Saturday, July 30, 2011

I pulled off your wings

I'm having one of those nights where I wonder why I blog. I've met a ton of kick ass people online, but there's a lot of negativity online and sometimes I can't deal with it. I suppose I'm just being self-indulgent though since I know I'll probably always come back eventually.

This is the only song I really like by the Deftones. Ryan likes them, but I can't get into most of their music for some reason.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Poor Poor GOP

I swear this blog could be called "re-posting awesome things Jon Stewart say." I don't even care though cause he's awesome as these clips once again show.

In the Name of the Fodder:

GOP - Special Victims Unit:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Who Pays the Most in Taxes?

The other day I caught a segment of The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell where Rep. Joe Walsh made a comment about the poor not paying their fair share of taxes. He said, "for the first time in this country we have 51% of the America people that aren't paying any income taxes." Since Orrin Hatch made a similar claim recently, it made me wonder exactly what these people are talking about. (Keep in mind I'm not an economist so there's a good chance I have no idea what I'm talking about.)

The first thing I wondered is whether or not this is even remotely true. Do 51% of Americans really pay no taxes? Well, yes and no. While it is true that 51% don't pay any income taxes, it's not true that they don't pay any taxes at all. It also turns out that the reason most of these people don't pay income taxes is because they have no income (like students and seniors) or they're so poor they simply don't make enough money to be taxed. Young people will pay taxes and older people already have so it seems a bit disingenuous to discount them so readily, but to be fair the 51% number is accurate. Then again, call me a bleeding heart but I have a hard time being angry that people who make less than $9,500 a year aren't paying more income tax. This 51% number is also higher because of the recession. According the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 35% to 40% is more usual.

As I said before though, the worst part about this statement is how it ignores the reality that everyone pays taxes in this country. Being poor doesn't stop people from paying federal payroll taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, utility taxes and all sorts of other taxes. As it turns out, in all but one state the poor actually pay more state and local taxes than the rich. Federal income taxes are progressive, meaning you pay more if you make more, but the vast majority of taxes poor people do pay are regressive, meaning the poor pay a larger share. The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy broke down the difference really well:
Even though 51% may not pay federal income tax, it turns out a higher percentage of their income goes to taxes than that of the downtrodden rich. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says, "In fact, low- and moderate-income people pay a much larger share of their incomes in federal payroll taxes than high-income people do: taxpayers in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale paid an average of 8.8 percent of their incomes in payroll taxes in 2007, compared to just 1.6 percent for taxpayers in the top 1 percent of the income distribution."

Knowing this, it made me wonder who pays the most taxes overall. Not that it ultimately matters, but you often hear Republicans say the rich carry most of the burden and I wanted to know if this was accurate. It turns out the federal income tax and the payroll taxes both account for about 40% of federal revenues. From 9 Things The Rich Don't Want You To Know About Taxes:
The Internet is awash with statements that the top 1 percent pays, depending on the year, 38 percent or more than 40 percent of taxes. It’s true that the top 1 percent of wage earners paid 38 percent of the federal income taxes in 2008 (the most recent year for which data is available). But people forget that the income tax is less than half of federal taxes and only one-fifth of taxes at all levels of government.

Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes (known as payroll taxes) are paid mostly by the bottom 90 percent of wage earners. That’s because, once you reach $106,800 of income, you pay no more for Social Security, though the much smaller Medicare tax applies to all wages. Warren Buffett pays the exact same amount of Social Security taxes as someone who earns $106,800.
So yes 51% of the country may not pay any federal income tax, but the claim is still pretty inaccurate. When all taxes are taken into account (federal, state, and local) even the "poorest fifth of households paid 16.3 percent of their incomes in taxes, on average, in 2010." Admittedly, about 14% of Americans pay neither the federal income tax or payroll taxes but that's nowhere near the often repeated 51% (and those people do pay sales tax and some pay property taxes).

