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Image from Sense and Sensibility
Frank Bruni visits a dying Marine for a poignant story of injustice.
Back in 1956, when he was 22, [Hal Faulkner] was discharged from the Marines after more than three years of proud service. There were no real blots on his record. No complaints of incompetence or laziness or insubordination. There was only this: A man with whom Hal had spent some off-duty time informed Hal’s commanding officer that Hal was gay. The commanding officer suspected that this was true and, on that basis, determined that Hal had to go. The discharge was classified as “other than honorable.”

“It wrecked me,” Hal told me when I visited him on Friday at his home here on the 16th floor of a high-rise with a panoramic view of the Atlantic. The morning was gloriously sunny, but tears streamed down his cheeks. Although more than half a century has passed since that harsh judgment — he’s 79 now — it has always stayed with him, a tight, stubborn knot of sadness and anger.

“They gave up on me,” he said, referring to the Marines. “I never forget it.” He was haunted in particular by those three words — “other than honorable” — and wanted more than anything to have them excised from his epitaph. That became his dying wish: that those words not outlive him.

Just go read it.

Now, on to the insensibility... paging Ross Douthat!

Ross Douthat lives up to his name in saying that liberals can't hope to actually, you know, help the poor.

This much can be said for Bill de Blasio’s inauguration, which featured a concentration of left-wing agitprop unseen since the last time Pete Seeger occupied a stage alone: If the waning years of Barack Obama’s presidency are going to be defined by a liberal crusade against income inequality, there’s no more fitting place to kick it off than New York City.  ...

... the new mayor’s political coalition also provides a clue as to why a comprehensive policy response may never actually be tried. In his primary upset, de Blasio enjoyed strong backing from the city’s college-educated upper middle class. He even did slightly better among voters making between $100,000 and $200,000 than he did among the poor.

In a way, this shows the potential breadth of populism’s appeal. But while upper-middle-class voters are happy to support higher taxes on 1 percenters — not least because they’re tired of trying to compete with them for schools and real estate — they don’t necessarily want a program that would require their own taxes to rise substantially.

And this is a problem for the populist left, because to build the kind of welfare state — European, Scandinavian — that seems to really level incomes, you need lots of tax dollars from the non-rich. Yet the current Democratic coalition has been built on a promise to never raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000 ... or maybe $400,000 ... or possibly $500,000, the threshold de Blasio chose.

See, liberals can't win because turning New York into Sweden would take taxing people who are only rich, instead of super-rich. And rich people who voted for de Blasio would never stand for that, because they certainly didn't notice he was liberal. Or something. Wasn't Douthat supposed to be one of those "reasonable Republicans"? Week by week, he seems to be auditioning for Fox and Friends.

But hey, he did acknowledge that those Scandinavian systems, the ones that create the happiest nations in the world, the ones with among the best quality of life, and the ones that regularly provide better education, and have more income mobility than the United States, are precisely those where income inequality is minimized. Not a coincidence.

Lets go inside and see what else there is to read this morning...

The New York Times editorial board is busy this Sunday, first up: the lopsided legal system.

In the justice system, prosecutors have the power to decide what criminal charges to bring, and since 97 percent of cases are resolved without a trial, those decisions are almost always the most important factor in the outcome. That is why it is so important for prosecutors to play fair, not just to win. This obligation is embodied in the Supreme Court’s 1963 holding in Brady v. Maryland, which required prosecutors to provide the defense with any exculpatory evidence that could materially affect a verdict or sentence. ...

The Brady problem is in many ways structural. Prosecutors have the task of deciding when a piece of evidence would be helpful to the defense. But since it is their job to believe in the defendant’s guilt, they have little incentive to turn over, say, a single piece of exculpatory evidence when they are sitting on what they see as a mountain of evidence proving guilt. The lack of professional consequences for failing to disclose exculpatory evidence only makes the breach of duty more likely. As Judge Kozinski wrote, “Some prosecutors don’t care about Brady because courts don’t make them care.”

So long as prosecuting attorney is a step toward higher office, there will be an unfailing incentive built into the system to keep conviction rates close to perfect, no matter how its done. Combine that with no consequences for overreach, and the pitiful budget given to public defenders, and there's a good reason why American prisons are so full.

