Roger Ebert reviews Surviving Progress:
"Surviving Progress," a bone-chilling new documentary, argues that the world has financed an unsustainable growth rate by essentially encouraging whole nations to take out unpayable mortgages on their own futures. Brazil is given as an example. Enormous loans are given to the nation, which cannot meet the payments, and is then encouraged to liquefy its own natural assets ? the rainforests. When the assets are gone, the wealth will have been taken out in the same process, and corporations will leave behind a drained nation and move on to another loan customer. [...]Just replace lumber with coal and Brazil with Appalachia and the analogy is equally apt.
"Surviving Progress" is a bright, entertaining (!), coherent argument in favor of these principles I have simplified so briefly. It's self-evident and tells the truth. It is an irony that the actual victims of the process are often those most in support of it. Think of the opposition to "tree huggers." In Brazil, they are seen as a cause of unemployment in the lumber and logging industries. Actually, they are opposed to the nation essentially tearing its wealth out of the ground and shipping it overseas, resulting not only in unemployment but in devastation.
Richard Trumka marching on Wall Street in 2010 (Mike Segar/Reuters)
With the Securities and Exchange Commission launching an investigation into JPMorgan's accounting practices, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said that the nation's biggest bank's $2 billion in trading losses, show "that financial regulation is more needed now than it ever was."
And [Jamie Dimon] been one of the chief opponents trying to lobby against it, dilute all the stuff in the Dodd-Frank bill, to try to dilute it, but I think every American knows that we need Wall Street reform. The lack of Wall Street regulation is what got us to the mess that we came to, when almost totally disrupted our economy.Financial reform has been a key labor movement priority, prominently mentioned in Trumka's statement when the AFL-CIO endorsed Barack Obama for reelection. Trumka has lots of company in pointing out that JPMorgan's massive losses "surely [don't] help" the credibility of CEO Jamie Dimon. But, according to the New York Times, Dimon "refused to concede that the losses necessitated a stronger regulatory framework." While the SEC investigation won't create stronger regulations, it may show the value of some of the regulations Dimon has fought against in the past.
So I think him losing money shows, one, he isn't infallible, two, that he doesn't really understand the market and no one else does, either, because it's so fickle about stuff, and, three, that without regulations, they will lead us off a cliff, just like they tried to the last time, that we must have Wall Street in check to restore the balance between the financial economy and the real economy
Also in his appearance on Bloomberg TV's Political Capital with Al Hunt, Trumka addressed questions about whether unions will contribute financially to the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, saying, "I think labor will do some help. I think it won't be as much as it was in the past."
Thursday GetEQUAL, the headline-making, pro-equality social justice advocates staged a peaceful, ardent protest near the White House to urge President Obama to sign an Executive Order to ban workplace discrimination by fed contractors.[...]
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Allow me one more point on this whole Romney bullying thing. If you haven't read my previous post on it, that's here, but today I have a piece on CNN.com arguing that this was a real missed opportunity for Romney. Here's the key passage:
A candidate who has struggled with seeming human, as Mitt Romney has, could have done himself a favor by using this as an opportunity to show a little more of himself. He could have said: Yes, it happened. It was stupid and cruel. I wish I could go back and undo it. But part of growing up is realizing where you failed when you were young, and learning from your mistakes so you can become a better person.
Most importantly, Romney could have said something that indicated he had a conception of how horrible the assault must have been for John Lauber, the victim. His only mention of Lauber, who died in 2004, was to say "I had no idea what that individual's sexual orientation might be."
By referring to Lauber as "that individual" he makes Lauber a nameless figure, further distancing himself from the incident. Which is exactly the opposite of what he should have done. After all, it's the quality of empathy -- being able to see things from someone else's perspective and feel what they feel -- that Romney has had trouble convincing voters he possesses.
