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Is there a politics of inequality?

The most striking change in American society in the past generation—roughly since Ronald Reagan was elected President—has been the increase in the inequality of income and wealth. Timothy Noah’s “The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It” (Bloomsbury), a good general guide to the subject, tells us that in 1979 members of the much discussed “one per cent” got nine per cent of all personal income. Now they get a quarter of it. The gains have increased the farther up you go. The top tenth of one per cent get about ten per cent of income, and the top hundredth of one per cent about five per cent. While the Great Recession was felt most severely by those at the bottom, the recovery has hardly benefitted them. In 2010, ninety-three per cent of the year’s gains went to the top one per cent.

Since rich people are poorer in votes than they are in dollars, you’d think that, in an election year, the ninety-nine per cent would look to politics to get back some of what they’ve lost, and that inequality would be a big issue. So far, it hasn’t been. Occupy Wall Street and its companion movements briefly spurred President Obama to become more populist in his rhetoric, but there’s no sign that Occupy is going to turn into the kind of political force that the Tea Party movement has been. There was a period during the Republican primary campaign when Romney rivals like Newt Gingrich tried to take votes from the front-runner by bashing Wall Street and private equity, but that didn’t last long, either. Politics does feel sour and contentious in ways that seem to flow from the country’s economic distress. Yet much of the ambient discontent is directed toward government—the government that kept the recession from turning into a depression. Why isn’t politics about what you’d expect it to be about?

Read more HERE.

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George Zimmerman has been granted bond — set at $150,000 — in the February 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Circuit Judge Kenneth Lester set several conditions for Zimmerman’s release, including a curfew, but said further details need to be worked out between Zimmerman’s attorney and law enforcement. Zimmerman will not be released today.

Zimmerman’s family asked the judge this morning to grant bail while he awaits trial. Family members — testifying by phone because they say they have been threatened — argued that Zimmerman is neither a flight risk nor a threat to the community.

“He is absolutely not a violent person,” said his wife, Shellie Zimmerman.

Defense attorney Mark O’Mara would prefer that Zimmerman be allowed to leave the area because of concerns about his safety. “Normally, the conditions are that you stay local. I think that is going to be difficult,” he said. “I think nobody would deny the fact that if George Zimmerman were walking down the street today, he would be at risk. That is a reality.”

George Zimmerman took the stand to make a statement.

“I wanted to say I am sorry for the loss of your son. I did not know how old he was, I thought he was a little bit younger than I am and I did not know if he was armed or not.”

From here: lat / globeandmail

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Joe Biden gets the Bad Lip Reading treatment — and no one notices.

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The Pentagon hasn’t made much progress in solving the PTSD crisis plaguing this generation of soldiers. Now it’s adding new staff members to the therapy teams tasked with spotting the signs of emotional pain and providing therapy to the beleaguered. Only this isn’t a typical hiring boost. The new therapists, Danger Room has learned, will be computer-generated “virtual humans” programmed to appear empathetic.

It’s the latest in a long series of efforts to assuage soaring rates of depression, anxiety and PTSD that afflict today’s troops. Military brass have become increasingly willing to try just about anything, from yoga and reiki to memory-adjustment pills, that holds an iota of promise. They’ve even funded computerized therapy before: In 2010, for example, the military launched an effort to create an online health portal that’d include video chats with therapists.

But this project, funded by Darpa, the Pentagon’s far-out research arm, is way more ambitious. Darpa’s research teams are hoping to combine 3-D rendered simulated therapists — think Sims characters mixed with ELIZA — with sensitive analysis software that can actually detect psychological symptoms “by analyzing facial expressions, body gestures and speech,” Dr. Albert Rizzo, the lead researcher behind the project, tells Danger Room.

MORE.

