Boos & Pieces (Monday Evening Candy Collection)

I should have come up with something more Halloweeny. What about Sarah Jessica Parker as a witch in Disney’s Hocus Pocus?

All right. How about some funny? More from Barely Political:

Ke$ha Parody, “I’m Trying to Hard”

Eminem and Rhianna in grade school (“I Know You Are But What Am I”):

Rant from a Gen Xer

Generation X says shut your pie hole.

I’m passing this along because I tend to enjoy generation generalizations. There’s some truth to them or they wouldn’t hit so close to home. If not, whatever.

And here’s the supposed Gen X anthem, like there’s anyone who really speaks for us.

Income Gaps and OWS Gets Chilly

Why am I a registered Republican? Because when I registered as a
Republican, I was at the height of my new-found conservatism, having been a liberal in my youth (as so many are). Also, because my disillusionment with liberalism (my own liberalism having been naïve) was so profound, I was taking the full pendulum trip to the other side.

I’m going to remain a registered Republican, although I become less enamored with the sorts of politicians the GOP puts forward (and are currently in office) every day. Income gap polling as an issue? Let’s try to own it!

Speaking of income gaps, Bridgeport, Connecticut is the city in the US with the biggest gap between rich and poor. It’s a blue city in a blue state, if we’re talking political affiliations.

In fact, it’s interesting that the same folks who repeatedly cited how blue states paid more in federal taxes, while red states received more in federal taxes, haven’t been interested in blue state/red state comparisons when it comes to the income gap. Perhaps it’s because states like New York—which is a fairly blue state—rank highest in wealth disparity.

Atlanta, Georgia has the highest income gap between 2005 and 2009. Aha, you say! Georgia is about as red as a state gets! Alas, Atlanta is a decidedly blue pocket in that red, red state.

Washington, DC is also a city with some of the greatest income disparity, according to latest census data.

Interesting, most of the cities with the highest income gaps are blue cities (in terms of both local government and who they tend to vote for in national elections) swimming in seas of red. Atlanta, Dallas, Gainesville, Baton Rouge.

Among the states with the most unequal income, we find California, Connecticut, New York, Louisiana, as well as Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama and D.C., if you want to count them as a state. What does that tell us? That even liberals and Democrats have a very hard time doing anything to effect the income gap, and that even fair progressive policies (such as those employed in California, New York, and Connecticut) don’t necessarily do much in regards to controlling income disparity. Also, that legalized gambling made a lot of people very rich in Mississippi.


I have noted that I expect most protests to have a partying, here-for-the-babes-and-drugs type element. Well, those folks are going to be going home. When the weather starts freezing, the partying is over for the party-people.

Unemployment is higher for veterans. We apparently don’t do much for placement. Clearly, we can and should do better. We spend a great deal on defense, we can’t afford some time spent on placing folks exiting the service?

The gap between rich and poor foods is narrowing. Supposedly. I still think anybody can eat inexpensively with judicious shopping, and perhaps a little gardening. Fast food and restaurant eating (Chipotle? Really) is still, in my experience, a lot more expensive than smart shopping, clipping coupons, and owning a freezer.

Are more taxes and regulation the path to prosperity? Well, Maryland is going to find out, starting (but not stopping) with higher taxes on toilets.

Less regulations under Obama than Bush? But the problem is, Obama’s regulation are more onerous or expensive. Jeeze, you people are never happy.

The Teleprompter Meme

Many years ago I was doing some banking at a drive-up ATM machine and went to pull out a deposit envelope (back in the days when you needed an envelope). Instead, out came a poorly photocopied racist tract that someone had filled the slot with. The group credited with authorship had the usual assortment of white supremacist buzzwords in their organizational name but it clearly reflected the thoughts and opinions of the Klu Klux Klan and its even more racist brethren.

The premise of the poorly–spelled and grammatically-suspect tract was that Africans did not have the intelligence that White people had despite the attempts of the Liberal Media to make it appear otherwise. In particular, it asserted that all public speaking African-Americans (and that was a phrase used nowhere in the piece, the n-word and various references to primates being the preferred terms) were nothing better than trained chimps taught to parrot words given them by their masters.

The essay made a great fuss how most modern local news shows paired an attractive white woman with a supposedly articulate black man. It went on and on about how this was a terrible fraud since the man had no ability to understand the words he was saying. It then went into great detail about how this was a blatant attempt to make Blacks look like the intellectual equals of Whites while feeding the viewing public via happy-talk banter a pro-miscegenation message. The pamphlet was vile and vulgar and perhaps the most despicably racist thing I have ever read. I immediately threw it away with disgust thinking that nobody could possibly be swayed by that garbage.

Only the thoughts behind that screed live on today in The Teleprompter Meme. There is perhaps no more studied contrast in public speaking ability than that between Barack Obama and his predecesor, the infamously mush-mouthed George W. Bush. And while it usually is a left-handed compliment to call any black man ‘articulate’ as if it is as shocking to encounter one as it is to see a walking dog, Obama is truly articulate and eloquent, with or without a prepared text.

