Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Politics of Hate

The last week in the United States had to have the most vitriloic and distrubing display of xenophobia and nativism that I may have ever witnessed.

From the crazy Pastor who wanted to burn Quran's and got excessive media coverage as a result, the Parc51 hysteria and finally the Grand Guginol of exploitation in collective mourning, 9/11.

The amount of lives lost from 3,000 on that hideous day to the subsequent wars held in an "effort" to revenge it we have not come any further to finding the collective organizer and mastermind, we have not come to a point of really ending these wars (despite the mass pullout of Iraq) and we have done more to divide and confuse a country already in strife and difference over political idealogy and a President who is also black. For some reason the "politics as usual" just isn't cutting it here. The rhetoric, the insanity and the absolute veracity of the team on the right to denigrate anything and everything anyone not of their "ilk" has become disturbing.

I have written what I think is a perpetual stereotype that leads this charge, "The Angry White Male" as personified in all things the de facto psuedo self appointed head, Glenn Beck. But he has others in Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, Newt Gingrinch and well the list goes on. They use their media access to completely push forward information be it factual to fit their needs or mis information to rile up the "base". A base apparently devoid of rational thought and the ability to validate facts.

Then I read this in Media Matters and it resonanted with me because you see I do remember the times and they are a changing and the wind is blowing backwards my friends and it is not a good wind.

Fox Calls for Repeal of the 20th Century

by: Matthew Gertz | Media Matters | News Analysis

Since President Obama's election, Fox personalities have expressed opposition to or called for the repeal of virtually every progressive achievement of the 20th century, including Social Security, Medicare, the Americans with Disabilities Act, portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution.

Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid

Social Security is a federal social insurance program funded through payroll taxes that provides benefits to the elderly and disabled and their survivors. It was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1935. Medicare and Medicaid were established by the Social Security Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. They provide health insurance to the elderly and the poor. All three programs have been defended by progressives and opposed by conservatives for decades.

Beck: Social Security and Medicare "represent socialism and should have never been created." On the January 27 edition of his Fox News program, Glenn Beck said:

Do you think programs like Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should have never been created in the first place? Oh, gosh, Democrats, this is a scary question. Another trap. You know what? It's only scary if you don't know who you are or what you believe in.

I'm an American. I read. I believe in the Constitution. And, of course, Social Security and Medicare represent socialism and should have never been created. Since FDR and his progressive buddies started Social Security, not our Founding Fathers, that should be fairly obvious to people.

Beck's "Plan": Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are "going away." On the April 12 edition of his Fox News program, promoting the next day's show about his "Plan" for entitlement spending, Beck said: "Tomorrow, we're going to roll up our sleeves and begin. We're going to cut health care. Right now, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security are 40 percent of our budget. They're going away. It's going to be ugly, a lot of crying, but America needs a cure."

Tucker Carlson: "Unfortunately" Republicans won't "state unequivocally" they "want to do away with" Medicare and "most" Social Security. On the April 19 edition of Fox News' Hannity (accessed from the Nexis database), Fox News contributor Bob Beckel asked Fox News contributor Tucker Carlson, "Why don't you just state unequivocally that you want to do away with Medicare, which is what the Republicans want to do, and do away with most Social Security?" Carlson replied, "Unfortunately, they don't. Unfortunately, they don't. Unfortunately, most Republicans in positions of elected authority are unwilling to -- are unwilling to look right in the camera and say, 'We're going to have to pull back on entitlements.' "

Bolling is glad the young will have to work rather than rely on the "Ponzi scheme" of Social Security. On the July 24 edition of Fox News' Bulls & Bears, Fox Business host Eric Bolling said that "it's good" that a poll indicates that many young adults don't expect to receive Social Security -- which he called a "Ponzi scheme" -- because "they realize that they're not going to be able to suck at the teat of the nanny state too much longer, get off their butt, work, put some money away, and not have to rely on a system that's going to fold probably by the time they collect a check." On the August 14, 2009, edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, Bolling said "they should rename it the Madoff Social Security system."

Hannity relentlessly pushes false claim that Social Security and Medicare are "bankrupt." Since January 1, Sean Hannity has falsely claimed that Social Security is "bankrupt" or will shortly become bankrupt at least ten times, and falsely claimed Medicare is "bankrupt" or on the verge of bankruptcy at least 11 times. In fact, according to the 2010 report from the trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, Social Security is estimated to pay out full benefits "by redeeming trust fund assets until reserves are exhausted in 2037, at which point tax income would be sufficient to pay about 75 percent of scheduled benefits through 2084." The report likewise says of Medicare, "The projected date of HI [Hospital Insurance] Trust Fund exhaustion is 2029 ... at which time dedicated revenues would be sufficient to pay 85 percent of HI costs. The share of HI expenditures that can be financed with HI dedicated revenues is projected to decline slowly to 76 percent in 2045 and then to rise slowly, reaching 89 percent in 2084."

