Category Archives: The Economy

By the Billion.

Like cool visualizations? Like information? (Of course you do, you’re here, aren’t you?) Want to wile away a few hours? A co-worker sent me a link to this chart he saw on The Big Picture. It’s spending in billions (adjusted for today’s dollars) on random stuff color-coded by “spending, earning, giving, fighting, losing, and illin’.” (Click for a larger size.)

billion_dollar_960

This image originally came from Information is Beautiful, a blog of information organized into really pretty charts and visualizations. Go forth and be aesthetically informed!

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: Nuts about ACORN

Today in my office, a pimp and his prostitute came looking for advice on where to score some blow and advice on how to fill out their W-2s. When I told them what they could do, they accused me of encouraging them to engage in public masturbation. I hope Beck and Co. don’t get hold of the video:

pimp

It’s hard out here for a pimp. No, really. James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles (not pictured above) risked their lives, limbs and a camcorder to infiltrate the den of “thug criminality” that is the largest organization of poor and working families in America.

This is a time for us to appreciate their deep commitment to maligning ACORN, which clearly is an issue of utmost importance in these most troubled and divisive of times. I am sure their hearts and motives are pure.

Now if we can, let us move forward and consider some of the news of the weekend:

1. As always, if you want to learn something new or interesting or possibly infuriating about health care reform, reading Ezra Klein is essential. (Blackink)

2. Are pregnancy, bunions, acne, or receiving therapy or counseling pre-existing conditions that might allow health insurers a reason to deny people coverage? Of course. Best health care system in the world, eh? (Blackink)

3. Officially, according to a U.S. Census report, the Bush years were full of fail. h/t John Cole. (Blackink)

4. Go with your first instincts, Roxanne Wilson. (Quadmoniker)

5. Massachusetts might appoint an interim replacement for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the late Ted Kennedy by the end of the week. (Blackink)

6. In an e-mail sent to friends and supporters last week, Van Jones made his first public comments since resigning from the White House. Said Jones: “Of course, some supporters actually think I will be more effective on the ‘outside.’ Maybe so. But those ideas always remind me of that old canard about Winston Churchill. After he lost a hard-fought election, a friend told him: ‘Winston, this really is just a blessing in disguise.’ Churchill quipped: ‘Damned good disguise.’ I can certainly relate to that sentiment right now. :)” (Blackink)

7. D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty is cutting federally funded child care in the poorest wards of the District. Making it more difficult for single mothers to bring in money (or inviting child neglect cases) seems like a counter intuitive way of addressing city budget issues, at best. (Shani-o)

8. Something we probably won’t see in any campaign brochures from Texas Gov. Rick Perry next year: Texas remains first in the nation in rates of uninsured residents and uninsured children. Upholding family values and rebuffing creeping socialism … I love my home state. (Blackink)

9. Also related: Perry is not a very smart or honest man. (Blackink)

10. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) backed off prior claims that President Obama is a socialist because, uh … he’s not one. (Blackink)

11. Among those at the Values Voter Summit this weekend, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee was the clear choice for 2012 Republican presidential nominee. The 600 voters said abortion was the most important issue in determining their choice. What else is there to say about that? (Blackink)

12. Also at the Values Voter Summit, the chief of staff for Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma made the case that: 1. we should trust the sexual instincts of prepubescent boys; 2. bigotry against homosexuals is fine by him; and 3. “all pornography is homosexual pornography.” Video here. Sigh … Michael Schwartz and his ilk are almost completely beyond ridicule. (Blackink)

13. So rather than resort to ridicule, Amanda Marcotte moves the conversation forward to talk about some of the very real problems with porn. Which don’t include making boys turn gay. (Blackink).