If you'd like more information, I found a great breakdown here (pdf): Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States

Inforgraphic: Overworked America

This is just one of twelve charts that highlight some of the problems of the US economy. You can be further infuriated here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Would your rape count? Rape is Rape

Protester with Placard, originally uploaded by WeNews.
When the FBI released its annual crime report last September, it became obvious that their only working definition of rape was extremely problematic. Not only did the definition leave out the vast majority of rapes by exclusively counting "forcible" rape as the only real rape, but it also sounded like something out of a bad romance novel. Created in 1929, the only federal definition of rape we have in this country actually says, "The carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will." This means most types of rape are completely excluded by the FBI's definition: oral and anal rape, the rape of men, rape with an object, rape of unconscious women, rape of physically or mentally disabled women, statutory rape, and even the rape of those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Ms. Magazine has been working hard to try and change the FBI's definition of rape and their latest effort is to "showcase diverse stories to show that all rape is rape--from stranger rape to date rape--no matter what the circumstances."
Would your rape count?

Each year, hundreds of thousands of rapes occur in the U.S. that are never counted by the FBI's yearly crime report. There are many reasons rapes go uncounted. Sometimes survivors are actively discouraged from reporting--even by authorities who should know better, such as police or college administrators. Some cases are excluded by the FBI's narrow definition of rape which doesn't include male victims, rape with an object, anal or oral rape. Furthermore, some police departments interpret the FBI's definition to exclude rape involving drugs and alcohol.

We're gathering and publishing personal stories of rape to show how much more pervasive rape is in our culture than crime statistics suggest. We want to showcase diverse stories to show that all rape is rape--from stranger rape to date rape--no matter what the circumstances. Please only submit a rape testimony if you feel comfortable sharing it. We will only publish your story with your consent, and can keep your story anonymous if you prefer.
This is far more than an issue of semantics since resources are greatly tied to the amount of rape cases the FBI reports and mis-classifying crimes makes it seem like the issue isn't as prevalent as it truly is. So, if you've been raped, work with rape victims, or even know anyone whose been raped and would like to share your story then you can do so here. You can also sign a petition to change the FBI's definition of rape here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quote: Norway Killer’s Hatred of Women

Anders Breivik’s Attack Fueled by Hatred of Women:
Nevertheless, the right clings to the idea that feminism is destroying Western societies from the inside, creating space for Islamism to take cover. This politics of emasculation gave shape to Breivik’s rage. Thus, while he pretends to abhor Muslim subjugation of women, he writes that the “fate of European civilisation depends on European men steadfastly resisting Politically Correct feminism.” When cultural conservatives seize control of Europe, he promises, “we will re-establish the patriarchal structures.” Eventually, women “conditioned” to this new order “will know her place in society.” His mad act was in the service of male superiority as well as Christian nationalism. Those two things, of course, almost always go together.


As you can see I decided to change my layout today. The old one was just bothering me and I thought it was time for a change. Some of you know this is something I feel the need to do every year or so, but I try to always keep the same general set up to keep things simple. Feel free to let me know if there's any problems on your side.

Besides the debt ceiling crisis there really hasn't been too much political news. Of course there was the Oslo tragedy this week, but things have seemed relatively calm to me. Here are a few things I've come across that are worth reading though.

Dominion Modern

1. Thought the Global Gag Rule Was History? Think Again:
The Republicans have been awfully busy in their domestic war on women lately, but they’ve still found time to relaunch its global front. Yesterday a House committee voted to reinstate the Global Gag Rule. The rule, overturned by Obama during his first week in office, prohibited global NGO’s from receiving U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) funding if they provided, promoted or even mentioned abortion-related services. In the 27 years since it was first introduced, it is estimated to have caused thousands of deaths by increasing the rate of illegal abortions.
2. Barbarous Confinement:
More than 1,700 prisoners in California, many of whom are in maximum isolation units, have gone on a hunger strike. The protest began with inmates in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay State Prison. How they have managed to communicate with each other is anyone’s guess — but their protest is everyone’s concern. Many of these prisoners have been sent to virtually total isolation and enforced idleness for no crime, not even for alleged infractions of prison regulations. Their isolation, which can last for decades, is often not explicitly disciplinary, and therefore not subject to court oversight. Their treatment is simply a matter of administrative convenience...

