Wonk’s Saturday Reads: Sailboats at Sunset

Escaping Dystopia 2011...

Morning, news junkies.

Chris Hedges ushered in 2011 by calling it a brave new dystopia. For a brief moment in time, the Egyptian and Wisconsin protests provided a glimmer of “there’s something happening here,” but then we were returned to our regularly scheduled dystopic nightmare. I don’t know about you, but lately I’m finding that the actual headlines these days sound more satirical than the ones in the Onion. They leave me either wanting to lolsob…or just sob. So, on that note…

Above, to the right… from National Geographic’s Intelligent Travel:

This photo of sailboats at sunset has us yearning for the sea, which makes it an Editors’ Pick for week one of our 2011 Traveler Photo Contest in the category of Outdoor Scenes. The photographer Ken Michael Jon Taarup writes, “Boracay has never ceased to amaze many people from all over the world. With its white crystal sand, pristine blue waters, and beautiful sunsets, this place still tops the list of the most visited and beautiful resorts in the Philippines.”

That’s so you have something calming to visualize while you read my Saturday picks.

Alright, grab your morning cuppa if you haven’t already, and read on.

Let’s just get the biggest distraction out of the way first…

Tornado aftermath: Pictures say a 1000 words

“Depressing women’s history news of the week”

Being pro-choice means understanding that self-determination for women regarding sex, sexuality, reproduction and motherhood is a fundamental precursor to womens’ ability to achieve their own educational, economic and familial aspirations, a fundamental precursor to the health and well-being of individuals and families, and a core condition of the long-term stability and health of society. It therefore also means understanding the profound connections for women–supported by more than ample evidence–between economic and educational status and unfettered access to comprehensive sexual health education, contraception, family planning services, and abortion care.

The War on Unions… now brought to you by Dems in MA?

The bill will take a month before coming to the state Senate, but the overwhelming vote in the House, and [Gov.] Patrick’s kinder, gentler rights-stripping plan, make it look like something’s going to happen in Massachusetts. Time to get out in the streets in another blue state.

“I’ve played at hundreds of protests and demonstrations, and this was really unique,” he said. “It was every segment of society. It was radical students and cops on the same side, and I’d never seen that before.”

Hillaryland

  • The otherwise serious and reliable Laura Rozen overreacted a bit to Hillary taking a few days of Easter R&R time off with her family. There’s a reason Hill was dubbed the “Energizer Secretary.” The woman works non-stop. She has a personal life that she’s entitled to attend to and/or just recharge every few years or so.

Click to view HQ. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

When Bushies fight… Get out your popcorn

First of all, I didn’t have modest experience in management. Managing Stanford University is not so easy. But I don’t know what Don was trying to say, and it really doesn’t matter. Don can be a grumpy guy. We all know that.

As always, Black Agenda Report tells it like it is…

  • This is an instant classic! Please read and disseminate. Bruce A. Dixon’s Top Ten Answers To Excuses For Obama’s Betrayals and Failures. Note Number 9 — it’s for all the Obamaphiles who won’t accept that Obama is the third Bush-Cheney term. And, to quote a snippet from Numero Uno (Re: “It’s our fault the Obama presidency hasn’t kept its commitments. We need to ‘make him do it.’”):

You cannot make a US president do what he fundamentally doesn’t want to. Michelle Obama is nice to look at, but she is no Eleanor Roosevelt. Franklin Roosevelt used to publicly bask in the hatred of wealthy banksters. Barack Obama’s dream is mostly not to piss off rich people.

  • For more on the atrocities of Bush-Cheney III, give BAR’s April 25th podcast a listen. In the first segment BAR’s Glen Ford interviews Labor Notes editor Mark Brenner, who sees no growth and no jobs on the horizon and says:

“Absolute disaster for working folks. If we follow the Ryan plan or if we follow the Obama plan, none of it spells good news for the rest of us.”

  • In another segment, Clarence Thomas, former Local 10 union secretary-treasury, says what one needs to understand is that this is not simply an attack on public sector workers, it is also an attack on public services.” Thomas says the goal is to put labor back where it was before the New Deal, noting that it is a corporate and rightwing agenda in which “the Democratic party is complicit.”

The ongoing crackdown on dissidents: Syria, China

In response to the brutality of the crackdown, President Barack Obama signed an executive order today instituting sanctions against the Syrian intelligence agency and two of Assad’s brothers, a White House official confirmed. Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council voted in Geneva today to condemn the Syrian crackdown.

“The [Executive Order] is a watershed,” Andrew Tabler, a Syria expert with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told The Envoy. “This is the first time an Assad has been designated by the [U.S. government], and the first time the USG has issued an EO on human rights in Syria. Until a few months ago Human Rights was a distant fifth on our list of issues with Syria. Now it’s emerged as the center of our policy.”

