The Minkoff Minx {Go Ahead…Make Your Move!}

"I get very passionate about what I think is right."-Hillary Rodham Clinton

Sunday Reads, Crocodile Tears, and Rainbow Smiles

To achieve any greatness in life, one must confer their crocodile deliverances with the utmost skill and try to fool the rest of us. The ability to effectualize sympathy and understanding in the man standing next to you, whether you care if he breathes air or not, is a quality most treasured by those who want to lead. Become an expert in this and you will go far. For there is nothing like genuine indifference to get ahead in life, to demand a following, that of prestige and service.

Minx here with your Sunday Reads. The paragraph above is something I wrote and is a thought that I have worked on for a little while. With the recent events that have gone on in DC lately, and all the crocodile tears being shed by our politicians, I just wanted to touch on this a bit. So here is my opinion of the following politicians and their ability to shed those crocodile tears.

Obama: He does not even try to identify with “the little people,” so your won’t see any crocodile tears from him. I think he has such a disconnect with the population. His elitist and narcissistic attitude does not allow him to relate to the experiences and situation that so many of us are dealing with now. Not that he really gives a damn anyway.

Boehner: This guy is overdoing it! His tears are way too easily accessible for him to be healthy. I tend to think that perhaps this ability to cry at almost anything is connected to his alcohol intake.

Gore: Now, if you want to see a professional crocodile tear deliverer in action, this is the guy to watch. He has just the right amount of pseudo genuine concern, yet still has the ability to relate to people. (Especially if they are certified massage therapist…sorry I could not resist. ) **No offense to those who are fond of Gore. 😉

Palin: She is also a pro at delivering the tears when they are needed, and is a powerhouse when it comes to connecting with people, but they have to be her “kind” of people. Put her in a room full of women making the decision to abort a pregnancy because they cannot afford to have another child, or are victims of rape, or have health issues, or have a severely deformed or disabled fetus…you see where I am going with this…and there is no amount of crocodile tears that would connect her to these women.

Clinton: Hillary does not need to produce fake tears to connect her to the people. She is always genuine and sincere. She is not indifferent to the concerns and hardships that many of us are facing now.  I know I put her on a pedestal, but there is no one like her.

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So on with the links…Shep Smith Asks How Senators Sleep at Night After Filibustering 9-11 First Responders Bill | Video Cafe

Okay, I will admit it…I like Shepard Smith. (So let the harassing and teasing begin.) I have been posting links about the wonderful job that Jon Stewart has been doing reporting this story.

Looks like at least one person over at Fox News watched Jon Stewart’s segment with 9-11 first respondersreacting to the Senate filibuster and decided to let everyone know how they felt about it.

Via Mediaite:

A wonderful moment of pure outrage–and classic television–from Shepard Smith on Fox News Friday afternoon as he and Chris Wallace waited for President Obama’s tax cut signing ceremony.

Discussing the amount of money on “tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them,” Smith railed against the very same lawmakers who somehow couldn’t get relief passed for 9/11 first responders.

How do they sleep at night after this vote on Ground Zero first responders from 9/11? Are they going to get that done, or are we going to leave these American heroes out there to twist in the wind? […]

Who’s going to hold these people’s feet to the fire? We’re able to put a 52 story building so far down there at Ground Zero, we’re able to pay for tax cuts for billionaires who don’t need them and it’s not going to stimulate the economy. But we can’t give health care to Ground Zero first responders who ran right into the fire? Went down there to save people? Do people know what this city was like that day? People were walking over bridges they were covered in ash they were running for their lives they were crying their family members were dead. And these people ran to Ground Zero to save people’s lives. And we’re not going to even give them medicine for the illnesses they got down there? It’s disgusting, it’s a national disgrace, it’s a shame and everybody who voted against should have to stand up and account for himself or herself.

I’m glad Smith pointed out what an outrage this is, but like his cohort Peter Johnson Jr., Smith didn’t bother to let the viewers know that it’s the Republicans blocking the bill.

