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I’m not sure what it is about muppets and indie rock videos on youtube, but I think this one is just as good as the Cookie Monster/Tom Waits mashup.

Everything to everybody

This song reminds me of a few people. Everclear:


Listen to more Todd Rundgren at Wolfgang’s Vault.

This must be the place (naive melody)

Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view.

David Byrne:

Tonight

Last minute change: Charlie Pierce had to reschedule, new guest is Alex Lawson of Social Security Works. Call 646-200-3440 with questions or comments about Obama’s new jobs plan and likely spending cuts!

Click here to listen.

Deep Thought

Taste and compare:

If you take the Tea Party at their word, people without insurance should be left to die, but the government should nonetheless be prevented from helping individuals access health insurance, because those people might be subjected to death panels, and left to die.

I have no doubt that in fact many Tea Partiers were the same people insisting that we “save Terri Schiavo!”

No one with any real platform will point this out, not at the NY Times, not at the Washington Post, and certainly not on TV. But these are deeply twisted, crazy people we are dealing with.

Redefining middle class

So we redefine “middle class” schools as those where 25-75 percent of the students are poor enough to receive reduced lunch subsidies from the federal government. Then we say how badly they’re going, even though if you read the Appendix of this report, when you “isolate the achievement of middle-class students” on tests of international achievement in math and science for 4th graders and 8th graders, “the U.S. ranking jumps.”

So you kind of have to wonder if they’re not just looking for some way to rationalize privatizing more schools, because the for-profit companies are burning through the poorest schools they’ve already fucked up:

Middle-class public schools educate the majority of U.S. students but pay lower teacher salaries, have larger class sizes and spend less per pupil than low-income and wealthy schools, according to a report to be issued Monday.

The report, “Incomplete: How Middle-Class Schools Aren’t Making the Grade,” also found middle-class schools are underachieving. It pointed to their national and international test scores and noted that 28% of their graduates earn a college degree by age 26, compared to 17% for lower-income students and 47% for upper-income students.

Third Way, a neoliberal Democratic think tank that claims to “advocate for private sector economic growth,” based its report on data from the Census Bureau, the U.S. Department of Education, and national and international testing programs. The report doesn’t include parochial or private-school students.

Over the next decade, nearly two-thirds of job openings will require some post-secondary education, the report says, arguing that middle-class schools need to help better prepare their students to graduate from college.

“Middle-class schools produce students who are the backbone of the U.S. economy, and they are not performing as well as parents, policy makers and taxpayers think they are,” said Tess Stovall, deputy director of Third Way’s economic program and co-author of the report. “We need a second phase of education reform to ensure these schools get the attention they deserve.”

God should punish these people out of everything they have, but that still won’t begin to make up for the harm they’ve done, and the evil they’ve propogated.

Hearts and bones

Paul Simon:

The real threat to Social Security

It’s the payroll tax, stupid:

At the end of August, Nebraska senator Ben Nelson, a Democrat up for reelection next year, told members of the Lincoln Rotary Club that it didn’t look like he would support an extension of the payroll tax holiday the president negotiated with Republicans last Christmas. “I wish I could (support it),” he said. “But all you’re doing is taking money that otherwise would help Medicare and Social Security.” There’s nothing remarkable about politicians talking to Rotarians, but it was remarkable for a conservative Democrat to say he didn’t think extending the Obama payroll tax cuts was such a hot idea. On Friday, Texas GOP congressman Pete Sessions, who chairs an organization to re-elect House Republicans, did likewise by calling the payroll tax cut “a horrible idea.” Instead of delving into why a conservative Democrat and a diehard Republican are pooh-pooing the president’s plan for bringing less revenue into the Social Security system, the media of late have fixated on the disparaging comments presidential candidates, in particular Rick Perry, have made about Social Security. At the Republican candidates’ debate last week, Perry once again called Social Security a Ponzi scheme and a monstrous lie. Said Perry:

I think the Republican candidates are talking about ways to transition this program. And it is a monstrous lie. It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are twenty-five or thirty years today: ‘You’re paying into a program that’s not going to be there.’ Anybody that’s for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it’s not right.

Perry was basically repeating what he had said before in Iowa, and it looks like he will stay on message as long as he remains a candidate. It will be up to the media to explain the difference between Social Security, which is social insurance where people pay taxes and accumulate credits and then receive a pension backed by substantial political commitment and trillions of dollars in financial reserves, and a Ponzi scheme, which is a criminal fraud backed by nothing, as Brookings Senior Fellow Henry Aaron puts it.

What’s missing are stories explaining, as Nelson tried to do, that there could be long-term consequences tied to reducing the payroll tax. “The Ponzi scheme is a sideshow. It’s an outrageous claim designed to undermine confidence in the program,” says Nancy Altman, co-director of Strengthen Social Security, a progressive group trying to save the program. Altman knows her onions when it comes to Social Security, having assisted Alan Greenspan, who headed a bipartisan commission in 1983 that put Social Security on a sound financing footing. Altman wasn’t keen on the payroll tax holiday agreed to last December, telling NPR that this “could eventually lead to the unraveling of Social Security.” If Republicans make this permanent, it could spell real trouble for Social Security, she said.
Continue Reading »

Zygote personhood

Don’t kid yourself that this is “just” Mississippi. The Christian right is going after birth control in every state:

Mississippi voters will be allowed to decide on a ballot measure that defines “personhood” from the moment of fertilization, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled last week. The measure could potentially outlaw abortions, birth control, in vitro fertilization and stem cell research across the state.

Measure 26, which will bypass the legislature and go straight to a popular ballot vote, redefines the term “person” as it appears throughout Mississippi’s Bill of Rights to include “all human beings from the moment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent thereof.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi, Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit against the proposal earlier this year, not based on its content or constitutionality, but because Mississippi state law says a ballot initiative cannot be used to change the Bill of Rights.

The Mississippi Supreme Court rejected the lawsuit in a 7-2 ruling, saying that it had no power to review any ballot initiative before the actual vote takes place.

Let’s look at some of the interesting legal ramifications. If you go through in-vitro fertilization, and it doesn’t work, you’d have to report that as a death. (Same thing would go for very early miscarriages. How do we know you didn’t try to abort your pregnancy? Women would have to prove they didn’t murder their blastocyst/ zygote/ embryo/ fetus.)

Your blastocyst/ zygote/ embryo/ fetus would have the right to inherit, naturally, so if you have a miscarriage, that could certainly tie up some estates — not to mention that Social Security would be paying survivors benefit if you’re pregnant and your spouse dies. Could be a little more costly!

And if people get illegal abortions, as people will when you make them impossible to get, that means the woman and her doctor can be charged with homicide. Of course, having a drink or a smoke during pregnancy is contributing to the delinquency of a minor. (Geeze, I just thought of something else — if you have sex while you’re pregnant, is that child sexual abuse?)

The mind reels at the possibilities!

And remember, kids: It’s not about abortion, it’s about sex.

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