Undernews: American scorecard among advanced countries: it's not pretty

Gus Speth, Solutions - Among the 20 major advanced countries America now has

  • the highest poverty rate, both generally and for children;
  • the greatest inequality of incomes;
  • the lowest government spending as a percentage of GDP on social programs for the disadvantaged;
  • the lowest number of paid holiday, annual, and maternity leaves;
  • the lowest score on the United Nations’ index of “material well-being of children”;
  • the worst score on the United Nations’ gender inequality index;
  • the lowest social mobility;
  • the highest public and private expenditure on health care as a portion of GDP,

yet accompanied by the highest

  • infant mortality rate;
  • prevalence of mental health problems;
  • obesity rate;
  • portion of people going without health care due to cost;
  • low-birth-weight children per capita (except for Japan);
  • consumption of antidepressants per capita...

Yup, I bet

Obama 2012 team would prefer to run against Rick Perry | The Raw Story

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Republican White House hopeful Rick Perry has at least some supporters in the Democratic stronghold of Chicago -- President Barack Obama's re-election team....

"I was praying Perry would get in the race," said a former White House aide closely linked to Obama's campaign.

The strategy is, we can get re-elected if the other candidate is awful enough

Screw that. I can't remember the last time I voted for a presidential candidate I really wanted to be president. It's always "hold your nose" and I'm sick of it. I won't do it any more. 

What I will do is TBA.

Waiting for the corn bubble

Investors seeing gold in farmland, infrastructure | Reuters

Wall Street investors and hedge funds also continue to push money into speculative vehicles like grain-related indexes and funds that trade grain derivatives. Corn gains in the last five years look almost as impressive as gold's.



From the archive: This is scanned from an Ektachrome transparency shot with a Nikon and probably an 85mm lens sometime in the late 70's.

The man from Vermont

Sanders Says What Every Presidential Contender Should: America Needs a Bold Jobs Plan | NationofChange

“So­cial Se­cu­rity has not con­tributed a nickel to the deficit, it has a $2.6 tril­lion sur­plus, and it can pay out every ben­e­fit owed to every el­i­gi­ble Amer­i­can for the next twenty-five years. It must not be cut.”

Light after the rain

Unrelated? Really?

Undernews: Perry supports criminalization of gay sex

Mother Jones - Perry is (still) a supporter of the Texas "homosexual conduct" statute, an archaic law that made it a crime for two consenting, unrelated adults to have sex if they were of the same gender.

So that means...no wait...forget I asked. Sorry.

Spectacular pictures taken a century ago

Russia in color, a century ago - The Big Picture - Boston.com

With images from southern and central Russia in the news lately due to extensive wildfires, I thought it would be interesting to look back in time with this extraordinary collection of color photographs taken between 1909 and 1912. In those years, photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863-1944) undertook a photographic survey of the Russian Empire with the support of Tsar Nicholas II. He used a specialized camera to capture three black and white images in fairly quick succession, using red, green and blue filters, allowing them to later be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near true color images....

Randomly bus-touring half-Governor Sarah Palin says Obama should get back to work

Sarah Palin calls President Obama 'very, very tone deaf' for vacationing in Martha's Vineyard
The rabble-rousing Republican also bashed Obama on the jobs plan he is to unveil in September [blah blah blah].


Massive government program to bolster schools...oh, wait...

AppleInsider | Apple, Microsoft and Intel to bid on 15 million unit tablet deal

Apple, Microsoft and Intel are considering making a bid for a Turkish government project that would see the winning company build and supply of up to 15 million tablets, over four years, to school children.

...wrong government. Ooops.


Hightower is just about the only guy left who's not just saying the same thing over and over again

‘Governor Supercuts' for President? | NationofChange

The cor­po­rate media...has gone gaga over yet an­other small-minded, right-wing, Texas gov­er­nor....

When Perry promises to do for Amer­ica what he's done for Texas, pay at­ten­tion — it's no idle threat.

Look for the silver lining

Undernews: The stuff TSA steals from passengers being sold as surplus

Natural News - If you have ever wondered what happens to the countless barrels of personal items that the US Transportation Security Administration confiscates/steals from air travelers every single day, you might be surprised to know that state governments are now reselling these supposedly "dangerous" items in government surplus stores for extra revenue.

According to a recent article in the Austin American-Statesman, Texas state surplus stores are reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars in new revenue every year for the state by selling travelers' "legally" stolen goods....

Meanwhile, from our Antoinette desk...

Pricey tobacco pushes up core producer inflation | Reuters

The Federal Reserve last week promised to keep interest rates near zero for the next two years to stimulate growth, saying the outlook for inflation over the medium-term was subdued....

"Subdued" is a really cozy word, non?

And so useful.


