Sep 23, 2018

Updated 06/18

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About The Blogs
“Perspective gives us the ability to accurately contrast the large with the small, and the important with the less important. Without it we are lost in a world where all ideas, news, and information look the same. We cannot differentiate, we cannot prioritize, and we cannot make good choices. “ -John Sununu

Today there are so many talking heads who daily bombard the airwaves, magazines and periodicals with their version of events and issues that affect our lives and the world. And with so many jabbers reporting what is taking place at home and abroad, often it becomes difficult to distinguish what’s accurate and what’s not. Thus, it’s up to each of us to dig below the headlines to distinguish fact from fiction in order to make a near clean conscience decision as to what the truth might be.

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John McCain’s Funeral

by Susan B. Glasser

Donald Trump’s name was never mentioned. It didn’t have to be. The funeral service for John Sidney McCain III, at the Washington National Cathedral, on this swampy Saturday morning, was all about a rebuke to the pointedly uninvited current President of the United States, which was exactly how McCain had planned it.

Of course, there were fulsome tributes to Senator McCain’s bravery and courage and public service, stark reminders of the torture he endured as a prisoner of war, and of the policies he fought for (and against) in his many decades as a Republican politician from Arizona. But McCain knew that would not be the headline from the grand service, whose many details he personally oversaw. This was to be no mere laying to rest of a Washington wise man, nor just another funeral of an elder statesman whose passing would be marked by flowery words about the end of an era. It was a meeting of the Resistance, under vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows.

This was made clear a few minutes into the two-and-a-half-hour service, when McCain’s daughter Meghan, weeping at times, called it a funeral for nothing less than “the passing of American greatness” that her father represented, and not the “cheap rhetoric” that now passes for it. Later, her voice breaking, she said, “The America of John McCain does not need to be made great again, because it is already great.” Her eulogy was then interrupted by applause, the first time I have heard such a thing at a funeral in that great, cavernous, and sombre Episcopalian hall. She hadn’t uttered the name of the “President Non Grata,” as the Washington Post recently referred to Trump, nor did she need to. Midway through her remarkable speech, a pool report from the White House was released. Trump, wearing a white “Make America Great Again” hat, and having tweeted his morning complement of bile, directed at Hillary Clinton, Robert Mueller, and his own Justice Department, had departed to play golf.

Before he died, McCain had personally enlisted Trump’s two Presidential predecessors to speak at the service, and when they came to the lectern both George W. Bush and Barack Obama fulfilled the role they had been assigned, offering tributes to the man they had each beaten in an election, as well as odes to the American political system they all loved. In any other context, maybe it would not seem to be a stinging criticism to hear Obama praise the “rule of law.” But Trump is the inescapable context of these times in Washington. “Perhaps above all,” Bush said, “John detested the abuse of power.” When Bush talked about McCain’s dedication to America’s leadership in the world and his hatred of tyrants, how many of those listening thought of the current President’s praise for many of those same dictators whom McCain had been so proud to oppose? Of course they thought of it. That was the point.

In the line of his address that is sure to be its most quoted, Obama seemed to describe both Trump and the divisive way in which he has chosen to lead the country. “So much of our politics can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult, in phony controversies and manufactured outrage,” Obama said. “It’s a politics that pretends to be brave, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that.” Heads nodded. Democratic heads and Republican ones alike. For a moment, at least, they still lived in the America where Obama and Bush and Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney could all sit in the same pew, in the same church, and sing the same words to the patriotic hymns that made them all teary-eyed at the same time. When the two Presidents were done speaking, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” blared out. This time, once again, the battle is within America. The country’s leadership, the flawed, all too human men and women who have run the place, successfully or not, for the past few decades, were all in the same room, at least for a few hours on a Saturday morning. The President of the United States, however, was not.

McCain’s grand funeral—the Obama adviser David Axelrod called it an exercise in “civic communion”—underscored a fact that is often lost about Washington these days. The city is much more bipartisan, in some respects, than it has ever been, more united than it may currently seem, in its hatred of Donald Trump.

Some are more forthright about this than others, for understandable reasons. Others are circumspect, especially the elected Republican officials who have now publicly bowed to Trump after trying and failing to stop his ascendance in their party. But their presence at McCain’s funeral suggested that the final chapter has not yet been written in the Republican drama over what to do about the crude interloper who has taken over their party. McCain certainly died hoping for something other than the current, slavish devotion to Trump that many Republicans on Capitol Hill now profess, and that is what his funeral was meant to remind us. Watching John Boehner and Elizabeth Warren, David Petraeus and Leon Panetta, Al Gore and Madeleine Albright and Paul Ryan glad-hand in the pre-noon hours of September 1st, there was no doubt of what their presence there, together, was meant to convey.

A little after 9 a.m., President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, made an entrance in the packed Cathedral, embracing Republican senators, nodding earnestly, dressed in black like everyone else. Trump’s national-security adviser, John Bolton, was there, too, along with John Kelly, the former Marine general whom Trump has enlisted as his White House chief of staff. All eyes were on them, and, after the service, that is much of what the buzzing knots of people outside the cathedral talked about: What were they thinking as they heard the speeches? Why did they come? Were they embarrassed? Ashamed? Should they be? They should not be under any illusions, and I imagine they weren’t: this was a room full of people who hate much of what their boss is doing, and that they are letting him do it. Was a tax cut for the wealthy worth it? A few dozen judicial appointments and two Supreme Court seats?

A few minutes after the service, when the talking and singing was over and the bipartisan establishment flowed back into the humid swamp outside the cathedral, I ran into Jeff Flake, McCain’s fellow-senator from Arizona and, like McCain, one of Trump’s few remaining public critics among Republicans on Capitol Hill. “The fever will break eventually,” Flake said. “It has to.” It was an oddly optimistic thing to say at a funeral, and, when he said it, it hardly sounded convincing.

