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It’s that time again… the day we take our Moms to brunch and bring her flowers. Or the kids make cards and trash the kitchen cooking breakfast, to give Mom the day off. Of course, it’s not Mother’s Day in most of the world – just here, where 22% of children are born into poverty. We’re 30th in the Mother’s Index, a list that ranks countries on how well their mothers and children fare. 30th is not such a great spot in the list for a country that loves to chant “USA! USA!” and claim to be “Number 1!” in everything. Number 1? Not even close. But we’ve got to be kicking ass somewhere – aren’t we leading in some category on the list? Absolutely. We’re beating the rest of the industrialized world in babies who don’t live to see a second day after birth. 11,300 babies born in the US won’t live an entire day.
We don’t mean to put a damper on Mother’s Day with these statistics, but they do bring a lot of other current news into sharper focus.
Pushing more people below the poverty level – by ending overtime for hourly workers (thanks, Eric Cantor!) and refusing to raise the minimum wage or pay women a wage equal to their male counterparts – means more kids born poor, to poor moms who had poor prenatal care. And what does that give us? More premature births, more birth defects, more babies born with the deck stacked against them. Cutting programs that help people who need food, assistance with housing costs, and health care – what do you imagine that does to our standing in the Mother’s Index? These cuts and refusals – all being pushed from the hard right – are certainly not going to move us up in the list. If anything, they’ll shove us further down, meaning more poverty, fewer healthy babies, and more suffering families.
But it’s not all bad news out there. Good news can be found, even if it’s only good news for comedians, in the form of Mark “Appalachian Trail” Sanford winning a senate seat in South Carolina. Even if it’s only that Monsanto has to wait another year to plant more of the world with their GMO seeds. Even if it’s only that “AgGag” bills – to silence those who’d expose factory farming abuses and pollution – are being challenged, meaning pictures like the one to your left can be published. Even if it’s only that Rush Limbaugh’s advertisers are fleeing in droves and he might lose his job. Hey, you gotta take your good news where you can get it, right?
On that optimistic note, here are this week’s links. Check them out and look for the good news. Even if it’s only that now that you know what’s going on, you can help make things better. Always imagine better.
Down the Benghazi Rabbit Hole:
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So what’s the “tipping point” for you? When something’s gone totally pear-shaped, all’s not going well, things are out of whack and seem to be irretrievably so, how bad do things have to get before you say “Enough!” and make a move?
That’s a question that was put to a selection of voters, and it turned out that 44% of Republicans said that they believed “an armed revolution might be necessary to protect our liberties.”
Funny, us 99%-ers on the left have been saying the same thing about protecting our lives – from predatory banks who take our homes, our educations, and our futures, from tax-dodging billionaires with political aspirations, from corporations strong-arming our legislature, and from oil and gas companies turning our earth into toxic swiss cheese through largely uncontrolled drilling for oil and natural gas.
Of course the threats to “liberties” that the Republicans perceive are all Republican-manufactured. Nobody’s really coming for your guns. Nobody’s going to threaten your marriage by marrying whomever they please. Terrorists are not lurking in every dark alley, and every kid with a backpack is not planning to blow something up. Oh, and those of us who think science has some good answers to life’s questions aren’t trying to beat up your God. Really. We promise.
So why would the far right manufacture these fears? To keep everyone so torqued that they can’t make rational choices – in the voting booth, at the grocery store, in the doctor’s office – hell, even while we’re pressing buttons on our TV remote. Our votes are being bought, and the ones they can’t buy are being stolen through gerrymandering. The companies who make toxic food want to decide what we should eat and how much information we’re entitled to have about our own meals. Pharmaceutical companies spend more money telling us how they can cure our depression than they spend on developing new drugs (that will also turn us into fidgeting nymphomaniacs with lymphoma – but our psoriasis will be GONE!), TV news is now infotainment, bearing no resemblance to real journalism, and the advertisers decide which stories are worth telling. Print news is dead, having pulled up stakes and moved to the Internet, where the “news” is surrounded on all sides – literally and figuratively – by advertising. And it’s often context-sensitive advertising, based on previous searches you’ve made online. So while you’re trying to find out what’s happening in Syria, the shoes just like the ones you looked at at Amazon.com last night appear on the side of the screen, to distract you. Who needs to know what targets Israel might be bombing when you can buy those strappy sandals you wanted at a 20% discount if you act right now?
So what’s your tipping point? How many more punches can you take before you topple over and then decide to get up and fight?
We’re ready whenever you are. In the meantime, arm yourselves with some information – here are this week’s links:
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While those who profit from scaring us about terrorists and attacks on the 2nd amendment pack the news with distractions, the story – the really big story – we all should be looking at is what’s happening to our home. To Earth, the only source of air, water, and food we have.
