Monday, September 13, 2010

Graphs help

Ezra Klein:

"From December 2007 to July 2009 – the last year of the Bush second term and the first six months of the Obama presidency, before his policies could affect the economy – private sector employment crashed from 115,574,000 jobs to 107,778,000 jobs. Employment continued to fall, however, for the next six months, reaching a low of 107,107,000 jobs in December of 2009. So, out of 8,467,000 private sector jobs lost in this dismal cycle, 7,796,000 of those jobs or 92 percent were lost on the Republicans’ watch or under the sway of their policies. Some 671,000 additional jobs were lost as the stimulus and other moves by the administration kicked in, but 630,000 jobs then came back in the following six months. The tally, to date: Mr. Obama can be held accountable for the net loss of 41,000 jobs (671,000 – 630,000), while the Republicans should be held responsible for the net losses of 7,796,000 jobs."

This should make you nervous

Kansas City Star:

J.T. Ready, a neo-Nazi who recently began conducting heavily armed desert patrols in search of “narco-terrorists” and illegal immigrants in Pinal County, told The Kansas City Star that he was working on a proposal seeking state approval for his group, the U.S. Border Guard.
“I’m putting together a package and presenting it to the Arizona Legislature and saying, ‘Why don’t we go ahead and make the border rangers official, or completely reactivate the Arizona Rangers and we’ll work together,’” he said.
The Arizona Rangers were created in 1901 to protect the territory from outlaws and rustlers. The group was re-established in 1957.
But watchdog groups say Ready’s patrol illustrates why states should not sanction defense forces.
“We know that the neo-Nazis carry guns, but here’s an example of neo-Nazis with guns trying to position themselves to become an instrument of state policy,” said Leonard Zeskind, the president of the Kansas City-based Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.
Ready, a neo-Nazi, says his border guard includes heavily armed militias that search for “narco-terrorists” and illegal immigrants in Pinal County.
“We have fully automatic weapons — legally registered — grenade launchers, night vision, body armor,” he said. “We’re definitely going out there fully armed and equipped. When you’re going up against people with AK-47s and grenade launchers, you don’t want to go out there with a slingshot.”

Betcha we don't see anything about it in the Courier.

And why should we care, exactly?

Today the unnamed Courier editor takes a big chunk of the editorial page to write up a story about a coming labor action in pro football. Somehow I missed it, but apparently Prescott has a pro football team, so this is relevant to our area, and sports is way more important than I ever imagined, which is why this piece didn't go in the sports section.

I'll say it again: I was born without the sports gene, and I could not give a rat's ass about physical combat as entertainment. So I don't read that part of the paper. If you care, be my guest and write your own blog.

But what creeps in here is the editor's inability to pass an opportunity to bash unions. See, the editor loves democracy, and the editor is devoted to the idea of market mechanisms, but when individual workers come together to employ those principles for their own betterment, somehow that's a bad thing.

In this case he doesn't quite take a side in the labor dispute (which, I notice, won't come to a head for six months). Rather, he seems peeved that the players made a gesture that forced him to think about the issue for a second, delaying his enjoyment of the violence and threatening the editor with withdrawal from his violence habit next year.

Pity the poor editor, esconced in his Barcalounger, remote in hand and beer and chips at the ready, channel-surfing in vain for his favorite entertainment as one of the few remaining American unions with enough clout to meet its management in a fair fight tries to make its members a little richer through nonviolent negotiation. What a nightmare.

Psst, Tim: "Local, local, local," remember?

Our national bugbear: "States' rights"

Since the creation of the idea of the United States we've been plagued by conflict and tension between our "one nation, indivisible" ideal and our fascination for pointless distinctions to separate us from one another. Reactionaries have always exploited this distrust of the guy on the other side of the invisible line to divide Americans and gather power for themselves. Sunday's editorial is a clear example of how the idea of "states' rights" is used selectively to block or promote change according to what the speaker happens to want politically.

The unnamed Courier editor sets up what s/he sees as a clever dichotomy between SB1070 and state initiatives allowing wider use of marijuana, saying that the federal government is selectively asserting the primacy of federal law by opposing one and not the other. This amounts to pure right-wing talking points.

As one astute commenter put it, the difference is apples and oranges.

In the case of 1070, the state is trying to assert a right to preempt federal enforcement policy in an area clearly reserved to the federal government. The feds have no choice but to injunct this action, and they will.

With widely enacted medical marijuana initiatives and California's Prop 19, the states are repealing their own blanket prohibitions. They are explicitly not attempting to prevent the feds from enforcing federal law, that would be stupid and counterproductive. Rather they are saying that it's up to the federal government to do its own enforcing and they're out of it.

We've seen this process before. The New York legislature, having suffered exponential growth in smuggling and gang violence as well as a doubling of its federal prison population, was first to break the wall of Prohibition by calling for a Constitutional convention and refusing to enforce federal law, starting the cascade to repeal in 1933. Now Arizona and California are similarly suffering the brunt of the effects of prohibition, and it should be no surprise that sensible people are saying enough is enough.

Rather than the feds, the editor is trying to have it both ways in support of reactionary political groupthink, and is unashamed to employ disinformation in pursuit of those goals. Again, our community deserves better.

The smell test

I'll let you make the call on the Courier's front-page Sunday banner graphic with the Fann logo, related to a feature on the company's 50th anniversary. Was it:

* Toadying to a powerful, well-heeled potential advertiser/patron?
* A not-so-subtle free plug for the Karen Fann campaign?
* Incompetent naivete about its political effect?
* All of the above?