June 30, 2014
This One Weird Accounting Trick Made Everything Copacetic
At the heart of the majority’s opinion is this: The Department of Health and Human Services has already developed a way to exempt religious non-profit corporations—such as churches, charities, and hospitals—from the legal mandate to pay for employees’ contraception coverage. In what amounts to an accounting trick, they permit those corporations to purchase plans without such coverage, and then require that insurance companies themselves independently provide it to the uncovered employees. Because pregnancy is quite a bit more expensive than contraception, this apparently ends up not imposing any additional net cost on the insurers. The result is that employees of religious non-profits end up with no-copay contraception coverage, exactly as if the employer were required to provide it directly, but the employers are satisfied by this ledger shuffling that they aren’t being compelled to violate their most deeply held moral convictions.
The blog princess particularly enjoyed this:
If what you are fundamentally concerned about is whether women have access to no-copay contraception, then there’s no obvious reason to invest such deep significance in the precise accounting details of the mechanism by which it is provided. You might even be heartened by a ruling that so centrally turns on the premise that accommodation for religious objectors is required when no women will lack such coverage who would have enjoyed it under a mandate.
The outrage does make sense, of course, if what one fundamentally cares about—or at least, additionally cares about—is the symbolic speech act embedded in the compulsion itself. In other words, if the purpose of the mandate is not merely to achieve a certain practical result, but to declare the qualms of believers with religious objections so utterly underserving of respect that they may be forced to act against their convictions regardless of whether this makes any real difference to the outcome. And something like that does indeed seem to be lurking just beneath—if not at—the surface of many reactions. The ruling seems to provoke anger, not because it will result in women having to pay more for birth control (as it won’t), but at least in part because it fails to send the appropriate cultural signal. Or, at any rate, because it allows religious employers to continue sending the wrong cultural signal—disapproval of certain forms of contraception—when sending that signal does not impede the achievement of the government’s ends in any way.
So here's a bonus annoying question. If it violates an employer's religious convictions to indirectly provide so called "emergency" birth control methods by offering a blanket policy that covers those methods, why doesn't it violate their religious convictions to provide exactly the same policy, but pass the cost of the birth control coverage along to the insurer?
They're still providing a policy that provides female (but not male) employees with the objectionable birth control methods at no cost. Someone else will pay for that tiny part of the policy, though it's by no means clear that the price of the policy will change. And we're guessing that eventually, insurers will find some way to pass the administrative costs occasioned by the religious exception along to everyone. Including companies like Hobby Lobby.
There seems to be no legal way for religious employers to avoid offering a policy that covers these birth control methods. They're included regardless. The only way I see to avoid participating in the system is to refuse to offer any insurance at all. Which would trigger the fines referred to earlier.
In which case, aren't we back to square one? Or am I missing something?
Feel free to ensmarten me in the comments.
Hobby Lobby, Turnabout, and the Notion of Fair Play
Be careful what grounds you base your argument upon, because that argument may one day be used in ways you don't like:
When I was in law school, the free expression clause of the First Amendment was still the darling of the left. It had been used by the Supreme Court to strike down laws restricting political dissent, which was almost always political dissent from the left. It was also used to relax artistic censorship. Liberals loved all of this. But in a brilliant bit of constitutional jujitsu, the Republicans on the court have turned the First Amendment on its head.
Hobby Lobby represents a new legal threat to liberal values. Now the challenge comes not from the free speech clause of the First Amendment, but from the clause providing for free exercise of religion—although in this specific case, technically from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as I mentioned, which was designed to rejuvenate the free exercise clause in the early 1990s after the Supreme Court eviscerated it. The idea is that religious people should be able to challenge statutes that “burden” their religious practices. Typically, those challenges come from the right. In Hobby Lobby, the owners of the craft-store company object, based on their Christian beliefs, to certain forms of contraceptives. Other challenges come from people who don’t want to serve gay people or facilitate gay marriages. It is not hard to imagine challenges from religious people with traditional notions of the role of women. Indeed, the whole edifice of individual rights erected from the 1950s through the 1970s could be challenged by a wave of religious rights proponents who want nothing to do with the people and practices that liberals have championed.
Satisfyingly for them, conservative religious people can mount their challenges by drawing on the theory that lay behind the liberal victories. Liberals argued that the Supreme Court should enforce the rights of racial minorities, political dissenters, accused criminals, and gays and lesbians because these groups were “discrete and insular minorities” that were outvoted again and again in our majoritarian political process. These court victories also protected religious dissenters, but mainstream religious beliefs did not receive the same level of protection, because they were held by the majority, who could protect themselves at the polls.
But as the country has become more secular in recent years, it is increasingly possible to see conservative religious people as a beleaguered minority, at least in some places. Their groups are small enough to be outvoted but large enough to bring countless legal challenges. Religious objections to gay marriage are increasingly seen as out of the mainstream, as outlandish as the speech and activities of dissenters who liberals used to believe needed protection. So it is natural for religious people to argue that they deserve constitutional protection as well, and that for their sake, laws that promote contraceptives, gay marriage, and the like must be narrowed or eliminated.
A side effect of this trend is that cases increasingly involve a conflict between two different rights, or conception of rights, rather than a conflict between a right and a government interest. In old-style cases, it was natural to think that the rights of political dissenters, or racial minorities, or criminal defendants, were pitted against the government interest in public order. The rhetoric of rights promoted sympathy for the individual being crushed by the governmental boot. But conservatives have come up with a different framing. Property owners have rights to property. Religious people have rights to religious freedom. Rich people have rights to speak and spend their money getting other people to listen. Victims have rights not to be preyed upon by criminals. A Supreme Court devoted to enforcing rights of all kinds becomes the ultimate arbiter of political disagreement.
The Editorial Staff have mostly stayed away from this issue, in large part because we find the argument that being forced to offer a health care plan that includes medications you wouldn't take yourself because your religion considers their use to be sinful is deeply unpersuasive to us. The causal connection between an employer's personal decision not to use contraception and being morally bound not to offer employees a benefit that is viewed by pretty much everyone as part of the total compensation package because they might use it in a way that conflicts with their employer's religious beliefs is just too flawed a general standard for us to support.
That said, arguing that a law already on the books requires stronger grounds than the Obama administration has provided before ordering individuals and companies to do things that conflict with their religious beliefs seems like a sound basis for today's ruling. The strongest argument for Hobby Lobby's case is that the contraception mandate was not the least restrictive means that could have been used to achieve the government's objective.
One wonders though, how the religious freedom argument will be used in future cases that conservatives find far less sympathetic? Should Muslims be able to sue to strike down or exempt themselves from laws they feel unfairly burden their religious freedoms? Are we willing to protect all religious freedoms, regardless of the freedom being asserted? How about Satanists? We doubt this is a recipe for sound public policy.
Discuss amongst your ownselves, knuckle dragging haters :p
Update: Here's a nice, succinct summary of the decision:
...in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the court held 5-4 that closely held corporations cannot be required to provide coverage for contraception services for their employees if the owners object to such coverage on religious grounds. Contrary to some early reports, this decision is based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), and not the First Amendment. (In other words, this is a statutory decision, not a constitutional one.) According to the court the contraception coverage mandate is not the least restrictive means for ensuring access to contraception. In order to reach this conclusion, the court concluded that the RFRA applies to closely held corporations. Justice Alito wrote this opinion, as well. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurring opinion. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the primary dissent, joined by Justice Sonia Sotomayor in full and Justices Kagan and Stephen Breyer in part. Justices Kagan and Breyer wrote separately to note that they saw no need to decide whether for-profit corporations or their owners could bring claims under RFRA.
Privileging the 1% over the 99%
The Editorial Staff, whilst eagerly awaiting the arrival of our very first granddaughter, were shocked and appalled to realize that we have already committed an egregious act of microaggression against
her ... it:
The imaginary treatment I described above is real. Obstetricians, doctors, and midwives commit this procedure on infants every single day, in every single country. In reality, this treatment is performed almost universally without even asking for the parents' consent, making this practice all the more insidious. It's called infant gender assignment: When the doctor holds your child up to the harsh light of the delivery room, looks between its legs, and declares his opinion: It's a boy or a girl, based on nothing more than a cursory assessment of your offspring's genitals.
We tell our children, “You can be anything you want to be.” We say, “A girl can be a doctor, a boy can be a nurse,” but why in the first place must this person be a boy and that person be a girl? Your infant is an infant. Your baby knows nothing of dresses and ties, of makeup and aftershave, of the contemporary social implications of pink and blue. As a newborn, your child's potential is limitless. The world is full of possibilities that every person deserves to be able to explore freely, receiving equal respect and human dignity while maximizing happiness through individual expression.
Question for the ages: what sane parent tells their children they can be anything they want to be? I want to be a winged unicorn. Of course I lack the requisite horn growing out of the middle of my forehead. Not to mention the mane, tail, hooves, and other physical features thereuntoappertaining.
Dresses or ties aren't physical characteristics. A girl isn't at terribly high risk for testicular cancer. A boy is virtually assured of never having to have a hysterectomy. Heart disease has completely different symptoms in men than it does in women. One of the consequences of those physical differences is that it is underdiagnosed in women.
That's about as good a textbook example as we can think of for not encouraging doctors to view the physical differences between men and women as irrelevant distractions from "who the patient really wants to be". Objective reality exists, no matter how hard some try to deny its existence.
How we choose to respond to that reality is up to us. How we choose to present ourselves to the outside world is up to us. How others choose to respond to us is up to them. It takes a unique kind of almost totalitarian self centeredness to demand that the rest of the world change to suit your subjective likes and dislikes rather than viewing it as your job to figure out how you fit into a social structure composed of millions of individuals, each with their own wants, desires, and goals.
Privileging the 1-2% over the 99% is the polar opposite of the Occupy movement's demands that the 1% listen and subordinate their interests to the 99%.
All this talk of percentages is exhausting.
Free Medical Care Creates Shortages of Medical Care
During the debate over ObamaCare, a frequently cited benefit of providing federally subsidized health care was the suggestion that doing so would reduce ER visits that end up being paid for out of public funds (that's "tax dollars").
Both the military health care system and the VA system were touted as examples of what a successful single payer system might look like. Sadly, the media are belatedly discovering that both the VA and military health care systems are plagued by the very shortages of care, long waiting lines, and bureaucratic incompetence they was supposed to have cured. And now this outrage!
...in England plenty of people want to go to a doctor because it is free. They just can't get an appointment so they go to an emergency room which costs far more, which makes the burden on taxpayers even greater.
A new paper estimated that in 2012-2013 there were 5.77 million emergency room visits in England that were preceded by an inability to get a timely GP appointment - an increase of 11 percent (2.2 million attendances) between financial years 2008-2009 and 2012-2013.
...for every 100 attempts that resulted in a GP consultation there were 1.67 attempts that resulted in visiting emergency rooms. Although this ratio is small, the absolute effect when multiplied by the 345.6 million GP consultations that occurred in 2012-2013 provides a figure of 5.77 million emergency room visits that were preceded by an inability to get a suitable appointment. This is 26.5 per cent of the unplanned emergency room visits (i.e. those that are not follow up appointments at A&E such as for removal of stitches).
No matter how many times the real world comes knocking, these folks continue to be surprised when it shows up. Who could possibly have predicted that reducing the cost of a good or service while capping the price providers can charge for it would produce an increase in demand coupled with a decrease in supply (commonly known as a "shortage")?
It's almost as though some invisible force were at work here.
June 27, 2014
Whatever Would We Do Without Legislators?
For one glorious moment, the Editorial Staff were snidely rooting for natural selection:
New York state lawmakers have passed a bill banning residents from taking “tiger selfies” — a rising trend on dating websites in which single men post photos of themselves posing with the ferocious felines in hopes of impressing potential mates.
The bill prohibits “hugging, patting, or otherwise touching” tigers at fairs or circuses.
