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Stringer Bond

[ 14 ] December 19, 2014 |

If North Korea hacking Sony e-mails actually leads to Idris Elba playing James Bond, it will be that country’s greatest gift to humanity.

Wearing Gay History

[ 5 ] December 19, 2014 |

Super cool online archive of historical gay themed t-shirts from Indiana. Well worth exploring, even if it is overwhelmingly male.

Additional commentary here.

Coastal Cities and Climate Change

[ 50 ] December 19, 2014 |

Norfolk residents are trying to adapt to climate change by raising their houses to protect them from increasingly frequent floods. The problem is that it’s really expensive to do this, a lot of people in Norfolk are poor, and they can’t afford it. Meanwhile, because people buying homes and especially insurance agencies have to make real world decisions and thus aren’t going to be persuaded by James Inhofe spewing climate denialism, these low-lying homes are really hard to sell and insurance rates on them are skyrocketing. This is what substitutes for real climate change planning from government.

Work in the Walmart Economy

[ 44 ] December 19, 2014 |

This is why unionizing Walmart is so important and why just ballot measures for the minimum wage isn’t enough to improve the lives of workers. Unions are about dignity and power on the job, which is why companies hate them. Because those companies want to make pregnant women work with chemicals and then fire them when they complain:

Candis Riggins says that she isn’t the only pregnant worker who was discriminated against by Wal-Mart. And despite having a policy stating it will make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant workers, Riggins alleges that Wal-Mart made it virtually impossible for her to safely work through her pregnancy.

“I made it clear to my supervisors that I wanted to keep working and that I could do several other jobs well,” Riggins said this week in a statement. “I just needed to keep away from the chemicals, but Wal-Mart said, ‘No,’ even though I know they gave light duty to a coworker of mine when he hurt his back. Finally, I was forced to choose between a healthy pregnancy and my paycheck. No pregnant worker should have to make that decision.”

In the claim, Riggins states that the chemicals she was forced to work with while cleaning bathrooms at the store made her ill, and that bending over for hours at a time caused her severe back pain. The pain became so intolerable that she went to see a doctor, who recommended lighter duty during the rest of her pregnancy. When she went to her supervisor with this information, she was moved to mopping and sweeping the store, work she said still exacerbated her back pain and involved chemicals that made her ill.

Finally, she was moved to be a greeter at the door. But the time on her feet, at least 8 hours, according to the claim, was still hard on her, so she asked if she could sit on a stool. She was told she could not sit, despite other workers with injuries being allowed to sit while greeting customers. According to the claim, “Wal-Mart has engaged in a pattern or practice of gender discrimination against female sales associates and in policies or practices that have a disparate impact against women.”

Eastern Airlines

[ 30 ] December 18, 2014 |

Discuss.

Thatcherism

[ 133 ] December 18, 2014 |

Margaret-Thatcher__2530139b

The leaders of Thatcher-era Great Britain were really marked by high personal moral standards:

London police say they believe a claim made by a man named only as “Nick,” who alleges he saw a Conservative member of Parliament kill a boy at a child sex party in the 1980s, The Guardian reports.

Nick, whose real identity is being withheld by police and the media, previously told the Exaro news site that when he was a boy he was taken to child sex parties in the 1980s. He watched a boy being strangled to death in front of him by the unnamed MP. On another occasion, he says he saw another boy killed while a Conservative cabinet member looked on. A third boy is also alleged to have been killed by the Westminster pedophile ring that included senior political figures in the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s.

Even better:

Jackie Malton, a former detective sergeant who investigated the death of eight-year-old Vishal Mehrotra in 1981, has told The Telegraph she believes the crime may have been covered up to protect senior Westminster political figures. In that case, the father of Vishal Mehrotra has claimed that he passed to the police a tape recording of a phone call he received after his eight-year-old son was killed in which a male prostitute said the boy might have been abducted and murdered near the notorious Elm Guest House, a building nearby where Vishal went missing. Elm Guest House had been the focus of a police investigation into whether it was a base for child abusers.

