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Felix Salmon

On why the luminaries at Davos are ignoring the Occupy movement.

Spotlight on Newt!

With God’s own reporter, Susie Sampson:


What Avedon said:

Jay Ackroyd and McJoan mostly talked about Republicans on Virtually Speaking Sundays, and Digby did the same on The Majority Report with Sam Seder. It was entertaining, but I think people spend too much time talking about the Republicans, and I’m a bit annoyed by the effort involved in, say, unpacking Ron Paul, worthy effort though it may be, when there is the much larger issue of restoring liberalism at stake. Talking about Ron Paul’s connections to the Koch brothers is all very well, but if you’re ignoring the Democratic Party’s own ties to some of the most right-wing funders in America, you are missing the larger point, which is that our entire political apparatus has been hijacked by these people.

Electing Democrats no longer means building and promoting liberal policies, it just means we don’t fight as hard to do it because we’re supposed to be protecting and defending Democrats – even Democrats whose “strategy”, apparently, is to sabotage their own party. But if the Democratic leadership is manifestly unliberal, as it certainly is, why would we want to defend them? What is the point of electing Democrats whose sole purpose is to help the Republicans slip their own hideously right-wing policies by us without our fighting back?

Remember, George W. Bush tried to privatize Social Security, but he failed, and he failed because people – with liberals leading the charge – fought back, to the point where even registered Republicans realized what was going on and called their GOP Congresscreeps and let them know they’d never get another vote from them if they signed on to this outrage. Now Obama is trying to wreck Social Security, and where are those people? Well, they’re not telling people to call their Congressmen, because they are still too busy telling us how awful the Republicans are, as if only the Republicans were doing anything outrageous.

Home births

Although all the reasons they list in this story are factors, they’re missing the biggest one: Namely, that a lot of families no longer have health insurance. I was a lay midwife in the ’80s, and believe me, cost was a big reason for many, many pregnant women during Reagan’s recession.

Why is that so hard to understand? I mean, what are their other options?

Jessica Wilcox thinks her in-laws still view her ideas about childbirth as kind of out there, but it’s hard to argue with success: In the last five years or so, Wilcox has given birth to two boys and two girls — each weighing more than 10 pounds — at her northern Virginia home. And she hopes to do it again one or two more times.

Wilcox is part of a small but growing trend. While home births are still rare in the United States, they’ve posted a surprising climb in recent years, according to a government report out Thursday.

Jessica Wilcox has given birth to her two sons and two daughters at their northern Virginia home.
After declining from 1990 to 2004, the percentage of U.S. births that occurred at home jumped 29 percent from 2004 to 2009, when it hit the highest level since researchers began collecting data 20 years earlier.
Non-Hispanic white women were most likely to give birth at home in 2009, with one in every 90 births, or about 1.1 percent, in that group taking place at home. That represents an increase of 36 percent over 2004.

Still, Wilcox’s children represent only a tiny minority. In 2009, 29,650 U.S. births, or .72 percent of total births, occurred at home. Compare that to, say, 1940, when 40 percent of births took place at home.
Home births today tend to be more common among women 35 and older and among women with several previous children, according to the new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. They’re most common in states with renegade reputations, such as Montana, which had the highest percentage of home births, nearly 2.6 percent, followed by Oregon and Vermont, with nearly 2 percent each.

A life-affirming little theft

Jennifer Egan, author of A Visit From the Goon Squad, read Wednesday night at Rutgers-Camden from the book’s opening story, “Found Objects,” about a New York City woman named Sasha who has a one-night stand with a man named Alex. Sasha finds time to indulge her ruling compulsion, kleptomania, when Alex uses her bathroom, and this is where Egan conjures up the sort of little surprise that makes fiction worth reading. More here.

Make mine a double

Time to drink

Although I don’t drink, reading Digby makes me wish I did.

Occupy our homes

I love you, Occupy. Oh yes I do:

Brooklyn, NY — This afternoon approximately one hundred people peacefully and powerfully disrupted a foreclosure auction by bursting into song. At 3pm the foreclosure auctioneer attempted to start bidding on homes that had been foreclosed upon. When the bidding started, the courtroom burst into song:

“Mr. Auctioneer
All the people here
Are asking you to stop all the sales right now
We’re going to survive, but we don’t know how”

The National Lawyers Guild estimated that approximately 35 people were arrested. Those arrested continued to sing as they were handcuffed and escorted out of the courtroom.

In advance of the proceedings, Occupied Real Estate agents distributed brochures that profiled the properties up for auction with photos of protesters out front.

“If speculators want to bid on these listings they should know that they come with eviction defense activists from Occupy Wall Street,” said Danielle Moeser of Occupied Real Estate, a “realty agency” that lists properties available for occupation or in need of eviction defense.

Today’s action is part of a growing national movement committed to stopping foreclosures and keeping all Americans in their homes. Last month over 50 actions were carried out across the country, including foreclosure disruptions, eviction defense actions, and home reoccupations. Occupy Wall Street participants and other occupations across the country have been highly involved in these actions.

Oh dear

When you read this sort of thing, you might get the impression that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is little more than a corrupt political hack. Because really, the fact that his employees set up their own intranet to communicate on campaign work would indicate that someone higher up the food chain directed them to do so, and that a culture of corruption was pervasive on his staff. But since we all “know” Scott is really a God-fearing man, there must be some other explanation, right?

Two staffers who worked directly for Gov. Scott Walker while he was county executive were charged Thursday with illegally doing extensive political work while being paid by taxpayers to do county jobs.

One of the two, Darlene Wink, cut a deal with prosecutors under which she agreed to provide information in a related investigation about the destruction of digital evidence and to aid in further prosecutions. This is the first indication that the multifaceted John Doe investigation may be pursuing charges of evidence tampering.

Milwaukee County prosecutors also made the surprising disclosure that top Walker aides set up a private Internet network to allow them to communicate with one another by email about campaign as well as county government work without the public or co-workers’ knowledge.

The emails Walker officials traded via the shadow network could provide investigators with a trove of information as they pursue other angles in the case. Earlier this week, the Journal Sentinel reported that the probe was focusing on possible bid-rigging and other misconduct in the competition to house the county Department on Aging in private office space.

In a statement, Walker’s campaign said he had a policy against county employees using government resources to do campaign work.

“Scott Walker expected everyone to follow the law and made that clear publicly and privately,” the statement said.

There, you see? He had a “policy” against it, so I’m sure everything’s going to be just fine for Scott!

On Thursday, prosecutors charged Kelly Rindfleisch, deputy chief of staff to Walker in 2010, with four felony counts of misconduct in office for working for then-Rep. Brett Davis’ 2010 campaign for lieutenant governor while on the county clock. Davis, who lost in the Republican primary, is now Walker’s state Medicaid director.

The complaint says that Rindfleisch told a friend in an Internet chat shortly after taking the job with Walker that “half of what I’m doing is policy for the campaign.”

During work hours between February 2010 and early July 2010, it says, Rindfleisch sent more than 300 emails to Davis and 1,380 fundraising emails. The John Doe also turned up more than 1,000 emails between Rindfleisch and top staffers on Walker’s 2010 campaign during work hours over the same period.

The boy in the bubble

Go read TBogg.

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