2012 - %3, July

Adventures in Sexist Pork Industry Pamphlets

| Mon Jul. 2, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

With July 4th approaching, perhaps you're planning for the cornerstone of patriotic party-making: the barbeque. An Americana standard, this is the sacred time when friends and family gather round the grill. Dad flips burgers, and Mom, well, she sets out the lemonade or fusses over the napkins or something.

Well ladies, behold the post-feminist era's gift to you: Now you can turn the tables on your unsuspecting spouse/lover/friend/dad with "Girl Grill Power!" a guide to help ladies navigate the open pit, presented by "The Other White Meat" campaign.

Pork Information BureauPork Information Bureau

According to the Pork Information Bureau, here's what you need to know to become a lady-grillmaster:

1) Confused? Just pretend your grill is a man you're trying to romance.

PIB

This pamphlet is your staple "little black dress" to ensure you look good on your "first date with the grate." Just "work it," and your first hangout with Mr. Char-Broil will be a smashing success!

2) Grilling meat will make you "one hot mamma."

PIBAnd another thing that will make you the most fetching of grill-ladies? Absolutely no risk-taking at all when it comes to your homecooking. Heaven forbid you should gamble on your family's taste buds! Just make "certain they're satisfied," and you'll "light up the night."

3) You'll probably better understand how to prepare meat for the grill if the directions are couched in a sexual metaphor.

PIB

The Pork Information Bureau recommends that, when prepping your grub, you "rub it right" with the "Spicy Girl's Dry Rub," which you can use a little or a lot of, "depending on your mood." Really?

4) But don't forget about gender equity!

PIBWouldn't want to make your man feel like you're treading his territory, i.e. "the grilling throne". And of course your partner is a man, because meat grilling is something only heterosexual couples do.

5) Everything should be perfect. Always and forever.

PIBIf your table is absolutely flawless, all your female friends will be double-floored by your gender-bending grill antics.

6) Grilling is empowerment!

PIB

Yeah, enough with the booze already. Think of the calories! And speaking of: You might not know what "loin" means—tough word, I know—but just be sure it's on your meat label. That means it's healthy! And another vocab tip: "Loin" is two words. No, really:

 

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You Know Who Else Held Fundraisers in Europe?

| Mon Jul. 2, 2012 5:00 AM EDT

Ben Shapiro, author of a book about the corrupting influence of Sesame Street, had a fun little item at Big Hollywood over the weekend. It turns out that the Obama campaign has been sending surrogates to Europe to hold fundraisers. (Millions of American citizens live overseas because of work.) This is funny because, as Shapiro puts it, "Especially in the aftermath of the Supreme Court ruling that upholds Obama’s European-style healthcare plan, Obama's hoping to cash in on like-minded folks abroad."

Here, one might pause to note that, as The Daily's Dan Hirschorn reported, the Romney campaign is also holding fundraisers abroad. Mitt Romney sent two of his sons to Hong Kong, in communist China, to shake down American donors there. Romney himself is heading to London, which is located in England, where citizens are enrolled in something called the National Health Service. (Here are two Big Government stories about alleged euthanasia and confirmed "transgender art 'diversity week'" at the National Health Service.) The Romney campaign is even thinking of holding a fundraiser in Israel, presumably to cash in on like-minded folks abroad who admire what Romney did to pave the way for Obama's Israeli-style healthcare plan.

Shapiro, who writes that "Americans don’t believe that Obamacare is a triumph," implies that the Obama campaign will be raising money from actual Europeans. That would be a flagrant violation of campaign finance laws, which mandate that all election funds come from American citizens. (If you're actually curious about foreign money in American elections, I'd recommend my colleague Andy Kroll's piece de resistance on dark money from the current issue of Mother Jones.) But the implication that Obama will be taking money from Europeans isn't the wrongest part of Shapiro's story. After the piece had circulated through the conservative blogosphere, it gained a (false) wrinkle: Obama himself would be in Paris—on the Fourth of July, no less! Blame the National Review's Andy McCarthy, who wrote as much on Saturday morning and, as of 10:39 P.M. on Sunday, still hadn't issued a correction. One blogger goes so far as to calculate that Obama's Paris junket will cost $2 million in flight costs alone.

The truth: Obama will spend the Fourth, his daughter Malia's birthday, throwing a party on the White House lawn for military families.

Review: Magic Trick's 'Ruler of the Night'

| Mon Jul. 2, 2012 4:59 AM EDT
Magic Trick.