“They can still pose with bears and monkeys,” the assemblywoman said. “They just have to take big cats off their list.”
...New Yorkers who cuddle a jungle cat would face fines of up to $500.
But then we came to our senses and realized that a civilized society can no longer tolerate all this unregulated fondling of felines. One wonders: did these would-be Lotharios obtain consent, first?
June 26, 2014
VA Flags "Disgruntled" Vets
So says Michelle Malkin. Just what makes someone a Disgruntled Vet?
Apparently, speaking up about wait times or the quality of care:
Imagine how much better off America's veterans would be if the federal government spent more time delivering actual care and less time compiling tyrannical lists. The death-inducing secret waiting lists for patients are just the tip of the iceberg.
Did you know, for example, that the Department of Veterans Affairs keeps a database on "disgruntled" and "disruptive" vets that results in arbitrarily restricted care?
Disabled Air Force veteran and veterans advocate/attorney Benjamin Krause has been raising questions about the system for months and warning his peers. Under the VA policy on "patient record flags" (PRFs), federal bureaucrats can classify vets as "threats" based on assessments of their "difficult," "annoying" and "non-compliant" behavior.
The VA manual says the flags "are used to alert Veterans Health Administration medical staff and employees of patients whose behavior and characteristics may pose a threat either to their safety, the safety of other patients, or compromise the delivery of quality health care."
That last phrase is priceless. Untold numbers of vets are dead, and legions more have languished because of the VA's failure to deliver "quality health care." The Office of Special Counsel just confirmed to President Obama this week that vets across the country were exposed to contaminated drinking water, dirty surgical tools, untrained doctors and neglectful nurses -- and that whistleblowers were retaliated against or ignored.
Yet, the VA's soulless paper-pushers seem more preoccupied with flagging and punishing "disruptive" vets who have dared to complain about their disgraceful treatment and abuse.
Get this: Among examples of patients' behavior referred to the VA's "Disruptive Behavior Committees" (yes, that's what they're called): venting "frustration about VA services and/or wait times, threatening lawsuits or to have people fired, and frequent unwarranted visits to the emergency department or telephone calls to facility staff."
As Krause explains, the Disruptive Behavior Committees are secret panels "that decide whether or not to flag veterans without providing due process first. The veteran then has his or her right of access to care restricted without prior notice."
Hmmm. We suspect that when this traveshamockery is fully investigated by the administration, we'll find that Republicans are really to blame for this mess.
"Disruptive Behavior Panels". One is tempted to make the expected joke about death panels, but frankly we're having a sense of humor failure at the moment.
Life Begins at 60
Oh, like you people don't do this sort of thing all the time:
A fishing boat smashed head on into runway approach lights at La Guardia Airport early Sunday after the vessel’s drunken captain deserted the helm for a three-way sex romp...
...The wild night began Saturday in a tavern in College Point, Queens, where boat owner Craig Gallo, 51, James Benenato, 60, and Mary Ann Belson, also 60, began chatting between drinks, another source said.
Neither of the two men had met Belson before.
Gallo, who lives in New Jersey and works for a financial company on Long Island, invited them aboard for a moonlight cruise. And before very long, the boat was rocking.
The joyride ended abruptly at the end of Runway 22, where the boat got impaled on a lighting stanchion.
Belson is being treated for a possible broken nose and jaw, and Gallo, who was later charged with operating a boat under the influence, suffered facial injuries. Benenato was not hurt.
They were lucky the boat was supported by the stanchion. Otherwise, the badly damaged craft might have sunk while they waited for help, the source said.
Before the wreck, “a consensual three-way sex endeavor was going on,’’ the source added.
“There’s a moral here: If you’re feeling amorous aboard a boat, I suggest you drop your anchor before you drop your pants.’’
Clearly, we have not been living nearly dangerously enough of late. We are going to have to step up our game.
All right, villains, here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
June 25, 2014
Xtreme Transparency Alert
"Millions of Americans who work hard and play by the rules every day deserve a government and a financial system that do the same,"
It's time to apply the same rules from top to bottom ... everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.
Did he say "everyone"? Including The Most Transparent Administration... like... EVER? Well, he didn't really mean the IRS. Or, apparently, the EPA. If you work for Obama, it's completely understandable for you to violate the laws that require you to back up emails. Because... TRANSPARENCY!
Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said EPA probably violated the Federal Records Act by not backing up North’s emails.
“It looks like the Federal Records Act has been violated by the EPA,” Meadows said. Did he preserve his emails? That is required by the Federal Records Act.”
“We may have some emails that we cannot produce that we should have kept,” McCarthy admitted.
The Federal Records Act has also taken center stage in the IRS controversy. David Ferreiro, head of the NARA, told lawmakers Tuesday that the IRS did not follow the Federal Records Act in its policies for preserving emails.
"What's the big deal, anyway? Sure, it took us forever to produce the information you asked for but we were, like, kinda busy. And now it's been so long that we just can't find it anymore. And anyway, that's like, yesterday's news. Can't we all just move on? Oh look! A new number one priority!"
Let's see if we have this straight. It's their job to hold you accountable for violating the law, because in Obama's America, everyone must play by the rules. There's no malice in this - they're just doing their duty. It comes from a Good Place: a place of service and self-sacrifice. A caring place. A place where we're all equal, and no one flaunts their privilege.
But don't you dare expect them to play by the rules, or you're being completely unreasonable. We can totally trust these people do the right thing at all times. At the same time, even though there's nothing bad going on, we mustn't presume to check up on whether they're playing by the rules (much less hold them accountable) or another hard drive will mysteriously "crash" and the documents requested under our transparency laws will be lost forever.
Which couldn't happen if they were playing by the rules. You know, like all of us are supposed to do in Obama's America because equality and fairness are Important. Well, most of the time.
This confirms what we have always suspected: Republicans cause computers to die.
It's what they do. It's all they do.
It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time....
File under "For *this* we pay taxes????"
Environmental Protection Agency workers have done some odd things recently.
Contractors built secret man caves in an EPA warehouse, an employee pretended to work for the CIA to get unlimited vacations and one worker even spent most of his time on the clock looking at pornography.
It appears, however, that a regional office has reached a new low: Management for Region 8 in Denver, Colo., wrote an email earlier this year to all staff in the area pleading with them to stop inappropriate bathroom behavior, including defecating in the hallway.
In the email, obtained by Government Executive, Deputy Regional Administrator Howard Cantor mentioned “several incidents” in the building, including clogging the toilets with paper towels and “an individual placing feces in the hallway” outside the restroom.
Confounded by what to make of this occurrence, EPA management “consulted” with workplace violence “national expert” John Nicoletti, who said that hallway feces is in fact a health and safety risk. He added the behavior was “very dangerous” and the individuals responsible would “probably escalate” their actions.
“Management is taking this situation very seriously and will take whatever actions are necessary to identify and prosecute these individuals,” Cantor wrote. He asked for any employees with knowledge of the poop bandit or bandits to notify their supervisor.
Sometimes, the "comedy" just writes "itself".
$20,000 here, $20,000 there.
Sooner or later, it adds up to real money Just a drop in the bucket:
The stunning story made national network news: Agency heads were squandering taxpayer money by commissioning painters to produce vanity portraits of themselves, suitable for framing.
But buried in a recent Congressional Budget Office report scoring Senate legislation to address the situation is the slightly snarkily expressed verdict that the problem is actually minuscule.
The bill, S. 1820, reported by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on May 21, was introduced in December by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Tom Coburn, R-Okla.; and Deb Fisher, R-Neb. It would limit to $20,000 the federal funds that may be used for portraits of officials in the line of succession to the presidency, and prohibit funding for agency heads outside the line of succession. Under the bill, funds may be used to display such portraits, which may also be paid for privately.
But CBO estimates that implementing S. 1820 “would have no significant effect on the federal budget.” Current appropriations law prohibits the use of federal funds for portraits in fiscal 2014, the nonpartisan scorekeepers wrote. Likely, the cost “would be less than $500,000 annually because we expect fewer than 20 portraits are purchased for federal officials not in the line of succession to the presidency in most years.”
Dang. If only there were some guy who was willing to scour the federal budget line by line, eliminating wasteful spending.
Let The Judgement Begin - World Cup Edition
I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. The Dark Side is loving the recent arrival (finally) of clear skies and warm weather. Prior to that, a large, heavy storm had been rolling through dropping over 8" of rain and 20" of snow in some parts of Glacier National Park, as well as 2-6+" of rain on our valley below, leaving moods a little
shitty in the crappah for the first weeks of June, and after an already long and very cold winter, to say we had "cabin fever" was an understatement of Obamacare proportions. So, the caption entries were appreciated for more than just their flat-freakin' hilarity.
Thanks for that, villains.
Now, though, there is old business to attend, so with a quick sniff backward...,
it's Judgement time.*
Taking the throne, sports page in hand, and refusing to give it up no matter which daughter bangs on the door is spd rdr ~ Bob was a fixture at Redskins home games.
(When you've finished, have a care
And please profusely spray the air.)
[which could just as easily speak for some team's season records as well.....heh]
htom taking a sheet (take three, please, this isn't Sheryl Crow's house) from Clint Eastwood's roll ~ Fleeing the field, the Redskin took cover behind the Empty Chair.
(I hope he waited a good long while after spd vacated the room.)
Our beloved Blog Princess snatches the brass handle and gives it a good jiggle ~ Butch emerged from the Game of Thrones flushed with victory.
While model 1066, thinking more internationally and perhaps not-so-fondly of "Morning After's" past, grabs the silver spigot with ~ In soviet russia, porcelain bus drives you!
And, sitting on the heated seat of victory, is relative newcomer to the caption contests, MJL (see what can happen, peoples, when you just try?) and this snort-worthy lament (you owe me screen cleaner, btw) ~ Yeah, this game is down the crapper - Every Cleveland Browns fan ever.
Other categories the producers thought should be included but weren't because the executive producers sacked them ~
"I Thought It Was Long Last Week, But We Love Him Anyway":
"Tommy the toilet had been 'dumped upon' his entire life--there is NEVER a 'nice day' for a toilet. He stoically accepted his lot in life--but he suffered from low self-esteem. Tommy was employed at Lambeau Field--home of the Green Bay Packers. It was a S#*T job, but it was a job that Tommy was born to do. Tommy was good at his job. He became the 'Prince of Pissoirs'--the "King of Commodes."
One day, however--after a seemingly endless parade of potty patrons, Tommy snapped. One of his customers didn't even do a courtesy flush.
Tommy chased down and exacted his revenge on his tormentor in full view of 70,000 fans.
There IS a happy ending to this story--Tommy was sentenced to public service. He joined the Peace Corps, where he brings the pleasures of plumbing to underdeveloped countries."
~ frequent flyer
"Is It Real Or Is It Memorex":
After being told that they could no longer use the name "Redskins" as the team name, the Washington team was told to select a name more emblematic of the city.
The name "Washington Crappers" was the first choice nationwide, but was rejected by the NFL.
~ frequent flyer
And finally, in the "This Is Almost As Good As Getting Pakistani Tech Support to Admit Their Name is Not John or Mary" catergory:
OK, this is really unforgivable, but...
"In the Game of Thrones, it's always better to be #1 than #2."
Well, that's it for this week, villains. Again, thanks for the great captions to chase away the gloom, and thanks for playing.
As usual, another picture will be up......
* - This could be a trigger warning, or it could just be an asterisk "on account", who knows?
June 24, 2014
Savor the Incoherence of the
Evil Rich Beneficient Liberal 1 Percenters
Aye Chihuahua, villanas y villanos! The news, it is full of deliciously unintended comedy hoy!
David Brock has a message for liberal millionaires: Don’t sweat being called hypocrites.
Brock, a former “right-wing hit-man”-turned-top-big-money-Democratic-operative, is part of a behind-the-scenes campaign to convince donors it’s OK to attack the Koch brothers for spending millions of dollars while doing the exact same thing for the left.