But I imagined that it was the prayer voiced silently by many of those in the room. I thought back to the beginning of the service, when the choir had sung the beautiful words of the Navy Hymn: “Oh Holy Spirit, who didst brood upon the chaos dark and rude and bid its angry tumult cease and give, for wild confusion, peace; oh hear us as we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea!” I have heard those words at many funerals before, but never did they seem to speak to the room in quite the same way. –NY

Trump Degrades Us All

by Masha Gessen

Five and a half years ago, I filed a story for the Times in which I used the word “dickhead.” I had met with Vladimir Putin, and he had used that word. The Times struck it from the story. I disagreed with the decision, because I thought that Putin’s use of the word conveyed important information, but such was the Gray Lady’s policy. She seems to have loosened her policies for Donald Trump’s use of the word “shithole” to describe Haiti, El Salvador, and countries in Africa.

Many second-day analysis stories have focussed on what Trump’s use of the word tells us about the man’s inner essence. Opinions range from “This is nothing new, we have always known that he is a racist” to “Finally, we can definitively say that he is a racist.” This reaction reflects a very American preoccupation with a person’s perceived innate qualities; the assumption is that it’s always important to know who a person is before making judgments about how the person acts. But that is not the story here. Trump’s racism isn’t news, and we are very unlikely to learn anything new about the inner workings of Trump’s mind and soul, which seem remarkably uncomplicated. What is news is his public behavior and the way it is changing the country.

Back in 2012, I thought that Putin’s use of the word “dickhead” was important not because it reflected a deeper truth about his person—I’d long known that he was a vulgarian, and so did anyone else who cared—but because his behavior was significant. There is a bigger taboo against using curse words in Russian culture than there is in America. The fact that Putin cursed—not merely in the Kremlin, and not merely in mixed company, but in conversation with a person whom he would have perceived as a middle-aged, highly educated Jewish lady from central Moscow who, in accordance with cultural myth, should have fainted upon hearing a swear word—highlighted the extent to which norms of public behavior had eroded during his twelve years in power.

Similarly, Trump’s remarks tell us less about his private thoughts than they do about our public sphere. I, for one, would have been happy to see the Times relax its obscenity standards because of the understanding that real human speech is always part of the story, and people curse—more often than not, under circumstances in which cursing is appropriate. But that’s not what happened here: the story was so shocking precisely because it was so inappropriate for the President to say what he thought out loud, in a White House meeting.

Trump’s transgression is twofold. First, his vulgar remark broke a taboo against racist speech. This was in keeping with his campaign-trail rants against “political correctness,” a term so widely denigrated in the culture that no one dares mount a public defense of it. The argument in favor of political correctness, however, is very simple: no matter what you think or feel inside, there are just certain things that should not be said. This is political in the sense of politics as the process of negotiating how we live together in a community, a city, or a country.

Trump made his remark while carrying out the duties of President, in a meeting with elected officials—and this was his second transgression, political in the electoral sense of the word. We invest electoral representatives with a kind of historical and moral aspiration: it is their job to speak and act in ways that reflect the way the public would like to see itself. At most times, we want political leaders to sound like smarter and better versions of themselves, and of us. That Putin’s public vulgarity has worked so well for him with Russians reflects the opposite impulse: to wallow in crude, aggressive awfulness. Once again, the news is not that the President of the United States is a foul-mouthed racist—we knew that, and we also knew that this was the reason some people voted for him. The news is that he insists on dragging the rest of us down with him.

Trump’s “shithole” remark presented the media with a starker version of the daily Trumpian Twitter conundrum. To fail to report his tweets or his “shithole” remark is to fall down on the job of reporting the news. To report it is to participate in the ongoing degradation of the public sphere. –NY

The Terrorists I Worry About

by John Pavlovitz

A friend and I recently had a disagreement.

She said to me with great sincerity, “I worry about terrorists.”

“I do too.” I said.

The disconnect, I soon realized was in our definition of the world.

As she expounded on her statement, it became clear to me that for her, terrorists meant what terrorists means to people who share her politics and worldview.

It meant brown skin and head wraps and Middle Eastern countries of origin.
It meant foreigners and immigrants and outsiders and “non-Americans.”
It meant the kind of cartoon Muslim boogeymen that FoxNews and Right Wing radio and the current President keep warning her are hiding under the bed and lurking around dark corners and overrunning the airports.

My friend is genuinely panic-stricken by an intentional distortion of reality. She is terrified about giant shadows cast on walls; sleight of hand illusions designed by clever story tellers holding flashlights in order to make tiny things looks massive and to generate fear in the hearts of their listeners.

She is convinced of tall tales and exaggerated ghost stories about a gathering foreign horde she’s certain has amassed and is now preparing to imminently devour us, to ravage our freedom, to destroy America. This is why she worries.

Those aren’t the terrorists I’m most afraid of right now. Such people are undoubtedly out there, but they’re not the ones that keep me up at night. They’re not the threat I worry most about.

Right now I worry about terrorists who use Twitter to bait other unhinged world leaders into using nuclear weapons; who taunt them by publicly playing chicken with the lives of hundreds of millions of people who have no voice or protection.

I worry about terrorists who are attacking the very agencies working tirelessly to protect us from national threat—whether those threats come from outside or from within, even the highest levels of our Government.

I worry about terrorists who incite conflict when they should deescalate it, whether racial or military or religious; those whose impulsivity and ego and recklessness always serve as propellants in combustible moments they’re supposed to be the prevailing cool head.  

I worry about terrorists who’ve spent the past 18 months relentlessly fighting to take away the opportunity for life-giving care for tens of millions of the very Americans they’re charged with caring for—the terminally ill, the poor, the most vulnerable.

I worry about terrorists who insult all our allies while playing footsie with dictators; who will give less face time to leaders across the aisle, American troops on the ground, and members of our Press—than malevolent rulers who interfered with an election.

I worry about terrorists who intentionally fill Cabinet positions with people openly hostile to the very systems designed to steward the environment and education and justice and international diplomacy.