Colin Robinson looks at how the changes in the publishing industry are making it hard on readers.

A range of related factors have brought this to a head. Start with the publishing companies: Overall book sales have been anemic in recent years, declining 6 percent in the first half of 2013 alone. But the profits of publishers have remained largely intact; in the same period only one of what were then still the “big six” trade houses reported a decline on its bottom line. This is partly because of the higher margins on e-books. But it has also been achieved by publishers cutting costs, especially for mid-list titles.

The “mid-list” in trade publishing parlance is a bit like the middle class in American politics: Anything below it is rarely mentioned in polite company. It comprises pretty much all new titles that are not potential blockbusters. But it’s the space where interesting things happen in the book world, where the obscure or the offbeat can spring to prominence, where new writers can make their mark.

As a decidedly mid-list author whose every novel is long out of print, I can tell you this isn't a new problem, but it's one that has accelerated in the last two decades to the point where writing has become a mirror of the income inequality found in the rest of the nation. And it's still getting worse.
Budgets have been trimmed in various ways: Author advances, except for the biggest names, have slumped sharply since the 2008 financial crash, declining by more than half, according to one recent survey. It’s hard to imagine that the quality of manuscripts from writers who have been forced either to eat less or write faster isn’t deteriorating. Meanwhile, spending on editing and promotion has also been pared away.
The last year I made my living from writing I did eight novels and over three dozen articles. At the end of that year, I was $5k in the hole and had to go find a "real job" again. I don't know how to fix publishing, but I can tell you that Aunt Jane would not find this system very sensible.

The New York Times editors are back again, holding a magnifying glass over Colorado.

On New Year’s Day, government-licensed recreational marijuana shops opened in Colorado, the first place in the world to regulate the drug “from seed to sale.” Later in 2014, marijuana retailers will open in Washington State. As public opinion shifts away from prohibition, these two states will serve as test cases for full-on legalization. Here’s what to watch for in the early stages of this experiment
No surprises on the "watch for" list, but you can be sure plenty of other states will be watching.

George Johnson looks at why "cancer" seems to be the word we're all hearing much too often.

Half a century ago, the story goes, a person was far more likely to die from heart disease. Now cancer is on the verge of overtaking it as the No. 1 cause of death.

...Cancer is, by far, the harder problem — a condition deeply ingrained in the nature of evolution and multicellular life. Given that obstacle, cancer researchers are fighting and even winning smaller battles: reducing the death toll from childhood cancers and preventing — and sometimes curing — cancers that strike people in their prime. But when it comes to diseases of the elderly, there can be no decisive victory. This is, in the end, a zero-sum game.

The rhetoric about the war on cancer implies that with enough money and determination, science might reduce cancer mortality as dramatically as it has with other leading killers — one more notch in medicine’s belt. But what, then, would we die from? Heart disease and cancer are primarily diseases of aging. Fewer people succumbing to one means more people living long enough to die from the other.

Which may be the most depressing menu choice in the history of ever.

Kathleen Parker warns that Republicans are on the brink of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

If you happen to be one of those who enjoy politics as a blood sport, 2014’s midterm election promises to be a carnival of gore.

And that’s just in the Republican Party.

Democrats must be giddy.

After ending 2013 with tails tucked, thanks to a series of errors, blunders, glitches and misstatements of true-ish-ness, Democrats were poised to lose control of the Senate. Instead, tea party Republicans seem bent on helping Democrats win.

The formula is familiar by now: Republicans who aren’t conservative enough, meaning they might deign to work with Democrats, are targeted for primary challenges by folks who often couldn’t win a staring contest, much less a statewide election.

Funny how problems with a web site is ending the year with blunders, errors, etc. while there's no mention of the shut down fiasco that happened literally days earlier. I suppose even the most "sensible" Republican has a limited memory.

Dana Milbank seems amused that John Roberts is shaking the begging bowl.

Forgive me for not feeling charitable toward John Roberts’s Tiny Tim routine this holiday season.

