Category Archives: In The News

Dear Tragedy Hipsters

In the wake of the Paris attacks (and just about every other issue that makes the front page) a lot of people are asking, “Why isn’t anyone talking about ________?” These people are also critical of others’ use of the Facebook photo filter bearing the French flag. Well, I have a message for those people:

Instead of trolling comment sections under articles on Paris in an effort to divert attention from that to whatever you think others should be equally concerned about, perhaps you should  be posting or even writing articles on those issues. That would be a far more effective way to spread awareness than trying to hijack other topics of discussion to solicit attention for some other issue — a tactic which is petty and juvenile, and does very little to promote your cause.

To be clear, I am not talking to people who do post articles about other things, or who simply choose not to use the photo filter. I’m talking to people who take a morally superior stance; to the people who Jamiles Lartey of Guardian US refers to as “Tragedy Hipsters” and their holier-than-thou comments that amount to, “I care about suffering and death that you’ve never even heard of.”

I’m talking to people who rebuke others for using the photo filter and/or talking about Paris when there are other tragedies taking place in the world. Your thinking on this is completely irrational because you’re basically saying that if we don’t talk about everything we shouldn’t talk about anything. This line of thought is childishly demanding and completely unrealistic.

Some things hit closer to home and resonate more than others. This is part of human nature and anyone who claims to be equally concerned about every injustice on the planet is flat out lying — lying to themselves and lying to the world. As Lartey also pointed out:

“It simply isn’t possible to treat every individual tragedy & moment of suffering with objective or equal consideration, and no one does this. There is robust neuroscientific research into how this works in the human brain, and how poor a job we do at weighting suffering and tragedy.” [emphasis mine]

I refuse to be manipulated into keeping quiet about things that resonate the most with me, or into spreading myself too thin in a futile effort to be all-inclusive. This does not equate to apathy or racism, as some have erroneously charged. I am a human being with limited time and energy, and the same goes for all those social justice warriors striving for the moral high ground through pretending to care about all things equally — something which is absolutely humanly impossible.

Writer and Director, Terry McMahon, made a similar point by asking the following questions:

“When we grieve for someone with whom we have a personal connection should we feel guilty that our grief does not extend to every stranger we have no connection with? When we go to the funeral of a loved one should we feel guilty for not having attended every fucking funeral in the history of humankind? When we connect should we feel guilty because it is personal?”

My answer to those three questions is a resounding NO, NO, and NO!

Whenever you feel the urge to troll comment sections to shame others for discussing something that resonates with them, resist the urge. Instead, focus your energy on productive ways of bringing awareness to issues that resonate with you — not by hijacking other topics of interest and scolding people who aren’t talking about everything you think they should. That’s like crashing a funeral and demanding that mourners express equal grief for someone else buried yesterday in a cemetery across town. It’s offensive and in poor taste, and demonstrates the same level of insensitivity that “Tragedy Hipsters” decry in others when they focus more on one thing than another.

Open a new topic of discussion by posting relevant links, or even writing your own piece on issues that you feel aren’t getting enough attention. The Internet and social media offers everyone that option equally, so instead of criticizing people for exercising that option, try doing the same to a more productive end. Imagine how much attention could be brought to the under-reported tragedies in the world if all the ‘funeral-crashing’ social justice warriors would focus more on that and less on finger-wagging, which accomplishes very little apart from alienating the very people they presumably wish to sway.

Jamiles1

Jamiles2

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Cry Baby Cop, Michael Holsworth

So, there I was minding my own goddamned business, drinking coffee and trying to read the news when my actual news reading was completely disrupted by a pathetic, self-serving sob story from one of Kansas City’s finest. His name is Michael Holsworth and according to his Facebook page, he has been a cop for thirteen years and proudly proclaims that, “When guns are outlawed, I will be an outlaw.” Here is the profile photo that Holsworth used to publicly declare that he will do what the fuck he wants, the law be damned:

Outlawed Guns

Not surprising from a cop these days — don’t like the law, just fucking break it. No skin off their asses. They’ll all just lie and cover for each other and never face any consequences for the crimes they commit.