“You’re not in this room today trying to figure out how to rig the game so you can be free to make money poisoning little kids, and neither am I,” Brock told donors this month at a conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico, according to someone who attended the conference, but who declined to be identified because it was closed to the press.
“Subscribing to a false moral equivalence is giving the Kochs exactly what they want: keeping us quiet about what they’re doing to destroy the very fabric of our nation,” added Brock, whose deep-pocketed nonprofit groups are leading the charge to make the conservative megadonors Charles and David Koch an issue in the 2014 midterms.
Conservatives reject the notion that rich liberals donate more out of their concern for society than do their conservative counterparts like the Kochs. But Brock’s pitch also isn’t sitting well with some major liberal donors and operatives, who worry the anti-Koch strategy could backfire big time. It has not yet been proven effective at motivating key Democratic voting blocs like unmarried women and minorities, and liberal critics also worry it risks undercutting more important issues, smacks of class warfare and opens themselves up to hypocrisy charges.
Who could have foreseen that the DNC's favorite mantra ("INEQUALITY IS THE DEFINING ISSUE OF OUR TIME AND MUST BE STOPPED BEFORE IT KILLS US ALL!!11!!!!") and demonization of the wealthy would have such unintended consequences!
It's all so.... unexpected. The inequality demagogues didn't mean to imply that wealthy Progressives are out of touch with the lives of ordinary Americans (let alone the concerns of the proletariat whose interests they so nobly champion)!
After Hillary claims the Clintons aren't 'realIy rich' Chelsea (who's married to a hedge funder, lives in a $11m home, and is paid $600,000 for doing nothing) says 'I tried to care about money but I couldn't'
...Despite Chelsea's self-proclaimed disinterest in money-making, a report last week surfaced that she was paid $600,000 by NBC last year to do a smattering of reporting.
It is not uncommon for well-known anchors to earn multiple millions per year, but Clinton's reported annual salary is high for the frequency of her segments.
By comparison, her salary is higher than both of the last two editors of the New York Times.
The paycheck from her NBC contract has helped Chelsea and her husband Marc Mezvinsky buy a $10.5 million apartment next to New York's Madison Square Park last spring.
Solidarność!!! À bas les aristos! Truly, Chelsea is one of you in her heart of hearts. Sure, she has waaaaay more money than anyone really needs to live a good life (and you don't exactly see her giving it all away to help end inequality in our time), but she totally feels you oppressed-masses types.
And then there's Joe Biden, reportedly living paycheck to paycheck:
Biden’s 2014 salary, meanwhile, is $233,000 – considerably more than the average US income of $50,054 per year – which puts him firmly in the top one per cent of earners.
Biden spoke about his personal wealth at the White House's 'Working Families Summit' on Monday.
'Don't hold it against me that I don't own a single stock or bond,' Biden said. 'Don't hold it – I have no savings accounts. But I got a great pension and I get a good salary.'
He declared himself 'the poorest man in Congress.'
Hmmm.... massive debts, negative net worth, and nothing put away for a rainy day. Explains a lot, don't it?
By the time he was sworn in, Obama owned somewhere between $1.1 million and $5.1 million worth of U.S. Treasury Bills, comprising most of his net worth. His other assets were worth between $411,000 and $915,000.
And you smart alecks can just wipe that snarky look off your faces THIS INSTANT! Who among us doesn't have a few million bucks worth of T-bills stashed underneath the sofa cushions?
Oh well. Let the ankle biters yap all they want.
Krugman’s defenders are obviously free to argue that he deserves more money to serve in a figurehead role at a publicly funded university, even that he deserves our sympathy as a multi-millionaire struggling to make it in Manhattan. But they shouldn’t suggest that Krugman is somehow not an elite member of the infamous one-percent that the brave protestors of Occupy Wall Street movement exposed as responsible for the world’s ills.
June 23, 2014
"Unfounded" Does Not Mean "Found Innocent"
In reading coverage of various rape and/or sexual assault accusations, I've been struck repeatedly by the bizarre conflation of the term "unfounded" with the words "false", "false accusation", and "proven innocent" to describe accusations that never made it to court. Here's an example from today's reading:
Glenn Reynolds highlights a rather touchy story from across the pond, where Peter Lloyd, writing for the Telegraph, points out that the assumptions of both innocence and privacy are handled rather unequally in sexual assault cases. The primary case under discussion involves the handling of laws in the UK, but parallel debates are taking place in the United States today. Lloyd speaks rather passionately about what happened to Oxford University Union President Ben Sullivan following what turned out to be two unfounded rape allegations.
What does "unfounded" mean, here? What is being (strongly) suggested to us? To the average layperson, "unfounded" means "without foundation": "groundless, idle, false, unjustified, unsubstantiated". But insofar as the Editorial Staff are aware, courts do not find defendants innocent. Courts *must* acquit defendants whenever evidence sufficient to prove their guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (!) - that's a very high bar, by the way - has not been presented. But acquittal does not establish a defendant's innocence of the charges presented. It cannot do that. And this case never went to trial, so we don't even have so much as a thorough examination of the facts resulting in acquittal upon which to base the loaded term, "unfounded".
It seems ironic for folks who complain of the misleading conflation of sexual assault (which may or may not include forcible rape) with rape to commit such a similar - and likewise misleading - feat of verbal misdirection:
I suppose the first question would be, why do we – generally be default – provide anonymity to anyone involved in a pending criminal case? It seems to be restricted to sexual assault for the most part. You never see a robbery where the name of the accused thieves (or the bank, for that matter) are withheld from the public. But we can have a greater deal of sympathy for a rape victim, as such publicity can be tremendously painful on top of the damage already done.
But what about the damage to accused if the allegations turn out to be false? Ben Sullivan is one example in the UK, but America faces the same situations regularly.
Is Ben Smith really an example of a case in which the accusations turned out to be false? How do we know that? Where is the evidence?
The presumption of innocence works both ways, and those who wish that standard to be applied to their favored party will have more credibility if they do not - without strong evidence - declare rape accusers to be guilty of legal fraud and/or malicious prosecution.
What Sarah Pine (note: she is not the accuser in this story) did was reprehensible and contemptible. But if she was wrong to presume Smith's guilt, is it not also reprehensible and contemptible to publicly declare his accusers to be liars? Doesn't doing so conflate a lack of evidence sufficient to go to trial with proof that the accusations were false? Isn't this exactly the same offense so many on the Right been complaining about? If we can't even get the basics right (pun fully intended), what does this do to the credibility of our due process arguments?
Reed first reported her rape to Los Angeles police in November 2012, a week after she obtained audio of her assailant apologizing for the assault. Reed had already reported the assault to the University of Southern California in August 2011, where both she and her assailant were students, and against which she would later file a federal complaint.
Reed said that the detective who picked up her case, Derek Fellows, led her to believe he would wait until he interviewed her before he sent the case to the district attorney. Instead, Reed found out in January 2013 that her case had already been forwarded without an interview or even an official statement from her about the incident.
Reed said that her subsequent attempts to provide more evidence, including a confession in writing and audio recordings of the assailant admitting his guilt, went nowhere. Fellows finally told Reed in an April 2 email that the DA had rejected the case.
"It's the opposite of transparent," Reed told HuffPost. "They closed the case without ever talking to me."
We need to be careful not to base our side of this painful debate on hype. There are real people on both sides, and I often think in our eagerness to refute Those Horrid Feminists we end up committing exactly the same offenses we're complaining so much about.
Less heat, more light.
June 20, 2014
Great Inflated Expectations
They took up several obviously wrong people, and they ran their heads very hard against wrong ideas, and persisted in trying to fit the circumstances to the ideas, instead of trying to extract ideas from the circumstances.
...“In a word, I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.”
- Great Expectations
One of my favorite essays on the intricate dance of men and women contained the line, "A guy in a relationship is like an ant standing on top of a truck tire."
It's a funny line because it contains a painful truth. Several painful truths, actually. It illuminates by exaggerating: men aren't really - or all - as clueless and random as they often claim to be. And women aren't really - or all - as passive and helpless; as overly invested in (and trapped by) other people's needs and feelings as we claim to be. These are natural tendencies. But they are also excuses that prevent us from understanding the world we live in.
How we choose to respond to events beyond our control matters. In the battle of the sexes, the so-called enemy gets a vote.
But so do we. Every single day.
Whether you're male or female, a hallmark of adulthood is the capacity to look beyond our innate preoccupation with self and grapple with hard truths. One of these hard truths is that the world doesn't revolve around us and our feelings. In the real world, other people's thoughts and priorities and agendas matter, too. Our fellow humans don't exist to fulfill our fantasies or make us feel happy and secure. We can't rightly treat them as means to our peculiar little ends.
We're expected to behave like grownups, not toddlers.
The real world - as opposed to the fantasy world in our heads - is a place where choices have consequences; where decisions are (or ought to be) informed by inescapable tradeoffs between freedom and security; immediate gratification and long term happiness; independence and the sense of meaning, connectedness, and purpose that repay us for shouldering the duties and burdens of marriage and family life:
This social media outpouring makes it clear that some men pose a real threat to the physical and psychic welfare of women and girls. But obscured in the public conversation about the violence against women is the fact that some other men are more likely to protect women, directly and indirectly, from the threat of male violence: married biological fathers. The bottom line is this: Married women are notably safer than their unmarried peers, and girls raised in a home with their married father are markedly less likely to be abused or assaulted than children living without their own father.
So, women who intentionally select (and commit to) men who "mate for life" are statistically less likely to be abused or assaulted than women who admit casual sexual partners into the most intimate and vulnerable of places - their homes, their children, their beds? This is surprising news. Any moment now, some insensitive brute will claim that women who get drunk and hook up with men they don't know well are statistically more likely to be raped than women who recognize risk and avoid situations that place them in danger. Or that - can you believe this nonsense? - young men who get drunk and have sex with drunk women they don't know well are placing themselves at risk of being accused of rape, of fathering unwanted children, of enduring other unpleasant consequences.
Good Lord, what fools these pundits be! Don't they understand that it is the RIGHT of every human being on the planet to expect - nay, demand! - risk and consequence free sex? It's in the Constitution! The idea that intelligent, rational adults cannot go about blithely ignoring risk is an abomination. No one deserves to be forced to live in the real world. It's dangerous - we might get hurt! Something unfair might happen, and then where would we be?
This is the thing about the real world: ignoring risk doesn't make it go away. All other things being equal, people who deliberately refuse to consider risks are statistically more likely to be unpleasantly surprised by the shocking realization that that reality is.... well, real.
And sometimes, it bites.
There is a certain logical inconsistency in believing that men are violent and dangerous and potentially abusive while demanding the right (!) to behave as though the danger you're continually fulminating about did not actually exist. And there is a certain logical inconsistency in believing that women are more passive, less assertive, and physically weaker than men while expecting them to assertively and aggressively defend themselves from unwanted physical advances.
If you believe that testosterone makes men naturally more aggressive, less aware of conversational nuances and body language, more sexually adventurous than the average woman, then it logically follows that men are going to have to exercise greater self control than women in certain areas. This isn't sexism - it's a logical outcome of the male propensity to push the envelope, to aggressively reach beyond their natural grasp, to overestimate their attractiveness to women. We may actually have to teach some of them that rape is wrong, just as we teach them that theft, bullying, lying, and other behaviors are wrong.
Likewise, if you believe that women are naturally more cooperative, less comfortable with confrontations, more sensitive, more hesitant to assert themselves, then it logically follows that women are going to have to exercise greater care in certain areas. Again, this isn't sexism but rather a rational recognition of the very biological and cultural differences we use to justify treating women preferentially in a whole host of situations. We can't, as Nancy Hopkins did, complain that Scary Ideas give us the feminine vapors (can you imagine a man saying that?) and then turn around and claim there are no significant differences between men and women that might explain the dearth of women in science.