14. Don’t you love links about porn? Yes. Well, here’s another: “The awkward truth, according to one study, is that 90 percent of 8-to-16-year-olds have viewed pornography online. Considering the standard climax to even the most vanilla hard-core scene today, that means there is an entire generation of young people who think sex ends with a money shot to the face.” Whoa. (Blackink)

15. Feminist Finance speculates on where she’d be if she hadn’t rejected all the “dudely money advice” she’s received over the years. (Shani-o)

16. BitchPh.D puts out a call for volunteers for the 40 days for CHOICE campaign. (Blackink)

17. For John and Elizabeth Edwards’ sake, I hope his former aide is lying about this: “Mr. Edwards once calmed an anxious Ms. Hunter by promising her that after his wife died, he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in New York with an appearance by the Dave Matthews Band.” Please let that be a lie. (Blackink)

18. Let us mourn the death of American civility with Jude at First Draft. (Blackink)

19. Bruce Bartlett remembers Irving Kristol, father of neoconservatism. (Jamelle)

20. According to Marcus Buckingham at the Huff Post, women have grown increasingly unhappy as they made professional and social progress over the past 40 years. There’s a lot to digest in the provocative piece, and I get the feeling something is missing from this analysis. I need someone smarter than me to fill in the gaps. (Blackink)

21. After six years, Leslie Bennetts says The New York Times is finally attempting to set the record straight about the “Opt-Out Revolution” – well-off women who quit their careers to become full-time mothers. (Blackink)

22. Crooked Timber highlights a recent op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education that points out the problem of poor, black and Hispanic students choosing to go to less-demanding college institutions and an overreliance on standardized tests. (Blackink)

23. Colorism isn’t just the purview of black folk — it exists in the South Asian community as well. Sepia Mutiny notes a campaign that’s attempting to address the fear of darker skin. (Shani-o)

24. After charges were dropped last week against five men accused of raping a Hofstra University freshman, Amanda Hess parses some of the many problems of living in a rape culture. That includes false rape accusations. (Blackink)

25. In case there was ever any doubt, Andrew Sullivan has major pull. (Blackink)

26. While I was watching the Giants thump the Cowboys and the season premiere of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” apparently Neil Patrick Harris and the Emmy Awards were putting on quite the show. (Blackink)

27. I’m finding myself agreeing with Alyssa again: you should definitely get down to your nearest newstand or bookstore, pick up a copy of the latest New Yorker and read Ta-Nehisi’s piece about MF Doom and hip-hop. And, like her, I might quibble a bit with a few parts of the feature. Then again, we’re both from the South. (Blackink)

28. Harry Allen asks if Kanye is doomed to become “the next O.J.”? At the least, Kanye’s “victimization” of Taylor Swift has drawn out some of the bigots among us. (Blackink)

29. Nearly four-fifths of NFL players are bankrupt or struggling financially within two years of retirement. The Business Insider looks at some of the reasons why. (Blackink)

30. And because I’m from Houston and hate the Dallas Cowboys, I really enjoyed this:

Feel free to drop some links that would be of interest or chat among yourselves. Let’s hope we’re all in for a great week.

Deuces.

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: The joke’s on who?

So where do we go from here? President Obama has been portrayed as a monkey, witch doctor, various types of pimps and now The Joker. Certainly, there’s more variations on this general theme.

But I really want to know, what’s the endgame? Is this supposed to advance some principled political opposition? Or merely “to get their country back”?:

As always (and a little earlier than usual), here’s your PostBourgie-approved weekend reading material:

To separate fact from fiction in the health care debate, let Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact help you wade through the misinformation. (Blackink)

Also, you think you have health insurance? You got another thing coming, homie. (G.D.)

Nate Silver crunched some numbers to see if the Hispanicness of a state made its Republican senator more or less likely to vote to confirm Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. The results were inconclusive. But he did find a correlation between their votes and the way they were rated by the NRA. (G.D.)

Former Bush Administration official – and super hawk – John Bolton in a nutshell: “You know, you mentioned somebody who heavens, if President Obama walked on water, he would say he couldn’t swim.” Spot on, Hillary Clinton. (Blackink)

Well gosh. This piece on RaceWire on crowding in California prisons seems almost prescient, in light of the rioting that took place over the weekend in Chino. (Shani-o)

Let’s hope this piece on the spike in heroin arrests is a fake trend story. (quadmoniker)

Black-on-black violence: Someone named Dr. James Manning for Louisiana repeatedly refers to President Obama as “Mack Daddy,” claims that he’s “destroying the fabric of the nation” and predicts that there will be bloody riots in the streets. By comparison, Manning almost makes Glenn Beck seem reasonable. (Blackink)

Twitter had a rough week. Mashable recaps. (Shani-o)

On Broadsheet, a great article about the myth of girls not liking nice guys. (Belleisa)

Houston has nearly 2 million outstanding criminal warrants (worth $340 million), although most are for minor traffic infractions. Still, it’s overwhelming the courts and law enforcement agencies. (G.D.)

