Friday, October 31, 2014

There's No Escaping...The Right Wing House Of Fear

The world is a scary place for conservatives. There's always a nefarious group that's threatening to take away everything they cherish. Let's get in the Halloween spirit with political cartoonist Tom Tomorrow's depiction of the terror that lurks in the Right Wing House of Fear.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gohmert: Gays In Military Vulnerable To Terrorism Due To Massages

Continuing his battle against common sense, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has come up with a novel reason to oppose gays serving in the military. Speaking on the radio show "Point of View," Gohmert explained, "...if you're sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle... You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism." Gohmert cites historical precedent: gay Greeks gave massages and were defeated in war. How is it possible that this dunce was ever elected to anything? Watch:

GOHMERT: "I've had people say, 'Hey, you know, there's nothing wrong with gays in the military. Look at the Greeks.' Well, you know, they did have people come along who they loved that was the same sex and would give them massages before they went into battle. But you know what, it's a different kind of fighting, it's a different kind of war and if you're sitting around getting massages all day ready to go into a big, planned battle, then you're not going to last very long. It's guerrilla fighting. You are going to be ultimately vulnerable to terrorism and if that's what you start doing in the military like the Greeks did ... as people have said, 'Louie, you have got to understand, you don't even know your history.' Oh yes I do. I know exactly. It's not a good idea"

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Fox Host: Young, Single Women Too Stupid To Vote

Apparently conservatives now want to discourage young, single women, who tend to vote Democratic, from casting a ballot. Last week, Jeff Bell, New Jersey Republican Senate candidate, blamed single women for his failing campaign. Following Bell was Fox host Kimberly Guilfoyle, who stated that young, single women are too stupid to vote. Instead, they should spend their time on dating sites: "“The same reason young women on juries are not a good idea. They don’t get it. They’re not in that same, like, life experience of paying the bills, doing the mortgage, kids, community, crime, education, healthcare. They’re like healthy and hot and running around without a care in the world. ...I just thank and excuse them so they can go back on Tinder and” Watch:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

SC Gov. On Statehouse Confederate Flag: Not "A Single CEO" Has Complained

During a South Carolina gubernatorial debate, Gov. Nikki Haley (R) defended the flying of the Confederate flag at the Statehouse because she's received no complaints from CEOs: “What I can tell you is over the last three and a half years, I spent a lot of my days on the phones with CEOs and recruiting jobs to this state. I can honestly say I have not had one conversation with a single CEO about the Confederate flag.” That's the Republican perspective: the wealthy are fine, so what's the problem? In addition, two appointments fixed the perception of the state: "“But we really kind of fixed all that when you elected the first Indian-American female governor. When we appointed the first African-American U.S. senator, that sent a huge message.” So with the perception problem "fixed," South Carolina can continue flying the flag associated with racism and slavery. Watch:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Krugman: Obama One of "Most Consequential" Presidents in Modern History

A few years ago, Paul Krugman was critical of President Obama for a stimulus package that didn't go far enough and for naiveté in assuming Republican reasonableness. Recently, however, in a Rolling Stone article, "In Defense of Obama," Krugman wrote that "Obama has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history" in terms of health care, financial reform, the environment and other issues. While Krugman tempers his accolades with realism, the overall review is positive: "In each case, Obama delivered less than his supporters wanted, less than the country arguably deserved, but more than his current detractors acknowledge. ...Am I damning with faint praise? Not at all. This is what a successful presidency looks like. No president gets to do everything his supporters expected him to." Krugman discussed his article with ABC News' Jon Karl. Watch:

Also listen to Krugman discuss Obama's legacy on NPR.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

"My Old Lady," Directed By Israel Horovitz

"My Old Lady" was originally a play by Israel Horovitz, who directed this film adaptation.  The main character, Mathias Gold (Kevin Kline), is 57 years old, thrice divorced and an acerbic, recovering alcoholic who left New York for Paris to claim his inheritance of an apartment building from his father. Once there, he discovers Mathilde Girard (Maggie Smith), a feisty 90-year-old, and he also encounters the vagaries of French real estate law. Apparently one can't sell an apartment while the previous tenant is alive; further, one must make payments to her. Mathilde lets him take a room while he considers his future, including what to ultimately do with his possession. Her dour daughter Chloe (Kristin Scott Thomas) also lives there, and she is not pleased by the new occupant. While this set-up seems to have the makings of a comedy (especially as somewhat misleadingly presented in the trailer above), the film takes quite a serious turn. Mathias and Chloe find they have something in common: Mathilde and Mathias's father had an affair in Paris. This long-term affair had damaging effects on both, yet these repercussions could also draw them together. "My Old Lady" is clearly a play adapted for a film, with long dialogues that uncover the characters' familial torments. While its transition into a film is not completely smooth, it is redeemed by powerful, revelatory acting on the part of the three main characters, especially that of Kevin Kline.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Remembering Jack Bruce

