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Monday, May 21st

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Editorial

The Chickens are Naked, and Proud

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The Dow fell like a rock today, the reported reason for this was the Wall Street banks' exposure to Spanish bonds. But it was industrials like Alcoa and Caterpillar that were the big losers followed by the oil companies, and only then the banks. Oil company profits are expected to decline with the falling price of gasoline as if they didn’t still have a monopoly.

Companies like Caterpillar are locked in major labor disputes where they are attempting to strip the benefits from so-called second tier union employees. These are people hired since Reagan broke the unions. They typically receive in the neighborhood of $11/hr plus benefits. In Romney land, these benefits have to go. The hourly wages these workers receive are the same, or less than the minimum wage of 25 cents/hour (adjusted for inflation) that workers got under the New Deal in 1938. Union wages were several times that then, but not in our brave new world of unregulated capitalism.

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Failure of Memory

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So here we are:  Arrived safe and sound at another, formerly-sacred, national holiday -- one more red-letter day reduced in status by many Americans as just one more blip on the radar of Super Inventory Clearance Furniture Sales.

If we still have jobs, cars, and money for gas, we celebrate the holiday by herding ourselves onto the nation's highways in the style of massed wildebeest migrations, trying to eke out two days and two nights away from wherever it is we usually hang our hats.

Memorial Day, or Decoration Day, as it was originally known, used to be time set aside by everyone to take a moment to remember those who died in military service to the country.

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CAUGHT RED HANDED

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By Bev Harris, founder of BlackBoxVoting.org

Four hundred and eighty-eight voters, every one of them in the Tennessee district of US Rep Steve Cohen (D-09), all but four lifelong Democrats, and nearly all Black, had their voting history erased by Shelby County election workers, setting them up for purge from the voter list.

To alter voting histories for a selected set of voters, putting them at risk for strategically selected purge, is to demean them, to treat them as if they have less worth as human beings than they do. And to demean them is to wrong them. What Shelby County's election staff has done, in altering the records, is morally wrong.

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About that Hope and Change...

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I've been thinking some -- stewing, really -- trying to get beyond my own reactions to the moment-to-moment outrages, disastrous pratfalls, and assorted, sordid fits characterizing signs of life in our culture and society.

Any number of daily afflictions work us like racehorses at finish lines, galloping us into short attention spans, no time to fix anything, barely enough time to keep track of even half of what's sliding sideways underfoot.

Closely observing politics and its practitioners is a game surely not for the weak-hearted, even less so when the stakes are highest, and the entire country seems to be riding a betting line of poor odds.

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We could be just like Greece

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Initial jobless claims were unchanged for the week, suggesting that jobs continue to be produced albeit at a slow pace. We have recovered more jobs than were lost in private sector from the Bush crash, even in “slow“ months. Obama can take credit for half again what was Bush‘s average month before the crash. If you include the jobs Bush lost at the end (including the early months of Obama‘s term), Bush’s average month was zero new jobs created.

The problem is that Red States have laid off 700,000 teachers, social workers, cops, firefighters and bridge inspectors. This probably killed another two million more private sector jobs that would have produced supplies used by these government workers, or would have benefited from the workers’ spending. Trickle down from the top doesn’t work, but you can drain the economy from the bottom.

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Checkmate within the Margin of Error

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Obama has said his position on Marriage Equality has been evolving, probably not. Public opinion however, has been evolving, as have the demographics. The old, rigid, fearful of gays, generation of voters has been dying off. They’re being replaced by a generation that began voting right after Y2K. Remember the computer panic by that name? It was a real threat, and not just a hoax, but not the end of the world the way the same people who have lately been selling gold made it out to be. (BTW, gold dropped under $1600/oz today, it could be on the way down to $700)

Computers have come along way since Y2K, and they know what you think, literally. Maybe better than you do. Obama’s campaign planners are using computer power that is running algorithms on data sets that were unimagined back when we worried that the year turning over zero would crash the entire world. All the small but trackable moves that Obama’s people have made over the past couple of weeks, and the predictable but also trackable moves that Republicans made in response, gave them the numbers they wanted to see.

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A Great Spirit Surveys Our Ghost of a Chance

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If you've ever wished for a reasonable summary to help explain the inane and insane seas we're all left navigating, your wish has come true:  First, you should know, one man, the explanation's author, has died.

The man was writer and editor Ernest Callenbach.  He died April 16 at 83.  You may know him from the "Ectopia" books, or from the journal he edited, "Film Quarterly."  He wrote, lectured, walked, gardened, and occasionally taught film classes.  He was an advocate of Earth and of simple, and simplified, living.

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