REPUBLICAN POLITICIANS, TALKING HEADS AND “IMPORTANT PEOPLE” HAVE REALLY MISSED THE BOAT.


They have stated in various and many fora that it is their intention to destroy President Obama. Few have been bold enough to speak of physically damaging my president (most of those men and women in the black outfits that speak into their sleeves aren’t having that), but they go at him with every tool, device, word and construct that is available to them and they make it clear that his “political” destruction is paramount in their minds.

Well, here is why I am saying that they missed the boat.

He lives, rent free, in a big beautiful home which boasts one of the most prestigious addresses on this planet. He has legions of employees at his beck and call. He and his wife earn a high six-figure income. His daughters attend one of America’s premier schools. His wife is doted upon and universally received with favor. He commands the most powerful and dedicated military force in the history of the world. He has a fleet of the most sophisticated and most powerful aircraft at his disposal, 24/7. His power is undisputed. When he annually walks into the halls of congress to deliver his “State of the Union” speech the 535 most powerful legislators ever assembled on earth, as well as countless judges, diplomats, bureaucrats and minor functionaries rise and applaud him – even those who hate, despise and vilify him. He is a brilliant strategist. He was recently re-elected to office by one of the largest ballot box majorities ever reported. He will soon retire at the ripe young age of 55 and begin another career that will include “speechifying” and he will receive fees for his words that will be in excess of $100,000 for 30 minutes of his time.

Yeah, they republicans have seriously missed the boat. They set out to destroy President Barack Hussein Obama.

Instead they are destroying the nation they claim to “love”.

The President is doing quite well.

Plutocracy without end: Why the 1 percent always defeats the middle class – THOMAS FRANK SUNDAY, MAR 30, 2014 11:00 AM UTC


There are more of us than them. But income inequality keeps getting worse — and there is sadly no end in sightScreen Shot 2014-03-31 at Mar 31, 2014 3.11

I’ve been writing about what we politely call “inequality” since the mid-1990s, but one day about ten years ago, when I was traveling the country lecturing about the toxic curlicues of right-wing culture, it dawned on me that maybe I had been getting the entire story wrong. All the economic developments that I spent my days bemoaning—the obscene enrichment of the CEO class, the assault on the regulatory state, the ruination of average people—were very possibly not what I thought they were. When I talked about these things, I assumed they were an outrage, an affront to the affluent nation I still believed we were; once the scales fell from our eyes and Americans figured out what was happening, I argued, we would yell “stop,” bring this age of folly to a close, and get back to middle-class prosperity as usual.

What hit me that day was the possibility that my happy, postwar middle-class world was the exception, and that the plutocracy we were gradually becoming was the norm. Maybe what was happening to us was a colossal reversion to a pre-Rooseveltian mean, and all the trappings of ordinary life that had seemed so solid and so permanent when I was young—the vast suburbs and the anchorman’s reassuring baritone and the nice appliances that filled the houses of the working class—were aberrations made possible by an unusual balance of political forces maintained only by the enormous political efforts of its beneficiaries.

Maybe the gravity of history pulled in the exact opposite direction of what I had always believed. If so, the question was not, “When will we get back to the right order of things,” but rather, “Would we ever stop falling?”

Today, of course, the situation has grown vastly worse. The subject of inequality is discussed everywhere; there are think tanks and academic conferences dedicated to it; it has become socially permissible for polite people to wonder about the obscene gorging of those at the top. Sooner or later the question that everyone asks, upon discovering just how much of what Americans produce goes to the imbeciles in the penthouses and executive suites, is this: How much further can this thing go?

The One Percent have already broken every record for wealth-hogging set by their ancestors, going back to the dawn of record-keeping in 1913. But what if it all just keeps going? How much fatter can the fat cats get before they hit some kind of natural limit? Before the invisible thumb of history presses down on the other side of the scale and restores balance?

That we are very close to such a limit—that the contradictions inherent in the system will automatically be its undoing—is an idea much in the air of late. Not many still subscribe to Marx’s dialectical vision of history, in which inevitable worker immiseration would be followed, also inevitably, by a revolutionary explosion, but there are other inevitabilities that seem equally persuasive today. We hear much, for example, about how inequality contributed to the housing bubble and the financial crisis, how it has brought us an imbalanced economy that cannot survive.

