B12 Solipsism

Spreading confusion over the internet since 1994

Phony Class warfare theme

Class Warfare
Class Warfare

Sometimes I forget that the Chicago Tribune is a Republican-friendly newspaper. On many topics, they are decent source of non-biased news, but every so often, the visage slips. Last Friday, the print edition of the Chicago Tribune had this inflammatory headline:

“Democrats up class war ante”

The online version available today has slightly toned down the headline, but not much

Illinois Democrats went all-in Thursday with their election-year class warfare theme as Speaker Michael Madigan pitched the idea of asking voters to raise taxes on millionaires, Senate President John Cullerton advanced a minimum-wage increase and Gov. Pat Quinn compared wealthy opponent Bruce Rauner to TV villain Mr. Burns.

(click here to continue reading Illinois Democrats go all-in on class warfare theme – Chicago Tribune.)

Either way, calling Democratic Party initiatives to reduce income inequality, slightly, as class warfare is offensive, and straight out of Frank Luntz’s dictionary. Circa 2008, Frank Luntz started labeling every economic-related Democratic Party position “class warfare” whether or not it actually applies.1 Raising the tax on millionaires isn’t going to bankrupt the millionaires. Increasing the minimum wage isn’t going to force Bruce Rauner to sell off one of his many, many mansions. No Democratic politician is calling for the guillotine to be rolled out, though plenty of us peons chuckle at the idea. 

As Senator Bernie Sanders has been saying for many years, the real class warfare is being waged ruthlessly by the 1% on the rest of us. Focusing on tax breaks for corporations, flat tax proposals, allowing someone like Mitt Romney (or Bruce Rauner) to pay tiny amounts of income tax; these are tools of the rich, these are actual battles of class warfare. Cutting food stamps is class warfare, cutting education assistance is class warfare, cutting Social Security is class warfare, eliminating the minimum wage is class warfare, you could make a big, long list.

“What kind of nation are we when we give tax breaks to millionaires but we can’t take care of the elderly and the children?” Sen. Bernie Sanders asked on Monday. He was reacting to a new report that more than 18 percent of Americans last year struggled to afford food. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are calling for deeper and deeper cuts in food stamps, a program that provides help mostly to children and seniors. We are living in “a very ugly moment,” the senator told the Rev. Al Sharpton.

 

Later Sen. Sanders ripped Republicans for claiming that the problem is that children get too much help from the federal government, “These are the same people who want to eliminate the estate tax, which applies to only the top three tenths of one percent of all Americans, which is the richest of the rich, then they are going after kids. The politics of this, Al, is what they are trying to do is deflect attention away from income and wealth inequality. Attention away from the fact that the rich are doing extraordinarily well, and tell their supporters that the real problem in America is that children are getting too much help from the federal government, and that’s the kind of mentality that we have got to fight back against.”

(click here to continue reading Paul Ryan Quivers as Bernie Sanders Outs the Dirty Secret Behind His Poverty Propaganda.)

Of course it buys happiness
Of course it buys happiness

Speaking of wealthy class warriors, check out this list (from the Tribune, in fact) of some of the properties that the Republican candidate for Governor of Illinois, Bruce Rauner, owns

There’s the 6,870-square-foot Rauner mansion on a half-acre lot in Winnetka; two units, including a penthouse, in a luxury high-rise overlooking Millennium Park; a waterfront villa in the Florida Keys with a 72-foot-long pool; ranches in Montana and Wyoming; and a condo in an upscale Utah ski resort.

Most carry price tags well into the seven figures. But topping the list is a penthouse in a landmark co-op building along New York’s Central Park, which property records show Rauner bought in 2005 for $10 million.

Rauner has amassed a larger stable of high-end residences than Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP presidential nominee whose plentiful and opulent homes lent ammunition to foes who portrayed him as an out-of-touch elitist.

Rauner dismisses any such comparison to Romney…

Rauner said he likes recreational properties where he can practice land or water conservation. He often buys and pastes parcels together in areas he thinks are beautiful to “have an investment that appreciates over a 20- to 30-year period.”

That includes his property in Wyoming, he said, where he grows barley, alfalfa and winter wheat.

When he takes his family West, they most often go to his New Moon Ranch in Livingston, Mont., near Yellowstone National Park. It sits on hundreds of acres of grazing and cropland and includes a nearly 6,000-square-foot home, according to property records. It has five bedrooms and four baths and is currently valued by the Park County, Mont., assessor at $2.2 million.