I worry about terrorists who coddle nazis and white supremacists, and play footsie with the NRA and cozy up to Conservative Christian zealots; who willingly and joyfully partner with those who see skin color and sexual orientation and nation of origin as moral defects, as viruses needing to be eradicated.

I worry about terrorists who continually manufacture fake wars: on Christmas, on Christians, on Anthems, on the Military, on police, on children in public bathrooms, on borders, on marriage—those who continually ratchet up war rhetoric, those who are forever in a battle posture because they know that people who feel under attack are so very easy to manipulate with false bravado and empty tough guy talk.

I worry about terrorists who wield corrupt legislation like dirty bombs hidden under the cover of night in the places where they will do the most damage to the most people; the young, the elderly, the already marginalized, those seeking refuge.

These are the terrorists that most threaten the safety of my children, the integrity of our Constitution, the stability of our nation. They are the daily makers of real nightmares, and they are far more productive and prolific in the damage they do than any dark-skinned boogeymen could ever dream of being.

They are the terrorists generating the greatest violence, manufacturing the most fear, creating the most chaos—because that is what successful terrorists do.

I feel sorry for my friend because she is blind to it all. Her fear is real but it is tragically misplaced.

She can’t see any of this because she truly believes the story she’s been told over and over again by her talk show hosts and her pastors and her country club table mates: the one of God-fearing, white American patriots, assailed by the bad guys with brown skin and strange last names and head wraps—and of the God-fearing, white American patriots who will surely save and deliver them.

She can’t see that they’re the one yielding the flashlights.
They’re the ones telling her the tall tales.
They’re the ones filling her with fear.
They’re the ones truly terrorizing her.
They’re the ones she should most fear.

My friend and I are both worried about terrorists.

I just know how close they really are.

Many Years Ago . . .

In the late 18th century, while traveling in the South, Benjamin Hawkins, a US diplomat/politician, was requested by the then US President to return as soon as possible to Washington DC.  In response, Hawkins allegedly wrote, "God-willing, if the Creek don't rise".  With the word "Creek" capitalized, it referred to the Creek Indian tribe and not a body of water.

Before the camera's advent, a person's image was "immortalized"/"memorialized" through either painting and/or sculpture.  Painters/Sculptors  based their fees on the number of limbs (arms & legs) to be painted/sculpted, and this was true whether the painting/portrait or sculpture was for one person or for a "group" painting or sculpture. Because of this "per limb" fee that  some paintings of George Washington and other famous figures showed the subject standing behind a desk with one arm behind the person's back while others showed both arms and both legs.  And it is from this old way of painters'/sculptors' charging fees that the expression  "it costs an arm and a leg" originated.   

As incredible as it sounds, years before indoor plumbing became popular, men and women took a bath twice a year only (usually in May and October).  Therefore, women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads (because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs.  Wealthy men could afford good wigs made of wool, and to clean a wig,  a loaf of bread was carved out,  the wig was placed inside the shell of hollowed out bread, and bake it for 30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term "big wig".  Today the term refers to someone who is [or who appears to be] powerful and wealthy. 

In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one chair.  Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used for dining. The head of the household always sat in the chair while everyone else sat on the floor to eat.  Occasionally if/when a guest, usually a man, came, he would be invited to sit on the only chair in the house during the meal.  Since the chair was intended for someone in-charge and/or important, the person sitting on the chair was referred to as the chairman.  Today, the term/title "the chairman" or "the chairman of the Board" is applied to the person in-charge and/or is the head of the group/organization.

Years ago, personal hygiene was not top priority.  As a result, many men & women developed severe acne which left scars.   To smooth out the complexion and camouflage the blemishes, pock marks, and scars, women spread bee's wax on their face, and if/when a woman began to stare at another woman's face, she was told to 'mind your own bee's wax' [meaning:  "How dare you stare!  Why don't you just mind your own business!"]  And often when a woman smiled, the wax would often crack, hence, the term "crack a smile".  In addition, when one sat too close to the fire or heat, the wax would often start to melt the bee's wax, thus, the expression "losing face" or "to lose one's face".

Ladies of yesteryears wore corsets [just as modern women wear a body-shaper or girdle], and for a woman to be considered "dignified and proper", she had to wear a tightly-laced corset.  Thus the term, "straight-laced". 

Common entertainment in days of yore included playing cards.  However, there was a tax levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the 'Ace of Spades'.       To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead.  But since most games required 52 cards, the people who had only  51 cards were considered dumb & stupid or dumb because they were not "playing with a full deck".

Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the people considered important.   With no telephones, TVs, radios or other social communication media, the politicians sent and instructed various assistants (spies, actually) to local taverns, pubs, and bars  to 'go sip some ale' and listen to/eaves drop on people's conversations.    The two words 'go sip' were eventually combined to today's term 'gossip' 


At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from either pint- or quart-sized containers. A bartender's job was to keep the drinks coming and to also pay close attention and remember who was drinking in 'pints' and who was drinking in 'quarts,' hence the phrase "mind your P's and Q's". 


In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons which fired round iron cannonballs.   Ships kept a good supply of cannonballs near the cannons.   To prevent them from rolling about on the deck, the cannonballs were stored on a square-based pyramid with a bottom-most layer (or base) of 16  cannonballs -- i.e., a supply of 30 cannon balls stacked pyramid-style in a small area right next to the cannon.   To prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others, a metal plate was used.  The metal plate had 16 round indentations to hold each of the 16 cannonballs at the  base/bottom-most/base layer of the pyramid.   The base metal plate holding the 16 base/bottom-most layer cannonballs was called a monkey   Also, since iron balls rust quickly, the monkey [bottom plate] was made of brass.  However, when chilled below a certain temperature, brass contracts much more and much faster than iron.  Consequently, when the temperature dropped and became way too cold, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the brass monkey [metal plate].   Thus, the term  "cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey". –Contributed by Ralph

Eye-Opening Study

by Mansur Gidfar

You know how it sometimes feels like the government only cares about what the wealthy want? Turns out there's evidence that confirms just that.