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Advice from a successful – and tax-cutting – finance minister

When Europe’s finance ministers meet for a group photo, it’s easy to spot the rebel — Anders Borg has a ponytail and earring. What actually marks him out, though, is how he responded to the crash. While most countries in Europe borrowed massively, Borg did not. Since becoming Sweden’s finance minister, his mission has been to pare back government. His ‘stimulus’ was a permanent tax cut. To critics, this was fiscal lunacy — the so-called ‘punk tax cutting’ agenda. Borg, on the other hand, thought lunacy meant repeating the economics of the 1970s and expecting a different result.

Three years on, it’s pretty clear who was right. ‘Look at Spain, Portugal or the UK, whose governments were arguing for large temporary stimulus,’ he says. ‘Well, we can see that very little of the stimulus went to the economy. But they are stuck with the debt.’ Tax-cutting Sweden, by contrast, had the fastest growth in Europe last year, when it also celebrated the abolition of its deficit. The recovery started just in time for the 2010 Swedish election, in which the Conservatives were re-elected for the first time in history.

All this has taken Borg from curiosity to celebrity. The Financial Times recently declared him the most effective finance minister in Europe. When we meet in his Stockholm office on a Friday afternoon (he and his aide seem to be the only two left in the building) he says he is just carrying on 20 years of reform. ‘Sweden was a textbook case of European economic sclerosis. Very high taxes and huge regulatory burden.’ An economic crisis in the early 1990s forced Sweden on the road to balanced budgets, and Borg was determined the 2007 crash would not stop him cutting the size of government.

MORE.

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DENVER (AP) — Students and others across the country have long observed April 20 as a day to celebrate marijuana. Here are some questions and answers about the counterculture holiday and the state of marijuana in the United States:

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WHO CELEBRATES? The observation is shared by marijuana users from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to New York’s Greenwich Village. Last year, some 10,000 people gathered at the University of Colorado-Boulder to simultaneously smoke marijuana. This year, the university is shutting down a campus quad that hosts the annual 4/20 gathering. Organizers say the protest may be moved to a nearby off-campus neighborhood, which could cause clashes between police and protesters. A rally is planned for Denver near the state capitol on Friday and Saturday. Police have suggested they’ll be taking a hands-off approach to the gathering, which could draw tens of thousands of people. In Austin, Texas, country music legend Willie Nelson, who’s open about his marijuana use, was expected to help unveil an 8-foot statue of himself in downtown Austin at 4:20 p.m. local time.

WHAT’S IT MEAN? The number 420 has been associated with marijuana use for decades, though its origins are murky. Its use as code for marijuana spread among California pot users in the 1960s and spread nationwide among followers of the Grateful Dead. Like most counterculture slang, theories abound on its origin. Some say it was once police code in Southern California to denote marijuana use (probably an urban legend). It was a title number for a 2003 California bill about medical marijuana, an irony fully intended. Others trace it to a group of California teenagers who would meet at 4:20 p.m. to search for weed (a theory as elusive as the outdoor cannabis crop they were seeking). Yet the code stuck for obvious reasons: Authorities and nosy parents didn’t know what it meant.

Read more HERE.

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This just in: Bill Clinton has a wandering eye. It turns out that all of the Monicas, Gennifers, Kathleens, Paulas and Elizabeths in the world weren’t enough to satiate ol’ Slick Willy, because he’s still creeping on young ladies.

In a New York Times profile published Wednesday about Trudie Styler (Sting’s wife and tantric sex partner) the most interesting nugget is about the former president’s staring problem:

…Bill Clinton, Ms. Styler’s guest of honor, mingled with Aretha Franklin and Tom Hanks, then ogled Jennifer Hudson, prying his eyes away just long enough to explain what had induced him to come.

More

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Great OREO ad! Oh, it is NSFW.

They say this was intended as an in-house organ, and not for public consumption.

It’s actually a great ad, I admire whoever thought of it. And the decision to not release it, but let it “slip out”, was also a brilliant one.

NSFW ad here

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Now it is time once again to warp your minds and have you think of this picture for quite some time!

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These are government assholes who make America more and more dependent on foreign oil and destroying our energy infrastructure.

And to do so it seems they need lots and lots of vehicles, which their leadership did not want to acknowledge.