These differences - in culture, in training, in biology and hormones, in life experiences - are what make honesty and responsibility so important in dealing with our fellow humans:
It went from courting, to dating, to hanging out. Sometimes even hanging out reeks of too much commitment, in which case ‘talking’ can be used. And if talking sounds too serious, maybe we’ll start hearing ‘vicinitizing.’ That’s a word I just made up, and it means that you and your female friend are often in the same vicinity, but it doesn’t get all intense by insinuating that you’re actually in that general location together on purpose.
When did men become so afraid to make a commitment, to take the lead, to say what they want, to make long term plans, to set goals, to pursue, to talk about the future?
We are devolving into primates, losing the ability to even discuss our own behavior using words and sentences. The average single American man is now relegated to grunts and shrugs and ‘whatevers’ and ‘you knows’ when pressed to have a conversation about his dating habits. Or his vicinity habits. Or his whatever habits, because whatever, you know?
The Blog Princess grew up in the late 60s and early 70s. It was an intoxicating time - an age where the air smelt faintly of pot and a nation of permanent children experimented with the glorious freedom to pretend life was something other than what it demonstrably is: difficult, challenging, sometimes dangerous. Viewing that world through the obscuring haze of black light and florescent bromides ("You go your way and I'll go mine... and if by chance we touch... it's... like... beautiful") didn't change its essential nature.
Of course neither did the rigid, formulaic rules we grew up with, exactly. Like the "ant on the truck tire" line, they reflected things that are true. But they were also exaggerations of the real world.
Many women do want more out of life than marriage, a house in the suburbs, a passel of kids, and a white picket fence. We have intellects as well as emotions. We can be selfish and venal and foolish and nasty just as often as we are loving, self-sacrificing, nurturing, and steady. Men are not mindless, heartless sex-seeking missiles (in fact, every man I ever dated pushed for commitment and they were decent, kind, and often tender). The man I married has all these qualities along with the more stereotypical ones we associate with masculinity: aggression, forcefulness, a tendency to compartmentalize.
Our instincts are part of us, but they are not all of us. Civilization is based upon the suppression and channeling of innate tendencies, and the joy of committed relationships is that they force us to grow: to grapple with views of the world that could not be more different from our own, to understand things that mystify and upset us, to temper natural selfishness with devotion to something bigger.
One of the most chilling things I've ever read was written in response to the tragic story of a young man who threw a gigantic temper tantrum. But unlike the often comical rage of the frustrated toddler, this tantrum had deadly consequences:
All your life, your parents and teachers told you that you were unique and wonderful, that you could accomplish anything if you tried hard enough. But after puberty, effort actually makes things worse. The harder you try to ingratiate yourself with the popular kids, the more obvious it is that you'll never become their friend. The harder you try to impress a girl, the more you sound like Ralph Wiggum walking Lisa Simpson home on Valentine’s Day. (“So … do you like … stuff?”)
If relationships have anything to teach us, it's that we're really not the center of the universe. We have no right to expect others to understand us, like us, or make us happy. Some people will never like us, and many - most, perhaps - are not worth our time or attention. Some people are actively dangerous to us. If we ignore the warning signs and let them close, we have given them the power to hurt us where we're most vulnerable.
But we don't have to be helpless victims. Though there are no guarantees in life, there are things we can do to minimize risk and maximize the chances of getting what we want. Listening to the gender grievance peddlers on both sides, I often find myself thinking that no one can afford to be so clueless about the world we live in.
Some wag once opined that Hell is other people. But the real Hell is going through life with the ludicrous expectation that it's someone else's job to shield us from the consequences of our own freely made decisions. That's an equal opportunity observation that applies to both men and women.
June 19, 2014
Caption Contest - World Cup Edition
Alright, villains! Here is your next picture to snarkify.
Have at it.
And may the Farce be with you.
June 18, 2014
Let The Judgement Begin - It's Twins! Edition
Well, villains, I hope you've had a great couple of weeks. By the commentary, I'd say you had fun. I know the Dark Side did. My laptop screen? Weeellll...,it's much cleaner now!
However, it's a new week, and I've old business to which to attend.
First up, a re-peek at one of the Capital City's dysfunctional, *fraternal* "sista and brotha from anotha motha"...
So let the Judgement Games begin!
And may the beer be ever plentiful in your bribes.
First off the podium in a dash, well, more of a meander, for fifth place is Grim's interpretation of the conversation, or lack thereof ~
"What did we mean to talk about?"
"We never had anything to say to each other."
"Oh. Right. Well."
htom is right on his heels with the not-so-singular suspicion about within whose closet reside the men's pants at the White House ~
You're hiding a steak under that roasted sweet potato, I'm telling Michelle!
I have no steak, this is someone else's plate.
Frequent Flyer, with eyes in the skies on the third place prize, has a different opinion about the meat on the plates ~ That's no steak--they're discussing Shnitzengrubers!
(And he did this without using the words pink slime. We are losing our touch, villains!)
No second place winner for this one as I have two first place winners instead - each for completely different reasons which made it literally impossible to choose one over the other this time.
Up first is spd whose comment wins for pure snort-worthiness and, also, happens, btw, to be the first comment to take out my screen with this oh-so-believable comment given the Narcissist-in-Chief ~ "Oh waiter! Check to the lady. Thank you."
My other first place winner is George Pal whose comment is a thing of double entendre beauty ~ The CDC announced today what are believed to be the first confirmed cases of “Deep Background” in humans. The pathogen had previously been thought to be quiescent and detectable only in MSM 'nothing to see here' stories.
Father's Day Edition -
First of all, congrats to all who stuck with this picture's theme. You are learning, young..ish padawan. For those *certain* commentors (who shall remain nameless.) who didn't get the memo, perhaps a Q-tip or three when next you "get off your head" for your coffe break, hmmm? 0>;~D
But now a look at bouncing, badbass picture number two!
Aaannnd, Jarvis......, drop my Judgement...
Kicking off his shoes, and cleaning out his ears and his Inbox, is Don Brouhaha at number five with this screen-cleaning caption ~ Last week, I caught a hat THIS big!
Grim, however, is going to have to work on his kidside manner for accepting gifts ~ "If that hat is my present from you, son, the 'World's Best Dad' cup your sister brought me is an outright lie."
(It's the smile, Grim, gotta work on that smile, my friend.)
Frequent Flyer, cruising at 33,333', may be speaking from experience when he says, "Frank's wife asked him what he wanted for Father's Day. She obviously misunderstood him when he said he wanted a hat with a big BRIM."
YAG has apparently gotten a gift similar to this as his comment seems a bit "practiced" ~ When I said I wanted a hat that really spoke to me, I didn't mean that literally.
And, last, but certainly not least, Villainous Company's resident smartass, and Sister Bag O' Metaphor's' favorite student, spd rdr has managed to sweep the twin billing with a caption that really could fit the pic ~ "Wait, wait... I'm gonna be a WHAT????"
*Other categories announced earlier tonight, but not filmed due to time constraints, include:
"Longest Caption For Which I'm Going To Need Much More Beer To Figure Out" ~ Diane had long been accused of being a puppet of Obama. In this photo, his hand is NOT behind her back--on the other hand, she makes NO MOVE or utterance either.
In a "life imitates art moment", this is NOTHING compared to the Mastery of the Marionette displayed by Valerie Jarrett--who controls Obama's every move and sound. The big ears and grin are an homage to Howdie Doody.
Though controlled by Jarrett, Obama is VOICED by Buffalo Bob (Bill Ayers). Clarabelle the Clown never utters a word--a perfect portrayal of Eric Holder. Who in Washington would play Sandra the Witch? Mayor Phineas Bluster? Thunderthud? Capt. Windy Scuttlebutt?
One thing we can ALL agree on--the entire Administration is cast as the mysterious "Flub-A-Dub."
Posted by: frequent flyer
"Longest Caption For Which The Exact Amount of Beer Will Again Be Required In Order To Be Able To Explain This To Anyone" ~
Life imitates art?
Most VC'er are aware of the Nigerian 419 Scam baiters
In a move that would make most VC'er proud--Upon receiving a Nigerian scam, this group swings into action TO BAIT THE SCAMMERS!
They string the scammers along--telling them that they would LOVE to help the scammer retrieve millions of dollars. Turning the tables on the scammers, they pose as a church--the "Church of Bread, Fishes, and Wine."
They ask the scammer to prove that he is real, by posing with a fish on his head, and carrying a loaf of bread.
Scroll down the site for photos and copies of the messages between the scammer and the scam-baiter.
"Fish on head"? I've seen THAT one before!
Posted by: frequent flyer
"The I Don't Know About You, Buddy, But My Sh!t Don't Stink" category ~ "In every relationship, there comes a point where infatuation and adoration stops--where you realized the faults of your beloved--where you realize the bathroom really DOES stink after they have been in there.
Given the amateurish and inept handling of both foreign and domestic policy by this administration, even formerly staunch supporters of The Enlightened One have come to that point. There is nothing left to discuss."
Posted by: frequent flyer
And, finally, "Drat! The Master Plan Fails Due to Limp Response to Our Baiting" category ~
In many ancient cultures, the fish is a fertility symbol
There is more in this link than most men would ever want to know--but considering that this blog DOES belong to the Blog Princess--perhaps it is only fitting.
Still not convinced? here's another Note that in one of the ancient drawings, a goddess of fertility is depicted WITH A FISH ON HER HEAD!
I've got to believe that DL Sly has "suckered" the male readers of VC into a female fertility ritual--how apropos for "Father's Day!"
Posted by: frequent flyer
Outstanding job, everyone! Congrats to all the winners, and thank you for playing, villains!
Another pic will be up .....yeah.
First World Problems, Blessings of Affluence Edition
Note that the majority of leading causes of death in the US are so-called "lifestyle" diseases: in other words, diseases caused by unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, old age, etc.
Coffee Snorters: Trunk Show Edition
The Editorial Staff have oft extolled the prodigious talents and searing intellect of the noble Pachyderm. But even we were amazed to find these fascinating creates can create Modern Art by blowing paint out of their proboscii:
Explains a lot, don't it?
You keep showing that chart. But it doesn't mean what you think it means:
At Pew Social Trends, Gretchen Livingston has a new report on fathers staying at home with their kids.
...It is reasonable to call a father staying at home with his kids a stay-at-home father, regardless of his reason. We never needed stay-at-home mothers to pass some motive-based criteria before we defined them as staying at home. And yet there is a tendency (not evidenced in this report) to read into this a bigger change in gender dynamics than there is. The Census Bureau has for years calculated a much more rigid definition that only applied to married parents of kids under 15: those out of the labor force all year, whose spouse was in the labor force all year, and who specified their reason as taking care of home and family. You can think of this as the hardcore stay-at-home parents, the ones who do it long-term, and have a care-work motivation for doing it. When you do it that way, stay-at-home mothers outnumber stay-at-home fathers 100-to-1.
We are shocked.... SHOCKED WE TELL YOU!... to find the media inaccurately reporting the latest Science. It's almost as though there were an agenda.
Hmmm... speaking of Genda Agendas... what in the Holy Heck is going on at the NY Times?
In this post I present the most comprehensive analysis ever reported of the gender of New York Times writers (I think), with a sample of almost 30,000 articles.
This subject has been in the news, with a good piece the other day by Liza Mundy—in the New York Times—who wrote on the media’s Woman Problem, prompted by the latest report from the Women’s Media Center. The WMC checked newspapers’ female byline representation from the last quarter of 2013, and found levels ranging from a low of 31 percent female at the Times to a high of 46 percent at Chicago’s Sun-Times....
01. Women were the first author on 34 percent of the articles. This is a little higher than the WMC got with their A-section analysis, which is not surprising given the distribution of writers across sections.
02. Women wrote the majority of stories in five out of 21 major sections, from Fashion (52 percent women), to Dining, Home, Travel, and Health (76 percent women). Those five sections account for 11 percent of the total.