The city that spawned the original psych-rock scene is at it again with a burgeoning group of bands and artists playing psych-pop, weird rock, and all manner of arty, eccentric takes on classic song structures and themes. Tim Cohen is one of the mainstays of this new scene: In addition to playing with the Fresh & Onlys, he started Magic Trick, initially a solo project in his apartment studio that gradually expanded to include San Francisco musicians James Kim, Alicia Vanden Heuvel, and Noelle Cahill. The band's new album, Ruler of the Night, is its second full-fledged effort after a couple of Cohen-only records.

As magic tricks go, this is a sleight of hand rather than a grand illusion—that is, one that enchants and delights in small, subtle ways, but only occasionally gives cause for outright marvel. The album is anchored by Cohen’s deep, resonant voice, often distant and washed in reverb, while tambourines, washboards, and multi-part harmonies take songs in unexpected directions. Sometimes the experimentation doesn't quite work—the quiet, twanging song "Next to Nothing," for example, is sprinkled with a distractingly obtrusive sound effect—but usually it adds a welcome note of the uncanny to catchy but otherwise straightforward pop-folk tunes.

No, Obamacare Isn't the Biggest Tax Increase in History

| Sun Jul. 1, 2012 4:33 PM EDT

Republicans have eagerly taken to the airwaves to say that the Supreme Court has proven that Democrats are liars. After all, Democrats have long insisted that Obamacare's penalty for not buying health insurance isn't a tax, but on Thursday the Supreme Court upheld it on the grounds that it was a tax. J'accuse! Or, as America's Bard of the Frozen North tweeted, "Obama lies, freedom dies."

This is so stupid it hurts. But Josh Marshall says that what comes next is even more brain dead:

Republicans are now saying it's the 'biggest tax increase in history' — either of America or the universe of whatever. But this is demonstrably false.

The Congressional Budget Office says the mandate penalty will raise $27 billion between 2012 and 2021. $27 billion over a decade. Anybody who cares to can do the math. But if you want to call it a 'tax increase' — which is debatable — it's clearly one of tiniest ones in history.

Let's be fair: When Republicans talk about ACA's tax increases, most of them are talking about all the taxes in the bill, not just the penalty. But they're still off base. There have been 15 tax increases of significant size since 1950, and Jerry Tempalski, a tax analyst in the Treasury Department, has estimated the size of all of them as a percentage of GDP.  Tempalski hasn't estimated the eventual size of ACA, but PolitiFact took a crack at it using the same methodology, and they figure that ACA amounts to a tax increase of 0.49% of GDP seven years from now. That places it tenth on the list.

It's fair for Republicans to complain that ACA includes a bunch of new taxes. It does. Most of them fall on high earners and corporations, not the middle class, but they're still taxes. However, the "biggest tax increase in history" nonsense is crazy, and no news outlet interested in accuracy should let it pass without challenge.

Coming Soon: A Worldwide Drone Shopping Spree

| Sun Jul. 1, 2012 12:09 PM EDT

This is obviously no surprise or anything, but just so you know:

Despite concerns about U.S.-made drones ending up in enemy hands, American military contractors are lobbying the government to loosen export restrictions and open up foreign markets to the unmanned aircraft that have reshaped modern warfare.

...."Export restrictions are hurting this industry in America without making us any safer," Wesley G. Bush, Northrop's chief executive, said at a defense conference this year....As the U.S. war effort draws down and the Pentagon budget shrinks, defense companies say they need Congress to ease restrictions so they can tap lucrative foreign markets for their wares.

More important, they say, the current export restrictions may cause the U.S. to lose potential customers to nations eager to elbow their way into the market. Already, Israel is making drones and selling them to several countries, including Azerbaijan, India and Ecuador. China has more than a dozen drones in development.

It's all about the economy, of course. Howard Berman's liberal 28th congressional district might not be the aerospace hub it used to be, but there's still plenty of defense business in the Los Angeles area that benefits his constituents. So naturally he's in favor of increasing the sale of drones overseas. "A very significant part of this economic recovery depends on exports," he told the LA Times. "We need to take advantage of where our strengths lie."

Neither China nor Israel is a party to the Missile Technology Control Regime, which prevents sales of all but the smallest unmanned craft, and they're selling drones all over the world. Pretty soon, we will be too. We may be pretty happy about our drone superiority at the moment, but it won't last long. Welcome to the 21st century.