A gaggle of statistics to assuage parents’ fears that the world is too dangerous a place for their children. (Blackink)

Jezebel’s Megan posts a photo essay about Congolese women and girls who have survived rape (including brutal gang rapes that leave many dead) and the efforts made to help them; there’s a photo of a psychologist at a clinic that treats 300 rape victims every month. (Shani-o)

Once again, teenage girls and young women are vanishing from the dangerous streets of Ciudad Juarez. Authorities count at least two dozen in the last year and a half. The disappearances recall the killings of hundreds of women that made this industrial Mexican border town of 1.5 million infamous a decade ago. (Blackink)

In a fascinating guest post at Feministe, Plain(s)Feminist writes about “Feminist Mothering,” a broader take on the ‘othermothering’ that goes on in black communities. (Shani-o)

With the NFL season set to kickoff again, Jay Adler gives us another reason to root against the Redskins. And I’m not talking about Daniel Snyder. Adler: “Team names, statistical records, stadium rituals are all part of the mythic regalia of an athletic Valhalla. You want to disrupt all that for – the Indians?” (Blackink)

A 13-year-old girl arrested for shoplifting in Dallas spent two weeks in an adult jail before anyone noticed. (G.D.)

Slate offers a rather puzzling essay about the rise of “no homo” and “the changing face of hip-hop homophobia.” Can’t it just be that “no homo” is hip hop’s version of “not that there’s anything wrong with that”? Apparently not. Also, Jonah Weiner briefly touches on that old boogeyman (no homo), the down-low brother. Weiner: “Saying ‘no homo’ might have started as a way for rappers to acknowledge and distance themselves from the down-low phenomenon.” Sigh. (Blackink)

Florida led the nation in attacks on the homeless for the fourth-straight year. (G.D.)

A cautionary tale about unregulated growth: Florida’s Lehigh Acres. “When the real estate bubble burst nationwide, Lehigh was decimated. Property values dropped nearly 50 percent this year, on top of a 25 percent decline a year ago. About one in three homes are in some stage of foreclosure. Town boosters put the population at 70,000 permanent residents, but a recent University of Florida study estimated 55,000. That’s less than 1 person per acre, in a space the size of Orlando.” (Blackink)

The extremely awesome Muslimah Media Watch posts a piece on Princess Moroccan Barbie, and various independent spin-offs, and whether the Muslim dolls are sign of rejecting Western norms or embracing them. (The author also hints at the fact that while these Muslim dolls come in slightly different “colors,” they all have similar features, and presumably, don’t represent Muslim women of African descent). (Shani-o)

Doubling down on its previous criticism of so-called reparative therapy, the American Psychological Association announced last week that therapists should refrain from telling gay clients they can become straight through therapy or other treatments. (Blackink)

Given his platform and willingness to tackle substantive issues, Bob Herbert of the New York Times should probably wield more influence. Why do so many people ignore him? T.A. Frank offers this suggestion: “Poor people plus statistics equals boring—we’ve got the science to prove it.” But is he really boring? (Blackink)

Speaking of Herbert, his latest column claiming that our society is saturated with misogyny was discussed with a pro slant on Jezebel and definitive con on DoubleX (reasoning I think is shallow and poorly done). (Belleisa)

In case you hadn’t noticed, Forbes really likes lists. This one is about the best colleges in the U.S., and places West Point in the top spot. Rounding out the top five are Princeton, Cal Tech, Williams College and Harvard. (Blackink)

Fans of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger have been leaving threatening phone calls to the woman who accused him of rape. (G.D.)

More on Roethlisberger: His accuser allegedly bragged about having sex with him and also claimed that she hoped to have a “little Roethlisberger.” (Blackink)

This was sad but sorta predictable: Texas Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton, who almost miraculously overcame a drug and alcohol addiction to reclaim his career, suffered a relapse several months ago. Hopefully, Hamilton can overcome what he says was a brief setback. (Blackink)

And finally, the most reviled of all NFL quarterbacks: Michael Vick. There’s apparently some building faux outrage about him hanging out with Young Jeezy and using the word “nigger.” I fail to see the problem, other than him possibly deepening the concerns some might have about his judgment. But those some are the sort whom would not be inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt anyway. (Blackink)

Until the next time, rock on.

