From the homepage of the Los Angeles Times this morning, news of John Brennan's being tapped to lead the CIA and what Hollywood's got to do with that. (Bigger image here. Nominations for American Screengrabs here.)
As seen on the homepage of the mighty, mighty Vindicator, the newspaper of Youngstown, Ohio. The caption reads: "Josh Shaull, owner of Airtistix Airbrush in Eastwood Mall, displays his painting of Baxter, a Great Dane owned by Jim Westhoff of Greenwood, Del., and his family. Baxter's photo won a contest to be drawn by Shaull. The 8-year-old dog died shortly after the submitted photo was taken."
They're tearing down old Detroit and sending the pieces to China. That's the message of a new micro-documentary from the New York Times, "Dismantling Detroit." Filmmakers Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady write:
One freezing evening we happened upon the young men in this film, who were illegally dismantling a former Cadillac repair shop. They worked recklessly to tear down the steel beams and copper fasteners. They were in a hurry to make it to the scrap yard before it closed at 10 p.m., sell their spoils and head to the bar.
Surprisingly, these guys, who all lacked high school diplomas, seemed to have a better understanding of their place in the global food chain than many educated American 20-somethings. The young men regularly checked the fluctuating price of metals before they determined their next scrap hunt, and they had a clear view of where these resources were going and why. They were the cleanup crew in a shaky empire. Somebody’s got to do it.
It's true that the media goes too far with the Detroit story sometimes, searching for decay and ignoring renewal. But this story, I think, is less about Detroit as a case study than it is about America right now.
Adding dissonance: GM becomes world's largest automaker again
Restore union rights in Ohio. Restore same-day voter registration in Maine. Protect reproductive rights in Mississippi. Buy a beer in Atlanta on Sunday, or liquor in a Washington State grocery store. Recall a Republican State Senator for going after teachers' unions in Michigan. Elect someone besides the "Papers, please" guy in Arizona. Re-elect a gay mayor in Houston, or a new one in Holyoke, Massachusetts, or an openly gay city council member in Cincinnati. Pass a nondiscrimination ordinance, Traverse City, Michigan. Declare that corporations are not people, Missoula, Montana.
Democrats held onto the state senate in Iowa, which means marriage equality gets to stay around some more. Democrats expanded their majority in the New Jersey legislature, despite Governor Chris Christie's best efforts. Democrats' prospects in the Virginia State Senate are not so clear. And it will be harder to vote in another state, Mississippi, despite the scrappiest efforts of a very grassroots campaign, which last night celebrated the defeat of the Personhood amendment.
When you vote in numbers, you don't win everything. But last night we saw that even when your side seems to be outnumbered, even when your side seems to have very little is going its way, if you organize and work and vote, you might win an awful lot.
Photo from Timeka Davis in Mississippi
They saved the pill.
On Tuesday, we posted the pic below from a downtown Minneapolis mall, taken last year by Carol Roth. She writes now that her husband, Neil Taylor, went by the same spot and took a second picture. You'll notice, of course, that HOPE is gone and RESPECT is being whitewashed over.
America had better start investing in the infrastructure of its cities, Matt Yglesias writes today on Atlantic Cities. Just look at Occupy Wall Street, he suggests. It's not Occupy Strip Mall. "Nobody wants to occupy the strip mall or the office park or the park and ride lot," he says. "Not today and not ever."
Ye in the suburbs, a different answer? Anyone got Occupy Suburbia where they live?
Carol Roth sends this pic, taken last year, from the Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. We're used to thinking about trouble in American cities. But of the poor in metro areas, more than half now live in the suburbs. From the New York Times:
"The whole political class is just getting the memo that Ozzie and Harriet don't live here anymore," said Edward Hill, dean of the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
Democrats and Republicans have been trading off the suburbs for a couple of cycles now. The GOP won big there in 2010. The suburban poor are still a minority where they live, though as a class they're growing five times faster than the overall population. The soccer mom becomes a very different idea when she needs public transportation to get there.
This sign -- and commentary -- is hanging outside a food pantry in Manhattan's East Village. Maybe it's time we did something about the economy.
(If you've got stuff to send from your hometown, we'd love it.)
Our guest Chris Hayes last night on Occupy Wall Street:
"Even if this is a cri de coeur, even if this is inchoate or unfocused, it feels like some sort of voice in the wilderness saying, 'Look, everything is broken right now.' And I feel that way every day waking up and coming into this building to go read the Internet or talk to people as a reporter, things are not working. And just the basic truth of that and the basic unfairness in the disparate impact of the way things are not working is so essential to our experience of Americans at this moment that
I think there's something powerful about it."
The normal channels for fixing what's broken in America don't seem to be working anymore, Chris argued. I'm betting some of you feel the same.
The U.S. Census Bureau just released its report on daily commuting times in America (pdf). Most of us drive alone, and most of us spend 25 minutes or less getting to work. If you live close enough to walk, you're golden. If you're taking the bus, as you can see from this chart, bring a book. It starts to explain why just 4.9 percent of us take public transportation (although approximately 99 percent of us on at TRMS do -- life in New York City).
Real median household income in the United States in 2010 was $49,445, a 2.3 percent decline from the 2009 median.
The nation's official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009 ─ the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009 ─ the fourth consecutive annual increase and the largest number in the 52 years for which poverty estimates have been published.
The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 49.0 million in 2009 to 49.9 million in 2010, while the percentage without coverage −16.3 percent - was not statistically different from the rate in 2009.