Just another Reality-based bubble in the foam of the multiverse.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

"There are real fights and there are fake fights, engineered to distract attention away from the real deal."

I was out of commission when this played out, but Bruce A. Dixon got it right.

So did Avedon:

- the Democrats could have passed any bill they wanted, and they passed a crappy bill because they did not want a good one.

Oh, yeah, and it's not just an Ahab in the White House, it's an idiot.

Only Nixon could go to China; only Obama could nuke the whales.

Being Paid Not to Know

Go read Ian Welsh:

...A real, properly put together stimulus bill would have got them back to work. For example, a program to make every building in America be at least energy neutral and preferably creating energy, would have kept them usefully employed.

The bottom line in America today is that while everyone who isn’t paid not to know, knows how to fix what’s wrong with America (for example, instead of the mess called Health Care Reform, pass single payer), nothing that really fixes anything fundamental will be allowed to occur.

America is controlled by what economists call rent-seeking behaviour. Virtually everyone important has a revenue stream, and they don’t want anyone to take that revenue stream away. So pharma and insurance companies, who would have been damaged badly by single payer (they would have lost hundreds of billions) made sure that a plan to provide everyone with better health care for a third less than current costs was never even considered.

The most important game in America today is the contest for control of government, so that government can directly or indirectly give you money. Health care “reform” in which the government decided to force Americans to buy private health insurance or be fined is merely the latest (and most blatant) example. Virtually every industry, from finance to telecom to agriculture is involved in this game. It is in all their interests to make sure the game continues, but they do fight amongst each other for the spoils.

This game will continue until the US can no longer afford it. Indeed, even now, some industries are taking it on the chin, loosing out to their better connected cousins. For example, the current downturn has seen the prison-industrial complex losing ground. They get most of their money from State governments, and the States simply cannot afford to keep locking up so many people at so much cost.

This is the downward spiral of a great power in senescence. It ends in collapse, reformation or revolution, when it becomes clear that the rents of the Ancien Regime can no longer be afforded, and too many of those who were bought off are thrown off their dole.

The Tea Partiers, however misguided they may be in many respects, have been thrown off the dole. Whatever they are called, they will not be going away.

Looks like the Nixon goes to China analogy caught Ian, too.

Only Nixon Could Go to China

...and only Obama could drill the Gulf and build nukes in your back yard.

Their kinda guy

Painted green, too, no doubt.

I'm back...

More basic naughtiness to follow.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

still alive and well

...but my computer sure isn't! I will be back regularly as soon as I can finagle something.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

not another ecological solution

Wildlife dilemma: Protect killer whales or the fish they eat?

Since when is this an either/ or situation?

How about protecting both from the real alpha predator in the oceans?

Why not introduce a whole new link in the food chain to disrupt control everything?

You know it's only a matter of time until the same bright boys that want to dim the sun to block global warming think of it.

no theory about it

...And just like that the Lehman Brothers scandal drops off the front pages. And not just the front pages—the section fronts, too

Well... what's $50 billion between friends?

Brasscheck says it:

Apparently, it's now news to the financial news media that Timothy Geithner and his CEO buddies on Wall Street deliberately defrauded the market - and the Treasury - of hundreds of billions of dollars...

Now the "professional" journalists are catching up.

We don't deal in "conspiracy theories." It's the idiots in the news media and the idiots who accept their reports as reality who are living in a delusional fantasy land.

Anybody who thinks the 2008 market bubble burst is unrelated to the War on Terra, and the War on Terra is being fought against a bunch of 19th century muslims hiding in caves buys the silliest conspiracy theory of them all.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Because, you know, they'd never abuse it

I particularly like the part of arresting the nearest relative(s) of a genetic profile no one matches perfectly.

A Yale student, naturally.

...Your sensitive genetic information would be safe...The genetic privacy risk from such profiling is virtually nil, because these records include none of the health and biological data present in one’s genome as a whole...

But if they go that far, they'd have it anyway, wouldn't they? It would only be used for $ecurity. It says so, right there on the label. Why profile for sloppy measures like race? We know what team players people like Condi Rice, and Clarence Thomas, and Barack Obama are. Why not profile for traits like those associated with independent thought, and remove troublemakers like Martin Luther King, Jr. before they get started?

The future's so bright, I gotta wear shades- and learn how to hack the DNA database, too.

Oh, that's right. It'd be $ecure. Only the people with the Right Stuff would have access to it.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"...We are all conspiracy theorists. It's just a question of which versions you believe...."

Somebody should tell Jesse Ventura chaos is the plan.