When the Lights Went Dim.

(x-posted at U.S. of J and the League of Ordinary Gentlemen)

When you get the chance, you should check out Kai Wright’s terrific piece in the American Prospect on the decline of the black middle class.  The short of it is that widespread “wealth poverty” among middle-class black families (”By 2007, black families had a dime for every dollar of white family wealth, and Hispanics, 12 cents.”) coupled with the importance of housing equity to black wealth has – with the collapse of the housing market – dealt a serious blow to the black middle class.  There’s actually far too much in the piece to adequately summarize (the above is just a snippet of the broader argument), and so instead, I want to focus on this passage, as it fits in with something I’ve spent a lot of time writing about:

The Homestead Acts of the 1860s, for instance, took vast swaths of land from Native American tribes and gave it away in 160-acre plots to white settlers, to jump start the agricultural sector; for freedmen, land never materialized. More than a century later, 400 black farmers won a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture for its systematic racial bias in providing loans and other assistance to farmers throughout the 1980s and 1990s. Lo and behold, at the turn of the 21st-century, white Americans still held 97 percent of the nation’s agricultural land value.

The New Deal programs that created today’s middle class, meanwhile, are also directly responsible for today’s wealth gap. Name a massive government investment, and you’ve got an initiative that explicitly or implicitly excluded people of color. By 1965, 98 percent of the 10 million homes public money had helped buy through loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration were owned by whites. Government then spent years more ignoring private lenders’ redlining of black neighborhoods.

The proven racial bias in today’s sub-prime lending, then, is more normative than exceptional. As Lui wrote in a March Washington Postop-ed, “The chips on the table reflect the fact that the game was fixed. It’s time to start an honest game with a new deck.”

One of the more cliche’ criticisms of American political discourse is that we have an utter disregard for history.  I don’t think that’s true; on any number of issues, we rely on history’s lessons to guide or inform our actions (see: stimulus package).  I think it’s far more accurate to say that we have an incredibly selective historical memory, which is in effect most especially when it comes to talking about race and its various policy dimensions.  That is, we spend a lot of time talking about the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., or Rosa Parks, or even Malcolm X (though the mainstream conversation still isn’t at a point where it can acknowledge the – many – positive contributions of Malcolm X to the “dialogue).  And likewise, we spend a fair amount of time on racism as an individual affliction, or on the long-term effects of slavery and segregation on the black family and black communities. More…

Another Monday, Another Terrible Douthat Column.

My Monday morning was bound to be something of a disappointment; after all, I was in an unusually good mood for most of this weekend and it’s pretty difficult to sustain that kind of high into the work week.  Of course, I probably didn’t do myself any favors by starting my day with another poorly reasoned column by Atlantic alum and affirmative-action hire Ross Douthat.  This week, Douthat wants to argue that President Obama ought to temper his “blue-state agenda” with the recognition that the recession has (at least partially) revealed the failures of “blue-state governance” and the successes of its red-state counterpart. Here’s Douthat in his own words:

Consider Texas and California. In the Bush years, liberal polemicists turned the president’s home state — pious, lightly regulated, stingy with public services and mad for sprawl — into a symbol of everything that was barbaric about Republican America. Meanwhile, California, always liberalism’s favorite laboratory, was passing global-warming legislation, pouring billions into stem-cell research, and seemed to be negotiating its way toward universal health care.

But flash forward to the current recession, and suddenly Texas looks like a model citizen. The Lone Star kept growing well after the country had dipped into recession. Its unemployment rate and foreclosure rate are both well below the national average. It’s one of only six states that didn’t run budget deficits in 2009.

Meanwhile, California, long a paradise for regulators and public-sector unions, has become a fiscal disaster area. And it isn’t the only dark blue basket case. Eight states had unemployment over 11 percent in June; seven went for Barack Obama last November. Fourteen states are facing 2010 budget gaps that exceed 20 percent of their G.D.P.; only two went for John McCain. (Strikingly, they’re McCain’s own Arizona and Sarah Palin’s Alaska.) Of the nine states that have raised taxes this year, closing deficits at the expense of growth, almost all are liberal bastions.