In the winter, Rauner and his wife, Diana, have their pick of both hot and cold weather getaways. For snow sports they have a condominium in the luxury Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah, east of Salt Lake City, purchased in 2003 and currently valued by the assessor there at $1.75 million.

The Rauners also own an oceanfront home in Key Largo, Fla., currently worth almost $7 million, according to property records there. It has a private boat dock, four bedrooms, four baths, 5,370 square feet of ground-floor living space and a patio nearly half that size.

The Rauners also have a New York penthouse on Central Park in a century-old Beaux Arts style building known as The Prasada. They paid $10 million for it eight years ago. A billionaire neighbor recently put the adjoining penthouse up for sale and is asking $48 million, according to realty postings.

In Illinois, Rauner holds title to three homes in Cook County, including two condominium units on East Randolph Street. Records show Rauner paid more than $1.2 million for the smaller unit in late 2008, where one of his daughters now lives.

The Rauners bought the penthouse unit a couple of months earlier, in August 2008, for $4 million, according to county records. …

The Rauners still own their Winnetka house and consider it their primary residence. Its current market value is estimated at $3.3 million by the Cook County assessor’s office.

(click here to continue reading Bruce Rauner has many million-dollar homes and a campaign that touts frugality – Chicago Tribune.)

Footnotes:
  1. I’m not sure Frank Luntz is the first to use this talking point, but he came up with Death Tax, and other Republican “hits”, so it stands to reason []

Written by Seth Anderson

March 25th, 2014 at 10:07 am

Scientists Condemn New FDA Study Saying BPA Is Safe

The Pope gets bagged
The Pope gets bagged

The Food and Drug Organization is still beholden to the industries it is supposed to regulate, putting us, the non-corporations, needlessly at risk in order to protect profits of industry. If we had a liberal, socialist president, perhaps this could change. However…

In February, a group of Food and Drug Administration scientists published a study finding that low-level exposure to the common plastic additive bisphenol A (BPA) is safe. The media, the chemical industry, and FDA officials touted this as evidence that long-standing concerns about the health effects of BPA were unfounded. (“BPA Is A-Okay, Says FDA,” read one Forbes headline.) But, behind the scenes, a dozen leading academic scientists who had been working with the FDA on a related project were fuming over the study’s release—partly because they believed the agency had bungled the experiment.

On a conference call the previous summer, officials from the FDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) had informed these researchers that the lab where the study was housed was contaminated. As a result, all of the animals—including the supposedly unexposed control group—had been exposed to BPA. The FDA made the case that this didn’t affect the outcome, but their academic counterparts believed it cast serious doubt on the study’s findings. “It’s basic science,” says Gail S. Prins, a professor of physiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who was on the call. “If your controls are contaminated, you’ve got a failed experiment and the data should be discarded. I’m baffled that any journal would even publish this.”

Yet the FDA study glossed over this detail, which was buried near the end of the paper. Prins and her colleagues also complain that the paper omitted key information—including the fact that some of them had found dramatic effects in the same group of animals. “The way the FDA presented its findings is so disingenuous,” says one scientist, who works closely with the agency. “It borders on scientific misconduct.”

(click here to continue reading Scientists Condemn New FDA Study Saying BPA Is Safe: “It Borders on Scientific Misconduct” | Mother Jones.)

A fan of Peapod

A fan of Peapod 

reminds me of the climate change debate, and not in a positive light:

In contrast to the FDA’s recent paper, roughly 1,000 published studies have found that low-level exposure to BPA—a synthetic estrogen that is also used in cash register receipts and the lining of tin cans—can lead to serious health problems, from cancer and insulin-resistant diabetes to obesity and attention-deficit disorder. In some cases, the effects appear to be handed down, with the chemical reprogramming an individual’s genes and causing disease in future generations.

But the agencies that regulate BPA and other chemicals have largely ignored this research in favor of industry data showing BPA is safe. A 2008 investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel revealed that the FDA had relied on industry lobbyists to track and evaluate research on BPA. It also found that the agency’s assessment of BPA’s safety was based largely on two industry-funded studies—one of which turned out to have “fatal flaws,” according to leading researchers in the field. Both studies also relied on a breed of rat, known as the Charles River Sprague Dawley, that is all but immune to the effects of synthetic estrogens like BPA.

On one hand, nearly 1,000 studies saying at the minimum, there could be potential health problems associated with the usage of this plastic; and on the other finger, 2 studies, flawed in methodology, and funded by the plastic and chemical industry that claim everything is fine as it is. In a rational world, these two studies would be marginalized. Instead, the FDA uses them as a fig leaf to protect the industry from regulation. Pathetic, and troubling.