Few people could in fairness say that the incident from Romney's youth proves that today he's a terrible person. But what would really help is if Romney were to explain how youthful misdeeds, when you have the opportunity to reflect on them and understand who you were and why you fell short, can make you a better person. He may have closed off that path by saying he didn't remember the incident, but surely there'd be some way for Romney to use this as an occasion to communicate that he is capable of empathy. Or maybe not.
In the wake of President Obama's endorsement of marriage equality, right-wing media have criticized same-sex marriage by arguing that the children of heterosexual marriages fare better "economically, educationally, and emotionally" than children of same-sex partnerships. However, studies have shown that the "adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation."
FRC's Perkins: "The Evidence Is Overwhelming" That "Children Do Best With A Mom And A Dad." During the May 10 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, Family Research Council (FRC) president Tony Perkins claimed, "We make policy based on what's best for society as a whole. The evidence is overwhelming. Children do best with a mom and a dad. They do best economically, educationally, and emotionally." [MSNBC, Hardball, 5/10/12, via Media Matters]
Wash. Times' Kuhner: Same-Sex Couples Lack "The Balance And Harmony Necessary For The Healthy Development Of Children. In his May 10 Washington Times column, Jeffrey Kuhner wrote:
This is nonsense. Most Americans are neither intolerant nor bigoted. Rather, they understand that marriage is the basic institution of society. For thousands of years in the West, it has had a privileged role. Marriage solidifies the bonds between a man and a woman, laying the foundation for raising children in stable families. It is the glue that binds a functioning, viable social order. Marriage is the natural unit that enables society to perpetuate itself from one generation to the next. This is not hate; it's common sense.
Secular liberals are engaged in social engineering. They are fostering the myth that women and men are the same and interchangeable. According to Mr. Obama, a child needs two committed and loving parents - regardless of their gender. This is fantasy. A child needs a committed mother and father. Women and men are profoundly different; they have distinct natures, with unique biological, emotional and psychological characteristics. It is the fusion of these two divergent genders that provides the balance and harmony necessary for the healthy development of children. Hence, same-sex "marriage" is an oxymoron. It is akin to redefining gravity: an act of hubris destined to fail. [The Washington Times, 5/10/12]
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute Study: "Children Raised By Gay And Lesbian Parents Fare Comparably To Those Raised By Heterosexuals." A March 2006 study conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute found:
Against a backdrop of increasing public acceptance, social science research concludes that children reared by gay and lesbian parents fare comparably to those of children raised by heterosexuals on a range of measures of social and psychological adjustment.
The report further found that "Studies on gay and lesbian parenting support the position that children are not disadvantaged" by being raised by gay and lesbian parents. [Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 3/1/06]
APA: "There Is No Scientific Evidence That Parenting Effectiveness Is Related To Parental Sexual Orientation." A study conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA) in July 2004 concluded that "there is no scientific evidence that parenting effectiveness is related to parental sexual orientation: lesbian and gay parents are as likely as heterosexual parents to provide supportive and healthy environments for their children." [APA, 7/30/04]
APA: "Psychological Well-Being Of Children Is Unrelated To Parental Sexual Orientation." From the same 2004 APA study: "[R]esearch has shown that the adjustment, development, and psychological well-being of children is unrelated to parental sexual orientation and that the children of lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those of heterosexual parents to flourish." [APA, 7/30/04]
American Academy Of Pediatrics: Children Of Same-Sex Couples Are "More Tolerant Of Diversity And More Nurturing Toward Younger Children" Than Those Of Heterosexual Couples. From a February 1, 2002, American Academy of Pediatrics report:
[G]rowing up with parents who are lesbian or gay may confer some advantages to children. They have been described as more tolerant of diversity and more nurturing toward younger children than children whose parents are heterosexual. [American Academy of Pediatrics, 2/1/02]
Author Of Parenting Study: Children Raised In Lesbian Families Have "Higher Levels Of [Psychological] Competency And Lower Levels Of Behavioral Problems." According to Dr. Nanette Gartrell, co-author of the National Longitudinal Lesbian Family Study:
The authors found that children raised by lesbian mothers -- whether the mother was partnered or single -- scored very similarly to children raised by heterosexual parents on measures of development and social behavior. These findings were expected, the authors said; however, they were surprised to discover that children in lesbian homes scored higher than kids in straight families on some psychological measures of self-esteem and confidence, did better academically and were less likely to have behavioral problems, such as rule-breaking and aggression.