The chief justice invoked both Scrooge’s ghosts and George Bailey’s guardian angel in the first sentence of his annual report on the federal judiciary, released on New Year’s Eve, in which he begged for more money for the courts. “Both ‘A Christmas Carol’ and ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ have happy endings,” he wrote. “We are encouraged that the story of funding for the Federal Judiciary — though perhaps not as gripping a tale — will too.”

...his conservative majority has made the Roberts Court the most pro-business court since the 1930s, and he and his fellow justices have done a great deal to expand the rights of the wealthy and the powerful — most notably by allowing them to spend unlimited sums to purchase lawmakers and to sway elections. The wealthy and corporate interests have responded by buying a Congress determined to shrink government and to weaken its reach — including that of the courts.

This is the consequence of Roberts’s judicial philosophy. This, Mr. Chief Justice, is what limited government looks like..

And then the ghost pushed Scrooge into the grave and shoveled in the dirt.

Jane Goodall laments the passing of the wolves in a photo essay.

Originally posted to Devil's Tower on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 07:56 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  (Gay) Pride and (Bigoted) Prejudice (24+ / 0-)

    Bruni, and then poor Ross and Kathleen. Yes, I tell my students that using last names in history writing, beside being convention, shows respect, while, like Lady Katherine de Bourg, I show the two other writers none.

    •  LOL n/t (7+ / 0-)

      English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

      by Youffraita on Sat Jan 04, 2014 at 11:16:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Lament of the Moderate (13+ / 0-)

      is what I call Kathleen Parker's piece. Watching a staunch, respectable (ahem) conservative like Cornyn have to spend money to fend off shock jock Stockman is kind of fun, I admit.

      Rep. Steve Stockman — a Republican primary challenger to Sen. John Cornyn of Texas — might be the closest thing in this election year to a middle finger running for the U.S. Senate by itself.

      “If babies had guns they wouldn’t be aborted,” says a Stockman campaign bumper sticker.

      “The best gun lubricant around,” read a posting on Stockman’s campaign Twitter feed. It was accompanied by a photo of an assault rifle and a spray can marked “Liberal Tears.”

      “For every gift of $10 you make right now,” Stockman promised on his Web site, “I’ll send you one of my Obama Barf Bags.”

      Stockman is polling 44 points behind Cornyn and has yet to meet with any local Tea Party groups, has few endorsements (one from a dead guy, apparently) and some think he might be doing it just to pay off the $163,000 in debt he incurred during the House campaign.
      Go figure.

      Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

      by skohayes on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:19:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A lot of this rejection of Stockman (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mayfly, skohayes

        has to do with, I believe, the power John Cornyn wields in the senate - not to mention the man's conservative credentials built up over the past decade of office-holding.  Why trade in a powerful, genuine conservative for a guy who was voted out of office by his own constituents after his first term in the house, only to return when his constituents' lunacy had grown even more pronounced?  A newly-minted senator obviously will not have the power and connections of a senator who has been working on solidifying both for more than a decade.

        "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

        by SueDe on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 06:52:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  One Marine's Dying Wish (7+ / 0-)

    is the title of this Frank Bruni NY Times column which I have borrowed for this post which I strongly request you take the time to read.


    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 03:18:50 AM PST

    •  Ken - that link didn't work (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I hope this one does. I will probably write another diary honoring Sgt. Faulkner along with a DIY for service members discharged for being gay - or thought to be gay - later today.

      Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

      by llbear on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:45:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Kathleen Parker is a laugh riot... (11+ / 0-)

    when she's trying to be funny:

    ...Democrats, are targeted for primary challenges by folks who often couldn’t win a staring contest, much less a statewide election.
    and when she's seriously trying to be serious:
    Despite having tailwinds at their back, Republicans stand to lose to proud purists while Democrats, feet up, admire the shine on their shoes. To put it kindly, pride in losing does little to contradict Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s observation that the GOP needs to “stop being the stupid party.”
    Is she calling the tea party wing/extreme right of the GOP proud purists?  Really?  Heeeeheeeee cackle cackle.  

    Which leads me to a submission for the photo caption:

    "Mr. Bennet!  How dare you call me a proud purist."

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:07:46 AM PST

  •  Tech innovator attacked by NSA & corporations (9+ / 0-)

    I had heard about this story and read a little about it

    this man has been charged with the largest copywrite suite in US history

    Senator Dodd, now lobbyist Dodd, helped various content providers, like Motion Pictures association to go after this guy

    house raided by 80 officers, etc.

