The Widdershins

Archive for September 2014

Good afternoon Widdershins. Fall, the bestest of seasons, is upon us. This past weekend my hometown had its forty-third annual arts and crafts festival built around the making of sorghum molasses. It was all the fun you can imagine when you throw out the welcome mat for 40,000 humans and the town’s tornado ravaged infrastructure was built for fifteen hundred. I hope your weekend was a good one as well.

Today I thought we would play a short game of Wudja — would you rather have the life of person X over the life of person Y? For purposes of today’s little thought experiment, person X is President Obama and person Y is China’s President Xi Jinping.

So would you like to be Barack where he is “relicking the calf” on Iraq and Syria? A president elected by touting a Obama Coffee Salutefortuitous, opportunistic anti-Iraq War speech on a Chicago sidewalk where he was the last-minute substitute is faced with again spilling blood and treasure on the sands of the Middle East. He’s making decisions as would a make-up artist playing the part of a dermatologist — any decision is merely covering up a long-festering pustule that could erupt at any juncture.

You could be the Obama who is faced with finishing his presidency with the bookends of John Boehner and Mitch McConnell actively leading a Congress in rabid inactivity. Given that this Congress has been the least productive in the history of the Republic, the obvious next step is going for the world record in placing 535 people in simultaneous cryogenic stasis.

Or you could be the U.S. President who is protected by an agency that seems to recruit from the Barney Fife school of protective services. In any event the Secret Service has given Hollywood the premise for the next incarnation of the Home Alone franchise. Allowing a fence jumper to breach the North Portico into the White House, get through the East Room, almost to the Green Room and then issuing a misleading statement about the matter is a better film treatment than 95% of what the studios have turned out this year.

And just for good measure, there remains Sarah Palin and her ilk lumbering about the country like Brontosauruses  proving that 140 million years just isn’t enough evolution for some walnut-sized brains.

Xi JinpingOr would you like to be China’s Xi Jinping? The leader of a country of 1.3 Billion where between 150-170,000,000 still live in poverty. While a startling number, China has reduced its poverty by a staggering 71% in just three decades.

Xi has the privilege of running a government where corruption is almost as plentiful as the smog choking the skies. He also enjoys the burden of leading an economy that is slowing down where every decision is a Gordian knot of increasing wages for a growing middle class or making it less advantageous for Chinese manufacturing thus slowing the economy further.

Perhaps the newest Damoclesian issue began unfolding last Friday and escalated over the weekend. Succinctly put the issue is: Whether or not the central Beijing government will make good on the right of Hong Kong to democratically elect its leader — a confrontation building for almost 20 years.

The riots and demonstrations of the weekend were met with a violent response obviously sanctioned by Beijing authorities. What is most disconcerting to Beijing and Xi has to be, this is Hong Kong! The very same Hong Kong that is an affluent and orderly Eden bordering on obsessive compulsive adherence to civility and graciousness. Hong Kongers have somewhat of a superiority complex — seeing themselves well above and beyond the authoritarianism and disorder of mainland China.

Hong Kong Riot 2

Hong Kong two days ago…

When the British turned over Hong Kong in 1997, one of the central tent poles of the deal was allowing Hong Kong’s citizens to democratically elect their top leader for the first time ever in 2017. Chinese leaders reaffirmed the promise in 2007, but last July the government began to “crawfish” on the deal. The “newly reformed” deal is that Beijing must “approve” all the candidates from which the voters may choose. That doesn’t sit well with the wealthy, independent, and socially entitled Hong Kongers, especially the youth.

This whole episode is reminiscent of Tiananmen Square. For those living in Hong Kong, they believe they have a special obligation to maintain the memory of 2,600 peaceful protesters being mowed down. The obligation is a solemn one since all semblance of Tiananmen has been erased from the history of mainland China and the current generation knows nothing of the massacre.

Xi’s choice is literally an existential one for China. Can he allow democracy to gain a foothold? How can he differentiate between a two-system dichotomy ruling over a billion citizens? The greatest question is whether China has opened the door too wide and for too long to ever hope to close it to the infection of free enterprise capitalism? The inevitable loss of control terrifies Beijing. The eyes of the world would be well-advised to keenly watch China’s reaction to that fear since it will be a defining milestone for the next decade.