As is the case with nearly every one of his columns for the New York Times, Douthat has ignored virtually every other piece of context to build a case which proves far too much.  Take the California example, for instance.  The takeaway is supposed to be that California’s aggressively liberal policy choices are to blame for its current fiscal woes, which would make sense, if California’s institutional arrangement were similar to Virginia’s or Massachusetts’.  Of course, most of us know that that’s not the case.  Institutionally, California is a morass of dysfunction; the state’s calcified Republican minority and absurd budgetary rules (which require a super-majority to raise taxes) make it virtually impossible to raise revenue in anything approaching an adequate amount.  In that kind of an environment – and with the economy being what it is – California would be in fiscal trouble even if it weren’t a blue-state.  And it’s simply disingenuous for Douthat to pretend otherwise. More…

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: A drinkable moment

If this post from Thomas Lifton passes for true American Thought, then we’re all doomed: “I think this photo constitutes another major Obama blunder. As some AT commentators point out, this picture becomes a metaphor for ObamaCare.” A former colleague once told me, “Blackink, don’t argue with logic. Because logic will argue with you.” Truer words …

On a slightly more positive – and logical – note, here’s your PostBourgie-approved reading material from the weekend:

Have you all seen President Obama’s official Kenyan birth certificate? The document that finally proves – once and for all – that Obama is the Antichrist sent back to Earth to turn the U.S. into a third-world mudhole and bleed hard-working real Amurikins of their tax dollars in the form of reparations? No. Of course not. Because one doesn’t exist. (Blackink)

According to a bunch of economic indicators, the recession may be slowing down. Good news, but any potential recovery probably won’t be quick enough for the 1.5 million people who will probably run out of unemployment benefits in the next few months. (G.D.)

This is your new Republican party: Writes Like She Talks posts 13 candidates in the GOP “Young Guns” program — an initiative to challenge sitting House Dems (unsurprisingly, very few of them are actually “young”). Guess what? Out of the 13 GOP challengers, one is a woman, and two are Asian men. Meanwhile, five of the races are challenging Democratic women. (Shani-o)

Our very own Jamelle, Matt Y, Steve B and Ezra offer thoughtful rebuttals – some might call them smackdowns – of Ross Douthat’s column today praising Texas as a “model” economy. As a sort of aside, I had quite a chuckle when Jamelle referred to Ross “an affirmative action hire.” Good one. (blackink)

Adam at TAPPED notes the state of leadership in Black America. It ain’t pretty. (Shani-o)

Lou Dobbs has become a “publicity nightmare” for CNN. (G.D.)

In case you missed it, here’s the text of the e-mail Boston police officer Justin Barrett sent to Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham. What’s funny is that he criticizes Abraham for her “ridiculous” and “substandard” writing. What’s scary is that he thinks suspects don’t have rights. Here’s hoping no one ever again sees this guy trailing them in their rearview mirror. (Blackink)

In the early 1800s, firefighting was a private, for-profit industry in most urbanized U.S. cities. And it might surprise you – or not – to know that the industry was “corrupt, bloated and expensive.” Sound familiar? (Blackink)

Hortense at Jez takes to task another one of the “stupidly named sociological gangs” women frequently find themselves placed in by the world. Like Cougars, MILFS, and PUMAs, the latest term is “TWITS” and it stands for “Teenage Women in their Thirties.” Ugh. (Shani-o)

Michael Pollan, self-appointed champion of food and foodies everywhere, pens a piece in the Times Magazine on television’s role in the death of real home cooking. mute sees his latest pronouncement as snobby and ineffective; Amanda Marcotte calls him antifeminist. (I wonder what our resident kitchen maestros universeexpanding and Jamelle think about his conclusions) (G.D.)