Keeping people disinformed with urban legends containing many different stories with different facets of the reality serves to spread the confusion wider.

Speaking of that, Frank Rich has some things to say about Cheney-Rove revisionism today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

"...tighten the grip"

the One.

...The nation’s chief executive extols the virtues of mandatory DNA testing of Americans upon arrest, even absent charges or a conviction. Obama said, “It’s the right thing to do” to “tighten the grip around folks” who commit crime...

Like driving 35 miles and hour in a 30 mile an hour zone, doubtless.

ask a silly question

Ian Welsh: Who does Obama think is going to support him in 2012?

Get a reasonable answer. Z:

They are employing the clintonian model to re-election:

1. Serve big business to build their campaign funds (the health care bailout bill is clinton’s nafta). Fealty to wall street is a must.
2. Completely disregard the needs of the congressional democrats.
3. Lose seats in congress, maybe even the majority … the more seats lost, the better.
4. Use the divided or republican-controlled congress as cover to serve more big business needs (see 1).
5. Use those campaign funds to pay their way to victory over a weak republican opponent.

The possible miscalculation in their model is that things are a lot worse now than they were then and the model may need a Perot to work.

Enter a Ron Paul/ Sarah Palin coalition.

The only reason Gore got beaten in 2000 is the Companies were not on board with him and trusted Poppy's blood. They never counted on the weakness of Junior in the face of Cheney- but made damn sure the Cheneyburton crew got the smackdown they deserved. You do not go to Langely and act rudely to the boys.

As long as the One is onboard with the Companies' agenda (more and better ca$hflows) he'll do fine. If he starts to listen to his own campaign speeches in 2010, though, say bye-bye.

No, I do not think that would be a good thing, because of what would replace Obama. It's the difference between bad and worse. Have no delusions: as much as Obama leaves to be desired, right now there is nothing better in the wings.

Anything better would get the Wellstone treatment as would the One if he took himself really seriously.

"...rewriting history, not only of Texas but of the United States and the world."

Fairly unbalanced, but what they want the young storm troopers to think.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

cone of silence

Dennis the Menace knows how that empty feeling feels.

Chris Floyd:

Rep. Dennis Kucinich's proposal to withdraw from Afghanistan was debated, heatedly, for hours in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. After the debate, dozens of Representatives cast their vote to end the war immediately. This was an unprecedented event in the history of the conflict, now in its ninth year.

Think about that for a moment: an unprecedented event, on the floor of the House, going on for hours, involving a question of supreme national importance. Regardless of one's position on the issue, is this not the very definition of "news"? But on Thursday morning, you could search high and low on the front pages (print and web) of both the New York Times and the Washington Post -- our national arbiters of serious newsworthiness -- yet find no mention whatsoever of this event. This, even though the web fronts -- unlike the paper versions -- contain headlines for dozens of stories, including sections devoted entirely to Washington politics.

You would have had to know about the debate already -- or else trawl diligently through piles of pixels or print -- to reach the small stories that our papers of record deigned to release on the subject. No ordinary newspaper reader -- someone who has a more than passing interest in current events but also has a life to live -- would even know that such a debate took place, much less learn anything about the powerful arguments against the war delivered on the floor of the national legislature. That is to say, it is entirely possible that a reasonably informed and engaged citizen of the Republic would not even be aware that dozens of elected officials at the highest level of government voiced their support for the most radical position on the war: immediate withdrawal...

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

there's no point in being on top if you can't look down

Welcome to the new neo-feudalism.

*There are more African Americans under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began.

*As of 2004, more African American men were disenfranchised (due to felon disenfranchisement laws) than in 1870, the year the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified, prohibiting laws that explicitly deny the right to vote on the basis of race.

* A black child born today is less likely to be raised by both parents than a black child born during slavery. The recent disintegration of the African American family is due in large part to the mass imprisonment of black fathers.

*If you take into account prisoners, a large majority of African American men in some urban areas have been labeled felons for life. (In the Chicago area, the figure is nearly 80%.) These men are part of a growing undercaste -- not class, caste -- permanently relegated, by law, to a second-class status. They can be denied the right to vote, automatically excluded from juries, and legally discriminated against in employment, housing, access to education, and public benefits, much as their grandparents and great-grandparents were during the Jim Crow era...

There is, of course, a colorblind explanation for all this: crime rates. Our prison population has exploded from about 300,000 to more than 2 million in a few short decades, it is said, because of rampant crime. We’re told that the reason so many black and brown men find themselves behind bars and ushered into a permanent, second-class status is because they happen to be the bad guys.