An inquiry into the disappearance of a dossier that named alleged pedophile MPs has already proved inconclusive. In 1983, Leon Brittan, the former home secretary and member of Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, was handed a 40-page dossier naming eight senior civil servants and politicians who were allegedly involved in a secret ring of pedophiles. And then the dossier … vanished.

Thatcherism–a government rotten to its very core.

States Rights!

[ 135 ] December 18, 2014 |

Remember friends, conservatives are always about smaller government and leaving people alone to live their lives as they want:

Two neighboring states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Colorado’s laws legalizing recreational marijuana.

The Colorado attorney general’s office says the states of Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed the lawsuit directly with the nation’s highest court. The attorney general’s office says the lawsuit alleges “that Colorado’s Amendment 64 and its implementing legislation regarding recreational marijuana is unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.”

In other words, right wing states decide to launch a lawsuit based upon a culture war against a liberal state (or however you want to define Colorado). Nebraska and Oklahoma are claiming that they are suffering because of the marijuana arrests no one is forcing them to make based upon their borders with Colorado. For Oklahoma, this makes almost no sense since I am sure very, very few people buying legal marijuana in Colorado are crossing it’s small and remote border with the Sooner State. Of course, the solution to this “problem” for the attorney general in these states is not to spend less money on stupid laws and reallocate that money to solving social problems. It’s to spend more money on a frivolous lawsuit. Which pretty much sums up modern conservatism.

Fred Hiatt, Ladies and Gentlemen

[ 58 ] December 18, 2014 |

Fred Hiatt again proves his acumen at idiocy:

On Wednesday, the Castros suddenly obtained a comprehensive bailout — from the Obama administration. President Obama granted the regime everything on its wish list that was within his power to grant; a full lifting of the trade embargo requires congressional action. Full diplomatic relations will be established, Cuba’s place on the list of terrorism sponsors reviewed and restrictions lifted on U.S. investment and most travel to Cuba. That liberalization will provide Havana with a fresh source of desperately needed hard currency and eliminate U.S. leverage for political reforms.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

I love how the Embargo hard-liners will ignore all evidence as to its effectiveness of the Embargo, not to mention the many other nations with leaders far more diabolical than the Castro brothers that we have very close relations with. If there’s one thing the U.S. has had in the last 55 years, it’s leverage for political reforms in Cuba! What’s better is bitterness of Hiatt and the WaPo editorial board that the U.S. has established relations with Vietnam:

Mr. Obama says normalizing relations will allow the United States to be more effective in promoting political change in Cuba. That is contrary to U.S. experience with Communist regimes such as Vietnam, where normalization has led to no improvements on human rights in two decades. Moreover, nothing in Mr. Obama’s record of lukewarm and inconstant support for democratic change across the globe can give Ms. Sánchez and her fellow freedom fighters confidence in this promise.

The Vietnam outcome is what the Castros are counting on: a flood of U.S. tourists and business investment that will allow the regime to maintain its totalitarian system indefinitely. Mr. Obama may claim that he has dismantled a 50-year-old failed policy; what he has really done is give a 50-year-old failed regime a new lease on life.

Yes, if only Vietnam was still isolated, it would have totally converted to a liberal democracy!

I also note how the editorial sort of kind of left China out of this analysis. Gee, I wonder why.

Personally, I think Obama is playing 18-dimensional chess here because if Cubans are going to have greater internet access as part of the deal, the CIA can finally undermine the Castro regime through a foolproof tool: cute cat videos.

Putin

[ 160 ] December 18, 2014 |

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Although I am always skeptical of moment of journalists using moments of crisis to write of leaders, domestic or international. After all, oil is not going to stay down forever. Still, be real sad to see Putin suffer.

