Friday, October 30, 2009

For Your Consideration.

Alicia Keys.

Sleeping with a Broken Heart.



  • IDOLATOR: Alicia Keys Fashions Herself As One Of The Beautiful Ones
  • Hustler's Anthem.

    New flava in ya ear!

    Jay-Z.

    A. Keys.

    Empire State of Mind.

    This Magic(?) Moment!



    Words.

    "O.K., folks, this is it. It’s the defining moment for health care reform.

    Past efforts to give Americans what citizens of every other advanced nation already have — guaranteed access to essential care — have ended not with a bang, but with a whimper, usually dying in committee without ever making it to a vote.

    But this time, broadly similar health-care bills have made it through multiple committees in both houses of Congress. And on Thursday, Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, unveiled the legislation that she will send to the House floor, where it will almost surely pass. It’s not a perfect bill, by a long shot, but it’s a much stronger bill than almost anyone expected to emerge even a few weeks ago. And it would lead to near-universal coverage.

    As a result, everyone in the political class — by which I mean politicians, people in the news media, and so on, basically whoever is in a position to influence the final stage of this legislative marathon — now has to make a choice. The seemingly impossible dream of fundamental health reform is just a few steps away from becoming reality, and each player has to decide whether he or she is going to help it across the finish line or stand in its way."

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Defining Moment
  • Oh Word?


    Words. For Your Consideration...

    "Old Soviet joke:

    Moscow, 1953. Stalin calls in Khrushchev.

    "Niki, I'm dying. Don't have much to leave you. Just three envelopes. Open them, one at a time, when you get into big trouble."

    A few years later, first crisis. Khrushchev opens envelope 1: "Blame everything on me. Uncle Joe."

    A few years later, a really big crisis. Opens envelope 2: "Blame everything on me. Again. Good luck, Uncle Joe."

    Third crisis. Opens envelope 3: "Prepare three envelopes."

    In the Barack Obama version, there are 50 or so such blame-Bush free passes before the gig is up. By my calculation, Obama has already burned through a good 49. Is there anything he hasn't blamed George W. Bush for? The economy, global warming, the credit crisis, Middle East stalemate, the deficit, anti-Americanism abroad -- everything but swine flu.

    ...This compulsion to attack his predecessor is as stale as it is unseemly. Obama was elected a year ago. He became commander in chief two months later.

    ...Obama is obviously unhappy with the path he himself chose in March. Fine. He has every right -- indeed, duty -- to reconsider. But what Obama is reacting to is the failure of his own strategy.

    ...it is time he acted like a president and decided."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: The three envelopes


  • EARLIER:

  • What If?
  • Thursday, October 29, 2009

    "We. Are. Your. Friends!"

    A "Douchebag's" Moment of Clarity.

    Oh Word?

    A Moment of Clarity.



    This can't be life!

  • VIDEOGUM: The Shake Weight, Now For Men
  • "Let's have some fun, this beat is sick!"

    FREAK-A-LEAK!


    Not today.

    Words.

    "Downey High School sent its homecoming queen packing, crown and all, after she was seen making sexually suggestive moves on the dance floor a few years back. Aliso Niguel High School Principal Charles Salter made good on a threat to cancel school dances in 2006 as officials there and elsewhere fretted over how to deal with freaking, grinding and other provocative dances.

    Their solution: Fight explicit teen dancing with an equal dose of explicitness. Downey and Aliso Niguel are among the first schools to draft "dance contracts," binding agreements that parents and students must sign before a teenager can step onto the dance floor.

    Administrators say the graphic descriptions in the contracts leave little room for arguments over interpretation and put everyone on notice about appropriate behavior.

    The Downey contract, for example, specifies "no touching breasts, buttocks or genitals. No straddling each others' legs. Both feet on the floor." Students get two warnings about sexually suggestive behavior before being booted without a refund and barred from other dances.

    In Ventura Unified, the high school contract reads: "When dancing back to front, all dancers must remain upright -- no sexual bending is allowed i.e. no hands on knees and no hands on the dance floor with your buttocks touching your dance partner."

    ...The contracts arose as schools became concerned about potential sexual harassment charges from the charged dance-floor environment, not to mention images of dancers ending up on student Facebook pages or YouTube videos.

    "I was a little apprehensive to do it and didn't think it would work," said Downey Principal Tom Houts. Now the school has a "freak patrol," a teacher who walks around the dance floor monitoring the action and, if need be, providing a first warning to dancers.

    ...Some schools are forgoing contracts in favor of less formal methods. The private Pacific Hills School in West Hollywood will hold a Halloween dance Oct. 30 and if couples are caught gyrating, lights will be turned up or the music changed to Burt Bacharach or William Shatner singing "Mr. Tambourine Man," said Mickey Blaine, the dean of students.

    ...Schools and parents will always find teen behavior that causes anxiety, said Karen Sternheimer, a USC sociologist. Currently, she said, concern seems to have migrated from freak dancing to the more high-tech "sexting" -- sending provocative pictures to friends via e-mail or cellphone.

    Sternheimer noted that the freak-dancing craze coincided with sharp declines in teenagers' sexual activity, pregnancies and rapes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    "Anxiety often doesn't match the behavior," said Sternheimer. "It might offend the sensitivities of onlookers, but I don't know that anyone ever got a sexually transmitted disease or pregnant from dancing.""

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES: Schools putting the moves on hold
  • Wednesday, October 28, 2009

    War & Peace (of mind).



    Words. For Your Consideration...

    "It is crunch time on Afghanistan, so here’s my vote: We need to be thinking about how to reduce our footprint and our goals there in a responsible way, not dig in deeper. We simply do not have the Afghan partners, the NATO allies, the domestic support, the financial resources or the national interests to justify an enlarged and prolonged nation-building effort in Afghanistan.

    I base this conclusion on three principles. First, when I think back on all the moments of progress in that part of the world — all the times when a key player in the Middle East actually did something that put a smile on my face — all of them have one thing in common: America had nothing to do with it.