Jack Bruce, one of rock's greatest bassists, as well as a powerful lead vocalist and blues harmonica player, died at 71 on Saturday. The Scottish-born Bruce was a member of Cream, the ultimate rock power trio, with Eric Clapton, guitar, and Ginger Baker, drums. Afterward, Bruce continued his career with rock, jazz and fusion groups. At a 2005 Cream reunion above in Royal Albert Hall, London, the group performed "White Room," one of the hits, including "Sunshine of Your Love," that Bruce wrote with poet Pete Brown. The lyrics contain an intimation of mortality: "I'll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd; Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves."

Report: Stagnant Middle Class Leads To Stagnant Economy

Trickle-down economics contends that tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations, along with deregulation, will result in economic growth. This theory ignores the fact that a middle class with money to spend is the ultimate force that stimulates the economy, increases demand and creates job. In a report, the Center for American Progress has found that corporate America and Wall Street are actually concerned that a stagnant middle class is leading to a stagnant economy. Regardless, conservative politicians and institutions such as the Heritage Foundation and the Chamber of Commerce continue to insist upon discredited trickle-down economics and are fixated on aiding the supply side of the equation, not the demand:

...This report gathers new evidence to show that middle-class weakness and stagnant wage growth are holding the economy back. We use the financial statements, known as 10-Ks—the annual report required by the Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC—of the top 100 retailers in America and words of some of Wall Street’s top economists to underscore the point.

Time and again, America’s leading corporations warn investors that “decreased levels of consumer spending” (Kohl’s), “a renewed decline in consumer-spending levels” (Sears), and “decreased salaries and wages” (Burger King) could have a huge negative impact on their financial performance. The corporate consensus is clear: It is this cycle of stagnation—low wages, leading to weak demand, leading to slow growth, leading back to low wages—that is hurting companies, their consumers, and the U.S. economy at large.

...The evidence assembled in this report directly repudiates “trickle-down economics”—the idea that the only way to produce economic growth is to redistribute money to the rich, who will create jobs for everyone else. Conservative politicians, lobbyists, and commentators may still be stuck in the trickle-down mindset of the 1980s, but corporate America and the Wall Street analysts who closely follow it know better.

While it may at first seem obvious that low consumer demand impedes growth, conservative think tanks and other believers in trickle-down economics ignore the evidence. Stephen Moore, chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, approvingly quotes Arthur Laffer, the father of trickle-down economics, who said, “All economic problems are about removing impediments to supply, not demand.”

...If the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Chamber, and other proponents of trickle-down economics refuse to believe the overwhelming academic evidence that clearly shows low consumer spending and income growth are holding the economy back, they should listen to corporate America and Wall Street when they say that a consumer base with large, growing discretionary incomes—in other words, a strong middle class—is the vital ingredient for job growth and a strong economy. Or, as Ellen Zentner, executive director and senior economist at Morgan Stanley, explained, “faster employment and wage growth for those at the bottom, were it to have staying power, would help lift consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy.”

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Powell: GOP Must Appeal To More Than Its Base

General Colin Powell, a Republican, spoke to Bill Maher about his party's sharp turn to the right. He said that if it wants to win presidential elections, it has to appeal to more than just its base; it must appeal to minorities, who will be the majority in 20 years. In addition, the GOP must learn to compromise. Will Republicans listen to Powell? Watch:

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

José vs. Joe: Who Gets A Job?

Still think we live in a post-racial society? In his job search, Jose Zamora sent out 50 to 100 resumes daily. He wasn't getting any responses. So he decided to make just one change. He dropped the "s" in his name and became Joe Zamora. Within a week, he was flooded with responses. "I had to drop a letter to get a title," Zamora concluded. Watch:

Jose Zamora's experience is backed up by a study, "Are Emily and Greg More Employable Than Lakisha and Jamal? A Field Experiment on Labor Market Discrimination." Also see the New York Times: "'Whitening' the Resume" and "In Job Hunt, College Degree Can't Close Racial Gap."