Full disclosure: I don’t like cops. I don’t trust them and I don’t call them when I’m in trouble. I’ve witnessed, first hand, far too many cases of police misconduct and brutality, and as I read the news every single day, my contempt for them is validated — by them. Today was no different. And don’t even try to convince me that there are still “good cops” out there because as long as the ones who aren’t actually killing innocent, unarmed people or otherwise abusing their authority continue to turn a blind eye or make excuses for the thugs in uniform, they are as complicit as said thugs in the crimes they commit.

But I digress.

So, Officer Holsworth was meeting his family for his birthday lunch at Olive Garden when he was approached by a hostess:

As I was sitting there waiting, one of the employees told me ” Sir, we don’t allow guns in here.” Now mind you I am in full police uniform and on duty. I actually thought it was a joke at first so I asked her ” Are you serious?” She replied back with ” Yes”. So I told her ” well I can leave I guess.” She then replied back ” yes please leave”

Did Holsworth ask for a manager to help clear things up? No, he volunteered to leave and then went crying to Facebook, asking people to share his story to let “everyone know how this establishment is treating their local law enforcement.”

Mr. Holsworth, “this establishment” didn’t treat you or anyone else in any way at all. You didn’t give them a chance to! One hostess told you what the gun policy was and you offered to leave, by your own admission. You claim that you “posted on Facebook about [it] because [you] did not want other officers to be subjected to the same embarrassing situation.” And I’m calling bullshit!

This could have been easily and quietly resolved, never to happen again, if you had simply asked for a manager. You went to Facebook to get attention and probably to try doing a little damage control and garner sympathy for your profession. You are the one who took it to the media, and then had the nerve to say this in a follow-up statement:

I ask that the media and others respect my privacy and devote their attentions to altering the general narrative about police officers in a more positive direction so this type of situation does not occur in the future.

See? Damage control for the profession. It’s almost as if Holsworth didn’t want the issue resolved amicably. It seems that he saw an opportunity to make a fuss and have his moment in the spotlight to play the victim and whine about the media’s “general narrative about police officers” and ask them to “alter” that narrative as if it’s somehow the media’s responsibility to repair the image of cops across the country — a horrifying image that cops in the United States have created for themselves!

So, Holsworth, how about appealing to your Brotherhood across the nation to stop acting like a bunch of goddamed gangsters and repair their own fucked up image? Or would that be too much like placing the responsibility exactly where the hell it belongs? Talk about victim blaming and shooting the messenger!

The knee-jerk responses in the comment sections of the news articles pissed me off even more. “Boycott Olive Garden”, and various expressions of police worship which always makes my skin crawl. The more people treat these guys like celebrities, the bigger their heads get and the more rounds they fire, and with no consequences. Cops are public servants! Stop the fucking drooling, people!

Michael Holsworth is a whiny bitch whose fragile ego was bruised when a little girl didn’t treat him like the superhero that he imagines he is. That is why he didn’t deal with the situation like a fully developed, emotionally stable adult. He’s not one. Any normal adult would have either left and taken their business elsewhere — without throwing a public tantrum — or asked to speak to a manager. But Holsworth is a cop, you see, so poor service in a restaurant is somehow newsworthy. But now he wants his privacy. And being a cop, he apparently thinks he’s entitled to run screaming into the media spotlight and then demand that the media respect his privacy. Self-important fucking ass wipe.

As to Olive Garden, fuck them for apologizing. I may very well boycott them just for that. Holsworth made absolutely no effort to resolve the matter right then and there, but instead took it public without even giving management a chance. If anything, Holsworth owes Olive Garden an apology for blowing such a petty isolated incident completely out of proportion! I’m sick to death of businesses falling all over themselves to kiss a bunch of smelly cop ass. But they do it because they worry that if they don’t, the cops won’t do their jobs if ever called to their establishments. And the sickening part is that they’re probably right, which would further validate my distrust and contempt for police.