Follow The Money

The following video animation shows all U.S. and USSR/Russian arms sales from 1950 through today.

The underlying data comes from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's Arms Transfers Database. Units are expressed in trend indicator values (TIV). Each dot on the map = one TIV.

Even something terrible as the root of many problems on this planet can be captivating.

Where the Hell is Matt? 2008

14 months in the making, 42 countries, and a cast of thousands.

That Millions Of Sea Creatures Are “In Real Peril”

by Michael Snyder

Ocean temperatures continue to rise, and scientists are extremely alarmed as a mass die-off of sea creatures appears to be imminent.  This week, environmental experts were stunned when ocean water off of the San Diego coast hit an all-time record high of 81.3 degrees Fahrenheit.  Daily measurements began all the way back in 1916, and since that time a higher ocean temperature has never been recorded off of the California coast.  Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.  Studies have shown that ocean temperatures have been rising rapidly all over the planet, and this has already had a devastating impact on many ecosystems.  The oceans are the foundation of the food chain, and if sea life starts dying off on a massive scale it could mean unprecedented famine all over the planet.

So I hope that people out there are taking this very seriously.  Our planet is going through dramatic changes, and the numbers don’t lie.  The reading of 81.3 degrees off of the San Diego coast was confirmed by two separate buoys…

Two buoys off the coast of San Diego last week recorded what researchers believe could be the highest temperature ever measured in California waters.

A sea-surface temperature of 81.3 degrees was logged Thursday by both the Torrey Pines buoy (7.3 miles offshore) and the neighboring Scripps Nearshore buoy (.7 miles from the coast). The buoys are two of 25 managed by Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

81 degrees may not sound that high to you, but it is extremely unusual.

And other records have been set recently as well.  For example, a record high of 78.6 degrees was recorded at the Ellen Brown Scripps Memorial Pier on August 1st…

Scripps researchers have been taking daily measurements by hand at the Ellen Brown Scripps Memorial Pier in San Diego since 1916. On Aug. 1, a reading of 78.6 degrees Fahrenheit (25.9 degrees Celsius) was recorded, surpassing a previous high set during an unusually warm period in July 1931.

NOAA also operates a series of its own buoys off the California Coast, but they are unlikely to have ever recorded a temperature above 78 degrees because they are farther off the coastline than the Scripps buoys.

Some sea creatures are capable of relocating to areas with lower temperatures, but others are not.

And those creatures “are in real peril” according to ecologist Michael Burrows…

Some free-swimming sea animals may shift their routines, but stationary organisms like coral reefs and kelp forests “are in real peril”, said Michael Burrows, an ecologist at the Scottish Marine Institute, who was not part of the research.

In 2016 and 2017, persistent high ocean temperatures off eastern Australia killed off as much as half of the shallow water corals of the Great Barrier Reef.

You may or may not be concerned with the fate of our coral reefs, but they are actually extremely important to our underwater ecosystems.

According to marine biologist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, one out of every four fish on the entire planet “lives in or around coral reefs”…

“One in every four fish in the ocean lives in or around coral reefs,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a marine biologist at the University of Queensland. “So much of the ocean’s biodiversity depends upon a fairly small amount of the ocean floor.”

If all coral reefs were wiped off the map, we would have global famine starting almost immediately.

So what is causing this stunning rise in ocean temperatures?

Needless to say, many in the climate change community are blaming global warming…

Between 1982 and 2016, the number of “marine heat waves” roughly doubled, and likely will become more common and intense as the planet warms, a study released Wednesday found. Prolonged periods of extreme heat in the oceans can damage kelp forests and coral reefs, and harm fish and other marine life.

“This trend will only further accelerate with global warming,” said Thomas Frolicher, a climate scientist at the University of Bern in Switzerland, who led the research.

And now there is a hot new term for global warming that is really starting to catch on.

The term “Hothouse earth” was recently used in a study published by a research institute in Sweden, and it is becoming very popular…

Hothouse earth – aka ‘climate change’; aka ‘global warming’; aka ‘global climate disruption’; aka ‘global weirding’ – was invented by a bunch of activists at a hitherto deeply obscure scientific institution calling itself Stockholm Resilience Centre. Until they got a study published last week nobody – probably not even the people who work there – had heard of the place.

But because Stockholm Resilience Centre said all the right scary things about the imminence of global man-made climate doom, the left-wing media treated it like the voice of God.

Others are blaming another source for the stunning rise in ocean temperatures.

In recent years, I have chronicled the immense changes that our planet is going through.  Earthquakes are happening more frequently, volcanoes that were once dormant are springing to life all over the globe, and we are witnessing shaking in unusual locations.

Well, the same things are happening on the ocean floor.  Underwater volcanic eruptions are generating immense amounts of heat, underwater earthquakes are producing giant cracks in the crust of our planet, and magma from the core of the Earth is pushing up toward the surface.  The ongoing eruption in Hawaii is an example above the surface of the water that we can see, but anything going on below the surface generally does not make the news.

These “Earth changes” are completely and utterly outside of our control, and there is nothing that we can do to stop them.  If they continue to get worse, ocean temperatures will continue to rise even higher, and that will be absolutely devastating to the global food chain.

This should be one of the biggest news stories of the year, but unfortunately the mainstream media is almost entirely ignoring it. –The American Dream

US Income Inequality Continues To Grow

In 2015, the top 1 percent of families in the United States made more than 25 times what families in the bottom 99 percent did, according to a paper from the Economic Policy Institute.

This trend, which has picked up post Great Recession, is a reversal of what was seen during and after the Great Depression, where the gap between rich and poor narrowed.

“Rising inequality affects virtually every part of the country, not just large urban areas or financial centers,” said co-author Estelle Sommeiller.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, at least in the United States.

