Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Private Prison Firms Promote Mass Incarceration

Brave New Films focuses on the prisons run by the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), among other private prison industries, which has a vested interest in mass incarceration. CCA works with the pro-corporate American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to pass harsh laws to make sure its prisons are filled and the profits–$1.7 billion last year–keep flowing. Surely this is part of the reason why half of U.S. prisoners are locked up for non-violent crimes–and why the U.S. has more prisoners than any other country in the world. Watch:

(h/t: Best of the Left podcast)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Hayes And Scahill Discuss "Death By Metadata"

The Obama administration assures us that its use of metadata is not a privacy threat and that metadata has a role to play in national security. Regarding that role, Chris Hayes and Jeremy Scahill discuss The Intercept’s report on the use of metadata as “the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes.” Such strikes can kill victims whose identity is unknown, yet who possess SIM cards associated with certain locations and or with other phones on a watch list–a practice that leaves plenty of room for error. Watch:

(h/t: Best of the Left podcast)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Jon Stewart Rips Cliven Bundy's Racism

Jon Stewart ripped the Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who rallied armed supporters to threaten federal law enforcement officials trying to execute court orders following his decades-long trespassing on federal land. Bundy, who became a right-wing hero and was praised by Fox's Sean Hannity, made racist comments, including outrageous speculation that African-Americans were "better off as slaves." Watch:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Kristol: Don't Get "Hysterical" Over NBA Owner's Racist Comments

Speaking on ABC's "This Week" about L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's racist rant, conservative pundit Bill Kristol commented, "...everyone goes hysterical over two or three sentences, but let's look at the actual deeds of people." With his obtuse perspective, Kristol fails to make a critical connection: racist comments lead to racist deeds. Watch:

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Chris Isaak Live

Chris Isaak performed "Wicked Game," his haunting ballad of unrequited, conflicted love, in 2006.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bernie Sanders: Koch Brothers' Extremism Is Now Republican Mainstream

Interviewed by MSNBC's Joyce Behar, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke about the right-wing billionaire Koch brothers' aim to build an oligarchy–and how their ideas now represent the mainstream of the Republican Party. Watch:

SANDERS: I fear very much, and I think people may think I am overstating this, I fear very much that this country is losing its democratic foundations and moving towards an oligarchic form of society where a handful of billionaires will control not only the economy, but the political life of this nation.

What you are looking at right now is an extreme right family who believe all the things that you just indicated. They don’t believe that we should simply not raise the minimum wage. These guys believe that we should do away with the minimum wage, and if you have to work for three bucks an hour or two bucks an hour, that’s freedom. That’s your freedom, and these guys believe that we should privatize Social Security, massive cuts in Medicaid, no support for women’s right, etc.

They believe the federal government is terrible, and they want to move toward a society where the big money interests control the economy and the political life. I highlighted the 1980 Libertarian platform for a simple reason. In 1980, that party got one percent of the vote and most people thought that these guys were pretty crazy, pretty extreme, pretty out there. If you looked at the issues they talked about then, their point of view, many of those same ideas are now mainstream Republican Party.

You talk about minimum wage. You have most Republicans now in Congress not only opposed to raising it, they believe we should abolish the concept of the minimum wage. That’s what the Koch brothers talked about 34 years ago. Social Security, Medicare, look at the Ryan budget. What you are seeing is as a result of the Koch brothers and others, a Republican Party moving from what used to be a right-center party, a moderate conservative party, to a right wing extremist party. That is probably the most important development in recent politics. The degree to which the Republican Party has moved to the right and has no stomach for moderates anymore.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Robert Reich: Giant Wealth Concentration Threatens Democracy

Robert Reich writes that the pending Comcast acquisition of Time-Warner represents "the same giant concentrations of wealth and economic power that endangered democracy a century ago." That danger led to antitrust laws that are now being cast aside. Reich argues that such deregulation is bad for both consumers and democracy:

In many respects America is back to the same giant concentrations of wealth and economic power that endangered democracy a century ago. The floodgates of big money have been opened even wider in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in “Citizen’s United vs. FEC” and its recent “McCutcheon” decision.