17th Amendment

The 17th Amendment provides for the direct election of U.S. Senators, rather than their selection by state legislators. It was passed by Congress with the support of progressives and submitted to the states in 1912 under President William Howard Taft. It was ratified under President Woodrow Wilson in 1913. Recently, tea party activists and Republican members of Congress have called for its repeal.

Napolitano: "I would repeal the 17th Amendment." In an interview with Reason magazine published April 8, Fox Business host Andrew Napolitano was asked what he considered "the single most important reform." He replied, "I would repeal the 17th Amendment," which he called "unconstitutional" because it "abolished bicameralism." He added that the amendment "was an assault, an invasion on the infrastructure of constitutional government."

Huckabee: 17th Amendment "one of the dumbest things we ever did." On the October 16, 2009, edition of Fox News Radio's Brian & The Judge, Fox News host Mike Huckabee said that Republicans should consider calling for the repeal of the 16th Amendment, then said that we should "talk about -- this is one of those things that senators would never agree, but one of the dumbest things we ever did in this country was the 17th Amendment." He added:

The original Constitution and the way we operated for the first 120 years of our existence, senators were appointed by state legislators to represent the broader interests of the states to make sure the federal government didn't take too much power into itself. And most people don't even remember that. But we have had an increasing problem of too much centralization of federal power at the expense of local and state governments -- the antithesis of our Constitution -- because we've put all this power in the popular election of senators and representatives.

Beck: Wilson "supported" amendment, "when I see Woodrow Wilson, I immediately know -- bad thing!" On the June 11 edition of his Fox News show, Beck said of the 17th Amendment, "Like all bad things it started in 1913, Woodrow Wilson yet again. He supported this. Immediately now, when I see Woodrow Wilson, I immediately know -- bad thing! You can be quite certain that something is not going to have a good outcome if Woodrow Wilson was involved." He also commented that "Thomas Jefferson warned about" direct representation, and said that that absent the 17th Amendment, "Obama's health care bill would have never seen the light of day. A lot of things that they do in Washington would never have seen the light of day. Why? Because it wouldn't in the interest of your state." Beck later added that "it's taken them over 200 years to remove all those roadblocks, but they're almost done. Maybe it's time to put a few of them back."

16th Amendment

The 16th Amendment allows Congress to collect income taxes. It was passed by Congress and submitted to the states in 1909 and ratified in 1913, both under President Taft. Republican congressmen have called for the amendment's repeal.

Huckabee: "I think we ought to talk about repealing the 16th Amendment." On the October 16, 2009, edition of Fox News Radio's Brian & The Judge, Huckabee said, "I think we ought to talk about repealing the 16th Amendment, which authorizes the IRS."

Napolitano has repeatedly called for "floating" a constitutional amendment that "abolishes the 16th Amendment." On the April 28, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck (accessed from Nexis), Napolitano said, "How about floating a constitutional amendment amongst the states? Let's rescind the 16th Amendment. That's the income tax. If 25, 30 states start thinking about it and talking about it seriously, the Congress will take note because they will be scared to death it will starve them out of existence. And they won't be able to regulate progressively or retrogressively how we live." Likewise, on the May 6, 2009, edition of The Glenn Beck Program, asked by Beck about "this solution that you and I have talked about on a constitutional amendment, or a threat of a constitutional amendment," Napolitano said:

If two-thirds of the states ask the Congress to call a constitutional convention to consider the adoption of this amendment, which I'll describe in a moment, as it gets closer and closer to the two-thirds necessary and Congress would be required to call the convention, you'll see some reaction on the part of congress to attempt to placate the states that want to call this. Now, the constitutional amendment is a simple one. It simply abolishes the 16th Amendment and states affirmatively that Congress shall have no power to tax the personal incomes of individual persons. If that were enacted, it would starve the federal government back into the original footprint that the founders intended for it. But as it gets closer to enactment, Congress will have to do something for fear that it might be enacted.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), originally sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and then-Representative Tony Coehlo (D-CA) and signed by President George H.W. Bush, "prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodation, communications, and governmental activities." Recently, it has been attacked by conservative pundits and candidates.

Stossel: "well-intentioned" ADA "unleashed a landslide of lawsuits," "requires that people be treated unequally." In his September 1 column, Stossel attacked the ADA, saying that it "requires that people be treated unequally" by requiring employers to accommodate disabled employees. He added:

The law has also unleashed a landslide of lawsuits by "professional litigants" who file a hundred suits at a time. Disabled people visit businesses to look for violations, but instead of simply asking that a violation be corrected, they partner with lawyers who (legally) extort settlement money from the businesses.

Stossel: ADA is "doing the disabled more harm than good." On the September 2 edition of Fox & Friends, Stossel said that the ADA is "doing the disabled more harm than good." Stossel said that "all these laws mean well," but that "these laws always have unintended consequences, and often they are worse than the good that the law was supposed to do."

