ifuckinglovespace:

A bird comes into land atop one of the domes of the landmark Taj Mahal as Venus begins to pass in front of the Sun, as visible from Agra, India, on June 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Kevin Frayer)

[Sources: 1, 2, 3]

"

Jennifer Rubin, blogging at the Washington Post, has this to say about President Obama’s use of the term “thinly veiled social Darwinism” to describe Paul Ryan’s budget: “Let’s be clear about two things. The supposedly erudite Obama labeled Ryan a race supremacist…”

Let’s be clear about one thing: Jennifer Rubin doesn’t have the slightest idea what she’s talking about.

"

— The opening paragraphs of Robert Wright’s look at the "Conservative Confusion over Obama and ‘Social Darwinism’"

theatlantic:

The Atlantic Monthly was first published on this day in 1857. Our first cover.

theatlantic:

The Atlantic Monthly was first published on this day in 1857. Our first cover.

The Atlantic:

Rebel Discovers Qaddafi Passport, Real Spelling of Leader’s Name

As Libyans flood Muammar Qaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya military compound in Tripoli, they’re making a number of interesting finds. Most recent is what appears to be the diplomatic passport of eldest son Mohammed Qaddafi. Video of someone leafing through the passport [above] reveals an interesting discovery: the spelling of Qaddafi’s name. A much-circulated 2009 ABCNews.com story found 112 different ways to render the Libyan leader’s last name in the Latin alphabet, used in English and most other Western European languages. But, according to this passport, and presumably the Libyan man himself, the accurate Latinized spelling is one of the least commonly used of those 112: Gathafi. (The passport also shows Mohammed’s title as “Son of the Leader of the Revolution,” a reference to his father’s preferred title as head of state.)

The proper spelling of the Libyan leader’s name has long been a source of banter and argument among Western journalists and editors. Debates over the most accurate spelling of his name are so common that they were once featured in an episode of the TV series The West Wing. Some hobbyist linguists have even parsed the multiple spellings into computer code and a handy chart.

The Atlantic:

What America Looks Like: Aboard A Coast Guard Cutter

"Ryan Hoyt works on the rig of the Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle, which was originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy. The ship was taken by the U.S. as a war prize after World War II."


I love this series.

The Atlantic:

What America Looks Like: Aboard A Coast Guard Cutter

"Ryan Hoyt works on the rig of the Coast Guard Cutter Barque Eagle, which was originally operated by Nazi Germany to train cadets for the German Navy. The ship was taken by the U.S. as a war prize after World War II."

I love this series.

The Real Dickishness Problem

The Atlantic’s James Fallows continues the criticism of Mark Halperin made by Andrew Sullivan and WaPo’s Greg Sargent:

Of course Mark Halperin should not be fired for saying on MSNBC that President Obama had been “kind of a dick” when sounding angry at Republicans during his press conference yesterday. I say that notwithstanding the certainty that if some other “mainstream” journalist had said the same about George W. Bush on MSNBC or CNN, the outrage would never have been allowed to ebb on Fox and the Limbaugh show. (Angry Obama picture yesterday, via CBS)

The real problem is the dickishness of our mainstream political analysis, especially from the “savviest” practitioners. Back during my days as media critic, I argued in Breaking the News and a related Atlantic cover story that the laziest and ultimately most destructive form of political coverage came when journalists seemed to imagine that they were theater critics or figure-skating judges. The what of public affairs didn’t interest them. All they cared about was the how

In this case, the “what” of Obama’s press conference — the unbelievable recklessness of mainly House Republicans in inviting the largest self-inflicted economic wound in American history — deserves every bit of frustration Obama showed, and lots more. In the long run we’ll have some sense of whether Obama’s typical surreal unflappability, whatever its origins (I have my theories, but for another time), was the wisest long-term response to today’s Republican party — and whether this unusual flash of emotion worked in directing public attention to a looming and entirely unnecessary blow to America’s wellbeing. 

But the real news of the press conference, of course, was the economic, financial, political, and Constitutional showdown Obama was discussing. Not to understand that, and to act as if this was a free-skate program where a contestant should be judged on poise, costume, and sticking the landings, is just dickish.

First Wave at Omaha Beach

The Atlantic, November 1960:

[…]

In everything that has been written about Omaha until now, there is less blood and iron than in the original field notes covering any battalion landing in the first wave. Doubt it? Then let’s follow along with Able and Baker companies, 116th Infantry, 29th Division. Their story is lifted from my fading Normandy notebook, which covers the landing of every Omaha company.

ABLE Company riding the tide in seven Higgins boats is still five thousand yards from the beach when first taken under artillery fire. The shells fall short. At one thousand yards, Boat No. 5 is hit dead on and foundered. Six men drown before help arrives. Second Lieutenant Edward Gearing and twenty others paddle around until picked up by naval craft, thereby missing the fight at the shore line. It’s their lucky day. The other six boats ride unscathed to within one hundred yards of the shore, where a shell into Boat No. 3 kills two men. Another dozen drown, taking to the water as the boat sinks. That leaves five boats.