Tales of the American Working Class

[ 34 ] December 18, 2014 |

Another taker who should just buck up and embrace the creative economy:

So my daughter gets WIC. We get food stamps. The car’s paid for, and so is the house. If the house wasn’t paid for I don’t know where we would be. On the days both T.J. and Devon work, we put 150 miles on the car. Devon’s job is only 19 miles roundtrip, so when it’s just her working, it’s not so bad. But gasoline runs about $100 to 150 a week. Utilities are around $300 a month in the summer, lower in winter, about $250. The county office is supposed to help with utility bills but they make it impossible. You have to go to the office and sign up. You can’t do it by phone or the Internet. They call you to go in, and you have to take a class on energy efficiency, and take all your bills and proof of no income. We had help twice about two years ago. We got some help through a church once; they’ll help with a bill if you’re working.

We still have Internet through the cable company and cable with it. The rest of the money goes for everything that is not food, diapers, toothpaste — those luxuries. And we have two loans to pay off, besides the school loans — $175 a month and $140 a month. Devon and I both took out loans when we were working and making good money. It seemed O.K. at the time.

Money is just a real strain on everything. T.J. feels as if he is the only one bringing home money. I don’t bring in anything, so I don’t have much say. I can suggest things now and then but it’s not my money. I’ve got no cash, nothing at all. I did get a $5 pair of Walmart sweatpants a few months ago, and I still have work clothes, but I don’t buy anything. I’ve sold almost every piece of my mother’s jewelry, including my grandparents’ wedding rings and things my dad gave her, to pay for bills over the last few years, especially when my daughter and I weren’t working.

At night, we don’t do much. I made a big pot of chili the other day so I didn’t have to cook last night. We reheated that. I had washed the air-conditioning registers and vents. T.J. took them down, and I washed them in baking soda and vinegar and bleach. So we put those back up, watched some TV and took care of the baby. We don’t really go to many places. I like to read but I’ve read everything I have now, and there is not a lot of time.

I do still fill out job applications. I would love to get back to work. I never thought I would go this long without working, without making any money. But bad luck (and some bad decisions that were not necessarily known to be bad at the time) can happen to anyone, and when it just keeps coming, it’s hard to get out from under things.

A Great Leftist Film

[ 106 ] December 17, 2014 |

wolf_wall_street2

I finally watched The Wolf of Wall Street last night. No leftist has ever made a stronger indictment of capitalism. Nor an indictment of capitalism with more cocaine and sex. That it is not a leftist movie and in fact is totally apolitical only makes it stronger. I also find people fretting over Scorsese’s own position amusing, an issue which Andrew O’Hehir writes well about.

It’s not really one of Scorsese’s very best films because it is a good bit too long, but it is right there with Hugo as his best of the 21st century. Of course these days he’s too busy chronicling the heroes of his generation with lame documentaries, but when Scorsese tries, he’s still one of the greatest living directors.

In any case, I’d be hard pressed to give a reason why capitalism is a moral disaster than what is portrayed in this film.

Pundits

[ 40 ] December 16, 2014 |

If I was a parent and two of my children were partisan pundits yelling at each other on C-SPAN, I wouldn’t want them home for Thanksgiving either. I’d also probably admit I was a terrible parent for them to turn out this way.

Oh my Lord, shut it down, here is the greatest moment in the history of C-SPAN: A (very Southern) mama called into one of their shows to yell at the guests. Not because she disagrees, but because the guests are brothers and both her sons and she is sick and tired of their shit.

This perfect moment comes via the eagle-eyes at the Washington Post. You see, brothers Brad and Dallas Woodhouse sit on opposite sides of the the aisle, politically, and so they make joint appearances to argue bitterly about things like Obamacare. And their mother has had enough, by God, and so she called into their latest C-SPAN appearance from Raleigh, North Carolina to say that she is glad they both went to their in-laws’ this year for Thanksgiving and she wants this nonsense out of their system BEFORE they come home for Christmas, goddammit. She loves them both, but she wants a peaceful Noel.

Watch and cringe as one of the brothers drops his head into his hands and bemoans, “Oh God, it’s mom.” At least they’ve got something to bond over before the trip home for the holidays.

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