And while ascribing Obama’s poise to his ability to read off a teleprompter can be written off as typical Republican Big Lie Jujitsu (accuse your enemy of lacking their biggest strength) it also ties into the deeper racial subtext that somehow Obama is a fraud and a puppet. The sheer virulence and perseverance of The Teleprompter meme shows that it somehow resonates with the conservative base who see Obama’s presidency as being at some level illegitimate.

When a truck carrying the presidential speaking gear including the POTUS podium and the teleprompter was briefly stolen, all sorts of right-wing blogs snickered about the Obama presidency being paralyzed by the loss. TOTUS as a shorthand phrase for the demeaning Teleprompter of the Unites States is a catch phrase the wingnuts instantly recognized and even had its own parody blog and multiple Twitter feeds.

And while it can be argued that there is not an overtly racist interpretation of this concept, I defy anyone to explain how a theme designed solely to make the president appear far less intelligent and independent than he is does not play into racial stereotypes at some level.

And now Rick Perry is playing the Teleprompter Card. In his latest campaign commercial (as quoted by The Fix because the YouTube link has already been pulled) he says:

“If you’re looking for a slick politician or a guy with great teleprompter skills, we already have that, and he’s destroying our economy,” an upbeat Perry says in the ad. “I’m a doer, not a talker.”

By specifically using the word ‘teleprompter’, Perry is making a dogwhistle directly contrasting himself with Obama.

Of all the slurs used against Obama, I find the Teleprompter Meme the most insidious because it reaches a dark portion of the conservative soul. People respond to it at a visceral level not even realizing how their prejudices are being played. Every time I encounter it, I immediately call it out as being crypto-racist and I always face some blowback. People refuse to acknowledge the racist underpinnings of the meme. But pay attention. See how it gets used and it what context. And don’t let people get away with it.

Axelrod’s Accusations

This was discussed in the comments to MsJS’s excellent post so I thought I would give it it’s own post.

I’m sure most people are familiar with the story, but in case they aren’t our old buddy Greg has a good summary. This jist is that Axelrod is accusing Republicans of purposefully hurting the economy in order to damage Obama’s reelection prospects.

As several here have already pointed out, this isn’t exactly a new political tactic. However, given the context of the present political situation, I do think it is an interesting development. Nobody in DC is popular right now, but Congress seems to be less popular than Obama. So perhaps placing the blame on the unpopular kid is a decent strategy.

On the other hand (others ponted this out) this move could potentially make Republicans look stronger than they really are and blaming someone else is not generally the kind of leadership people are looking for from their President.

My opinion? Glad you asked. There is some truth to the notion that Republicans want to block anything Obama supports. But I don’t think it’s a nefarious effort to destroy the economy. Given Obama’s general unpopularity, it’s probably not even a bad political strategy (although it doesn’t appear to be making them more popular). Greg frequently cites polls that show Americans support various portions of Obama’s economic and health care plans as evidence of a variety of things ranging from Republicans not listening to Americans to Americans being less conservative and many more. My takeway is that Obama is unpopular and if you put his name next to rainbows, the popularity of rainbows would take a hit. As a result, it makes sense politically for Axelrod to point the finger at Republicans and for Republicans to oppose most anything Obama proposes.

Where’s Team Perry?

Ah, the surprises that await the aspiring pol!

Exhibit A: Texas Governor Rick Perry.

He jumped into the race in August as a force to be reckoned with. His early polling gave him a 29-17 lead over Mitt Romney.

Now we hear from Iowa, a state that was ‘supposed’ to be his, that he’s tied for fifth (!) with Newt Gingrich and trails leaders Herman Cain and Romney by about 15 points.

Despite what the punditry claims, the Iowa caucuses aren’t that important. Since 1976 only one non-incumbent GOP candidate who won the Iowa caucuses has gone on to win the presidency.

But it seems to me that for Perry to poll way behind a candidate who is barely campaigning in that state says a lot about his campaign and the people who are running it. I’m not talking ideology, but campaign mechanics.

If I were a campaign manager, I’d take a long look at every skeleton or perceived skeleton in my client’s closet and create a strategy for the candidate to minimize, dismiss, or even benefit from it. I don’t get the sense that Team Perry has done anything close to that.

First, there’s the book he wrote that was published late last year. As Steven Levingston wrote,

He didn’t think much of legislation on food safety, the minimum wage, child labor bans, environmental protection and Medicare.

When challenged by those in the electorate who were uncomfortable with his positions in the book, Team Perry scrambled to contain the damage control.

Second, was the statement about Ben Bernanke. I understand why he might object to Bernanke’s quantitative easing, but instead of preparing him with a 40-second soundbite to counter it, Team Perry left the man without a fallback. And again, they had to mop up when Perry called the Fed chairman’s actions “almost treasonous.”

