Monday, February 20, 2012

WeeklyX2 Roundup, February 6-19, 2012

By BlueberryT

Sorry to be missing in action lately – I’ve missed you! I have been working around the clock on a big project, and am not finished yet, so I will be in and out for a while. Hopefully I’ll catch up someday….

Tuesday, February 8, 2012
Sunnyjane introduced us to Carter Godwin Woodson, the son of former slaves who became a distinguished scholar, teacher and pioneer in education and black history. Woodson earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Chicago in 1908 and a PhD in History from Harvard University in 1912 (only the second awarded by Harvard to an African American). Woodson’s research and writing chronicled the rich history and contributions of African Americans, as well as the obstacles they faced in gaining an education and exercising their citizenship. He organized the first Negro History Week in 1926, coinciding with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln; this evolved into the official designation of February as Black History Month. Thanks to Sunnyjane for teaching us about this man, whose life work brought recognition and respect for the huge contributions of African Americans to our society.
Wednesday, February 9, 2012
Kathleen reported on Santorum’s wins in 3 states, which upset Rom[o]ney’s clear path to the nomination and his standing as front-runner in the GOP primaries. The “Santorum surge” (oh, dear!) is inviting more scrutiny of Santorum’s record and more great videos; Kathleen included some for your entertainment – so have a good laugh at Rick’s expense! Although Santorum’s latest statements on the GOP’s extreme position on contraception and the overall hysteria taking place about birth control happened after this post, I figured the cartoon would help tie these themes together…
February 9th, 10th and 13th, 2012
The Sudden Death of the Living Wage
Nomad has written another excellent series, this one on the death of the living wage. Rom[o]ney’s recent gaffes about not worrying about the poor, then asserting his support for indexed increases in the minimum wage, brought attention to the issue of the living wage. Nomad clearly distinguishes between the “living wage” – how much a person needs to meet the essential costs of living – and the minimum wage that employers must pay for labor. This link will lead you to a calculator for each area of the country – it is eye-opening to see what it costs to live for an individual, let alone a family. The discrepancy between the minimum wage and the living wage (actual cost of living) makes clear why the “working poor” is probably the fastest growing class in America.
In Part 2, Nomad tackled the GOP myths about the U.S. being a meritocracy where free market principles should reign supreme. Right-wing think tanks like the Manhattan Institute, which is funded by the Koch Brothers, among others, provide talking points linking opposition to the living wage, privatization, unions and regulation. They claim all these things kill jobs, but facts prove otherwise. Nomad then explores the roots of the Living Wage movement. None other than Roman Catholic Pope Leo XIII issued a letter that admonished employers to pay sufficient wages so that workers could meet their families’ needs, live without hardship and improve their lot over time. He also encouraged workers to stand up for their rights. (Newt, Rick, are you paying attention – this is the Pope’s word, which to you is infallible and absolute, right?) The Pope’s letter influenced one of the founders of the living wage movement, Monsignor Ryan, who wrote A Living Wage and advocated for economic justice. One of the most surprising proponents of this movement was Henry Ford, who doubled his employees’ wages as a matter of mutual benefit, as contented workers stayed in their jobs, cut training costs, and became customers for Ford automobiles.
In Part 3, Nomad looked at ACORN, an organization serving the poor that worked very effectively for years to promote the living wage and other key tenets of economic justice. At the root of this work is the principle that no one who is working full-time should have to live in poverty. ACORN developed a tremendous network of community-level organizers who provided essential services to those who have been disempowered and disadvantaged in America. It was very successful in promoting a living wage in many cities. At its core, ACORN was reputable, but it suffered from some mismanagement and corruption (although nothing in comparison to the well-documented corruption of entities like Dyncorp and Halliburton, whose corruption has been rewarded with ever more government contracts). ACORN’s success attracted the attention of the right-wing, who began systematically attacking ACORN on several fronts, including the unscrupulous, deceptive sting campaign by James O’Keefe III that brought him notoriety. These attacks were in effect the “character assassination” of an effective, progressive organization. Unfortunately, they were successful, resulting in the defunding of ACORN by the government and NGO funders and causing its demise.
BBT: Seeing the crises over “austerity” in Europe, including reductions in the minimum wage and other worker protections, makes clear that this attack on the living wage is a global strategy to roll back wages and progressive economic policies in countries where they have been the norm. Expect to see more of this, here and abroad. Fortunately, some counterbalance is also occurring, such as the effective negative publicity about slave wages at Nike and Apple factories and the recent announcement of a 25% increase in wages at Foxconn factories in China that manufacture products for Apple, Microsoft, Dell and HP. It is beyond unfortunate that conditions have to get so bad that workers are driven to suicide before anything changes, however.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