The uncomfortable truth, however, is that crime rates do not explain the sudden and dramatic mass incarceration of African Americans during the past 30 years. Crime rates have fluctuated over the last few decades -- they are currently at historical lows -- but imprisonment rates have consistently soared. Quintupled, in fact. And the vast majority of that increase is due to the War on Drugs. Drug offenses alone account for about two-thirds of the increase in the federal inmate population, and more than half of the increase in the state prison population.

The drug war has been brutal -- complete with SWAT teams, tanks, bazookas, grenade launchers, and sweeps of entire neighborhoods -- but those who live in white communities have little clue to the devastation wrought. This war has been waged almost exclusively in poor communities of color, even though studies consistently show that people of all colors use and sell illegal drugs at remarkably similar rates. In fact, some studies indicate that white youth are significantly more likely to engage in illegal drug dealing than black youth. Any notion that drug use among African Americans is more severe or dangerous is belied by the data. White youth, for example, have about three times the number of drug-related visits to the emergency room as their African American counterparts.

That is not what you would guess, though, when entering our nation’s prisons and jails, overflowing as they are with black and brown drug offenders. In some states, African Americans comprise 80%-90% of all drug offenders sent to prison.

This is the point at which I am typically interrupted and reminded that black men have higher rates of violent crime. That’s why the drug war is waged in poor communities of color and not middle-class suburbs. Drug warriors are trying to get rid of those drug kingpins and violent offenders who make ghetto communities a living hell. It has nothing to do with race; it’s all about violent crime.

Again, not so. President Ronald Reagan officially declared the current drug war in 1982, when drug crime was declining, not rising. From the outset, the war had little to do with drug crime and nearly everything to do with racial politics. The drug war was part of a grand and highly successful Republican Party strategy of using racially coded political appeals on issues of crime and welfare to attract poor and working class white voters who were resentful of, and threatened by, desegregation, busing, and affirmative action. In the words of H.R. Haldeman, President Richard Nixon’s White House Chief of Staff: “[T]he whole problem is really the blacks. The key is to devise a system that recognizes this while not appearing to.”

A few years after the drug war was announced, crack cocaine hit the streets of inner-city communities. The Reagan administration seized on this development with glee, hiring staff who were to be responsible for publicizing inner-city crack babies, crack mothers, crack whores, and drug-related violence. The goal was to make inner-city crack abuse and violence a media sensation, bolstering public support for the drug war which, it was hoped, would lead Congress to devote millions of dollars in additional funding to it.

The plan worked like a charm...

The drug war has never been focused on rooting out drug kingpins or violent offenders. Federal funding flows to those agencies that increase dramatically the volume of drug arrests, not the agencies most successful in bringing down the bosses. What gets rewarded in this war is sheer numbers of drug arrests. To make matters worse, federal drug forfeiture laws allow state and local law enforcement agencies to keep for their own use 80% of the cash, cars, and homes seized from drug suspects, thus granting law enforcement a direct monetary interest in the profitability of the drug market.

The results have been predictable: people of color rounded up en masse for relatively minor, non-violent drug offenses. In 2005, four out of five drug arrests were for possession, only one out of five for sales. Most people in state prison have no history of violence or even of significant selling activity. In fact, during the 1990s -- the period of the most dramatic expansion of the drug war -- nearly 80% of the increase in drug arrests was for marijuana possession, a drug generally considered less harmful than alcohol or tobacco and at least as prevalent in middle-class white communities as in the inner city...

much of black progress is a myth. In many respects, African Americans are doing no better than they were when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and uprisings swept inner cities across America. Nearly a quarter of African Americans live below the poverty line today, approximately the same percentage as in 1968. The black child poverty rate is actually higher now than it was then. Unemployment rates in black communities rival those in Third World countries. And that’s with affirmative action!

When we pull back the curtain and take a look at what our “colorblind” society creates without affirmative action, we see a familiar social, political, and economic structure -- the structure of racial caste. The entrance into this new caste system can be found at the prison gate...

This is a little more complicated than race. It's an economic caste system. Popular culture exists to rope gullible kids into a lifestyle that guarantees long term poverty and at the very least serfdom.

Yes, the black uneducated are imprisoned to become the bottom rung. But the white uneducated don't have lives that are significantly better. The prison of the ghetto provides a money source for the $ecurity-Industrial complex, and gives the poor ignorant white cracker someone to look down on. It creates a tension of racial hostility particularly on the bottom of society.

As during the Civil War and Reconstruction, if the poor are busy fighting each other, they have no time to challenge those who would rule them.

