Discouraging piece in the Washington Post today about the increase in poverty in southern and western states as measured by the percentage of school kids qualifying for free or reduced price lunches. This graphic compares 2000 to 2011:
In 2000 only four states reported that a majority of their public school kids were on free or reduced lunch. In 2011 seventeen states did. All in southern or western states. The author of the article quotes Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Columbia University as attributing this increase in poverty to statistics showing that the U.S. lags behind other countries in educational testing. He points out that kids from high income areas are holding their own but when you look at scores from schools with a lot of low income kids the bottom drops out. The rise in poverty can certainly be at least partially explained by the recession. The Southern Education Association spokespeep also throws in “immigration and a high birthrate among low-income families”. (Translation: “If only those poors would stay where they belong and not breed so much here!”) Hank Bounds, Mississippi commissioner of higher education has a couple of cents worth too:
Hank Bounds, the Mississippi commissioner of higher education, said the country needs to figure out how to educate the growing classes of poor students and reverse the trend.
“Lots of folks say we need to change this paradigm, but as a country, we’re not focusing on the issue,” said Bounds, who was previously Mississippi’s state school superintendent. “What we’re doing is not working. We need to get philanthropies, the feds, business leaders, everybody, together and figure this out. We need another Sputnik moment.”
Sputnik moment? Seriously? OK, here’s what that 2011 map called to mind for me.
Charlie Pierce has a great piece up detailing the efforts of the right to use the opening of the George W. Bush Presidential Library as an occasion to give Dubya a mulligan on 9/11 by repeating the mantra that “he kept us safe” afterwards.
Thus do we confront what we can call The Great Mulligan, which is granted by the dimmer lights in the chandelier to the president and to the national security team — Hi, Condi! — who presided over the most massive intelligence failure in American history, and over the greatest loss of life to an enemy attack on American soil since everybody hugged it out at Appomattox. This has popped up from time to time in the years since it became obvious what a complete and utter failure the Bush presidency really was. Sorry we lied you into a war, but we kept you safe. Sorry we demolished American values, and just about every shred of American moral credibility in the world, but we kept you safe. Sorry we let New Orleans drown, but we kept you safe. Sorry we allowed the national economy to blow up, but we kept you safe. In fact, if you sent C-Plus Augustus into his own museum, and had him take that interactive quiz, and provided he didn’t break a thumb trying to get a Diet Coke out of the exhibit, his answer to everything would be I kept you safe.
Paul Ryan, the very, very serious thinker of the Republican Party, the numbers guy who puts together oh-so-serious budgets designed to throw the Olds and the Poors off their Medicare and Medicaids becauz that’s what serious people do, went on Fox News Sunday to discuss his newest veryserious budget which will be officially unveiled next Tuesday. Unfortunately he discussed it with Chris Wallace, one of the people at Fox who actually has thinkingskillz. Here is the exchange:
On Sunday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) stopped by Fox News Sunday to preview his new budget, which will be released in full on Tuesday. As it had the past two years, this year’s version will call for massive cuts to social service programs, including food stamps, job training, Medicaid, and Medicare. Host Chris Wallace challenged Ryan on the viability of his plan, pointing out that he wants to repeal and replace Obamacare, and, “that’s not going to happen.”
Still, Ryan insisted that he and then-running mate Mitt Romney won the election on this issue because they “won the senior vote”:
WALLACE: Are you saying that as part of your budget you would repeal — you assume the repeal of Obamacare?
WALLACE: Well that’s not going to happen.
RYAN: Well, we believe it should. [...]
Yes, and since we believe it should happen magical Repeal Fairies will make Obamacare go away between now and when this Budget *goes into effect*.
Hmmm. I’m just imagining this scenario in a corporate conference room with the controller presenting the budget to the CEO.
CEO: “Ryan, this budget assumes that revenues will triple when we introduce our new product line of flying pigs. Are you assuming we can create flying pigs?”
CEO: “Well that’s not going to happen!”
RYAN: “Well we believe it should happen.”