Seen in this light, Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time-Warner for $45 billion is especially troublesome — and not just because it may be bad for consumers. Comcast is the nation’s biggest provider of cable television and high-speed Internet service; Time Warner is the second biggest.

...Internet service providers in America are already too concentrated, which is why Americans pay more for Internet access than the citizens of almost any other advanced nation.

But Washington should also examine a larger question beyond whether the deal is good or bad for consumers: Is it good for our democracy?

...When any large corporation wields this degree of political influence it drowns out the voices of the rest of us, including small businesses. The danger is greater when such power is wielded by media giants because they can potentially control the marketplace of ideas on which a democracy is based.

...Remember, this is occurring in America’s new gilded age — similar to the first one in which a young Teddy Roosevelt castigated the “malefactors of great wealth, who were “equally careless of the working men, whom they oppress, and of the State, whose existence they imperil.”

...In this new gilded age, we should remind ourselves of a central guiding purpose of America’s original antitrust law, and use it no less boldly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Study: U.S. Is Now An Oligarchy, Not A Democracy

A new study by professors at Princeton and Northwestern universities calls into question the viability of American democracy, in view of the power of the wealthy to influence laws to serve their own interests regardless of the wishes of the majority:

“The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,” Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page wrote in the study, titled “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.”

While Gilens and Page call the state of the current political system “economic elite domination,” another term could also be used: Oligarchy, otherwise known as a system in which power rests with a small number of economically or politically advantaged people.

The study looked at nearly 1,800 policy issues over a 20-year period between 1982 and 2002. According to their data, when the rich support a policy, it has a 45% chance of becoming law. And when they oppose it, it has only an 18% chance of being enacted.

“In the United States, our findings indicate, the majority does not rule – at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it,” the study said.

Other studies have shown that income inequality has grown in recent years. An economist at the University of California-Berkeley estimated that between 2009 and 2012, the richest 1% of Americans held 95% of all income growth.

Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United and the more recent McCutcheon v. FEC have made it easier for corporations and wealthy individuals to spend money for political purposes, which could increase their influence over elections and eventually policy decisions.

“We believe,” the study’s authors concluded, “that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Moyers And Krugman: "What The 1% Don't Want You To Know"

Bill Moyers interviewed Paul Krugman on the upcoming phase of income inequality, a discussion sparked by Thomas Piketty's new book, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century." Piketty, according to Krugman, has presented an expanded perspective on today's unprecedented inequality, one in which inherited, dynastic wealth will rise to the forefront. In this oligarchy, the sons and daughters of today's wealthy will continue to buy the political system to serve their interests. Krugman states, “What Piketty’s really done now is he said, ‘Even those of you who talk about the 1 percent, you don’t really get what’s going on.’ He’s telling us that we are on the road not just to a highly unequal society, but to a society of an oligarchy. A society of inherited wealth. We’re seeing inequalities that will be transferred across generations. We are becoming very much the kind of society we imagined we’re nothing like.” Watch this illuminating interview:

Monday, April 21, 2014

"Barack Enroll" Song Celebrates Obamacare Signup

After enrollment for the Affordable Care Act hit eight million, exceeding President Obama's target, Lauren Mayer celebrated with her song, "Barack Enroll." She explained, "As a card-carrying liberal Jewish mother who supports reproductive choice, marriage equality, environmental sanity, and economic fairness, I've seen way too much distressing news lately, which I usually channel into my weekly songs, full of sarcastic digs at the Tea Party/Koch Brothers/GOP, et al. But this week's ACA enrollment news was truly encouraging, and it motivated me to write an unabashedly positive song (okay, with only a few digs at the right wing, but hey, sometimes it's just too tempting to gloat!)." Watch her perform her song, based on the tune to "Old Time Rock and Roll":

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Warren Slams Ryan For Blaming The Unemployed