I am glad that Heather pointed that obvious neglected admission of who exactly is blocking the bill, i.e. Republicans. I think that it is ridiculous to leave this part out…but I have come to expect this crap from Faux News. At least the issue is getting air time. I hope that these idiots get some sort of heart and stop the filibuster.

Dakinikat had an awesome posts about this earlier this week. If you did not see them please check them out. This week saw the passing of the Obama-McConnell Tax Cut Bill. Ugh, what a mess. Well, I just wanted to bring David Dayen’s recent article to you all…US Wage Stagnation Leads to Rampant Inequality | FDL News Desk

Alan Blinder has a great story in the Wall Street Journal Friday about the US economy and how impossibly tilted it is toward the rich:

Those of us who live near the top of the income pyramid are doing very nicely, thank you. Yet our government keeps showering us with Christmas presents. Meanwhile, economic life is pretty miserable for those near the bottom and is getting worse for those in the middle. Does this strike you as fair?

The main story line of the U.S. economy over the last third of a century evokes Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol.” Starting in the late 1970s, the labor market turned ferociously against those with less education and in favor of those with more. This was not Ronald Reagan’s fault, nor George Bush’s (either one), nor Mitch McConnell’s. It just happened. And except for a brief shining moment during the Clinton boom, the Great Disequalization has continued unabated to this day […]

When it comes to wages, the basic story of recent decades is redolent of Scrooge.Real average hourly earnings (excluding fringe benefits) now stand roughly at 1974 levels. Yes, that’s right, no real increase in over 35 years. That is an astounding, dismaying and profoundly ahistorical development. The American story for two centuries was one of real wages advancing more or less in line with productivity. But not lately. Since 1978, productivity in the nonfarm business sector is up 86%, but real compensation per hour (which includes fringe benefits) is up just 37%. Does that seem fair?

I’m focusing on wages, though the inequality throughout the rest of the economy is crucial as well. But basically, you have working people producing for their employers and not coming close to sharing in the benefit. You have stagnant incomes for the last 35 years, which is absolutely incredible.

And this leads necessarily to income inequality. This chart of inequality in New York City approaching that of a banana republic tells the tale. Income has become concentrated in the hands of a few. They set the political agenda, they use the commons to an expansive degree, and they don’t pay their freight on that use. Government policies for 30 years have bestowed gifts on the rich at the expense of the poor, something we just saw a few minutes ago with the signing of a tax cut bill which will effectively increase taxes on those making under $20,000 a year, and reduce them on the top 2%.

And yet the loudest voices among those who haven’t had to commit a fair share to the functioning of this country continually scream about the budget deficit, not the structural revenue gap. Blinder has a word for them too.

But here’s a stunning coincidence. The entire Bowles-Simpson plan would reduce federal borrowing by $3.9 trillion over 10 years, including interest savings. That’s a lot of money. In fact, it’s almost enough to cover the cost of extending all the Bush tax cuts for 10 years.

So here’s a choice: We can achieve nearly $4 trillion in budgetary savings by accepting everything on the Bowles-Simpson list—spinach, broccoli and all. Or we can get a bit more than $4 trillion simply by letting all the Bush tax cuts expire in 2012. Of course, ending those tax cuts would mean returning to the tax rates of the Clinton years—when, as I’m sure you recall, high tax rates killed incentives and left our economy dead in the water.

It’s only slightly related, but you have to read Moe Tkacik on Peter Orszag. The words “corporate oligarchy” come to mind.

I am sure Dak will chime in on this one.

And I will just add one more link…this one is about the repeal of DADT: Clinton hails repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ as ‘historic step forward’ | Madam Secretary

Secretary Clinton hailed the Senate’s repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military as a “historic step forward for all Americans, a step toward a more perfect union and a more perfect reflection of our core values.” She made the remarks in a statement issued today in which she also said, “we are committed to universal standards abroad and here at home. Our progress on equality here strengthens our advocacy for human dignity everywhere.”