    ...What if we shrink our presence in Afghanistan? Won’t Al Qaeda return, the Taliban be energized and Pakistan collapse? Maybe. Maybe not. This gets to my second principle: In the Middle East, all politics — everything that matters — happens the morning after the morning after. Be patient. Yes, the morning after we shrink down in Afghanistan, the Taliban will celebrate, Pakistan will quake and bin Laden will issue an exultant video.

    And the morning after the morning after, the Taliban factions will start fighting each other, the Pakistani Army will have to destroy their Taliban, or be destroyed by them, Afghanistan’s warlords will carve up the country, and, if bin Laden comes out of his cave, he’ll get zapped by a drone.

    My last guiding principle: We are the world. A strong, healthy and self-confident America is what holds the world together and on a decent path. A weak America would be a disaster for us and the world. China, Russia and Al Qaeda all love the idea of America doing a long, slow bleed in Afghanistan. I don’t.

    The U.S. military has given its assessment. It said that stabilizing Afghanistan and removing it as a threat requires rebuilding that whole country. Unfortunately, that is a 20-year project at best, and we can’t afford it. So our political leadership needs to insist on a strategy that will get the most security for less money and less presence. We simply don’t have the surplus we had when we started the war on terrorism after 9/11 — and we desperately need nation-building at home. We have to be smarter. Let’s finish Iraq, because a decent outcome there really could positively impact the whole Arab-Muslim world, and limit our exposure elsewhere. Iraq matters.

    Yes, shrinking down in Afghanistan will create new threats, but expanding there will, too. I’d rather deal with the new threats with a stronger America."

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: Don’t Build Up


  • EARLIER:


  • Reflection Eternal.
  • For Your Consideration.

    Wait, WHAT?

    WHO?

    H-Town and Jodeci. That's who.

    Knockin' the Heels.

    A "New flava in ya ear!" Production.

    Tuesday, October 27, 2009

    For Your Consideration.



    ...

  • IDOLATOR: Adam Lambert: Making A Statement Without Leaping An Octave
  • Ruff Ryders.


    The new GOP theme song.

    Words.

    "Bien-pensant conservative elites and establishment-friendly Republican big shots yearn for a more moderate, temperate and sophisticated Republican Party. It's not likely to happen. And probably just as well.

    The Gallup poll released Monday shows the public's conservatism at a high-water mark. Some 40 percent of Americans call themselves conservative, compared with 36 percent who self-describe as moderates and 20 percent as liberals.

    The conservative number is as high as it's been in the two decades that Gallup has been asking the question.

    ...The implications of this for the Republican Party over the remaining three years of the Obama presidency are clear: The GOP is going to be pretty unapologetically conservative. There aren't going to be a lot of moderate Republican victories in intra-party skirmishes. And -- with the caveat that the political world can, of course, change quickly -- there will be a conservative Republican presidential nominee in 2012.

    ...The center of gravity, I suspect, will instead lie with individuals such as Palin and Huckabee and Gingrich, media personalities like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and activists at town halls and tea parties. Some will lament this -- but over the past year, as those voices have dominated, conservatism has done pretty well in the body politic, and Republicans have narrowed the gap with Democrats in test ballots.

    The lesson activists around the country will take from this is that a vigorous, even if somewhat irritated, conservative/populist message seems to be more effective in revitalizing the Republican Party than an attempt to accommodate the wishes of liberal media elites.

    So the GOP is likely, for the foreseeable future, to be of a conservative mind and in a populist mood. In American politics, there are worse things to be."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: A good time to be a conservative
  • "IT'S A BIRD! IT'S A PLANE!"

    No! It's Chris Brown (feat. Lil Wayne and Swizz Beatz) and he will TRANSFORM YA!

    A "New flava in ya ear!" Production.

    What If?


    "I wish, I wish, I wish!"

    Words.

    "A four-hour stop in New Orleans, on his way to a $3 million fundraiser.

    Snubbing the Dalai Lama.

    Signing off on a secret deal with drug makers.

    Freezing out a TV network.

    Doing more fundraisers than the last president. More golf, too.

    President Barack Obama has done all of those things — and more.

    What’s remarkable is what hasn’t happened. These episodes haven’t become metaphors for Obama’s personal and political character — or consuming controversies that sidetracked the rest of his agenda.

    It’s a sign that the media’s echo chamber can be a funny thing, prone to the vagaries of news judgment, and an illustration that, in politics, context is everything.

    Conservatives look on with a mix of indignation and amazement and ask: Imagine the fuss if George W. Bush had done these things?

    And quickly add, with a hint of jealousy: How does Obama get away with it?..."

  • POLITICO: What if Bush had done that?
  • Monday, October 26, 2009

    Brain Trust.

    A Moment of Clarity.



    Words.

    "Student veterans began applying for education benefits in May, and we were supposed to have our tuition paid and receive our housing and book stipends in August. That didn't happen. Instead, more than two months into the school year, most of us have received nothing, although the VA is graciously offering to advance us emergency checks of up to $3,000 to ease the economic burden of not yet receiving the money we were promised.

    Along with healthcare, job experience and a steady paycheck, the GI Bill was one of my primary reasons for joining the Army in 2004. I went into the military -- and spent a year in Kirkuk province in northern Iraq -- with the express intention of pursuing graduate studies when my contract was up. Truth be told, I wouldn't be writing this column right now, as a student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, were it not for the GI Bill. Or at least for the promise of the GI Bill.

    At this rate, it will take longer for the VA to get me my education benefits than it took for the Army to turn me into a soldier.

    Why can't student vets get the money we were promised back when the Post 9/11 GI Bill was signed in July 2008?