Speaking at the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor’s Humphrey-Mondale Dinner on March 29, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) criticized the skewed perspective of Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). "Paul Ryan looks around, sees three unemployed workers for every job opening in America and blames the people who can't find a job," she asserted. Ryan, though, won't blame the powerful interests that tanked the economy; instead, he wants to perpetuate their advantages: "Paul Ryan says don’t blame Wall Street: the guys who made billions of dollars cheating American families. Don’t blame decades of deregulation that took the cops off the beat while the big banks looted the American economy. Don’t blame the Republican Secretary of the Treasury and the Republican president who set in motion a no-strings-attached bailout for the biggest banks – nope. Paul Ryan says keep the monies flowing to the powerful corporations, keep their huge tax breaks, keep the special deals for the too-big-to-fail banks and put the blame on hard-working, play-by-the-rules Americans who lost their jobs. That may be Paul Ryan’s vision of how America works, but that is not our vision of this great country." Watch:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Simon & Garfunkel Live In Central Park

One of the most memorable performances I've ever attended was Simon & Garfunkel's free benefit concert in Central Park, September 19, 1981. Above they sang "Scarborough Fair," the traditional English ballad included on their classic "Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme" album (1966).

Friday, April 18, 2014

Sen. Bernie Sanders: What Do The Koch Brothers Want?

On his web site, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) asked what right-wing billionaires David and Charles Koch want, besides $80 billion in wealth, the second largest private company and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. He argues that the Koch brothers won't be satisfied "until they are able to control the entire political process." Sanders presented excerpts from the platform of the Libertarian Party of 1980, the year David Koch ran as the party's vice presidential candidate. It's a chilling document that calls for the omplete shredding of what's left of the social safety net:

“We urge the repeal of federal campaign finance laws, and the immediate abolition of the despotic Federal Election Commission.”
“We favor the abolition of Medicare and Medicaid programs.”
“We oppose any compulsory insurance or tax-supported plan to provide health services, including those which finance abortion services.”
“We also favor the deregulation of the medical insurance industry.”
“We favor the repeal of the fraudulent, virtually bankrupt, and increasingly oppressive Social Security system. Pending that repeal, participation in Social Security should be made voluntary.”
“We propose the abolition of the governmental Postal Service. The present system, in addition to being inefficient, encourages governmental surveillance of private correspondence. Pending abolition, we call for an end to the monopoly system and for allowing free competition in all aspects of postal service.”
“We oppose all personal and corporate income taxation, including capital gains taxes.”
“We support the eventual repeal of all taxation.”
“As an interim measure, all criminal and civil sanctions against tax evasion should be terminated immediately.”
“We support repeal of all law which impede the ability of any person to find employment, such as minimum wage laws.”
“We advocate the complete separation of education and State. Government schools lead to the indoctrination of children and interfere with the free choice of individuals. Government ownership, operation, regulation, and subsidy of schools and colleges should be ended.”
“We condemn compulsory education laws … and we call for the immediate repeal of such laws.”
“We support the repeal of all taxes on the income or property of private schools, whether profit or non-profit.”
“We support the abolition of the Environmental Protection Agency.”
“We support abolition of the Department of Energy.”
“We call for the dissolution of all government agencies concerned with transportation, including the Department of Transportation.”
“We demand the return of America's railroad system to private ownership. We call for the privatization of the public roads and national highway system.”
“We specifically oppose laws requiring an individual to buy or use so-called "self-protection" equipment such as safety belts, air bags, or crash helmets.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Federal Aviation Administration.”
“We advocate the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration.”
“We support an end to all subsidies for child-bearing built into our present laws, including all welfare plans and the provision of tax-supported services for children.”
“We oppose all government welfare, relief projects, and ‘aid to the poor’ programs. All these government programs are privacy-invading, paternalistic, demeaning, and inefficient. The proper source of help for such persons is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.”
“We call for the privatization of the inland waterways, and of the distribution system that brings water to industry, agriculture and households.”
“We call for the repeal of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.”
“We call for the abolition of the Consumer Product Safety Commission.”
“We support the repeal of all state usury laws.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Robert Reich: Raise Minimum Wage To $15 An Hour