So wudja be Barack or Xi? There are no neithers in Wudja.

Unlike the Chinese intertubz, this is an open thread.

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Good Monday, Widdershins. I hope you had a lovely weekend; as for me, I experienced some extremely odd weather – in the 90’s on Saturday and Sunday. And, I heard a lot of noise about Emma Watson, a goodwill ambassador for the UN, and her “He for She” campaign.

On the principle that no publicity is bad publicity, I would say that having a camera-friendly, articulate young woman claim the mantle of “feminist” is always a good thing. Just ask Beyonce.

….[In] Sunday’s MTV Video Music Awards…the 33-year-old closed out the show with an epic declaration of the F-Word, a giant “FEMINIST” sign blazing from behind her silhouette.

As far as feminist endorsements are concerned, this was the holy grail: A word with a complicated history reclaimed by the most powerful celebrity in the world. And then she projected it — along with its definition, by the Nigerian feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie — into the homes of 12 million unassuming Americans. Beyoncé would become the subject of two-thirds of all tweets about feminism in the 24 hours after her appearance, according to a data analysis by Twitter, making Sunday the sixth-highest day for volume of conversation about feminism since Twitter began tracking this year (the top three were days during #YesAllWomen).

While Beyonce’s endorsement was a great marketing moment, Emma Watson’s speech championing the UN’s new initiative, “He for She” (which I’ll post in full below), in my opinion, was the beginning of a new era for feminism. The UN’s efforts, and Watson’s bravery in being the spokesperson for them, mark the first step towards reclaiming feminism as a mantle that includes and invites men; a call for activism which gets back to the true roots of what our First Wave foremothers were trying to do: gain equal rights for women.

Period.

Here is the transcript, for those who would rather read than watch.

Read the rest of this entry »

Happy Friday, Widdershins. Uncle Fredster is up to his kneecaps, so I’m filling in this weekend.  I thought that we might continue Rosh Hashana by celebrating songs about sweet things.  It’s wide open – sweet, sugar, candy, sweethearts – whatever tickles your fancy.  I’ve found well over a hundred songs from multiple genre and eras that will fit the bill, so let the sweet times roll.

I’m leaving late this afternoon and will be away until Sunday afternoon.  be sweeties and consider this to be an open thread.

 

(1) Sugar Pie Honeybunch – The Four Tops

(2) Sugar Magnolia – The Grateful Dead

(3) Sweet Cherry Wine – Tommy James and the Shondells

(4) Sweet Little Sixteen – Chuck Berry

(5) Sweet Talkin’ Guy – The Chiffons

 

 

 

Good Thursday, Widdershin, and a Happy Rosh Hashanah to all.  While I am not of the Jewish persuasion, I will happily celebrate any and all holidays.  My friend Rusti is the ultimate Jewish mother and one hell of a good cook, so I have been known to frequent her table at holiday times for a nosh or three.  I do not pretend to be well-informed, but I have been told that Rosh Hashanah signifies the new year, when the righteous have their names inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.  There are gatherings, music, and wonderful sweets prior to the solemn season of Yom Kippur.  Being raised Roman Catholic, it’s almost as if Easter were to precede Good Friday.

Just to throw in my two cents’ worth, I hope that this season brings for us new life.  I wish for an end to eternal conflict, and hope for the twin miracles of peace and harmony.  As long as I am reaching, I would like to see some resolution to never-ending conflicts and mind-numbing callousness across the globe.  May this be the year that we actually begin to care about each other instead of believing that ends always justify the means.

I know intellectually that nirvana is not usually obtained, but I’m a Sixties kid.  I know, because I’ve seen it, that harmony is possible.   People can work together for the greater good.  Past practices can end, new beginnings can start.  My friend Rusti tells me that she does not make resolutions in the classical sense, but rather does self-examinations as to how she can be a better person, family member, employee, citizen, etc. then strives to improve.  That works for me.

