Subscribe via RSS Feed

Category: General

“What Did That Exercise Equipment Say…’I’m Just A Patsy?’ You’d Better Believe It!”

[ 17 ] April 16, 2015 |

Harry Reid is still covering up for the mafia and Moops Resistance Army goons who roughed him up. But good luck getting the lamestream media to get to the bottom of it.

New York Slave Market

[ 52 ] April 16, 2015 |

The first slave auction in New Amsterdam in 1655, painted by Howard Pyle, 1917

Glad to see New York City finally acknowledging its long history as a slave market.

The city’s slave market stood at the corner of Wall and Pearl Streets and operated from 1711 to 1762. Today, the spot lies several blocks inland. But it was once on the East River waterfront, where oceangoing ships unloaded their goods. The market was a wooden structure with a roof and open sides, although walls may have been added over the years. Renderings show that it could hold perhaps 50 men.

Over the course of those 51 years it was operated, the market trafficked in thousands of slaves: men and women, shiploads of children, even captured Indians.

“It’s not a feel-good story,” said Thomas J. Davis, a professor at Arizona State University who writes about slavery in the north. “It’s not a story that people have wanted to hear.” Davis and other historians say Americans in the north tend to think of slavery as a fever that gripped the south, a fever which was cured by the Civil War.

But New York and other northern cities accrued vast wealth from slave labor and profited for centuries from dealings in the slave trade. Africans who passed through the Wall Street slave market contributed to the prosperity of some very famous companies, some of which are still around: Aetna, New York Life and JPMorgan Chase, to name a few. Various units of these and other financial companies bankrolled southern plantations, insured slaves as property, and used slaves as collateral for loans.

New York was the center of northern slavery, both in the Dutch patroon estates of the Hudson Valley and in the city itself. In 1703, 42 percent of New York City households owned slaves, the 2nd highest slave concentration of any colonial city, only behind Charleston. Around 20 percent of the city’s population during the late colonial period were African slaves.

Richmond Has Fallen!

[ 34 ] April 16, 2015 |

In comments yesterday, heckblazer alerted me to this brilliance of 1865 advertising.


That is now one of my favorite advertisements of all time. Can’t wait to use it in a class.

Throw out the hardware, let’s do it right: NHL Playoff Preview 2015

[ 41 ] April 15, 2015 |

It’s NHL playoff time: if you can’t fly, you’ll have to move in with the rhythm section. Last year the dreary architecture of my soul compelled me to immerse in the analytic literature, and coincidentally or not I went 13-2 pretty much going with the numbers, so I have every intention of doing that again. But first, let’s turn things over to Grand Poohbah of English Literatoor Emeritus Michael Berube, who in our annual tradition will pick the Eastern Conference. Back when his day gig was stacking cutouts at the Strand, Michael acquired a rooting interest in the Rangers, so he has an emotional stake in a contender. We’ll turn to him first:

It is that time of year again, when Scott asks me for my picks in the NHL playoffs, Eastern Conference edition, and I reply with a bunch of predictions salted liberally with Steely Dan lyrics. So let’s break out the hats and hooters, and get to it! You should know how all the pros play the game. Scott gets the West, with its angry race of fallen Kings.

# 1 Rangers v. # 8 Penguins Oh, this is tempting. Just when I say boy we can’t miss, you are golden, I get a matchup like this– just the one I wanted, and that worries me. I was hoping the Rangers would not have to face Boston in round one, because the powerful Bruins insignia makes the Rangers cough up the puck; and I was hoping my guys would not have to face Ottawa, because the Sens have lost only four games in regulation since February 10. But now I wonder: even though the Pens look like they can’t wait to make their tee times in May, might they be motivated enough to make the Rangers pay for all the severe damage they did to the Penguins franchise last year? Maybe. But then again, the Penguins don’t have any defensemen left. They got a name for the winners in the world: Rangers in 5.