Robert Reich acknowledges that the Senate Democrats' push to raise the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is an improvement over the current $7.25, but he argues that it should really be incrementally raised to $15. With his cartoonist skills and sound economic logic, Reich provides seven reasons why. Watch:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Blackburn: GOP "Led The Fight For Women's Equality"

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) talked around the Republicans' blocking the Paycheck Fairness Act, stating that the bill was "helpful for trial lawyers" and that her party "led the fight for women's equality." Women instead, she stated, have to be concerned with "maximum pay" and "access to capital" and oppose regulations and–of course–Obamacare. Got that? Once again, Blackburn spoke in riddles while maintaining her historic opposition to equal pay. Watch:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

All-White Fox Panel Discusses "Race In America"

After viewing Attorney General Eric Holder decrying House Republicans for their ugly divisiveness and President Obama speaking about the gains of the Civil Rights Act under attack, Fox hosts held a discussion, "Race In America." Every participant was white, and the general consensus was that racism is no longer a problem or priority in America. "Who cares" about racism, one asked. Watch:

The Whitney Biennial

This year's Whitney Museum Biennial is the last one to be held in the Marcel Breuer building on Madison Avenue before the museum moves downtown. That fact may give the Biennial, which showcases new artists, a bittersweet feeling for longtime patrons of the Whitney. At the same time, for this viewer, this feeling was mixed with a sense of deja vu regarding the show itself.

Two years ago, the Whitney included a selection of work from past Biennials, and I found myself more drawn to those works. Once again, I found the apparent vogue for installations employing video, audio and other mixed media to be too overwhelming and phantasmagorical–and, again, I was drawn to a modernism from decades past, as contrasted with the postmodern mixing of styles and influences here. In particular, I was interested in the work of four women working in abstract expressionism, a style once associated with a male macho aesthetic of big canvases and energetic gestures. Such artists included Louise Fishman, Jacqueline Humphries, Dona Nelson, Amy Sillman and Molly Zuckerman-Hartung. I was particularly impressed with two canvases by Louise Fishman, including "Crossing the Rubicon" (2012) above, suggestive of the rawness, broad strokes and bold colors of the early Willem de Kooning, such as "Gotham News" (1955). My response to Fishman's work demonstrates that ultimately one will always find something that resonates at the sweeping survey that is the Whitney Biennial.

The Whitney Biennial continues through May 25 at the Whitney Museum of American Art, 945 Madison Avenue at 75th Street, NYC, (212) 570-3600,

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Green News Report: Fox Presents A "Tsunami Of Disinformation" On Climate Change

The Green News Report treats us to a sampler of Fox News nonsense regarding climate change that includes doubting the international scientific consensus, referred to as as "survey of friends"; citing snow as contradicting global warming; claiming that CO2 doesn't cause global warming, and stating that Germany is doing better with solar power because it's a smaller country with more sun. It all adds up to a "tsunami of disinformation" from the "fair and balanced" network. Listen:

(h/t: Best of the Left Podcast)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Night At The Liberal Curmudgeon: Elvis Costello and Mumford & Sons

After watching performances by Elvis Costello and Mumford & Sons over the past two weeks, let's take in a song that combines these artists. Above they do a fine acoustic medley of two songs that speak for the dispossessed, Bruce Springsteen's "The Ghost of Tom Joad," inspired by John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath," and Woody Guthrie's "Do Re Mi."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Pat Robertson Recalls When Gays Were Stoned To Death

Pat Robertson, who richly deserved being named 2013 "Bigot of the Year" by the Stonewall Awards, said that Jesus wouldn't have baked a cake for a gay couple since they would have already been stoned to death. He also said that the devil is attacking society through gay rights and abortion. Robertson, of course, has a history of making bigoted, senseless comments. What's disheartening is that he has a following. Listen via Right Wing Watch:

ROBERTSON: I think you got to remember from the Bible, if you look carefully at the Bible what would have happened in Jesus’ time if two men decided they wanted to cohabit together, they would have been stoned to death,” Robertson said. “So Jesus would not have baked them a wedding cake nor would he have made them a bed to sleep in because they wouldn’t have been there. But we don’t have that in this country here so that’s the way it is.