This has been an uneasy year.  Expenses are outpacing salaries at a scary pace.  Medical costs are multiplying by a factor of awful.  The national debt can’t be getting better thanks to a defense budget that already exceeds that of any number of other nations’ combined total outlay.  We haven’t done much to solve our homeless problem, and veteran’s care is managed only by crisis.  Not exactly what we had hoped for in this enlightened age.

I won’t pretend that I have the foggiest notion regarding what to do about any of this.  I can’t even imagine what it will take to get Congress off of its collective keisters to do their damned jobs.  I can’t imagine who is voting for these people – oh, wait.  Yes I do, and I only wish that they would realize that their problems could be solved by cleaning house (and senate) up there.

But as we close out this year (if you are Jewish) and enter the autumn months, we have an outside chance of making things better.  So make a donation, call some people, register some voters and offer to drive people to the polls.  It’s our best chance to at least level the field and hope for a better tomorrow.  May all of our names be written in the Book of Life, along with all of those whom we hold dearly.

L’shanah tovah, y’all.  This is an open thread.

 

 

 

pulling-hair-3

I was perusing various political sites the other day when this one caught my eye and almost made me want to put my eyes out!  It appears that our dear “progressive” friends on the far left are once again unhappy with the possibility (probability?) that Hillary Clinton may become the Democratic nominee for President in 2016.  And this time it appears they have even formed their own little super secret club on Google groups called the “Gamechanger Salon” where they can complain and kvetch amongst themselves about how horrible and terrible Hillary is and how “not left enough” she is.

The Hill reviewed hundreds of emails from a progressive members only Google group called the “Gamechanger Salon,” a forum where nearly 1,500 activists, strategists and journalists debate issues and craft messaging campaigns.

The group includes prominent Democrats, Sierra Club officials, journalists who work for The Huffington Post and The Nation magazine, senior union representatives, leaders at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and the president of NARAL.

I was really totally surprised at the inclusion of NARAL there because as long as I’ve been aware of Hillary Clinton, and as far as I know, she has steadfastly believe in and defended a woman’s right to choose when it comes to womens’ reproductive rights.

The group’s existence was revealed earlier this year by Mediatrackers.org which is some type of conservative group.

The Salon group “expressed an appetite for an alternative to Clinton to teach her — and those from the centrist wing of the party — a lesson.”  Uh-huh.  Really?  Carl Gipson who is a progressive activist and writer for Occupy.com said in one email:

“The establishment Dems need to be punished, and the best way for that to happen is for Warren to beat Hillary in the primary on a populist message,”

Really? Doo tell!  So you think Elizabeth Warren has a chance in hell of winning a national election?  You do realize Carl that Warren would be torn apart as she would be described and tarred and feathered as a Northeastern Liberal. (Shock!  Horrors!!)   Wanna think Mondale/Reagan:

Mondale was defeated in one of the biggest landslides in US history by President Reagan, gaining electoral votes from only his home state of Minnesota and the District of Columbia.

It would be like shooting fish in a barrel.

But apparently from reviewing all of these emails from “the group”, they are still mad and holding their breath, threatening to pout, over one thing:  THE VOTE

Conversations with a half-dozen of the members of Gamechanger Salon this week confirm that the angst within parts of the progressive movement has only grown.

“There’s good reason to believe the discontent remains the same,” Neil Sroka, spokesman for Democracy for America and another group member, told The Hill.

Much of the exasperation with Clinton hinged on the former New York senator’s vote for the Iraq War, which is still toxic for many progressives. Clinton has since said her vote was a mistake.

Charles Lenchner, a progressive operative and executive director of Organizing 2.0, said Clinton — and anyone else who voted for the Iraq War — is “tainted.”

“And personally, I would like to see a Democratic Party where folks who enabled George Bush to drag the country into a permanent war are punished at the ballot box,” he said in an interview.

Ya know Charles…actually I’d like to see punished the folks who provided all of the false information, false intelligence, like Dubya, Cheney, Colin Powell, Condi Rice all brought up on charges.  But that’s not gonna happen.  And I’m not going to “punish at the ballot box” anyone who voted for the AUMF when all they had was the propaganda from the Bush administration to go on.