Hunger strikes are the only weapon these prisoners have left. Legal avenues are closed. Communication with the outside world, even with family members, is so restricted as to be meaningless. Possessions — paper and pencil, reading matter, photos of family members, even hand-drawn pictures — are removed. (They could contain coded messages between gang members, we are told, or their loss may persuade the inmates to snitch when every other deprivation has failed.)

The poverty of our criminological theorizing is reflected in the official response to the hunger strike. Now refusing to eat is regarded as a threat, too. Authorities are considering force-feeding. It is likely it will be carried out — as it has been, and possibly still continues to be — at Guantánamo (in possible violation of international law) and in an evil caricature of medical care.
3. Harry Potter - The End:
Joanne Rowling's fictional universe of wizards, goblins and magical quests transfigured the imaginative landscape of those of us who were the right sort of age, between 1997 and 2011, to appreciate the cacophonous excitement that followed the emergence of every book and film in the series. I was given one of the very first copies of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, an edition that would be worth a fortune now had it not been read and reread until the covers fell off. I sat up all night to finish it, and when morning came, I woke up in tears: young wizards are chosen on their 11th birthdays, meaning that I had not been chosen, and was destined for a life of muggle drudgery...

Harry Potter is not just a corporate racket, or a cheesy public-school fantasy in clunky prose. It's also about decency, and fairness, and courage. That's why young anti-cuts protesters carried placards declaring themselves members of 'Dumbledore's Army'. This particular fairy tale is coming to an end just as young people are learning that sometimes good does not automatically triumph. Sometimes the stupidest, meanest adults wind up in charge, and they can't be defeated simply by going on a quest to destroy Horcruxes, or finding an unbeatable wand.

The best fairy tales are also the cruellest, because you have to close the book and return to reality.
4. Why the Democratic Party Has Abandoned the Middle Class in Favor of the Rich:
It doesn't take a multivariate correlation to conclude that these two things are tightly related: If politicians care almost exclusively about the concerns of the rich, it makes sense that over the past decades they've enacted policies that have ended up benefiting the rich. And if you're not rich yourself, this is a problem. First and foremost, it's an economic problem because it's siphoned vast sums of money from the pockets of most Americans into those of the ultrawealthy. At the same time, relentless concentration of wealth and power among the rich is deeply corrosive in a democracy, and this makes it a profoundly political problem as well.
5. Larry Flynt: Freedom fighter, pornographer, monster?
Larry Flynt has won. He was America's pioneer pornographer – the man who fought against a still-Puritan nation all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to get vaginal close-ups into the grasp of every young man. This fight got him jailed. It got him shot. It got him rich. And at the end of it, the grandchildren of the people who demanded his arrest for launching Hustler magazine think nothing of clicking on XTube to view a million women splayed a million ways, or uploading their own sex tapes onto the site for everyone to see. He is the founding father of our new pornucopia. His brand of hardcore porn is everywhere, leaking into every email inbox. For him, it's a story of freedom triumphant. But does Flynt's story also show the costs – and the casualties – of the Dionysian frenzy he has helped unleash?
One of the most interesting interviews I've ever read.

6. David Wu won't resign; Nancy Pelosi seeks probe:
Embattled Rep. David Wu will not seek reelection in 2012, but he won’t resign from office now despite allegations that the Oregon Democrat had an “unwanted sexual encounter” with the teenage daughter of a close friend last Thanksgiving.

“He isn’t going to be running for reelection,” a Wu adviser, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told POLITICO late Sunday night. “But he hasn’t done anything that rises to the level of requiring him to resign.”

Colbert On Voter ID Laws:

Closer by Kings of Leon:

Cenk Leaves MSNBC:

Is the CIA running secret prisons in Somalia:

Scahill really shines when Buchanan attempts to minimize his reporting.