Lieutenant Edward Tidrick in Boat No. 2 cries out: “My God, we’re coming in at the right spot, but look at it! No shingle, no wall, no shell holes, no cover. Nothing!”

His men are at the sides of the boat, straining for a view of the target. They stare but say nothing. At exactly 6:36 A.M. ramps are dropped along the boat line and the men jump off in water anywhere from waist deep to higher than a man’s head. This is the signal awaited by the Germans atop the bluff. Already pounded by mortars, the floundering line is instantly swept by crossing machine-gun fires from both ends of the beach.

Able Company has planned to wade ashore in three files from each boat, center file going first, then flank files peeling off to right and left. The first men out try to do it but are ripped apart before they can make five yards. Even the lightly wounded die by drowning, doomed by the waterlogging of their overloaded packs. From Boat No. 1, all hands jump off in water over their heads. Most of them are carried down. Ten or so survivors get around the boat and clutch at its sides in an attempt to stay afloat. The same thing happens to the section in Boat No. 4. Half of its people are lost to the fire or tide before anyone gets ashore. All order has vanished from Able Company before it has fired a shot.

Already the sea runs red. Even among some of the lightly wounded who jumped into shallow water the hits prove fatal. Knocked down by a bullet in the arm or weakened by fear and shock, they are unable to rise again and are drowned by the onrushing tide. Other wounded men drag themselves ashore and, on finding the sands, lie quiet from total exhaustion, only to be overtaken and killed by the water. A few move safely through the bullet swarm to the beach, then find that they cannot hold there. They return to the water to use it for body cover. Faces turned upward, so that their nostrils are out of water, they creep toward the land at the same rate as the tide. That is how most of the survivors make it. The less rugged or less clever seek the cover of enemy obstacles moored along the upper half of the beach and are knocked off by machine-gun fire.

[Read More]

The Atlantic:

Greatest Front Page Ever
This will never be topped.

The Atlantic:

Greatest Front Page Ever

This will never be topped.


Captain Elizabeth Jackson from US 3rd Battalion 2nd Marine Regimental Combat Team 8 rides on a teeter-totter with an Afghan boy in a playground near the town of Musa Qala in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on April 12, 2011. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

Captain Elizabeth Jackson from US 3rd Battalion 2nd Marine Regimental Combat Team 8 rides on a teeter-totter with an Afghan boy in a playground near the town of Musa Qala in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on April 12, 2011. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

The Wisconsin Lie Exposed – Taxpayers Actually Contribute Nothing To Public Employee Pensions

Forbes (FORBES!):

Pulitzer Prize winning tax reporter, David Cay Johnston, has written a brilliant piece for tax.com exposing the truth about who really pays for the pension and benefits for public employees in Wisconsin.

Gov. Scott Walker says he wants state workers covered by collective bargaining agreements to “contribute more” to their pension and health insurance plans. Accepting Gov. Walker’ s assertions as fact, and failing to check, creates the impression that somehow the workers are getting something extra, a gift from taxpayers. They are not. Out of every dollar that funds Wisconsin’ s pension and health insurance plans for state workers, 100 cents comes from the state workers.

Via tax.com

How can this be possible?

Simple. The pension plan is the direct result of deferred compensation- money that employees would have been paid as cash salary but choose, instead, to have placed in the state operated pension fund where the money can be professionally invested (at a lower cost of management) for the future.

Many of us are familiar with the concept of deferred compensation from reading about the latest multi-million dollar deal with some professional athlete. As a means of allowing their ball club to have enough money to operate, lowering their own tax obligations and for other benefits, ball players often defer payment of  money they are to be paid to a later date. In the meantime, that money is invested for the ball player’s benefit and then paid over at the time and in the manner agreed to in the contract between the parties.

Does anyone believe that, in the case of the ball player, the deferred money belongs to the club owner rather than the ball player? Is the owner simply providing this money to the athlete as some sort of gift? Of course not. The money is salary to be paid to the ball player, deferred for receipt at a later date.

A review of the state’s collective bargaining agreements – many of which are available for review at the Wisconsin Office of State Employees web site - bears out that it is no different for state employees. The numbers are just lower.

Check out section 13 of the Wisconsin Association of State Prosecutors collective bargaining agreement – “For the duration of this Agreement, the Employer will contribute on behalf of the employee five percent (5%) of the employee’s earnings paid by the State. ”

Johnston goes on to point out that Governor Walker has gotten away with this false narrative because journalists have failed to look closely at how employee pension plans work and have simply accepted the Governor’s word for it. Because of this, those who wish the unions ill have been able to seize on that narrative to score points by running ads and spreading the word that state employees pay next to nothing for their pensions and that it is all a big taxpayer give-away.

If it is true that pension and benefit money is money that already belongs to state workers,  you might ask why state employees would not just take the cash as direct compensation and do their own investing for their retirement through their own individual retirement plans.