The top 1 percent of families took home an average of 26.3 times as much income as the bottom 99 percent in 2015, according to a new paper released by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit, nonpartisan think tank in Washington, D.C. This has increased since 2013, showing that income inequality has risen in nearly every state.

The paper looked at the income of families across the nation and assessed inequality at the state, metropolitan area and county level using data from the IRS. The incomes are averages of the IRS summaries of taxpayers in each income range.

Mind the gap

To be in the top 1 percent of earners in the United States in 2015, a family would have to have brought in $421,926 in pre-tax dollars. What qualifies as the top 1 percent varies by each state, and the states with the highest thresholds are California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Nationwide, the average income of the bottom 99 percent is $50,107 per family. This also varies depending on geography.

By looking at income data on the state and county level, it’s possible to get a more local picture of the trend of inequality.

When inequality came up, “often the conversation would turn to, well, that’s New York City, it’s not my state,” said Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center and co-author of the EPI paper.

“Rising inequality affects virtually every part of the country, not just large urban areas or financial centers,” said Estelle Sommeiller, a socio-economist at the Institute for Research in Economics and Social Sciences in France and co-author of the paper. “It’s a persistent problem throughout the country — in big cities and small towns, in all 50 states.”

Between the years 2009 to 2015, the incomes of those in the top 1 percent grew faster than the incomes of the bottom 99 percent in 43 states and the District of Columbia. In nine states, the income growth of the top 1 percent was half or more of all income growth in that time period.

A recent trend

This trend is a reversal of what happened in the United States in the years during and after the Great Depression. From 1928 until 1973, the share of income held by the top 1 percent declined in nearly every state.

The report from the EPI attributes that growth to a different atmosphere for workers, where the minimum wage generally was steadily rising and they were able to join unions and bargain for rights.

Today, while unemployment remains low and the economy is doing exceptionally well, wage growth has remained stagnant.

“When you look at economic expansions, it’s in that recovery that you see income growth – businesses recover, reorganize, workers find jobs,” Price said.

In those expansions since 1973, there has been less income growth for the bottom 99 percent, said Price.

Meanwhile, CEO pay has increased from about 20 times the typical worker’s pay to 271 times greater, from 1965 to 2016, according to 2017 a study by the EPI.

As the economic recovery continues, Price said that it is critically important to continue to look at growth and specifically how it is distributed.

“For some reason, the economy just doesn’t have the generation of wage growth we’d like to see,” Price said. “We like to focus a light on the way that income is distributed to share that the people who make decisions are benefiting from the economy in a way we might not all be.” -CNBC

Simply Falling - Iyeoka

Right-Wing Groups Commit Nearly 3 Out of Every 4 Deadly Extremist Attacks In US


The federal government's General Accounting Office (GAO) has measured data gathered on extremist attacks in the United States between September 12, 2001 - the day after the 9/11 attacks - and December 31, 2016. They found that of "the 85 violent extremist incidents that resulted in death since September 12, 2001, far right wing violent extremist groups were responsible for 62 (73 percent) while radical Islamist violent extremists were responsible for 23 (27 percent)."

It may seem like attacks carried out by radical Islamic extremists happen more often, but in reality, there are far more deadly attacks carried out by far-right extremists. However, the attacks carried out by radical Islamic extremists were larger in scale, resulting in more deaths in a single incident. "41 percent of the deaths attributable to radical Islamist violent extremists occurred in a single event—an attack at an Orlando, Florida night club in 2016," the GAO report said.

Overall, the reports says, "from September 12, 2001 through December 31, 2016, attacks by domestic or 'homegrown' violent extremists in the United States resulted in 225 fatalities, according to the ECDB. Of these, 106 were killed by far right violent extremists in 62 separate incidents, and 119 were victims of radical Islamist violent extremists in 23 separate incidents." 

Based on data collected in the US Extremist Crime Database (ECDB), far-right extremist attackers are more likely to subscribe to beliefs that are: 
  • Fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)
  • Anti-global;
  • Suspicious of centralized federal authority;
  • Reverent of individual liberty (especially right to own guns; be free of taxes)
  • Believe in conspiracy theories that involve a grave threat to national sovereignty and/or personal liberty;
  • Believe that one's personal and/or national "way of life" is under attack and is either already lost or that the threat is imminent;
  • Believe in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in or supporting the need for paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism;
  • Express support for some version of white supremacy, the Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazism.

With a released progress report of the Federal Government's 2011 Strategic Implementation Plan for Countering Violent Extremism (SIP-CVE), the Government Accountability Office found that only 19 of 44 tasks had been implemented, 23 were still in progress, and two had been ignored completely. 

According to the GAO, "The federal government does not have a cohesive strategy or process for assessing the overall CVE effort. Although GAO was able to determine the status of the 44 CVE tasks, it was not able to determine if the United States is better off today than it was in 2011 as a result of these tasks." -NCRM

If You Crave Alone Time, You Are Much Smarter Than You Think

by Mary Wright

It is said and believed that every human being on Earth needs companionship, and a feeling of community, belonging, and acceptance. Studies proved that when animals are left alone, they die. Same is thought to be true of humans.

However, one study showed that this is not entirely the case when it comes to highly intelligent people.

According to the study’s findings, the more people socialized with other people the happier they were. However, this was not true for people who are highly intelligent. Contrary, highly intelligent people were less happy, less productive, and more anxious when they were around more people.

According to the researchers, there are few reasons for this: intelligent people can entertain themselves in any environment and won’t get bored if they are left alone, they need time to focus on their goals and because of that they don’t have much time to spend on socializing with others. Plus, they don’t need the approval and the company of others to make them feel valued and accepted.

In fact, smart people need their alone time to reflect and decompress. They analyze in silence the events that happen around them and try to learn from them. They can be often found sitting by themselves with a pen and paper and drafting ideas and future plans.

Moreover, it is found that highly intelligent people are those who have a calm and reserved nature. They would rather spend a Friday night reading a book in their cozy home, than going out for drinks with friends.