In closing, I challenge Michael Holsworth to support his claim that he sees this kind of thing happen “all over the United States”. If Mr. Holsworth can cite even half as many cases of shit like this as I can of police killing unarmed, innocent people across the nation, I will chop off my right index finger and post a video of the amputation for your viewing pleasure. Or perhaps Michael Holsworth would like to alter his own bullshit narrative to include some actual facts. But I wouldn’t count on it.

Michael Holsworth


Letter to Editor & Star Tribune’s non-response

I was so disgusted by Dennis Anderson’s piece (of shit) following the poaching of Cecil the Lion that after emailing him and receiving no response at all, I sent a letter to the editors. Almost immediately following the Star Tribune’s non-response to my email, the account I had registered just a few days ago had been restricted. Not only am I not allowed to post comments or replies, now I cannot even “up vote” other people’s comments.

My full letter to the editors:

To Whom It May Concern:

Before beginning my response to Dennis Anderson’s article regarding the poaching of Cecil the Lion, I read your guidelines for what makes a good commentary. I was surprised to learn that the Star Tribune holds its readers to a higher standard than it does its own columnists. Of the ten guidelines listed, Anderson violates half of them in a single piece. I ask for a little leniency with regard to the word count of my email, since, for the sake of context and clarity, a significant portion of it includes quotes from Anderson’s piece, as well as questions from the aforementioned guidelines.

5. Is the writing clear and efficient […]?
No. Anderson begins with five paragraphs of fluff and clunky purple prose before getting to the point.

6. Is the commentary engaging?
No. It is preachy, accusatory, arrogant and a flippant dismissal of the global outrage over the brutal poaching of Cecil the lion. Not at all engaging, but in fact quite alienating. Anderson’s sole purpose seems to be to shame and discredit people who are grieving the death of Cecil the lion and its greater implications; to minimize and trivialize the tragedy of it in favor of being an apologist for Walter J. Palmer and poaching in general.

7. Does the submission offer a clear point of view?
Anderson’s view is clearly that the international outrage is without merit, but his rationale is unclear because it contains a plethora of fallacious reasoning — and violates the three remaining guidelines provided to your readers:

8. Is the argument being presented logically sound in its construction and conclusions?
No, it is not logically sound in its construction or its conclusion. One example would be Anderson’s false comparison between deer hunters in Minnesota and poachers in Zimbabwe. His conclusion is that the same standards would apply to both. For the sake of brevity, I will not belabor this point despite several other relevant examples.

9. Does the commentary avoid hyperbole and fallacious reasoning?
Absolutely not! It is riddled with hyperbole and fallacious reasoning, including red herrings, non sequiturs, false dilemmas, false comparison, moving the goalposts, poisoning the well, appeal to questionable authority, strawman arguments and ad hominems. And that’s just off the top of my head! Claiming that mourners of Cecil’s death are just “perpetually agitated”, have no use for facts, and don’t “really care what actually happened” is nothing but ad hominem attacks designed solely to shame and discredit us. Anderson also states that “if perspective is important” the size of the protected park is only one sixth of the size of Minnesota – with no explanation as to the relevance of that statement. That is a red herring and non sequitur, among others. I can explain the rest in greater detail upon request, but for now I am trying to keep this as brief as possible. Alternatively, for a more detailed explanation, see my personal blog entry, Open Letter to Poacher Apologist, Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune.

10. If outside material or data is being presented, is it appropriately sourced?
No. Not only does Anderson make numerous dubious claims without citing any sources at all, he conveniently omits multiple verifiable facts that don’t fit his preferred narrative or obvious agenda — while simultaneously claiming that other sources have omitted relevant facts — again with no citations. He states that we know nothing about the incident apart from what Palmer has told us, when that is absolutely, verifiably factually incorrect. Furthermore, he refers to “what is known” about “Minnesota archers who hunt in the evening” and what “is legal in Zimbabwe and the way most lions are hunted there” without citing a single source. He then goes on to say that “[t]hose countless reports [of what happened to Cecil] I am told by someone who knows, are wrong.” Anyone can make the same claim about any issue, but without credible sources and verifiable facts, it’s just a bunch of hot air.

