Socialism Working Pretty Well For Norway, Thank You Very Much

Norway was named the world’s most prosperous country by the London-based Legatum Institute:

For the sixth time in a row, Norway is named the most prosperous country in an annual ranking by Legatum Institute. The institute has evaluated 142 countries based on their economic performance, as well as other important areas such as education, health, personal freedom, security and safety. Norway takes third place for economy, fifth for health and education, seventh in government and second in personal freedom.

[...]

Senior advisor James Barty at the Legatum Institute thinks that Norway scores high because of both the country’s economy as well as strong social values and progress within education and health.

Heh. It’s almost as if investing in your own people pays off. Who knew? By the way, in case you wondered: the U.S. ranked 10th.

This struck me as funny because yesterday I heard that awful Joni Ernst, in her Sarah Palin voice, say that “America is the greatest nation in the history of mankind.” That just made me laugh. It’s like they’ve descended into self-parody. Really? In the history of mankind? It’s something she says a lot, in fact she even has it on her website.

I just think, you know, really? Maybe you need to get out more often. Yeah America is great but we’re not the only country in the world. Other countries do things pretty well, too. But this is the kind of stupid rah-rah amygdala-tweaking that gets you elected in Dumbfuckistan.

Anyway, I’ve written a lot about Norway. I’ve called it, jokingly (but kinda seriously), “the promised land.” Seems I’m not alone in my estimation of that country.

12 Comments

Filed under Norway, socialism

Welcoming Our Republican Overlords

Take heart, Democrats. Last night was actually good news. Great news, in fact.

For the next two years the Republican Party will once again remind America that they are completely incapable of governing. Any notion the punditry may hold that Republicans will somehow strike a moderate tone (yes, I’ve actually heard that!) will instantly be dashed by the foamy-mouthed Tea Party rabble-rousers proclaiming their mandate. “I’m not going to be ignored, Dan!”

Nope, there will be no controlling Ted Cruz and his ilk (the best assessment of Cruz I’ve ever read comes from Jon Stewart, who observed the Texas senator “appears to have been bitten by a Machiavellian spider. That dude is distilled ambition.” Yup, couldn’t have said it better myself.) We’ll be treated to two years of debt-ceiling-fighting, Obama-impeachment-loving, Obamacare-repeal-wanting, Benghazi-fear-stoking BS. And in 2016, when the electoral map is as favorable to Democrats as it was for the Republicans this election, we’ll be able to not only keep the White House but we’ll also take back the Senate, as a disgusted electorate remembers why they hate Republicans. This time we’ll get a filibuster-proof majority, too.

So, that’s my take on things. Bring it on, Republicans. And maybe, maybe, Democrats will finally learn how to run on their accomplishments, instead of running from them.

Meanwhile, there was a lot of good news out of election night:

• Tough gun control measures easily won in Washington State.

• In Tennessee, voters overwhelmingly approved ballot measures allowing sales of wine in grocery stores. We will need this as we ponder the cognitive dissonance that returned abortion-for-me-but-not-for-thee hypocrite Scott DesJarlais to Washington while at the same time passing the anti-choice Amendment 1 constitutional amendment.

• Minimum wage increases passed in Arkansas, Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska.

• Personhood amendments failed in Colorado and North Dakota. This is the third time Colorado voters have said no to this crackpot idea, by the way.

So, it wasn’t all bad news. Take heart!

26 Comments

Filed under Election, Republican Party

Where Your Treasure Is

… there your heart will be also.

And with a record $4 billion+ — that’s billion, with a B — spent on this midterm election, it’s safe to say that America’s heart is with power.

That’s it. Very simple and terribly sad. Slow clap, Murrica. This is why we can’t have nice things. When I think what we could do with $4 billion — free college education, healthcare, assistance to small businesses or child care for single moms or what about high speed rail or hey, let’s fix our roads and bridges, maybe? — and realize it’s all been squandered on something as dumb as trying to sway the outcome of a midterm election, I just have to despair at how shallow we are as a nation.

Remember, too, that a large chunk of that sum was spent by people (*cough*cough*KOCH BROTHERS*cough*cough) who are fighting against even the teeniest tiniest increase in their taxes. That billionaires would spend millions to sway an election and hold onto their power pretty much proves why we need to raise their taxes in the first place.

Here’s something that makes me want to guzzle bleach:

beshearTWEET

Note the date. And time.

Are you people even fucking serious? We haven’t even had this midterm election and you’re already ginning up ideas for the next Senate campaign?