AP source: Obama to give major speech in early Sept. to unveil ideas for jobs, growth - chicagotribune.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — Seeking a jolt for the economy, President Barack Obama will lay out new ideas for speeding up job growth and helping the struggling poor and middle class in a major speech in early September...

New ideas every week did not mean starting right away this week. Just so you know. It meant starting in early September. No ruling yet on what "early September" means. No ruling on what "ideas" means, or whether "ideas" are just more things that will have to be compromised [the meaning of "compromise" is pretty clear] with loonitarians.

Stay tooned.

But who's counting?

A dispatch from Charlie in Wisconsin:

Loving it!  The WI legislature is now 17-16 (GOP ahead), but Dale Shultz, a Republican  now in rural, western WI. is a moderate who voted against Walker's budget with the union busting clause.  Being viewed as a "king maker."  He and Tim Cullen  (Dem., Janesville) have been touring their districts together and calling for moderation, compromise and toning down the rhetoric.  Walker's stranglehold is broken and he knows it.

[Both Wisconsin Democrats threatened by recall held on to their seats in yesterday's election.]


Washington gives Wall Street the vapors

Role reversal as Wall Street blames Washington for economic woes - CSMonitor.com

Usually, Washington points the finger at Wall Street for some financial tomfoolery. But now some Wall Street commentators say Washington bears some responsibility for the wild markets over the past several weeks.

...many investors say Washington’s behavior had something to do with raising the level of angst.



Walking, not singing, in the rain

Well, you wouldn't want to hear me sing, believe it. But walk I can do, and today is a cool (65-ish) and very rainy day, so perfect for walking with a light rain jacket and a good hat if you don't mind being pretty wet when you get home. Which I don't. I only regret I forgot the soap, so I was unable to wash behind my ears.

Generally, in our well-mannered happy valley, it only rains at night. And we've had plenty of it this summer: the grass is as green as it was in spring. But today, there it is, raining, right there in broad daylight. Or cloudlight, at least. 

So it's a good day for walking in the rain.

When it's straws you're grasping at, any one will do

Matt Dowd: Rick Perry Could Have Trouble in a General Election Because He Sounds a Lot Like George Bush | Video Cafe

Matt Dowd: Rick Perry Could Have Trouble in a General Election Because He Sounds a Lot Like George Bush

Stupid is as stupid does

The Bad Thing About Cutting the Deficit Right Now

The basic issue, and the one which ought to have people running around like their hair is on fire, is the unemployment rate. That, combined with the interest rate, shows you that deficit reduction is the stupidest possible policy at the current time. This is a very important issue, and the current President of the USA is on the wrong side of it.


Count me out

White House Debates Fight On Economy - NYTimes.com

Administration officials, frustrated by the intransigence of House Republicans, have increasingly concluded that the best thing Mr. Obama can do for the economy may be winning a second term, with a mandate to advance his ideas on deficit reduction, entitlement changes, housing policy and other issues.

We hardly knew ye

Pawlenty Drops 2012 Presidential Bid - FoxNews.com

Tim Pawlenty announced an end to his presidential candidacy Sunday after what he called a "disappointing" third place finish in the Ames, Iowa, straw poll.

And probably just as well.

So there really are parallel universes, it turns out

How else to explain this from Friedman?

A Theory of Everyting (Sort of) - NYTimes.com

Not only does it take more skill to get a good job, but for those who are unable to raise their games, governments no longer can afford generous welfare support or cheap credit to be used to buy a home for nothing down — which created a lot of manual labor in construction and retail. Alas, for the 50 years after World War II, to be a president, mayor, governor or university president meant, more often than not, giving things away to people. Today, it means taking things away from people.

And, in the 50 years after WWII, why did I not run into one of those presidents, mayors, governors, or university presidents hell bent on giving things away? Clearly, I've been living in the wrong dimension.

That is peculiar, now that you mention it

From Jesus’ socialism to capitalistic Christianity - Guest Voices - The Washington Post

Here is what is peculiar. Many conservative Christians, mostly Protestant but also a number of Catholics, have come to believe and proudly proclaim that the creator of the universe favors free wheeling, deregulated, union busting, minimal taxes especially for wealthy investors, plutocrat-boosting capitalism as the ideal earthly scheme for his human creations. And many of these Christian capitalists are ardent followers of Ayn Rand, who was one of - and many of whose followers are -- the most hard-line anti-Christian atheist/s you can get. Meanwhile many Christians who support the capitalist policies associated with social Darwinistic strenuously denounce Darwin’s evolutionary science because it supposedly leads to, well, social Darwinism!


Nope, doesn't turn me on at all

Little or Nothing - NYTimes.com

OK, to be fair, an Obama second term would be a lot less hard on working Americans than, say, the Texasification of America that would take place under Rick Perry. But “not as vicious as the GOP” isn’t exactly a stirring slogan.