    NSA, 5 eyes spying on him. He lives in New Zealand

    a must watch video about what could be done with spy information on any one of us

    there is an ad in the front

  •  the story I found most profound this morning.... (8+ / 0-)

    was a news story in the New York Times section on Media and Advertising.  They point out that the minute a "gun writer" provides any nuance at all in the laws governing firearms, they are silenced by the gun publication and entertainment industry, which is funded by gun manufacturers' advertisements.

    The other interesting piece today is the in depth reporting of a Hawaiian legislator on this vote for or against GMOs in Hawaii.   It is a long article in which a legislator reads the science, consults experts and reaches his own conclusions.  I recommend folks read this article as well.  In some ways it is the the flip side of the gun debate.  Here at Daily Kos we have our own field political correctness- not to the point where we shut down all debate, but such strong opinions on some subjects that we reject seeking the story from all sides.

    You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

    by murrayewv on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 04:44:47 AM PST

    •  This happens frequently and not just (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MrJersey, murrayewv

      in the gun industry. It was done to Dan Rather. They're trying to do it to Rachel Maddow.

      Ethically, there should be a law where a fired journalist can demand public disclosure of details when they're let go. In this case, that would be the names and correspondence of advertisers who forced him out.

      "What could BPossibly go wrong??" -RLMiller "God is just pretend." - eru

      by nosleep4u on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:42:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Josh Marshall has a good piece here (14+ / 0-)
    Meet Terry Rupe ...
    "I don't have any use for the federal government," Rupe said, even though his household's $13,000 yearly income comes exclusively from Washington. "It's a bunch of liars, crooks, and thieves, and they've never done anything for me. I'm not ungrateful, but I don't have much faith in this health care law. Do I think it's going to work? No. Do I think it's going to bankrupt the country? Yes."

    I expect Terry will continue to rant against Mexicans, blacks, Africans and all manner of racial freeloaders and vote for Mitch McConnell to keep them in line. I also think he'll be insured, which is the fundamental good in itself. And I think it will quickly become impossible to turn back the clock on the millions of who have care because of Obamacare and the tens of millions who have dramatically improved care (pre-existing conditions, lifetime limits, etc.) because of it. And Terry will become part of the expanding Obamacare constituency which will make it impossible to repeal even as he rages against Obama's socialism and Obamacare. This shouldn't surprise us. It's the world we already live in with regards to Medicare when the GOP's increasing number of older voters demand the government keep its hands off their Medicare.

    Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

    by skohayes on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:09:47 AM PST

  •  cold of winter.... :\ (7+ / 0-)

    Cartoonist Charles Brubaker is lampooning lapsed Kossack Ted Rall over at his Tumblr site. This is probably a dead issue, but the put-downs are funny.

    I thought about doing something like this with Eric Allie, but I thought that he wasn't worth the effort....

    I wonder how much Climate Change is going to take a beating in public opinion because of that stupid stuck boat in Antarctica and this big cold snap. "It just gotta be a hoax unless it's 100% intuitive and directly happening to me!" Of course, most of them will be conveniently silent when things are hotter and drier than ever next summer....

    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:12:35 AM PST

  •  1992! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "Jenny Ondioline" by Stereolab and "Hydro" by Unrest.

    Coincidence? I think...


    "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

    by Stude Dude on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:18:30 AM PST

  •  If only Mitt Romney had won.......well he didn't.. (5+ / 0-)

    and we're awaiting the GOP mid-course correction....yep Kathleen...there will be blood.

  •  Ross Donthat is the patron saint of (0+ / 0-)

    Healing...Laughter is the best medicine!

  •  I hope that every Veteran who is gay reads about (5+ / 0-)
    Marine Sergeant Hal Faulkner.
    If you or anyone you know were discharged with a less than honorable status because of sexual orientation - whether that was the stated reason or not - read this and honor Hal Faulkner by taking action to upgrade your status.