"...we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it..."

Saith the Speaker.

it's the disinformation, stupid

...but the One knows that

The Obama administration and Democrats in general are in trouble because they are not urgently and effectively addressing the issue that most Americans want them to: the frightening economic insecurity that has put a chokehold on millions of American families.

he economy shed 36,000 jobs last month, and that was trumpeted in the press as good news. Well, after your house has burned down I suppose it’s good news that the flames may finally be flickering out. But once you realize that it will take 11 million or more new jobs to get us back to where we were when the recession began, you begin to understand that we’re not really making any headway at all.

It’s also widely known by now that the official employment statistics drastically understate the problem. Once we take off the statistical rose-colored glasses, we’re left with the awful reality of millions upon millions of Americans who have lost — or are losing — their jobs, their homes, their small businesses, and their hopes for a brighter future.

Instead of focusing with unwavering intensity on this increasingly tragic situation, making it their top domestic priority, President Obama and the Democrats on Capitol Hill have spent astonishing amounts of time and energy, and most of their political capital, on an obsessive quest to pass a health care bill...

The talk inside the Beltway, that super-incestuous, egomaniacal, reality-free zone, is that President Obama and the Democrats have a messaging or public relations problem. We’re being told — and even worse, Mr. Obama and the Democrats are being told — that their narrative is not getting through. In other words, the wonderfulness of all that they’ve done is somehow not being recognized by the slow-to-catch-on masses...

The Village views their principal problem one of information management.

Their principal problem is the American public is bombarded by self-interested lies from the moment the first media source is accessed in the day until the moment the last is turned off.

At one level or another, we are all aware of it.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Sympathy for the Devil

The New York Pravda really consistently out does itself.

WASHINGTON — Leading Congressional Republicans are arguing that getting tough on terrorism means trying all foreign terrorism suspects before military commissions. But national security officials who served in the Bush administration say that taking away the criminal justice option would weaken the government’s hand...

That lead paragraph boggles the mind only if you think there's any truth in it. It's only about as true as br'er rabbits desire not to be thrown into the briar patch.

Right next to it on the front page a link to an opinion piece:

Only like a recurring tumor, Stanley. But with Barry O. officially in charge, it's like Bu$hie never left.

Monday, March 08, 2010

there's nothing more dangerous than a playful bull

Pierre Tristam got this right:

Disturbingly recent exceptions aside, civilized nations now agree that burning fellow human beings at the stake, torturing them or enslaving them is inhuman. The day will come when civilized nations will agree that imprisoning wild animals in zoos, whipping them about in circus acts from city to city or forcing them to do tricks for our amusement in such places as SeaWorld, Marineland and Epcot is as cruel to the animals as it is lewd of the people watching them.

That day is far off, no doubt. Pulling profits and emoting power over weaker creatures, vicariously enjoyed by those audiences that delight in the safe splashing of a killer whale or the harmlessness of a caged animal, are strong impulses. Too strong to be outdone by notions of rights for beasts that don't speak English or pay taxes.

Until then, handlers of animals forced into unnatural situations will continue to die, as SeaWorld's Dawn Brancheau did in February when a killer whale dragged her underwater after turning the tables and making her its plaything. I keep reading references to Brancheau's death as "tragic." What lazy news writers mean is that her death was sad, unfortunate, avoidable and, from the spectators' (but not the whale's) perspective, lurid, as it was for SeaWorld's PR.

Brancheau's death was foretold. Besides practicing drills by coaching their prisoners to follow a script, trainers like her practice not getting killed for a reason. They presume at every moment to outwit a predator's instincts. They can't outwit the law of averages. For a brief moment, the whale that killed Brancheau went off script. It acted in character. Mauling her might have been the most natural thing the whale had done in years. If it's an education spectators wanted, they finally got an authentic one.

I don't mind the work with animals of people like the late Steve Irwin, the Australian of "Crocodile Hunter" fame killed by a stingray in 2006. Irwin had his moments of cruelty when he wanted to prove that he could best a beast bigger, bitier or faster than him. But mostly he worked on the animals' turf, on their terms. He did not rearrange their nature for our amusement. He risked his life to show us how wild these animals are, and how freely noble and untamable they should remain.

This isn't to argue against domestication or even the slaughtering of animals. We are animals and predators. But domesticating an animal for help or companionship and certainly killing an animal for sustenance will always be more morally defensible than taming one for entertainment...