It reminds me of the once-influential theory of inequality advanced by the economist Simon Kuznets, who thought that capitalist societies simply became more egalitarian as they matured—a theory that is carefully debunked by economist Thomas Piketty in his new book, “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” It also reminds me of the theories of the economist Ravi Batra, who in 1987 predicted a “Great Depression of 1990” because (among other things) inequality would have by then had reached what he believed to be unsustainable levels.

It is an attractive fantasy, this faith that some kind of built-in restraint will stop all this from going too far. Unfortunately, what it reminds me of the most are the similar mechanisms that Democrats like to dream about on those occasions when the Republican Party has won another election. As the triumphant wingers stand athwart the unconscious bodies of their opponents, beating their chests and bellowing for some new and awesomely destructive tax cut, a liberal’s heart turns longingly to such chimera as pendulum theory, or thirty-year-cycle theory, or the theory of the inevitable triumph of the center. Some great force will fix those guys, we mumble. One of these days, they’ll get their comeuppance.

But the cosmic cavalry never shows up. No deus ex machina will arrive to rescue the middle-class society, either. The economic system is always in some sort of crisis or another; somehow it always manages to survive.

Article continues:

http://www.salon.com/2014/03/30/plutocracy_without_end_why_the_1_percent_always_defeats_the_middle_class/

GOP Steps Up Attack on Early Voting in Key Swing States – Ari Berman on March 28, 2014 – 10:37 AM ET


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On Election Night 2012, referring to the long lines in states like Florida and Ohio, Barack Obama declared, “We have to fix that.”

The waits in Florida and Ohio were no accident, but rather the direct consequence of GOP efforts to curtail the number of days and hours that people had to vote. On January 22, 2014, the president’s bipartisan election commission released a comprehensive report detailing how voting could be smoother, faster and more convenient. It urged states to reduce long lines by adopting “measures to improve access to the polls through expansion of the period for voting before the traditional Election Day.”

That would seem like an uncontroversial and common sense suggestion, but too many GOP-controlled states continue to move in the opposite direction, reducing access to the ballot instead of expanding it. The most prominent recent examples are the swing states of Wisconsin and Ohio.

Yesterday Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed legislation eliminating early voting hours on weekends and nights, when it’s most convenient for many voters to go to the polls. When they took over state government in 2011, Wisconsin Republicans reduced the early voting period from three weeks to two weeks and only one weekend. Now they’ve eliminated weekend voting altogether.

Over 250,000 Wisconsinites voted early in 2012, one in twelve overall voters. Cutting early voting has a clear partisan purpose: those who voted early voted for Obama 58 to 41 percent in Wisconsin in 2012, compared to his 51 to 48 percent margin on Election Day. Extended early voting hours were particularly critical with respect to high voter turnout in big cities like Milwaukee and Madison. “It’s just sad when a political party has so lost faith in its ideas that it’s pouring all of its energy into election mechanics,” said Wisconsin GOP State Senator Dale Schultz, a critic of the legislation.

Article continues:

http://www.thenation.com/blog/179061/gop-steps-attack-early-voting-key-swing-states

Democrats behaving badly: Scandals taint party in a tough election year – By Valerie Richardson-The Washington Times Sunday, March 30, 2014


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A flood of corruption scandals involving state and local Democratic Party lawmakers is threatening to muddy the party’s image as it enters what was already a tough election cycle.

In a week Democrats won’t soon forget, the Democrat-dominated California Senate took the unprecedented step Friday of voting 28-1 to suspend with pay three state senators in their own party accused or convicted of criminal conduct.

PHOTOS: Democrats behaving badly: Scandals taint party in a tough election year

State Sen. Leland Yee was arrested Wednesday on federal gun trafficking and corruption charges. Sen. Ron Calderon pleaded not guilty Feb. 24 to charges of influence-peddling, and Sen. Roderick Wright was convicted Jan. 28 of perjury and voter fraud.

None of the state senators has resigned from office, although Mr. Yee has pulled out of the race for California secretary of state.

“One is an anomaly, two a coincidence, but three? That’s not what this Senate is about,” California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg said to lawmakers before the suspension vote.

Meanwhile, Patrick Cannon, the Democratic mayor of Charlotte, N.C., resigned Wednesday after he was charged with accepting more than $48,000 in bribes during an FBI sting operation. In Rhode Island, the Democrat-led state legislature voted to replace former House Speaker Gordon Fox, who stepped down after the FBI raided his home and office.