# 2 Canadiens v. # 7 Senators Did I mention that the Senators are hot? I mean, crazy hot and scary hot? Then again, Carey Price. It’s nice to see some kind of rivalry crop up between a team from Québec and a team from Ontario, at least until we wait to see whether professional hockey will return to Toronto. But if the Sens really imagine that their little wild time has just begun, I got the news: Carey Price. Habs in 6.

# 3 Lightning v. # 6 Red Wings It is so weird seeing Detroit in the Eastern Conference. I’m not one to look behind, I know that times must change, but has anyone stopped to think that if you have 14 teams in the West and 16 in the East, and eight playoff spots in each, uh, imbalance? Not that it matters to the Red Wings, who are in the playoffs for the 24th consecutive year. I have been betting against the boys from Hockeytown for years, believing that I was feeling a change in the guard, but they are always dangerous, even when they’re not sure they have a real NHL goalie behind them, ahem. Then again, they’re facing the killer line of forwards Johnson, Palat, and Stamkos– and a team that does not lose at home (32-8-1). Oh yeah, and the Lightning GM is a guy named Yzerman, so there’s that angle. So the question for me, finally, is whether Zetterberg and Datsyuk will turn out to be shadows of the men that I once knew. Lightning in 6.

# 4 Capitals v. # 5 Islanders The Isles are thinking that the danger on the rocks is surely past. They are legitimate contenders for the first time in thirty years, and no one can say they aren’t leaving the hideous Nassau Coliseum in style. As for me, I’ve been around the world and I’ve been in the Washington Zoo, and I can tell you that home ice advantage (which the Islanders managed to squander in the final minutes of their season) will mean nothing to the Capitals. DC is like whatever the opposite of Hockeytown would be. But will this be a short series? Only a fool would say that. It will go the distance, it might even involve a 4-OT finish like in ’87, and I’m saying Caps only because I want to see a Caps-Rangers matchup in the second round. Next year when the Islanders move, I feel sure they will make the playoffs again, and I will be able to say something about Brooklyn owing the charmer under me, if I can manage to figure out what that means. Caps in 7.

And now, I will tackle the West:

#1 Anaheim (51.5 Fenwick even strength and close, 14th in NHL) v. #7 Winnipeg (54.1 FF%, 2nd) That’s right — what looks like the quintessential plucky underdog is actually one of the best possession teams in the league. (My Jack Adams vote would go to Paul Maurice without a second’s hesitation.) That doesn’t mean that I think this is an easy series to predict or that I would put a lot of money on the Jets should I find myself in Vegas with a handle in my hand. Anaheim has been outperforming their possession numbers for long enough to make me wonder if there’s something about Boudreau’s coaching or the Ducks’ frontline talent that doesn’t show up in what after all are pretty crude metrics. But what the hell, I want to see the Jets shine in your Brandon and sparkle in your Flin Flon, so I’ll go with the numbers and hope Winnipeg’s goaltending hold up. JETS IN 7.

#2 St. Louis (52.3 FF%, 9th) v. # 6 Minnesota (52.0 FF%, 11th) With the Western Conference playoffs having seen the last of Good King Thornton for now, the Blues are poised to take over the mantle of “excellent regular season team that can’t get over the hump.” The divisional alignment doesn’t do them any favors, as they face a talented Minnesota team that comes into the playoffs sizzling like an isotope. One key variable is Devyn Dubnyk, who played like Dominik Hasek (.936 SP%!) since coming over in midseason. I like Dubnyk and the Oilers selling him low is the kind of thing that makes me hope Kevin Lowe is in charge of the Oilers in perpetuity (which apparently he is), but on the other hand nothing in his record suggests he’s that good and Yeo rode him like Secretariat down the stretch; I can see a regression to the mean coming. Since Good King Ken is a superb coach but also a hardass with a short shelf life, this is a crucial year for the Blues, and I think their superb defensive corps will allow them to get through what should be a great series. BLUES IN 7.