To use a phrase that Charles Pierce likes to use, here’s some stupid for lunch from one of the folks:

Ryan Clayton, a left-leaning commentator and strategist, wrote in a July 2013 email, “The more Progressives I talk to, the more people tell me that they’ll never forgive her for voting for the Iraq War… and won’t even vote for her in the general.”

Well Ryan, you and your friends do that and then see above: Mondale/Reagan  mkay?

Guy Saperstein, a big Democratic donor is another one unhappy with Hillary and his mad is about her relationship with Wall Street.

In emails, Saperstein called a report out in December of last year that Clinton offered a “reassuring” message to Goldman Sachs executives “horrific,” and slammed her for “ducking a lot of issues, like the Keystone pipeline.”

He also raised questions about her leadership at the State Department and referenced “the type of intimidation the Clintons want to quietly promote [in the velvet glove, of course].”

Hey Mr. Saperstein, you’re a part owner of the Oakland Athletics.  How do ya like those tax breaks that Major League Baseball and the others sports get?  Ah…I thought so.  He also worries : ” that voters would begin to speculate over her personal life and relationship with her husband.”  Oh Guy, if you don’t think Hillary Clinton has already seen, heard and read it all about her personal life then you just don’t have a clue.

* * * * * *

Sadly, this a group that’s a part of the Warren Wing of the party and I wonder how the good Senator feels about them calling themselves that.  They may have some doubts but they are firmly in her corner. Lux said about Warren:

“She represents most of what I have been looking for in a Presidential candidate for my entire career in politics and who is besides a dear friend. I am not expecting her to decide to make the race, though- she certainly hasn’t given me much indication she is considering it,” he said in an August 2013 email.

Another supporter professed “disappointment” that Warren hasn’t talked about climate change publicly since she was elected.  Uh, no Mark she hasn’t because she was elected based on her taking on Wall Street.

Some of the “progressives” have even talked about (gasp!) sitting out the election.  (Sound familiar to anyone?)

“if we have no Progressive candidate with legitimate street cred about taking effective bold action to face the vital issues we’re confronting as a country today (which is pretty much Warren and … cricket, cricket…) in the race for Presidency, that means the abandonment of the Democratic Party by the reemerging and resurgent Left in America.”

Lux added:

if she doesn’t take steps to assuage some of the angst on the left, “there’s a danger of progressives tuning out” if she wins the nomination.

Indeed, Gibson said in an interview that might be the plan.

“They’ll either vote for the Green Party of just sit out. That’s a really big aspect of progressive voters’ strategy” to have their voices heard, he said.

Really?  Ask us from 2008 how that sitting out thing did.  In the event our good friends from the far left do decide to pout and stay home and it somehow does cost Clinton the election, I can assure them that the alternative will be much worse.  Warren says she’s not interested (now).  Bernie Sanders would be a delightful President but that ain’t gonna happen either.  No, I’ll take the one we know thank you very much.

These next two youtube musical clips are from the HBO series “The Leftovers” and I put them here just because I like them.

and

Okay Widdershins, this is a completely open thread so discuss whatever is on your minds today.

Good afternoon Widdershins. There is much astir today. It appears that Iraq 3.0 began last evening — a war so nice we have now done it thrice. From early returns, it appears we have bombed between 20 to 25 ISIL and Khorasan outposts, training grounds, and their ostensible headquarters.

The Arab neighbor watch appears to have stepped up to the challenge. Good on Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan, Qatar, and Bahrain for their help.

Gender Pay Gap

But this is not the war to which I am referring in the title. A little prefatory explanation is in order. Last week, the Census Bureau reported that the gender wage gap is now 22 cents — not the 23 cents we thought last year. That’s the right direction, but the wrong analysis.

It’s right in that the gap has narrowed slightly. It’s the wrong focus since it accentuates a symptom and not the real problem. To analyze the wage gap through numbers is a game of three card Monte — the focus is always shifting and subject to the slight of data manipulation. The larger issue and I believe the correct analysis is how we value people — not just women although women are the primary beneficiaries of this view.