    ...By the VA's own count, more than a quarter of a million education claims have been filed by eligible veterans since May 1, and about 70% of those have been processed. While this might sound great, let's not confuse processing with disbursement of funds. As of the first week in October, despite having about 900 employees working overtime to process claims, the VA had distributed only 27,000 payments for tuition or for living and book stipends. In other words, nearly 200,000 veterans hadn't received a dollar.

    ...To add insult to injury, some veterans who did receive emergency checks apparently are having trouble getting them cashed. The VA website doesn't say this explicitly, but notes: "In many cases these checks are handwritten and could pose concerns of fraud from banks." There's now a special telephone number for banks to call so they can verify the check's authenticity and the veteran's identity. Perhaps tellers will have better luck than I did in penetrating the automated phone system. As soon as my call went through, a digitalized male voice informed me that the VA was experiencing a high volume of calls. Then the phone disconnected.

    ...When Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) said veterans "who have been serving since 9/11 should have the same opportunity for a first-class educational future as those who served during World War II," I believed him.

    So did hundreds of thousands of my fellow student veterans."

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES: Is the GI Bill just an IOU?
  • Oh Word?



    Words. For Your Consideration...

    "The jig is finally up. Shepard Fairey, an Echo Park-based graphic designer and longtime street artist, admitted earlier this month that he submitted false evidence and lied in a copyright lawsuit involving his most famous creation: the "Hope" poster featuring a stark red-white-and-blue image of Barack Obama.

    The Associated Press had always maintained that Fairey created the image by essentially tracing over a close-up photograph of Obama taken by an AP contract photographer, Mannie Garcia, in 2006. Fairey insisted that he had used a smaller, cropped portion of another Garcia photo and that he was entitled to do so under the principle of "fair use."

    On Feb. 9, Fairey filed a lawsuit seeking a declaration from the court that he hadn't violated any copyright in the creation of his work. The suit was an effort to forestall a copyright-infringement lawsuit by the AP. But on the very day the lawsuit was filed, Daryl Lang, an editor at Photo District News, posted a Photoshop overlay of the image of Obama captured on Fairey's "Hope" poster and the close-up that the AP maintained he used. The two images matched point for point.

    Lang's overlay put the lie to Fairey's claim, but it took the artist months to concede that he had used, as the AP had maintained from the beginning, the close-up. Even now, he insists that expropriating the image was "fair use."

    So why wasn't the jig up as soon as Lang posted his evidence? Because Fairey was "one of us" in the eyes of the fiercely liberal cultural and intellectual elite.

    ...Fairey has built his artistic career on a combination of vandalism, via graffiti-like hit-and-run art, and an expropriation of other people's images. While he insists he uses the art of others only as "reference points," his critics have termed his work outright plagiarism.

    ...Fairey boasts of having been arrested 15 times on graffiti charges in various cities. He pleaded guilty in Boston earlier this year to three counts of vandalism, including affixing a sticker to a traffic sign and putting a poster on a condominium building of his wife holding a gun.

    ...At 39, Fairey may seem a bit old for such merry pranks, but you have to remember that armchair Marxist intellectuals and others of Fairey's ilk still look back with longing to the grimy 1970s and 1980s in New York, when graffiti blanketed every car in the subway system. They were appalled by the successful efforts of mayors Ed Koch and Rudolph Giuliani to crack down on the taggers in order to make the city livable for the philistines who had to take the trains to work.

    Even some of Fairey's fellow leftists in the arts community have objected to his free-handed lifting -- without attribution -- of images created by others, even though many of those images are likely in the public domain."

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES: Shepard Fairey's true colors
  • Who Can I Run To?



    Words. For Your Consideration...

    "The "public option" is dangerous not for what it might do but for what it allows the politicians not to do.

    From the start, the Obama administration has said that health-care reform has to make health care both more accessible and less costly . If Congress does the first without the second -- guarantees a new entitlement without controlling costs -- it will bankrupt us, because health-care costs are rising faster than the overall economy is growing.

    So far, though, that seems to be where Congress is headed, for two reasons: First, no one knows for sure how to control costs; and, second, the reforms that are likeliest to work are politically unpalatable.

    ...If, as advocates sometimes argue, a public plan operates without favoritism, it will be simply one more entrant in the marketplace. Like other companies, it will have marketing and administrative costs. In some markets served by few private plans, it could offer a useful alternative. But it won't radically reduce costs.

    If, as advocates argue at other times, the point is to insure sick people whom private companies, despite all regulatory efforts, find ways to shun, the public plan could offer a valuable safety net. But that wouldn't save money.

    And if, as seems likeliest -- and as House legislation mandates -- the plan uses government power to demand lower prices from hospitals and drug companies, those providers may lower quality or seek to make up the difference from private payers. Private companies would have to raise their rates, so more people would choose the public plan, so private rates would rise further -- and we could end up with only the public option and no competition at all. Single-payer national health insurance may be the best outcome, but we should get there after an honest debate, not through the back door."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: Shirking cost control
  • Friday, October 23, 2009

    "IT'S MY PARTY!..."

    A Moment of Clarity.



    Words.

    "The Obama administration's recent characterization of Fox News is a long overdue acknowledgment of the obvious: Fox News is not a legitimate news organization -- indeed, after many years of serving as the research and messaging wing of the Republican Party, it has now gone beyond even that, to become the electronic evangelist of an ultra-partisan and non-reality-based world view.

    ...What Obama and his aides are correctly pointing out is that the people working at Fox News are doing another job altogether.

    The White House "attack" on Fox is being derided as bad politics, as ineffective and as a distraction from more important issues -- all of which may be true. But doesn't it kind of matter that, when it comes to the substance of what Anita Dunn, David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel, and now even Obama himself have said, they're exactly right?

    ...Pretending that Fox News is fair and balanced only serves the right wing, in the same way that it only served the Bush administration when traditional-media reporters pretended Bush didn't have a credibility problem -- and didn't call him out for his lies -- for fear of appearing partisan. It's self-muzzling, plain and simple.