Civil Rights Act of 1964

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 -- signed by President Lyndon Johnson and opposed by then-Republican presidential nominee Barry Goldwater -- "prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal."

Stossel calls for repeal of public accommodations section of Civil Rights Act. On the May 20 edition of Fox News' America Live, Stossel said that "it's time now to repeal" the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination by private businesses, "because private business ought to get to discriminate."

Stossel repeatedly defended his advocacy for a right to discriminate. Stossel reiterated his call to eliminate the public accommodations section of the Civil Rights Act in two blog posts, on Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, and in his syndicated column.

Voting Rights Act of 1965

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed by President Johnson after he "issued a call for a strong voting rights law," outlawed a number of discriminatory voting practices, including requiring literacy tests as a prerequisite for voting.

Briggs: Enforcement of Voting Rights Act "not a proper use of funds." During the August 31 edition of Fox & Friends, guest host Dave Briggs claimed that the Department of Justice "is demanding" that election officials in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, "print ballots in Spanish," and said, "The cost, again, $500,000 estimated, for what some say is 6,000 voters, which does sound like not a proper use of funds." He then asked a guest, "But, beyond that, I mean, do you think this is something that is absolutely required, is necessary, in our country?" According to media reports, at issue is a provision of federal law originally enacted in the Voting Rights Act explicitly protecting the right to vote of Puerto Rican voters educated in U.S. schools regardless of their ability to understand English.

Nuclear Arms Control

For decades, presidents of both parties negotiated and signed treaties with the Soviet Union (later Russia) to reduce the nuclear arsenals of both nations. President Ronald Reagan, who signed the START I treaty, repeatedly stated that his "ultimate goal" was the "total elimination of nuclear weapons." More recently, conservatives have panned President Obama's new START treaty, which would further reduce nuclear arsenals, and even questioned the importance of nuclear reductions in the first place.

Hannity: "We must not dismantle our nuclear weapons," "we can never return to a world" without them. In Sean Hannity's 2010 book, Conservative Victory, Hannity writes:

[W]e must be committed to retaining our position as the world's greatest superpower, by maintaining the world's strongest military and supporting our troops on and off the battlefield. We must not dismantle our nuclear weapons and must persist in perfecting our strategic missile defenses. [Page 222]

He also writes:

Conservatives, on the other hand, recognize that we live in a dangerous world, and that the world will always be dangerous because human beings are fallen. The nuclear genie is out of the bottle; the world has changed; much as we would like, we can never return to a world without nuclear weapons. [Page 209]

Abortion rights

In the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, the Supreme Court held that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman's decision to have an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, and in the second and third trimesters under certain circumstances. Since then, progressives have traditionally argued in favor of the decision and the right it preserved, while conservatives have opposed it.

Napolitano compared Roe v. Wade to Dred Scott case. On the April 28, 2009, edition of Glenn Beck, Napolitano said:

Dred Scott is a slave who was taken to a free state, Illinois, and while there, sues for his freedom. The case goes up and down, up and down. It finally goes to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court could have said slavery is lawful. The Supreme Court could have said all human beings are free and he's free.

Instead it said, blacks are not persons and therefore don't have the right to bring lawsuits. This horrific determination by a court that a class of human beings are denied personhood -- fast forward a hundred years -- is the same logic the Supreme Court used in Roe versus Wade -- babies in the wombs are not persons.

Hannity calls for "protecting the lives of the innocent unborn" by "striving for the appointment of Constitution-respecting judges." In Conservative Victory, Hannity writes:

I certainly can't, in good conscience, make a raw political calculation about protecting the lives of the innocent unborn as casually as if we were talking about a no-smoking ban in a restaurant. We must continue to press for restrictions on abortion (such as parental notification) while striving for the appointment of Constitution-respecting judges and continuing our nonpolitical efforts to persuade Americans of the horrors and immorality of abortion. [Page 152]

Ingraham: "49 million babies have been aborted since Roe versus Wade. Five abortion doctors. It's all killing and it's all terrible." On the June 4, 2009, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, contributor Laura Ingraham said (accessed from Nexis):

[W]hen you talk about the issue of abortion, and someone killing an abortion doctor, that allows you to create sympathy for the entire abortion movement. And 60,000 dead as you pointed out by the hands of George Tiller. Five abortion doctors have been killed since Roe versus Wade. Five.

Now it's horrible, but 49 million babies have been aborted since Roe versus Wade. Five abortion doctors. It's all killing and it's all terrible.

O'Reilly repeatedly called Dr. Tiller "the baby killer." On numerous instances in 2009, Bill O'Reilly referred to Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller as "Tiller the baby killer." After Tiller's murder, O'Reilly repeatedly falsely claimed that he had only "reported" anti-abortion groups referring to Tiller in that fashion.

