The Best Thing That Happened This Week: Marie Antoinette Lives!

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High school students, union activists and fast food workers marched in Manhattan’s Upper West Side on April 15th to demand a $15 per hour federal minimum wage. Photo | a katz / Shutterstock.com

A new study out this week from the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education revealed just how much the working poor rely on state and federal assistance programs to make ends meet. It showed that 52 percent of American fast food workers, 48 percent of home health workers and 46 percent of child-care workers — the backbone of our “service economy” — receive assistance from Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Temporary Aid to Needy Families, the Earned Income Tax Credit and/or food stamps. Because these workers get few or no benefits and are paid so poorly — the federally mandated minimum wage stands at $7.25 an hour — U.S. taxpayers ante up $152.8 billion annually to aid them and their families. As Patricia Cohen explained in the New York Times, taxpayers “are providing not only support to the poor but also, in effect, a huge subsidy for employers of low-wage workers, from giants like McDonald’s and Walmart to mom-and-pop businesses.” All by itself, McDonald’s costs taxpayers $1.2 billion a year. Read more »

I Can’t Get On Board the Hillary Clinton Bandwagon. Yet.

Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns for Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, during a rally at the University of Maryland, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, in College Park, Md.

Hillary Rodham Clinton campaigns for Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, during a rally at the University of Maryland, Thursday, Oct. 30, 2014, in College Park, Md.

Man, I wish I could jump on board the Hillary Clinton bandwagon.

I’d love to be rooting for the First Woman President right now. I’d love to reward a career spent largely in public service. And I’d love to not risk being even tenuously associated with all the sexist d-bags and Clinton Conspiracymongers who are already coming out of the woodwork, again — not that they ever really went away.  Read more »

That Was Fast: Hillary Clinton Already Attacked for Running While Female

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in LeClaire, Iowa.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with local residents at the Jones St. Java House, Tuesday, April 14, 2015, in LeClaire, Iowa.

Well, that didn’t take long.

The same day Hillary Clinton officially launched her campaign for president, she was scrutinized for doing so while being a woman.

“I don’t need her to drown me in estrogen every time she opens her mouth,” GOP strategist Ana Navarro said Sunday while on CNN to complain about Clinton’s lack of “subtlety.” “Every time she opens her mouth it’s about the granddaughter and Chelsea’s wedding and the yoga routines. She doesn’t need to have a sign that says, ‘I’m a woman, hear me roar!'”

(I know – I thought this was another on-point Onion story, too. I’m still a little paranoid it might be. But I watched the video, and those are real words coming out of a real person’s mouth in 2015.) Read more »

Chris Christie: Cut Social Security for the Rich

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Chris Christie says he wants to eliminate Social Security benefits for high-income earners, the Wall Street Journal reports.

MANCHESTER, N.H.—Gov. Chris Christie called for reduced Social Security benefits for seniors earning over $80,000 and eliminating the benefit entirely for individuals making $200,000 and up, along with raising the retirement age to 69 from 67.

“Social Security at its core should be retirement insurance,” Mr. Christie said during his speech before roughly 120 people. “The wealthiest of us don’t need these benefits.”

Time adds:

“Washington is afraid to have an honest conversation about Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid with the people of our country,” Christie will say in a speech at New Hampshire’s St. Anselm College Institute of Politics. “I am not.”

The idea could have some appeal — hey, why should Warren Buffett collect a Social Security check when he’s already super-rich? — but three reasons why Christie’s effort might not work all that well: Read more »

The Astonishing Ubiquity of Walter Scott’s Death

Walter Scott Shooting

I spent the better part of the last week avoiding video of the Walter Scott shooting. I read the various articles that accompanied it as it came across my screen – up and down my Twitter timeline and in various pockets of my Facebook feed. In every report and opinion, the video of a man’s last violent, terrifying moments were embedded close by, as though the mere description of such tragedy was not enough.

As I sat for dinner at a quiet Italian restaurant, the video I’d long avoided confronted me again and again thanks to CNN’s insistence. As it looped, I looked around to see if other people noticed, or were disturbed, or took issue. Technology, which has made this conversation possible, is now preparing to make many of us desensitized. Read more »

Columbia Journalism School’s Damning Report on That UVA Rape Story

The Phi Kappa Psi house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

The Phi Kappa Psi house at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

Last night, the report by the team assigned by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism to dissect what went wrong in Rolling Stone‘s story of a rape at the University of Virginia was made public. The 12,000-word result is a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of magazine journalism, and a cautionary tale that anyone reporting on controversial subjects — or reading about them — would do well to check out.

The author of the Rolling Stone story, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, once wrote for Philadelphia magazine; I worked with and liked and admired her then, and I feel the same way now. But parts of the Columbia report are difficult to read. Read more »

Indicted Senator Robert Menendez: “This Is Not How My Career Is Going to End”

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Newark, N.J. Menendez, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was indicted on corruption charges, accused of using his office to improperly benefit an eye doctor and political donor.

U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez speaks during a news conference, Wednesday, April 1, 2015, in Newark, N.J. Menendez, the top Democrat on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was indicted on corruption charges, accused of using his office to improperly benefit an eye doctor and political donor.

Embattled New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez went on the offensive last night in the wake of news that he’d been indicted on federal corruption charges related to his dealings with Florida ophthalmologist/campaign donor Salomon Melgen.

The Department of Justice alleges that Menendez accepted gifts worth nearly $1 million — including flights on private jets, Caribbean and Parisian vacations, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions — in exchange for using his office to promote Melgen’s interests, including influencing visa proceedings for Melgen’s foreign girlfriends as well as contractual and Medicare billing disputes worth tens of millions.

Menendez, in a blustery statement last night, says it’s a load of bull. Read more »

The Best Thing That Happened This Week: The NRA Lost Face

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Do you have a gun? Do you think I have a gun? Most media reports would have you believe that ever since President Obama’s election, we Americans have been arming ourselves to the teeth. But a new survey by the well-respected, independent research organization NORC shows just the opposite. Only 22 percent of us today own guns, down from 31 percent in 1985. So come out of that bunker. The NRA’s desperate efforts to overturn gun-control ordinances in cities like Lancaster and Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are the death throes of a lobbying bully that knows its time is coming to an end. For which citizens from Newtown, Connecticut, to Aurora, Colorado, gratefully say: Amen.

 

Is President Obama Really Christian?

Reverend Dr. Luis Leon (R) looks on as United States President Barack Obama (C) prepares to leave St John's Episcopal Church after an Easter service, in Washington, 31 March 2013. Photo by: Drew Angerer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Reverend Dr. Luis Leon (right) looks on as United States President Barack Obama (center) prepares to leave St John’s Episcopal Church after an Easter service, in Washington, on March 31,  2013. Photo | Drew Angerer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Forget the Oscars. Here’s how Erick Erickson, the blogger-activist recently labeled by The Atlantic as America’s “most powerful conservative,” entertained himself this weekend:

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