#3 Nashville (53.6 FF%, 5th) v. #4 Chicago (53.0 FF%, 7th) Another great matchup. Nashville is a very, very good team, a little light on offense but a tremendous top 4 on the blueline and (unlike St. Louis) first-rate goaltending to go with it. Chicago needs no introduction; they’re not quite as formidable as they were 2 years ago but we’ve seen their iron and seen their brass and they have as good a chance of getting out of the conference as anyone. The Preds did tail off a bit in the second half, and with Kane apparently ready to go I’m not quite feelin’ the change of the guard here. BLACKHAWKS in 7.

#5 Vancouver (50.7 FF%, 18th v. #8 Calgary 46.2 FF%, 26th The existential question for people in my position: is it better to lose to the Canucks than not to have made the playoffs at all? Despite the possession troubles the Flames have had, a surprising number of people are picking them. But while I’ve already been accused of one correspondent of expectations management, like a castle in his corner in a medieval game I foresee a terrible trouble. Admittedly, if Giordono was healthy this wouldn’t be a mismatch; despite the perception of improvement Vancouver has also become below-average possession team, and if the Flames can continue to stay out of the box they can be competitive. But the injury to the captain really is crucial. There’s obviously no non-devastating way to lose the presumptive Norris frontrunner, but it attacks Calgary where it’s most vulnerable: defensive depth. Brodie is great, but he’s paired with Deryk Engelland, who’s not even an acceptable bottom-pairing guy, leaving the Flames with zero defensive pairs you’d feel comfortable putting out against another team’s top line. On the other hand, even though Bieksa never really developed Vancouver still has an underrated defensive core with Tanev, Edler and Hamhuis. The Hudler/Monahan/Gaudreau line can go toe-to-toe with the Sedins, but while I’ll be praying like a Roman with her eyes on fire for the opposite, I just don’t think Calgary will be able to keep the Canucks off the scoresheet well enough to win. CANUCKS in 5.

In the East, I will dissent from Michael only on the Islanders. They’re never going back to their old dump after the playoffs, but I think Nassau County will get at least 2 series this year.

Better Conditions = Happier Workers = Higher Profits

[ 30 ] April 15, 2015 |

MI Touring Nike's Factories

It’s long been known that better working conditions and higher pay lead to happier and more productive workers. Yet short-sighted greed and corporate resentment over treating workers like human beings has contributed to a global production system that strips workers of basic dignity. But even in Vietnamese sweatshops producing clothing for western markets, the evidence suggests that better conditions create happier workers which creates higher profits.

The Land of the Free

[ 52 ] April 15, 2015 |


The wages of the U.S. immigration system:

Six months after he was deported back to Mexico from the United States, Constantino Morales was shot and killed Sunday night. Morales, an undocumented immigrant who fought for immigration reform in Iowa, was twice denied asylum in the United States before he was found dead in the Mexican state of Guerrero.

“If I am sent back, I will face more violence and I could lose my life,” Morales said at a meeting with Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) in August 2013, according to an Iowa-based, immigration advocacy group Citizens for Community Improvement’s (CCI) Facebook page. “We are in severe need of fair immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. We don’t want any excuses; we know you can make this happen.”

CCI explained in a public Facebook message that Morales was “a former police officer in Mexico who publicly stood up against drug trafficking. After many attempts on his life, he came to the US in search of asylum and an opportunity to continue to work to support his family. He was a kind man. He never let his legal status limit his advocacy for immigrant rights.”

Morales fled to Des Moines, Iowa in 2010. Natalie Snyders, a CCI organizer, told ThinkProgress that since his arrival in the United States, Morales has worked at a local restaurant. He came to her organization’s attention because he was a victim of wage theft and “became quite involved in the organization as a leader speaking out about immigration reform and other issues related to the Latino community. … He was never afraid to speak out for the community, for the immigration system. A lot of people are afraid to speak out when they’re undocumented, but he wasn’t.”

Maria [last name withheld], a close family friend, mournfully told ThinkProgress that Morales came to the attention of immigration officials after the police pulled him over for a traffic violation and found out that he didn’t have a driver’s license. According to his asylum application, Morales was pulled over and let go twice, but Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) later showed up at his workplace “saying I had to go with them.”