You can not tame an animal the size of a T. rex and almost as smart as you are. Intimidate them, yes, especially since their requirements incapacitate them in your world. Orcas in their own environment pose no danger to humans- when's the last time you heard of an attack on kayakers in Puget Sound? Never.

But as poodles? Killer whales are big, beautiful, intelligent and harmless predators unless you're salmon or a sea lion. He didn't eat her. The whale was simply showing the trainer who was the boss.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Treason in America

I don't think ABC is going to air this interview.

No, Virginia, I do not think the Post Office, the NIH, or HUD carried out 9-11.

However, I wouldn't mind seeing Dick Cheney interviewed by his own methods about it...

Part 2: tea partiers they're not

...and no, the main$tream isn't doing its job- if its job is to investigate and inform.

But if it is to suppress and disinform? Bonuses!

how many different ways can you say "psyop"

Iranian president: 9/11 was 'big lie'

Anything this fool says gets used by more different factions than he can possible imagine.

It was doubtless an inside job.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Amerikan Taliban

It can't happen here:

An evangelical Christian hate group called “Repent Amarillo” is reportedly terrorizing the town of Amarillo, Texas. Repent fashions itself as a sort of militia and targets a wide range of community members they deem offensive to their theology: gays, liberal Christians, Muslims, environmentalists, breast cancer events that do not highlight abortion, Halloween, “spring break events,” and pornography shops. On its website, Repent has posted a “Warfare Map” of its enemies in town...

According to a new exposé by the Texas Observer, Repent set out earlier this year to destroy a discreet club of swingers they discovered in town. On New Years eve, the harassment began, with Repent members, almost exclusively young men, showing up in military fatigues and bullhorns, blaring Christian music at the swingers’ club building. The swingers, made up of “regulars” of middle aged, working class couples, were then stalked at every following visit to the club. Repent not only took video of each member, but obtained the swingers’ license plates and dug through their trash, informing neighbors and coworkers of what was once private...

...A community theater attempted to open “Bent,” a play about the persecution of homosexuals during Nazi Germany. But the day before opening night, Repent members helped shut down the play by calling in fire marshals to complain about the theater’s permit. Staffers at a nature preserve were featured on local news defending themselves against Repent accusations that their site represents something related to witchcraft...

Note the line above that they are "Led by a man named David Grisham, a security guard at a nuclear-bomb facility called Pantex..." who poses absolutely no security risk whatsoever. I'm sure.

That's why McCain and Palin lost the last $election. The prospect of Holy Warriors chasing down Chase executives out for a night on the town isn't one the Company appreciates. The same goes for the most vocal elements of the tea party crowd. They're 'Merikan Taliban. Digby:

I'm getting a few lectures about how wrong it is for me to be so hard on the tea partiers because they are mostly good-hearted folks who hate the bailouts/outsourcing/corporatism just like the rest of us. But that argument makes me feel the same way I felt when people told me that Bush wasn't really that bad or that Rush is just an entertainer or that the rush to war with Iraq made sense. It's an awful lot like being told you can believe me or you can believe your lying eyes. I know what I see.

What I see of the tea partiers are a group that used to be called John Birchers or Buchanan Brigades or Perot voters (or when the Republicans are fully empowered, "the GOP base".) When they say they hate the Republicans it's because they are embarrassed by them for being losers, not because of any ideological differences they have with them...

they are organized around nothing more than the destruction of liberalism and their political vehicle is the Republican party. They can be very powerful. All the rest is a smoke screen.

Digby links to a good comment by Amanda Marcotte, but it looks like the serve at pandagon.net is being attacked this morning. I'd recommend you try to follow that link later. The quote from Hullabaloo:

...Their complaints about the federal government need to be understood in terms of right wing speak, where very few beliefs are stated straightforwardly, but usually bundled up in a bad faith argument designed to give the intended audience a belief that the person is speaking from principle instead of prejudice. In other words, they flit around from one right wing argument about the feds and spending to another, because that’s not really what’s motivating them. That’s just the cover story...

Right wing populists shut up and get behind Republicans when they’re in office. They only do this shit when Democrats have power, especially if the sitting President isn’t a member of their perceived tribe. What that says to me is that even as they preen around about how they’re not loyalists to the Republican party, that is in fact what they are. And the reason is that Republicans do the work of telling the right wing populists that they’re the only real Americans. And that’s what matters to them more than anything else.

Their violent actions are never terror either. Even though they're the kind of actions the police $ecurity state uses to excuse the increasing surveillance and disinformation we live under. Even though that somehow never seems to block the violence here or in the middle east, it is moderately effective in convincing the eloi "we" won in Iraq.