    ...Sure, some of these people may be our friends -- and there are a few journalists at Fox who have maintained a modicum of integrity -- but the fact is that overall, these are people who have made a conscious decision to get out of the truth business. They don't deserve our support -- or our silence about what they really are."

  • THE HUFFINGTON POST: Why Journalists Shouldn't Be Defending Fox News
  • Brotherly Love. [NSFW?]

    For Your Consideration...



    Brought to your/our/my attention by the homie @TheBlackoutBlog.

    Crime Pays.

    Ladies and Gentlemen I present to you, DOLEMITE(!) -ah hem, excuse me- I mean, 50 CENT in,

    "CRIME WAVE".

    Wednesday, October 21, 2009

    And anotha one...



    For Your Consideration.

    Devendra Banhart.

    What Will We Be.

    A Stream.

  • STEREOGUM: Stream Devendra Banhart's What Will We Be
  • For Your Consideration.



  • Stream here.
  • "Some people wait a lifetime..."

    For a moment, like this!...

    New flava in ya ear!

    Adam Lambert.

    Time for Miracles.



    LOS ANGELES TIMES:

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    Never Never Land.

    A Moment of Clarity.



    Words.

    "The headlines that ran side by side on the front page of Saturday’s New York Times summed up, inadvertently, the terrible fix that we’ve allowed our country to fall into.

    The lead headline, in the upper right-hand corner, said: “U.S. Deficit Rises to $1.4 Trillion; Biggest Since ’45.”

    The headline next to it said: “Bailout Helps Revive Banks, And Bonuses.”

    We’ve spent the last few decades shoveling money at the rich like there was no tomorrow. We abandoned the poor, put an economic stranglehold on the middle class and all but bankrupted the federal government — while giving the banks and megacorporations and the rest of the swells at the top of the economic pyramid just about everything they’ve wanted.

    And we still don’t seem to have learned the proper lessons.

    ...We need to make some fundamental changes in the way we do things in this country. The gamblers and con artists of the financial sector, the very same clowns who did so much to bring the economy down in the first place, are howling self-righteously over the prospect of regulations aimed at curbing the worst aspects of their excessively risky behavior and preventing them from causing yet another economic meltdown.

    We should be going even further. We’ve institutionalized the idea that there are firms that are too big to fail and, therefore, “we, the people” are obliged to see that they don’t — even if that means bankrupting the national treasury and undermining the living standards of ordinary people. What sense does that make?

    If some company is too big to fail, then it’s too big to exist. Break it up.

    Why should the general public have to constantly worry that a misstep by the high-wire artists at Goldman Sachs (to take the most obvious example) would put the entire economy in peril? These financial acrobats get the extraordinary benefits of their outlandish risk-taking — multimillion-dollar paychecks, homes the size of castles — but the public has to be there to absorb the worst of the pain when they take a terrible fall.

    Enough!

    ...We cannot continue transferring the nation’s wealth to those at the apex of the economic pyramid — which is what we have been doing for the past three decades or so — while hoping that someday, maybe, the benefits of that transfer will trickle down in the form of steady employment and improved living standards for the many millions of families struggling to make it from day to day.

    That money is never going to trickle down. It’s a fairy tale. We’re crazy to continue believing it."

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: Safety Nets for the Rich



  • Reflection Eternal.

    A Moment of Clarity.



    Words.

    "In Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal's view, the key to success in Afghanistan is to "secure the population." The thinking is that the populated area of the country, largely the Pashtun belt in the south and the east, must be cleared of Taliban insurgents. Concurrently, the U.S. must win hearts and minds through local development projects. Over time, with enough U.S. troops, the population will come to feel protected and the insurgents will be marginalized.

    So goes the plan. But after eight years of war, this approach is surprisingly ignorant of both the realities of Afghan society and the limitations of America's tolerance for casualties.

    ...Because the Afghan culture highly values politeness, Westerners rarely understand how unpopular they are in the region. Locals are annoyed by the road-hogging conduct of NATO patrols. They have a suspicion of men wearing sunglasses. They are outraged at the mistreatment of prisoners and the killings of civilians.

    In the countryside, Westerners are essentially perceived as corrupt and threatening to traditional Afghan or Muslim values. Contrary to our self-perception, the villagers see the foreigners as the main providers of insecurity. The presence of coalition troops means IEDs, ambushes and airstrikes, and consequently a higher probability of being killed, maimed or robbed of a livelihood. Any incident quickly reinforces the divide between locals and outsiders, and the Afghan media provide extensive and graphic coverage of botched airstrikes and injured civilians.

    The cultural misunderstandings between the Pashtuns and Western forces provide fodder for the Taliban. Its members have capitalized on Afghans' natural distrust of outsiders to propagate conspiracy theories, including the claim that the Americans are helping the Taliban to give themselves an excuse to stay in the country and exploit its natural resources.

    ...Frankly, we don't have the human resources to do work of this kind. Very few Westerners speak a local language, and it is too much to expect soldiers carrying heavy packs to have sustained contact with the population in hostile villages, where the threat of IEDs is always present. The population rarely confronts foreigners directly -- it is not polite -- but it pursues indirect means of negotiation and fighting.

    ...The Afghan police force, the crucial element in any counterinsurgency strategy, remains weak, routinely infiltrated by the Taliban and rarely able to help the coalition. Without local help, U.S. troops cannot distinguish between civilians and Taliban, most of whom are locals anyway.

    ...NATO's current projections of building a 250,000-strong Afghan army are not realistic. To build an army of 150,000 by 2015 would be a good result. But with troop levels like that, pursuing McChrystal's counterinsurgency plan will require the majority of the coalition's forces in Afghanistan for the next 10 years. So far this year, 130 coalition troops have died trying to implement this "clear, hold and build" strategy in Helmand, with no results so far.

    If the White House heeds McChrystal's advice and sends more troops to the south and east of Afghanistan in hopes of retaking Pashtun population centers, American casualties will likely rise above 800 a year, about what they were in the worst years in Iraq. This will leave President Obama with worse choices and fewer options."