There’s absolutely no reason that a cop should tase a 72-year-old woman on a dare. (Blackink)

Business woman and blogger Penelope Trunk muses about when to work on romance, and when to work on … work. (Shani-o)

A luxury condo in downtown Fort Myers, Fla., has 32 stories and only one tenant. (Blackink)

College Humor offers a solution to MySpace’s problem: dead accounts. (I think I might need that MySpace Hospice option.) (Shani-o)

Baatin, one-third of the original Slum Village lineup, was found dead in his home. He was 35. (Jay Dilla, the hugely influential producer who was the group’s most famous member, died in 2003 from complications due to lupus.) (G.D.)

New York, Boston and Chicago round out the top 3 on Forbeslist of best cities for singles. But Milwaukee at No. 9 and Miami at No. 29? Really? (Blackink)

The best take on Michael Vick, The Commish and the sanctity of The Shield that I’ve read so far: “Since he was first covered by the media, prosecuted by the government, and admonished by the NFL with such brio, Vick has served as a vessel for the country’s anger toward black men. There was little effort made to understand what he did and why he did it, as though stopping to do so would necessarily excuse it. Beyond this lack of general curiosity and empathy, there was an ugly racial element. To be blunt, Vick’s crime was a black one.” (Blackink)

Rob Neyer, Scott Lemieux, Allen Barra and Will Weiss take issue with Toure’s somewhat poorly reasoned review of three books largely centered on steroids in baseball. (Blackink)

Joe Jackson explains to us the difference between spanking and beating. (Shani-o)

And at this point, Mariah has pretty much proved her point about Eminem being obsessed with her. Who keeps the voicemails of someone they slept with once, several years ago? More on this later in the week. (Blackink)

Oh. And could someone tell Stephon Marbury to turn off the camera? Please?

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: Acting Stupidly

Because of technical difficulties and an unusually busy work day, this almost became Your Tuesday Random-Ass Roundup. Sorry I’m late again.

DougJ at Balloon Juice: “We’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches.”

DougJ at Balloon Juice: “We’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches.”

Your PostBourgie-approved weekend reading material:

First things first, Stacia, one of our co-bloggers, is writing a novel and posting a chapter a day at her personal blog. What is this space for, if not for a show of pride in our blog fam?

Neither Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Orrin Hatch of Utah, or Jeff Sessions of Alabama will join their Republican colleague Lindsey Graham in voting for Sonia Sotomayor’s SCOTUS confirmation. Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the other two Republicans on the judiciary committee, haven’t said what they plan to do yet. (GD)

Also, Sessions outlined his opposition to the Sotomayor nomination in a USA Today column. “I don’t believe that Judge Sotomayor has the deep-rooted convictions necessary to resist the siren call of judicial activism. She has evoked its mantra too often. As someone who cares deeply about our great heritage of law, I must withhold my consent.” Of course. It’s always about heritage with these guys. (Bi)

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates is also the man behind The Root, which saw an uptick in racist commenters in the aftermath of his run-in with Cambridge police two weeks ago. Also, some must-reads on the Gates mess: Rich Ford’s typically smart macro take, as well as TNR’s John McWhorter and the NYT’s Charles Blow wrestling with being black men on the receiving end of touchy encounters with the police. (GD)

Ezra Klein on why President Obama should review the playbook from Clinton’s health-care reform efforts in the early ’90s. “Clinton got the politics of reform wrong, but in important ways, he got the policy right. He just got it right too soon.” I also had no idea that before the ’90s, most people had something other than managed care. (Bi)

Nate Silver offers thoughtful analysis about the “healthcare timeout” to keep everyone from taking a dive off the cliff. In short, don’t read too much into breathless media reports about momentum or a lack thereof: “I don’t think the media has a liberal bias or a conservative bias so much as it has a bias toward overreacting to short-term trends and a tendency toward groupthink. The fact is that there have been some pretty decent signals on health care.” (Bi)

After writing a feature story about MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” Amy Benfer pondered the difficulties involved in telling the stories of the many, many pregnant teenagers who choose to have abortions. (GD)

Jamison Foser at Media Matters raises an interesting question: why is it a given that abortions should not be covered under any health insurance reform? “The idea that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for insurance that covers medical services they don’t support is fundamentally incompatible with the very concept of insurance. If every interest group wields veto power over the medical care insurance can cover, insurance simply can’t work.” Yes. Though I might quibble a bit with Foser’s implication that Chris Matthews is a reporter of any sort. He’s not. He’s a commentator. (Bi)