    Much thanks to Frank Bruni and the New York Times for writing about it, to OUTSERVE SLDN {Service Members Legal Defense Network} for serving as Hal's legal counsel, and to Sergeant Hal Faulkner for both of your tours of duty. Sergeant, the quality of your service defines the word Honorable. As Testvet would say, "SALUTE !"

    Those who fought the war in Afghanistan won it. Get them out of Afghanistan NOW . . . It's long past time. The time has come to repair this country and care for its' veterans.

    by llbear on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:38:47 AM PST

  •  Douthat is classic projection, again. (11+ / 0-)

    and a lazy attempt it is, indeed. The fiction that the (of course 100% liberal) upper middle class of New York is jealous of the super rich, thus motivating the fever dream class war between them is symptomatic of the Antoinette wing of Republicans as they retreat further into their gated world.
    Just because rich conservatives are immorally selfish and utterly without empathy does not mean that those with a bit less money are merely selfish-bastards-in-waiting. This lazy assumption is everywhere in RW opinionating, and it needs to be called out for what it is, a conflation of economic class with personal classlessness.

    Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

    by kamarvt on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 05:40:29 AM PST

  •  Pay higher taxes for a better city? Never! (nt) (3+ / 0-)
    •  Already pay high taxes for NYC (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim Riggs, Swisstype

      For those of us happy enough to live here, we already pay the highest or second-highest taxes in the country. Overall, upper income New Yorkers have a tax burden higher than Denmark or Sweden, thanks to state taxes that reach 12.5%, city taxes of 3.6% (not to mention sales tax of 8.875%). And instead of the picture of Donald Trump cackling over piles of gold while the poor starve, we do things with these taxes like fund the most expensive per-pupil school system in the country (not that we get to see much for our money).

      So, thanks for the advice on NYC tax policy. Hope you are voting for your own taxes to rise accordingly.

      •  If you aren't for raising other people's taxes... (0+ / 0-)

        you must be a communist.

        I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

        by Jim Riggs on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 06:52:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  My taxes are too damn low!! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        So, yup I would vote to raise them.  Unfortunately, as a resident of Virginia it is unlikely I'll get the chance even though we sure could use the revenue for trivial things like schools and roads.

      •  smallest violin (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        My point was that the Douthat dismisses the possibility that many well off New Yorkers voted for DeBlasio with full knowledge that his policies might cause their taxes to go up. It's not always best to vote for the guy who promises to cut your taxes (see Bush, George W).

        I wasn't giving advice, but thanks for the lecture on your terrible tax burden. I'm sorry you have the misfortune to be rich in New York City. Must be terrible for you.

        •  You're right (0+ / 0-)

          Having the about the highest tax burden in the western world is a privilege. Good to know we can count on wise souls such as yourself to stand up for raising it yet higher.

          BTW—since you have not got the faintest idea of what my personal economic circumstances are, I would suggest that actual wisdom would consist in keeping such total ignorance very, very quiet, lest proclaiming same might make you appear to be very, very foolish. Sorry if this advice came too late.

          •  what a charmer you are (0+ / 0-)

            Now where did I get the idea that you might be one of the "upper income New Yorkers" you referred to as "we"?

            For those of us happy enough to live here, we already pay the highest or second-highest taxes in the country. Overall, upper income New Yorkers have a tax burden higher than Denmark or Sweden, thanks to state taxes that reach 12.5%, city taxes of 3.6% (not to mention sales tax of 8.875%). And instead of the picture of Donald Trump cackling over piles of gold while the poor starve, we do things with these taxes like fund the most expensive per-pupil school system in the country (not that we get to see much for our money).
            Such a foolish assumption. I apologize.
  •  The Swedish Model (2+ / 0-)

    Already the government has reduced various early-retirement plans. The unemployed used to be able to collect benefits for up to four years. Now it is two.
    Students are next up for cutbacks, most intended to get them in the work force faster. Currently, students are entitled to six years of stipends, about $990 a month, to complete a five-year degree which, of course, is free. Many of them take even longer to finish, taking breaks to travel and for internships before and during their studies.
    In trying to reduce the welfare rolls, the government is … proposing cuts to welfare grants for those under 30 and stricter reviews to make sure that such recipients are steered into jobs or educational programs before they get comfortable on government benefits.
    Officials have also begun to question the large number of people who are receiving lifetime disability checks. About 240,000 people — roughly 9 percent of the potential work force — have lifetime disability status; about 33,500 of them are under 40. The government has proposed ending that status for those under 40, unless they have a mental or physical condition that is so severe that it keeps them from working.
  •  anecdotal evident about Sweden (8+ / 0-)