Hmm, maybe if I started a religion that said ingesting BPA was against my core beliefs, we could take this to the Supreme Court

Written by Seth Anderson

March 24th, 2014 at 9:47 am

Posted in government,science

Tagged with , , ,

Corporate Christian Taliban Attempting to Ruin America

2 comments

Sprang from Shame and Pride
Sprang from Shame and Pride

Historians of the future may very well date the decline of the American civilization to the outcome of this Supreme Court ruling. I’m actually not kidding: remember this phrase? Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. If the Roberts Court rules in favor of Hobby Lobby, they will have contradicted this amendment.

This week, the owners of two secular, for-profit corporations will ask the Supreme Court to take a radical turn and allow them to impose their religious views on their employees — by refusing to permit them contraceptive coverage as required under the Affordable Care Act.

The showdown will take place Tuesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments on two consolidated challenges to the Affordable Care Act. The owners of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts-and-crafts stores, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a cabinetmaker, want to be exempted from the sound requirement that employer health plans cover without a co-payment all birth control methods and services approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

These companies are not religious organizations, nor are they affiliated with religious organizations.

(click here to continue reading Crying Wolf on Religious Liberty – NYTimes.com.)

How exactly will corporations practice their religion? Will this be a requirement on quarterly statements to Wall Street investors? Who decides which sect the corporation adheres to? Is it a shareholder vote? Set by the Board of Directors? By the CEO?

And what about the employees – are they automatically enrolled in whatever religion the corporation follows? What if the employee is a non-believer? Will they be fired? Burned at the stake? What about potential customers of religious-affiliated corporations? Will shoppers have to prove their loyalty to the deity-of-choice before being allowed to complete their purchase? to enter the establishment? What if a Mammon-worshipping Ohioan became president of a large news and entertainment conglomerate? Would he be able to forcibly convert his minions into evil creatures? Oh, wait, that already happened.

Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy
Wages of Sin and a Pink Caddy

And another thing: there are all sorts of crazy commandments in the Christian Bible, can a corporation pick and choose which to follow? Maybe if they are granted this birth-control dispensation, they would also be required to follow all the rules suggested in Leviticus. Such as Leviticus 19:19

19:19 Ye shall keep my statutes. Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed: neither shall a garment mingled of linen and woollen come upon thee.

or Leviticus 25:24

25:23 The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine, for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.

Hmm, that might change Hobby Lobby’s real estate plans…

What Do You Do for Money?
What Do You Do for Money?

What about Matthew 6:1, which seems to directly contradict the Corporate Christians public gnashing of teeth:

6:1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
6:2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
6:4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Getchyer Kitschhere
Getchyer Kitschhere

More from the New York Times Editorial Board:

There are several reasons why the court should find that the law does not apply, starting with the fact that secular, for-profit corporations are not “persons” capable of prayer or other religious behavior, which is a quintessentially human activity. Also, as an amicus brief filed by corporate law scholars persuasively argues, granting the religious exemption to the owners would mean allowing shareholders to pass their religious values to the corporation. The fundamental principle of corporate law is a corporation’s existence as a legal entity with rights and obligations separate from those of its shareholders.

Thomas Jefferson is rolling in his grave that this is even being considered a question…

Written by Seth Anderson

March 23rd, 2014 at 1:06 pm

Diversey Harbor Panorama was uploaded to Flickr

Fighting for space with the Canadian Geese

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/m1PZF1

I took Diversey Harbor Panorama on March 13, 2014 at 05:05PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 13, 2014 at 11:31PM

Written by eggplant

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:02 am

Everyone Is Looking For Someone To Blame was uploaded to Flickr

El Porto, Manhattan Beach, LA

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/ehwCM8

I took Everyone Is Looking For Someone To Blame on February 03, 2013 at 01:54PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on May 08, 2013 at 03:31PM

Written by eggplant

March 22nd, 2014 at 11:01 am

Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. was uploaded to Flickr

Oak Park

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/iKReTV

I took Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin it. on December 30, 2013 at 02:35PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 30, 2013 at 09:28PM

Written by eggplant

March 19th, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Waiting For Your Next Move was uploaded to Flickr

Soon to be covered by a rather large office tower and surrounding park

(renderings here; scroll down: http://ift.tt/ICMv59… )