Anderson’s entire piece violates at least half of the guidelines set for readers who want to respond. It’s insulting to readers and damaging to the Star Tribune’s credibility.

In closing, I want to address the last paragraph of Anderson’s segment entitled, If things were reversed…:

Anderson asks, “What’s the chance that reporters from Zimbabwe, half a world away, report this story — and the intentions, motivations and agendas of its many characters, Rogers and the landowner included — accurately?”

The implication here seems to be that we should not trust even our own media — which has to include the Star Tribune — because it is relying on information received from “half a world away”. It seems that anyone working anywhere near the field of journalism would never seriously suggest in this day and age that facts and information cannot be accurately reported and shared globally and in real time. With that in mind, I can’t help thinking that an alternative interpretation could be nothing more or less than a bunch of crypto-racism, passive-aggressively suggesting, “Don’t trust the Africans!” Either way, Anderson doesn’t exactly come out of it smelling like roses.

How Dennis Anderson’s article made it past any responsible, ethical editor is beyond me. It is shameful to the Star Tribune and a disgrace to responsible, ethical journalism and journalists around the world. He owes his readers and the general public an apology and should be made to publicly admit his multitude of ‘errors’.

The Star Tribune’s non-response:

from: Opinion
to: Charlotte Knight
date: Wed, Aug 5, 2015 at 9:12 AM
subject: RE: Response to Dennis Anderson re: Cecil the Lion
mailed-by: startribune.com

Thank you for sending your work to the Star Tribune opinion pages. Your article has been reviewed. Because we are offered many more commentary submissions than we can accommodate, we have to turn away many writers. We don’t anticipate finding a spot for your article, but we do appreciate having been given the opportunity to consider it.

The editors

So, in other words, they didn’t read a word I wrote. Or they did read it, and simply do not care about the dishonest and unethical work of Dennis Anderson. I did not ask for a “spot” for my “article”. I don’t want my name anywhere near theirs. All I wanted was to bring attention to Anderson’s piece (of garbage) and the fact that the Star Tribune hypocritically holds its readers to a much higher standard than it does its own columnists. Since they refuse to actually respond to a single point I made, then I can only assume that the Star Tribune doesn’t care about integrity or ethics. As a courtesy, I gave the Star Tribune a chance to answer to and rectify the situation, but they’ve basically said that you don’t really care about their lying columnist.

Thanks, Star Tribune, for confirming what I have suspected all along — that the Star Tribune is a washed up rag that cares more about selling papers and advertising spots, than it does about the integrity of its “journalists” or the sub par garbage they publish. Keep up the crappy work and you just might find your own spot — right next to Fox [not] News.


Open Letter to Poacher Apologist, Dennis Anderson, Star Tribune

The national outcry over Cecil the lion’s brutal and tragic poaching by Walter J. Palmer of Eden Prairie, MN is roaring strong. Most news articles and comments I’ve read have been in support of Cecil and drafting of stronger legislation to prevent the egocentric, elitist “sport” of trophy hunting, especially where it concerns endangered animals. Amongst worldwide grief, outrage, and the coming together of people who may otherwise share nothing at all in common, I have occasionally had the misfortune of encountering poaching apologists. But none have been so blatant as Dennis Anderson, an “outdoors columnist” for my very own local rag, the Star Tribune.

Following five paragraphs of fluff in which he appears more interested in regaling readers with his sub par purple prose than in saying anything at all of substance, he locks and loads, and then shoots to kill.

Before I proceed, I want to make perfectly clear that I am not anti-hunting. Hunting has it’s place, but this is not about responsible, legal and ethical hunting. This is about poaching and trophy hunting, which is an entirely different kettle of fish. The following is my response:

Save for perhaps a handful of people, no one knows exactly what occurred that night — and it was a night — in Zimbabwe when Walter J. Palmer of Eden Prairie loosed an arrow from his compound bow (not a crossbow) at the lion that turned out to be the aforementioned Cecil.