From leak-laden pipelines to billions of gallons of water forever poisoned through fracking, from deregulating industries to genetically-modified food to pesticides that are killing the fuzzy little bugs that make it possible to grow 75% of our crops, we’re treating the earth and everything on it pretty badly. Like it doesn’t matter. Like we have another planet in the garage, and we can go get it when the one we’re using breaks.
There is no other Earth.
Ending terrorism won’t matter if we can’t breathe. What North Korea or Syria or Israel or Iran do to their enemies or their own people won’t matter if we can’t drink the water. And what a gallon of gas costs won’t matter if we’re fighting over food on the streets because there’s nothing to eat. The picture this paints isn’t science fiction. It’s our future if we don’t wise up, and fast.
This goes beyond climate change. This goes beyond Creationism vs Intelligent Design vs Evolution. This is simple logic. If we pollute the only place we have to live and render the air, the water, and the soil so poisonous that we can’t breathe safely, the water catches fire, and the soil won’t grow crops, we die. That’s it, and even the richest of the rich can only buy their way out of it for so long. Even their water will run out – and yes, they think it’s “their” water. Just like it’s their country and their world. We just live in it.
At least for as long as we can.
This week’s links:
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So Rush Limbaugh makes a joke about a pressure cooker, and Macy’s, long famous for its politically-incorrect positions on many things (from gay rights to general good taste, refusing to sever marketing ties with Donald “The Witless Goon” Trump) puts them on sale within 48 hours. Is there a connection? Who cares? The point is that Rush’s comments are noteworthy because he made them just hours after the Boston Marathon bombing, in reference to his pro-gun agenda but suffering from apparent selective amnesia about the devices being used in the bombings themselves. Way to go.
So this got us thinking. Given that Rush is the definition of a crackpot, an angry, overreacting blowhard, wouldn’t a different kitchen appliance be a better match for him? Why, yes! The CROCKPOT. Everyone’s got one, probably gathering dust on a shelf in the basement, maybe way back in a cabinet in the kitchen, brought out only when slowly cooking some animal flesh is required, preferably while you’re at work, allowing the crockpot to simmer away while you toil at something else. A lot like the thousands of angry, older white men who listen to Rush while they’re at work – he simmers and bubbles and turns meat into mush while you’re earning a living.
Of course, if Macy’s puts crockpots on sale, we don’t recommend buying one from them. Get one at Costco, where the CEO pays his employees well, wants the minimum wage raised, and pays full benefits. Or just dig your own crockpot out of storage, and send it to Rush. His address:
The Rush Limbaugh Show
1270 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
Box it up, and mail it. He won’t have read this column, so he won’t know why the hell he’s getting crockpots in the mail, but anything that makes that pudgy jerk stop and wonder about something other than how to blame Obama for everything is worth the trouble. If enough of us mail him our crockpots, it could become an actual thing. And then whenever anyone – a pundit, a reporter, a news channel – is guilty of being a crackpot, getting the facts wrong and stirring the public pot with divisive nonsense, they, too, can receive crockpots in the mail.
#crockpots. I can see it trending now.
So look out CNN. Look out any “news” channel that put a stirring, orchestral soundtrack behind your coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings (ABC’s coverage was particularly maudlin). Look out any reporter who refers to bombing suspects as “dark-skinned young men” (we’re talking to YOU, John King of CNN), because crockpots could be on their way to you. If you’re stirring the pot with a crock of… um… misinformation… your address can easily appear here or on our Facebook page or in a Tweet, very soon. You can’t say we didn’t warn you.
Now of course, this week’s show was largely about the Boston Marathon bombings’ aftermath – the manhunt, the emerging information about the suspects, the insanely overreaching calls for charging the surviving suspect as an “enemy combatant,” the chances he’ll get a fair trial (and yes, he, as a citizen, deserves a fair trial, because our judicial system must remain fair if it’s to be of any use to anyone), the way the public’s rights were and will be trampled in ill-conceived attempts to achieve added “security” in public places, the reactionary impact this will have on immigration reform, etc…
But we also covered the XL (Xtra Leaky) Pipeline, the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion (more deregulation, anyone??), and the science that proves we can be free of oil – foreign and domestic – in less than 40 years, powering everything from our homes to our factories to our cars with renewable sources of energy. It only makes sense, right? Why not pursue new solutions – when it’s clear that antique technology is slowly choking us? Oh, that’s right. Our corporate overlords can’t own the sun, the wind, and the rushing waters. Well, maybe the water. According to Nestle’s CEO, the public has no right to water.