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Afghanistan problem
  • Monday, October 19, 2009

    I. Need. You.

    New flava in ya ear!

    Alicia Keys.

    Doesn't Mean Anything.

    Sunday, October 18, 2009

    "Y'ALL READY FOR THIS!"

    New flava in ya ear!

    Tay Zonday.

    Baby I'm Not.



    I blame T-Pain. And Dr. Pepper.

    Friday, October 16, 2009

    Thursday, October 15, 2009

    For Your Consideration.



  • IDOLATOR: Looks Like Epic Figured Out A Way To Make The Shakira Record America-Friendly
  • REAL TALK: The "Why We Need Educational Reform As Well" Edition

    A Moment of Clarity.


    Words.

    "The Democratic Party has battled for universal health care this year, and over the decades it has admirably led the fight against poverty — except in the one way that would have the greatest impact.

    Good schools constitute a far more potent weapon against poverty than welfare, food stamps or housing subsidies. Yet, cowed by teachers’ unions, Democrats have too often resisted reform and stood by as generations of disadvantaged children have been cemented into an underclass by third-rate schools.

    ...there are many other obstacles to learning: lack of safety, alcohol and narcotics and troubled homes and uninterested parents. But there’s mounting evidence that even in such failing schools, the individual teacher makes a vast difference.

    Research has underscored that what matters most in education — more than class size or spending or anything — is access to good teachers. A study found that if black students had four straight years of teachers from the top 25 percent of most effective teachers, the black-white testing gap would vanish in four years.

    ...This is the central front in the war on poverty, the civil rights issue of our time. Half a century after Brown v. Board of Education, isn’t it time to end our “separate but equal” school systems? "

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: Democrats and Schools
  • Every little thing I do...

    "You're on my mind! You're on my mind!"

    New flava in ya ear!

    Mario.

    Thinkin' About You.

    Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-CHANGES!

    Wednesday, October 14, 2009

    Feel Good Time.

    With Drummer and their Feel Good Together.

    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Feedback.

    Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy




    Words.

    "Somebody explain this to me: The president of the United States wins the Nobel Peace Prize and Rush Limbaugh joins with the Taliban in bitterly denouncing the award? Glenn Beck has a conniption fit and demands that the president not accept what may be the world's most prestigious honor? The Republican National Committee issues a statement sarcastically mocking our nation's leader -- elected, you will recall, by a healthy majority -- as unworthy of such recognition?

    Why, oh why, do conservatives hate America so?

    Okay, I know, it's just some conservatives who've been exhibiting what they, in a different context, surely would describe as "Hanoi Jane" behavior. Others who haven't taken leave of their political senses -- and are familiar with the concept of manners -- responded to President Obama's unexpected award with equanimity and even grace. Sen. John McCain, for example, offered his good-natured congratulations.

    Some of Obama's most strident critics, however, just can't give it a rest."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: Obama's High Bar
  • Monday, October 12, 2009

    For Your Consideration.



  • IDOLATOR: Robin Thicke Will Make You Cry In Ecstasy If You Want To
  • Trust a Try.


    "Standing TALL!"

    Words.
    For Your Consideration...

    "Excessive praise can be unwelcome and embarrassing. Just ask President Obama, who awoke Friday to discover that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize before he had completed even a year in office. Obama managed to be both abashed and appreciative in his response, but no amount of self-effacing spin can obscure the oddity of this award.

    For the president's critics on the right, the Nobel feeds a narrative in which Obama is more interested in flattering foreigners than in defending U.S. interests. To those in his restive progressive base, it appears that the peacemaker's mantle has been draped on the shoulders of a president who is presiding over two distant wars and who may soon send as many as 40,000 more troops to Afghanistan.

    For our part, we're fans of the president. We endorsed him for the job, and we greatly prefer him to his predecessor. But it's difficult to see why he deserves the peace prize so soon after taking office. The Nobel committee didn't just embarrass Obama, it diminished the credibility of the prize itself, which traditionally rotates among world leaders (Willy Brandt, Mikhail Gorbachev), charitable organizations (Amnesty International, Doctors Without Borders) and humanitarians (Elie Wiesel, Mother Teresa)."

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES: Obama and the Nobel: He loses by winning
  • What About Us?


    A Moment of Clarity.

    Words. For Your Consideration...

    "It is a sign of our weird political moment that the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to President Obama will probably hurt him among some of his fellow citizens.

    His opponents are describing the award as premature. The deeper problem is that the Nobel will underscore the extent to which Obama is a cosmopolitan figure, much loved in European capitals because he is the change they have been looking for.

    Most Americans will probably be happy to have a leader who wins acclaim around the globe. But, paradoxically, a decision made in Oslo to honor Obama's peaceable intentions may make it more difficult for him to reconcile a body politic roiled by years of cultural warfare, partisan animosity and ideological extremism.

    ...Obama can't do much about those who are against him because of his race. Even a 1 percent unemployment rate wouldn't change the minds most scarred by prejudice. But there is a second level of angry opposition to which Obama needs to pay more attention. It involves the genuine rage of those who felt displaced in our economy even before the great recession and who are now hurting even more."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: Responding to Authentic Rage
  • Friday, October 09, 2009

    "AT NIGHT I THINK OF YOU!"


    Act like you know.

  • IDOLATOR: Mariah Carey Says “Boo”
  • School Daze.



    Words.

    "If you had to explain America’s economic success with one word, that word would be “education.” In the 19th century, America led the way in universal basic education. Then, as other nations followed suit, the “high school revolution” of the early 20th century took us to a whole new level. And in the years after World War II, America established a commanding position in higher education.

    But that was then. The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.

    Until now, the results of educational neglect have been gradual — a slow-motion erosion of America’s relative position. But things are about to get much worse, as the economic crisis — its effects exacerbated by the penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior that passes for “fiscal responsibility” in Washington — deals a severe blow to education across the board.