And, frankly, save for hunters who have found themselves in similar situations and are curious about the details, no one really cares what actually happened.

For the perpetually agitated, facts only muddy the waters. — Dennis Anderson, Star Stribune

Your flippant dismissal of the global outrage over Cecil’s death reeks of the same sociopathic tendencies exhibited by Walter J. Palmer. It might also be interpreted as mouthwatering irony and projection, given your following arguments that have no basis in relevant facts and serve only to muddy the waters. Sound familiar?

What is known is that Minnesota archers who hunt in the evening, and who shoot a deer, often don’t pursue that animal until morning, for fear it might be pushed into the distance and never found.

Non sequitur. Even if this is true, it has no bearing on what is legal or even common practice in Zimbabwe. And deer in Minnesota are nowhere near being endangered. You’re just muddying the waters.

Furthermore, your very own rag reported in 2012 that night hunting of deer is not legal in Minnesota, and according to the 2015 Minnesota Hunting and Trapping Regulations Handbook, that has not changed to date. Yes, I know you said “evening”, but you are disingenuously trying to imply something altogether different in an attempt to equate what deer hunters in Minnesota do with how poachers in Zimbabwe operate. As an “outdoors columnist” since roughly 1980 according to your bio, I would expect you to know better. So either you suck at what you do, or you are a shameless liar.

Additionally, I grew up in the country in prime deer hunting territory and have known many deer hunters in my day. Every single one that I have spoken to has stressed the importance of making a “good, clean, kill shot” and would never dream of injuring a deer, leaving it to suffer overnight and tracking it the next day, for a variety of reasons — first and foremost, because it’s irresponsible, unethical and cruel. But, of course, being the Walter J. Palmer and poacher apologist that you are, your priorities aren’t nearly the same, are they?

Chris Collins, an avid bow hunter from Virginia said the following which echos every other dear hunter I have ever known:

If you don’t have the intent to eat what you hunt, don’t kill it. If you are hunting, you have to be absolutely positive that you are about to make a good kill shot,” Collins said. “What [Walter J. Palmer] does is a poor reflection on hunting.
Column: Cecil the Lion’s killer deals terrible blow to true hunters — Lee Tolliver

But you’re not really talking about responsible and ethical hunting in this piece, but rather advocating for the right of humans to kill endangered animals to stroke their own egos.

Vis-à-vis Palmer, countless reports have said that he shot his lion at night — which is legal in Zimbabwe and the way most lions are hunted there — and that his party tracked the animal for 40 hours before dispatching it with a gun.

Again, non sequitur serving only to muddy the waters. Even if shooting lions at night is legal and common in Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean officials have deemed the hunt illegal for various other reasons. You’ll forgive me, I’m sure, if I defer to them on the laws of their own land.

Another problem with the above quoted remark is that it’s a complete straw man. I have read countless news articles and pored through thousands if not tens of thousands of reader comments, and from what I’ve seen, literally no one has argued that the hunt was illegal or even unethical just because it started at night. But why deal in actual facts when you can spin irrelevant half truths to muddy the waters? Your perpetual agitation is showing.

Those countless reports, I am told by someone who knows, are wrong.

Someone who knows? And we should just take your unsubstantiated word for it after you have thoroughly discredited yourself? Not on your life, mister! Because despite your arrogant claim that anyone who doesn’t see things your way has no use for facts, you certainly are perpetuating more than one man’s share of complete and utter bullshit.

Other than that, we have, so far, only Palmer’s statement that he was unaware that anything untoward about the hunt was transpiring or had transpired.

And you accept Palmer’s statement at face value, while rejecting out of hand all facts and information that you find inconvenient. Are you even able to grasp how severely this discredits you, or do you simply think so little of your readers that you assume they won’t grasp this glaring contradiction?