"We simply expected to find no difference in psychological adjustment between adolescents reared in lesbian families and the normative sample of age-matched controls," says Gartrell. "I was surprised to find that on some measures we found higher levels of [psychological] competency and lower levels of behavioral problems. It wasn't something I anticipated." [Time Magazine, 6/7/10]
Psychologist Abbie Goldberg: Gay Parents "Tend To Be More Motivated, More Committed Than Heterosexual Parents." According to Clark University psychologist Abbie Goldberg, who studies LGBT parenting, gay couples "tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents." From a January 15 Live Science article:
Gay parents "tend to be more motivated, more committed than heterosexual parents on average, because they chose to be parents," said Abbie Goldberg, a psychologist at Clark University in Massachusetts who researches gay and lesbian parenting. Gays and lesbians rarely become parents by accident, compared with an almost 50 percent accidental pregnancy rate among heterosexuals, Goldberg said. "That translates to greater commitment on average and more involvement."
The Life Sciences article went on to say that "while research indicates that kids of gay parents show few differences in achievement, mental health, social functioning and other measures, these kids may have the advantage of open-mindedness, tolerance and role models for equitable relationships, according to some research. Not only that, but gays and lesbians are likely to provide homes for difficult-to-place children in the foster system, studies show. "[Life Science, 1/15/12]
Eric Fehrnstrom (The Shawmut Group)Mitt Romney's credentials as a bully made a big splash Thursday. In a typical display of what Kossack AlyoshaKaramazov calls "Romnesia," the all-but-official presidential nominee conveniently couldn't remember the incident in which, aided by some of his pals, he attacked a gay student at his prep school and, while others held the boy to ground, whacked off his non-conformist long hair because "he can?t look like that."
That was in no way the only instance of what Romney called "pranks" and for which he gave one of those patented sorry-if-anybody-got-offended nopologies after the story grew legs Thursday. Unlike those days half a century ago, however, Romney has to farm out his bullying now.
He's chosen well in Eric Fehrnstrom, a trusted aide without an official title who has been on Romney's team since he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002. Fehrnstrom authored what is arguably the chief faux pas of the campaign so far, the "Etch-a-Sketch" remark made after the Illinois primary. Fehrnstrom is at the top of the campaign's high command. He is also Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's top strategist.
A former reporter for the right-wing Boston Herald, he knows how to bully and he's not shy about it:
"The Herald was like the schoolyard bully," Howie Carr, the legendary Boston brawler who was the paper's top columnist and animating spirit, told me. "We were all about finding people and kicking them when they were down. And then we'd laugh about it." [...]Ducks, indeed. Carr mentored Fehrnstrom in his first days in the 1980s as a political reporter. Carr was also the author of a May 2 column filled with racist slurs attacking Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat who is challenging Scott Brown for his Senate seat. Brown-Fehrnstrom-Carr. Coincidence? Of course.
Fehrnstrom saved his cheap shots for smaller-time Massachusetts pols. When a political activist and gadfly named Althea Garrison was elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, the fact that she was transgender was an open secret in Boston political circles. But Fehrnstrom was the first one to put that information into print?"I can remember his glee when he found the birth certificate," says former Herald reporter Robert Connolly?thus bringing a swift end to Garrison's future on Beacon Hill. [...]
"We political writers...were in fact a sort of underworld mob unto ourselves," Fehrnstrom later recalled in a 1999 essay about his journalism career that he wrote for Boston magazine. "We figured most pols were overdue in their accounts to the devil anyway." He added: "In my trade, politics was never personal. Hell, people were rarely people?they were ducks in a shooting gallery."