03. Men wrote the majority of stories in the seven largest sections. Two sections were more than three-fourths male (Sports, 89 percent; and Opinion, 76 percent). U.S., World, and Business were between 66 percent and 73 percent male.
WHEN WILL THE WHITE HOUSE COMMISSION ON WOMYN AND GIRLS FINALLY FREE US FROM THIS TOPICAL PINK GHETTO! It's almost as though they don't really want to win the #WARONWOMENZOMG!!11!.
Via Herr rdr, we are amused to find that (completely unknown to the Editorial Staff) our humble hometown is actually a hotspot of... well... extreme hottitude:
Walking downtown beneath the shadows of the clustered spires, your heart starts racing. Your palms start sweating. You start slurring your words.
You think to yourself, maybe it's the humidity. No, that's not it.
Frederick is just that sexy.
What happens in Fredneck, stays in Fredneck. Believe it.
According to this, the Blog Princess is:
Someone who needs her space, doesn't like being overwhelmed, and hates crowds.
Artistic and creative.
Comfortable in her own skin.
Well alrighty, then. Not since Cass's Whack Little House o' Crack and the infamous Pig Debacle have we felt so enlightened.
But enough of this tomfoolery. You people are so shallow. Just for once, can't we focus on Really Important News Stories Like This One???
Work with me, people.
June 16, 2014
Why Are Colleges Ignoring the Science on Trigger Warnings?
Trigger warnings are designed to help survivors avoid reminders of their trauma, thereby preventing emotional discomfort. Yet avoidance reinforces PTSD. Conversely, systematic exposure to triggers and the memories they provoke is the most effective means of overcoming the disorder. According to a rigorous analysis by the Institute of Medicine, exposure therapy is the most efficacious treatment for PTSD, especially in civilians who have suffered trauma such as sexual assault. For example, prolonged exposure therapy, the cognitive behavioral treatment pioneered by clinical psychologists Edna B. Foa and Barbara O. Rothbaum, entails having clients close their eyes and recount their trauma in the first-person present tense. After repeated imaginal relivings, most clients experience significant reductions in PTSD symptoms, as traumatic memories lose their capacity to cause emotional distress. Working with their therapists, clients devise a hierarchy of progressively more challenging trigger situations that they may confront in everyday life. By practicing confronting these triggers, clients learn that fear subsides, enabling them to reclaim their lives and conquer PTSD.
It would be just awful if it turned out that all these trigger warnings were actually hurting abuse victims:
MAKING TRAUMA CENTRAL TO ONE’S IDENTITY BODES POORLY FOR SURVIVORS
Many women who have experienced sexual assault reject the label victim in favor of survivor. But although the latter term connotes empowering agency, having trauma become central to one’s identity bodes poorly for one’s mental health. The psychologists Dorthe Berntsen and David C. Rubin developed a short questionnaire called the Centrality of Event Scale (CES) that assesses how important a specific event is to one’s personal identity. The CES captures how integrated the event is in one’s autobiographical memory, the extent to which it marks a turning point in one’s life story, and the degree to which it shapes one’s expectations for the future. My Ph.D. student, Donald J. Robinaugh, and I found that among 102 women who reported histories of childhood sexual abuse, the more central their abuse was to their identity—as measured by the CES—the worse their PTSD symptoms. In particular, seeing one’s future through the lens of one’s abuse was especially associated with the severity of PTSD symptoms. These data suggest that acknowledging one’s abuse but not allowing it to dominate one’s sense of self may foster resilience against the long-term psychologically toxic effects of childhood sexual molestation.
If only there were a way to get all this Science out to the science-friendly Left. Can we get a ruling from Obama? He's been so successful at declaring other scientific debates "settled" by executive fiat.
Fathers and Work
Who teaches children the value of hard work? Arthur C. Brooks argues that fathers do:
... hard work is correlated with well-being. The University of Michigan’s Panel Study of Income Dynamics polls thousands of American families, and its 2009 results show that people who feel good about themselves work more than those who don’t. It asks how often the respondents felt so sad that nothing could cheer them up. My analysis of the study showed that people who felt that way “none of the time” worked 10 percent more hours per week than those who felt that way “most of the time.” This holds true when we eliminate people who worked zero hours, so it is not merely that unemployed people are miserable. This doesn’t prove that extra work hours chase away sadness, but it weakens any argument that the cure for the blues is a French workweek.
So vocation is crucial to leading a satisfying life. Who teaches this truth to children? Many traditions emphasize the role of fathers. Jesus defended himself to the Pharisees for working on the Sabbath by saying, “my Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.” And the Talmud instructs us, “For a man not to teach his son a trade or profession is equivalent to teaching him to steal.”
The best way for a father to teach this is by example. This explains why a child’s ability to grow up to be a productive adult is so strongly predicted by the presence of a working father in the home. The Princeton sociologist Sara McLanahan has for decades studied what happens to sons and daughters when their fathers are absent. She finds that after controlling for demographics, children in fatherless families are roughly twice as likely to drop out of high school as kids in intact homes. Even after controlling for student talent via standardized test scores, a sharp decline in grades and attendance persists. And young men who grow up without a father are 1.5 times more likely to be idle — that is, neither in the work force nor in school — than those with a father in the home. And this brings us to a particularly serious issue this Father’s Day: Our growing national jobs deficit. In 1953, just 14 percent of adult American men were neither working nor seeking work. Today, that rate has more than doubled, to 30 percent. And this doesn’t only reflect an aging population with more retired men: Just after World War II, 8 percent of noninstitutionalized males ages 25 to 54 were not working. Today, 17 percent of that same group of men are idle.
Why Don't "They" Ever....
One of the themes that crops up whenever feminism is mentioned is something I like to call "Why don't they ever...."?
As in, "If feminists really believe in equality and fairness for both sexes, why don't they ever fight for men's rights/notice the ways men are treated unfairly?" In a moving essay, Cathy Young pays tribute to a former president of NOW who spent her life fighting for men's rights, too:
Karen DeCrow, the feminist attorney and author who served as president of the National Organization for Women from 1974 to 1977, died of melanoma last Friday at 76. Although her passing was widely noted in the media, most the obituaries and tributes overlooked the more unorthodox aspects of her work. A lifelong champion of women’s rights, DeCrow was nonetheless skeptical about many key aspects of latter-day feminism, including its focus on sexual violence and male abuse of women. She was also, for much of her career, a men’s-rights activist.
DeCrow raised eyebrows in 1981 when she served as defense counsel to Frank Serpico, the former New York detective and whistleblower, in a paternity suit. Serpico claimed the plaintiff had used him as a “sperm bank” and lied about being on the Pill while knowingly trying to conceive, and asserted that he had a constitutional right not to become a parent against his will. (The family-court judge, a woman, ruled in Serpico’s favor, but he lost on appeal.)
DeCrow, by then a lawyer in private practice in Syracuse, New York, endorsed Serpico’s argument on feminist grounds. “Just as the Supreme Court has said that women have the right to choose whether or not to be parents, men should also have that right,” she told The New York Times, calling this “the only logical feminist position to take.”
One quote struck me as particularly apt:
In a 1994 interview, she lamented that “in the battle between the sexes, men and women will go practically to the end of the earth in illogical, irrational ways to give each other pain.”
There is so much we don't know about the world, and it doesn't help our understanding to assume that journalists and activists we already know to be biased are telling us the whole story.
Why don't we know these things?
Easy. They don't fit the narratives either side finds useful.
June 15, 2014
The Evolution of Dad's Dancing
Happy Father's Day!
Happy Father's Day, Pop.
The fifth one now without you around to actually shout those words to over the phone. Well, come on now, you were hard of hearing - if *hard of hearing* means a bomb can go off next to you and you'd feel before hearing it. 0>;~]
So much has happened in that short amount of time. Mom joined you just a few months after you left, MH retired from the Marine Corps and the VES not only started high school but has finished her froshman year on the honor's list despite being cocooned in the dark at home for two of the last three months with a grade A concussion. (Yes, I know, she's as hard-headed as her Mom.) Speaking of your granddaughter, I'm sure you were smiling as she drove that beautiful Chrysler 300c (Has it really been almost 10 years since you picked that car out?) to get her driver's license last week. You should have seen her eyes shining when she also paid for it herself from the money she earned babysitting.
They're still shining, by the way.
You never got a chance to hear this young man sing, but you would have loved him as much as your favorites George Strait and Hank Williams. His name is Chris Young, and he's put to music so many of the things I never got to say before that last heart attack, the bullet you finally couldn't dodge, took you away. Things like, I know I wasn't the frilly little girl you and Mom always wanted, but you were my hero and anything you were interesed in I wanted to do, too.
He said [Monk] hold it still
Keep that beam shining straight
He'd have a 9/16ths in one hand
Working on that Chevrolet
It seemed like every Saturday
Soon as the sun went down
We'd be huddled underneath that hood
And of all of the great memories I have
The best ones are those nights just me and my dad
He'll never know how much he taught me
Out in that garage
And I guess the stuff that stuck
Was more about life than fixing cars
Cause to this day I still can't make 'em run right
But I sure did learn a lot
Just holding the flashlight
He told me a lot of stories
About Grandpa and the war
While he was trying to show me
What a carburetor's for
And I learned a couple cuss words
When he skinned his knuckles up
And I found out momma was the only girl
He ever really loved
But when I asked him about [life], he just laughed
Said if we stayed out here all year
We wouldn't have time enough for that
He'll never know how much he taught me
Out in that garage
And I guess the stuff that stuck
Was more about life than fixing cars
'Cause to this day I still can't make 'em run right
But I sure did learn a lot
Just holding the flashlight
Up to this day I still can't make 'em run right
But deep inside I know that it's alright
'Cause I sure did learn a lot
Just holding the flashlight
Thanks old man
[personal editorial changes ~ DL Sly]
It's funny how much my tastes in music mimic yours now that I've grown older and have a family of my own. Your country music could never penetrate my ears when I was "Hot-Footed Hannah".
I hear it now, though.
And I *get* it, too.
I love you, Pop.
Happy Father's Day.
June 14, 2014
Business Traveller's Quiz
You've got a red eye flight, but you get bumped to a flight six hours later. What do you do? Well, if you're Richard Dunn, you make a video....
...that garners not only over 1.5 million hits, shout-outs from the morning shows and a personal message from the artist you imitated.
Not bad, Richard.
Very not bad at all.
June 13, 2014
Caption Contest - Father's Day Edition
No judgement today, villains. Instead, a caption contest just for Father's Day! Both will be judged after the weekend.
So, here's another picture for you to snarkify:
Have at it. And may the Farce be with you.
This is just terrible. All those little ones gone before their time. And the big ones will never know the pleasure they could have...
"A truck carrying some seriously precious cargo toppled over Wednesday morning in South Dakota. The semitruck, carrying Bud Light, tipped over onto the median of I-29 after its driver fell asleep at the wheel and overcorrected the truck.
Beer spilled out from the roof of the trailer, which had split open. Cans of beer covered the grassy area."
We pause for a moment of silence for the loss of these pour ones.
Harsh Words Provoke Harsh Reactions
Shocking, we know, but hardly surprising:
Commentators, feminist leaders, and even some lawmakers are blasting George Will for a recent column that they say trivializes sexual assault.
Will penned a column titled “Colleges become the victims of progressivism” over the weekend in the Washington Post. (The column also appeared at National Review Online and other publications). In the column, Will raises questions about the recent efforts by the Obama administration and Congress to address sexual assault on college campuses and the potential impact of fostering a victimhood mentality among students in other areas of academia as well.
Will’s most contested line is in the column’s first very paragraph: “[Colleges and universities] are learning that when they say campus victimizations are ubiquitous (‘micro-aggressions,’ often not discernible to the untutored eye, are everywhere), and that when they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate,” he writes.
