Hey, Pulsies! I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long. Where to start with the excuses? I turned 40 – an unspecified number of years ago – and was stunned by my precipitous decline. Suddenly the skin on my legs loosened, like a pair of stretched out stockings, and started pooling around my ankles. Seriously. Then my knees, which had long crackled charmingly on staircases, expressed their general displeasure more volubly, eventually requiring surgery. Plus there were deaths in the family, suspensions and an expulsion (ADHD is a gift that just keeps giving!), and, let’s face it, “Dallas” reboots don’t watch themselves. Alls I’m saying is, I was really busy.

Now, let’s talk about wimmin. Specifically, the state of gyno-North Carolinians. We’re poorer, less insured, paid less, and underrepresented in the Legislature. WOOOT! Give it up for the ladies! There has been progress: teen pregnancy rates are down, infant mortality is down (though still higher than the nation as a whole), educational achievements are up, and there are more women in “managerial and professional occupations” than two decades ago. Overall, women in North Carolina are faring well. However, if you’re a single mother, especially a poor one, you’re not doing so hot. Thank God you have me to tell you that, you might have been too busy to notice on your own. Read More

Hi, folks! Don’t y’all miss that guy? I won’t ask if you missed me, that’s tacky. I’m moved to write today by one of the more unbelievable flubs I’ve witnessed in local news history. Such is the state of local television journalism that I’m reduced to indignation every time I happen to catch some late local news, but indignation is so tired and sharing it so common now that everyone sounds like Julia Sugarbaker all the time. Nevertheless, I must share last night’s travesty with you, my Pulsies. Naturally, our man Johnny led the 11:00 news, as well he might, and the trusted anchor introduced a reporter who “has been covering this story for two years.” There was a lot of blah-blah about the indictment over numerous shots of Edwards, accompanied by his oldest daughter, arriving at and leaving the federal courthouse in Winston Salem. Then there was some chat with a former federal prosecutor that did nothing to illuminate the rather intricate questions of campaign finance law on which the case will hang. Finally, the experienced reporter so well versed in the case summed up by noting that we had seen our former senator accompanied by his oldest daughter, Cate, “and he has two younger children as well.”

Just take a moment with that, people, if you need it. Because as I recalled instantly (such is my perspicacity) he has THREE younger children, one of whom is pretty central to the case. Can a sentient human really have spent two years following this matter without realizing that Edwards had a child with his mistress and gallantly denied it on network television? I’m pretty sure nothing could be as callous as having your father publicly deny you, but must reporters perpetuate his cold up-ness? Seriously, Quinn is a person who exists. She is every bit as much John Edwards’s child as the children born within his marriage. Someday, more’s the pity, she’s going to be reading and watching all this because who wouldn’t? She deserves to be counted.

I guess you could argue that it was just a slip. That no one on the program appeared to notice. Even though they’re alleged journalists. But I’m not buying it. Are we supposed to be so grateful that they led with an actual story, one that didn’t involve violence, that we’ll overlook the shoddiness of the reportage? Probably, in which case I have to wonder why you bother to have a news program at all. Why not just show sports and weather on the TV and keep a tiny corner of the website for news that citizens might need to know in order to participate fully in their glorious democracy. Just a thought.

It seems like just yesterday that I read this in the New Yorker:

Carl Paladino, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York, … described gay-pride parades as ‘disgusting’; denounced his rival, Andrew Cuomo, for taking his children, aged twelve and fifteen, to the gay-pride parade in New York City; and declared his hostility to same-sex marriage. You don’t have to argue for any kind of equivalency between, say, the lynching of three gay men and the intemperate remarks of a politician to acknowledge that, in the use of a word like ‘disgusting,’ something ugly and fundamental is being revealed, the id in the ideology.”

That’s probably because I did read it yesterday. Thanks to the heroic properties of the fish oil and green tea I imbibe daily, I can retain information that long. All New Agery aside, I thought of it when I read the first comment on the N&O’s report that a Raleigh man has been arrested on child porn charges. Courtesy of CityofOaksBoy, here it is in its glorious entirety:

Hey, why arrest this guy? He was just born that way. Just let him join the army.”