    One of my best friends from my school days in New Hampshire actually emigrated to Sweden.  He married a Swedish woman, helped raise two Swedish stepchildren, bought a house in Gothenberg and a cottage in the Swedish countryside, and generally has lived a very happy and prosperous life.  He pays high taxes, but that definitely has not made his life a living hell.  Indeed, he lives better than most of our contemporaries who stayed in the United States.

    That's just anecdotal evidence based on one especially fortunate man's story, but it still indicates that Sweden may not be as much of a cautionary example as Ross Douthat believes.

    If you look at Sweden in general, it has one of the world's highest standards of living, and it is home to more than its share of well-known global corporations.

    •  Yeah, but even upper middle class liberals (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      will be hard pressed to give up their SUV's, summer vacations at the beach (the nice resorts), expensive dinners out, McMansions, foreign cars, etc.. to fund higher taxes to give money to the poor.  

      Rich liberals are just as big a tax cheats and white collar criminals as rich republicans.  I don't see Barbra Streisand, Alec Baldwin, and Sean Penn giving all their money to the poor.  Al Gore doesn't give climate speeches for free.  And, don't even get me started about the Clintons (I know, they aren't real liberals).

      Liberals in the $100-200,000 a year range still drive SUVs and live in McMansions, just like their republican friends - and co-workers.  They vote dutifully for the Democrat, so long as they aren't too "liberal".  They talk a good game, maybe have a little more verbally expressed compassion for the less fortunate, and are probably a little more self-conscious about their advantages, but in the end, they will fight just as hard to keep from having to give them away.

      i didn't see too many of this demographic hanging out at the parks with Occupy Wall Street.  Most of the liberals who actually do anything for the cause are either the unemployed, the poor and/or the otherwise down and out, or kids who have nothing to lose.

      Remember, this is a City that has been governed for the better part of two decades by moderate republican mayors.  I believe de Blasio is an aberration, not a a symbol of some shift in public opinion.  Weiner made de Blasio possible.  New Yorkers didn;t just wake up one day and decide to tax themselves into oblivion.  When and if de Blasio actually tries to implement his policies, I think he's in for a BIG backlash, and could just make it easier for the next moderate republican to win back City Hall.

      •  There's a double standard there (5+ / 0-)

        that plays right in the right's hands, that you're a hypocrite if you advocate for the poor or middle class and don't give away your fortune.

        I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

        by CFAmick on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:14:22 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Hey, that's us you're talking about (7+ / 0-)

        My husband and I.  

        He still rides the city buses everywhere he can.  Our cars are a 1997 Honda and a 1998 Toyota.  I can't stand the beach - we usually vacation by using Couch Surfing whenever we can.

        He was standing with Occupy Athens (and when he was visiting Savannah for a conference, with Occupy Savannah.)  Heck, he even visits city hall meetings.  I don't join him because his work hours are more flexible than mine (life of a software developer...)

        We fight for the 99% (which we are still a part of) because just a few years ago we were part of the bottom 20% and we've seen our friends and family struggle.  We remember.

        The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

        by catwho on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:22:15 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Swedes have all that stuff too (5+ / 0-)

        Oh, Swedes have all that stuff too, except maybe for the fancy foreign cars.  Volvos are made right there in Sweden, so if you live in Sweden and you drive a Volvo, your ride is not foreign.  

        Oh, and Swedes generally don't live in McMansions either.  They live in well-built and nicely decorated homes, but those homes are not of McMansion size.  Since rmp690's diatribe is ostensibly about New York City, I will point out in passing that even the rich people in New York City don't live in such huge dwellings either.  