Soon after joining Romney's team a decade ago, Fehrnstrom showed the kind of guy he is by chest-bumping one of the then-governor's leading critics in a public confrontation that led a local cable news producer to intervene and separate the two men. Showing what kind of guy Romney is, he not only didn't fire or discipline Fehrnstrom, he also chastised a reporter for the Boston Globe who had written that Romney wasn't going to reprimand his aide. Fehrnstrom henceforth shielded Romney from the press, urging him not to answer questions. Romney literally fled when he ran into reporters casually. No doubt following Fehrnstrom's advice.
Good advice, in fact, since Romney tends to giggle when he gets caught off-guard by a question and prepares to tell another of his growing pile of lies.
In addition to permanently attaching "Etch-a-Sketch" to his boss, Fehrnstrom has also engaged in what some call "juvenile" behavior on Twitter, including setting up a fake account in which he attacked one of Scott Brown's Democratic opponents and, so very tellingly, ridiculed his anti-bullying campaign. A senior adviser said, "But no one's going to push Eric out of the way, given his relationship with the governor."
Like all bullies, Fehrnstrom does the pushing. Don't expect Romney to give him a haircut.
Researchers hunting for the elusive Higgs Boson particle are going to have to wade through an unprecedented volume of particle collision data now that the Large Hadron Collider powered up to a higher level.[...]
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I got in a bit of an argument on Twitter earlier this week about my belief in the importance of unitary citizenship -- or to put it another way, thinking dual citizenship is really not okay. Now, let me say a few things about this. My wife might still[...]
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Jay Inslee (D): 38 (39)Back in February, it looked like the gubernatorial race was starting to slip away from the Democrats, with two polls by respected pollsters (national robo-pollster SurveyUSA and solid local pollster Elway) showing likely nominee Rep. Jay Inslee trailing Republican state AG Rob McKenna by 9 or 10 point margins. Since then, a couple newsworthy things happened: one, Inslee relented to pressure from Democratic insiders to resign his seat in Congress and focus full-time on the gubernatorial race, and two, the usually wonky McKenna lost his cool in front of rolling cameras. Neither of those seemed like particularly game-changing events?in fact, if you were to believe the local media, Inslee's resignation was only going to hurt him more in terms of exposing his ambitions and the allegedly huge costs of the special election to replace him?but, whatever the reason, the tenor of the race has seemingly changed since then.
Rob McKenna (R): 40 (49)
Undecided 22 (12)
Taking not just SurveyUSA's trendlines into account, but also the previous three polls in the race, two internals from Democratic pollster Grove (one of which showed a 38-38 tie and one a 38-34 Inslee lead) and one from PPP (which showed a 42-42 tie), there's increased cause for optimism here. I wouldn't ascribe the movement to either Inslee's resignation or McKenna's snapping as much as a simple matter of Democrats getting more engaged in the race and Inslee (who, unlike two-term AG McKenna, hasn't been elected statewide before) getting better known. But SurveyUSA's trendlines don't show that either: They simply show McKenna's share dwindling, to the benefit of "undecided." So, it may be more of a case of suburban swing voters who'd been leaning toward McKenna out of a sense of "Democrats have been in charge too long" starting to hedge their bets, especially as voters learn more about McKenna's not-so-moderate social issues stances.
There's still one other area where Inslee is lagging, though, and that's fundraising. Washington mandates monthly (not quarterly) financial reporting, and the April reports showed McKenna padding his financial advantages even though he was able to raise funds only for 19 days out of the month (as a state official, he's unable to raise money while the legislature is in session). McKenna raised $643K, while Inslee raised $449K, along with a $75K infusion from the state Democratic Party. Given his name rec deficit compared with McKenna, Inslee needs to be stockpiling money now to be competitive on the airwaves in the fall, when that last 22 percent is going to be finally engaging making up their minds.