For many moons, the Editorial Staff have blasted the feminist position that pretty much everything, from thinking Bad Thoughts to clumsy dating behavior to drunken hookups gone awry is "sexual assault".
But even we cringed - and not just a little bit - at the suggestion that young women who complain of having been sexually assaulted are doing so because it's just a pleasant, ego-enhancing thing to do.
This strikes us as an extraordinarily insensitive and cruel thing to say, and we're not at all surprised at the reaction it provoked. Mr. Will should not apologize for the arguments he made in his column. They are basically sound and it is heartening that the Washington Post is standing behind the value of discourse.
But Mr. Will is widely famed for his skill with words. In this case, as we all do at times, he was unnecessarily harsh and - we think - actually unjust. He cannot know the motives of any of these young women, and attributing the worst of motives to them adds little to the debate.
When one lobs rhetorical Molotov cocktails, return fire is perhaps not unsurprising. Sadly, the age-old maxim that a soft answer often turneth away wrath is now widely viewed as "political correctness".
It is nothing of the sort. It was - and always has been - good advice, even when dealing with the more unreasonable among us.
June 12, 2014
The Power of Touch
“Often a bedmate became your best friend. Not just married couples, but sons sleeping with servants, sisters with one another, and aristocratic wives with mistresses. Darkness, within the intimate confines of a bed, leveled social distinctions despite differences in gender and status,” Ekirch says. “Most individuals did not readily fall sleep but conversed freely. In the absence of light, bedmates coveted that hour when, frequently, formality and etiquette perished by the bedside.”
We sleep together not because it’s fiscally responsible, but because we are affectionate beings. Our minds need rest, but our minds also need camaraderie and intimacy and whispering. Anxiety and stress seem less intimidating when discussed with a partner while wearing pajamas. It’s important to talk about our days lying side by side, discuss children and household situations, gossip about neighbors and colleagues, plan for tomorrow in the confines of private chambers. We cuddle. We laugh. At the end of each day we remove the onerous cloaks we’ve donned to face the world, and we want to do this lying next to our best friends, to know we’re not in it alone.
“We are creatures of attachment,” Crespi says. “We like to have someone close, to be in proximity to other people.”
Even when they snore. Especially when they sleep sideways.
At Villa Cassandranita, our little nuclear family (Mom, Dad, two sons) were somewhat unusual in that all four of us are introverts. This makes us somewhat less apt to want to deal with other people 24/7 and somewhat more likely to value time alone.
The Editorial Staff know it made long deployments easier: enjoying solitude definitely makes the inevitable loneliness and longing for your significant other easier to bear.
But I'm still a big fan of the invisible language of human contact. I held my babies a lot, mostly preferring to carry them than to put them into a stroller. We had a backpack that I used until our boys got to be about 30 pounds: the ability to tote a toddler while mowing the lawn or doing light housework was invaluable. I could talk to them as they watched what I was doing over one shoulder, or reach up and reassure them if they became restless or fretful.
Even tiny babies communicate through touch. Though it happened over 30 years ago, I've never forgotten the first time my firstborn - only 6 months old - tried to comfort me. As I stood there, holding him as I sobbed out my loneliness and frustration, I slowly became aware of a tiny hand rhythmically patting my back.
My baby was comforting me as I had comforted him innumerable times when he cried - by gently patting my back. A small miracle I will never forget.
And then there are those times when even in a relationship between adults, words aren't terribly effective. But a touch of the hand or a quick hug conveys love and connection, even at times when we don't understand each other all that well.
"It's OK. We may not agree, but I'll always be there for you." All without a single word spoken.
Smart Power Alert: America in Retreat
As Bayji, Tikrit, Fallujah, and Mosul fall to ISIS and America prepares to evacuate the US Embassy in Baghdad, the US has acted swiftly and decisively to halt the growing chaos by
unleashing Heck launching drone strikes....
Today's drone strike is the first in Pakistan since Dec. 25, 2013. The US put the program on hold after the Pakistani government entered into peace talks with the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
Although US officials have claimed that the drone strikes were halted due to a lack of identifiable high-value targets in Pakistan, intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said that is not the case.
"Pakistan remains a hub for al Qaeda and allied movements operating along the AfPak border and beyond," one intelligence official said. "Al Qaeda's General command is still operating there, and is staffed by a new and dangerous generation of leaders. Zawahiri and his staff are still operating in Pakistan."
Part of the problem, another intelligence official observed, is that while the US has confined its strikes to the tribal areas, and particularly to North and South Waziristan, where al Qaeda has been active in the past, al Qaeda's operations are not limited to those areas.
Unexpectedly (!), it seems the administration has once again been caught off guard:
At a closed-door gathering of Gulf states in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in May, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and his Arab counterparts all signaled agreement on one thing for the first time: Islamist forces seizing territory in Syria and Iraq had become a regionwide menace that can't be ignored.
What they didn't agree on was what to do about it, U.S. officials said.The fall this week of the Iraqi cities Mosul and Tikrit to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham rebel group shows how the insurgent threat is outpacing the response and posing a challenge to President Barack Obama's approach of limiting U.S. involvement in foreign conflicts.
The quickly unfolding drama prompted a White House meeting Wednesday of top policy makers and military leaders who were caught off guard by the swift collapse of Iraqi security forces, officials acknowledged.
State Department and Pentagon officials have long warned about ISIS's desire to create an Islamic state based in the Sunni-dominated parts of Iraq and Syria.
Now, current and former officials say Washington's options for helping the Iraqi army fight back are limited—both because the threat in Iraq is so entrenched and because the U.S. hasn't invested in building up moderate allies on the Syrian side of the border.
U.S. military leaders said they had thought that Iraqi security forces' efforts would be enough to slow ISIS's advance. But those assumptions were proven wrong when Iraqi troops largely abandoned their posts.
The loss of Mosul, the second-largest city in Iraq, was a strategic blow and the U.S. doubts the Iraqi military will be able to take it back soon, the officials said.
Top State Department officials long argued that the civil war in Syria was the root cause of ISIS's rise because it gave them a haven in which to operate and recruit. They said the U.S. won't make headway unless ISIS is contained on both sides of the porous Iraqi-Syrian border.
Thankfully, the Editorial Staff are assured that the Bad Guys are on the run.
Syria has become a de rigeur training ground for jihadists worldwide. Over 2,000 European jihadists alone have gone to Syria to fight, according to a recent European Union estimate. The US' weak attempts to vet, arm, and train purportedly moderate fighting groups have merely fueled an ongoing conflict that shows no signs of abating and is producing a new generation of well-connected foreign fighters who leave the Syrian killing fields to extend the Islamist fight into new battle zones. The result of the continued stalemate between the Assad regime and the rebels is the spawning of a new breed of jihadist cells carrying out a widening array of terrorist activity outside Syria.
Al Qaeda-linked groups, including the official Syrian branch known as the Al Nusrah Front, as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), are now running training camps in Syria that turn out jihadists capable of mounting attacks against the West. As early as December 2012, Die Welt reported that "Western intelligence operatives say that al Nusrah runs several large training camps in Syria where Islamists with fighting experience - veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan - train new recruits, including Islamists from Western countries."
In late October 2013, Mike Rogers, chairman of the US House Intelligence Committee, warned that al Qaeda allies in Syria were now "talking about conducting external operations, which is exactly what happened in Afghanistan, which led to 9/11." Days later, a senior US administration official said that ISIS is "really a transnational threat network," that poses "[an] increasing threat to our regional partners, and it's an increasing threat to us."
In March of this year, Al Nusrah announced the establishment of two training camps in Syria. And in April, the ISIS released video showing its "Zarqawi" training camp on the outskirts of Damascus. That same month, the Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar (Army of Emigrants and Supporters, or Muhajireen Army), a group of foreign fighters led by commanders from the Caucasus, released video of its training camp in Aleppo province; the video included footage of a bomb-making class. The Muhajireen Army is led by Salahuddin al Shishani, a Chechen, and is closely allied with Al Nusrah; the ISIS; and Ahrar al Sham, an al Qaeda-linked group that is part of the Islamic Front, a large Islamist coalition in Syria. Most recently, an Uzbek jihadist group known as the Imam Bukhari Jamaat has released a video of its training camp in Syria; the group is allied with Al Nusrah and the Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar.
The recent videos from ISIS, Al Nusrah, Muhajireen Army, and Uzbek jihadist training camps are reminiscent of others released by al Qaeda from the network of camps in Afghanistan during the 1990s. Al Qaeda used camps such as Khalden and Al Farouq to churn out thousands of foreign fighters who fought alongside the Taliban in the 55th Arab Brigade. Significantly, al Qaeda also selected graduates of the camps to conduct attacks in the West, including the 9/11 operation against the US. [See LWJ report, Al Nusrah Front names training camps after top al Qaeda leaders.]
Democratic governments worldwide as well as Middle Eastern kingdoms are becoming increasingly concerned about the blowback from jihadists who were either extremists before fighting in Syria or became radicalized while there.
It's 3 a.m. and we're pretty sure we hear the phone ringing. Chuck? Barry? Joe? Anyone home????
Consider a donation to the Long War Journal. Someone needs to pay the attention bill.
June 11, 2014
Best. Video. Ever.
Update: Grim links to a list of things every Dad should teach his children.
They're all so good that it's tough to pick a favorite. But 6, 13, 16, 19, and 22 are keepers.
The Cantor Race as Rorschach Test
So, the big news this morning is that Eric Cantor, long considered a rising star in the Republican House, was defeated in the VA primaries by an Econ professor with a tiny campaign staff armed with assault flip-phones and no prior experience in elective office.
Depending on which set of articles or posts one reads, this could be Very Good or Very Bad for America. It's either A Really Important Sign of Something Incredibly Important, or an electoral fluke with no clear meaning.
Clearly, Cantor lost because he was overconfident and didn't try hard enough. Steak was undoubtedly a big factor, and also possibly Democrats and Independents voting in an open primary with low turnout.
Take your pick: theories and speculation are thick upon the ground this morning.
Cantor's defeat proves that the Tea Party is still alive and kicking. Inexplicably, Lindsey Graham's primary proves nothing about the viability or future prospects of the Tea Party. Oddly, this is one thing folks from both the Left and Right seem to agree upon.
Now that the primary results are in and we know what yesterday's future held in store for the GOP, the ceremonial reading of the Tea Leaves (get that? Tea as in "Tea Party"?) can finally begin. Unserious people like yours truly might be tempted to think that reading tea leaves when one already knows the future is a bit unsporting. But what do we know?
The utter absurdity of comparing a GOP Congresscritter who was willing to consider amnesty to a revered GOP leader who also supported amnesty has been duly noted.
One thing is for certain: the Tea Party is definitely not dead. Unlike immigration reform, which is not-merely-but-quite-severely dead.
Of course some are saying it was already dead before Brat's victory. In which case he can't very well be charged with its murder, can he?
What's your theory? Have at it in the comments section, Haters :)
June 10, 2014
A test! To see from whence your common slang originates.
The Dark Lord's slang was revealed to hold these origins:
Which doesn't surprise me as my slang comes from my Pop who was born and raised in the American southern heartland, spent a great amount of time in Great Britain first as a soldier in Patton's Army then again as an airman in the newly formed US Air Force and had as his fondest memory of his time in the Army the trips he took to Holland for R&R.
The test is of course, limited in word selection and there were a couple that didn't have my actual word preference, but, it's just for fun, folks. So, go, have fun, and learn something while yer there.
Tip o'the Stetson: Bookworm Room
Given the new squirrel in the cage to distract from the VA scandals, here's a conversation I'd love to have been a fly on the...no wait, that's the only thing Xerxes, himself, has killed...belay that.
Let's just move on to the next picture for the assembled villainry to snarkify.
Have at it, and may the Farce be with you.