Article continues:

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/30/democrats-behaving-badly-scandals-taint-party-in-a/

The startup explosion – by L.S. Mar 30th 2014, 23:50


MENTION startups and many people will think of the dotcom bubble. Indeed, it seems it is 1999 all over again: since the highly successful stockmarket listing last November of Twitter, the micro-blogging service, young technology companies have been lining up to go public. In recent days no fewer than a dozen firms have floated or announced plans to file for an IPO, including Box, GrubHub, King Digital and OPower. Takeovers of startups are booming too. On March 26th, for instance, Facebook announced that it would pay $2 billion for Oculus VR, a maker of virtual-reality goggles.

But this time is also different. More important than the flurry of IPOs and acquisitions is the fact that the number of startups has been exploding, all around the world. Most big cities, from Berlin and London to Singapore and Amman, now have a sizeable startup colony or “ecosystem”. Between them they are home to hundreds of startup schools (“accelerators”) and thousands of co-working spaces where caffeinated folk in their 20s and 30s toil hunched over their laptops. At the end of last year, the world boasted nearly 140,000 startups, of which more than half were based outside America, according to World Startup Report, a consultancy. Israel is now the most likely place for people to start a tech firm: the country has an estimated 375 startups per million inhabitants, versus 190 in America (see our map of startup colonies).

The main reason for this “startup explosion”, as it has come to be known, is that the basic building blocks for digital services and products—the “technologies of startup production”, if you will—have become so flexible, cheap and ubiquitous that they can be easily combined and recombined: snippets of code, cloud-computing and other services and the internet itself, which is now fast, universal and wireless. As a result, startups can be lean: they no longer need to operate their own servers; they can outsource much of what they do, from software development to user testing; and they can iterate constantly to improve their product. During the dotcom boom launching a startup was a big bet on a business plan; now it is only the first of a series of experiments, an ongoing exploration.

The big question is whether quantity will become quality. Will many of these startups turn into real firms with real products? Optimists, such as Dave McClure of 500 Startups, a Silicon Valley accelerator-cum-venture fund, argue that more startups will lead to more success stories. More sceptical minds, such as Marc Andreessen, a noted venture capitalist, point out that although starting up has become cheap, “scaling up” a company is as expensive as ever. At any rate, the global startup movement is unlikely to run out of steam soon: as digital technology permeates more and more of the world, opportunities for startups will only grow.

Article continues:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/03/economist-explains-25

 

U.S. drug war slowly shifts fire away from low-level users – By Jerry Markon, Published: March 30


Someone was with Salvatore Marchese when he died of a heroin overdose, but no one called 911.

So his mother, Patty DiRenzo, a legal aide, began a quest to help make sure that others wouldn’t be afraid to make that call. She created a Facebook page, wrote New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie nearly every day and called all 120 members of the state legislature.

The grieving mother accomplished what would have been inconceivable a few short years ago, much less back when the nation launched its war on drugs: She helped pass a bill, signed by a Republican governor, that lets people get away with using drugs for the sake of saving lives.

The state’s new “Good Samaritan law,’’ which immunizes from prosecution people who call 911 to report an overdose even if they are using drugs themselves, is part of an emerging shift in the country’s approach to illegal drugs.

Four decades after the federal government declared war on narcotics, the prevailing tough-on-drugs mentality is giving way to a more nuanced view, one that emphasizes treatment and health nearly as much as courtrooms and law enforcement, according to addiction specialists and other experts.

The changes are both rhetorical and substantive, reflecting fiscal problems caused in part by prisons bulging with drug offenders and a shifting social ethos that views some drug use as less harmful than in the past. States are driving the trend. At least 30 have modified drug crime penalties since 2009, often repealing or reducing tough mandatory minimum sentences for lower-level offenses, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts, which works with states and tracks the legislation.

One-third of the states now have a Good Samaritan law, with the majority enacted since 2012.

That is the same year that Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use. “There is certainly more momentum than ever before,’’ said Mason Tvert, spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, an advocacy group that expects that a dozen or more states are likely to legalize the drug within several years.