...The Devil is trying to say, ‘I’m going to destroy your progeny any way I can. If you will kill your babies, that’s fine, I’m with you; if you will deny the chance of having babies, that’s fine too; but I want to destroy your opportunities to reproduce,’” he said. “It’s a very serious thing and we’re not talking about it, and we need to as a society, we have to realize where the attack is coming because it is definitely an attack.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

U.S. Among Minority Of Countries To Apply Death Penalty

According to Amnesty International's report, "Death Sentences and Executions 2013," the U.S. stands among the nine countries, including some of the world's worst human rights offenders, that continually use the death penalty. Capital punishment is carried out in a minority of countries and continues to decline. In the U.S., Texas accounted for 41 percent of executions; on the other hand, the application of death penalty overall is also declining in the U.S.:

Developments in the worldwide use of the death penalty in 2013 confirmed that its application is confined to a small minority of countries. Although only nine countries have continuously executed in each of the past five years – Bangladesh, China, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, USA and Yemen – and there has been a consistent trend away from the death penalty, some severe setbacks have to be acknowledged. The resumption of executions in Indonesia, Kuwait, Nigeria and Viet Nam, as well as a marked increase in reported executions in Iran and Iraq, were recorded during the year.

Amnesty International recorded executions in 22 countries. The number of confirmed executions was 778, an increase of 14% over the 2012 figure of 682 in 21 countries. The figure of 778 excludes the thousands of executions carried out in China, which accounts for more executions than the rest of the world combined. Apart from China, almost 80% of all known executions were recorded in only three countries: Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

Despite the setbacks, progress towards abolition was recorded in all regions of the world. Although the USA remained the only country in the Americas to carry out executions in 2013, with the state of Texas alone accounting for 41% of all executions in the region, the number of executions carried out in the US continued to decrease. Maryland became the 18th abolitionist US state in May. For the first time since Amnesty International began keeping records there were no prisoners on death row in Grenada, Guatemala and Saint Lucia after all remaining prisoners had their death sentences commuted.

Image: Amnesty International

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Religious Right Activist, 1980: "I Don't Want Everybody To Vote"

The Republican drive to suppress the vote is longstanding. Back in 1980, Paul Weyrich, religious right activist, said at a Dallas conference, “Now many of our Christians have what I call the goo-goo syndrome — good government. They want everybody to vote. I don’t want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of people, they never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down.” Watch:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Republicans Work To Suppress Swing State Votes

The Republicans are making a bid to suppress the vote in swing states among two traditional Democratic constituencies, the urban poor and minorities. These efforts have increased since the Supreme Court's unfortunate gutting of the Voting Rights Act:

Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.

Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.

In all, nine states have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013. Most have to do with voter ID laws. Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, after a federal court judge recently upheld such laws passed in Arizona and Kansas. Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register.

...The flurry of new measures is in large part a response to recent court rulings that open the door to more restrictive changes.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision allowed a number of mostly Southern states to alter their election laws without the prior approval once required from the Justice Department. A few weeks later, free of the mandate and emboldened by a Republican supermajority, North Carolina passed the country’s most sweeping restrictions on voting.

Robert Reich: "McCutcheon" Tightens The Wealthy's Strangle-Hold On Politics

Robert Reich connects the dots between the struggles of the middle class and poor and the Supreme Court's "McCutcheon" decision, which enables a donor to contribute $3.6 million in a single election cycle. The strangle-hold that powerful interests have on our politics prevents the country from doing what needs to be done–including raising taxes on those same powerful interests:

Most companies continue to shed workers, cut wages, and horde their cash because they don’t have enough customers to warrant expansion. Why? The vast middle class and poor don’t have enough purchasing power, as 95 percent of the economy’s gains go to the top 1 percent.

That’s why we need to (1) cut taxes on average people (say, exempting the first $15,000 of income from Social Security taxes and making up the shortfall by taking the cap off income subject to it), (2) raise the minimum wage, (3) create jobs by repairing roads, bridges, ports, and much of the rest of our crumbling infrastructure, (4) add teachers and teacher’s aides to now over-crowded classrooms, and (5) create “green” jobs and a new WPA for the long-term unemployed.

