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In Pisces.

Virtually Speaking Tuesday

Tuesday, Feb 21 | 9 pm eastern | 6 pm pacific |Virtually Speaking Tuesdays | As it is the 3rd Tuesday, Avedon Carol andCorrentewire‘s Lambert Strether dissect breaking news and crazy liberalism. Plus a brand new Z File from Stuart Zechman. Follow @Avedon_Says @CorrenteWire   Listen live and later on BTR.

Lowering the flag

Interesting column from David Sirota about people criticizing Chris Christie for lowering state flags after the death of Whitney Houston:

Of course, when singer Frank Sinatra died and New Jersey’s flags were flown at half-staff, this kind of outrage was nowhere to be found — despite the fact that Sinatra himself was a drug abuser (the drug in question beingalcohol). Likewise, the outrage was nowhere to be found when Elvis Presley died of a drug overdose in 1977 and flags all over America were flown at half-staff. Indeed, as the Rockford Register Star’s Chuck Sweeneynotes, that event prompted an order for “all city flags in Memphis (to be) lowered to half staff”; compelled former President Richard Nixon to “ask Americans to fly their flags at half staff in honor of Elvis”; and got then-President Jimmy Carter to issue a statement saying, “With Elvis, a part of our country has died.”

What, then, explains the difference? Why would there be a hostile reaction to the way New Jersey memorialized the drug-abusing Houston, when there was no such hostile reaction to the way the drug-abusing Sinatra and Presley were memorialized?

The answer, of course, is rooted, in part, in racist and sexist double standards.

When famous white men engage in illicit activities, American culture allows them to nonetheless retain their street cred, their wholesome image and their public honor. In some instances, in fact, the illicit behavior contributes to their mystique and their legacy — it is seen as acool part of who they are. This is exactly why one of the iconic images of Sinatra is him in a tux with a highball in his hand — because a white, male-dominated culture accepts — and even at times celebrates — the blemishes of fellow white men.
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Best gun salesman ever?

Barack Obama! Even though he hasn’t done a thing to control guns, he gets accused of it anyway, because that’s how your basic paranoid wingnut thinks:

Although the nation’s largest gun lobby would never publicly acknowledge it, at least one gun-loving group seems to realize that a Democratic president isn’t always bad for business.

In a post published Tuesday by online ammunition supplier Ammo.com, President Barack Obama is hailed as “the greatest gun salesman in America.”

The site is even asking readers whether the gun industry should actually begin supporting him.

In an eye-grabbing message, the munitions outlet compiled dozens of statistics that show firearms sales skyrocketing in the wake of Obama’s 2008 election.

“Ironically, the perceived hostility towards gun owners by President Obama has actually helped the firearms industry tremendously,” they wrote. “Since the 2008 election, more Americans than ever before are purchasing firearms & ammunition. This has meant massive increases in sales by firearm & ammunition makers, billions more in federal and state tax collections related to guns & ammo, increased membership in the [National Rifle Association (NRA)], and hundreds of thousands of new Americans carrying concealed handguns. Therefore, should the firearms industry support President Obama for a second term or not?”

That’s actually a good question — although it’s not being taken seriously by the NRA.

During the recent Conservative Political Action Conference, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre declared Obama’s lack of interest in gun regulations to be part of “a massive Obama conspiracy.”
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Frank Luntz

If you don’t count money (which is how people with no creative talent keep score), he’s what I think of as a classic loser in the game of life. No spouse, no children, workaholic, kicked out of his professional organization for ethical violations, no standards to speak of, bad toupee. I’m guessing he has to pay for sex. He’s the kind of person who makes other people feel good, because everyone can find something about this scumbag to make themselves feel superior. Isn’t it interesting, that any news organizations treat him like he’s credible? Because he’s not just on Fox News.

And now, he jokes about killing the president. Isn’t he just too special?

Fox News contributor Frank Luntz on Monday made a suggestion about running over the nation’s first black president with his car.