During a hearing before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee Wednesday, Department of Energy Inspector General Greg Friedman told Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) that compared to amount of money spent by DOE contractors, the $60 million the department spends annually on travel is a “paltry sum.”

A “paltry sum”?

Think that’s bad? How about this: according to Christopher Johns, director of the Energy Department’s budget office, the DOE’s vehicle fleet is roughly the size of its staff — which is about 15,000 strong (not counting contractors).

Rep. Barton grilled the DOE’s budget director over the size of its vehicle fleet and demanded to know its exact size. Johns responded by saying the DOE’s goal is to reduce its fleet by 35 percent — but he refused to say exactly how big that fleet was.

“Don’t play games,” Rep. Barton said.

“Sir, I assure you I am not playing games,” Johns responded.

The Texas rep tried a few more times to get a hard number out of Johns but received the same answer each time.

“I don’t normally ask civil servants to resign but if you really don’t know a general answer to my question about the number of vehicles, and you’re the budget officer, that’s inexcusable,” a frustrated Rep. Barton said.

“I‘m sorry I didn’t know the number but my job is to review the overall budget request,” Johns explained.

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Are We Facing The Biggest Bubble Since Housing?

Due to constantly rising healthcare costs, Citigroup economist Steven Wieting says the healthcare industry will be the cause of the next big bubble. And as if his analysis wasn’t scary enough, he also suggests it will be bigger than anything we’ve seen before.

“It’s not a single asset price that’s about to pop (like housing) and it doesn’t have a cyclical component,” he explains during a live interview on CNBC’s Fast Money.

“It’s a fundamental bubble that will have a large impact on the economy,” he added.

Read more HERE.

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Something the liberal press probably will not report on or they will gloss over the story and not admit the islamics involved!

Anyone out there here about this?

In a series of arrests carried out Monday morning in the Twin Cities and Nashville, Tennessee, federal and local authorities broke up a human trafficking ring that provided underage prostitutes.

A federal indictment unsealed Monday morning in Nashville details the sex trafficking operations of 29 Somali men and women tied to the Somali Outlaws, Somali Mafia and Lady Outlaws gangs, which are all connected and based in Minneapolis. Of the 29 indicted, 12 were arrested Monday morning in the Twin Cities, eight in Nashville and six were already in jail in various locations. Three remain at-large and wanted.

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Our government and the liberal press love to cite dollar figures for what it costs when someone kills someone else with a gun and use it as justification to ban guns.

But what about the economic value of people using guns and saying the economy many times more money?

They don’t want to hear it:

Our fearless leader suggested that I take a look at the flip side of the anti’s latest attack on our freedoms (a recycled strategy from the Clinton-era Public Health model of gun control): the monetary cost of gun violence. For example, the Center for American Progress touted the “fact” that the Virginia Tech massacre cost taxpayers $48.2 million (including autopsy costs and a fine against Virginia Tech for failing to get their skates on when the killer started shooting). It’s one of the antis’ favorite tricks: cost benefit analysis omitting the benefit side of the equation. So what are the financial benefits of firearm ownership to society? Read on . . .

In my post Dennis Henigan on Chardon: Clockwork Edition, I did an analysis of how many lives were saved annually in Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs). I used extremely conservative numbers. Now I am going to use some less conservative ones.

The Kleck-Gertz DGU study estimated that there are between 2.1 and 2.5 million DGUs a year in the U.S. The Ludwig-Cook study came up with 1.46 million. So let’s split the difference and call it 1.88 million DGUs per year.

In the K-G article Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun, 15.7 percent of people who had a DGU reckoned they almost certainly saved a life. Ignoring the ‘probably’ and ‘might have’ saved a life categories for simplicity, 15.7 percent of 1.88 million gives us 295,160 lives saved annually.

[NB: A number of people have questioned the 15.7 percent stat. Remember: many states regard the mere act of pulling a gun on someone a form of deadly force. In addition, virtually every jurisdiction in the nation requires that an armed self-defender must be in "reasonable fear of imminent death or great bodily harm" before using (or in some places even threatening to use) deadly force.]