Let The Judgement Begin
My apologies for the delay in Judgement for last week's contest. I had something come up, unexpectedly. Namely, the ground...but it's a long story, and I'm in need of hilarity around here. So, a small peek at last week...
A new entry on the winner's list this week finds MathMom tallyating trouser snakes and tres' Frances at number five Gaston realized with horror, that his "trouser snake" was intent upon standing and joining Rene in the danse des pédés.
A dance for which htom apparently has found the definitive name at number four The rout began at this mis-step in the Dance of Defying the Wasps.
YAG "feels the pain" of every golfer in America with Tennis players react with the Heebie Jeebies to the news Kevin Costner will be doing for tennis what Tin Cup did for golf.
While afe scoops up the silver...and tosses it out onto the floor for The nancy-boy dance marathon at The French Open was a huge hit with the crowd and the players. Here, Jean-claude and Francois-marie perform their winning rendition of "It's Raining Men" during the Men's Doubles Final. Saucy, n'est-pas?
And, finally, swooping in at the last minute to grab the gold before it hits the ground, is frequent flyer in first place with The U.S. Tennis Association adopted the National Football League rules prohibiting "excessive celebrations" after the French team performed the "dance of the seven virgins" following a point.
Special note is made of spd's homage to my home state - Montana brothers Bill and Bertram Berwanger perform the rain, wind, hail and sunshine dance for tourists while fending off clouds of diversity-carrying mosquitoes.
If it weren't such a blatant attempt to curry favor with the judge, it might have warranted more consideration. Buuuuttt one comes to expect these things from high-powered attorneys these days.....
Congrats to the winners and well-played every-villain.
A new picture to snarkify will be up soon....ish.
Mein Gott im Himmel - WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED....
President Barack Obama is calling tens of thousands of illegal-immigrant children languishing in temporary U.S. holding pens an 'urgent humanitarian situation,' but Republicans are pointing the finger of blame squarely at the White House.
Obama instituted an immigration policy that the GOP says enticed tens of thousands of Central American children to cross America's southern border illegally without any parents to guide them.
More than 33,000 have been picked up in Texas alone since October.
The U.S. border patrol says its forces are overwhelmed, and the courts are bracing for a flood of immigration cases from children held in temporary detention facilities designed to handle a fraction of the numbers. Sanitation problems are beginning to rear their ugly heads.
Obama rolled out a controversial Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012, allowing many illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors to escape deportation for two years. The White House gave them another two-year window last week.
As a result, say some GOP leaders, America's system for handling illegal immigration has been strained to the breaking point and is attracting hundreds of new illegal-immigrant children every day.
...The Obama administration expects as many as 80,000 of these 'unaccompanied minors' to cross the border in 2014, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
That number is twelve times what it was in 2011, the year before Obama announced his deferred-action plan.
The administration now estimates the holding facilities where the youngsters are being held cost taxpayers $252 per child per day, far more than the cost of a hotel and more than the children could expect to earn in two weeks of hard work picking crops, work that many were slated to do.
Facing the question of whether to deport the minors or play a game of catch-and-release, the administration has set aside $2 million to pay for their lawyers.
If only there were a leader whose job it was to see that our laws are faithfully executed. Instead, we have a leader who is continually blindsided by the entirely predictable consequences of his reckless and foolish decisions.
Won't someone please step in and fix this urgent humanitarian crisis he created?
More Good News from the Land of the Living Wage
Mein Gott im Himmel! Who could have predicted these outrages!!!!
... how do the businesses that employ people at or near the minimum wage absorb their now-higher labor costs? CEPR, to its credit, offered some answers:"Some employers may cut hours; others, fringe benefits; still others, the wages of highly paid workers. Some employers may raise prices (particularly if their competitors are experiencing similar cost increases in response to the minimum wage). Some employers may see their profits fall (along with those of their competitors), while others may reorganize the work process in order to lower costs."
In other words, the workers will simply lose out elsewhere. Meanwhile consumers will pay higher prices and the businesses will see lower profit margins.
The Seattle Times has reported that some hotels have already laid off workers. Some Seattle hotel workers told the Northwest Asian Weekly they had already lost their 401(k)s, health insurance, paid holidays, vacations and free parking as a result of the change. "It sounds good, but it's not good," an anonymous cleaning lady said.
Those aren’t the only unintended consequences of raising the minimum. It may actually help the corporations progressives think they are punishing.
The D.C. city council tried last year to raise the minimum wage for big retailers, and only big retailers, to $12.50, only to be vetoed by Mayor Vincent Gray. Walmart, which was in the process of opening six locations in the city, lobbied hard for the veto.
But when the council subsequently moved to raise the minimum wage across the board to $11.50, Walmart did not object. Why? Because they can afford to pay that, but their smaller competitors may not. Back in 2006, the retail giant even endorsed a federal minimum wage hike.
Seattle has tried to account for this imbalance by phasing in the increases in four different multi-year schedules according to business size. That is still going to be tough for businesses facing thin profit margins.
Still, such micro-managing shows that even Seattle is worried about the practical impact of its hike.
The Editorial Staff have long argued that focusing on supposedly stagnating wages and ignoring the total benefits package is inherently misleading (if not downright dishonest). It doesn't take a genius to predict how businesses that depend on unskilled, minimum wage employees are likely to react to a steep hike in the minimum wage.
Only someone who understands profit, loss, and competitive pressure.
June 09, 2014
Transparency, Sticker Shock, and the Real Cost of a Living Wage
Patting yourself on the back for Caring Deeply about income inequality: cost = 1 vote.
Businesses educating consumers about the real cost of mandatory living wage bills ... to them:
Diane Feinstein and the NY Times, Malicious Partisan Hacks
One can't help but wonder: what will E.J. Dionne, (who claims - on no evidence but his own feelings - to know for certain that Republican objections to the Bergdahl deal were motivated by rank partisanship and praises conservatives who have defended the deal) make of fellow progressives who have dared to question The Lightworker's handling of this affair?
In an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, Feinstein noted that after the release of the five Taliban officials to Qatar, it will be difficult at best to ensure that they don’t pose a continuing threat to American interests.
“There is no house arrest,” Feinstein said. “They have the country, which is very small, to be about in. Secretary [of State John] Kerry made a very strong statement this morning, saying, ‘Oh, we have ways, and we will see that they do not defect, move, speak, whatever.’ And we’ll see.”
“You’re not as comfortable about that as he is,” host Bob Schieffer asked.
“Well it’s hard to be comfortable when you haven’t been briefed on the intricacies of carrying out this agreement,” Feinstein said.
The senator also said administration officials are not telling the truth when they claim senators are never briefed about “an ongoing operation.”
“That isn’t necessarily true,” Feinstein shot back. “We have been briefed — the chairman and the ranking member — Senator [Saxby] Chambliss and I have been briefed on operations under way. We understand the security of that; we have never violated that.
The NY Times, no doubt motivated by implacable partisan hatred, piles on:
From the initial briefings given to senior military and civilian officials in the past week, Sergeant Bergdahl, 28, in some ways seems healthier than expected. He suffers from skin and gum disorders typical of poor hygiene and exposure, but otherwise is physically sound, one official said. He weighs about 160 pounds on a 5-foot-9 frame, and is sleeping about seven hours a night.
He shows few if any signs of the malnourishment and other ailments that Obama administration officials said he was suffering when they saw a video of him that the Taliban made in December and released a month later — a video so alarming, American officials have said, it made his release an urgent priority.
Videos sure do seem to be causing a lot of trouble in the foreign policy and national security arenas of late.
You're Not Helping, Morons
This is the kind of mindless, clueless jackwagonry that is killing conservatives at the polls:
A group of male Michigan Republicans decided to answer critics of a controversial law requiring women to buy abortion insurance in case of a rape with an image of themselves holding women's fashion magazines. In what progressive groups are calling a poor attempt at humor, state House Republicans Peter Pettalia, Roger Victory, and Ben Glardon posed in the image posted to Twitter.
In the picture, the men pose with copies of Glamour and Harper's Bazaar to prove they care about women's concerns.
What should women like me, who have voted for conservatives consistently for over 35 years, take from this? That these jackasses think reading fashion magazines is a good way to become informed on public policy issues that affect women?
That women shouldn't expect politicians to care about these issues because they're frivolous and silly? You know... kind of like reading women's mags?
I have no problem whatsoever with insurance policies not covering abortions that aren't medically necessary to save a pregnant woman's life. Given that pregnancy is easily avoidable by using inexpensive birth control, it's not at all unreasonable to expect women to bear the cost of birth control and exercise reasonable care to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I say that as someone who was 2 1/2 months pregnant when she married, by the way. Someone who used birth control that failed. So I completely understand what it's like to be in this situation and was fully prepared to deal with it (and by "deal with it", I mean bear and raise our child) if the father of my child chose not to marry me.
It's called assumption of the risk, and it's something we used to expect grownups to do. Even grownups who are only 19 when they screw up (so to speak).
I have a very big problem with the State forcing a woman who was raped to bear a child she does not want, though I completely understand the arguments for preserving the lives of innocent children conceived by rapists. Wherever one comes down on this tremendously difficult issue, making light of it is just plain stupid and offensive.
There are credible ways to make the argument that don't involve being condescending and insulting. Of course that would require intelligence and self restraint.
Hint: when you manage to convince loyal, voting female conservatives that you're a monumental jackass, you're doing conservatism wrong.
June 06, 2014
It's the only plausible explanation, n'est pas?
... why would the Times print Nixon's "sh**t" but not Obama's? Hard to say, especially since there's another presidential precedent: the Times didn't mince words in 2006 when George W. Bush was overheard saying, "What they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this sh**, and it's over." The unexpurgated quote appeared both in a news story and a Thomas Friedman op/ed.
And since then, there have been non-presidential exceptions as well. In 2007, the Times quoted the transcript of a call believed to be from Republican political consultant Roger Stone to Gov. Eliot Spitzer's father: "There is not a g****mn thing your phony, psycho, piece-of-sh** son can do about it."
More recently, "sh**" appeared in the Times in "Invisible Child," a multi-part story last December about a homeless girl in Brooklyn named Dasani. Part 4 ("Finding Strength in the Bonds of Her Siblings") includes this line from Dasani's mother Chanel: "I don't give a sh** if she's crying." The fourth installment was also notable for not one but two appearances of "f**k" in lines attributed to Chanel: "Shut the f**k up" and "She think she some-f**king-body." The F-bombs were noteworthy enough to warrant discussion by the Times's public editor Margaret Sullivan ("'Invisible Child': Behind the Scenes, Before and After," 12/12/13), though the S-bomb wasn't explicitly mentioned.
In her column on the Dasani series, Sullivan quoted Philip B. Corbett, associate managing editor for standards, as saying, "Our basic guidelines about avoiding vulgarities and obscenities haven't changed, but we all recognize that there are cases where an exception is justified."
Villains (usually Republican, but we repeat our ownselves) are foul mouthed (*&^%s. When they do it, it's relevant because it reveals deeper insights into their character.
The utterances of legitimate leaders with gravitas are edited after the fact to use more dignified terms. Like "stuff". Sure, they used the same bad word, but we wouldn't want to leave readers with a bad impression.
A Leading Indicator for Government Inefficiency
When government suddenly stops measuring the effects of its policies, one has to wonder if part of the problem is that they've closed their minds to negative feedback:
Congressional budget scorekeepers said they can no longer measure the fiscal impact of many provisions of ObamaCare because the task is impossible.
In a little-noticed footnote from April, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said it will continue to assess the effects of the law's exchange subsidies and the Medicaid expansion, while not tracking others.
"The provisions that expand insurance coverage established entirely new programs or components of programs that can be isolated and reassessed," the office wrote.
"In contrast, other provisions of the Affordable Care Act significantly modified existing federal programs and made changes to the Internal Revenue Code.
"Isolating the incremental effects of those provisions on previously existing programs and revenues four years after enactment of the Affordable Care Act is not possible."