So go dig out your crockpot, box it up and address it to Rush, enjoy a glass of Ovaltine (not Nestle Quik), and enjoy this week’s links:
TX Fertilizer Plant Explosion
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That the Keystone XL pipeline is only for export and it won’t bring a drop of oil to our country, other than that which spills out of it when ruptures occur, flooding the land and water with tar sands glop – maybe you wouldn’t support it and would speak out against it.
That House Majority Leader John Boehner lied, inflating the number of jobs the XL pipeline would create (it will create only 35 permanent jobs), after he made a big investment in a pipeline company – maybe you’d demand that legislators no longer be able to make investments while in office, to prevent the inevitable insider trading – and lying about it – they engage in.
That the real reason for all the saber-rattling over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities is to squash any discussion of changes or reductions in military spending – you’d let your legislators know that you’re not falling for their fear-mongering and you want your taxes spent on investing in America’s people, not in beefing up our already outsized military budget.
That no other country in the world cuts welfare benefits to families whose kids don’t perform well in school, despite the claims of a Tennessee state senator who said he got the idea for his Starve Poor Kids bill from other countries – maybe you wouldn’t vote for people who run for office by lying about safety net programs and the people who benefit from them.
That the late Margaret Thatcher called South Africa’s Nelson Mandela a terrorist, and thought Chile’s torturing, murderous dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was a great guy – maybe you wouldn’t waste time mourning her passing or giving her goals for privatizing everything and ravaging the poor any traction when current leaders trot them out.
That Mitt Romney and his pals in the multimillionaires’ club pay Social Security tax on less than 0.2% of their income, while people earning less than $113K per year pay on 100% of their income – maybe you’d demand that we raise the cap on income taxed for Social Security, so everyone pays the same percentage, regardless of income, thus funding Social Security benefits forever.
That many of the items in President Obama’s budget were quite progressive and positive for Americans, despite the one thing – “Chained CPI” – that the media focused on – you’d be more supportive of his goals to more fairly tax the wealthy, protect the poor, and encourage livable wages for employees of small business, just to name a few of the ignored aspects of his budget.
That banning abortion or making it harder to obtain one won’t stop abortions and will only cause a rise in criminal back-alley abortion providers and women butchering themselves in order to end unwanted pregnancies – you’d stop supporting candidates who oppose abortion rights and see them for the women-hating hypocrites they are.
That the same legislators who claim that all life is precious – when they talk about the fetus – are the same ones who vote to go to war, who favor the death penalty, and who vote against healthcare reform in order to protect their rich pharmaceutical and insurance company pals whose policies cost thousands of lives, every year – you’d stop voting for them.
That 90% of Americans favor universal background checks for all gun purchases, and that nobody – we repeat, nobody – is trying to take your guns or make owning guns illegal – you’d stop contributing to the NRA and call your legislators and ask them to stop letting Wayne LaPierre and the gun manufacturers dictate policy and listen to their constituents instead.
That the information you need to be an effective voter and an engaged citizen is out there – and easily found if you spend any time at all looking for it – you could help change the world.
Let’s get started:
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Like Kathy Bates with her favorite author, strapped to a bed in her home, his ankles broken so he can’t escape, thousands of coal miners are stripped of their pensions by a bankruptcy scheme hatched by millionaires, Arkansans are choking on tar sands glop surrounding their homes as Exxon Mobil slinks away from their own mess, courtesy of a convenient legal loophole, Social Security recipients are watching with baited breath as their future incomes fall victim to a “chained CPI” – there’s so much misery to go around, we might say it’s legion.
And so is Anonymous, who just as we went to press with this week’s blog, is claiming to have successfully hacked thousands of websites and computers, mostly in Israel, in a show of support for the Palestinians – a people who’ve known their share of misery, too. The Israelis are claiming that the attacks have been largely unsuccessful, but what else would they say? Would any government admit to being harmed by “hacktivists?” The lack of coverage of this event – even if it was a non-event, results-wise – is a bit odd, to say the least. And that’s what the mainstream press is saying… the least, as in nothing, zip, nada, as of this moment.
But hey – that’s why we’re here. To bring you news you might not get or not get much of, like news of Bain Capital bankrupting another company, of a crazy Texas legislator bringing up bestiality again in response to the mention of marriage equality, or up to $32 TRILLION in income hidden through an assortment of offshore tax havens, allowing the 1% to literally pay no taxes, yet again.
It’s all here… in this week’s links:
If the whole Anonymous thing hasn’t been blacked out by the time you read this, just try Googling “opisrael” or go to Twitter and search for #opisrael or #anonymous. The links, like this one are legion, too.