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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Saturday musings
Posted by Jill | 7:02 AM
It's been a tough week to be sitting on the left-hand side of the fence. I don't know about anyone else, but I've had a difficult time focusing on work, what with the beautiful weather here in Pnoo Joisey and walking around being undecided at whom I'm more angry -- the Republicans, who are just doing what Republicans do, or the Democrats, who......well, OK, they too are doing what Democrats do.

There was a time when I had Air America Radio to help me keep sane, but now there's no funny in the morning because there's no Morning Sedition, there's no Sam Seder except for a few stolen hours on Sunday as Seder hangs on by his fingernails so that he can have health insurance for his not-quite-two-year-old, and WWRL's signal goes down to nothing at night -- not that it would matter, because the station thinks we would rather listen to a rerun of Sam Greenfield and Armstrong Williams after Rachel Maddow goes off the air. So I'm often reduced to listening to old Morning Sedition podcasts (which sound as if they could have been recorded last week, that's how little the situation in Iraq has changed) or the nonstop tomfoolery of the Seditionist Radio stream. And sometimes it just reminds me of what we're missing, and then I think about how much we need to feel just some scintilla of hope, and I wonder from whence that hope could possibly come.

At least I don't have children to worry about, because one of the least talked-about side effects of Bushonomics has been the decline in the incomes of ordinary people at the same time as corporate executives are raking in the bucks at an obscene rate:

The American dream has always held that each generation will enjoy a higher standard of living than the previous one, and that is still true, as measured by household income.

But the generational gains are slowing, and the increased participation of women in the work force is the only thing keeping the dream alive, according to an analysis of Census data released Friday.

A generation ago, American men in their thirties had median annual incomes of about $40,000 compared with men of the same age who now make about $35,000 a year, adjusted for inflation. That’s a 12.5 percent drop between 1974 and 2004, according to the report from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project.

To be sure, household incomes rose during the same period, but only because there are more full-time working women, the report said.

"This suggests the up-escalator that has historically ensured that each generation would do better than the last may not be working very well," said the report by Isabel Sawhill, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution, and John Morton, director of the Economic Mobility Project.

The report also found that many countries, including Denmark, Norway, Finland and Canada, offer far more economic mobility than in the United States when measuring by the income differences between generations.


Of course, the men who run American companies don’t have too much to complain about. CEO pay increased to 262 times the average worker’s pay in 2005 from 35 times in 1978, according to the report’s analysis of Congressional Budget Office statistics.

Yes, folks, the Bush Administration has taken one of the fundamental assumptions of the American Dream -- that this is a land of opportunity in which those who work hard and play by the rules can better themselves. To be sure, there are still success stories, like the guy from Paterson who bought a minibus and now operates a jitney service to Manhattan that carries more commuters than New Jersey Transit. But as a society, the perception that we adults are spinning in place and that future generations will find less opportunity and lower incomes isn't just paranoia.

All this of course explains the Republican hammering of the illegal immigrant issue, as if the guys cutting your lawn or replacing your roof are the sole reason your kids are going to be struggling the way your grandparents did. Anything to take attention away from the corporatist greed that compensates executives based on cronyism rather than performance, that buys your Congresscritters, that outsources high-paying jobs so that the only opportunities available to your kids will be to sell hamburgers and cheap crap to other people scrambling for the same leftover scraps from the corporatist groaning board. The Republicans are behaving true to form in trying to redirect your attention down the economic ladder to distract you while they pick your pockets from above.

Of course, the decreasing opportunities in this country are the perfect storm to foster greater enlistment in the perceived Last Bastion of Opportunity: the military. With an attack on Iran virtually certain, presumably by September (just in case the Democrats should somehow miraculously be able to find their balls by then), and a reluctance to initiate a draft (something politically unfeasible when you have a 28% approval rating), the military is going to be perceived to be the only choice for many American young people. At that point, the challenge for the media is going to be to keep applying the Tangee to the pig that is the American war effort. Expect more stories like this one:

Iraq puppy adopted by fallen soldier's family
He was photographed with dog from litter the day before he was killed

The family of Army Spc. Justin Rollins finally got to hold one of the last things he held.

A female puppy the 22-year-old nuzzled the night before his death in a roadside bombing in Iraq frolicked Friday in New Hampshire, completing a nearly 6,000-mile journey that Rollins' family and girlfriend began pushing for after seeing photos of him with a newborn litter.

"It was the last bit of happiness Justin had," said Rollins' girlfriend, Brittney Murray.

Rollins and some other soldiers from the 82nd Airborne found the puppies outside an Iraqi police station March 4 but weren't allowed to bring them back into their barracks. Rollins was killed the next day in Samarra.

After Murray saw the photos, she sought help finding the short-haired dog, named Hero as a reminder of the man who planned to propose to her on his next visit home, she and his mother said. U.S. Rep. Paul Hodes contacted the U.S. Central Command, which ordered the 82nd to retrieve the pup and turn it over to delivery company DHL.

Hero arrived Thursday night at Kennedy International Airport in New York, visited a veterinarian and arrived in New Hampshire overnight. The floppy-eared pooch — mostly white, with brown spots along the right side of its muzzle and paws still too big for its 15-pound body — was a hit Friday as she sniffed around Hodes' office, pausing to piddle on the carpet.

Awwwwww.....ain't that sweet? Doesn't that just warm the cockles of your little heart? And see? The death of a 22-year-old soldier is a GOOD thing! Without his death, this little dog might still be in Iraq, instead of here in the USA, where he can enjoy some good, wholesome, melamine-tainted dog food.

Look, folks, I love a cute animal story as much as the next person, and more than some. But when you have to hide the death of a 22-year-old behind a cute, fuzzy dog, you're scraping the bottom of positive spin.

But then, what else can we expect from the media, now that the groundwork is being laid for yet another round of Clinton investigations. Say this for the Republicans and their lackeys in the media -- they don't let any grass grow under their feet. Though I have to admit, I can't wait to see how Hillary Clinton answers questions about why she's taking cash from the CEO of a company that counts outsourcing among its services and is setting up technology schools in India.

Perhaps this is what the latest flurry of housecleaning at the Brilliant residence means -- it's an attempt, however feeble, to try to have an organized, calm oasis in a world gone mad.
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