Another curious point is that what drives the rightwingers to violence the most are points the fringe left realized a long time ago. In the case of Bedell, it was the realization that 9-11 was likely another Operation Northwoods. Stack wondered

...Why is it that a handful of thugs and plunderers can commit unthinkable atrocities (and in the case of the GM executives, for scores of years) and when it’s time for their gravy train to crash under the weight of their gluttony and overwhelming stupidity, the force of the full federal government has no difficulty coming to their aid within days if not hours? Yet at the same time, the joke we call the American medical system, including the drug and insurance companies, are murdering tens of thousands of people a year and stealing from the corpses and victims they cripple, and this country’s leaders don’t see this as important as bailing out a few of their vile, rich cronies. Yet, the political “representatives” (thieves, liars, and self- serving scumbags is far more accurate) have endless time to sit around for year after year and debate the state of the “terrible health care problem”. It’s clear they see no crisis as long as the dead people don’t get in the way of their corporate profits rolling in...

[tip o'teh tinfoil to Erin for sending me Stack's original letter]

Now that's pretty heady for a rightwinger to realize. They don't react the way they're 'pozed to, and they go half-cocked and do stuff. Unfortunately, as lefty as a paragraph like that reads, they're still too conservative everywhere else for the main$tream to accuse them of being bomb-throwing hippies.

So they're called lone wolves, and their justifiable grievances are called moon battery and fanaticism.

The more docile Tea Party faction gets assimilated by the Reptilians, and the Kos 500 by the Oborg DINOcrats.

Both of course are owned by the same Companies.

So quietly the drift towards a bank$ter-run version of the society Orwell had nightmares about continues.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

the more things Change...

...the more they stay the $trange.

WASHINGTON - Defense giant KBR Inc. was awarded a contract potentially worth $2.8 billion for support work in Iraq as U.S. forces continue to leave the country, military authorities said Tuesday...

Of course, if some US forces leave, others arrive. That's called equilibrium.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Company Man

Deja vu all over again. Greenwald is not surprised:

...When George Bush and Dick Cheney left office as two of the most despised American political figures of the last century -- and Barack Obama was hailed as the new, shiny, popular wielder of power -- the Beltway media parroted the sentiment. Until recently, when Obama became weakened and conservatives appeared rejuvenated, Beltway media treatment of the new President was largely deferential, while the Bush/Cheney era was treated as an embarrassing, "American-values"-violating disgrace to be stuffed away in the attic and forgotten entirely (Look to the Future, Not the Past!). The Democrats were now in power and their opponents were rejected, and thus the dominant Beltway mindset was (as always) to praise and serve the new King and his court while feigning opposition to the deposed. The ethos had shifted, and therefore, so did the words issuing from Beltway mouths. The same media that spent years hailing Bush officials as the Serious, Strong Adult Leaders and mocking Democrats as hapless losers simply reversed the script, to dutifully fulfill their central role as spokespeople-servants to those who wield political power.

But the reality was the opposite: the same Beltway media that cheered on those Bush/Cheney "values-violating" policies while they were being implemented still believe in those policies and yearn for them. That's why it's possible to open the The Washington Post and see that Rahm Emanuel is openly boasting to his stenographers that he has been counseling adherence to those policies and to read Beltway mavens like Milbank now insist that Obama must stop deviating from the Bush/Cheney template. The Washington media script was (at least temporarily) re-written as of January 20, 2009, but their belief system -- which cheered on and enabled the horror show of the prior eight years -- most certainly did not. To placate an angry public and to serve their new Washington rulers, they pretended to find Bush and Cheney ever so distasteful, all while continuing to love and insist upon the very policies that defined them...

Teh Rahmmer.

I won't dignify his lovefest over at The Washington Company Pravda with a link, but fittingly Dan Froomkin takes him- and both Dana Milbank'z and Jason Horowitz'z suck-up pieces down:

...Emanuel is not the would-be savior of this presidency. For one thing, there really isn't that much daylight between him and his boss, or between him and his top White House colleagues. Had things gone even more his way, it's possible that he would have squelched a few more of what few bursts of idealism and principle survived Inauguration. But people looking for the reasons why the Obama presidency has not lived up to its promise won't find the answer amid the minor rifts between key players. Nor will they find the answer in how well or poorly this White House has played the game of politics. The fact is that after a campaign that appealed so successfully to idealism, Obama hired a bunch of saboteurs of hope and change.

Rahm was simply their chief of staff. And now, this hypercompetitive bantam rooster is attempting to blame others for what went wrong. That's evidently so important to him that he's trying to take a victory lap around the wreckage of what was once such a promising presidency.