How long between the end of that conversation and the issuance of the pink slip to young Ryan?
Ryan also says, after reiterating that wishing Obamacare away can make it so, that the purpose of budgets is to make hard choices. Um, no Paul. Budgets sometimes require you to make hard choices but that is not their purpose. The purpose of a budget is to make the most realistic assessment possible, based on known facts, of what your revenues and expenses for the coming fiscal period will look like. Pretending that things will happen that are not going to happen and using the budget to further right wing ideology and destroy programs that you don’t support is *not* the purpose of a budget.
You can definitely see why this oh-so-serious thinker had to scramble his way into gummint welfare for a living - he wouldn’t last 10 minutes in the real world.
Although this poem references war it can just as easily apply to orphans. I haven’t written yet about this awful crime against children as I was hoping against hope that Putin would not sign the bill. But he has put politics over the needs of children, many of them disabled or suffering from other disorders, living in orphanages, waiting and hoping for forever homes. Not to mention the families here who are in the process of adoptions but now may never see their kids come home.
I have a big dog in this fight as I am an adoptive mother of three kids from Korea. (I probably shouldn’t say “kids” as they now range in age from 28 to 34 but they’re always kids to their mom.) And I know what these families and their waiting kids are going through as, when we were in the process of adopting in 1989, the Korean government got miffed at the U.S. and announced their intent to cancel all pending adoptions and terminate the adoption program. Eventually they relented and, after six months of limbo, we got the call that the kids (who are biological siblings) were being thrown on a plane before the government changed its mind and be at the airport on Tuesday!
23 years ago that was and I still remember the misery of possibly losing our kids, whose pictures we had, who we’d written to, who we were already deeply bonded to, so intensely that I broke down and cried when I read that Putin had actually signed that cruel bill.
Children should not be pawns in political games. Period. Putin and the Russian legislature should pick on someone their own size. I don’t know exactly what the best course of action is. When we were waiting we were advised not to try and get our Congressional representatives to interfere as the issue was “sensitive”. But in this case the Russians have made it clear that the decision is political retaliation for recently passed U.S. legislation dealing with human rights abuses. Funny that you would express dismay over being called on abusing human rights by trampling on the rights of children to have a loving home. So maybe, if anyone is so inclined, writing your Congressperson and/or Senators is a good idea. If I get any other information I’ll put it in an update.
Can we start a dialog about sensible gun control NOW?? Not according to Jay Carney. Colorado Governor John Hicklooper apparently has more guts.
In a significant shift from his statements earlier this year, Gov. John Hickenlooper now says “the time is right” for Colorado lawmakers to consider further gun restrictions.
And he made that announcement yesterday. Naturally all the usual suspects are in full howl mode but the fact of a Democratically controlled state house and Senate could make a difference. Or, at any rate, we’ll see which Dems are also owned by the NRA.
I’ve seen several responses today that it’s mental health we need to focus on - not the unbelievably easy access unstable people have to automatic weapons and huge magazines of bullets. News flash people: The two subjects aren’t mututally exclusive.
For those who continue to say the time to have the conversation is not now I would just ask “If today’s horror wasn’t bad enough to make today the day, what will it take?”
The press was doing their job a bit there. And characterizing finding a way to stop innocent victims from being massacred by deranged people with assault guns on an ever more frequent basis as engaging in “the usual Washington policy debates” is fking insulting.
“General Powell, you disappoint us and you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime.”
Thus spaketh the Emperor Walnuts, depicted above standing a heartbeat away from noted foreign policy expert Winkerbelle Von Putinspotter.
Curiously, at that very instant, thousands of miles away, in a luxury Dallas condo, another scion of a more accomplished father woke up from a nap, choked up a pretzel, and called, “Laura, git me a Q-tip er somethin—there’s fire ants in mah ears!”
By now, even my middle-school paperboy can tick off 10 solid reasons why Mitt Romney won’t win the 2012 election. The kid’s still young enough that his focus is mostly on bloopers, unforced errors and viral out-takes (i.e., the obvious) but there have been enough of them to convince my pint-sized pundit that Romney’s toast.