After all, smart people know that they are their best company. And sometimes, it is better to be alone than spending your time in meaningless social gatherings that won’t bring any value to your life.-Curious Mind Magazine

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Recipe by: keylimeone

"It's quick and easy to assemble."


6 servings
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 (2 1/2 pound) boneless beef chuck roast
  • 1 pinch salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 (1.2 ounce) package dry beef gravy mix
  • 1 (1 ounce) package ranch dressing mix
  • 1 (.7 ounce) package dry Italian-style salad dressing mix
  • 1/2 cup water, or as needed
  • 5 whole peeled carrots (optional)


Ready In 8 h 15
  • Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Spread the onion slices out into the bottom of the cooker.
  • Spread the flour out onto a work surface. Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt and black pepper, and roll the roast in the flour to coat all sides. Using the edge of a small, sturdy plate, pound the flour into the meat. Place the floured roast into the cooker on top of the onions. Whisk together beef gravy mix, ranch dressing mix, and Italian dressing mix in a bowl, and whisk the mixes with water until smooth. Pour over the chuck roast. Distribute carrots around the meat.
  • Cover the cooker, set to Low, and cook until the roast is tender and the gravy has thickened, about 8 hours.
Go Military!

Aug 26, 2018

Homophobes Might Be Hidden Homosexuals

by Jeanna Bryner

A new analysis of implicit bias and explicit sexual orientation statements may help to explain the underpinnings of anti-gay bullying and hate crimes

Homophobes should consider a little self-reflection, suggests a new study finding those individuals who are most hostile toward gays and hold strong anti-gay views may themselves have same-sex desires, albeit undercover ones.

The prejudice of homophobia may also stem from authoritarian parents, particularly those with homophobic views as well, the researchers added.

"This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, 'Why?'" co-author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a statement. "Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection."

The research, published in the April 2012 issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reveals the nuances of prejudices like homophobia, which can ultimately have dire consequences. [The 10 Most Destructive Human Behaviors]

"Sometimes people are threatened by gays and lesbians because they are fearing their own impulses, in a sense they 'doth protest too much,'" Ryan told LiveScience. "In addition, it appears that sometimes those who would oppress others have been oppressed themselves, and we can have some compassion for them too, they may be unaccepting of others because they cannot be accepting of themselves."

Ryan cautioned, however, that this link is only one source of anti-gay sentiments.

Hidden homosexuality

In four studies, the researchers looked at the discrepancies between what people say about their sexual orientation and their implicit sexual orientation based on a reaction-time test. The studies involved college students from Germany and the United States.

For the implicit measure, students had to categorize words and pictures flashed onto a computer screen into "gay" or "straight" groups. Words included "gay," "straight," "homosexual" and "heterosexual," while the pictures showed straight and gay couples. Before each trial, participants were primed with the word "me" or "others" flashed momentarily onto a computer screen. The researchers said quicker reaction time for "me" and "gay," and a slower association of "me" with "straight" would indicate said an implicit gay orientation. [Why Gay Parents May Be the Best Parents]

In another experiment, the researchers measured implicit sexual orientation by having participants choose to browse same-sex or opposite-sex photos on a computer screen.

Questionnaires also teased out the parenting style the participants were exposed to, with students asked how much they agreed or disagreed with statements such as: "I felt controlled and pressured in certain ways;" and "I felt free to be who I am." To gauge homophobia in a household, students responded to items such as, "It would be upsetting for my mom to find out she was alone with a lesbian" or "My dad avoids gay men whenever possible."

Participants indicated their own level of homophobia, both overt and implicit; in word-completion tasks, students wrote down the first three words that came to mind when prompted with some of the words' letters. Students were primed at some point with the word "gay" to see how that impacted the amount of aggressive words used.

Controlling parents

In all of the studies, participants who reported supportive and accepting parents were more in touch with their implicit sexual orientation, meaning it tended to jibe with their outward sexual orientation. Students who indicated they came from authoritarian homes showed the biggest discrepancy between the two measures of sexual orientation.

"In a predominately heterosexual society, 'know thyself' can be a challenge for many gay individuals," lead author Netta Weinstein, a lecturer at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom,said in a statement. "But in controlling and homophobic homes, embracing a minority sexual orientation can be terrifying." [5 Ways to Foster Self-Compassion in Your Child]

Those participants who reported their heterosexuality despite having hidden same-sex desires were also the most likely to show hostility toward gay individuals, including self-reported anti-gay attitudes, endorsement of anti-gay policies and discrimination such as supporting harsher punishments for homosexuals.

The research may help to explain the underpinnings of anti-gay bullying and hate crimes, the researchers note. People in denial about their own sexual orientation, perhaps a denial fostered by authoritarian and homophobic parents, may feel a threat from other gay and lesbian individuals. Lashing out may ultimately be an indicator of the person's own internal conflict with sexual orientation.

This inner conflict can be seen in some high-profile cases in which anti-gay public figures are caught engaging in same-sex acts, the researchers say. For instance, evangelical preacher and anti-gay-marriage advocate Ted Haggard was caught in a gay sex scandal in 2006. And in 2010, prominent anti-gay activist and co-founder of conservative Family Research Council George Rekers was reportedly spotted in 2010 with a male escort rented from According to news reports, the escort confirmed Rekers is gay.

"We laugh at or make fun of such blatant hypocrisy, but in a real way, these people may often themselves be victims of repression and experience exaggerated feelings of threat," Ryan said. "Homophobia is not a laughing matter. It can sometimes have tragic consequences," as was the case in the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard, a gay man. –SA

Nearly 20% Think Interracial Marriage is Morally Wrong

by Tim Marcin

It has been just more than 50 years since Loving v. Virginia, the landmark Supreme Court decision that banned state-level laws preventing interracial marriage.

Yet in 2018, there are a large number of Americans—nearly 20 percent—who feel there is something wrong with interracial marriage, according to a new poll this week from YouGov. The survey of U.S. adults asked about the “moral acceptability of various behaviors” regardless of the legality of the action; one of those behaviors was interracial marriage.