How can we get a dollar figure from 1.88 million defensive gun uses per year? Never fear, faithful reader, we can count on the .gov to calculate everything.

According to the AZ state gov’t, in February of 2008 a human life was worth $6.5 million. Going to the Inflation Calculator and punching in the numbers gives us a present value of $6.93 million.

So figuring that the average DGU saves one half of a person’s life—as“gun violence” predominantly affects younger demographics—that gives us $3.465 million per half life.

Putting this all together, we find that the monetary benefit of guns (by way of DGUs) is roughly 1.02 trillion dollars per year. Trillion. With a ‘T’.

Read more at this link.

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Drone Use Takes Off on the Home Front

Obama’s Funny Money

Reagan’s Vital Lesson On Reducing Gas Prices Worked

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Again, she is out of touch with reality!

(CNS) — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at her Thursday briefing that President Barack Obama “has been so respectful of the Republicans in Congress.”

She was responding to a reporter who asked her to react to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Calif.) who said on Wednesday that the “president has been AWOL since Labor Day” and that he “lacks the courage to lead on the economy.”

“The fact is this president has been so respectful of the Republicans in Congress,” Pelosi said. “He has given them every opportunity for the executive and the legislative branch to work together, to have a solution that has bi-partisan support. He’s been criticized by some for taking the time that it takes to find out that they’re never going to give him a break, which is a compromise.”

“One thing I do know with absolute certainty, President Obama was in agreement with the grand bargain, which the two of them negotiated last summer,” said Pelosi. “When he asked us, the Democrats in Congress, can you support us going down a path that doesn’t have as much revenue as we want, but that it has the balance, that has cuts that are painful, but also has some revenue in terms of assuming the repeal of the Bush tax cuts [on Dec. 31, 2012] he said, go for it, that would be our recommendation. The president didn’t need our recommendation, he knew where he was on it, but I think it was important for him to know that we were with him.”

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“Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”
Voltaire

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ABC is just covered in eggs over this new photo released!

ABC News:

A new photograph obtained exclusively by ABC News showing the bloodied back of George Zimmerman’s head, which was apparently taken three minutes after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, gives possible credence to his claim that Martin had bashed his head against the concrete as Zimmerman fought for his life.

The revelation comes as his attorney and prosecutors prepare for Zimmerman’s bail hearing today, which could result in his being released from a Florida jail. Zimmerman, 28, is being held on charges of second-degree murder for the Feb. 26 shooting of Martin, 17, which could carry a life sentence if he is convicted.

The exclusive image shows blood trickling down the back of Zimmerman’s head from two cuts. It also shows a possible contusion forming on the crown of his head. The original police report that night notes that the back of Zimmerman’s head was wet, and that he was bleeding from the nose and head.

Zimmerman told police that night that he shot and killed the teenager in self-defense after Martin punched him and pounced on him. Zimmerman told police that Martin then bashed his head into the concrete sidewalk during the altercation that took place in the tidy middle-class development of the Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Fla.

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Ironically, these are the same people who want Zimmerman locked up and the key thrown away.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The memo has gone out, the date has been saved.

This coming Tuesday, radicals of all stripes will descend upon the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington D.C. to rally in support of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

Organizers are hoping to speak with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about why Mumia should be set free. They’re also planning acts of civil disobedience to draw media attention to their cause.

Officially known as “Occupy the Justice Department,” the event is endorsed by the usual group of malcontents, including “Educators for Mumia Abu-Jamal” — a collection of left-wing teachers from across the country.

Among Mumia’s many well-wishers in the K-12 community is Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association President Bob Peterson, the entire Chicago Teachers Union, and the Rethinking Schools crew who produce anti-American lesson plans and teaching materials that are used in countless classrooms.

To understand why responsible Americans should find it troubling that Mumia has become a folk hero to much of the teaching community, a little background is in order.

Mumia was a founding member of the Philadelphia Black Panther Party, and was working as a cab driver in that city in 1981.

