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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 04:48 PM
Number of posts: 5,418

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Still more pro-corporate propaganda from 60 Minutes

Tonight's segment on a jobs training program was nauseating. Here is the text of two comments I posted to 60 Minutes' website:

Once again, 60 Minutes does its audience a disservice with a puff piece. 60 Minutes accepted at face value the claim advanced by many Fortune 500 companies that "there are hundreds of thousands of good jobs available that companies are finding hard to fill." That there are "hundreds of thousands of good jobs" out there may well be true, but, particularly in the technology sector, the reason corporations are having a hard time filling them is not because of any shortage of "qualified candidates." There are hundreds of thousands of middle-aged, experienced workers, whose experience corporations have decided they no longer want to pay for. These workers are more than capable of learning any new skills their former employers might require. The training program discussed in the segment is certainly commendable on many levels, but we shouldn't be so naive as to think that corporations such as JP Morgan Chase are embracing these programs out of any great sense of social responsibility; rather, programs such as this provide a means for corporations to acquire highly skilled labor on the cheap. And they provide corporations with a measure of cover, diverting attention from the fact that hundreds of thousands of loyal, experienced, middle-aged workers are being brutally cast aside at a time when they have very little hope of even landing another job, let alone a job that pays anywhere near what they were previously earning.

and a follow-up:

Note also that the average starting salary for these trainees is $30K/year -- a salary that will barely support a single adult in any major metropolitan area in this country.


Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Jan 26, 2014, 09:01 PM (13 replies)

"Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did"

(NOTE: I saw this essay on Daily Kos yesterday, and was just completely blown away by it. It's a view of Dr. King's legacy that probably hasn't occurred to most of us, because, unlike the writer, we didn't live the reality of day-to-day life of an African American in the South both before and after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This writer's perspective is profound, and it is beautifully and eloquently expressed. Brilliant! I hesitate to even try to provide a meaningful excerpt. I will provide ab excerpt of the first four paragraphs, but bear in mind they really don't provide a very good indication of what is to come. Just trust me on this: take the time to follow the link and to read the full essay on DailyKos -- you won't regret it.)

Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did;

The topic at hand is what Martin Luther King actually did, what it was that he actually accomplished.

The reason I'm posting this is because there were dueling diaries over the weekend about Dr. King's legacy, and there is a diary up now (not on the rec list but on the recent list) entitled, "Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Dream Not Yet Realized." I'm sure the diarist means well as did the others. But what most people who reference Dr. King seem not to know is how Dr. King actually changed the subjective experience of life in the United States for African Americans. And yeah, I said for African Americans, not for Americans, because his main impact was his effect on the lives of African Americans, not on Americans in general. His main impact was not to make white people nicer or fairer. That's why some of us who are African Americans get a bit possessive about his legacy. Dr. Martin Luther King's legacy, despite what our civil religion tells us, is not color blind.

I remember that many years ago, when I was a smart ass home from first year of college, I was standing in the kitchen arguing with my father. My head was full of newly discovered political ideologies and black nationalism, and I had just read the Autobiography of Malcolm X, probably for the second time.

A bit of context. My father was from a background, which if we were talking about Europe or Latin America, we would call, "peasant" origin, although he had risen solidly into the working-middle class. He was from rural Virginia and his parents had been tobacco farmers. I spent two weeks or so every summer on the farm of my grandmother and step grandfather. They had no running water, no gas, a wood burning stove, no bathtubs or toilets but an outhouse, pot belly stoves for heat in the winter, a giant wood pile, a smoke house where hams and bacon hung, chickens, pigs, semi wild housecats that lived outdoors, no tractor or car, but an old plow horse and plows and other horse drawn implements, and electricity only after I was about 8 years old. The area did not have high schools for blacks and my father went as far as the seventh grade in a one room schoolhouse. All four of his grandparents, whom he had known as a child, had been born slaves. It was mainly because of World War II and urbanization that my father left that life.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jan 20, 2014, 11:11 AM (23 replies)

A question for Mayor Zimmer of Hoboken, NJ

First, a thousand thanks to you, Mayor Zimmer, for coming forward with this. But here is my question for you. You are reported to have written in your diary:

I thought he was honest. I thought he was moral. I thought he was something very different.

