Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Aristocrats!

The most important skill necessary for success in our "meritocracy"? Brown-nosing the new aristocrats.

We are speeding towards feudalism. In our new gilded age, your children can have a glorious future as domestic servants and/or sex workers for the 0.1%.  Or we can do something about this widening gulf of wealth inequality. It's your choice. 
The most important skill necessary for success in our "meritocracy"? Brown-nosing the new aristocrats. by digby I have taken to telling people that if they want to make a decent living they will ne…

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-most-important-skill-necessary-for.html

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Please Draw The Necessary Inference

Is Our Elites Learning

What Atrios said. 
"The problem with the Lifestyles Of The Not Quite Rich Enough genre is there's never any hint that anyone involved (reporters, subjects) take the next step and think, "oh, gosh, if I can't live on $300K what must it be like to live on $50K!!!!""

http://www.eschatonblog.com/2014/04/is-our-elites-learning.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2FbRuz+%28Eschaton%29

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Unprosecuted War Criminal Whines About Bad Press

Torquemada was not a whiner

Not prosecuted yet, that is.  What Mitchell and Jessen did was monstrous. It's also a crime. I hope we are willing to come clean with ourselves about just what went on here. That means declassifying all of this sadistic, evil behavior and holding the perpetrators to account. 

"But Mitchell, who was reported to have personally waterboarded accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, remains unrepentant. "The people on the ground did the best they could with the way they understood the law at the time," he said. "You can't ask someone to put their life on the line and think and make a decision without the benefit of hindsight and then eviscerate them in the press 10 years later." The 6,600-page, $40m Senate report is still secret, but a summary of its 20 conclusions and findings, obtained by McClatchy News, alluded to the role Mitchell and another psychologist under contract to the CIA, Bruce Jessen, played in the torture program. The committee's chair, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, has said the report "exposes brutality that stands in stark contrast to our values as a nation". She added: "It chronicles a stain on our history that must never again be allowed to happen.""

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2014/04/torquemada-was-not-whiner.html

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Schumer Outraged By Con Ed Bills

Schumer Investigating Your Outrageous Con Ed Bills

Me too. Our electric bills were almost double last year's amount for the past two months.  What the hell is going on?
At a press conference held at his office today, New York Senator Charles Schumer announced that he'd requested an immediate investigation by the Federal Trade Commission into the skyrocketing gas and …

http://gothamist.com/2014/04/17/schumer_announces_investigation_int.php

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Bloomberg Data: How Americans Die

Fascinating interactive infographics.  Note the dramatic rise in drug deaths, which (surely by coincidence!) correlate with the aggressive marketing of opiate painkillers by the pharmaceutical industry.

Now consider this, from Fortune/CNNMoney in 2011:
Consider these statistics, all for 2010: 254 million prescriptions for opioids were filled in the U.S., according to Wall Street analysts Cowen & Co. Enough painkillers were prescribed to "medicate every American adult around the clock for a month," the federal Centers for Disease Control reported on Nov. 1. It estimated that "nonmedical use of prescription painkillers costs health insurers up to $72.5 billion annually in direct health care costs." Opioids generated $11 billion in revenues for pharmaceutical companies, says market research firm Frost & Sullivan.
Sellers include giants such as Abbott Labs (ABT), Novartis (NVS), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), and (in the future) Pfizer (PFE), as well as smaller fry like Endo Pharmaceuticals (ENDP) in Newark, Del., which makes Percocet, and UCB of Belgium, which makes Lortab. Most opioids are made by big generics companies such as Watson Pharmaceuticals (WPI), with companywide sales of $3.6 billion last year, and Covidien (COV) of Ireland, with $10.4 billion.
Two decades ago opioid sales were a small fraction of today's figures, as such drugs were reserved for the worst cancer pain. Why? Because drugs whose chemical composition resemble heroin's are nearly as addictive as heroin itself, and doctors generally wouldn't use such powerful meds on anybody but terminal cancer patients. But that changed years ago, and ever since, addiction to painkillers has become a staple of news headlines. There are periodic lurid crimes, such as the quadruple homicide in a Long Island pharmacy this summer committed by an addict desperate for hydrocodone. More often, there are the celebrities, such as Rush Limbaugh, who admitted on his radio show years ago that he was addicted to painkillers, or actor Heath Ledger, who was found dead with oxycodone in his system, or rapper Eminem, who entered rehab to address his reliance on Vicodin and other pills.

