Pope Francis condemned trickle-down economics and the world of inequality and exclusion it fosters in the first apostolic exhortation of his papacy:
“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed.”
Many of the pontiff’s criticisms of trickle-down economics are true of the American experience. The policies that began with Ronald Reagan have not benefited middle and working class Americans, while deregulation spawned a reckless financial system that nearly destroyed the financial industry in a historic recession — a recession in which the most affluent have rebounded from far more easily than other Americans. Three decades of high-income tax cuts have proven equally ineffective. The Bush tax cuts aided the wealthy but did not reach the middle and lower classes as promised, resulting instead in “the worst wage and salary growth and total compensation growth of any postwar economic expansion.” In short, the wealth never trickled down…
On Election Day, The Boston Globe reported, Logan International Airport in Boston was running short of parking spaces. Not for cars — for private jets. Big donors were flooding into the city to attend Mitt Romney’s victory party.
They were, it turned out, misinformed about political reality. But the disappointed plutocrats weren’t wrong about who was on their side. This was very much an election pitting the interests of the very rich against those of the middle class and the poor.
And the Obama campaign won largely by disregarding the warnings of squeamish “centrists” and embracing that reality, stressing the class-war aspect of the confrontation. This ensured not only that President Obama won by huge margins among lower-income voters, but that those voters turned out in large numbers, sealing his victory.
The important thing to understand now is that while the election is over, the class war isn’t. The same people who bet big on Mr. Romney, and lost, are now trying to win by stealth — in the name of fiscal responsibility — the ground they failed to gain in an open election…
…Democrats seem to have neutralized the traditional G.O.P. advantage on social issues, so that the election really was a referendum on economic policy. And what voters said, clearly, was no to tax cuts for the rich, no to benefit cuts for the middle class and the poor. So what’s a top-down class warrior to do?
The answer, as I have already suggested, is to rely on stealth — to smuggle in plutocrat-friendly policies under the pretense that they’re just sensible responses to the budget deficit.
Consider, as a prime example, the push to raise the retirement age, the age of eligibility for Medicare, or both. This is only reasonable, we’re told — after all, life expectancy has risen, so shouldn’t we all retire later? In reality, however, it would be a hugely regressive policy change, imposing severe burdens on lower- and middle-income Americans while barely affecting the wealthy. Why? First of all, the increase in life expectancy is concentrated among the affluent; why should janitors have to retire later because lawyers are living longer? Second, both Social Security and Medicare are much more important, relative to income, to less-affluent Americans, so delaying their availability would be a far more severe hit to ordinary families than to the top 1 percent.
The point is that the class war is still on, this time with an added dose of deception…So keep your eyes open as the fiscal game of chicken continues. It’s an uncomfortable but real truth that we are not all in this together; America’s top-down class warriors lost big in the election, but now they’re trying to use the pretense of concern about the deficit to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Let’s not let them pull it off.
Paul Krugman’s role as class-conscious economist truly offends the 1%. It drives their flunkeys even crazier. Intelligentsia dedicated to turning blanket apologies for class greed into quasi-legitimate think tank agitprop – especially resent Krugman’s clarity and willingness to tell the truth about political economics.
They must fear their begging bowls will receive naught but porridge instead of prawn sandwiches.
Nanjing Massacre Museum
The Chinese city of Nanjing has suspended its sister-city relationship with Nagoya, Japan, after Nagoya’s mayor expressed doubts that the Japanese Army’s 1937 Nanjing Massacre actually took place…
The falling out began Monday, when Nagoya’s mayor, Takashi Kawamura, told a visiting delegation of Chinese Communist Party officials from Nanjing that he doubted that Japanese troops had massacred Chinese civilians. Most historians say that at a minimum, tens of thousands of civilians were slaughtered in Nanjing in one of the most infamous atrocities of Japan’s military expansion across Asia in the early 20th century.
The falling out underscored how differing views of history remain a problem in Japan’s ties with the nations that it once conquered. While such denials are common by Japanese conservatives like Mr. Kawamura, they are rarely raised in such a public manner, or directly to Chinese officials…
Still, the Japanese government scrambled to head off a full-blown diplomatic quarrel. The top government spokesman restated Japan’s official position that the massacre did, in fact, take place…
On Wednesday, Mr. Kawamura remained unrepentant, saying that he did not intend to retract the statement or apologize…
Such disagreements between Japan and its neighbors have quieted from the early 2000s, when Junichiro Koizumi, then prime minister, angered many in China and South Korea by visiting the Yasukuni shrine in Tokyo that honors Japan’s war dead, included executed war criminals.
I’ve written about this before. People in China haven’t forgotten. Why should I?
Criminalizing speech is a tricky business, but Congress seemed to think it had found the right balance in 2006 when it overwhelmingly enacted the Stolen Valor Act, which made it a crime simply to lie about having received a military medal or service badge.
But the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit begs to differ. In a decision released on Tuesday, the three-judge panel, based in San Francisco, declared the law unconstitutional because it infringed on the defendant’s freedom of speech, even if it was false. That defendant, Xavier Alvarez, had claimed to be a Marine and a winner of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award. He was neither.
In a 2-to-1 ruling, the appellate court said that if the law were held constitutional, many everyday lies could become criminal acts. “There would be no constitutional bar to criminalizing lying about one’s height, weight, age, or financial status on Match.com or Facebook, or falsely representing to one’s mother that one does not smoke, drink alcoholic beverages, is a virgin, or has not exceeded the speed limit while driving on the freeway,” Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr., wrote for the majority. “The sad fact is, most people lie about some aspects of their lives from time to time…”
“We have no doubt that society would be better off if Mr. Alvarez would stop spreading worthless, ridiculous and offensive untruths,” the ruling said. “But, given our historical skepticism of permitting the government to police the line between truth and falsity, and between valuable speech and drivel, we presumptively protect all speech, including false statements.”
