October 20, 2009 archive

News of Note

One in six Americans in poverty, new study finds

A revised formula for calculating medical costs and geographic variations show that approximately 47.4 million Americans last year lived in poverty, 7 million more than the government’s official figure.

* About 18.7 percent of Americans 65 and older, or nearly 7.1 million, are in poverty compared to 9.7 percent, or 3.7 million, under the traditional measure. That’s due to out-of-pocket expenses from rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and a coverage gap in the prescription drug benefit.

* About 14.3 percent of people 18 to 64, or 27 million, are in poverty, compared to 11.7 percent under the traditional measure. Many of the additional poor are low-income, working people with transportation and child-care costs.

* Child poverty is lower, at about 17.9 percent, or roughly 13.3 million, compared to 19 percent under the traditional measure. That’s because single mothers and their children disproportionately receive non-cash aid such as food stamps.

* Poverty rates were higher for non-Hispanic whites (11 percent), Asians (17 percent) and Hispanics (29 percent) when compared to the traditional measure. For blacks, poverty remained flat at 24.7 percent, due to the cushioning effect of non-cash aid.


World’s Hungry Pass 1 Billion as Wealth Increases

By Giovanni Salzano and Andrew Davis

Oct. 16 (Bloomberg) — The world’s undernourished and hungry will exceed 1 billion this year as governments failed to channel a decade of rising wealth into improving agriculture.


Not Just Bloggers, The Class War Is No Longer Invisible

We’ve spent the last few decades shoveling money at the rich like there was no tomorrow. We abandoned the poor, put an economic stranglehold on the middle class and all but bankrupted the federal government – while giving the banks and megacorporations and the rest of the swells at the top of the economic pyramid just about everything they’ve wanted.


Meanwhile, Wall Street is living it up. I’m amazed at how passive the population has remained in the face of this sustained outrage.


We need to make some fundamental changes in the way we do things in this country. The gamblers and con artists of the financial sector, the very same clowns who did so much to bring the economy down in the first place, are howling self-righteously over the prospect of regulations aimed at curbing the worst aspects of their excessively risky behavior and preventing them from causing yet another economic meltdown.

We should be going even further. We’ve institutionalized the idea that there are firms that are too big to fail and, therefore, “we, the people” are obliged to see that they don’t – even if that means bankrupting the national treasury and undermining the living standards of ordinary people. What sense does that make?

Is it some angry blogger railing against the powers that be?

No, it is one of the NYT’s leading columnists. Please read the whole column, if I could reprint it in it’s entirety I would.

From the Wall Street Journal…of all places…

The nation’s top 1% of households own more than half the nation’s stocks, according to the Federal Reserve. They also control more than $16 trillion in wealth – more than the bottom 90%.


There is no “average” consumer in Plutonomies. There is only the rich “and everyone else.” The rich account for a disproportionate chunk of the economy, while the non-rich account for “surprisingly small bites of the national pie.” Kapur estimates that in 2005, the richest 20% may have been responsible for 60% of total spending.


Of course, Kapur says there are risks to the Plutonomy, including war, inflation, financial crises, the end of the technological revolution and populist political pressure. Yet he maintains that the “the rich are likely to keep getting even richer, and enjoy an even greater share of the wealth pie over the coming years.”

Of course the WSJ’s ‘solution’ is to…..invest in those who serve the Ruling Class. Because as The Ruling Class gets richer, there is no profit in trying to sell things to those the Ruling Class have already succeeded in impoverishing, as they have no money.

Super Freaky Economists

Freaknomics was a great read. Interesting and provoking writing, underlining the value of taking commonly understood items, shaking the data, and seeing whether the common understandings could hold up to the light of day.  Even with its problems, you didn’t need to agree with it to gain from reading and thinking about it.

As an ‘analyst’ who values that sort of provocative challenge and who values windows to thinking in different ways, it came as welcome news that a follow-on book would come out this fall.

Sadly, however, this is one of those cases where the sequel isn’t just a disappointment but does a serious disservice to its predecessor.

As Stephen Levitt summarized his and Stephen Dubner’s follow-on book, “SuperFreakonomics, available this October, includes brand new research on topics from terrorism to prostitution to global warming.”

Superfreakonomics came out today and we’d all be better off if it just hadn’t …


We always embrace our own nostalgia and broadly critique the nostalgia of others. Because our nostalgia is our own experience. And our own experience is not objective. It is personal, painful, joyous, it can be completely mysterious to others and completely clarifying to ourselves. It is at time what can even separate us from connecting to others or be the binding force that compels us to reach out.

Having been here from the creation and I say this not to claim any uniqueness, or superiority. My writing is pretty sporadic. Writing is very difficult for me. But I know why I came here. I was attracted by the personalities and who I knew would be writing. I wanted to watch it all happen and make a smart ass comment or two.

No this is not a GBCW thing. When things don’t move me here I just take a break.

Over the short history here we have had some painful verbal blood baths over issues over which people had intensely held positions, beliefs and experiences. We fought one another pretty fiercely despite the whole “be excellent” agreement. People got pissed. We made half assed accusations. We got defensive.

We retreated.

Then we ever so tentatively reached out to one another. We reached out to people we thought we did not like, people we privately told ourselves five minutes earlier were total absolute morons.

Were things “better” then than they are now? I don’t know.

Can we be better? Yes. Can we be passionate without implying the other person is a tool of such and such.