Random Quote:
“I, personally, have a cunt. Sometimes it’s ‘flaps’ or ‘twat’, but, most of the time, it’s my cunt. Cunt is a proper, old, historic, strong word. I like that my fire escape also doubles up as the most potent swearword in the English language. Yeah. That’s how powerful it is, guys. If I tell you what I’ve got down there, old ladies and clerics might faint. I like how shocked people are when you say ‘cunt’. It’s like I have a nuclear bomb in my pants, or a mad tiger, or a gun.” —Caitlin Moran, How to be a Woman

Friday, July 22, 2011

Infographic: Home gardening in the U.S.

An interesting infographic highlighting the increase in home gardening across the country (via):

I want to start a garden, but I have a bit of a black thumb. I decided to start small and I picked the most finicky basil plant in the world. Seriously, this thing is a diva. At this rate I'll never keep it alive.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Wisconsin Recall Update: One Down Eight To Go

In my last post about the Wisconsin recall I explained how the Wisconsin GOP planned to plant fake Democratic candidates in order to make the July 12 and July 19th elections primaries rather than general elections. Well, this happened for the most part but one of the three Democratic Senators, Dave Hansen, had the first general election and I'm happy to say he completely beat his competitor (66-34).

Olbermann on the recall:

Looking forward to seeing what happens in August.

Daily Obsession: Seether

It's been awhile since I posted one of these, but I'm soaking up some Seether today. I know I've mentioned my love for 90s music a dozen times, but Seether is one of the few bands that came out during "the aughts" that can rival my love for bands like Alice in Chains. Ryan got to see them live and I'm still insanely jealous over the fact I didn't get to go (I went to California).


Fake It:

Driven Under:


The Gift:

Six Gun Quota:

Wordless Wednesday Thursday

I love how Harry Potter has soaked into everything.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shutterfly Photobook for Holden

I had every intention of posting about the Wisconsin recall and a Wordless Wednesday, but I got sucked into the world of photobooks. Shutterfly is having a "buy one get one free" deal on their photobooks today. This is a crazy good deal and coupled with free shipping I saved about $45 bucks. I've been wanting to make a book of Holden's school work so I figured this was the perfect time.

Click here to view this photo book larger

You wouldn't believe how many hours it took me to make this book. Anyways, if you're interested you should hop on over since you only have today. Our regularly planned posting will start again tomorrow.

Monday, July 18, 2011

McConnell Debt Ceiling Plan

Whenever I tell people I like politics there seems to be a lot of head shaking. They also tend to give me that "you crazy" look and leave it at that. While we all love what we love, I can totally understand their surprise. Far too often politics is full of shady business and pointless political maneuvering. No politician is above this and it can be frustrating as hell. The most recent case of political grandstanding that stood out to me was Mitch McConnell's debt ceiling plan.

Also, did you know when you google McConnell's name this comes up:

I don't know why I find that horribly amusing. Anyways, since McConnell knows defaulting would be bad for Republicans politically, he's come up with a plan that would avoid default while also allowing the GOP to sit back and point fingers without having to actually do anything.

Mitch McConnell Debt Ceiling Plan:
Under current law, Congress raises the debt ceiling, which allows the Treasury Department to issue more bonds to pay off debts and fund projects that Congress has already authorized. Raising the debt ceiling does not authorize or appropriate new spending, but merely settles old bills.

Yet under McConnell's plan, which he called his "last-choice option," the White House would request an increase in the debt ceiling and Congress could only block that request with a veto-proof super majority -- effectively ceding control over the debt limit to the White House. A super majority would likely be difficult to amass, especially when neither party's leadership genuinely wants the nation to default...

If that sounds complicated, it's because it is. The process laid out by McConnell would begin with the president requesting a $700 billion increase in the debt limit. As soon as Congress received the request, $100 billion of that $700 billion would be released to give Washington some breathing room to let them get past Aug. 2.