One of the kid’s teachers, on the other hand, offers a slightly more incisive assessment that resonates with me:
The GOP’s Strategy for 2012:
1) brand the president a Kenyan, Marxist, community organizer
2) times are tough, keep ‘em tough by obstructing everything that might help the country
3) field a pack of whackadoo candidates and a boring white capitalista who could win (this time)
4) don’t offer a single new idea
5) show the world what right-wing extremism really looks like
6) make up a lot of stuff (budgets, voting records, facts)
7) sit back and let it happen, we’ll win!
Hard to imagine how such a brilliant strategy could go off the rails. But it has . . . so, cue the Greek chorus of pundits, shock jocks, wingnuts and the TEA Party caucus to explain how Republicans managed to recover a fumble and run it back 80 yards to the wrong end zone.
Enter the solemnly erudite but bewildered conservative grey-beard, George Will, veteran of a hundred GOP cock-ups, to patiently explain, in words of two syllables or less for the hoi polloi, how life can be so . . . well . . . enigmatic.
Certainly, if ever Republicans had all of their sheep duckies in a row, it was now. 2012—the year of the conservative tipping point when the republic would be restored to its strict Puritan Rightness and liberalism would be beaten into a bloody pulp, and left to limp off the field to be dependent forever on the kindness of strangers—instead of taxpayers.
Mr. Will enumerates the reasons why Obama should be losing right now in his signature adults-only snark style then concludes:
Obama’s administration is in shambles, yet he is prospering politically. This may not, however, entirely be evidence of the irrationality of the electorate. Something more benign may be at work.
And, according to Will that “something more benign” is Americans’ famous penchant for lavish “racial reparations”:
Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.
Well, now, Mr. Will, I sense a little defensiveness. How could anyone possibly construe your argument that Americans are willing to keep a bad President in office, because of his race, as racism? especially when the alternative is a candidate as warm and avuncular, as thrilling, imaginative and honest as Mitt Romney? What other explanation could there possibly be?
Maybe it’s time to go full-time baseball spectator, Mr Will. This article is patronizing, patriarchal political rubbish (and not particularly well-written: false equivalencies, bad metaphors and . . . what’s this? a double negative?
. . . reluctant not to give up on the first African-American president.
or was that more of a Freudian slip?
If Mr. Obama wins re-election it will more likely be for simpler reasons like this:
2008: GDP: -9.0%...Jobs per Month: -750K, Total Jobs: +1.1M.
2012: GDP: +1.3%..Jobs per Month: +100K; Total Jobs: +5.1M.
“Osama is dead and GM is alive” and that’s way more than Mitt promises.
That, folks, was Sen. John McCain sarcastically deriding a bill intended to help veterans get jobs. It’s kind of weird for him to do that. But it isn’t surprising anymore. The atmosphere in Washington is frankly abysmal:
Barring a burst of productivity in the lame-duck session in November and December, the 112th Congress is set to enter the Congressional record books as the least productive body in the post-World War II era. It had passed a mere 173 public laws as of last month. That was well below the 906 enacted from January 1947 through December 1948 by the body President Harry S. Truman referred to as the “do-nothing” Congress, and far fewer than many prior Congresses have passed in a single session.
And for that reason, when President Obama makes the case that Washington needs to be changed from the outside—I’m appreciating what he’s talking about. It’s not just watching what’s going on right now—it’s thinking about what we could be dealing with if we, the voters, don’t make some changes down there.
It came a little early this year, but I see it’s that time in the electoral cycle when liberals, having watched conservatives do everything possible to alienate voters and destroy their brand, decide to step in and attempt to salvage the opposition’s legacy. Why do we do this? I used to think it was because everyone in a two-party system benefits when both camps argue in good faith, so we like to believe against all evidence to the contrary that this is the case, but I’m questioning that assumption these days. Now I think it’s more likely that liberals, having flattered—and in many cases, kidded—themselves that their worldview is a result of deep reflection and inquiry (a position needn’t be wrong in order to be ill-considered, after all), look across the divide and think “well, their philosophy must be worthy of serious consideration too!”