Labor Unions

In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act "to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private sector labor and management practices." Labor unions have long been part of the progressive coalition, while conservatives have worked to limit their right to bargain collectively.

Regular Fox segment: "Unions: Can America Afford Them?" Fox News and Fox Business regularly run segments titled, "Unions: Can America Afford Them?"

Varney: Unions are "the antithesis of freedom," "fortunately" private sector unions "have retreated," but public sector unions are still a "problem." On the September 4 edition of Fox Business' Freedom Watch, asked by Napolitano for his "observations from your native country in England" about whether "unions help or hurt the average worker," Varney replied: "Unions were a disaster for the British economy. They are the antithesis of freedom. They impose rigid workplace rules that have no place in a modern economy." Later, Varney commented: "Fortunately, unions have retreated in the private sector. It is in the public sector where they rule, and that is the nature of some of our problems." He added that "taxpayers" and "the concept of freedom and liberty" "suffer" from the existence of unions.

Kristol: "Thank God most of the workforce isn't unionized." On the October 18, 2009, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, contributor Bill Kristol declared: "Thank God most of the workforce isn't unionized."

Beck says unions have "raped" police and fire fighters. On the August 4 edition of his radio program, Glenn Beck said of unions: "Look what they've done to the police and firemen. They've raped these guys. Along with politicians. Along with politicians -- raped them. The bravest among us." Beck went on to ask, "What, do you think the politicians are not in bed with the unions?"

Beck blames unions for woes of local governments and industries. On the February 25 edition of The Glenn Beck Program, Beck blamed unions for the financial woes of local governments, the auto industry, airlines, schools, the steel industry, and the textile industry. He continued: "Mr. President, until you get the unions out of this business, I don't think we have anything to talk about."

Beck regularly attacks union members as "thugs." On numerous occasions on both his Fox News and radio programs, Beck has referred to union members as "thugs" or "enforcers."

Carlson blames cost of living in NYC on "union pensions" and "raising taxes" for "schools." On the August 5 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson asserted that the cost of living in New York City, California, and Honolulu is "so expensive" "because of union pensions; because of raising costs for other things; for raising taxes along the way for schools." Carlson concluded: "If you go back in history and look at who incorporated a lot of that, maybe the blame comes right back to the same party. Or maybe it doesn't."

Cavuto tells union spokesman: "You politely do your Tony Soprano thing, albeit in your little sweater vest there." During the January 11 edition of Your World, Stewart Acuff of the Utility Workers Union of America appeared to discuss union leader opposition to a tax on health care plans backed by President Obama. Host Neil Cavuto told Acuff: "You politely do your Tony Soprano thing, albeit in your little sweater vest there, 'cause you're such a decent guy, but you're saying 'Mr. President, may I remind you that you are sitting in this room because of us.' Which is a very nice way of saying, 'Tread slowly, big guy.' "

Cavuto likened unions to Hurricane Earl on a "collision course on our towns." During the September 2 edition of Your World, Cavuto compared unions to Hurricane Earl, saying, "The monster and the mess. Your World on top of Earl's collision course with our coast and what could be unions' collision course with our towns." Cavuto added: "And get ready for Earl's wallop and, to hear some state and local governments tell it, unions' direct hit on their wallet."

Department of Education

The Department of Education was established by President Jimmy Carter in 1979 and serves to "to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access." Conservatives have long called for the Department's dissolution.

Beck's "Plan": "[A]bolish the Department of Education." On the April 14 edition of his Fox News show, while detailing his "Plan" for the U.S. budget, Beck said: "We need to get control of our schools back to the parents, back to the states. The best way to do this is to abolish the Department of Education. We certainly don't need to be giving them more money. The federal government should only be responsible for the things that the states cannot do."

Unemployment Insurance

The Federal Unemployment Tax Act, signed by President Roosevelt in 1939, together with the Social Security Act of 1935, established the modern U.S. system of unemployment insurance, in which employers pay payroll taxes to the federal and state governments which are used by the states to finance benefits to those who become unemployed through no fault of their own. Conservatives have often attacked the system of unemployment insurance as well as those who receive unemployment benefits.

Varney seizes on claim that "unemployment would be at 6.8 percent, not the 9.5 percent," if Congress hadn't "extended unemployment benefits." On the August 31 edition of Fox & Friends, Varney cited a Wall Street Journal op-ed by Harvard economics professor and Hoover Institute senior fellow Robert Barro to claim that, in Varney's words, "If we had not extended unemployment benefits to 99 weeks from the standard 26 weeks, [Barro] says, unemployment would be at 6.8 percent, not the 9.5 percent." According to Varney, Barro argued that "you extend benefits like this, and it discourages people from going out to look for work especially, you know, the start of the benefit period, because it's nearly two years." Barro's theory and similar claims -- that extending unemployment benefits in the current recession provide a disincentive for people to find work -- have been widely disputed by experts.