If we made all liars into criminals, we wouldn’t have a standing politician left to run for re-election.
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission
Lawmakers eager to prevent another oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico — and prove to voters that they’re responding to the Deepwater Horizon disaster — are insisting on new standards for blowout preventers, a last line of defense against runaway wells.
Federal regulators at the Interior Department also are mulling new rules that could boost the chances the 450-ton safety devices would stop a blowout by shearing through pipe and cutting off the oil and natural gas.
The mandates aim to respond to vulnerabilities revealed when the five-story blowout preventer at BP’s doomed Macondo well failed to block an estimated 4.9 million barrels of oil from gushing into the Gulf of Mexico over 85 days.
But petroleum engineers warn that mandates for extra triggering mechanisms and more pipe-cutting rams might not have helped stop the oil at BP’s well, and industry officials say some proposed rules might require blowout preventers too big to fit on some drilling rigs.
These are engineer-parrots trundled out in their cages to perform before politicians who, in turn, can say “see – we tried to act responsibly; but, it’s too expensive a task!” Hogwash!
Seniors and the disabled “will have to stand in front of Obama’s ‘death panel‘ so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their ‘level of productivity in society,’ whether they are worthy of health care.”
Sarah Palin, Friday, August 7th, 2009.
RTFA. Long, detailed examination of this statement from our #1 favorite nutball.
UPDATE: And, now, she paints herself into a corner trying to explain how she’s right – and how she’s not wrong. WTF?
Thanks, Mr. Fusion
A South Korean court Thursday overturned a 1953 law punishing men for making false promises of marriage to have sex with women.
The Constitutional Court ruled 6-3 the law discriminated against men and infringed on women’s competence. The law treated women like “infants” and violated the government’s “constitutional obligation” to treat men and women equally under the law, the court ruled.
The law had punished men convicted of coercing women to have sex after promising marriage with prison sentences up to two years or fines up to $4,300.
The ruling followed a petition by a South Korean man, identified only as “Lim,” who was indicted for having sex with a female coworker on four occasions under the fraudulent promise of marriage.
Lim argued the criminal law was outdated and violated his female partner’s sexual rights as well as his own right to pursue happiness…
The Ministry of Gender Equality submitted a written opinion to the court saying it considered the law discriminatory against men and infringed on women’s sexual rights.
The Ministry of Gender Equality?
Whoo-Hoo! What if we had one of those in the good old USA?
It will never happen, of course. It’s against God’s will. Another opportunist lie.
For ages experts and laymen have been analyzing and trying to crack the code of handwriting characteristics, in order to detect an individual’s personality traits, or in most cases, gauge their innocence in the case of a crime. Although this science has often gone the way of pseudoscience, researchers are now discovering that with the aid of a computerized tool, handwriting characteristics can be measured more effectively.
The research, headed by Gil Luria and Sara Rosenblum at the University of Haifa, is published in an upcoming issue of Applied Cognitive Psychology. The researchers utilized a computerized tablet that measured the physical properties of the subject’s handwriting, which are difficult to consciously control (for example: the duration of time that the pen is on paper versus in the air, the length height and width of each writing stroke, the pressure implemented on the writing surface). They have found that these handwriting characteristics differ when an individual is in the process of writing deceptive sentences as opposed to truthful sentences.
The handwriting tool has the potential to replace, or work in tandem, with popular, verbal-based lie detection technology such as the polygraph to ensure greater accuracy and objectivity in law enforcement deception detection.
Additionally, polygraphs are often intrusive to the subject and sometimes inconclusive. The handwriting tool therefore provides ease and increased accuracy over common, verbal-based methods.
More work, more work, peer review and experimentation.
But – interesting as all get out.
Imagine reviewing historic documents with micro-analysis to retrieve significant data!
The U.S. National Portrait Gallery says it has amended the caption accompanying the portrait of President George W. Bush at the request of a U.S. senator.
The revised biographical caption, requested by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., eliminated the wording, “the (terrorist) attacks on September 11, 2001, that led to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq…
The newspaper said Sanders objected to the phrasing in a letter to the National Portrait Gallery, writing, “When President Bush and Vice President Cheney misled our nation into the war in Iraq, they certainly cited the attacks on September 11, along with the equally specious claim that Iraq possessed vast arsenals of weapons of mass destruction.
“The notion, however, that 9/11 and Iraq were linked, or that one ‘led to’ the other, has been widely and authoritatively debunked,” he wrote.
Gallery director Martin Sullivan ordered that the caption be amended…
Of course, the lamebrains who believe his crap will keep right on swearing to his lies for decades to come.
Sarah Palin in Iraq? Kuwait? O.K. – Alaska…
Aides to Gov. Sarah Palin are scrambling to explain details of her only trip outside North America — which, according to a new report, did not include Iraq, as the McCain-Palin campaign had initially claimed.
Palin made an official visit to see Alaskan troops in Kuwait in July of 2007. There, she made a stop at a border crossing with Iraq, but did not actually visit the country, according to a new report in the Boston Globe.
Earlier, McCain aides had said that Palin visited Iraq, and expressed indignation at questions about her slim foreign travel.
The campaign also said she had been to Ireland; that turned out to have been a refueling stop.
Of course, the average Bush supporter – which now means McCain supporter – doesn’t get their undies bunched over what goes on in furrin countries.