But then, McConnell's proposal would proceed to introduce a resolution of disapproval, rather than approval, putting Congress in the position of taking a popular vote -- against raising the debt ceiling. If Congress approved the resolution of disapproval, Obama would then have to take another step toward owning the debt increase by vetoing the resolution. The resolution would then go back to Congress, where the White House would have to lobby Democratic lawmakers against voting to override the veto. A two-thirds majority in both the House and the Senate is required to override a veto, and so yet another vote on the debt ceiling would be taken, and as many as 66 of 100 senators and 289 of 435 members of the House could vote against raising the debt ceiling, without actually preventing an increase in the debt limit.
I think this is what they call "having your cake and eating it too."

As usual, Jon Stewart gets it right:

Overall this is exactly the type of political move that keeps people frustrated with politics in general. They like to think they're voting for people who will actually fight for their behalf. No whether or not that's entirely accurate is up for debate, but people still don't like to see their party fold.

WSJ and Fox & Friends defend Murdoch

I wouldn't say that I've ever looked to Steve Doocy for credibility on..well anything, but even he must be embarrassed by his blatant attempt to misconstrue the phone-hacking scandal. Between his attempt to make News Corps look like the victims of phone hacking, rather then the perpetrators of systematic criminal activity, and the pretty hilarious Wall Street Journal editorial decrying the media for paying attention and therefore threatening the very foundation of the first amendment, I'm starting to think Murdoch doesn't want readers noticing the man behind the curtain.

WSJ and Fox defend Murdoch:
First, there was a stunning "Fox and Friends" segment Friday in which guest Robert Dilenschneider compared the News of the World's scandal to a set of recent corporate security breaches. "It's a hacking scandal; it can't be denied," he said. "Why are so many people are piling on at this point? Shouldn't we get beyond it and really deal with the issue of hacking? Citicorp has been hacked into. Bank of America has been hacked into. American Express has been hacked into. We've got a serious hacking problem in this country." To which host Steve Doocy replied, "This happened a long time ago. At a tabloid. In London. Somebody did something really bad and the company reacted... They're piling on." Apparently Fox News has a bit of trouble distinguishing its hackees from its hackers.

Now, in a Monday Wall Street Journal editorial on "News and Its Critics" that borders on brilliant satire, the Murdoch-owned paper rails on about how "our competitors are using the phone-hacking years ago at a British corner of News Corp. to assail the Journal, and perhaps injure press freedom in general." That's right, haters, when you criticize an organization that breaks into a murdered girl's voicemails, and believes paying off cops and tampering with individual privacy is "part of the game," you're messing with the First Amendment itself. Though the editorial is unsigned, one can't help noting its spiritual kinship with the persuasive rhetoric of that legendary debater, Eric "Otter" Stratton, who once noted, "The issue here is not whether we broke a few rules or took a few liberties... You can't hold a whole fraternity responsible for the behavior of a few sick, perverted individuals... for isn't this an indictment of our entire American society?"
Fox and Freinds segment:

First of all, I love that Bob Dilenschneider is introduced as a PR expert. I don't know about you, but I always look to PR firms for information on data security. Ironically though, it's Fox and WSJ's attempts to minimize the scandal that actually make me want to pay more attention. Can't wait to see what spin they put on the story next.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Infographic: States Enact Record Number of Abortion Restrictions in First Half of 2011

There have been a lot of complaints that is seems like the GOP is going a bit crazy with abortion restrictions, but it turns out it doesn't seem like anything. That's exactly what's happening.

From the Guttmacher Institute:

In the first six months of 2011, states enacted 162 new provisions related to reproductive health and rights. Fully 49% of these new laws seek to restrict access to abortion services, a sharp increase from 2010, when 26% of new laws restricted abortion. The 80 abortion restrictions enacted this year are more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005—and more than triple the 23 enacted in 2010. All of these new provisions were enacted in just 19 states.
For even more details about the type of restrictions that are being passed, you can find the whole story here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011