Seventeen percent of respondents said interracial marriage was “morally wrong” while 83 percent said it was “morally acceptable.” There was a bit of a divide along party lines on the subject, with 28 percent of Republicans and just 12 percent of Democrats replying that interracial marriage was morally wrong.

There wasn’t much of a difference among respondents by race, however, according to YouGov. Seventeen percent of white respondents felt interracial marriage was morally wrong, compared with 18 percent of black respondents and 15 percent of Hispanic respondents.

The YouGov survey polled 1,500 U.S. adults and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points. 

A report last year from Pew Research Center found that by 2015, one in six newlyweds were married to someone of a different race compared to just 3 percent in 1967, the year of Loving v. Virginia. Twenty-nine percent of Asian newlyweds were intermarried, compared with 27 percent of Hispanic newlyweds, 18 percent of black newlyweds and 11 percent of white newlyweds. 

There was, once again, a divergence in beliefs along party lines. According to Pew, about half of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic said they felt the increasing number of interracial marriages was good for society. Just 28 percent of Republicans and right-leaning independents said the same. –News Week

What It’s Like to Be Gay And In A Gang

byVanessa R. Panfil


There are many stereotypes of and assumptions about street gangs, just as there are many stereotypes and assumptions about gay men. Pretty much none of those stereotypes overlap.

In movies and television, some of the most recognizable gay characters have been portrayed as effeminate or weak; they’re “fashionistas” or “gay best friends.” Street gang members, on the other hand, are often depicted as hypermasculine, heterosexual and tough.

This obvious contradiction was one of the main reasons I was drawn to the subject of gay gang members.

For my new book “The Gang’s All Queer,” I interviewed and spent time with 48 gay or bisexual male gang members. All were between the ages of 18 and 28; the majority were men of color; and all lived in or near Columbus, Ohio, which has been referred to as a “Midwestern gay mecca.”

The experience, which took place over the course of more than two years, allowed me to explore the tensions they felt between gang life and gay manhood.

Some of the gang members were in gangs made up of primarily gay, lesbian or bisexual people. Others were the only gay man (or one of a few) in an otherwise “straight” gang. Then there were what I call “hybrid” gangs, which featured a mix of straight, gay, lesbian and bisexual members, but with straight people still in the majority. Most of these gangs were primarily male.

Because even the idea of a gay man being in a gang flies in the face of conventional thought, the gang members I spoke with had to constantly resist or subvert a range of stereotypes and expectations.


Male spaces can be difficult for women to enter, whether it’s boardrooms, legislative bodies or locker rooms.

How could I — a white, middle-class woman with no prior gang involvement — gain access to these gangs in the first place?

It helped that the initial group of men whom I spoke to knew me from years earlier, when we became friends at a drop-in center for LGBTQ youth. They vouched for me to their friends. I was openly gay — part of the “family,” as some of them put it — and because I was a student conducting research for a book, they were confident that I stood a better chance of accurately representing them than any “straight novelist” or journalist.

But I also suspect that my own masculine presentation allowed them to feel more at ease; I speak directly, have very short hair and usually leave the house in plaid, slacks and Adidas shoes.

While my race and gender did make for some awkward interactions (some folks we encountered assumed I was a police officer or a business owner), with time I gained their trust, started getting introduced to more members and began to learn about how each type of gang presented its own set of challenges.


The gay men in straight gangs I spoke with knew precisely what was expected of them: be willing to fight with rival gangs, demonstrate toughness, date or have sex with women and be financially independent.

Being effeminate was a nonstarter; they were all careful to present a uniformly masculine persona, lest they lose status and respect. Likewise, coming out was a huge risk. Being openly gay could threaten their status as well as their safety. Only a handful of them came out to their traditional gangs, and this sometimes resulted in serious consequences, such as being “bled out” of the gang (forced out through a fight).

Despite the dangers, some wanted to come out. But a number of fears held them back. Would their fellow gang members start to distrust them? What if the other members got preoccupied about being sexually approached? Would the status of the gang be compromised, with other gangs seeing them as “soft” for having openly gay guys in it?

So most stayed in the closet, continuing to project heterosexuality, while discreetly meeting other gay men in underground gay scenes or over the internet.

As one man told me, he was glad cellphones had been invented because he could keep his private sexual life with men just that: private.

One particularly striking story came from a member of a straight gang who made a date for sex over the internet, only to discover that it was two fellow gang members who had arranged the date with him. He hadn’t known the others were gay, and they didn’t know about him, either.


In “hybrid” gangs (those with a sizable minority of gay, lesbian or bisexual people) or all-gay gangs, the men I interviewed were held to many of the same standards. But they had more flexibility.

In the hybrid gangs, members felt far more comfortable coming out than those in purely straight gangs. In their words, they were able to be “the real me.”

Men in gay gangs were expected to be able to build a public reputation as a gay man — what they called becoming “known.” Being “known” means you’re able to achieve many masculine ideals — making money, being taken seriously, gaining status, looking good — but as an openly gay man.

It was also more acceptable for them to project femininity, whether it was making flamboyant gestures, using effeminate mannerisms, or wearing certain styles of clothing, like skinny jeans.

They were still in a gang. This meant they needed to clash with rival gay crews, so they valued toughness and fighting prowess.

Men in gay gangs especially expressed genuine and heartfelt connections to their fellow gang members. They didn’t just think of them as associates. These were their friends, their chosen families — their pillars of emotional support.


But sometimes these gang members would vacillate about certain expectations.

They questioned if being tough or eager to fight constituted what it should mean to be a man. Although they viewed these norms with a critical eye, across the board they tended to prefer having “masculine” men as sexual partners or friends. Some would also patrol each other’s masculinity, insulting other gay men who were flamboyant or feminine.

Caught between not wanting themselves or others to be pressured to act masculine all the time, but also not wanting to be read as visibly gay or weak (which could invite challenges), resistance to being seen as a “punk” or a pushover was critical.