Ms. Cheng was arrested on what was supposed to have been her wedding day last fall for sending a single sarcastic Twitter message that included the words “charge, angry youth.” The government, lacking a sense of humor, sentenced her to a year in labor camp.

Timeout: Art break

We’re about halfway through, so click to read the rest…
America’s Fastest Growing Cities

Kearney, NE: 3.5; West Lafayette, IN: 4.4; Lexington, MA: 4.5; Madison, AL: 5.6; Madison, WI: 6.0; Ballwin, MO: 6.4; Anchorage, AK: 6.5

Your “first wireless president” in action, progressives!

2012: Everybody was ‘carnival barking’…

  • Trump drops F-bombs — I suppose at the very least that qualifies him for the vice presidency (cf. Cheney, Biden).
  • Tea party continues to hang itself (Gallup polling). For anyone who still believes that Obama HAS to swing center-right until he is re-elected so that after that he can finally reveal himself for the liberal trojan horse he is: Ask yourself why Obama’s “bipartisanship” pivots around the 30% of Independents who have a favorable view of the tea party instead of the 43% who have an unfavorable view?
  • Steve M./No More Mister Nice Blog: BOYCOTT BIRTHERISM. As anyone familiar with my two cent rants knows, I think birtherism is another tool of the oligarchy keeping us from discussing anything of substance. Ann Dunham Obama gave birth to Barack in Hawaii (…and Sarah Palin gave birth to Trig in Alaska.) End of discussion. The media’s corporate sponsors want this distraction; if they didn’t, Trump would have gotten the media pariah treatment that Geraldine Ferraro got during the ’08 primaries for saying much less.

What the Oligarchy was doing (while America was watching Trump v. Obama and Wills & Kate)

Petraeus, 58, will hang up his uniform after almost 40 years in the military to take up the helm of the civilian intelligence agency in September. […] CIA Director Leon Panetta, who Obama will announce today as his choice to succeed Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, only agreed to the request after a bit of arm-twisting in a meeting at the White House on Monday, the senior administration official also told journalists.

Panetta will continue Gates’ budget agenda

Gates’ unrivaled influence

All of the appointments–in particular Panetta as Robert Gates’ successor at DoD, Petraeus as CIA director (one of Gates’ many previous jobs), and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John R. Allen to succeed Petraeus as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan–show that Gates remains an unparalleled influence on Obama’s national security policy and personnel decisions.

Pakistan is the unspoken factor

Small claims suits help to hold corporations accountable for violations of law. Under this ruling, individuals would not be allowed to band together when they’ve been cheated. This means that corporations will only have to bribe and intimidate regulators, with the impunity of getting caught by a mass lawsuit. A lawyer won’t bother with an individual lawsuit for twenty bucks even if the fraud is clear. Multiply that by the thousands if not tens of thousands of cases like this and corporate America just got another windfall for their coffers.

The George W. Bush legacy continues unabated.

It also appears clear that the DOJ is strongly considering an indictment under the Espionage Act — an act that would be radical indeed for non-government-employees doing nothing other than what American newspapers do on a daily basis (and have repeatedly done in partnership with WikiLeaks).

  • These are just a few. Feel free to chime in and add more on what the powers-that-be have been up to this week!

This Day in History (April 30)

THE prestigious law firm King & Spalding has not fully explained its decision this week to stop assisting Congress in defending the law that forbids federal recognition of same-sex marriage. But its reversal suggests the extent to which gay men and lesbians have persuaded much of the legal profession to accept the basic proposition that sexual orientation is irrelevant to a person’s worth and that the law should reflect this judgment. The decision cannot be dismissed simply as a matter of political correctness or bullying by gays.

Gay-rights supporters have transformed the law and the legal profession, opening the doors of law firms, law schools and courts to people who were once casually and cruelly shut out because of their sexual orientation.

But it was a process that took a half-century to unfold. In 1961, a Harvard-trained astronomer, Frank Kameny, stood alone against the federal government. Fired from his federal job simply for being gay, he wanted to petition the Supreme Court. But at a time when all 50 states still criminalized sodomy, even the American Civil Liberties Union declared it had no interest in challenging laws “aimed at the suppression or elimination of homosexuals.” Mr. Kameny wrote his own appellate brief; without comment, the court turned him away.

Over the next quarter-century, lifted by gales of change in sexual morality and in the status of women, gay-rights advocates mobilized at every level of the legal profession.

Well, that’s it for me…have at it in the comments!

[originally posted at Let Them Listen; crossposted at Sky Dancing and Taylor Marsh]

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