And pay for much of this by raising taxes on the top, closing tax loopholes for the rich, and ending corporate welfare.

But none of this can be done because some wealthy people and big corporations have a strangle-hold on our politics. “McCutcheon” makes that strangle-hold even tighter.

Connect the dots and you see how the big-money takeover of our democracy has lead to an economy that’s barely functioning for most Americans.

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Le Week-End," Directed By Roger Michell

In "Le Week-End," a poignant, honest film directed by Roger Michell and written by Hanif Kureishi, Nick (Jim Broadbent) and Meg (Lindsay Duncan), both teachers from England, are celebrating their 30th anniversary in Paris. Their banter gradually reveals both their affection and disappointment in each other and their regrets. Nick ruefully looks back while Meg expresses her frustration and rebellious spark through choosing a hotel and a meal at a restaurant they can't afford. After slipping out from the restaurant, they run into Morgan (Jeff Goldblum), a former student of Nick’s at Cambridge. Morgan has written a best-seller, has a new, young French wife and, unlike Morgan, has a glib manner that covers up his self doubts. Ironically, it is when the couple hit bottom that they rediscover their capacity for love and spontaneity.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bernie Sanders: McCutcheon Ruling Is A Koch Brothers "Gravy Train"

As if the Citizens United ruling weren't bad enough, the Supreme Court took another step toward corrupting our democracy with its McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission decision. Now one donor can contribute $3.6 million in a single election cycle. Interviewed by MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) said, “You no longer have, with very few exceptions, Republicans who are concerned about this issue. They see it as a gravy train. If you can now get unlimited sums of money from Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers, what’s the problem?" Sanders decried "the undermining of the foundations of our democracy" and predicted that the Republicans will "move to end all limitations on campaign funding so that billionaires like the Koch brothers can now spend as much as they want in any way that they want on any candidate in the United States." Sanders called for the overturning of Citizens United, the passing of a disclosure act and the public funding of elections. Watch:

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Rockefeller African And Oceanic Art Collection At The Met

In addition to its outstanding permanent collection of African and Oceanic art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has mounted excellent smaller exhibits on these traditions (including those reviewed here in May 2011 and March 2013). The latest such exhibit, "The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of the Best in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas," demonstrates that the former New York governor and vice president was a passionate collector of, and advocate for, non-Western art. After realizing that the Met was originally uninterested in such art, Rockefeller founded the Museum of Indigenous Art in 1954, which later became the Museum of Primitive Art (he later disapproved of the condescending term "primitive"). Eventually, the museum was dissolved and its collection became part of the Michael C. Rockefeller Wing, named after Rockefeller's son. Rockefeller amassed an eclectic and extensive collection (albeit, as ARTnews explains, "before cultural-property laws restricted the movement of art objects from their countries of origin") with work, as seen in the exhibit, from the Solomon Islands, New Guinea, Peru and other lands.

Above: Power Figure: Male (Nkisi), 19th–mid-20th century, Democratic Republic of the Congo,

“The Nelson A. Rockefeller Vision: In Pursuit of the Best in the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas” continues through October 5 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave. (at 82nd St.), NYC; (212) 535-7710,

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ed Schultz Rips Fox's Denial Of Obamacare Enrollment Numbers

MSNBC's Ed Schultz ripped into the Fox News commentators who never doubted that there were only 106,000 signups after the first 30 days of Obamacare. Now that there are 7.1 million enrolled as of March 31, Fox's pundits claim that the number is fabricated. Watch:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Republicans Decide To Stop Obstructing Progress

According to the front page of today's Washington Post, the Republicans have decided to stop obstructing progress on the major issues facing the country. In addition, the GOP has resolved to stop wasting time and money trying to repeal Obamacare; instead, they will now work with the Democrats to expand health care coverage. After all the gridlock, there's renewed hope that the country can finally move forward.