Here’s another sobering thought, from the same Wall Street Journal story linked to above:

What’s even more startling is that the $4 billion figure—which also includes $315 million spent on operating costs by PACs—doesn’t include the full picture of outside spending in this year’s races. The projection only includes spending disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. The CRP estimates that another $100 million will likely be spent on the election by next month, though the exact number is impossible to know because of disclosure rules.

Well, I suppose what we don’t know won’t hurt us, right? Meanwhile, remind me about how we can’t afford this, that and the other because of freedom and free markets and whatever. Right. Keep pretending this shit doesn’t matter, everyone.

22 Comments

Filed under elections, media

TN School District Gets Tutorial In How Fox News Operates

I have yet to fully understand why conservatives decided attacking public education was a winning message (beyond Union Thugs and shiny-sparkly Privatization Thingie), but this incident out of Elizabethton, Tennessee is a classic example of how the conservative media will take a simple incident and manipulate it into the service of their message wars. Now, Elizabethton’s superintendent of schools is questioning the accuracy of Fox stories, accusing the broadcaster of sensationalism. Gee, ya think?

So here’s what happened: Fox News personality Todd Starnes ran a story saying third-graders received a Nation of Islam handout in class that called the presidents on Mt. Rushmore racists. What actually happened, of course, is a little … um, well, different from that.

ELIZABETHTON — Elizabethton Superintendent of Schools Ed Alexander said Thursday afternoon that no parent has come forward to substantiate the Fox News story that two additional Harold McCormick third-graders had received a handout from their teacher that was produced by the Nation of Islam claiming the four presidents on Mount Rushmore were racists.

[...]

Alexander said his initial Monday investigation uncovered that a teacher had downloaded a Nation of Islam document that criticized the four presidents as racists. He said the teacher had been searching the Internet for Mount Rushmore and found the document at that time because it asked “What does it take to be on Mount Rushmore.” He said she quickly discarded it after finding out its content.

Alexander called Starnes with his findings, but he said Fox ran the story, calling the document a “handout.”

Alexander said that while the Fox News story on Monday was accurate in reporting the boy had been in possession of a document he had taken from school, he went on to say on Tuesday that “what was reported (which had been rebutted prior to the airing) was misleading and totally incorrect. I can only think it was shown for its sensational effect. Sadly, regardless of any follow-up report, our system has been defamed.”

While the document the boy turned over to his mother was evidence for the initial Fox story, Alexander said when he called the network to get evidence of the handouts from the other two children, he said Fox told him they did not have any more documents to substantiate the later stories. He questioned the accuracy of the later Fox stories.

Alexander said he has received more than a hundred emails from Fox listeners who criticized him, often using profanity. He said many have called for his firing, while one letter said he should not be fired, he should be “eliminated.”

So the only accurate part of the story is that a child somehow got into possession of a Nation of Islam document calling the Mt. Rushmore presidents racists. How he got the document, and whether it was in fact used in the classroom, were all complete BS fabricated by Fox to stoke fears and anger at the public school system. Worse, Fox News knew before even airing the piece that this was utter BS. But they ran with what they had anyway. Even worse, they embellished the story, saying other parents had come forward — when they hadn’t. This is supposed to be a news organization?

As a teacher, let me say: I know exactly how this happened. You’re Googling, you’re downloading a ton of stuff, printing it out to go through later to see what fits the lesson plan and what you’re going to toss. And then you read one document heavy on the cray and woopsies, this one goes in the discard pile. But somehow Little Johnny Patriot got his hands on it and took it home to Mommy. (By the way: I find the how of this quite suspicious. I’m guessing Little Johnny Patriot did not, in fact, deliver this “handout” to Mommy. I’m thinking some right-wing Gladys Kravitz-type was going through the teacher’s trash and found it, then passed it on to their friend in the Tea Party Muslimophobia knitting circle who has contacts at Fox News. So yes, I’m questioning the one supposedly accurate part of this story. But whatever.)

And by the way, the Nation of Islam URL is noi.org — not, you know, scaryblackpeople-DOT-islamofascismZOMG. It’s not like you can tell from the URL that what you’re downloading is probably not going to be appropriate.

Regardless, the good people of Elizabethton, Tennessee just got an upclose look inside the dirty engine of the Fox Noise machine. Their takeaway? It’s probably a really good idea to question the accuracy of Fox News stories.

5 Comments

Filed under FOX NEWS, media, Tennessee

Good News Friday

It’s been a super busy week for your humble scribe. I’ve scraped together a few items of good news, however.

• A judge rejects the quarantine order for nurse Kaci Hickox.

• He’s out and proud: Apple CEO Tim Cook comes out. Amazing culture shift: I really am so old, I remember when top business executives went to great lengths to hide their sexual orientation.