Appearing at an event with Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum in West Michigan, the GOP pollster warmed up the audience with a few jokes. Video of the event was captured by The Grand Rapids Press.

“I actually have a ‘Run, Barack, Run’ bumper sticker, but I put it on the front of my car,” Luntz said.

He told another joke about McDonald’s “Obama Happy Meal,” where you “order anything you want and guy behind you has to pay for it.”

Luntz also poked fun at former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for living in Chappaqua, N.Y.

“Did you know that Chappaqua is Indian for separate bedrooms?” he asked the crowd.


No shit!

Happy Mardi Gras

John Boutte with the Treme song:

The Neville Brothers – New Suit 2/12/86 Oakland, CA (opening for The Grateful Dead) by RLBayers

Orgone w/ Big Chief Monk Boudreaux – Sew Sew Sew 4/27/10 New Orleans, LA @ Blue Nile by RLBayers

The incarceration society

Nope, no evil incentives to arrest people there! Via Smirking Chimp, Jayne Lyn Stahl:

Last week Reader Supported News reported that a giant private prison company, Corrections Corporations of America, has approached virtually every state in the union with the offer that they’d buy up their prisons, and “manage convicted criminals at a cost-savings.”

What better time for such an offer, too, when states like California are releasing many minor offenders for lack of money, but a closer look shows that this kind of offer is not unlike a leveraged buyout of federal and state prisons, but with one obvious caveat: per Reader Supported News, too, the company in this case, Corrections Corporations of America, is demanding a 20 year contract. And, more importantly, prisons must be delivered 90% full. 90% full of what, you might ask, of human “product.” Inmates are the assets at the root of prison privatization.

CCA has already devoted $250 million to this so-called prison management venture which is, in reality, not unlike the reconstruction deals awarded to Halliburton after the occupation in Iraq. The independent contractors earn just as much revenue as the parent company.

1 in 100 Americans are behind bars as the New York Times has reported. The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. That number is bound to grow when more companies like Corrections Corporations of America get a whiff of all the money to be made in this industry.

This is nothing new, of course, former vice-president, Dick Cheney’s Vanguard Group, while dealing in mutual funds, has famously found a breeding ground for investor money in private prisons for the past several years.

What’s the difference between what CCA is doing, and what Vanguard and other companies that deal in privatizing prisons have done?
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Tomorrow I have my very first colonoscopy.

For those of you who have already crossed this Rubicon, it’s no big deal. And really, I don’t care about the actual procedure, since I’ll be high as a kite.

I just hate the thought of drinking a gallon of some nauseating crap and running to the bathroom all night. It’s just not my idea of a good time.

So if you have any helpful hints or uplifting tales of your own, do share.

Same shit, different day

We have such immoral people running our world:

Just a few months ago, Illinois gave retail giant Sears $275 million to keep its corporate headquarters in the state, after Sears threatened to move elsewhere (including, potentially, Ohio). To show its appreciation for receiving millions in taxpayer funds, as Greg Leroy pointed out at the Clawback blog, Sears announced last week that it will lay off 100 workers at those headquarters:

Despite a huge subsidy package enacted by the state of Illinois in December, Sears Holdings Corp. has already announced layoffs at its headquarters in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates. Last week, the retailer announced that 100 HQ staff will be laid off…That December deal, valued at up to $275 million, came after Sears threatened to relocate in headquarters to another state. Its predecessor company, Sears, Roebuck & Co., played the same “job blackmail” game in 1989. The $168 million, 23-year deal it won then was soon to expire when Sears Holdings announced it might again be footloose.

The deal that Illinois signed with Sears actually gives the company the option to lay off another 1,750 workers in the state without penalty, meaning that Illinois paid millions of dollars to potentially see close to 2,000 jobs disappear. “The only surprise is that people are surprised by this,” said state Rep. Jack Franks (D). “The governor knew that this was going to happen, and he pretended he didn’t.”

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