After several years of flipping CPAC off, Sarah Palin finally deigned to speak at the annual conservative hate-fest. Even to some who previously worshipped Palin, this was a bald-faced ploy to reinsert herself into the political discourse and proclaim her own relevance. It’s also now apparent (from comments a few days later) that she is waiting in the wings for her anointment as the Republican nominee in the event of a brokered convention; H/T to all of you who have been saying this was her strategy for months now. The post includes Wonkette’s inimitable “deconstructing” of the speech – more lies and misinformation about the economy, dismissive and condescending criticisms of the President – the standard Palin swill.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
Kathleen and Patrick highlight the upcoming release of the movie “Game Change,” starring Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin. The trailer makes clear that it will show her experiencing a mental breakdown. Of course, Palin is now trying to discredit and deflect attention from the movie, which she claims is a “false narrative” that she will not watch (right!). She conveniently omits mention of the fact that she declined the opportunity to help ensure the accuracy of the film while it was in production. This post includes a number of must-see videos, including very damaging comments by senior McCain-Palin campaign staffers Nicole Wallace and Steve Schmidt. They both make clear that Palin was not only difficult; not only uninformed; not only uncooperative; but that she was mean-sprited, vindictive, cynical and mentally unstable.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
KatieAnnieOakley attended a MoveOn screening of the Academy Award-winning documentary, Inside Job. (Highly recommended; here is a quote from producer Charles Ferguson’s the acceptance speech: "Forgive me, I must start by pointing out that three years after our horrific financial crisis caused by massive fraud, not a single financial executive has gone to jail, and that's wrong.") The screening forms the backdrop for KAO’s post about her personal experience in the mortgage industry a decade ago, closing loans at a frantic pace, including many sub-prime loans that she knew the buyers could never manage to pay back. She describes what essentially became a racket—charging “usuriously high fees” and “churning” as many loans as possible because the fees were the profit center. These companies did not actually hold the mortgages, so they had no “skin in the game” – others were taking the risk, which after the housing industry collapse and bailout, meant that we taxpayers actually were the ones who paid the price, along with those who lost their homes. KAO was surprised to see how many of those attending the MoveOn screening had actually taken part in OWS actions near her home – wow, that’s encouraging! Not much media coverage of those events, though…which leads us to the next post…
Ratings and the Yellow Journalism of Fox News (Parts 1 and 2)
In Part 1, Nomad shows the business model of Fox News and how Rupert Murdoch has used his influence to manipulate politicians, businesspeople and, of course, the public. Murdoch’s modus operandi includes compulsive lying, cover-ups, hush money, bribery, and invasion of privacy. Let’s not forget inciting violence, and did I mention raising lying to an art form? No wonder regular Fox News viewers actually know less about current events than those who watch no news programs at all. Until recently, Murdoch’s many connections to politicians and police have allowed him to avoid any consequences for his illegal activities. At the end of this post and in Part 2, Nomad explores the incestuous relationship between Rupert Murdoch and the TV ratings apparatus. It appears that there is a mechanism which automatically sets cable TVs to start up with Fox News – wow, that is ultra-slimy! Also, apparently the boxes that are the basis of the Nielsen TV rating system are made by a company with – wait for it – close ties to Murdoch. If Fox News has been inflating its ratings, then this is nothing short of corporate fraud. (Of course, Murdoch has gotten away with that before, due to his close ties and likely bribes of politicians.) Nomad also explores the roots of lying and sensationalism to manipulate public opinion into support of wars and to portray progressives and socialists in a negative light. Well done as always, Nomad! This video seems to go with your post.
BBT adds: While it will never be enough, I hope that Milly Dowler’s family will find some solace in the fact that the scandal over News of the World’s actions after Milly’s murder was the catalyst leading to an investigation of the Murdoch empire’s disgustingly corrupt, so-called “journalism.”
Just a few comments and links (sorry, I rarely miss reading the comments but couldn’t keep up lately):
Quiet1: LOL, I read your headline, and my brain immediately supplied: Go Froth, and conjure! : )
BfromC: I have a dream. . .
That, come November, the U.S. voting public will have completely awakened, realize that things are improving, that Obama has their best interests at heart, that today's Tea-Party Tainted Republicans are total wackjobs that don't even deserve the votes of lifetime Republicans, that the thousands of nasty ads against Obama (paid for by the Koch brothers and friends) are a bunch of crap, that many billionaires will have wasted quite a sum of money in their anit-Obama efforts, and that Barack Obama will win re-election by a sizable margin.
I have a dream . . . that seems like it just might come true. Share the dream. I'm in. Are You?
I have to give Nomad a standing O for this on Rom[o]ney: “You could almost hear the gasp of a million CEOs and the moan and groan of a thousand Republican Party elites. In that one sentence he confirmed the Right Wing’s darkest suspicions about this candidate. Namely, he is not committed to their agenda after all. Good God, he might even be a moderate, which is next door to a liberal, which is just around the corner from a socialist which is on the same street as a Communist!”
HonestyinGov found this on Wonkette (where else?): Failed Republican Windbag Karen Handel Self-Aborts from Komen.
Alwaysthink linked to another nexcellent post at margaretandhelen.
Excellent commentary by Chris Hayes on Clint Eastwood’s “It’s Half-time in America” ad.
Cheeriogirl gave us this to cheer about on the contraceptive controversy.
Mmboucher pointed out these Santorum quotes.
Sunnyjane linked to this excellent video of Ellen DeGeneris saying what she stands for. Watch to the end.

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