Emanuel's greatest "victory" before this one, of course, was the one upon which he earned his reputation: Getting a bunch of conserva-Dems elected in purple states in 2006, winning the party control of the House while at the same time crippling its progressive agenda. This is what Emanuel is all about. For him, victory is everything -- even if you have to give up your core values to win, and even if you could have won while sticking to them.

The Rahm Emanuel that Obama hired is the poster child for the timid, pseudo-pragmatism that is inimical to the idealistic Obama agenda so many excited voters responded to last November. And it's a pragmatism that is absolutely killing the Democratic Party in the long run, because American voters have an intrinsic distrust of politicians they see as tacking with the polls or shying away from a fight. This if nothing else is the lesson of two George W. Bush presidencies: American voters have a profoundly soft spot for people with clear, strongly-held principles, almost regardless of what those principles are.

Emanuel is a Bush Democrat - but not in that he has learned the lesson about the value of holding firmly to core values. He is a Bush Democrat in that he has allowed Republicans to traumatize him into submission. Emanuel operates on a battlefield as defined by Republicans, where the terrain is littered with the specter of imaginary but profoundly terrifying GOP attack ads. His reflexive approach is the strategic retreat. Most obviously in the current debate about health care, he has empowered the Democratic and centrist Republican obstructionists by validating their fear that come campaign time, they will be portrayed as radical -- even when they are supporting measures such as the public insurance option that have public support among a super-majority of voters.

According to the Washington Post, the ultimate "vindication" of Emanuel's "reasonableness" is found in the advice he gave his boss about the treatment of detainees -- one of the most horrifying, illegal and immoral legacies left by the previous administration. Milbank portrays his protagonist nothing short of heroically: "Emanuel bitterly opposed former White House counsel Greg Craig's effort to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year, arguing that it wasn't politically feasible. Obama overruled Emanuel, the deadline wasn't met, and Republicans pounced on the president and the Democrats for trying to bring terrorists to U.S. prisons. Likewise, Emanuel fought fiercely against Attorney General Eric Holder's plan to send Khalid Sheik Mohammed to New York for a trial. Emanuel lost, and the result was another political fiasco."

According to Horowitz: "Emanuel made his case to Obama, articulating the political dangers of a civilian trial to congressional Democrats. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. presented a counterargument rooted in principle, for civilian trials."

The obvious conclusion: Obama should have taken Emanuel's advice, based on pure political calculation, rather than heeding the foolhardy, deeply-held ethical, legal and moral arguments made by his top legal advisers. The Post's endorsement of this argument is nothing short of obscene. It embraces rather than condemns the notion that political considerations should legitimately trump all others. It is the Post's endorsement of Karl Rovism..

Indeed, the most remarkable spectacle here is the ease with which Emanuel has been able to find reliable vessels to carry his water. Oh, to see his media speed-dial, and its collection of nattering process junkies, smug contrarians, split-the-difference stenographers, center-worshipping priests of High Broderism and corporatist cocktail-partiers who enable Emanuel's brand of soulless political gamesmanship.

To Emanuel, victory is the only thing, and rather than recognize the error of his ways and recalibrate, he is publicly declaring that the now widely-recognized enfeeblement of his boss's presidency is not his failure, but his vindication. Hail Emanuel triumphant.

It's not that Rahm found media sources to carry his water. The people that own Rahm found media sources to promote their chief agent in Washington. Intelligent, articulate, agressive, manipulative, and totally owned by the Company that made him, he would have doubtless held much the same position if Hillary had won in 2008.

And if McCain had won? The Rahmmer would have stayed in the House, sticking his shiv in the back of every progressive measure that tried to get past him. For the good of the Party, of course. The Party of Money.

clear vision

Jay Ackroyd:

At a conference I was at this week, Daniel Ellsberg recounted a time in 1969 when he explained to Henry Kissinger what would happen after he was given the dozen or so clearances above Top Secret (the existence of which is also classified, of course). What happens first is you feel like a fool. You've published books that you now discover were filled with stuff that was wrong. You have believed you understood how things worked for your entire professional life, but you now find out you were completely wrong, that the real world is entirely different from what you have been told. The books you've written, the lectures you've given are based on a false understanding of the world.

But this stage only lasts a few weeks. After you have been reading this material hitherto unavailable to you for a while, you begin to see everybody else as fools. Only with people with these top level clearances know the truth. People whom you previously regarded as experts become ignoramuses, doubly so because they don't realize that they actually know nothing.