Russ Feingold and John Conyers have introduced a bill that would, among other things, restore felons’ right to vote in federal elections. (GD)

On Friday, the federal minimum wage went up 70 cents to $7.25 an hour. It still isn’t nearly enough to climb over the poverty line. (Bi)

The White House and lawmakers on the Hill from both parties are moving toward ending the disparity in sentencing for crimes involving crack and powdered cocaine, which disproportionately punish black people. (Does anyone, anywhere, still support those guidelines?) (GD)

Poor people in the U.S. are living live in a virtual “law-free zone,” according to a new report from the Center for Law and Social Policy. The study finds that the legal needs of the U.S. poor are unmet more than 80 percent of the time. Ian Millhiser at The Wonk Room: “As the report explains, the United States invests far less in legal services for the poor than other Western industrialized nations. At the low end, Germany and Finland spent three times as much of their gross domestic product as we do on civil legal services for the poor. At the high end, England outspends the United States twelve times.” (Bi)

More mundane Republican racism. Stay classy, guys. (GD)

Few places in the world are as dangerous for women as South Africa, where 1 in 4 men say they have committed rape. (Bi)

Can the legalization and taxation of marijuana save California from its unparalleled budget woes? (Bi)

It’s easy to forget how far the Internet has come in a relatively short amount of time. A photo gallery from The Daily Beast takes us back through those dark, unappealing pioneer days on the Web. (Bi)

Before she was a famous chef, Julia Childs was a spy. (GD)

In case you missed it last month, Toure visited Martha’s Vineyard to learn about vacation, the Obamas and the peculiar racial dynamics of Oak Bluffs – “one of the most demographically unusual towns in America.” (Bi)

Angela at ProperTalks takes issue with that commercial for KGBKGB commercial with the black women in a hair salon discussing the origins of their hair weaves. “White people giving two black women who’ve presumably gotten weaves before information about the process is a bit condescending. What if the answer-givers had been black as well? I think that would have made the commercial easier to stomach. …Why’d homegirl have to do the neckroll and the finger wave at the end?? And all of a sudden her English is broken, with the “bet not be putting no yak up in my weave” retort. Her eyes bulged out a little too.” (GD)

For a YA novel called Liar about a short-haired black girl, Bloomsbury chose a cover with a white woman’s face because “black covers don’t sell.” (GD)

President Obama might not have been looking at any ass overseas. But that doesn’t mean Joe Biden wasn’t. (Bi)

More and more atheists are going through a sort of mock ceremony known as “de-baptism” in an effort to renounce their childhood faith. (Bi)

What if robots took over the world? (GD)

A cool – but sad – Google map showing the cluster of foreclosures around the country. (Bi)

The college freshman that lives inside of me just rolled off my futon in excitement: Method Man, Ghostface and Raekwon are planning a joint album. Now if only they invite along Inspectah Deck and the GZA. (Bi)

“…a casualty of abnormal normality.” Vernon Forrest, a former welterweight champion who did a lot of charity work around Atlanta, was gunned down during an attempted robbery. He was 38. His hometown newspaper also offers a fitting, final tribute. Also, SI has more about Forrest here and here.

In the future, we’ll all be using HGH and hitting 40 homers a season. Or maybe we should. Don’t worry about that bacne. (Bi)

Wilt Chamberlain, George Clooney and Frank Sinatra all wear Tim Tebow pajamas. (Bi)

Back when Mark Madsen was a benchwarming Laker, Shaq used his clout to get him a deal on a car and bought him a grip of clothes to welcome him to the team. “After that he drove us up to Beverly Hills and we went to a Big and Tall clothing store. I found a pair of jeans that fit and Shaq said to the store worker, ‘He’ll take eight of each color!’ I said, ‘All I need is one of each color.’ When Shaq kept piling on Italian sweaters, I told him I didn’t need all the stuff, but he told me it was a welcome gift and to relax while he paid the $2,500 bill.” (GD)

And finally, the Huffington Post asks: Is this the stupidest person in the world? Judge for yourself.

Also, I meant to ask this question a couple weeks ago: Did anyone here ever go see “Bruno”?

Deuces.