Conservatives may not like liberals, but they seem to understand them. In contrast, many liberals find conservative voters not just wrong but also bewildering.
Actually, “in contrast,” that first part’s bullshit. Unless Kristof really thinks we secretly harbor communist sympathies, despise the land of our birth, and talk our sisters-in-law into cocaine-fueled three-ways with some regularity. Like we could possibly hate America if our lives were that awesome.
Pretty sure the second part’s bullshit too, but I’ll get to that (I don’t usually presume to speak for my compatriots, partly because it’s presumptuous and partly because I’m not entirely representative of what I think, but hey, when in Times Roman).
okay, we get it, you can’t give clues without blurting out the answer
Let me just say up front: I think Kristen Wiig is enormously talented. Loved her in Paul and Extract, haven’t seen Bridesmaids yet but if a bad word’s been said about her performance I haven’t heard it. I even enjoy a great deal of her work on Saturday Night Live, but I can’t help but agree with the criticism that she creates one-note characters and drives them into the ground.
Of all the recurring Wiig characters that have grown stale, I think my least favorite—notable in a list comprising Gilly, Target Lady, and the tiny-handed Lawrence Welk Show singer—may be Jennifer Rubin.
Sure, it was funny the first few times. A rabid right-winger barely concealing her vicious nature with the veneer of civility required of a Washington Post columnist? That’s got potential, most evident when this buttoned-up woman of privilege spits out the kind of venomous aside usually associated with Tea Party protesters. Wiig’s real stroke of genius, though, was turning “Jennifer Rubin” into a relentless booster of presidential candidate Mitt Romney; the incongruity of a doctrinaire conservative propagandizing on behalf of an unprincipled shapeshifter and against such party-line stalwarts as Gingrich and Santorum—whose beliefs clearly line up with hers far more than do Romney’s—creates a frisson that all but guaranteees laughs.
What helps Obama return to office, however, will likely hurt him badly when he gets there.
Oh how deliciously devious. (rubbing hands together) Will he utterly demolish our nominee in November, thereby falling right into our trap?
Republicans should ease off the neurotic dread in favor of whatever psychological state accompanies a gentleman’s dare. Okay, Mr. President, they ought to say. You want to lead? You delight in applying the power of your office. You want the executive branch more efficiently forceful than ever. Here. Give it your best shot. We’ll see if you’re up to the task, won’t we? Are you ready to take that bet?
So that’s the strategy: getting their asses kicked and then acting like that was the plan all along. It’s an interesting gambit—I’m not a big sports guy but I was under the impression that trash-talk is usually employed when the outcome’s in doubt, not when defeat is all but assured.
Call it the “Bring it on” approach to Election 2012
Actually, I’‘m gonna go with the “We Got Nothing” approach, the “Just Wait ‘Til Next Cycle” approach, or the “We Couldn’t Fail Harder on the Failingest Day of Our Lives if We Had an Electrified Failing Machine” approach. But hey, if Luntzing it up makes you feel any better, go for it.
I’ll tell ya, I can’t really blame these guys for whistling past the graveyard, but playing the circus theme on kazoo lacks a certain dignity.
We’re not dried-up and wrinkly, we’re sour!
Please note: Usually I’d be loath to reference something as dated as the California Raisins ad campaign, but Poulos made a “Where’s the Beef?” joke in the linked post, so I plead extenu-80s circumstances.
By Gil Mann, Men’s Health Editor (would prefer to be just “Health Editor,” but lady parts, amirite, guys? God knows what’s goin’ on down there)
So after three months you’ve decided it’s time to make good on one of your New Year’s resolutions: a thinner you! That’s great, but in today’s fast-paced world we’re all looking for shortcuts, and it can be tempting to go for a short-term victory instead of doing what’s best for you in the long run.
