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Orange County

[ 46 ] October 15, 2014 |

Upon arriving at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, this is what greets you. It is the most Orange County thing ever.

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Yet this cannot even compare to what I will post tomorrow, the most epic photo ever posted on LGM and Orange County’s truest tourist attraction. None of you will guess what it is but you will all agree once I post it.

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Frivolous Legal Threat of the Day

[ 49 ] October 15, 2014 |

Blake Lively.

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Foreign Entanglements: The Bridge

[ 1 ] October 14, 2014 |

On this episode of Foreign Entanglements, I spoke with Tom Nichols about bridging the academic-policymaker divide:

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Tuesday Links

[ 33 ] October 14, 2014 |

Anti-density restrictions are an incumbent protection racket that work well for the affluent and not so much for anyone else.

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Abortion Rights Without Apology

[ 167 ] October 14, 2014 |

Katha Pollitt has a fantastic looking new book about abortion rights coming out. This, in turn, has led to some excellent writing from Laurie Abraham, Hanna Rosin, Lindsay Beyerstein, and Jill Filipovic. I liked Rosin’s open in particular:

I had an abortion. I was not in a libertine college-girl phase, although frankly it’s none of your business. I was already a mother of two, which puts me in the majority of American women who have abortions. Six out of 10 are mothers, which makes sense, because a mother could not fool herself into believing that having another baby was no big deal.

I start the story this way because Katha Pollitt, author of Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, would want it this way. In fact any woman who’s reading this piece and has had an abortion, or any man who has supported one, should go in the comments section and do the same thing, until there are so many accounts that the statement loses its shock value. Because frankly, in 2014, it should be no big deal that in a movie a young woman has an abortion and it’s no big deal. We shouldn’t need a book explaining why abortion rights are important. We should be over that by now.

Much more of this, please. Nuts to the “we should perhaps reluctantly make abortion legal but let’s all admit that it’s icky and immoral” arguments from the Saletans and McArdles. Women should not be required to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, women should not have to navigate an arbitrary obstacle course before having an abortion, these rights should not require any apology or tut-tutting about individual choices, and legal abortion is a positive social good. The end.

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Escape from Nixonland

[ 13 ] October 14, 2014 |

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Paul Krugman points out yet again why, as the annual deficit continues to shrink, “deficit hawks” remain undeterred by the spectacular inaccuracy of their predictions:

But what about people who pay a lot of attention to the budget, the self-proclaimed deficit hawks? (Some of us prefer to call them deficit scolds.) They’ve spent the past few years telling us that budget shortfalls are the most important issue facing the nation, that terrible things will happen unless we act to stem the flow of red ink. Are they expressing satisfaction over the fading of that threat?

Not a chance. Far from celebrating the deficit’s decline, the usual suspects — fiscal-scold think tanks, inside-the-Beltway pundits — seem annoyed by the news. It’s a “false victory,” they declare. “Trillion dollar deficits are coming back,” they warn. And they’re furious with President Obama for saying that it’s time to get past “mindless austerity” and “manufactured crises.” He’s declaring mission accomplished, they say, when he should be making another push for entitlement reform.

All of which demonstrates a truth that has been apparent for a while, if you have been paying close attention: Deficit scolds actually love big budget deficits, and hate it when those deficits get smaller. Why? Because fears of a fiscal crisis — fears that they feed assiduously — are their best hope of getting what they really want: big cuts in social programs. A few years ago they almost managed to bully the nation into cutting Social Security and/or raising the Medicare eligibility age; they even had hopes of turning Medicare into an underfinanced voucher program. Now that window of opportunity is closing fast.

A few days ago I noted that, despite the enormous growth of the American economy, median household income has barely increased over the past 40 years, and has actually declined among younger households. There is, however, one group (other than, of course, the upper class) whose real income has increased substantially over that time: the elderly.

Median household income for households headed by Americans 65 and older has increased from $16,831 in 1967 to $35,611, in 2013 dollars. In the late 1960s, a large majority of elderly Americans either lived in poverty or close to it. (The current poverty line for a two-person household is $15,730). Today that bleak state of affairs has been altered drastically, largely if not exclusively as a consequence of Social Security and Medicare. These programs, born of the New Deal and the Great Society respectively, have been nothing less than fabulous successes, which is why they’re so popular.

Obviously both programs require some changes going forward, with Social Security needing some fairly modest tweaks to remain fully funded, and Medicare calling for more challenging reforms (the ACA is a good start in regard to the latter).

Progressives have been living in Nixonland for so long that it’s often easy to forget that most Americans actually like the results of Big Government (sic) just fine, at least as it’s manifested in our most expensive and important social programs.

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Stay Classy, Politico!

[ 25 ] October 14, 2014 |

Mike Allen’s influential newsletter, Pay For Play, gives us careful analysis of Karen Lewis’s brain tumor:

PLAYBOOK WINNER OF THE DAY: Mayor Rahm! Chicago Tribune 2-col. lead, “Lewis bows out … Ailing union chief’s decision eases Emanuel re-election bid,” by Rick Pearson, Juan Perez Jr. and Michelle Manchir: “Karen Lewis, the … combative and charismatic leader of the Chicago Teachers Union, will not run for mayor, significantly boosting Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s chances to win re-election next year.”

I’m tempted to say that Emmanuel must have paid for that, but I’m sure Allen can be that callous for free.