        •  Size and homogeneity and place (0+ / 0-)

          First it is much simpler to have a much more singular purpose when your society is that homogenous.  The Scandinavians are limited in number as well as language.  Japan is very similar in makeup of citizens. The United States is 30 times larger and a mantra of the left is that diversity is our strength.  Well the Japanese and the Germans weren't afraid of our diversity in  WWII.  
          The welfare state exists in these countries because it can to an extent and even now they are having to limit the extent and duration of certain benefits.  
          I simply cannot understand why in the world any body would want a "welfare"  state here  in  the United States. I get the whole happiness,  education,  health-care etc,  but I seem to remember that the US has led innovation for over a century and continues.  We are the leader in advanced manufacturing.  These capabilities propel jobs and wages and while I know you will get all union and disparity and inequality on this reply,  those countries exist today due to the US.  Sweden would be speaking German  today if not for the allies and the US.  Our innovation and generosity have allowed most of western Europe to prosper beyond their own capabilities.  For those who want a welfare state,  it looks like you may get your wish in NY and maybe even CA. I am perfectly happy with those that desire that lifestyle to all emigrate there and then let's see how it works.  Leave me alone in the Midwest while all of our ne'erdowells move to your states.  

  •  Worth considering is Stephen Hopgood's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    "The end of human rights":

    The evidence is all around us. Authoritarian pushback against human rights in China raises the prospect of a new superpower utterly opposed to the hitherto dominant language of universal rights. And Russia, if anything, outdoes China, with Vladimir Putin manipulating his citizens’ legitimate aspirations for even basic freedoms. From the introduction of sharia law in Brunei to the consolidation of a murderous military regime in Egypt (where the alternative was the ultra-con­servative Muslim Brotherhood), we see examples everywhere of resistance to human rights, in practice and in principle.
    There follows a discussion of the impact of multipolarity and how it has been more than a century since the world has experienced true multipolarity and power is shifting to Asia with a very different cultural heritage with regard to the issue. He makes the point that emerging powers have very mixed records in human rights and how the U.S. has proved "a fair-weather friend for human rights abroad and is now far more interested in China and its own export markets in Asia and the Pacific" on the subject. In particular I think the point about how many new powers view the existing "rules" as not written by them and how the old powers had a history of making exceptions for themselves while insisting they follow such rules.

    On the last, the reaction in India to the almost completely ignored "incident" with their consul in New York is significant. While the U.S. stands on its wage laws and strict interpretation of Vienna Conventions India is livid over the issue of reciprocity. The Indian press, and most officials and politicians, note the U.S. consuls in India were granted full immunity and likely have violated Indian law bearing serious prison time. The author of that piece notes with respect to their consul, with my emphasis:

    Her arrest and treatment was a full-frontal assault on the authority and dignity of the state of India. The whole point of both Vienna conventions, distilling centuries of experience among international political actors, is to prevent local authorities from fabricating false charges against accredited representatives of foreign governments.

    But I forget. The US is uniquely virtuous, exceptional and wise. All others are venal and must be stopped from maliciously interfering with resident US officials, even killers among them. The Vienna Convention must be upheld for US diplomats abroad but shelved for foreign diplomats in the US.

    That whole point of immunity, even if the official is a true wretch, law so differs that anyone can be caught up somewhere. Consider; should our consul in Saudi Arabia be fully subject to the laws there we consider very regressive, perhaps lose a head? Should our consul, speaking informally to visitors about gay rights be subject to the Russian law in which even that is a crime now? Should our consul in India be stripped, jailed and charged with having violated India's colonial heritage anti gay law and face 30 years in prison for having a same sex "companion" (India is reviewing all our people's visa applications) as one Indian politician suggested might be a possible "reciprocity" action?

    The U.S. officials and their families now have new IDs and are being given a hard look for possible prosecution under Indian law. As an aside, I have to note most in this country are absolutely clueless about the issues of diplomatic immunity and why it exists. That is partly a consequence of our size and long "superpower" status. It is also I think a bit of the "exceptionalism" illness that we have.

    So, in more ways than just human rights

    We are waking from the European dream of one world under global, secular law. The result may be a reinvigorated universal church. Or it may be parallel and permanent zones of freedom and zones of repression, and a global middle class seeking desperately to move themselves, or at least their children, from one to another.
    Democracy, even international state's "votes," does have consequence.