But Mayor Zimmer, why on Earth would you ever think that a person, such as Christie, with his legendary reputation for his nasty, rude, dismissive bullying of anybody who has the temerity to ask an uncomfortable question of him, was an honest broker in the first place? That kind of tactic is not the personality trait of someone who is honest; It is the hallmark of someone who is trying to control a conversation and manipulate perceptions.

For the life of me, I cannot understand why more people don't grasp this simple truth of human nature.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Jan 18, 2014, 07:54 PM (49 replies)

To all the New Jersey Democratic Mayors who supported Christie over Buono . . .

. . . Are you all proud of yourselves?
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jan 8, 2014, 09:14 PM (136 replies)

Sorry, couldn't resist creating this (re: Christie). . .

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jan 8, 2014, 06:34 PM (6 replies)

Gov. Christie: "I was misled by a member of my staff . . . "

" . . . who swore she hadn't put my instructions in an e-mail."

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jan 8, 2014, 06:10 PM (0 replies)

Holy Shit! NY Times reports emails show direct link to Christie's top staff for GWB lane closings!

Popcorn, anyone?

Top Christie Staff Sought Lane Closings as Revenge

Newly released emails and text messages show that Gov. Chris Christie’s office was closely involved with lane closings on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in September, and that officials closed the lanes as retribution against the Democratic mayor whose town was gridlocked as a result.

The growing scandal around the bridge threatens Mr. Christie at the moment he assumes an even larger position on the national stage, as chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association and a leading candidate for his party’s presidential nomination in 2016.

In the documents, obtained by The New York Times and other news outlets on Wednesday, Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff in Mr. Christie’s office, gave a signal to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close the lanes about two weeks before the closings occurred.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” she emailed David Wildstein, Mr. Christie’s close friend from high school, and one of his appointees at the Port Authority, which controls the bridge. Mr. Christie and some officials at Port Authority have said the closings were done as part of a traffic study, but they caused havoc for days, backing up traffic for hours.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jan 8, 2014, 04:23 PM (3 replies)

Democrats finally broke the filibuster on judicial nominees, and what does this President do? . . .

. . . Why, he outsources the selection of five judicial vacancies on the federal bench in Georgia to Republicans, of course, like any other President would do! Oh, wait . . .

FFS! God forbid this President should actually use an advantage Congressional Democrats handed to him!

Democratic Members Of Congress Slam Obama For Massive Cave To Republicans On Judges


Last November, Senate Democrats invoked a procedural maneuver that allowed them to confirm judicial nominees by a simple majority vote, thus cutting off the GOP’s ability to maintain control over a key federal appeals court by simply refusing to permit anyone to be confirmed. So it’s a bit odd that, just over a month after Senate Republicans effectively lost their ability to veto nominees from the minority. President Obama decided to outsource selecting nominees to most of the open judicial seats in Georgia to two Republican senators.

Presently, five judicial vacancies need to be filled in Georgia. Yet, 2013 wound down, Obama agreed to a deal that would place most of these seats in Republican hands. As we explained in September when this deal was under consideration,

Sens. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) would agree to stop blocking attorney Jill Pryor’s nomination to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit — a nomination that they have effectively held up for well over 1000 days. In return, Obama would nominate a George H.W. Bush-appointed judge — Chief Judge Julie Carnes of the Northern District of Georgia — to the other open seat on the Eleventh Circuit, creating a fourth vacancy on this federal trial court. Chambliss and Isakson would then be allowed to select three of the four attorneys named to these seats.

Now that Obama has formally nominated this Republican slate of judges, his usual allies in Georgia’s congressional delegation are not happy. Shortly after the nominees were announced, civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) warned that these nominees “do not adequately reflect the diversity of the northern district and that the selection process lacked meaningful community input,” and that “several nominees include persons who have advocated in favor of Georgia’s voter ID laws and for including the Confederate Battle Emblem as part of the Georgia State Flag.” He was joined in his complaint about these nominees by several of his fellow civil rights leaders, as well as Reps. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and David Scott (D-GA).

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Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jan 6, 2014, 06:42 PM (84 replies)

NYT Op-Ed/Charles Blow: "Indoctrinating Religious Warriors" (and my published comment to it)

(An excerpt from the editorial, followed by the text of my published comment to it.)