Again, simple.

Mr. Johnston continues-

Expecting individuals to be experts at investing their retirement money in defined contribution plans — instead of pooling the money so professional investors can manage the money as is done in defined benefit plans — is not sound economics.  The concept, at its most basic, is buying wholesale instead of retail. Wholesale is cheaper for the buyers. That is, it saves taxpayers money. The Wisconsin State Investment Board manages about $74.5 billion for an all-in cost of $224 million. That is a cost of about 30-cents per $100, which is good but not great. However it is far less than many defined contribution plans, where costs are often $1 or more per $100.”

If the Wisconsin governor and state legislature were to be honest, they would correctly frame this issue. They are not, in fact, asking state employees to make a larger contribution to their pension and benefits programs as that would not be possible- the employees are already paying 100% of the contributions.

What they are actually asking is that the employees take a pay cut.

That may or may not be an appropriate request depending on your point of view – but the argument that the taxpayers are providing state workers with some gift is as false as the argument that state workers are paid better than employees with comparable education and skills in private industry.

Maybe state workers need to take pay cut along with so many of their fellow Americans. But let’s, at the least, recognize this sacrifice for what it is rather than pretending they’ve been getting away with some sweet deal that now must be brought to an end.

AMAZING HOW MY DASHBOARD IS A MILLION TIMES MORE INFORMATIVE THAN ANY OTHER NEWS SITE, TV CHANNEL AND RADIO PROGRAMME IN MY COUNTRY. FUCK YOU MAINSTREAM MEDIA, JUST FUCK YOU FOR BEING SUCH IGNORANT FUCKS.

veronica-echolls:

If the entire world read Slate, The Atlantic and Mother Jones, watched PBS, BBC and al-Jazeera, and paid attention to everything that NPR does, I’m convinced we’d all be better off.

(Source: veronicaecholls, via theheartacheandthehope)


The Atlantic - Picture of the Day: The Boeing 314 Flying Boat

Sullivan weighs in, slightly, on the ‘blood libel’ issue

"The Blood Libel Route"

12 JAN 2011 12:16 PM

Howie Kurtz stops defending Palin. From the Politburo, a one-two classic. Comrade Jonah:

"the use of this particular term in this context isn’t ideal.

Comrade K-Lo:

Ironically, it may lead to a more honest discussion of the phrase than we’ve typically seen in the mainstream media. It may.

It took her only ten minutes to make sure that any criticism of Palin was qualified. And they say this isn’t Palin’s party. My first impression of the political and rhetorical escalation by Palin: she’s going for broke on this. She thrives off this emotional polarization and is seeking, like all demagogues, to exploit it. She wants to turn this into a right-left war, thereby fortifying her grip on the right’s base. If the establishment does nothing in response, she gains a more secure grip on the apparatus.

The Atlantic:

There is no rational basis to keep qualified and dedicated gays from serving in the military. It was confidence in this truth - not assertion of any special identity or special rights - that carried us forward. And the revelation of the actual lives and records of gay servicemembers - all of whom came out of the closet and risked their livelihoods to testify to the truth - has sunk in widely and deeply. These men and women had the courage to serve their country and then the courage to risk their careers, promotions, pensions, salaries and, in some cases, lives to bring this day about. They represent an often silent majority of gay men and women who simply want to belong to the families and country and churches and communities they love, and to contribute to them without having to lie about themselves. This, in the end, was not about the right to be gay, but the right to serve America. Like all great civil rights movements, it is in the end about giving, not taking.
[…]
What the gay rights movement should, in my view, be about is not the creation of a separate, protected class of victims. It should be about enlarging the circle of human freedom so that there are no excuses left, no classes of pre-ordained victims, just individual citizens living different lives with no group-based discrimination.
- Andrew Sullivan

The Atlantic:

There is no rational basis to keep qualified and dedicated gays from serving in the military. It was confidence in this truth - not assertion of any special identity or special rights - that carried us forward. And the revelation of the actual lives and records of gay servicemembers - all of whom came out of the closet and risked their livelihoods to testify to the truth - has sunk in widely and deeply. These men and women had the courage to serve their country and then the courage to risk their careers, promotions, pensions, salaries and, in some cases, lives to bring this day about. They represent an often silent majority of gay men and women who simply want to belong to the families and country and churches and communities they love, and to contribute to them without having to lie about themselves. This, in the end, was not about the right to be gay, but the right to serve America. Like all great civil rights movements, it is in the end about giving, not taking.

[…]

What the gay rights movement should, in my view, be about is not the creation of a separate, protected class of victims. It should be about enlarging the circle of human freedom so that there are no excuses left, no classes of pre-ordained victims, just individual citizens living different lives with no group-based discrimination.

- Andrew Sullivan

Stephen Colbert in College: ‘I Had a Chest Like a Baby Duck’
[via The Atlantic]

Stephen Colbert in College: ‘I Had a Chest Like a Baby Duck’

[via The Atlantic]