    ...Most people, I suspect, still have in their minds an image of America as the great land of college education, unique in the extent to which higher learning is offered to the population at large. That image used to correspond to reality. But these days young Americans are considerably less likely than young people in many other countries to graduate from college. In fact, we have a college graduation rate that’s slightly below the average across all advanced economies.

    ...According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States economy lost 273,000 jobs last month. Of those lost jobs, 29,000 were in state and local education, bringing the total losses in that category over the past five months to 143,000. That may not sound like much, but education is one of those areas that should, and normally does, keep growing even during a recession. Markets may be troubled, but that’s no reason to stop teaching our children. Yet that’s exactly what we’re doing.

    There’s no mystery about what’s going on: education is mainly the responsibility of state and local governments, which are in dire fiscal straits. Adequate federal aid could have made a big difference. But while some aid has been provided, it has made up only a fraction of the shortfall. In part, that’s because back in February centrist senators insisted on stripping much of that aid from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, a k a the stimulus bill.

    As a result, education is on the chopping block. And laid-off teachers are only part of the story. Even more important is the way that we’re shutting off opportunities.

    ...Education made America great; neglect of education can reverse the process."

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Uneducated American
  • We Not Me.

    A Moment of Clarity.



    Words.

    "The Nobel Peace Prize award to Barack Obama seems so goofy -- even if you’re a fan, you have to admit that he hasn’t really done much yet as a peacemaker. But there’s an aspect of this prize that is real and important -- and that validates Obama’s strategy from the day he took office.

    The Obama team came to the White House convinced that one of America’s biggest problems in the world was “reflexive anti-Americanism,” as Obama put it in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly two weeks ago. They saw America’s unpopularity as a big national-security problem, and they were right.

    So they set about winning hearts and minds (the Nobel judges among them) from Day One. Obama gave a series of speeches calculated to position him as the Un-Bush. He listed his achievements in that same U.N. speech -- halting torture, ordering the closure of Guantanamo, withdrawing from Iraq, backing negotiations on climate change, and paying America’s debts at the United Nations itself.

    Europeans liked it, too, when the president picked a fight with Israel over settlements, and when he showed himself so determined to negotiate with Iran that he overlooked the fact that its government had stolen an election.

    That’s what he’s being honored for, really: reconnecting America to the world and making us popular again."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: POST PARTISAN: Obama's Nobel and America's Popularity
  • Deliverance.

    A Moment of Clarity.

    Thursday, October 08, 2009

    Just a thought.



    Words.

    "Let me offer a modest proposal: If Congress fails to pass comprehensive health reform this year, its members should surrender health insurance in proportion with the American population that is uninsured.

    It may be that the lulling effect of having very fine health insurance leaves members of Congress insensitive to the dysfunction of our existing insurance system. So what better way to attune our leaders to the needs of their constituents than to put them in the same position?

    About 15 percent of Americans have no health insurance, according to the Census Bureau. Another 8 percent are underinsured, according to the Commonwealth Fund, a health policy research group. So I propose that if health reform fails this year, 15 percent of members of Congress, along with their families, randomly lose all health insurance and another 8 percent receive inadequate coverage.

    ...I wouldn’t wish the trauma of losing health insurance on anyone, but our politicians’ failure to assure health care for all citizens is such a longstanding and grievous breach of their responsibility that they deserve it."

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: Let Congress Go Without Insurance
  • YoumustnotknowboutWE!

    A Moment of Clarity.



  • CURRENT: That's Gay: No Homo
  • Health. Care. First. AID.

    A Moment of Clarity.

    Wednesday, October 07, 2009

    For Your Consideration.

    New flava in ya ear!

    Usher.

    Papers.



  • IDOLATOR: Usher: More Ready To Sing About Signing His Divorce Papers Than To Actually, Um, Sign Them
  • Super Size Me.



    Words.

    "This is not, after all, a normal recession but a recession prompted by a banking meltdown. To gauge what that means for a recovery, consider the conclusions of a recent International Monetary Fund report that looked at 88 banking crises around the world over the past four decades. It found, on average, that seven years after these crises, the economic output of the affected nations was still 10 percent below what it would have been had the crisis not happened.

    In this crisis, of course, vastly more wealth has been destroyed than in a normal downturn. The chief activity of American consumers for the next half-decade at least will be paying down debt. In consequence, a growing number of economists and financiers believe that our nearly 10 percent unemployment rate isn't simply a lagging indicator of the recession but, rather, betokens a long period of economic weakness in which our normal unemployment rate won't be the 4 or 5 percent to which we've been accustomed but more like 7 percent -- high enough to depress wage levels across the broader economy.

    ...Perhaps most troubling, it's hard to foresee where the next wave of American prosperity will come from. Manufacturing now employs just one in 10 American workers; the vast majority of new jobs in recent decades has come in the service and retail sectors, which tend not to be as productive and don't pay as well. Our two most recent bouts with prosperity were the result not of productive enterprise but of asset bubbles, first in dot-com stocks, then in housing.

    So are we to be stuck with enduring high unemployment and the across-the-board income stagnation that accompanies it? Is that our "new normal"? Only if we believe that we are condemned to a cycle of underinvestment in and underconsumption by the American people.

    But there's a way to break that cycle: public investment. We need to augment our current stimulus program with further federal investments that restore and build transportation projects and that professionalize and enlarge our child-care and senior-care sectors. We need to do more to bolster "green" construction and manufacturing, and to ensure that such federally backed manufacturing takes place in the United States."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: Recovering the New Deal Ideal
  • Tuesday, October 06, 2009

    Cut Like a Buffalo.

    Starring, The Dead Weather.

    For Your Consideration...

    Monday, October 05, 2009

    H O R C H A T A.

    Vampire Weekend.

    For Your Consideration...

    United We Stand.


    Divided we fall...

    Words.