The traditional liberal thinking on the wage gap is typified by the Center for American Progress. Hoping to remedy the wage gap, the CAP addresses the gender wage gap with seven proposals:

1. Raise the minimum wage
2. Raise the tipped minimum age
3. Support fair scheduling practices
4. Support pay transparency
5. Invest in affordable, high-quality childcare and early child education
6. Pass paid sick days legislation
7. Pass a national paid family and medical leave insurance program

Are these worthwhile goals — yes. Will they help narrow the wage disparity — yes. Will they address those who are low-wage workers, who are disproportionately women — yes. Will it cure the larger problem of how we value women and in larger measure, all working people in our society — no.

Without question, all of the above goals are laudable, worthwhile, and should have been implemented the day before yesterday — that is if Congress ever gets back in the law-passing-business. But while these goals would shrink the wage gap to some degree and boost women’s pay, the underlying question of why women make up nearly two-thirds of people working at or below the minimum wage is a more productive and far-reaching inquiry.

The U.S. is in a tie for 5th highest gender wage gap...

The U.S. is in a tie for 5th highest gender wage gap…

When you look at the opponents of the seven proposals and the tactics they employ to resist the inherent fairness embodied within them, they manipulate the data and invariably wind up talking about the scary lady parts of which they know so little. Childbearing, as if by immaculate conception, and child-rearing, as if by June Cleaver Stepford clones, are the excuses always trotted out, but what goes begging is why women are systematically disadvantaged up and down the economic job ladder — not just at the lower rungs.

Here are some of the better questions: Why do women suffer such a penalty for taking time off after having children and men do not? Why is insufficient childcare a woman’s problem and seldom if ever a problem affecting the men folk? And instead of asking why women are taking lower-paying jobs than men, perhaps the question is why women, who now are clearly more educated than men, are dissuaded from studying math and science?

There are thought pieces about incentivizing girls to study in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) areas, rethinking paternity leave, retooling scheduling, and actually reinventing positions so the jobs are more conducive to lifestyle choices, but none of these address the fundamental undervaluing of people, particularly women, in the workplace. Women obviously need to be paid more, but the real point is how we, as a society, value them and their work.

I’ve seen this first hand in my consulting with businesses. You have probably heard the tired old hiring motto about “getting the right people on the bus”. That’s only half the analysis — what is important is “getting the right people in the right seats on the right bus“. It is about value hiring and paying that person in terms of world-class performance.

Here’s a quick example: A world-class hotel chain was consistently scoring low on its housekeeping services. The recommendation to the hotel: Study those within the organization who consistently outperform and then hire more of them. The CEO resisted by saying, “They are just housekeepers why do I need to spend the money to study them? Just hire some more housekeepers.”

Having identified the hotel chain’s world-class housekeepers, the CEO was challenged to spend a day doing the job of a housekeeper. He was a miserable failure — a world-class failure. On average, it took him three to five times longer to do the same job and his results were poorer. As so many people do, the CEO failed to realize the inherent talent associated with cleaning a room.

In only three fields do women earn more than men -- baker is one, the other two are purchasing agent and a miscellaneous computer field...

In only three fields do women earn more than men — baker is one, the other two are purchasing agent and a miscellaneous computer field…

In those world-class performers, cleaning a room translated into a strategy of attack, the inventiveness to place themselves in a guest’s mindset, and the overwhelming pride of ownership in creating a spotless room. The CEO relented and began hiring for talent, began paying for the talent, and most importantly, came to respect the value these employees represented.

Imagine a world where DMV workers were filled with positivity. Imagine a help line where the workers were filled with a love of actually solving problems. Imagine a police officer who understood the art of listening. While we are imagining these worlds, imagine these people were not only respected, but paid for their value.

That is a world where the wage gap would not exist. That world is perhaps a couple of generations away from where we are now, but nonetheless a world to which we should aspire.

It’s not exactly rocket science either: Where we respect, value, and reward the individual, it’s society that collectively benefits. It’s just that simple.

Take the conversation wherever you like since this is an open thread.

CREDIT: Timothy A. Clary via Getty Images, 9-21-14

Good Monday, Widdershins! We had quite an exciting weekend in Noo Yawk, as over 300,000 people took to the streets to highlight the most important issue of our modern world: Climate Change.