Careful archival research by LGM has uncovered Politico’s daily HOT TAKE from April 15, 1865:

PLAYBOOK WINNER OF THE DAY: Andrew Johnson! Doughface Star Tribune Picayune 2-col. lead, “Lincoln assassinated … national hero John Wilkes Booth challenges federal overreach.” Objective analysis of consequences: “Unity ’64 and No Labels agree: President Johnson should finally bring moderate governance to White House, countering Radical Republicans and their nutty ideas like “the 13th Amendment empowered the federal government to legislate to stop the re-imposition of a slave system” and “black people should have access to public accommodations” and “black people should vote” and “treason should be punished” … Easy re-election win in 1868 expected.”

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The cause of traffic fatalities is driving

[ 109 ] October 14, 2014 |

Good post by Philip Cohen on the absurd misdirection and dubious statistics surrounding the texting-while-driving panic. The parallel with making the famous crying Indian commercial about littering, rather than pollution/deforestation is apt. Driving, of course, is what’s deadly here, and texting-while-driving, like anything that takes your focus away from such a dangerous, high-stakes activity, is obviously a terrible idea, the effort to focus on this one distracting activity misdiagnoses the fundamental problem. A serious approach to reducing traffic fatalities would recognize that humans being what they are, there are real limits to the use of social norms and laws to make humans better driving machines (and for many reasons not immediately solvable via public policy, modern life isn’t really geared toward only driving cars when you’re well-rested, not distracted or angry, incommunicado with the outside world, etc). Getting drivers to take seriously the danger associated with the activity itself is key. Stigmatizing texting-while-driving is fine, but if we’re serious about continuing to push the fatality figures down, the most important thing we can do is make the kind of transit investments and change the regulatory environment to encourage the construction and development of neighborhoods and cities that facilitate low-car lifestyles. (To mount a hobby-horse of mine, down with parking requirements!) The good news is the kids want it, if we’ll let them have it.

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Today in Hacktackular Business Reporting

[ 8 ] October 14, 2014 |

I suppose it’s too much to ask major newspapers to write stories about corporations that are more than fawning portrayals of brilliant CEOs. But this Washington Post piece on departing Gap CEO Glenn Murphy is gross. Jena McGregor, who writes a column on “leadership,” a category that inevitably reinforces the power of the elite, lauds Murphy for raising wages to a grandiose $10 by next year. Yes, yes, Gap floor workers will now be flying to Ibiza for vacation. And the article says how he great Murphy is for women at the workplace.

What this piece sort of leaves out, except for a throwaway at the end, is that no CEO has done more to make sure workers in Bangladesh labor in dangerous factories while American retailers hold no responsibility than Glenn Murphy. Murphy refuses to sign the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which would legally bind his company to improving conditions in factories where Gap clothing is made. European companies have led on this but most American companies have refused, led by Gap. People have tried to shame Murphy but he has no shame. I guess that’s part of the reason the WaPo thinks he so brilliant.

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Noncompete Clauses for Fast Food Workers?

[ 122 ] October 14, 2014 |

Even by the standards of the fast food industry, this is a gratuitous way to treat workers:

If you’re considering working at a Jimmy John’s sandwich shop, you may want to read the fine print on your job application.

A Jimmy John’s employment agreement provided to The Huffington Post includes a “non-competition” clause that’s surprising in its breadth. Noncompete agreements are typically reserved for managers or employees who could clearly exploit a business’s inside information by jumping to a competitor. But at Jimmy John’s, the agreement apparently applies to low-wage sandwich makers and delivery drivers, too.

By signing the covenant, the worker agrees not to work at one of the sandwich chain’s competitors for a period of two years following employment at Jimmy John’s. But the company’s definition of a “competitor” goes far beyond the Subways and Potbellys of the world. It encompasses any business that’s near a Jimmy John’s location and that derives a mere 10 percent of its revenue from sandwiches.

Since there are obviously no trade secrets at stake here, this is clearly just punching employees. Let’s take the one thing we have trained this low-skill, low-wage workers at and make sure she can’t use it if she leaves it at one of our equally low-skill, low-wage competitors!

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The Worst Thing Ever

[ 23 ] October 14, 2014 |

Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis was all geared up to run for mayor against the odious Rahm Emanuel. She had a huge lead in the polls and it could have been an amazing victory. Unfortunately, pretty much the worst thing possible has happened:

Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis, who just pulled out of mayoral contention, is suffering from a cancerous brain tumor that was diagnosed shortly after she experienced a severe headache on Oct. 5.

As a result, Lewis underwent a five-hour surgery at Northwestern Hospital, where she is scheduled to undergo a regimen of chemotherapy and radiation. The tumor had nothing to do with her weight loss surgery in Mexico.

Lewis has wanted Mayor Rahm Emanuel gone practically since he took office, but she will not be the one to unseat him in February, the head of her mayoral exploratory committee said Monday.

The feisty 61-year-old CTU leader will not run for mayor, Jay Travis, he head of her mayoral exploratory committee said in a statement Monday.

I just have no words.

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Impeachment, or Trial For Treason?

[ 24 ] October 14, 2014 |

Shorter Republican Party: The fact that the writing of EPA regulations is not delegated entirely to the coal lobby is a worse scandal than Whitewater and Benghazi put together.

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