We are truly living up to the noble rhetoric of our nation’s mythologies here.

Clinton and Campaign Finance

[ 40 ] April 15, 2015 |


I have some thoughts at the Guardian on Hillary Clinton’s call for a constitutional amendment for campaign finance. The amendment itself is a non-starter, but having Clinton replace Scalia and/or Kennedy would help enormously in the long run.

The Civil War’s Aftermath in Graphic Novel Form

[ 13 ] April 15, 2015 |


Above: Lincoln’s funeral

Ari Kelman and Jonathan Fetter-Vorm excerpt their new graphic novel on the Civil War. You should read it.

You know who else suffered from paranoid delusions of grandeur as his world crumbled around him?

[ 80 ] April 15, 2015 |

Steiner has surrounded and destroyed Zhukov’s 1st Belorussian Front.

Obligatory embed:

“We Are Proud to Announce Bull Connor Will Serve Vegan Meals to All Imprisoned Freedom Riders.”

[ 147 ] April 15, 2015 |


PETA is horrible, part the innumerable:

A controversial, anti-immigrant Arizona sheriff and a former Baywatch star will join together at a press conference Wednesday to promote an all-vegetarian diet for prisoners nationwide. Since 2013, the Maricopa County jail system, run by the self-proclaimed “America’s Toughest Sheriff” Joe Arpaio, became the first in the nation to serve meat-free meals to prisoners. Pamela Anderson is an animal-rights activist representing People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) as a spokeswoman.


Still, Anderson’s appearance with Arpaio is the latest in a string of tactics by PETA that seem inconsistent with their humanitarian values. Last year, the organization offered to pay one month’s water bill for Detroit, Michigan residents, who had their water shut off because of outstanding payments. PETA stipulated that residents had to agree to go vegan for one month. But for Detroit residents who live in food deserts, where it’s difficult to find fresh fruits and vegetables, going vegan was described as tone deaf. The group has used other kinds of gimmicks to promote a vegan lifestyle, often using graphic images or using naked women covered in “blood” and trapped in cages for PETA promotional materials.

Despite Arpaio’s assurance that he’s saving taxpayer money with the meat-free meals, taxpayers still have to help pay at least $21.9 million to implement changes recommended by a court order to combat his department’s systemic racial profiling of Latinos. Those changes include improving training and technology equipment, to show that the sheriff’s office will no longer systemically single out Latinos during traffic and immigration stops.

Trolling: not an effective activist strategy.

Hernandez Guilty

[ 22 ] April 15, 2015 |

Of first degree murder.

In fairness, it all started with a very serious grievance, so you can see why three people needed to be killed.

Another Benefit of Our Laboratories of Democracy

[ 104 ] April 15, 2015 |

Regressive tax codes:

Second, it ignores the effect of state and local taxes, which fall disproportionately on the working and middle classes. The difference is shown by the latest annual report on “Who Pays Taxes in America,” released last week by Citizens for Tax Justice. (Hat tip to Josh Harkinson of Mother Jones.)

“Contrary to popular belief,” CTJ finds, “when all taxes are considered, the rich do not pay a disproportionately high share of taxes.”

CTJ shows that combined local, state and federal taxes produce a system that more resembles a flat tax than a progressive tax: In 2015, the top 1% will pay 32.6% of their income in taxes, while those in the 60th-80th percentile (with average income of $81,000) pay 30.4% and the next highest 10% (average income of $125,000) pay 32.1%. Overall, the bottom 99% pay 29.8% of their income in taxes, a ratio not much smaller than the top 1%.

And it’s not just red states:

Washington, despite its progressive, blue-state reputation, has the most regressive tax system in the country. There the poorest fifth of residents pay seven times as much of their income in state and local taxes as the top 1%.

One of the surest tests of irredeemable hackery is when someone conflates “federal income taxes” with “taxes.” (Cf. Niall Ferguson.)

Page 2 of 1,25012345...102030...Last »