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 06:16:11 AM PST

  •  Hey! I saw Pete Seeger at Farm Aid this fall, (14+ / 0-)

    And he had all 25,000 of us on our feet and in tears. And at 92 years of age, he rocked. Young, old, rich or poor, we were all thrilled to see and hear him. I think Russ picked the wrong icon to try to vilify.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 06:29:39 AM PST

  •  Making New York City into Sweden (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    may not b e as great as we tend to think.  Sweden has experienced the largest growth in income inequality of all 34 OECD countries. Granted Sweden started from a place of far greater income equality than most countries and even a reduced Swedish welfare state is generous by U.S. standards. But, even in the heartland of Social Democracy, the forces of corporate wealth are effective in preserving their profits and couldn't care less about human suffering and social injustice.

  •  Douthat living up to his name..... don't you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    mean Asshat?

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 06:46:40 AM PST

  •  equality (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tb mare, flavor411, Laconic Lib

    Sadly, we are returning to those inglorious years before trust busting--we are returning to those years of non unionized labor abuse with government laissez-faire.  Also returning, whoring pundits proud to be bigoted and uncaring.  This will end when unions re-emerge from their funk and go militant.  Strikes and disruption succeed against big money--nothing else.  Douthat and Brooks know this, but money makes their world go round.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 07:16:42 AM PST

    •  Strikes might not work as well as they used to (0+ / 0-)

      See the Boeing situation in Seattle this week.
      Boeing blackmailed their workers by threatening to leave town.
      Without political power and government backing they are at a disadvantage because corporations own our government and write the laws to benefit themselves.

      Unions might need to emphasis a more political route, voter registration and education, joining forces with non-union organizations, creating PACs etc. to combat the corporate dominance of our government.

      •  except (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Right now, Boeing is almost all in Seattle--a strike now destroys them.

        Actions speak louder than petitions.

        by melvynny on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 11:47:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  disadvantage inherent in unions (0+ / 0-)

        The union is set as an adversary of company management but the union needs the company to do well more than the management does.

        Strikes hurt the company, but in hurting the company they hurt themselves as well. As long as UE remains high and management is focused on short-term profits, it's an impossible situation.

  •  We're in the 10% now, not the 1%, but (7+ / 0-)

    ... I'd totally pay an extra chuck of taxes every pay check if it meant that I wouldn't get panhandled every time I went downtown because the homeless had a shelter, adequate meals, and a support system to help them get back on track.

    I'd happily pay another percent or two so that children in my local school system could have art and music classes again, and that the teachers in the school system would not face dwindling pensions and political maneuverings just for trying to do their jobs.

    I'd gladly heft another $50 a week so that the city was properly funded, freeing police officers from having to do speed traps to self-fund and allowing them to focus on actual criminal cases instead.  (Although having the head of the traffic division's mother in law live next door has made our neighborhood nice and crime free.)

    The problem with Republicans is that they assume that everyone else is as greedy and stingy as they are.

    The Cake is a lie. In Pie there is Truth. ~ Fordmandalay

    by catwho on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 08:17:02 AM PST

  •  There's plenty of room to tax the super rich (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mark Sumner

    before even worrying about the pretty rich, the mildly, rich, and then way, way, way down the list is the upper middle class.

    It's remarkable that people think about class as if there are firm income bracket numbers and you go straight from being upper-middle class, earning $250k, to $201k and now you're an upper-class, rich, master of the universe. Even if income was the prime determinant of class (and it's not), the income levels of people whom other rich people would identify as wealthy or upper class really starts at about $1 million per year. Simply being an orthodontist, a lawyer, or even a low-level stock broker doesn't cut it. You don't have a Rolls Royce pick you up and walk around in your Daddy Warbucks tuxedo. You're just upper middle class...if you're lucky.  

    Just doing my part to piss off right wing nuts, one smart ass comment at a time.

    by tekno2600 on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 10:51:01 AM PST

  •  Ross Douchbag (0+ / 0-)

    Never fails us, does he?

    What stronger breast-plate than a heart untainted! Thrice is he arm'd, that hath his quarrel just; And he but naked, though lock'd up in steel, Whose conscience with injustice is corrupted. Henry VI Part II Act 3 Scene 2

    by TerryDarc on Sun Jan 05, 2014 at 03:09:34 PM PST

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