Early reports from event organizers are hailing the turnout as the largest climate march in history, far bigger than the Forward on Climate rally held in Washington, D.C., last year. High-profile environmentalists including Bill McKibben, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jane Goodall and Vandana Shiva marched alongside policymakers such as Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and former Vice President Al Gore were also there, and more than 550 buses carried in people from around the country.

The rally comes at an opportune time as 120 world leaders, including President Barack Obama, are expected to convene Tuesday at the United Nations in New York to discuss ways to tackle the growing threat of carbon pollution.

The White House has pledged to “show the world that the U.S. is leading on climate change, and to call on other leaders to step up to the plate,” John Podesta, who serves as a counselor to the president, told reporters on Thursday. However, a recent study found that the world spewed more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere last year than ever before, primarily driven by China, India and the United States. And the top leaders of China and India announced earlier this month that they won’t be attending Tuesday’s summit.

We talk about so many things here at TW, but I think we all understand, at some level, that climate change outweighs them all. After all, if our Mother Earth becomes unlivable, then we will be forced to concentrate on how to survive, not being able to focus on things like equal rights for women and LGBT, an end to war, or any other cause dear to our hearts.

I think one of the many disappointments supporters of Barack Obama have suffered, if they are honest with themselves, is his complete lack of commitment to weaning the United States off of its dependence on fossil fuels, natural gas and minerals. Instead, he adopted the Republican meme of “ending our dependence on foreign oil.” Clearly this course of action has only accelerated global warming, although it was first heralded as somehow different from his predecessor’s.

The initiatives signalled the new president’s first attempt to honour campaign promises to join the international fight against global warming and reduce US dependence on energy sources from restive regions of the world.

Mr Obama asked the Environmental Protection Agency to reconsider whether to grant California a waiver to regulate car exhaust emissions blamed for contributing to global warming.

Former President George W Bush’s administration had blocked efforts by California and a dozen other states to impose their own limits on carbon dioxide gas emissions.

Mr Obama also ordered the transportation department to produce guidelines to ensure US vehicles reach average fuel efficiency of 35 miles per gallon by 2020.

Ugh! I read this, and am disgusted all over again by how incredibly corrupt and venal Obama is. Remember that when he put this policy forward, both the House and Senate were controlled by Democrats, AND he had an 80% approval rating. He could have done anything he wanted, and anyone of any moral character would have taken this opportunity to become the President who started turning climate change around. Instead, apparently, what he wanted was to give a big wet kiss to his oil and gas buddies. Mwah, boys! Go buy yourselves a Caribbean island! We’ll just turn up the AC when we start to sweat!

At this point Obama and Kerry are busily distracting us with more war, more terrah terrah terrah. But in reality, wars and terrorism are closely linked to our dependence on oil, and the eeeeevil foreign policies we have executed for the past 60-odd years because of it. Had Obama even had the courage of Jimmy Carter, who put solar panels on the White House and had a well-thought-out plan to switch us to alternative energy (click the link to read his speech in 1977 – you will be amazed), we could have been so much farther along by now, almost six years after his inauguration. Instead, we are still marching in the streets while Obama ponders the wisdom of the Keystone XL Pipeline. STILL!

I certainly hope that by the time 2017 rolls around, we will be inaugurating a President who truly understands the urgency of this issue, and puts it at the center of U.S. environmental policy. If this happens, it will, in great part, due to the men and women who have put their feet on the street, time and again, to make sure we don’t lose sight of this goal. I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

This is an open thread.


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Kellyanne Conway’s new job

Take the kids to work? NO!

That moment when *your* pussy gets grabbed

You go gurl! h/t Adam Joseph

“The” Book

Nice picture of our gal

Time till the Grifter in Chief is Gone

Hopefully soonerJanuary 21st, 2021
2.3 years to go.

Mueller Time!

Wise Words from Paul Ryan

B-I-N-G-O!

Only the *best* politicans bought by the NRA

Marching for their lives

Perfect Picture

Rudy: oh shit the pee tape IS real!

Need Reminders?

Never too early to shop for Christmas

“Look this way”

Manafort’s Jail Photo

Indeed who?

Trump spam

IOW Dumb = Happy?

Simply Put

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