The Atrocious Transportation Funding Policies of Chris Christie

How to fund these repairs, however, is a grave problem. The governor loves to talk of the New Jersey Miracle, but his state is a transportation pauper. Its transportation trust fund teeters on insolvency, with most of its money going to pay off old bonds. Desperate to find funds, the governor embraced the chop shop option. First he killed a planned $8.7 billion commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River. Many argued this tunnel would ensure the future health of the region's economy. Whatever: Today trumps tomorrow in politics. Federal officials tried to renegotiate the cost of that tunnel, and the governor and his aides kept shaking their heads. "They could never take 'yes' for an answer," a transportation planner familiar with these negotiations said. "They needed the money to fix their roads." Once Mr. Christie cashed in that Hudson tunnel, he demanded the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey allow him to use the unspent money for his bridges and roads. There was a rub, however. As The Record pointed out in a fine article a few weeks back, the Port Authority is not a transportation piggy bank. Its funds can only be used on roads leading to the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel. The Pulaski bridge, alas, leads to the Holland Tunnel, which does not qualify, as it was built before the creation of the Port Authority. The governor stomped and demanded. Soon the Port Authority's lawyers rebranded the Pulaski Skyway an "access road" to the Lincoln Tunnel. Legal fiction is a creative field. The governor had other options. He could have sought to raise New Jersey's gas tax, which is the second lowest in the nation. Every penny added to that tax is good for about $50 million. Raise the tax by a dime and you can repair a lot of bridges and roads.

Before there was Bridgegate, there was Christie sticking the shiv in a new train tunnel between NY and NJ that was decades in the making. 

It was all about raising the funds for Christie to lard onto favored contractors, and paper over the reality of New Jersey's bankrupt transportation fund. The reality is that NJ's gas tax is far below what it needs to be (and far below its neighbors on all sides). 

Shared from the Digg iPhone app:
How to fund these repairs, however, is a grave problem. The governor loves to talk of the New Jersey Miracle, but his state is a transportation pauper. Its transportation trust fund teeters on insolvency, with most of its money going to pay off old bonds. Desperate to find funds, the governor embraced the chop shop option. First he killed a planned $8.7 billion commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River. Many argued this tunnel would ensure the future health of the region's economy. Whatever: Today trumps tomorrow in politics. Federal officials tried to renegotiate the cost of that tunnel, and the governor and his aides kept shaking their heads. "They could never take 'yes' for an answer," a transportation planner familiar with these negotiations said. "They needed the money to fix their roads." Once Mr. Christie cashed in that Hudson tunnel, he demanded the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey allow him to use the unspent money for his bridges and roads. There was a rub, however. As The Record pointed out in a fine article a few weeks back, the Port Authority is not a transportation piggy bank. Its funds can only be used on roads leading to the George Washington Bridge and the Lincoln Tunnel. The Pulaski bridge, alas, leads to the Holland Tunnel, which does not qualify, as it was built before the creation of the Port Authority. The governor stomped and demanded. Soon the Port Authority's lawyers rebranded the Pulaski Skyway an "access road" to the Lincoln Tunnel. Legal fiction is a creative field. The governor had other options. He could have sought to raise New Jersey's gas tax, which is the second lowest in the nation. Every penny added to that tax is good for about $50 million. Raise the tax by a dime and you can repair a lot of bridges and roads.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/17/nyregion/need-for-pulaski-skyway-repairs-is-obvious-but-honesty-about-financing-is-not.html



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

ABC News Publicly Shamed For Trying To Grab Pulitzer Cred

"The Center is prepared to show in great detail how little ABC's Brian Ross and Matt Mosk understood about even the most fundamental concepts and key facts and how they repeatedly turned to Chris to advise them or, in some instances, to do their work for them," he wrote. ABC News has not responded. In its last message to Buzenberg, published before the open letter, Kerry Smith, yet another ABC News executive, left it like this: "CPI's management's decisions in submitting an inaccurate and misleading entry without consulting us and not acknowledging our true role after winning have brought us to this point."
Brian Ross is an atrocious reporter.  He is walking proof against the concept of meritocracy.
"The Center is prepared to show in great detail how little ABC's Brian Ross and Matt Mosk understood about even the most fundamental concepts and key facts and how they repeatedly turned to Chris to advise them or, in some instances, to do their work for them," he wrote. ABC News has not responded. In its last message to Buzenberg, published before the open letter, Kerry Smith, yet another ABC News executive, left it like this: "CPI's management's decisions in submitting an inaccurate and misleading entry without consulting us and not acknowledging our true role after winning have brought us to this point."