Kilmeade: "Maybe" eliminating "unemployment benefits will get people to sober up" and get jobs. On the July 15 edition of Fox & Friends, referencing Senate Republicans who had blocked extending unemployment benefits, co-host Brian Kilmeade told Partnership Staffing Inc. CEO Bill Auchmoody that "maybe" the elimination of "unemployment benefits will get people to sober up and take some of your offers."

Hannity falsely suggested Fed said unemployment benefit extension increased ranks of those without jobs. On the February 22 edition of his show, Hannity claimed that the economic recovery act "actually raised unemployment," citing minutes from a January Federal Reserve meeting to falsely suggest that the extension of unemployment benefits in the recovery act increased the number of people who don't have jobs. In fact, the Federal Reserve minutes Hannity cited actually stated that the provision had the effect of raising the measured unemployment rate because people who lost their jobs sought to remain in the workforce in order to receive benefits rather than leaving the workforce and being counted as "discouraged workers" instead of "unemployed."

Bolling: Unemployment benefits are about "allowing someone to stay out of work for longer." On the February 11 edition of Your World, Christian Dorsey of the Economic Policy Institute explained to guest host Bolling how unemployment benefits provide economic stimulus and create jobs. Bolling replied, "Had you told me that some of the tax credits, or the payroll tax holidays were a good thing, I probably would have agreed with you, but when you tell me that another entitlement program -- allowing someone to stay out of work for longer -- and you tell me that's a job creator, I'm just going to have to disagree with you."

Beck: Unemployed workers who don't take low-paying jobs have "sold their soul" to the government." On the August 12 edition of his radio show, Beck said that "you now have people who are on unemployment, but they wont' take another job," purportedly because they pay less than unemployment benefits. Beck said that those people "have sold their soul to the government, they have sold their pride."

Beck on "some" protesting expiration of unemployment benefits: "I bet you'd be ashamed to call them Americans." On the August 16 edition of his Fox News show, Beck discussed a protest of "99ers," people whose unemployment insurance benefits have run out after 99 weeks. Beck said:

The 99ers. These people, some of which I -- frankly, I bet you'd be ashamed to call them Americans. They think that 99 weeks on unemployment benefits just aren't enough. Last week, they went out to Wall Street and they protested. Ninety-niner Connie Kaplan asked, "Are you going to tell us, Mr. President and Congress, that our lives are not worth saving?"

Connie, here's an idea. I'll save your life. Don't spend your remaining money on travel to get to a protest. Go out and get a job. You may not want the job. Work at McDonald's. Work two jobs.

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was established in 1970 under President Richard Nixon and works to "protect human health and to safeguard the natural environment -- air, water and land -- upon which life depends." Its work has long been opposed by conservatives.

Gingrich: EPA "needs to be replaced." In his 2010 book, To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine, Fox contributor Newt Gingrich writes: "The EPA has become an engine of undemocratic bureaucracy filled with people who seek to impose their fanatical views on an unwilling American population. The EPA and its entire regulation-litigation, Washington-centered, command-and-control bureaucracy needs to be replaced." (Page 151)

Gingrich does not explain in the book what he proposes to replace the EPA with. Asked that question during a May 17 interview on Fox News Sunday, Gingrich did not answer directly, instead saying:

Well, first of all, in the case of the Environmental Protection Agency, you have a -- you have a bureaucracy which is self- selected of people who believe they have the right to make the most amazing micro-management judgments around the whole country.

And if you look at the degree to which they now issue rules, believe they can regulate the entire carbon economy -- and again, you want to talk about socialism. How about having a government agency of unelected people who decide they can literally rewrite the entire economy based on carbon?

And I think it's very hard to reform an agency which has spent two generations recruiting people who are more and more anti-business, more and more anti-commercial activity, and who represent a value system that's very hard to deal with.

Progressive Taxation

Liberals traditionally support progressive taxation, in which those with less income are taxed at a lower rate than those with higher incomes. Conservatives have opposed that system of taxation in favor of "flat taxes" in which everyone pays the same tax rate.

Beck lashed out at "protected poor" taking tax money from the rich. On the January 12 edition of his Fox News show, Glenn Beck used pie as a prop to show how the "protected poor" in the "bottom 50 percent pays only 3 percent of everything that we spend" while the "evil rich people" in the top one percent of income earners pay much more:

Here's the pie. This represents all of the money that we have in the federal government, all the taxes that are paid. Well, let's see who isn't paying their fair share. You decide. Is it the top 1 percent? This is the entire budget, all of our revenue, all of our revenue. How much do the top 1 percent pay?

Only -- only about this much. That's it. Only -- it's gonna be -- if I can get underneath here, and it's going to be yummy. Only about this much. That's the top 1 percent. Oh, I hate those evil rich people! When will they pay their fair share? This again is 1 percent. OK?