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Just because these people are purely nuts, I post this story. Oh, got little girls, buy them these LEGO set soon.

(Fox News) — A feminist group has identified the enemy, and it is … LEGOs?

The Danish company behind the interlocking plastic building blocks loved by children since 1949 has a meeting set for Friday with a Brooklyn group ticked off with LEGOs product line designed to appeal to girls.

The new “LEGO Friends” rolled out in December featuring LadyFigs, curvier takeoffs on the traditional boxy LEGO men. Construction sets include a hot tub, a splash pool, a beauty parlor, an outdoor bakery and a “cool convertible,” as well as an inventor’s workshop.

But the SPARK Movement objects to the “LadyFigs,” the female version of the little figures who man the spaceships, trucks and forts children create. “Ladyfigs” are somewhat anatomically correct, which hypersexualizes girls, according to the group.

“They have little breasts and they have fancy hair,” the organization’s executive director, Dana Edell, told FoxNews.com. “And it just disturbs us that this is the image that they want girls to see.”

Edell also objects to what she calls stereotyping of preferred pastimes for girls.

“What it’s doing is telling girls that this is what’s important to you,” Edell said of the beauty parlor and hot tub sets. “Girls aren’t building space shuttles, they’re getting their nails done.”

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Ralph Peters vigorously defends soldiers who posed with dead Afghans, says LA Times is lower than pond scum (I agree with him!)

Lt. Co. Ralph Peters doesn’t believe for a moment that the LA Times released the photos of soldiers posing with dead Afghani suicide bombers for any noble reason, and both he and his counterpart in the clip believes the LA Times is lying about it. But what I loved even more than their ripping of the LA Times was Peters’ vigorous defense of the soldiers who took the photos two years ago. He said plainly:

If you want courtesy toward your enemies, send Miss Manners. If you want to kill America’s enemies, you send the 82nd Airborne.

Watch the clip below:

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The release yesterday by the Labor Department of data showing that the top 10% of wage earners experienced a 7% growth in their wage levels during the last 11 quarters while those in the bottom 10% experienced only a 2.5% growth in wages has generated a firestorm of controversy centered on the proposition that income inequality needs to be reversed. The data play into the hands of the Obama administration and its quest for a higher tax rate to be imposed on the “wealthy.”

Income inequality is an unintended consequence, and in fact a good unintended consequence, of America’s movement away from a manufacturing-based economy to become a knowledge and service-based economy. Pining back to the good old days in the 1950s when CEO compensation was closer to the wages of the worker on the factory floor ignores the technological and scientific progress our society has achieved in the past half-century. The $1 billion transaction between Facebook and Instagram, a less than two year old company with 10 employees, is representative of the huge values that CEOs can bring to companies in the modern world. Each of the two founders of Instagram will become centimillionaires as a result of the transaction. Facebook is paying this exorbitant sum because it views the creators of Instagram are worth every penny. Likewise people whose lives are saved by skilled surgeons, shareholders of successful corporations, and others directly or indirectly paying top dollars for highly skilled providers don’t object because they think top talent is worth every penny. This is where the wage gap comes from: top performers demand top salaries. No one objected to the Denver Broncos paying Peyton Manning $96 million to play football for five years why then do they object when a doctor who went to school for over 20 years and who graduated with $400,000 in debt earns a lot more than the lowest paid worker?
Unintended consequences crop up everywhere. Sometimes they crop up mysteriously and we don’t even recognize them when they occur. That a widening wage gap is an unintended consequence of an economy transitioning to a modern platform may surprise some but it has been documented before. An early discussion of this phenomenon can be found in The Winner-Take-All Society: Why the Few at the Top Get So Much More Than the Rest of Us by Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook. It is a great book worth reading at a time like this.
Read this blog by Harlan Platt

YouTube Video

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Issa: Contempt Charges on Their Way for Eric Holder  ( about damn time!)

The Need for Medicare and Medicaid Reform, in Charts  (a must read by all. I did read it all and went to the links to read more)

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From Here

And yes, check out all the other cartoons on the site!

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