Change is also afoot at the federal level, where FBI data show drug arrests are down 18 percent since 2006, and the Obama administration tries to avoid the phrase “war on drugs.” The Justice Department is strongly supporting changes being considered by the U.S. Sentencing Commission that would reduce sentences for most drug offenders, and the Senate Judiciary Committee recently passed a bipartisan bill that would cut them in half for some drug crimes.

No one is suggesting that the fight against drugs is over. Federal agents are still battling traffickers on the southwest border, and the administration has taken aggressive steps against abuse of prescription drugs and other illicit substances. Polls show that even as a majority of Americans now favor legalizing marijuana, overwhelming numbers still oppose that step for cocaine and heroin.

And while many of the drug law changes have drawn bipartisan support, some prosecutors are opposing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s efforts to eliminate mandatory minimum prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders. The marijuana legalization campaign has also faced resistance from former Drug Enforcement Administration leaders and other critics.

But after a generation of anti-drug messages symbolized by the “Just Say No” campaign of the 1980s and enforcement accompanied by martial metaphors, experts say a broad consensus is emerging around a crucial distinction. Under the new paradigm, they said, traffickers engaged in the business of drugs will still face long prison terms, while lower-level users will increasingly be viewed as addicts with a treatable illness.

“States in particular are starting to make much bigger distinctions between personal use and commercial activity,’’ said Adam Gelb, director of Pew’s Public Safety Performance Project, who pointed out that some states have recently toughened penalties for large-scale drug sales while relaxing them for drug possession.

Douglas Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University and an expert on criminal sentencing, called the new landscape a strategic shift rather than a “retreat” from the anti-drug war. “We are retrenching,’’ he said, “and coming to the view that if we deploy our forces more effectively, that will allow us to win this war and take a healthier approach.’’

Era of tough enforcement

It was June 1971 when President Richard M. Nixon sent a special message to Congress and targeted drugs as America’s “public enemy number one.’’

“If we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely in time destroy us,’’ Nixon said in the message as he called drug abuse “a national emergency” and established a White House office to attack it.

It was the start of what came to be known as the war on drugs, which emerged as a reaction to fear of crime and the perceived excesses of the 1960s. The crackdown escalated in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan as Congress, with bipartisan support, established tough mandatory minimum sentences for marijuana and other drugs.

With aggressive enforcement, the number of people jailed nationwide for drug offenses exploded from 41,000 in 1980 to 499,000 in 2011, according to the Sentencing Project, a think tank that advocates criminal justice changes.

 

Article continues:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/us-drug-war-slowly-shifts-fire-away-from-low-level-users/2014/03/30/7e8a353a-b461-11e3-b899-20667de76985_story.html?hpid=z5

The Timeless Beauty of Baseball – U.S. NEWS 03.30.14


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Put on a glove, watch a game, and the years fall away, time stands still, and the joy of baseball reminds you again of life’s eternal sweetness.
It could be in a bottom bureau drawer beneath some old tee shirts, sweat pants that no longer fit or laundered dress shirts purchased during the first Reagan administration and not worn since the second Clinton tenure. It might be on a closet shelf or perhaps in the attic, wrapped tightly in thick twine. Or maybe—if you’re an optimist, someone who never checks the date of birth on your driver’s license or are simply a bit delusional—it’s in the trunk of your car, ready to be used at the simplest provocation: a sunny day, a field, a driveway, a back-yard, really doesn’t matter.

It’s your glove, your baseball glove. It’s got a soul, a memory all its own, and a future that never fades because it has never let go of the grasp the past has on you and so many others.

It might be a hand-me-down relic, a Spalding fielder’s glove with the name “George Kell,” faded but still semi-recognizable, stitched on its pocket, the leather darkened by 60 years of use. Maybe it’s a catcher’s mitt from 1962, a MacGregor Yogi Berra or Del Crandall model. Or a Wilson outfielder’s glove from the ’70s just like the one worn by Fred Lynn or the great Clemente before he died. Might even be your latest purchase, a Rawlings RGG1200, nice, soft leather, nearly broken in, less than a year old, bought because you never know when someone might want to play catch.

The glove is like checking a calendar. It comes out of the drawer, the attic, the trunk of your car with the first tease of spring. Comes out and stays out with the arrival of baseball and Opening Day.

Article continues:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/03/30/the-timeless-beauty-of-baseball.html