We have to.

What did we fight about in my nostalgic “good old days”?

We argued race, class, gender, sex and sexuality. We hurt one another at times. We stood in corners and pointed. We sought alliances. Some odd ones at times. The men and the women squared off against one another. Claimed neither of us could understand the other. We had intense rumination about whether white people were just always confronting from a position of racism and just refusing to recognize it. We asked ourselves if the middle class could really truly ever understand class consciousness through anything but the prism of consumerism. We talked about working class racism and sexism and whether it was to be understood as inevitable, experiential, or was it a false designation more properly mediated through certain language usage. We talked about whether words matter and if they can really hurt.

We must GET RID of Harry Reid at ANY cost in 2010, and we need YOUR help Kos

Crossposted at Daily Kos

    I submit this for the approval and enjoyment of my fellow Dharma Bums as a challenge, not just to Kos, but to each and every Progressive in our nation. It is time to stop bitching about Harry Reid. It is time to do something about him politically.

    So what are you gonna do?

With Love,


By At All Costs I mean POLITICALLY of course.

Not just Kos, we need everyone”s help, but I address this directly to Kos, among others whose aid we will need to pull this off.

    Republican filibuster? Democrats have 60 voters. There is no Republican filibuster, just a Democratic one. The problem is Reid’s inability to keep his caucus together. His office can’t even be honest about Reid’s leadership failures. Fucking liars.

    I’ll take a Chuck Schumer-run Senate with 57 Democrats (bye bye Reid, Lieberman, and Lincoln) than a Harry Reid-run one with 75 Democrats.

by Kos

bold and italic added by the diarist

     I need your help, Kos. Are you tired of Reid? Really? Then help me do something about it.

     How I propose to take down Harry Reid and an open dialogue below the fold.

Daring to Dance to No One’s Funeral

Taking the time to contemplate the vast amount of right-wing smears that have been either facilitated, advanced, or concocted by conservatives over the past several months is an overwhelming task.  Within each of these petty, partisan, often nonsensical parries and thrusts I am reminded again of the excesses of the Pharisees.  Wishing to have everything on their own terms and in accordance with every selfish demand, modern day Pharisees are found not merely in the opposition party, but regrettably sometimes among our own ranks, particularly in the form of people who fail to neither understand nor respect the vast amount of indignation felt when crucial reform legislation is watered down or vaguely outlined due to nothing more than political expediency and self-preservation.  If this sort of thing was limited to politicians, it might be more easily challenged, but one sees it everywhere.  Most recently, those well-connected business types who long ago lost their souls in selling the whole world are also guilty as charged.


Verbal Spitting on Those Who Serve, Continues!!

Some Four Plus Decades of, Enough is Enough

We’ve been going through this for some four decades now, and it’s gotta Stop Now, but I doubt it will, because it comes mainly from those that don’t serve as they wrap themselves in the banner of a political party that’s “Strong On National Defense” while condemning all others as not! It’s in their political ideology to be used and accepted by those that claim that ideology, like they found great enjoyment wearing and laughing about “purple heart bandages” not long ago. Even some who serve, and do so in our wars and occupations of choice will use it, strickly as their political meme, disgracing their own service as they attack their brothers and sisters, never having real facts to back up their claims, and never apologizing especially to their brothers and sisters!

Workplace Disruption Programs

The newest of emerging business memes comes from my wife who works in health care.


It was a job she used to enjoy.  It had people she used to enjoy.  It was upscale done right rehab-nursing care facility and management is on the path of continuing “destroyment”.  Another Hyatt Regency incident, this time with health care.

President Obama, What Will You Do Now, Sir?

(Xposted from WWL)

I know what I’m doing, Mr. President. I’m refusing. I’m rebelling.

I’m refusing to be coerced into supporting the Megaindustry of Insurance, for the only thing that has been ensured is that their profit will grow.

So are many, many like minded people who cannot afford these new premiums, this new cost of existence in a world in which many of us were barely getting by prior to the burden you added. A burden, mind you, that benefits only the elites. A burden that was approved also, by the greed of the few whose retirement was placed in the gambling dens of the same elites, for upper middle class entitlement has always been their enabler.

So, what will you do now that we cannot pay? What will you do when the employers themselves dump their benefits, and create more customers who will not, or cannot pay for your new mandate?

Shall we all go to debtors prisons?  

What will you do when the Dow dives? How will you force us to provide ever more fodder for Wall Street? How will you get blood from the rock?

Docudharma Times Tuesday October 20

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Afghan Leader Said to Accept Runoff After Election Audit

Oil prices hit high but report warns of supply crunch

Public option gains support

Maine’s gay marriage battle has echoes of Prop. 8

Raphael drawing expected to break world record at auction

Kidnapped aid worker flies home after trauma of mock executions

Taliban digs in for border battle

CPI (Maoist) to review the beheading of Francis Indwar

Iran sets defiant tone at start of talks over nuclear programme

In Najaf, Iraq’s Shiite clerics push for direct elections

No one worthy: Mo Ibrahim prize for good governance in Africa goes unawarded

Niger votes in contentious poll

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning


(Click on image for larger view)

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂  

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

Obama — 7 lies in under 2 minutes

What can I possibly say to this?  

And let’s face it, this is just the tip of the iceberg.  

Listen to the people cheer, thinking he’s telling the truth.

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