The key to losing weight is to do so gradually. A precipitous drop in body-mass can result in heart disease and other organ failure; even if such drastic results don’t occur, there are other negative ramifications to consider. By starving yourself you’re putting your entire being into “fight or flight” mode, basically teaching your body to stockpile calories, making it all the more likely that you’ll put the pounds back on, and quickly. This is fairly common knowledge; less well-known are the adverse psychological effects of rapid weight loss.
L-R: Huckabee in 2003, Kevin Spacey in 2010 “Huckabonkers!” SNL skit
My fiancée (a wonderful man) and I are getting married in May, and he invited a mutual friend from our college days—I’ll call her “Joy”—who also happens to be his ex-girlfriend. I’m not jealous of his former flames, but I have it on good authority that she’s still carrying a torch for him, and I’m afraid she might say or do something that will cast a pall over our special day. How can I convey my discomfort without seeming possessive or mistrustful? ~Not A Green-Eyed Bride
A number of options should be considered. How will “Joy” be travelling to the nuptials? If she’ll be using public rail for one or more legs of her trip, a well-timed air strike against a transit hub will buy you peace of mind. If she’s planning on taking a plane, I would suggest going through UN channels to establish a no-fly zone enforced by surface-to-air missiles and a squadron of F-15s ready to scramble at a moment’s notice. A car would make things trickier but by no means impossible; a multi-pronged campaign involving roadblocks, overpass-mounted snipers, and daisy cutters (in the event “Joy” makes it to a parking garage) should suffice. ~Mike
My septuagenarian father-in-law, who is in the initial stages of Alzheimer’s, recently moved in with our family. I love him dearly, but I strongly believe he can’t get the care he needs under our roof. He is often confused and agitated and sometimes lashes out, which we as adults can handle, but I fear it’s too much for our two young boys who can’t understand why “Grampa’s being so mean.” I’ve brought up the idea of placing him into hospice, but my husband insists he’ll be fine where he is and that I’m overreacting. Is he being irrational or am I being selfish? Help! ~Children And Parents Eventually Role-Swap
Old age is not for the faint of heart; many of history’s genocidal monsters have been elderly. I suggest spurring a household “coup,” i.e., have your sons play in and around his room with as much exhuberance as they can muster—all that youthful energy is likely to set him off, and when he unleashes his rage your husband will finally see how untenable the situation is. Soon he’ll be calling the orderlies (AKA “Gators on the ground”) to take Grampa off to the nursing home, and you’ll be much happier knowing the family patriarch is being looked after in a facility attuned to his needs. Then drop a daisy cutter on it. ~Mike
I’m a confirmed bachelor and a man of simple tastes (bottled beer is about as “classy” as it gets). I don’t entertain much—when I have buddies over for Super Bowl Sunday, I always use the “good” plastic bowl for Doritos, but the Four Seasons my apartment ain’t. Anyway, I somehow let my coworkers talk me into hosting a dinner party, and they’re a well-heeled bunch, so i’m hoping you can help me avoid embarrassment. One of the guests will be taking care of the food (she’s tasted my cooking), so I’m just looking for some tips on how to set up the dining area for a swanky multi-course meal. ~Puttin’ On The Ritz (Crackers)
The salad fork should be placed to the left of military force, which should never be taken off the table. ~Mike
Thank you Friedmanio! But our insight is up another asshole!
New York Times columnist and scourge of anthropomorphic mushrooms Thomas Friedman finally drops the BS about “extremists on both sides” and admits that “centrism” means nothing but the median of whichever two points are being discussed at any given moment (since there’s confusion, a quick primer: “median” is the equidistant point, “mean” is the inevitable tone of any piece that considers Friedman’s prescriptions, and “average” is the level of intelligence you must evince for Charlie Rose to consider you an intellectual giant). Furthermore, he’s convinced the time is ripe for a third party challenger, never mind that we’re having a hell of a time coming up with a second party challenger.