Now, how about the top 2 percent to the top 10 percent? OK? So, this would include the 1 percent here and the rest of them in the top 10 percent. That would be -- let's see -- that would be about here. We have from 2 percent to 10 percent, they're paying -- hmm, doesn't the pie look yummy now? I want some, seriously. OK, so that's -- this is the top 10 percent. So, I got to put 10 people in the pie. That's 10 people.

Now, we've got now 71 percent of the pie. The top 50 percent of pie- eaters account for -- now, this is the rest of the top 50 percent -- and that's going to be these people. Got it? We got to put 50 people to pay for that piece of pie. One, nine, fifty.

This represents the bottom 50 percent. They pay -- do I have any more? Yes. They pay the bottom 3 percent. OK? So, don't you hate this one guy? Oh, my gosh, he's just not paying enough. Got it? He's paying 40 percent.

Now, the top -- the bottom 3 percent I have to -- I have to let you know, the bottom 50 percent, that 3 percent, they pay -- the bottom 50 percent pays only 3 percent of everything that we spend. The rest of it is put in a protected poor pie place. They got their own pie, never even touched. In fact, from time to time -- it's so great -- from time to time, we just whip people up in such a frenzy where we're like, "I hate those people. Give them some pie!" Every year, we just give them some of the more -- yeah, we just give it to them, because we hate the top 1 percent. We just take more of their pie and we put it in the protected zone now.

Nobody, nobody could get in the protected zone. No! Don't take the poor pie. It's these people that we hate. These people are good. Got it?

Hannity repeatedly makes false complaint that "half of Americans ... don't pay taxes." Sean Hannity has complained over and over that "50 percent of American households no longer pay taxes," using the purported fact to ask, "What does that mean for America if you have a voting electorate that's not paying any taxes?" In fact, while 47 percent of U.S. households will reportedly pay no federal income tax in fiscal 2010, as the Associated Press noted, "[t]he vast majority of people who escape federal income taxes still pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes. Many also pay state or local taxes on sales, income and property."

Sunday, September 5, 2010

One Down and More to Go

This weekend Craigslist shut down its Adult Services section. Well shut down not entirely in a passive aggressive move it put the word Censored where that section was and the site still maintains it presence in all overseas portions of Craigslist.

Frankly 99% of Craigslist is adult services. The personal sections which include "Casual Encounters" and "Misc Romance" are largely advertisements for adult services some free some not. And you cannot put an ad in in any section - personal or otherwise - without getting some bot or sex site response. Nothing says fun more than trying to sell your couch and getting "Hi would you like to fuck me up the ass come here..." as a response.

I used to love trolling Craigslist. I did find two fantastic rentals there, I have sold, bought and exchanged tickets and even dated someone for more than a "casual encounter" via ironically the Rants and Raves site.

The idea of Craigslist was a free form user monitored Classified and somewhat modified networking site that was just that free except for certain ads which paid Craig a fee - I believe some rental and all job postings but in addition the "adult services" section as well. Craig Newmark has resisted all attempts to sell the site and at one point did partner I believe with Ebay who has now acquired Kiiji in an attempt to compete. In fact it was this free form classified that led to the demise in Newspapers revenue via that source.

I know I loved reading some of the more outrageous ads and have at times myself tried to place ads to make the "Best of Craigslist" But with time those stunts became challenging as Craigslist tried to offer some quality control but also the readers became more obsessively intense about "flagging" any add they found offensive. Craig had no interest in truly modding and the need to establish a phone validated account has done nothing but really make the site a disaster to navigate and work with.

Meanwhile the underbelly of Craigslist utilized and exploited it for their gain, from robberies to rape to petty crimes and finally the infamous Craigslist Killer it was a site to steer away from. Craig tried to rise above it and distance himself saying he was not responsible but his "users" were his monitors. Right. In the meantime women are being sold into sexual service against their will and Craig was indirectly profiting from those efforts. His passive aggressive "label"not withstanding reminds me of Meg Whitman and her denials that Ebay was selling pornography. Both sites have been well documented that they are in fact being used to exploit women.

Then the liberal freedom of the press comes into service HOW DARE law enforcement try to stop trafficking, stop exploitation of minors and women? Yes that is another illustration of terrible government regulation and interference at its worst. Really? And that BP thing was an accident.. they said so.

I am sorry but I quit reading, perusing Craigslist awhile ago. I recently only used it for my Estate Sale against my better judgment and I would say 90% of the calls were time wasting and annoying. I have quit running ads for my business service as the kind of clients who responded were equally annoying and often my inbox was filled with spam most of it sex related.

I have rarely if ever found anyone or service on Craigslist to pan out. From gigs I went on.. underpaid and hideous.. to individuals I hired who were to say the least flaky and crazy. I don't know anyone who other than selling or giving away a few things have had much success of late. Even rental agents are no longer listing there as there are many frauds there as well.

