillions of dollars destined for desperately needed domestic growth have been held hostage while those jackals were busy working at destroying his presidency.  All so that he would never, ever get a second chance at under-privatizing America.
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Michael Wolraich's picture

The Republican Suicide Strategy

A suicide bomber walks into a bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!" The worried bartender hands him a wad of cash, and the bomber departs.

The next day, the suicide bomber returns to the same bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!"

"Are you nuts?" answers the bartender. "If I give you money every day, I'll go out of business. Plus, you're scaring away the customers."

"I tell you what," replies the bomber, "Gimme the money, and I won't come back until the day after tomorrow."

Welcome to the art of negotiation, Republican style. Since the election of 2010, the United States has narrowly averted three Republican-built suicide bombs: one government shutdown, one debt default and one fiscal cliff. We have two more scheduled for February: across-the-board spending cuts and another debt ceiling expiration.

Read the full article at [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Boehner's Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad New Year

John Boehner has a situation. A week ago, he failed to reach a deal with President Barack Obama to avert the dreaded Fiscal Cliff. To save face, he then attempted to pass his own compromise bill, which he called Plan B, ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Democrats were not party to the one-sided "compromise." As it turned out, the Republicans weren't party to it either. When Boehner's conservative colleagues refused to vote for Plan B, he had to humbly retract his evidently no-sided compromise. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Your New Year's Public Domain Report: 2013

It's January 1, which means it's the day that works whose copyright has expired enter the public domain. Here's the list of works that entered the public domain in the United States today:

Nothing. Nada. Not a thing.
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Michael Maiello's picture

Still Can't Quit Brooks

But I'll be quick about it.

"The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money."

No! No! No! No!  It is not free money.  It is paid, as a tax, over the course of a working life.

The Monyechimp Compound Interest Calculator will tell you that if a person works 30 years, and pays one thirtieth of $109,000 annually, that they would earn $344,639.70, modestly in excess of what Brooks claims as the ultimate "get," with just an average 6.4% annual return. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

A Constitutional Project

Just based on conversations I've had over the years, one of the assumed best things about the enduring democracy of the United States is that we've had one Constitution, amended infrequently, for a very long time.  Other countries, we're told, go through constitutions quite frequently and others don't have them at all.  Today, Louis Michael Seidman writes in The Times that we should give up on the Constitution all together.  It has become, he argues, an impediment to smart decision-making and an appeal to a long departed gentry who would not understand the problems we face today.

I'm convinced. [Read more]

Orlando's picture

Horrific Gang Rape in India is a Symptom of Larger Societal Problems


This morning, I heard the news that a 23-year-old medical student who was brutally gang raped in Delhi on December 16th had died. Another gang rape victim, in the state of Punjab, committed suicide this week after being pressed by police to drop the case and accept money or even marry one of the rapists. The girl, a teenager, and her family wanted police to open an investigation.  [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

The Overstated Importance Of Philanthrocapitalism

Apparently casting about for ideas for an Op-ed column this week, Nicholas Kristof has gone back to the "philanthrocapitalism" well with a column titled "How Giving Became Cool."  He credits Ted Turner's decision to funnel $1 billion for charitable causes through the United Nations a few years back, and then his agitating for more generosity from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who have since championed "The Giving Pledge," where our wealthy betters promise to give away half of their fortunes to charitable causes. [Read more]

Doctor Cleveland's picture

Fighting 'The Government' by Killing Your Neighbors

Before dawn on Christmas Eve a man set fire to his car and his house and waited for the firefighters to arrive so he could murder them. He shot four, killing two. They were volunteers. One of the men he killed was also a local police lieutenant. They died for going out on a winter morning to protect their neighbors. [Read more]

Michael Maiello's picture

28 Days In November (also December and January)...

...Picture it.  It was the middle 1990s.  Kurt Cobain still breathed.  Courtney Love still made sense.  People wore flannel on top of their flannel.  Britney Spears was a Mouseketeer and a virgin.  Some people still carried pocket pagers, known as "beepers."  Well, only drug dealers.  Pay phones existed.  The rapper Ice-T was an unlikely candidate for starring in a Law and Order spin-off. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

What Should We Do to Stop Massacres?


Maybe Wayne LaPierre is onto something. So suggests DF in his latest blog, What Can We Do to Stop Massacres? Isn't it at least worth considering, he asks, LaPierre's proposal to station armed "responders" at our schools?

It is worth considering. An armed officer presents a defense and a deterrent. It seems indisputable that LaPierre's proposal would help protect our schools against violent attacks.

But would it stop massacres? Not unless we placed multiple armed responders at every park, playground, pool, day camp, playing field, Sunday school, daycare center, shopping mall, or any other place where children gather. [Read more]

DF's picture

"What Can We Do to Stop Massacres?"

UPDATE: This April 2010 report by the US DOJ states, "Moreover, nearly half of all public schools have assigned police officers."  Obviously, this statement does not make clear whether or how they are armed. [Read more]

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