If that candidate is Rick Santorum, I think there is a good chance a Third Party will try to fill the space between the really “severely conservative” Santorum (or even Mitt Romney) and the left-of-center Barack Obama.
Setting aside the notion that random capitalization lends authority to common nouns and their modifiers, Friedman’s found his man: David Walker, former comptroller general (I am assured this position affords some measure of prestige despite its surfeit of lowercase letters), who you will be shocked to learn is a white man in his early 60s who favors sensible suits and says “deficit” a lot. Tom, any details you’d care to toss out, maybe something incredibly telling to anyone who’s spent some time on the internet in the past few years, something that will expose your reasoning as puerile, your solution ill-conceived?
Walker — who came in second to Hillary Clinton in a reader poll that Politico conducted last October for favorite Third Party candidate
Ah yes, a poll of the kind of people who would take a Politico reader poll, i.e. 4chan board regulars without the civic literacy.
Disclosure: I’m actually a fan of Friedman’s book The Lexus and the Olive Tree. It’s a harrowing memoir of his long road to recovery from an accident in which his Pakistani driver was so caught up in formulating a pithy quote that he lost control of the car and careened into a grove, whereupon Friedman was impaled through the head by a low-hanging branch.
There’s been a good deal of attention paid to traumatic brain injury around these parts lately, and I don’t mean to diminish TBI’s effects on its victims and their loved ones, but just because someone bravely fights their way back from the edge of death, that’s not necessarily a reason to give them primo real estate on the country’s most influential op-ed page. Heck, Tom, we’re just impressed that you can type.
dumb dumb dumb, dumb dumb DUMB
ANNOUNCER: Up first in our amateur competition, he was born and raised in Chocolate City, used to be a member of the press but now he’s here to press your funny bone! Harlem, put your hands together for Freddie High-Hat!
(tentative applause abruptly cut short by the appearance of a middle-aged white man dressed like Flava Flav circa 1990)
Whassup y’all, how’s everybody doin’ tonight?
Check it, before I got into comedy, I had a lot of crazy jobs, like this one time I was editorial page editor for the Washington Post, right? And I learned a lot there, like the difference between nostalgia liberals… and accountability liberals. (knowing grin) They’re a lot alike, but it’s the little differences, like how they prioritize.
See, nostalgia liberals got priorities like community, social cohesion, and preservation of New Deal and Great Society programs, but accountability liberals be puttin’ stock in market forces and individual empowerment, know what I’m sayin’?
Nostalgia liberals be all, we gotta save Social Security! Accountability liberals is like, naw, we gotta means-test that shit. Otherwise Gramma gon’ be all (pantomimes eating out of a can) mmm, that’s some good Friskies!
(audience grows restless)
An accountability liberal will see your school and say damn, that school’s buggin’. (feigning surprise) Wha- what’s this in my pocket? Looks like… yo, I got mad vouchers! (pantomimes “making it rain”) A nostalgia liberal though, he be like, you just gon’ have to use the atlas from like the eighties, lil’ homey. Heh, shorty’s lookin’ at a map of the Soviet Union like, what’s “Usser?” I ain’t never heard a no “Usser!” Sorry, kid, maybe if we could get some merit pay up in here, but nostalgia liberals be trippin’.
Hold up, hold up. Y’ever see a nostalgia liberal drive? Doo dee doo, hi Mr. Lexus, (waves) no no, you go ahead Mr. Camry, dum dee dum. Then a accountability liberal flies by, (makes “zoom” sound/hand gesture) HOT lane, beyotch!
(booing reaches crescendo, Freddie is “swept” off stage by a hobo clown who winks at the camera, gives a thumbs-up, and reveals himself to be Dan Froomkin)
ANNOUNCER: Freddie High-Hat, ladies and gentlemen, used to get scoops, now he’s Scoop Jackson. Alright, up next, these fine sisters have been singing together since…
I maintain that he looks like Michael Scott (with a little Ryan thrown in) but honestly, I can’t tell those people apart