Craigslist is NOT a Social Networking Site. Those are monitored and carefully maintained there are no ads for sexual services and the vulgar and frank sexual ads for "dates" are also not present. There are many local weeklies and sites all over the internet to find whatever interest you desire. Why is it so tragic that this section is no longer available?

Frankly, I for one would love to see the demise of Craigslist. A new competitor with better monitoring and clean policies that are still representative of an open forum without exploitation as an option.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cool Brittania

My last entry on the Brit Collection of Hot Design with a cool edge is the Tom Faulkner Collection.

Tom Faulkner collection is highly distinctive glass and metal furniture collection, along with Beds, lighting and Mirrors that have a distinctly modern edge but one that doesn't bite.

They sell to private clients, architects and interior designers all over the world. We have designed and made furniture for hundreds of private homes, as well as many prestigious hotels, restaurants, offices and bars.

And the best part of this...
Ordering from us is absolutely risk free. Should you decide that your furniture is not right, we will always take it away for a full refund or exchange it at no extra charge.

I love the clean lines and approachable design of many of the tables - from dining to console to end there are enough choices to meld into any decor. The Post Modern Coffee table is my favorite. The beds are also quite outstanding with a selection that offers both a feminine and masculine sense.

As on the other sites there is a clearance section to take advantage of great affordable options and Tom Faulkner has an easy access showroom which to visit. And his workshop is local and that means that everything meets with the notion of Sustainable design and build by local crafts and artisans. Plus with custom furniture of this quality expect a long lasting life.

Check out the website and see what interesting design that is not to out of reach or out of touch.

Design by Demand

Well if this keeps up I am moving across the pond.

Greg Kinsella a full design service firm located also in the UK. Greg Kinsella Design Studio serves clients in London areas including: Chelsea & Chelsea Harbour, Kensington, Knightsbridge, Mayfair, Notting Hill, Hampstead, Central London, West London, South and West London. Sadly not the U.S.

I am deeply in love with the lush fabrics and wall coverings. Along with those there are line of leather, furnishings and glassware that would lend elegance to any home.

Greg Kinsella is a full service design firm that offers both Residential and Commercial Design consultations. Greg's presence, experience and detailed industry knowledge enables him to identify interior design trends, make definitive predictions about new directions and influence design standards.

Greg Kinsella also has the ability to mix classical and contemporary in his interior design. He can mix old with new using his links with different artisans he has connected with over the years.

Greg Kinsella has a showroom in Chelsea and the information to arrange a consult is available on his website along with full descriptions and phoots of the products and projects he has worked on. Luxe comes to mind when I saw it. I think it will come to your home or business when you work with him on your next project.

Home Making

So I was sent a site that knocked my socks off. Yes I wear ones but yes I do.

The site is Also Home. This is a UK site devoted to fantastic home furnishings and decor. I am particularly impressed with the Fairtrade section of home and gift items.

Also Home has an excellent selection of items for Children, Garden and Gift Items. I am particularly fond of the Cinnamon Boxes.

The site also provides Gift Cards, a Style guide and you can sign up for online newsletter or have a brochure sent with all product details.

Check out the Clearance site and the amazing deals. Another favorite the crackle glaze pots and cups. Stunning products and by the way stunning prices. I did the math or the conversion and these are good deals.

Please check out Also Home when looking to update your home decor.

Flipping Out

I love this series on Bravo TV starring Jeff Lewis and his motely crew of assistants as he travels throughout LA updating and remodeling homes. First he was a veteran home flipper doing solely his own projects. As one who did the same I had to laugh as he had a "personal assistant" a "house assistant" and a full time live in housekeeper.

His business partner was the Interior Designer and ex lover bff and part time conscience to Jeff's who manages to equally offend through a combination of OCD and intentional design.

The second season found them stalled because of the Economy and being forced to take on outside clients; their distinct management style coupled with Jeff's frustration of having to face the decline of business and hence control led to a breakup with the partner and an end to that relationship.

The current season finds Jeff fully working for others. It appears that most clients seem to be of the "fan" version more interested in meeting the eccentric Jeff and his team and less real clients with real plans to renovate their properties. And given how Jeff approaches business and clients that may be a wiser choice.

Since I do (and did) something similar in my professional life I get a lot of questions about Jeff's approach to business. Well one I would be lucky to have anyone "assisting" me let alone going on such calls and inquiries without a definitive plan in place.

And then I realized that this behavior is more common than not. When originally working for myself I kept simple records and contracts. I relied heavily on my word and on others and used my own belief that if I was honest others would be as well. I learned quickly that one's word over another can be distinctly different.

When I went to work with clients first as a Contractor and now Consultant I quickly learned that clear and definitive communication was essential. The other was getting compensated for my time. Regardless of what that time was it was time I was spending on that client on their behalf and like any other professional service provider I should be compensated for that.

As I watch Jeff I realize that well he likes the attention obviously or he wouldn't be on a reality show. But the other is he likes the attention from the client. That is his first mistake. You are there FOR them and they deserve your attention. Its from that you can gauge how sincere they are and how legitimate the project is, the requirements the project will take and so on.