It all seemed to come from a desire to upend damaging cultural stereotypes of gay men as weak, of black men as “deadbeats” and offenders, and of gang members as violent thugs.

But this created its own tricky terrain. In order to not be financial deadbeats, they resorted to sometimes selling drugs or sex; in order to not be seen as weak, they sometimes fought back, perhaps getting hurt in the process. Their social worlds and definitions of acceptable identity were constantly changing and being challenged.


One of the most compelling findings of my study was what happened when these gay gang members were derisively called “fag” or “faggot” by straight men in bars, on buses, in schools or on the streets. Many responded with their fists.

Some fought back even if they weren’t openly gay. Sure, the slur was explicitly meant to attack their masculinity and sexuality in ways they didn’t appreciate. But it was important to them to be able to construct an identity as a man who wasn’t going to be messed with — a man who also happened to be gay.

Their responses were revealing: “I will fight you like I’m straight”; “I’m gonna show you what this faggot can do.” They were also willing to defend others derided as “fags” in public, even though this could signal that they were gay themselves.

These comebacks challenge many of the assumptions made about gay men — that they lack nerve, that they’re unwilling to physically fight.

It also communicated a belief that was clearly nonnegotiable: a fundamental right to not be bothered simply for being gay. –Gayety

And Then It Is Winter … ON The Back Nine

You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years.

It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on a new life. Yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went.  I know that I lived them all.  I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.

But, here it is...the back nine of my life and it catches me by surprise.  How did I get here so fast?   Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years away from me, and that I was only on the first hole and the back nine was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like.

But, here it friends are retired and getting gray...they move slower and I see an older person now.  Some are in better and some in worse shape than me...but I see the great change. Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now those older folks that we used to see and never thought we'd become.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day.  And taking a nap is not a treat's mandatory because if I don't on my own free will...I just fall asleep where I sit.

And I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did! But, at least I know, that though I’m on the back nine, and I'm not sure how long it will last...this I know, that when it's over on this's over.  A new adventure will begin.

Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn't done...things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I'm happy to have done.  It's all in a lifetime.

So, if you're not on the back nine yet, let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think.  So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life do it quickly.   Don't put things off too long.  Life goes by quickly.  So, do what you can today because you can never be sure whether you’re on the back nine or not!

You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life.  So, live for today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember, and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past.

Life is a gift. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one. Live it well. Enjoy it today. Do something fun. Be happy and have a great day! Remember -- it is health that is your real wealth, and not pieces of gold and silver or some material possessions.  -Contribution by Ralph

Tolerance Takes A Hit

by Susan Miller

For the first time in four years, Americans are less accepting of LGBT people, a survey finds — a setback activists say is stunning but not unexpected after a turbulent 2017.

Fewer than half of non-LGBT adults — 49% — said they were “very” or “somewhat” comfortable around LGBT people in certain scenarios, according to the Accelerating Acceptance report released Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. That number was down from 53% in 2016.

The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of LGBT media advocacy group GLAAD, reflects an about-face from positive momentum reflected in polls GLAAD has commissioned since 2014.

“We are surprised at the scale and the swiftness” in the erosion of tolerance in the course of one year, Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, told USA TODAY.  “But if you are LGBT and living in America, you are seeing this every day.”

A Supreme Court case has profound implications for LGBT rights and religion's place in public life. The case pits a Denver-area gay couple against a baker who cited his Christian faith in refusing to make a cake for their wedding celebration. (Dec. 1) AP

In 2014, 30% of those surveyed said they were “very” or “somewhat” uncomfortable having their child placed in a class with an LGBT teacher. In 2015, that number dipped to 29%; in 2016, 28%. In 2017, it jumped to 31%.

More people in 2017 were also uncomfortable learning a family member or their doctor was LGBT, the survey shows.

The shift is unsettling fallout that began with the 2016 presidential election, Ellis said, and continued through the year with inflammatory rhetoric and policy rollbacks. The result: “a permission slip for discrimination and bias” that has permeated society, she said.

Among issues cited by GLAAD in 2017:

• LGBT content was scrubbed from White House, Department of State and Department of Labor websites shortly after the Inauguration.

• In February, the Justice and Education departments reversed guidance the Obama administration had issued that said Title IX protected the rights of transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity. 

• In July, President Trump proposed a ban on transgender people from serving in the military, a challenge that was eventually dropped by the administration. 

• It was announced last week that the Department of Health and Human Services will create a division that shields health care workers who refuse to treat patients such as LGBT people because of religious beliefs.

Actions at the state level — such as a Mississippi law that lets government workers and private businesses cite religious beliefs to deny services to LGBT people — are equally disconcerting, the survey noted.

And there has been an increase in violence against the community — 52 hate-related homicides in 2017, an 86% increase over 2016, GLAAD says — and a significant uptick in reports of bias. Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said they experienced discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity, 11 percentage points higher than 2016.

The findings come one week after another study by think tank Movement Advancement Project that shows how a prevalence of discrimination in everyday routines disrupts daily lives. For example: 34% of LGBT people who encountered bias avoided public places such as shops and restaurants.

LGBT people have been under siege while issues such as immigration and health care have grabbed headlines, Ellis said. “We’ve been seeing this erosion happen very quietly and under the radar.”

Despite the lost ground, support for LGBT rights is stable, the GLAAD report shows: 79% of non-LGBT Americans back equal rights for the LGBT community, the same number as 2016.

That is not necessarily a disconnect, Ellis said. “Conceptually, we all believe in equality for everyone,” but there is a “misconception” that LGBT people already have full rights, she said. 

Humanizing LGBT people before the public and the power centers could close the gap, Ellis said, and that was why GLAAD released its findings at the high-profile Davos forum.

“The study validates what LGBT people feel inside. I hear every day ‘it’s not like it used to be; I am nervous; I don’t feel safe anymore,’” Ellis said.

But attitudes can change by people telling their stories, she said.