More to the point, we have far more than Palmer’s statement, and I think you know it (assuming you read your own paper). Firstly, if Palmer was unaware that the hunt was illegal, then why, upon discovering Cecil was fitted with a GPS collar, did he not stop in his tracks and report the incident to the appropriate authorities? Instead, he allowed himself to become complicit in the attempted destruction of the GPS collar — which is NOT legal — and proceeded to behead and skin Cecil and then quietly leave the country before he could be made to answer to Zimbabwean authorities. Not exactly the actions of an innocent or even misguided victim. And certainly not the actions of someone who, as Palmer claims, pursues hunting “responsibly and legally”. In fact, Palmer himself said that he didn’t know it was illegal “until the end of the hunt” when they discovered Cecil’s GPS collar. This means that he did know it was illegal before beheading and skinning Cecil, and then leaving his corpse to rot. Responsible and legal my ass!

Regardless, for some people, the fact that the lion was killed outside a national park where otherwise it was safe only adds to the perceived injustice of the hunt.

Unfortunately, left out of this reporting — if perspective is important — is that the “park’’ in question is about one-sixth the size of Minnesota, or roughly the size of the state’s Arrowhead region, from Virginia to International Falls over to Lake Superior.

And your point is, what exactly? Oh, I know! Your point is to further muddy the waters to distract from the actual relevant facts. Again. The size of the park is completely irrelevant to the fact that it is a protected area. And to further put things in their proper perspective — if that is even minimally important to you — Cecil was not just killed outside a national park. He was baited and lured out of the national park, a practice deemed unethical by the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe. Also left out of your own reporting, is that this was not Palmer’s first offense. Again, from your very own Star Tribune (Seriously, do you even read your own paper?):

Palmer pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2008 related to the poaching of a black bear in Wisconsin two years earlier. Palmer and others transported the bear, which was killed 40 miles outside of a legal hunting zone, to a registration station inside the legal area. Palmer was sentenced to one year of probation and fined nearly $3,000.

Palmer is a serial poacher, and that is what you are defending and advocating for.

Your segment entitled, If things were reversed…, is so much whataboutery that it is not even worthy of addressing point by point.

But this:

What’s the chance that reporters from Zimbabwe, half a world away, report this story — and the intentions, motivations and agendas of its many characters, Rogers and the landowner included — accurately?

The implication here seems to be that we should not trust even our own media (including your Star Tribune) because it is relying on information received from “half a world away”. Simultaneously, and with shameless irony, you want to be taken at face value while admittedly refusing to acknowledge the undisputed and even proven facts because some anonymous (and perhaps imaginary) person “who knows” told you that the “countless reports” of what happened “are wrong”. And let’s not forget your lie error regarding Minnesota deer hunting.

Are you seriously suggesting that, in this day and age, facts and information cannot be accurately reported and shared globally and in real time? As a career columnist, I would expect you to know much better than that. Or perhaps that’s exactly where your own perpetual agitation stems from — journalists of your generation are no longer the only gig in town. Alternatively, the above quoted remark could be nothing more or less than a bunch of crypto-racism, passive-aggressively suggesting, “Don’t trust the Africans!

In either case, I feel compelled to congratulate you on creating a smoke screen, a false dilemma, moving the goalposts and poisoning the well in one blanket accusation poorly disguised as a question. In all my years on the internet, I have yet to see even the most skilled internet trolls pull that off. Need I explain what that says about you?

More on “perpetual agitation”: Your entire screed reads like that of someone who has become perpetually agitated by the fact that his preferred medium as a journalist is rapidly becoming obsolete; someone who is desperately clinging to the good ol’ days when journalists remained virtually unchecked by the public, had fewer options and little choice but to accept what was being spoon-fed to them by their local news outlets. Your own failure to adapt to this new and constantly evolving Information Age seems to have made you bitter and resentful of the fact that technology now allows us to fact check hacks, and we are no longer at the mercy of “journalists” like you who prefer to tell readers what to think instead of maintaining the slightest hint of journalistic integrity, ethics, or even decorum. Yes, it is time for you to abandon your perpetual agitation and join the rest of us in this wonderful and amazing 21st century. Failing that, can you at least pretend to have enough self-awareness or common courtesy to stop projecting your own issues of impotence onto the rest of world?