In my initial contact I send out a confirm agreement that states the time we will meet, scope, scale, expectation and most importantly the fees associated with the visit. It provides both parties with the necessary information so there will be no surprises and clear expectations.

It is after that initial meeting the scope of work becomes more clearly defined and then budget, drawings, product recommendations, whatever becomes clear. It is after that point you make a clear and immediate follow up to give the client the detailed spec - especially budget information so they can ultimately decide. Again all meetings are with time constraints in mind and again however are BILLED WORKING HOURS - including all working time developing the bid.

In last weeks episode Jeff demolished a property BEFORE providing a bid and a secured client agreement with regards to budget, scope of work...Of course the client avoided his calls and it was an ordeal to gain payment for services worked at that point.

I also watched him play mock psychologist to a young girl and her request to remodel an aging Restaurant finally culminating in a update to the porch done at the last minute and again I saw no plans or permits or agreements made. Another an elderly lady who was clearly out of her depth and finances but the lure of the camera was too great. All of which meant that many legitimate clients are getting neglected and in turn frustrated. None of which bodes well for business but great for TV.

So the lesson is: If you want to avoid "Flipping Out" work on your communication skills - both in writing and verbally. Make sure you itemize your to do list and get the client to sign off. Agree to payment for services rendered and keep that fair and be ready to explain why. Allow the "no" to be an option but by you getting paid fairly for the work you have done you will feel better about them and your work. The economy has made it tough for everyone but the days of the "free estimates" are over.

Vinyl is Vile

Just getting back to reading current developments, old and new arguments about green building and what defines a green product.

Following a debate I read recently with regards to vinyl. I am firmly in the camp that its not green. I am an affordable advocate but everything I personally believe allows me to stand firmly in belief that there can be other options available that can still be accessible.

There is no argument that the insulation factor that vinyl provides along with its longevity cannot be denied. It is one of the most commonly used from roofing to plubming, but the long term health factors I just don't believe it.

So in search of the "definitive" argument I found this: First the pro vinyl camp...

The fact is that vinyl’s environmental issues have been thoroughly studied and answered.

Dioxin? The vinyl-products industry was always a small contributor of dioxin in the environment (somewhere between 8 to 10 grams annually in the U.S.) and has worked to reduce even those emissions. Dioxin levels in the environment have been falling for decades (a regulatory success story you probably have not heard about). Those concerned about this issue today should be objecting to backyard burning, power plants, vehicle emissions, and other larger sources of dioxin.

Heavy metals? You don’t need lead, cadmium, mercury, or other “heavy” metals to make vinyl.

Plasticizers? According to government health review bodies in Europe, Canada and the United States, there is no evidence that phthalates – the plasticizers in vinyl products – cause harm.

Vinyl scores well in life cycle tests. The U.S. Green Building Council, the European Commission, and the state of California all looked comprehensively at vinyl’s pros and cons and concluded that its overall impacts were in line with those of other materials – and that vinyl could do better than the competition in some applications.
Vinyl products are constantly being improved and – under programs such as FloorScore, Green Label Plus, and Greenguard standards – new products are now being certified by third parties as low emission.

On the con side I found this..

Vinyl’s other major chemical components – EDC and VCM – have been shown to cause cancer in laboratory animals. VCM is classified as a known human carcinogen, and EDC is a probable human carcinogen. Hazardous by-products are formed throughout the PVC life cycle. At numerous points in the vinyl life cycle, very large quantities of hazardous organochlorine by-products are formed accidentally and released into the environment.

Not surprisingly, VCM production facilities are major polluters. The feedstocks, additives, and by-products produced and released during the life cycle of PVC have been shown to cause a range of health problems, in some cases at extremely low doses. These problems include:

• Cancer
• Disruption of the endocrine system
• Reproductive impairment
• Impaired child development and birth defects
• Neurotoxicity (damage to the brain or its function)
• Immune system suppression.

Severe contamination of communities and waterways in the vicinity of VCM production facilities has been documented. In Louisiana, for example, significantly elevated levels of dioxins have been found in the blood of people living near a VCM facility, several communities have been evacuated due to VCM contamination of groundwater, and extremely high levels of highly persistent, bioaccumulative by-products attributable to VCM production have been found in local waterways.

So who do you believe? The adage is take it from the source and ask who is providing the information. If I told you both were from respected Environmental activists but each have their own experience and education that leads them to find the information that validates their belief.

This is no different in all aspects of life so building is no different. They both cite LEED and its acceptance of vinyl as a product allowable for credit so what does that say? Again I have always said that LEED is a business first and foremost and not an environmental or health agency. Their job is to provide a resource for those looking to build better green buildings.

So what or who do you believe? That answer requires more debate and more research but in all honesty if you can avoid vinyl do so.