I was very excited that this passed.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:

This week was the 66 year anniversary of the beginning of one of the most decisive battles in the European Theater during WWII. On December 16, 1944, Hitler began his Operation Autumn Fog. According to The History Place – Defeat of Hitler: Battle of the Bulge:

At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, December 16, 1944, it all began. The offensive, which Hitler code named Operation Autumn Fog, erupted with an hour-long artillery barrage along an eighty-five mile front in the Ardennes which was thinly defended by six American divisions. Three of the divisions were new and had no battle experience while the remainder were experienced but tired-out men sent to recuperate in what had been the quietest sector of the Western Front. Now they watched in amazement, peering through the morning mist as 2,500 tanks and self-propelled guns, accompanied by 18 infantry divisions, rumbled toward them over ground lightly covered with new-fallen snow.

Battle of the Bulge – Wikipedia

The Battle of the Bulge (also known as the Ardennes Offensive and the Von Rundstedt Offensive) (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive (die Ardennenoffensive), launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes Mountains regionof Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name (Bataille des Ardennes), and France and Luxembourg on the Western Front. The Wehrmacht‘s code name for the offensive was Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (“Operation Watch on the Rhine“), after the German patriotic hymn Die Wacht am Rhein. This German offensive was officially named the Ardennes-Alsace campaign[3] by the U.S. Army,[16] but it is known to the English-speaking general public simply as the Battle of the Bulge, the “bulge” being the initial incursion the Germans put into the Allies’ line of advance, as seen in maps presented in contemporary newspapers.

I wanted to bring you this link especially, Forever tied to strangers in arms | Philadelphia Inquirer | 12/16/2010 It is an article written by a WWII veteran who was one of the soldiers that experienced this battle first hand.

Forever tied to strangers in arms

By Seymour I. “Spence” Toll

During some part of my daily life for the past 66 years, I have relived the night of Dec. 16, 1944.

World War II’s Battle of the Bulge began at dawn that day, when a German force of 200,000 attacked 75,000 American troops defending an 80-mile front in the Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg. On the befogged and bitterly freezing first night of the Wehrmacht’s assault, as an unremarkable 19-year-old American infantryman, I was wounded in a German rocket mortar (or “screaming meemie”) attack.

Please read the entire article, it makes you think. These were young men who were drafted into this war and they seemed to perform superhuman feats…they accomplished so much and their success here in the Ardennes Mountains was instrumental in finally defeating Hitler and coming to grips with the horrible atrocities that he enacted.

Easy like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:
Book Review – Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 – NYTimes.com

Sam intended to give us an unblushing autobiography on the order of Casanova’s or Rousseau’s “Confessions” or Samuel Pepys’s diary, which Sam heartily admired, with its matter-of-fact inventories of parties attended and meals enjoyed and the skirts of chambermaids raised, but he knew that frankness comes with a price — “None of us likes to be hated, none of us likes to be shunned,” he said. “The man has yet to be born who could write the truth about himself”

I think Garrison Keillor, who wrote the review was not impressed by the autobiography.  He writes:

Here is a powerful argument for writers’ burning their papers — you’d like to be remembered for “The Innocents Abroad” and “Life on the Mississippi” and the first two-thirds of “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and not for excruciating passages of hero worship of General Grant and his son Fred and accounts of your proximity to the general and your business dealings as the publisher of his memoirs, which only reminds the reader that the general wrote a classic autobiography, and you tried to and could not.

Think twice about donating your papers to an institution of higher learning, Famous Writer: someday they may be used against you.

I have this book and it is one of the most interesting insights to how Mark Twain worked and wrote. I am enjoying it, even if it takes a while to get to the meat of the autobiography. The first half of the book is discussing the work of putting the autobiography together, and I must admit that part is kind of dry. But, it is fascinating to see copies of his handwritten drafts, and I still would recommend it.

Okay, that is what I have to say this morning. So what are you reading, or thinking about today?

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