    "Back from another trip to Europe, this time Germany, where the same dismay as in France prevails over the U.S. health care debate. Europeans don’t get why Americans don’t agree that universal health coverage is a fundamental contract to which the citizens of any developed society have a right.

    I don’t get it either. Or rather I do, but I don’t think the debate is about health. There can be no doubt that U.S. health care is expensive and wasteful. Tens of millions of people are uninsured by a system that devours a far bigger slice of national output — and that’s the sum of all Americans’ collective energies — than in any other wealthy society.

    People die of worry, too. Emergency rooms were not created to be primary care providers.

    Whatever may be right, something is rotten in American medicine. It should be fixed. But fixing it requires the acknowledgment that, when it comes to health, we’re all in this together. Pooling the risk between everybody is the most efficient way to forge a healthier society.

    ...Post-heroic European societies, having paid in blood for violent political movements born of inequality and class struggle, see greater risk in unfettered individualism than in social solidarity. Americans, born in revolt against Europe and so ever defining themselves against the old Continent’s models, mythologize their rugged (always rugged) individualism as the bulwark against initiative-sapping entitlements. We’re not talking about health here. We’re talking about national narratives and mythologies — as well as money. These are things not much susceptible to logic. But in matters of life and death, mythology must cede to reality, profit to wellbeing."

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Public Imperative



  • Nanny Nanny Boo Boo.

    A Moment of Clarity.



    Words.

    "There was what President Obama likes to call a teachable moment last week, when the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago’s bid to be host of the 2016 Summer Games.

    “Cheers erupted” at the headquarters of the conservative Weekly Standard, according to a blog post by a member of the magazine’s staff, with the headline “Obama loses! Obama loses!” Rush Limbaugh declared himself “gleeful.” “World Rejects Obama,” gloated the Drudge Report. And so on.

    So what did we learn from this moment? For one thing, we learned that the modern conservative movement, which dominates the modern Republican Party, has the emotional maturity of a bratty 13-year-old.

    But more important, the episode illustrated an essential truth about the state of American politics: at this point, the guiding principle of one of our nation’s two great political parties is spite pure and simple. If Republicans think something might be good for the president, they’re against it — whether or not it’s good for America.

    To be sure, while celebrating America’s rebuff by the Olympic Committee was puerile, it didn’t do any real harm. But the same principle of spite has determined Republican positions on more serious matters, with potentially serious consequences —in particular, in the debate over health care reform."

  • THE NEW YORK TIMES: The Politics of Spite
  • What's happening?



    Words. For Your Consideration...

    "During the glory days of the conservative movement, from its ascent in the 1960s and '70s to its success in Ronald Reagan's era, there was a balance between the intellectuals, such as Buckley and Milton Friedman, and the activists, such as Phyllis Schlafly and Paul Weyrich, the leader of the New Right. The conservative political movement, for all its infighting, has always drawn deeply from the conservative intellectual movement, and this mix of populism and elitism troubled neither side.

    Today, however, the conservative movement has been thrown off balance, with the populists dominating and the intellectuals retreating and struggling to come up with new ideas. The leading conservative figures of our time are now drawn from mass media, from talk radio and cable news. We've traded in Buckley for Beck, Kristol for Coulter, and conservatism has been reduced to sound bites.

    President Obama has done conservatives a great favor, delivering CPR to the movement with his program of government gigantism, but this resuscitation should not be confused with a return to political or intellectual health. The brain waves of the American right continue to be erratic, when they are not flat-lining.

    ...Today, it is not clear that conservative thinkers have compelling alternatives to Obama's economic or foreign policy. At best, the right is badly divided over how to fix the economy and handle Iran and Afghanistan. So for the time being, the populists alone have the spotlight.

    ...Beck and other conservatives can start by engaging the central argument of the most serious indictment of conservatism on the scene, Sam Tanenhaus's new book, "The Death of Conservatism." Tanenhaus's argument is mischievously defective; he thinks the problem with conservatism today is that it is not properly deferential to liberalism's relentless engine of change. In other words, it is an elegant restatement of G.K. Chesterton's quip that is it is the business of progressives to go on making mistakes, while it is the business of conservatives to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. That won't do. A conservative movement that accepted Tanenhaus's prescription would be consigning itself to be the actuary of liberalism.

    But Tanenhaus is right to direct our attention to the imbalance between the right's thinkers and doers. The single largest defect of modern conservatism, in my mind, is its insufficient ability to challenge liberalism at the intellectual level, in particular over the meaning and nature of progress. In response to the left's belief in political solutions for everything, the right must do better than merely invoking "markets" and "liberty." Beck, for one, is revealing that despite the demands of filling hours of airtime every day, it is possible to engage in some real thought. He just might be helping restore the equilibrium between the elite and populist sides of conservatism."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: Is Conservatism Brain-Dead?
  • Sunday, October 04, 2009

    Friday, October 02, 2009

    Across the Sea.

    A Moment of Clarity.



    Words.

    "Like the U.S., Switzerland is a country that values individual responsibility and holds a deep-rooted distrust in federal government interference in health issues, which traditionally have been handled by state -- or canton -- government. Switzerland in 1994 had a largely private financing system for healthcare, with competition among a large number of for-profit and nonprofit health insurers.

    Many employers offered health insurance as a fringe benefit, although some were dropping coverage because of rising costs, while a growing minority of the population had no health insurance at all, as they were unable to afford rising premiums. Still, the majority of people had coverage and were generally satisfied with it. And Switzerland was second only to the United States in terms of the proportion of its GDP devoted to healthcare.

    Lawmakers in Switzerland wanted to maintain the aspects of the health system that worked or were politically popular while improving access to medical care, eliminating inefficiency and waste and doing away with insurance discrimination. The lawmakers built on the existing foundation of competition among private insurers. They defined a comprehensive benefits package that all citizens were entitled to receive. And they coupled a mandate for all citizens to purchase a health insurance plan with its logical counterpart, the obligation of health insurers to accept all applicants and charge the same premium to everyone, regardless of age, gender or medical history. To make insurance affordable for all, government subsidies are provided to those with low and moderate incomes.