The list goes on. The ranch name. Allowing him to reignite the birther issue in a way that riled other Republicans instead of giving him more presidential sounding talking points for his interviews. His lack of preparedness for the debates and his response to same.

Isn’t up-front preparation, in part at least, what an aspiring pol pays a campaign team for? Is Perry’s team not capable of providing guidance and counsel, or is it not allowed to? Either way, Perry’s candidacy looks to me like it needs proactive focus from a capable campaign team who is allowed to do its job.

Sunday Funnies and Open Thread

Here’s a bit of good news for consumers. Looks like the banks are backing off.

Joining an industry’s retreat in the face of customer protests, Wells Fargo has abandoned the idea of charging debit card fees — the third major bank to back away from such plans in a day.

The San Francisco banking giant had planned to test a monthly $3 fee for users of its debit cards in five states. It said in a statement Friday that it had called off that pilot program “as a response to customer feedback the bank has received.”

“We will continue to stay attuned to what our customers want,” said Ed Kadletz, head of Wells Fargo’s debit card division.

A host of critics including President Obama have attacked Bank of America’s plan to charge account holders $5 a month if they use their debit cards to make purchases. The populist outrage, highlighted by protests staged by the Occupy Wall Street movement, has caused other major U.S. banks to hold off on imposing similar fees.

Earlier Friday, Bank of America backpedaled, saying it would make it easier for its customers to avoid the fee by waiving the charge if they also used BofA credit cards, maintained minimum account balances or made certain direct deposits. Details of the revised plan had not been finalized, a person familiar with the changes said.

Also Friday, JPMorgan Chase said that after its own eight-month testing of $3 monthly debit card fees it had decided against imposing them on its customers.

Citibank, US Bank and Union Bank are among other major institutions that have now taken the no-debit-fee pledge. However, certain regional banks, such as SunTrust and Regions, already have implemented fees similar to those at Bank of America.

Boots & Pieces (Saturday Night Fashion Thread)

Why the fascination with boots—both for men and women? Women, even when men in boots don’t necessarily turn them on, like boots on other women. Men just plain seem to like women in boots, also. My theory, and there must have been dozens, if not hundreds, of psychology Ph.D. dissertations written on the subject but—since I’m not a clinician—I don’t know the right way to find them on PubMed, is that boots connote power. And in this day and age we all like women who feel empowered.

Power caused by income inequality (how timely!!). After all, it cost a lot more to cobble a pair of boots for a rich landowner riding his horse to inspect his estate than it did to cobble a pair of sandals, or wrap rags around one’s peasant feet.

Power caused by the ability to enforce the rich land owner’s (or owners’) will. Those who were hired to enforce the will of the establishment were (and often still are) clothed in the manner of the rich land owner. . . see cavalry/military officers, law enforcement officers, and the like. Besides, the heel adds height and can aid in physical intimidation by the boot wearer.

You walk differently when you’re in boots than when you’re wearing shoes. Try, just try not to strut a little when you’re wearing boots. . . it’s practically impossible. There’s something about the configuration of the last and the heel that force you into it. They also make your legs look longer (for both genders) which, at least in Western culture, is highly attractive. I suspect that both of these aspects play into the American mythology of the cowboy. . . the sheer difficulty and dirtiness of what real cowboys do and their lifestyle can’t really be the reason why cowboy boots are so popular (and, ashot, I think we need to see a picture of your boots, too!). It’s actually why I don’t like wearing cowboy boots—to me, they take me back to my mucking out stalls and flinging hay bale stage, which I loved because I was working with horses, but was really, really hard and dirty work. lms can attest to that!

So what boots have I been acquiring? Well, I have a relatively mundane pair of gray suede boots that I like because they’re understated but still give me that little titche of attitude that you get when you’re wearing boots. My one regret. . . these boots are made by Impo and they also make this style in fire engine red and I haven’t been able to get my hands on a pair. My kingdom for a pair of red boots this cute! J

Boots and power. . . but add a little girly touch like a ruffle and you’ve got these. Again, pretty understated, but I like the dichotomy involved.

Wear boots with a skirt rather than jeans or leggings and they can pretend to be demure. Brown leather with a buckle on the side; almost, but not quite, motorcycle cop with a stacked heel. I know that wedges are back in right now, but I just really like a heel rather than a wedge. . . seems a little more edgy to me.

Brown suede Calvin Kleins that make legs look ridiculously long—how can you not love that?

And some boots just send a message. These are the ones that started the whole boot buying spree.

OK, folks, weigh in with your commentary!

P.S. ashot—have I attained super Lib status now??

Snow Storm Saturday Bits and Pieces

Full on snow storm here in the northeast, at least in southwestern CT. Good day to hang inside, watch college football, and blog. October 30th…are you kidding me? I blame global warming. And Wall Street. Probably the fault of weather derivatives.

Congrats to St. Louis. I wonder what the odds were on Sep 1 of the Cards winning the series. And if anyone made the bet. Still, quite a ways for the Cards to go before they catch the Yanks for most World Series championships. But they are inching closer.

Have at it.


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