Indoctrinating Religious Warriors

Published: January 3, 2014

In 2009, the gap between the share of Republicans and Democrats who believed in evolution was just 10 percentage points, 54 percent and 64 percent, respectively. Last year, that gap widened to a whopping 24 points because as the percentage of Democrats who believed in evolution inched up to 67 percent, the percentage of Republicans believing so plummeted to 43 percent. Now, more Republicans believe that “humans and other living things have existed in their present form since the beginning of time” than believe in evolution.

< . . . . >

But I believe that something else is also at play here, something more cynical. I believe this is a natural result of a long-running ploy by Republican party leaders to play on the most base convictions of conservative voters in order to solidify their support. Convince people that they’re fighting a religious war for religious freedom, a war in which passion and devotion are one’s weapons against doubt and confusion, and you make loyal soldiers.

There has been anti-science propagandizing running unchecked on the right for years, from anti-gay-equality misinformation to climate change denials.

< . . . . >

And here is my published comment:

Mark Kessinger New York, NY

For many of those who newly espouse doubts about evolution, this isn't really about religious conviction at all. The fact is that disbelief in evolution, along with climate change denial and the recent, newly acquired opposition to birth control by evangelicals who heretofore had non particular objection to it, has become yet another conservative dog whistle. These various right-wing dog whistles are really about tribal identity as much as anything. Conservatism, it seems to me, has always required an enemy, but not just any enemy. No, to sustain itself, conservatism requires an enemy that cannot readily be pinned down, one that may be hiding under every rock, lurking around every corner and ready to rear its ugly head in the person of any fellow citizen, friend or even family member. And it must be an enemy conservatives can convince themselves is intent upon destroying the world as they know it. These various dog whistle then become a convenient means to identify these crafty, stealthy enemies, and also to make sure they themselves are not so identified. It's all pretty pathetic, really.

Jan. 4, 2014 at 8:13 a.m.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Jan 4, 2014, 01:24 PM (5 replies)

NY Times Editorial calls out President Obama's stingy use of pardons/clemency -- and some stats

An editorial in today's New York Times applauds the eight people for whom it was announced last week that President Obama has decided to either pardon or to commute their sentences, even as it calls him out for being stingier than any other President in recent times in granting such pardons and/or commutations. The stats are really quite disturbing, particularly when so many are locked up for staggeringly long periods for non-violent offenses. Here is a list of Presidents from Eisenhower forward, showing the time in office and the number of pardons/commutations granted by each:

Eisenhower - 8 years - 1,157
Kennedy - just under 3 years - 575
Johnson - 4 years - 1,187
Nixon - 5.5 years - 926
Ford - 2.5 years - 405
Carter - 4 years - 566
Reagan - 8 years - 406
G.H.W. Bush - 4 years - 77
Clinton - 8 years - 459
G.W. Bush - 8 years - 200
Obama - 5 years - 61

This is really quite appalling, in my view, and all the more so this year because the President isn't standing for re-election. Where is your compassion, Mr. President?

Here is an excerpt of and link to the Times's editorial:

A Small Step Toward More Mercy

Published: December 22, 2013

President Obama’s decision on Thursday to commute the outrageously long drug sentences of eight men and women showed a measure of compassion and common sense. But it also served to highlight the injustice being done to thousands of prisoners under federal sentencing laws.

In issuing the commutations, Mr. Obama blamed the “unfair system” that is keeping thousands behind bars solely because they were sentenced before August 2010, when Congress reduced the vast disparity between the way federal courts punish crack cocaine and powder cocaine offenses. The three-year-old federal law, the Fair Sentencing Act, allows prisoners to petition a judge to shorten their sentence, but it does not apply to nearly 9,000 prisoners who were already serving time when it was passed. While Congress is considering legislation to make the law retroactive, any such fix is far from assured.

< . . . >

It is important to recognize that while Mr. Obama showed mercy to these eight people, his administration has been the least merciful in modern times. The power to mitigate an overly harsh sentence is squarely in his hands, and yet in nearly five years he has commuted just nine sentences and issued 52 pardons. (A commutation lessens the severity of a punishment, while a pardon forgives the offense itself and restores the rights people lose when they go to prison.)

There is no excuse for this lack of compassion. The risk to public safety is often used to justify denials of clemency, but a preliminary report issued in July by the United States Sentencing Commission found that the recidivism rates for the more than 7,300 prisoners who received sentence reductions under the Fair Sentencing Act were similar to those for inmates who served full sentences.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Dec 23, 2013, 02:06 PM (4 replies)
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