You owe your readers and the general public an apology, Dennis Anderson!


Duh Economics

If I hear one more person ask how spending billions of dollars is supposed to stimulate the economy, I think I’ll scream at the top of my lungs while pulling every hair out of my head. After that, I will buy a wig, glue it to my head and continue with the hair-pulling.

I’m going to be as restrained as I possibly can here, but this is getting ridiculous. At the risk of sounding like a condescending jerk, when someone asks how spending money stimulates the economy, they show a complete ignorance of even high school-level economics. The question is as jaw-dropping to me as asking how billions of people having sex is supposed to stimulate population growth.

So then you get the argument, ‘well, this is not a stimulus bill, this is a spending bill.’ What do you think a stimulus is? That’s the whole point! — President Obama

Exactly! I’ve been saying this, almost verbatim, for a couple of weeks now. Thank you, Mr. President!

But now we’ve got people saying, “So, he finally admits that the stimulus bill is about spending.”

Excuse me while I have a facepalm moment.

President Obama no more “admitted” that the stimulus bill is about spending than a person could “admit” that air traffic is about planes flying around in the sky, or that ice is about frozen water.

But let me tell you where I think President Obama went wrong in all this: He gave too many people more credit than they deserved in assuming that they understood what the damn word means.

He didn’t “admit” to anything, as that would imply that he had previously denied or attempted to cover it up. I think he just finally realized that he was going to have to dumb it down for people who clearly weren’t grasping all the words or understanding the very basics of Duh Economics.

This is not simply a matter of perspective. This is not some sinister, liberal conspiracy to steal people’s money. The United States is in economic crisis. Police are being called to control the crowds at job fairs! This is the harsh reality of the situation.

Republicans may not like it but the way to create jobs fast is through spending. It matters when you’re wrong. A whopping proportion of the Republican rhetoric about stimulus is wrong – total economic bull puckey. It’s time to take the radical step of privileging correct information over incorrect information.

Rachel.msnbc.com

For a crash course in what economists from both sides of the aisle are saying, please watch at least the first four minutes of this, though I do recommend the entire eight minute course.

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2009 Rambling On


More Layoffs

WASHINGTON – It’s already been a lousy year for workers less than a month into 2009 and there’s no relief in sight. Tens of thousands of fresh layoffs were announced Monday and more companies are expected to cut payrolls in the months ahead.

[…]

The recession, which started in December 2007, and is expected to stretch into this year, has been a job killer. The economy lost 2.6 million jobs last year, the most since 1945. The unemployment rate jumped to 7.2 percent in December, the highest in 16 years, and is expected to keep climbing.

Associated Press

General Motors will lay off 2,000 employees in Michigan and Ohio and halt production at nine U.S. plants over the next six months.

NEW YORK – Pfizer Inc. is buying rival drugmaker Wyeth in a $68 billion deal that will increase its revenue by 50 percent, solidify its No. 1 rank in the troubled industry and transform it from a pure pharmaceutical company into a diversified health care giant.

At the same time, Pfizer announced cost cuts that include slashing more than 8,000 jobs as it prepares for an expected revenue crash when its cholesterol drug Lipitor — the world’s top-selling medicine and source of one-quarter of Pfizer’s revenue — loses patent protection in November 2011.

Associate Press

A word from President Obama:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama says the nation can’t afford “distractions” or “delays” when it comes to the economic stimulus plan working its way through Congress.

Obama pointed to job cuts taking place at companies including Microsoft, Intel, United Airlines and Home Depot. And he said it means more working men and women “whose families have been disrupted and whose dreams have been put on hold.”

Obama told reporters Monday the government owes it to “every American” to act with a “sense of urgency” and “common purpose.”


Vermont Town Divided Over Pledge

It’s ironic, isn’t it? The Pledge of Allegiance, which describes the United States as “indivisible”, has become one of the most divisive issues among us.

I first read about this particular division at My Crazy Life. You’ll want to check out the video she has posted there. Mike Newdow is interviewed by a frothing-at-the-mouth Fox News reporter (as if that’s not a redundant turn of phrase!). It’s slightly amusing to watch as Mike maintains his composure, remaining completely rational, while she (I don’t know her name) can barely contain herself.