    ...After enactment by the parliament, Swiss healthcare reform was subject to a national referendum. The result of the popular vote was positive but extremely close. And yet now, 15 years later, no one in Switzerland questions the need for universal coverage.

    Of course, universal coverage has not solved all of our problems. The costs of the medical system have not been restrained as much as anticipated, despite better control of drug prices and medical services. And the burden of higher health insurance premiums falls disproportionately on middle-class families, because they are too rich to receive subsidies and because premiums are paid for every member of the family, children included.

    However, the objective of eliminating discrimination in insurance has been fully achieved, the quality of Swiss medical care remains among the highest in the world, and no one risks financial ruin when confronted with a serious illness. Free choice of doctor, health insurer and medical treatment have all been maintained. Healthcare reform has also enabled a significant increase in the transparency of the system overall, which is an essential condition for its proper management.

    ...In reforming healthcare, the most important action is to dare to make credible change, knowing that it can be perfected over time. The Swiss experience shows that it is possible for a government to establish its own system, something that best corresponds to its country's historical heritage and political values, in order to fulfill its fundamental duty: to guarantee that its population will receive, under all circumstances, the medical care it needs."

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES: How the Swiss reformed healthcare
  • The RIGHT Stuff?


    Hear me out.

    Words. For Your Consideration...

    "...it is becoming increasingly clear that liberals haven't just been succumbing to superior message control, or even to a superior political narrative (conservatives' frontier individualism versus liberals' communitarianism). They are up against something far more intractable and far more difficult to defeat. They are up against religion.

    Perhaps the single most profound change in our political culture over the last 30 years has been the transformation of conservatism from a political movement, with all the limitations, hedges and forbearances of politics, into a kind of fundamentalist religious movement, with the absolute certainty of religious belief.

    I don't mean "religious belief" literally. This transformation is less a function of the alliance between Protestant evangelicals, their fellow travelers and the right (though that alliance has had its effect) than it is a function of a belief in one's own rightness so unshakable that it is not subject to political caveats. In short, what we have in America today is a political fundamentalism, with all the characteristics of religious fundamentalism and very few of the characteristics of politics.

    For centuries, American democracy as a process of conflict resolution has been based on give-and-take; negotiation; compromise; the acceptance of the fact that the majority rules, with respect for minority rights; and, above all, on an agreement to abide by the results of a majority vote. It takes compromise, even defeat, in stride because it is a fluid system. As historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. once put it, the beauty of a democracy is that the minority always has the possibility of becoming the majority.

    Religious fundamentalism, on the other hand, rests on immutable truths that cannot be negotiated, compromised or changed. In this, it is diametrically opposed to liberal democracy as we have practiced it in America. Democrats of every political stripe may defend democracy to the death, but very few would defend individual policies to the death. You don't wage bloody crusades for banking regulation or the minimum wage or even healthcare reform. When politics becomes religion, however, policy too becomes a matter of life and death, as we have all seen.

    That is one reason our founding fathers opted for a separation of church and state. They recognized that religion and politics could coexist only when they occupied different domains. Most denominations, which preach and practice tolerance, have rendered unto Caesar what is Caesar's. Religious groups may have found a community of interest with a political party to further their aims; they have not, by and large, sought to convert the political system into a religious one. Until now..."

  • LOS ANGELES TIMES: Politics as religion in America
  • Thursday, October 01, 2009

    "YOU'RE THE BEST, AROUND!"

    "Nothing's gonna ever keep you down?"...

    A Moment of Clarity.

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Democratic Super Majority
    www.thedailyshow.com
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorRon Paul Interview

    Health. Care. First. AID.

    An ongoing discussion.



    Words.

    "The strangest aspect of the debate over a public option for health coverage is that the centrists who oppose it should love it.

    It doesn't involve a government takeover of the health-care system. The idea is that only consumers who want to enroll in a government-run health plan would do so. Anyone who preferred private insurance could get it.

    The public option also uses government exactly as advocates of market economics say it should be deployed: not as a controlling entity but as a nudge toward greater competition. Fans of the market rightly oppose monopolies. But in many places, a small number of insurance companies -- sometimes only one -- dominates the market. The public option is a monopoly-buster.

    Centrists tell us they want to hold down spending and fight deficits. Strong versions of the public option, as the Congressional Budget Office showed in its scoring of Sen. Jay Rockefeller's proposal, cut the costs of insuring everyone.

    Unfortunately, the debate over the public option has rarely concentrated on the substance of the idea. Instead, it has been almost entirely ideological.

    ...Consider universal K-12 education, loans and grants to help students attend college, clean water systems, and unemployment compensation so people can get by while they look for the next job. A public insurance option lies squarely within this American tradition of using government to open new avenues of choice and opportunity.

    ...The public option is a means to an end, not simply the symbol it has become in some progressive circles. From the beginning, the public option should have been seen as part of a larger effort to make insurance affordable. This means that its promoters need to worry more than they have so far about subsidies for the uninsured. If this bill does not help make insurance affordable for middle-income families, it will be a failure."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: The Centrist Public Option
  • Solid GOLD...

    Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy



    Words.

    "He may have bigger challenges now and in years to come, but nothing will endear Barack Obama to some of us more than his decision to take a quick transatlantic round trip to lobby the International Olympic Committee on behalf of Chicago's bid to be the host city of the 2016 Summer Games.

    I'm astonished that some carping critics have faulted Obama for making the 18-hour excursion to Copenhagen to schmooze the IOC members, who on Friday will decide among Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo, Madrid and Chicago. Tip O'Neill taught a previous generation that all politics is local, and this is the best favor the president could possibly do for his adopted home town."

  • THE WASHINGTON POST: Hail to the Booster in Chief