• There’s a new soda can called the “evercan,” made from 90% recycled aluminum. Now if we could only get Coca Cola and PepsiCo to use it.

• Best news ever: New Alzheimer’s research indicates chocolate keeps the brain young and healthy.

• A federal court dismissed Tea Party-affiliated group True The Vote’s two lawsuits against the IRS.

• The U.S. economy continues to improve, with growth at 3.5% for the third quarter.

• Everyone’s excited that our Awesome Hippie Pope is saying that evolution and the Big Bang Theory are not at odds with religion. I’m pretty sure that this has been Catholic doctrine for at least the last two Popes but whatever, it’s fun to see the Vatican remind American flat-earthers that they’re still getting it wrong.

• They’ve discovered a new species of leopard frog that lives on New Jersey’s I-95 corridor. Pretty sure Gov. Chris Christie will tell it to “sit down and shut up.”

• Researchers find there’s a genetic component to the different responses to the Ebola virus.

• Not good news per se but interesting: Did you know there’s a copyright infringement suit over the Robin Thicke/Pharrell Williams song “Blurred Lines”? And the plaintiff is the family of Marvin Gaye, who say Thicke and Pharrell borrowed from Gaye’s hit “Got To Give It Up”? There is, they are, and the suit has cleared its first major hurdle.

Copyright law is an interesting, convoluted thing. I was always amazed that Kenny Loggins never sued Garth Brooks over Brooks’ “Standing Outside The Fire,” which is basically Loggins’ “Conviction Of The Heart” set in a different key with some twang added. It was a blatant, obvious rip-off, in my book.

The “Blurred Lines” thing is a little less obvious to me. Here’s Got To Give It Up and here’s “Blurred Lines.” What do you think?

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• Maybe the beginning of the end of negative campaigning? Probably not, but it’s good to see Bo Mitchell fighting back against an outright lie spread through a negative campaign ad.

• Former Marine Eric Malloy of Nashville can now afford to get his canine buddy Cash, who was his partner in Afghanistan, needed surgery, thanks to a GoFundMe campaign which raised over $3,000 in less than an hour. Read the full story here.

• Taylor Swift, whose new album contains the song “Welcome To New York,” says she is donating all of the song’s proceeds to New York public schools.

• Vanderbilt University received a $15 million federal grant to develop a national training center for special ed teachers.

This week’s cool video: I can’t remember the last time anyone had the cojones to openly mock an advertiser the way The Daily Show just went after Koch Industries. Absolutely hilarious.

10 Comments

Filed under Good News

Rick Berman: He’s Baaaaack!

Ah, Rick Berman. A professional propagandist so nice, I’ve got an entire tag devoted to his shenanigans.

Whatcha been up to, Rick? How’s the astroturf growing around your neck of the woods? Made any speeches lately, maybe made a few enemies here and there? Why yes, you have:

WASHINGTON — If the oil and gas industry wants to prevent its opponents from slowing its efforts to drill in more places, it must be prepared to employ tactics like digging up embarrassing tidbits about environmentalists and liberal celebrities, a veteran Washington political consultant told a room full of industry executives in a speech that was secretly recorded.

The blunt advice from the consultant, Richard Berman, the founder and chief executive of the Washington-based Berman & Company consulting firm, came as Mr. Berman solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance an advertising and public relations campaign called Big Green Radicals.

The company executives, Mr. Berman said in his speech, must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups. And major corporations secretly financing such a campaign should not worry about offending the general public because “you can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.

“Think of this as an endless war,” Mr. Berman told the crowd at the June event in Colorado Springs, sponsored by the Western Energy Alliance, a group whose members include Devon Energy, Halliburton and Anadarko Petroleum, which specialize in extracting oil and gas through hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking. “And you have to budget for it.”

What Mr. Berman did not know — and what could now complicate his task of marginalizing environmental groups that want to impose limits on fracking — is that one of the energy industry executives recorded his remarks and was offended by them.

So in other words, Al Gore is REALLY fat. Nice.

People like Rick Berman are what’s wrong with America. They are breeding grounds for cynicism and apathy. And that’s the point: the more disillusioned people are, the more likely they are to do things like sit out elections, not stay informed, not get involved. “They’re all the same,” those people say — because people like Rick Berman told them that.

What a horrible person.

1 Comment

Filed under astroturf, Rick Berman

Thought For The Day

It is truly amazing to hear the same people who bitched and moaned about how TSA body scanners at U.S. airports violated their civil rights now attack nurse Kaci Hickox for not submitting to a 21-day house arrest on her return from Africa.

Do you people even listen to yourselves?

8 Comments

Filed under conservatives, fear