So what’s up in Vermont? CBS News reports:

(AP) No one is sure when daily recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance fell by the wayside at Woodbury Elementary School.

But efforts to restore them have erupted into a bitter dispute in this town of about 800 residents, with school officials blocking the exercise from classrooms over concerns that it holds children who don’t participate up to scorn.

See there? Small town folks can too be rational.

So what did this little school do? They arranged for students who want to participate in group recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance to gather in the gym and do it there. You might consider this a reasonable compromise that works for everyone. If only…

Tedesco, 55, a retired Marine Corps major, and others who signed his petitions didn’t like that solution, calling it disruptive and inappropriate because it put young children in the position of having to decide between pre-class play time and leaving the classroom to say the pledge.

So, let me see if I understand this correctly. Woodbury Elementary School is ticking along just fine, not having daily recitations of the Pledge. Things have been this way for so long that, according to the article, no one is even sure when the practice “fell by the wayside”.

Then along comes Mr. Tedesco with his petition and lobbying, which ultimately results in agreement by school officials to resume the daily exercise of reciting the Pledge, and special accommodations being made for students who wish to participate.

In other words: disrupting the routine of the entire school!

Then, when things don’t play out to his complete and ultimate satisfaction, he objects on the grounds that the compromises and accommodations are, what? Did he call it “disruptive”?!

Good Gawd! Irony just doesn’t get any jucier than that, does it?

Pst… Tedesco. You instigated the “disruption”. If you were truly interested in not disrupting things, you would have left things the way they were.

But, I suppose if Tedesco & Co. had been granted every one of their wishes, everything would be peachy keen. Never mind those parents and students who consider the Pledge itself to be an inappropriate disruption in the classroom. But who cares what they think, anyway? They’re probably not even real Americans. In fact, they can just take their sorry arses someplace like Iraq if they don’t want to hear the Pledge of Allegiance, God bless America!

I think it’s also worth highlighting that, while Tedesco considers this important enough to circulate a petition lobbying for classroom recitation of the Pledge and ultimately withdraw his children from the school (he says for academic reasons and not the Pledge issue, but the timing is rather suspicious) he doesn’t think it’s important enough to make kids give up a few minutes of playtime in the morning.

What about values? What about teaching children priorities? Sacrifice builds character, etc., etc.

But wait! What if Mr. Tedesco is really worried that, given the choice between playtime and gathering to recite the Pledge, the kids would choose playtime? Gawd knows we can’t start allowing children to make choices, especially when they’re likely to opt out of something so vitally important to the grown ups!

No! This ritual must be performed in the classroom where they can’t get away, where those who don’t wish to participate or might object to it for some reason are forced to hear it.

In other words, it’s not enough to simply accommodate students who wish to participate, we must force all students to participate in some way or another. The fact that this doesn’t surprise me is a bit unsettling.

But, hey! I could be completely wrong. Maybe Tedesco and those who share his views really do think that the arrangement is disruptive and imposes undue hardship on students. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I’ve come up with a solution that should satisfy everyone! I’m all about compromise, after all.

I would be perfectly happy for my son’s school to have two morning bells. The first bell calls for all students who wish to participate in group recitation of the Pledge to report to their classrooms for said ritual. The second bell calls all remaining students to class after the ceremony. Everyone gets the same tardy bell. I’m willing to allow the first bell to ring at the usual time to avoid cutting into anyone’s morning playtime or other recreational activities.

Tedesco & Co. get their playtime and their classroom recitation; those who do not wish to participate are not forced to.

This has the added benefit of staggering hall traffic at larger schools, making the hallways less crowded and thereby safer for all students. Students continue reporting to their regular classrooms, roll call is taken as usual, and class instruction begins immediately afterward.

Of course, this is still in its rough phase, but it seems reasonable to me. Any objections?

Posted by Lottie — Copyright © 2008 Rambling On