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Texting the polar vortex

The photo above from chilly Canada was posted by the local Spork in a Drawer blog ...

Pity the rich

Vauhini Vara in The New Yorker considers a letter published last weekend in The Wall Street Journal by Tom Perkins, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, “comparing the ‘progressive war’ he thinks is being waged against wealthy Americans to the Nazis’ persecution of Jews.”

Mr. Perkins asked, “Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendent ‘progressive’ radicalism unthinkable now?” Monday, Mr. Perkins appeared on Bloomberg TV to defend himself: “Most Germans had never met a Jew, and yet Hitler was able to demonize the Jews, and Kristallnacht was one of the earlier manifestations. But there had been others before it, and then, of course, we know about the evil of the Holocaust. I guess my point was that, when you start to use hatred against a minority, it can get out of control.”

Ms. Vara notes “lighter moments, too, as he announced that his watch was worth a ‘six-pack of Rolexes,’ … and said that the poor and middle class have ‘threatened’ the rich with their calls for a more equal society.”

Gates hates blah, blah

Thomas Ricks at his Foreign Policy blog collects examples from the new book by former-just-about-everything Robert Gates, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” of just how much Mr. Gates hated international conferences. Among them:

• “Gates on the annual Munich Security Conference: ‘incredibly tedious.’

• “Gates on NATO meetings: ‘excruciatingly boring.’

• “The Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas: ‘boring beyond words, and little ever results.’ ”

Pa.’s missing women

Lindsay at I heart Pittsburgh in a post mainly about last weekend’s training for women interested in getting into politics at Chatham University’s Pennsylvania Center for Women and Politics:

“Pittsburgh may be at the top of a lot of lists — best place to retire, 10th most romantic city in the U.S., most livable city. However, Pittsburgh and the entire state of Pennsylvania are WAY behind when it comes to women in politics. Some sobering stats on the state of women in politics in Pennsylvania:

• “Pennsylvania ranks 47th when looking at the number of women holding elected office and 47th in terms of women’s overall political participation in our state. (via WomenVotePA).

• “State Senate — only 16 percent are women.

• “State House — only 18 percent are women.

• “Pennsylvanian ranks 38 out of 50 states in terms of women in state legislatures (via Center for American Women in Politics).”

Pa.’s missing wages

Mark Price at the Third and State blog notes that, as of Jan. 1, the minimum wage is $8.25 an hour in New Jersey, $8 in New York and $7.95 in Ohio — “while here in Pennsylvania it remains at the federal level of $7.25 an hour, unchanged since 2009” …

“With raising the minimum wage likely to be a defining issue in this year’s gubernatorial race — and a national campaign to raise the wage gaining momentum in the wake of stagnating wages and a series of strikes at fast-food restaurants … [you can expect] to read and hear a lot about a familiar argument from opponents: that raising the minimum wage is a bad idea because it would mainly benefit teens working summer jobs for extra cash. …

“Simply put, that argument is just not true. … Most of the million workers in Pennsylvania [84 percent] who would be affected by an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour (as President Obama has proposed) are adults working more than 20 hours a week and contributing a notable share to their family’s income.”

Compiled by Greg Victor (

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