...It means that measuring the healthcare law's effect on the budget deficit will be much more difficult, if not impossible. The CBO is normally the best source of information on bills' projected fiscal effects.
How conveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeenient. We are reminded of a similarly brazen tactic that makes it difficult/impossible to assess how admitting women to the combat arms impacts military readiness:
Question 1: What effect does pregnancy have on combat readiness?
This is anything but a frivolous question, given the high rate of unplanned pregnancies in active duty females:Nearly 11% of more than 7,000 active-duty women surveyed by the Department of Defense in 2008 reported an unplanned pregnancy during the previous year....
Unplanned pregnancies can have a significant impact on the health of military personnel and on troop readiness, according to the study.
Servicewomen who become pregnant unexpectedly while at home cannot be deployed, which may affect their career. Servicewomen who become pregnant while overseas must be sent home, which can cost the military around $10,000.
The military's response to the problem of non-deployable women is alarming. Faced with Gulf War-era studies that showed that women were three times less likely to be deployable than men, how did the Department of Defense respond?
If you guessed, "They stopped keeping track" of how pregnancies affect deployability, a stuffed marmoset is on its way to you by parcel post:"We're definitely not tracking it," said a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, which runs the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I've been attending operations briefings for two years, and I don't think I have heard once that pregnancy has come up."
Let's repeat that statistic: for various reasons, during the Gulf war women were unable to deploy at rates over 3 times those of their male counterparts. This is a big deal, and it will have a far greater impact on readiness if women are admitted to the combat arms. Is there more recent data? There should be, and if there isn't the Department of Defense should explain why not.
You wingnuts can't prove ObamaCare is adding to the deficit because we're not going to track the stats that would make it possible to establish whether it is or is not doing so.
And you can't prove that admitting women to the combat arms will harm readiness because we're just going to stop tracking metrics like unplanned pregnancy rates (and - we suspect - women's injury rates relative to men's).
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it.
June 05, 2014
Coffee Snorters: Sad Dog Tai... errr.... Tales Edition
In the comments to the "We Are Totally OK with This Sort of Thing" post, OBH posted a link to this hilarious video:
His sad cat diary was pretty funny too :)
The first peonies of Spring from the Blog Princess's garden. She was in a mad rush, so we just stuffed them into a wine carafe that was handy.
They need no other adornment.
June 04, 2014
For the Record, We Are Totally OK with This Sort of Thing
Feeding the dog with Freshpet dog food is kind of like baking with a cake mix.
Dog owners "know they're not quite cooking" when they mash the meat or mix it with kibble, says Scott Morris, co-founder of the Secaucus, N.J., company. "But they still feel emotionally rewarded for the effort."
...Twice a day, Ms. Twichell, a stay-at-home mother in Cincinnati, slices a quarter-pound slab from a roll of refrigerated chicken-and-vegetable dog food. She mixes it with a half-cup of organic, salmon-based kibble, which she has soaked in water and then heated in the microwave, plus three tablespoons of canned pumpkin purée.
Given all the pleasure our four footed buddies provide to homo sapiens, a special diet to stave off digestive problems doesn't seem all that unreasonable.
At the same time, pretty much every dog we ever had did the happy dance routinely, regardless of what was offered them. Sometimes they ate things whose culinary or olfactory merits were not immediately apparent to the two footed members of the household.
Like panty hose, or fountain pens.
Just sayin'. Let the happy dance begin.
"With Honor and Distinction"
We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.
- C. S. Lewis
Much has been written over the last few days about the negotiated release of one Bowe Bergdahl, prisoner of war. The President's "release 1 low ranking deserter, get 5 high-value, high-risk jihadists free!" bargain - like so many of this administration's exercises of Smart Power/Diplomacy - seems to favor our self-avowed enemies at the expense of core American interests (or as they are now so breezily described, irrelevant distractions from the larger narrative that America leaves no one - well, except for this guy - behind):
The release of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees raises the question: What about Alan Gross, the State Department subcontractor who has languished nearly as long in a Cuban jail?
...having made the Bergdahl deal, the president ought to consider: What is the justification for freeing these Taliban officials in exchange for Bergdahl and summarily rejecting the notion of a much more benign release in order to secure Gross’s release?
If, like several of the President's die-hardest supporters, you can't quite wrap your mind around the ineffable wisdom of the President's three dimensional global checkers strategery... well, that's just more evidence that Obama is smarter than pretty much everyone else on the planet:
On Monday, Matthews voiced his skepticism over Obama’s decision to trade five key members of the Taliban for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl — a solider who may have deserted his post and left his fellow soldiers behind. Matthews lashed out about statements that Bergdahl made before he disappeared in 2009, including evidence that the solider said he was “ashamed to be an American” and talked of simply “walk[ing] off into the mountains of Pakistan.” Additionally, Chris Matthews expressed skepticism about statements that Bergdahl’s father made.
That man reportedly said he was “proud of how much you wanted to help the Afghan people, and what [Bergdahl] was willing to do to go to that length.” “Do you have any idea what he meant there?” Matthews asked The Daily Beast’s Kim Dozier. “Did he mean sort of leaving his post, leaving his rifle and uniform behind, heading off in the direction of Pakistan, being picked up by the Taliban? What did he mean ‘helping the Afghan people’ and that process? I don’t quite get that.” “But he left his post and he said — this is what I don’t understand,” Matthews also said. “Was he AWOL? And if not, why not? Why didn’t they declare him AWOL?” Matthews wasn’t done. He went on: “Didn’t he leave his unit behind? He left his uniform behind, he left his rifle behind and he told people if he didn’t like the mission he was headed to Pakistan. What was he doing?”
Verified and unverified reports of "what Bergdahl was doing" are thick upon the ground, and have been for years now. If only someone in the media had covered them, the White House, Pentagon, and intel community wouldn't be just now learning of them the same way Joe and Jane SixPack do - by reading the newspaper. Oh wait...
It seems the media have been covering this story all along. The Taliban and members of the Afghan intel community say he was actively aiding our enemies:
A Taliban deputy district commander in Paktika, who called himself Haji Nadeem, told the newspaper that Bergdahl taught him how to dismantle a mobile phone and turn it into a remote control for a roadside bomb.
Nadeem claimed he also received basic ambush training from the U.S. soldier.
Other media reports state that he left a desertion letter behind him when he walked away from his post, that he had already sent his belongings home before he disappeared, that he was ashamed to be an American and that a 2010 DoD investigation had turned up "incontrovertible" evidence of desertion (a crime under the UCMJ).
One supposes that a rational evaluation of all these media reports depends greatly upon what the meaning of "incontrovertible", is. Or perhaps we're all just not smart enough to know what success looks like.
What was Bergdahl doing? According to the administration's carefully selected spokespersun, he was serving his country with honor and distinction when he was captured on the battlefield.
Of all the idiotic aspects to this idiotic affair, this is arguably the one that makes me the angriest. Honor is a word that means something to the military community: honoring your word. Honoring your commitments. Honoring the service of hundreds of thousands of military men and women who have not always viewed being sent into harm's way with delight and anticipation, who have not always understood or agreed with the policy positions and decisions of their military and civilian leadership, and above all honoring their enlistment or commissioning oaths.
Which in this day and age are entirely voluntary. No one has been drafted or forced into either Bush's or Obama's military. They joined - and took their oaths - voluntarily. But more importantly, they kept their word - even when they had doubts and personal problems and a million excuses for doing what was personally convenient rather than what they knew to be right:
"I don't want to be a f – -ing driver," he said. "I joined the Marines to fight."
Much later, near Tikrit, he got his chance.
While the company was engaging fedayeen fighters, Staff Sgt. Mike Kolek, the vehicle commander, called on Wash to "pop up" so Wash could engage the enemy with his M-4 carbine. I got another half-smile as he told me about it.
But as much as Wash hated his role as a driver, which he told Mike about four times a day, you could tell he was really trying to master the unwieldy machine.
One day south of the Tigris River, Wash got the vehicle stuck up to its axles when a dike we were crossing gave way on the right side. Mike turned the air blue yelling at Wash, even though everyone, probably including Mike, knew it wasn't really Wash's fault. Everyone except Wash, of course.
I remember seeing the tough guy, the I-don't-take-crap-from-anyone guy, standing off by himself with his head down. I walked up to him. He had tears in his eyes and said softly, "I really f – -ed up. I let the staff sergeant down."
He hadn't, of course. I told him that, and later Mike told him the same. But Wash wasn't buying it. His pride wouldn't allow that.
Washalanta wasn't a poster Marine. He sure wasn't the type a press-relations officer would want you to write about.
After returning from Iraq the first time, he went "over the hill," or absent without leave, back in Oklahoma. I'm sure he had to pay for that. But the important thing is he didn't go "over the hill" when it was time to go back to Iraq. In my book, that's what real Marines are truly made off.
I can still hear Mike screaming at Washalanta, who was living on half the four or five hours of sleep the rest of us got, to wake up after our dawn routine of mounting up and watching out for attack. Sometimes you could actually hear Wash snore. We'd all giggle like schoolgirls as Mike banged on Wash's compartment and screamed "Washalanta. WASH, dammit – WAKE UP!"
After weeks of little to no sleep, Washalanta could be almost immune to Mike's raving. Usually he awoke with a "Huh?" that launched the rest of us into howls of laughter.
But now, my humorous memory has taken a horrible turn. In my mind's eye, I see a much different scene. I see Wash lying in the dirt on some pocketed Iraqi road bleeding to death. I hear his Marines screaming "Washalanta, WASH, dammit – WAKE UP!"
I sometimes think this administration wouldn't know honor or distinction if they bit them on the ass.
It is not difficult to sympathize with a young man who is confused, alienated, naïve, or foolish. Young men like that are easily found. Some of them - many of them - grow up to be fine people once surging hormones and insufficient maturity have had their day. But one can't help wondering what excuse there is for seasoned men and women - our leaders - not to know the difference between foolishness and outright criminal behavior and honor?
How stupid do they think we are? How clueless and out of touch are these people?
“What’s been interesting, Andrea, what’s caught the White House off guard here, they were expecting Gitmo criticisms of the detainees that were chosen,” Todd said. “They did not expect this criticism of the attempt to go get Bergdahl in the way that it was done.”
“It does seem they thought that the military would rally around them,” Mitchell observed. “That that would give them the protection, if you will, political protection from dealing through the Qataris with the Taliban.”
“On Sunday, I think they thought there would be some euphoria around this,” Todd agreed. “That there would be a rally around the flag. That didn’t happen.”
This, from a man who snootily put down the wearing of flag pins.
This is the story of a man who was captured by the enemy while doing his duty.
If our leaders are no longer capable of recognizing these qualities in the men and woman they lead, how will our way of life be defended?
Update: The brave, flag-waving patriots at the White House accuse vets who voice inconvenient opinions about the Uniform Code of Military Justice of "SwiftBoating" the "comrade in arms" who was ashamed of them... and of everything they have fought and died for.
So much for patriotic dissent: the lifeblood of a thriving and healthy democracy.
Remember all those fervent lefty calls to "listen to the troops/listen to the generals" during the Evil Bu$Hitler Era? Just when you think these folks can't possibly stoop any lower, they feel compelled to outdo themselves.
June 02, 2014
If I Didn't Know Better...
I think the Blog Princess had finally gotten herself a new puppy.
CANTON, Mass., June 2 (UPI) --A peppy pup pushed the gas pedal in her owner's car and propelled his vehicle into a picturesque pond in Massachusetts. Rosie, a 12-week-old German shepherd puppy, had just gone for a walk around Bolivar Pond in Canton when the incident occurred.
After her owner started up the car, Rosie somehow got tangled up in the pedals and unknowingly floored it into the pond.
"She's a handful," Rosie's owner, John Costello told MyFoxBoston. "The dog jumped in and hit the gear shift and the car jerked and she fell on top of the gas pedal. It was just scary."