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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wallace(Darwina Wallace | Source: Freep)

“Sometimes I think they care more about the art than the retirees who spent our entire lives working for this city,” Darwina Wallace told me.

I interviewed Wallace—a woman in her late sixties who started working for the city of Detroit when she was in her 30s—in her home a few miles west of downtown.

If unions or individual city employees don’t accept what Orr described as “a timely settlement” or if they try to force the city to sell its art, or engage in protracted litigation, Orr will push for a 34 percent reduction in pensions.

Her street had not been plowed and it had snowed enough the week before Christmas that I played it safe and parked my car on Mack Avenue, which divides Detroit from the upscale municipality of Grosse Pointe. The residential streets on the other side of Mack Avenue were plowed.

Wallace went to work for as a 911 operator and over the years worked her way up to middle management. She had a better retirement than many city retirees. And her house was paid for, even if her street wasn’t plowed.

But she had no idea how much her pension would be cut after Detroit emerged from bankruptcy. Nor did she know how bankruptcy would affect the health care coverage that was part of her retirement package. And she has serious health problems.

Now she knows.


In June and July of last year, I reported on a little-noticed trial in federal court in Austin, where a judge and jury ruled that scientific assays used since the late 1970s to measure potential health hazards in consumer plastics are no longer adequate.

Eastman Chemical, a corporation with $9.2 billion in market capitalization, was suing two small Austin labs, PlastiPure and CertiChem, who operate out of a small strip mall north of the city.

At issue was the potential harm that products made of Eastman’s new plastic feedstock could cause to humans. Eastman had spent tens of millions of dollars developing its trademarked Tritan as a safe alternative to consumer plastics made from bispheonol A (BPA).

120118 elizabeth warren ap 328

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was running for his second term in 1936 when he made a speech in Madison Square Garden, defining an enemy at home rather than abroad.

We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace—business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering.
They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me—and I welcome their hatred.

The full text is worth the reader’s time, as is the short YouTube clip, delivered in FDR’s measured, patrician cadence.

Business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, a corporate class that considered “the Government of the United States a mere appendage to their own affairs.”

Roosevelt took office as the country was mired in a depression, caused largely as most economists agree, by huge disparities in wealth. It was inequality not unlike that which exists today.

lede filibusterAD(Texas state Senator Wendy Davis | Source: Dallas Morning News)

It’s been a rough week for the Wendy Davis campaign. What began with a critical examination of her bio by Dallas Morning News senior political reporter Wayne Slater has become the story, keeping the Democratic senator’s gubernatorial campaign off-message and on the defensive since January 19.

Herein the real damage. An ambitious woman walking away from her daughter. Or so it has been played by the right-wing press, even if it’s not how her ex saw it.

Wayne is in a class of his own, one of the finest political reporters in the state. He doesn’t do smear pieces. Nor does he represent the editorial slant of the Morning News, which is far more enlightened than it was when he started there.

What he did reveal was that Davis’s broad brush account of her rise from working-class poverty in Fort Worth had elided a few details.

Davis has said she was divorced and moved into a trailer when she was 19. In fact, her first divorce was finalized when she 21. And while she did move into a trailer at age 19, she only lived there for a few months before moving into an apartment with her daughter.

This from Slater’s January 19 story:

The candidate’s compelling life story begins with 14-year-old Wendy Russell working to help support her single mother in Tarrant County. While still a teenager, Davis married, had a child and divorced, she has said.

“I had a baby. I got divorced by the time I was 19 years old,” she testified in a recent federal lawsuit over redistricting. “After I got divorced, I lived in a mobile home park in southeast Fort Worth.”

Perjury? Intentionally trying to mislead?

Not hardly, as they say in the Great State.

m8rqz.AuSt.91(Source: White House)

I was following the Republican presidential primaries in 1988 when Jack Kemp made an insightful comment to conclude a speech he was delivering to a Hispanic group in Corpus Christi:

“Ladies and gentlemen, our future lies ahead of us!”

The theme of Obama’s State of the Union address last night:

“My future lies ahead of me!”

Bring it on. Draft and sign executive decrees and put the federal agencies to work on regulations.

Obama’s speech was a long-overdue farewell to Congress and a statement that he will go it on his own.

Not that he has a choice.

Again, this is the most dysfunctional, oppositional, and extreme Congress (in particular the House of Representatives) in modern history.





A Fossil-Fueled Market Bubble

By Brett Fleishman


Why hasn’t Wall Street imploded over this yet? Well, remember how “nobody” could see the housing bubble coming?




How to End California’s Water Crisis

By Polly Cleveland and Mason Gaffney


California farmers get their water free, or close to free. Any of us who have taken elementary economics should be shouting from the rooftops or blasting through cyberspace: if you make something free, you will get waste and shortages!




Good News and Bad News about News

By Emily Schwartz Greco and William A.


The news business does look better than it did not long ago. How about the actual quality of what’s being reported? It's generally bad.





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[National Security]

A Tortured Twist on Ethics

By Yosef Brody


Why isn't the American Psychological Association pursuing ethics charges against psychologist John Leso for abuses he helped carry out at the Guantánamo prison?



[Foreign Policy]

The Diplomatic Dance with Iran

By Chris Toensing


Iran might stumble but the Obama administration should take the greatest possible care not to trip its partner.




A Long, Gilded Life

By Sam Pizzigati


The last link between America's plutocratic past and present has left us.




No-Fault Gun Laws

By Peter Lindstrom


The increasing number of lax gun laws in many states are one reason all gun deaths (homicide, suicide and accident) been growing steadily since 2000.




You Get What You Don’t Pay For

By Ryan Alexander


No matter how hard lawmakers try to close their eyes, click their heels, and hope for the best, they can’t make highway funding magically appear. But that doesn’t stop them fiddling and flailing as they burn through the Highway Trust Fund.




America Has Long Been Twitchy about Its Sphere of Influence

By Jim Sleeper


The best reasons to impose strong sanctions against Russian-nationalist tyranny aren’t anthropological but liberal and, yes, geopolitical.






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