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/iedQHi

I took Waiting For Your Next Move on November 30, 2013 at 03:26PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on December 10, 2013 at 01:54PM

Give Me Back My Broken Days was uploaded to Flickr

West Loop in the rain

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/gJZYM4

I took Give Me Back My Broken Days on October 17, 2013 at 01:08PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on October 17, 2013 at 06:44PM

Written by eggplant

March 19th, 2014 at 12:32 pm

Extremely Low Turnout was uploaded to Flickr

Apparently I was the 15th person who voted today, with the day half over…

There was a ballot initiative banning concealed weapons in bars, and another banning high-capacity ammunition clips – I had heard zero about either of these, glad I voted…

via http://ift.tt/MdEJ33

Public Questions, To the Voters of the City of Chicago:, "Should the City of Chicago increase taxi rates, which would be the first increase in eight years and bring Chicago’s taxi fleet in line with other cities?"
Yes No

Public Questions, To the Voters of the City of Chicago:, "Should Illinois amend the Firearm Concealed Carry Act to ban the possession of a concealed firearm in any establishment licensed to serve alcohol?"
Yes No

Public Questions, To the Voters of the City of Chicago:, "Should the State of Illinois pass legislation banning high capacity magazines with more than 15 rounds?"
Yes No

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/mbFe6f

I took Extremely Low Turnout on March 18, 2014 at 12:37PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 18, 2014 at 05:53PM

Written by eggplant

March 18th, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Blood and Sand with Meyer Lemon was uploaded to Flickr

Ted Haigh’s recipe calls for orange.

From the 1st edition:
bit.ly/1p5xxmd

Scotch
fresh squeezed orange juice (I substituted Meyer Lemon)
Cherry Heering
Rosso Vermouth

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/m5sNhC

I took Blood and Sand with Meyer Lemon on March 15, 2014 at 05:56PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 15, 2014 at 10:59PM

Written by eggplant

March 17th, 2014 at 5:47 pm

Emptiness

vs.

Emptiness

because…

When building out products and features we do primarily two things: We listen to our community and we use data to make decisions. Today, we are announcing that there will be two changes to Flickr.

First, we are going to re-introduce the HTML embed option to the new photo experience. It will be live on Tue 3/18. This now gives you two great options to integrate Flickr content into your web experiences: with the Flickr Web Embeds and the popular HTML embed code that you asked for.

Secondly, we are announcing that we are deprecating the support for our built-in sharing options for WordPress, Blogger and LiveJournal on 3/25. Deprecating features is never an easy decision, but we have seen that all of these services combined are now adding up to less than one percent of daily share volume from Flickr.

(click here to continue reading Flickr: The Help Forum: [Official Thread] Welcome back HTML Embeds! Goodbye to some sharing options..)

I am saddened by this deprecation. The great website IFTTT does interact with Flickr to post to WordPress, I wonder will this upcoming change break my recipe for posting? Even my current Post To WordPress From Flickr recipe only works for photos uploaded recently, if I wish to post older images like the above parking lot scene, I have to use Flickr tools.

Flickr HTML embed

Flickr iFrame embed

Flickr HTML embed

Flickr HTML embed

Flickr Sharing Options

Flickr sharing options as of March 16th, 2014

Written by Seth Anderson

March 16th, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Posted in Photography

Tagged with , ,

Your Hands Were Clean was uploaded to Flickr

Forest Preserve somewhere in Cook County

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/jMnK2Z

I took Your Hands Were Clean on January 14, 2014 at 12:25PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on February 05, 2014 at 07:33PM

Written by eggplant

March 16th, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Fanoenix by Debbie Mullins was uploaded to Flickr

A bit of “found” art, rescued from beneath the ground.

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: Libatique 73
Film: Kodot XGrizzled
Flash: Off

embiggen by clicking
http://flic.kr/p/e3s4FE

I took Fanoenix by Debbie Mullins on March 15, 2013 at 12:07PM

and processed it in my digital darkroom on March 15, 2013 at 05:10PM

Written by eggplant

March 16th, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Worldly

Worldly

Worldly, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

Hipstamatic 260 includes a Multi exposure kit (well, for 99¢).

(click to embiggen)

Written by swanksalot

March 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Photography

Buffalo River

Buffalo River

Buffalo River, originally uploaded by swanksalot.

www.nps.gov/buff/index.htm

Shot with my Hipstamatic for iPhone
Lens: John S
Film: Ina’s 1935
Flash: Off

(click to embiggen)

Written by swanksalot

March 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Photography