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog (don’t ask, don’t tell!), but they sure know when you’re an ignorant bigot. Equating homosexuality with sexual predation of children is foolish and cruel. It both demeans gays and makes light of the suffering of children forced into sexual acts. Not only that, but the Vatican got there first. Lucky for us, though, part of CityofOaksBoy’s problem is that he’s getting lonely in his sad prejudice. As the New Yorker goes on to point out:

[T]here is plenty of evidence that Paladino-like sentiments are in eclipse. … Sympathy for the right to marry and other civil rights tends to go along with a growing acceptance of the proposition that homosexuality is not a choice but something close to inborn, making it more like race or gender and less like the breezy life-style ‘option’ that Paladino’s remarks suggest.”

While that may bother some Internet commenters, it’s the dawn of a better day for the rest of us.

My last post on income inequality was so much fun, I thought I’d do another. It’s not the same old drill about how we have the greatest level of income inequality in the western world. It’s not even about how the gap between the highest and lowest earners has widened. No, today I’d like to point out that middle class earners spent much less money last year. “Households in the middle fifth of the population sliced their average annual spending” in 2009, a decline of “3.1% from 2007 and 3.5% from 2008, the steepest one-year drop since records began in 1984.” The wealthy, the top fifth of consumers, also tightened their belts, as the pols like to say, to tune of a 2.6% decline since 2007. Don’t worry, there were some spenders out there.

Meanwhile, the poorest Americans spent more as prices for necessities like food and rental housing climbed. Spending rose 5.6% from 2007 to 2009 for the poorest fifth of consumers, the most of any other income group, despite a 5.5% drop in after-tax income to an average $9,956 a household. In some cases, elderly people and others with low incomes dipped into savings or relied on credit to get by.

‘What you’re looking at here is people at the bottom trying to hang on,’ said Timothy Smeeding, public affairs professor and director of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. ‘You can’t go below a certain level.’ …

The lowest earners spent 15.4% more on food last year than in 2007, shelling out more for cereals, meat and processed vegetables. Since many in the lowest income group may already rely on discount shops and make few discretionary purchases, it can be difficult for them to scrimp.

Among the poor, rent expenditures increased 5.3%. Those who managed to stay in homes they owned saw their mortgage payments rise 27.8%, suggesting that policy makers’ efforts to reduce mortgage-debt burdens aren’t reaching the most needy. Across all income groups, mortgage payments were down 7.6%.”

Before anyone goes ballistic because I pointed out that it’s not good for us to have high poverty levels as the wealth of this country gets more and more concentrated, let’s consider the source of the above information. Though they take the trouble to note that it’s difficult for the lowest earners to feed and house themselves, and even mention a needed government program, this didn’t come from the Daily Worker. It’s straight outta the Wall St. Journal, people. But we all know how socialistical they are over there.

I know I’ve been an inconstant blogger, but I feel I must share this news today. We all know it, but we should look at these numbers every chance we get.

The top-earning 20 percent of Americans – those making more than $100,000 each year – received 49.4 percent of all income generated in the U.S., compared with the 3.4 percent earned by those below the poverty line, according to newly released census figures. That ratio of 14.5-to-1 was an increase from 13.6 in 2008 and nearly double a low of 7.69 in 1968.

A different measure, the international Gini index, found U.S. income inequality at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. The U.S. also has the greatest disparity among Western industrialized nations.”

Don’t worry, if income inequality doesn’t bother you, other bad news.

The poverty gap between young and old has doubled since 2000, due partly to the strength of Social Security in helping buoy Americans 65 and over. Child poverty is now 21 percent compared with 9 percent for older Americans. In 2000, when child poverty was at 16 percent, elderly poverty stood at 10 percent.

Obviously it’s good that a smaller percentage of older Americans is poor now, but with the first baby boomers turning 65 next year, how long will that trend last? Also, more than 1 in 5 children are impoverished? Not good. Ye olde land of milk and honey is not so much, is it? I sure hope the Republicans manage to save tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, they’re obviously really suffering.