And so your conversations with them become telling them what you want them to think.
[via Avedon]

That was 1969. After 8 years of the Cheney administration, there are 12 more levels even Leon Panetta and Barry O. don't know about.

And if any one told 'em, the Company would have to arrange for a short ride in a small airplane.

Monday, March 01, 2010

eyes wide shut

John Halle's who got it right.

Speaking as a non-person on all the access blogs, and more than a few of the non-access ones ("I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. "-Karl Groucho Marx), let's hear a wise word from the man who got the blame for everything Al Gore capitulated to in 2000.

Ralph Nader:

The twin swelling heads of Empire and Oligarchy are driving our country into an ever-deepening corporate state, wholly incompatible with democracy and the rule of law.

Once again the New York Times offers its readers the evidence. In its February 25, 2010 issue, two page-one stories confirm this relentless deterioration at the expense of so many innocent people.

The lead story illustrates that the type of massive speculation—casino capitalism, Business Week once called it—in complex derivatives is still going strong and exploiting the weak and powerless who pay the ultimate bill.

Titled "Banks Bet Greece Defaults on Debt They Helped Hide," the article shocks even readers hardened to tales of greed and abuse of power. Here are the opening paragraphs: "Bets by some of the same banks that helped Greece shroud its mounting debts may actually now be pushing the nation closer to the brink of financial ruin."

"Echoing the kind of trades that nearly toppled the American Insurance International Group /AIG/, the increasingly popular insurance against the risk of a Greek default is making it harder for Athens to raise the money it needs to pay its bills, according to traders and money managers."

"These contracts, known as credit-default swaps, effectively let banks and hedge funds wager on the financial equivalent of a four-alarm fire: a default by a company, or in the case of Greece, an entire country. If Greece reneges on its debts, traders who own these swaps stand to profit."

"It's like buying fire insurance on your neighbor's house-you create an incentive to burn down the house," said Philip Gisdakis, head of credit strategy at UniCredit in Munich.

These credit-default swaps increase the dreaded "systemic risk" that proliferates until it lands on the backs of taxpayers, workers and savers who pay the price. And if Greece goes, Spain or Portugal or Italy may be next and globalization will eventually bring the rapacious effects of mindless speculation to our shores.

Greece got into financial trouble for a variety of reasons, but it was widely reported that Goldman Sachs and other big banks showed them, for generous fees, how to hide the country's true financial condition. Avarice at work.

Note two points. These derivatives are contracts involving hundreds of billions of dollars and are essentially unregulated. These transactions are also essentially untaxed, unlike Europe's value added tax on manufacturing, wholesale and retail purchases. The absence of government restraints produces unlimited predation.

As astute investors in the real economy have said, when money for speculation replaces money for investment, the real economy suffers and so do real people. Remember the Wall Street collapse of 2008 and who is paying for the huge Washington bailout.

The other story shows that the Presidency has become a self-driven Empire outside the law and unaccountable to its citizens. The Times reports "how far the C.I.A. has extended its extraordinary secret war beyond the mountainous tribal belt and deep into Pakistan's sprawling cities." Working with Pakistan's counterpart agency, the C.I.A. has had some cover to do what it wants in carrying out "dozens of raids throughout Pakistan over the past year," according to the Times.

"Secret War" has been a phrase applied numerous times throughout the C.I.A's history, even though the agency was initially created by Congress right after World War II to gather intelligence, not engage in lethal operations worldwide.

Unrestrained by either Congress or the federal courts, Presidents say they can and do order their subordinates to go anywhere in the world, penetrate into any country, if they alone say it is necessary to seize and destroy for what they believe is the national security. American citizens abroad are not excluded. Above the law and beyond the law spells the kind of lawlessness that the framers of our constitution abhorred in King George and limited in our country's separation of powers.

Because our founders would not tolerate the President being prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner, they placed the war-declaration and appropriations authorities in the Congress.

Both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama believe they have unbridled discretion to engage in almost any overt or covert acts. That is a definition of Empire that flouts international law and more than one treaty which the United States helped shape and sign.

Equipped with remote and deadly technologies like drones flying over Pakistan and Afghanistan by operators in Nevada, many civilians have been slain, including those in wedding parties and homes. Still, it is taking 15,000 soldiers (U.S. and Afghan) with the most modern armaments to deal with three hundred Taliban fighters in Marja who with many other Afghans, for various motivations, want us out of their country. Former Marine Combat Captain Matthew Hoh described these reasons in his detailed resignation letter last fall.

Mr. Obama's national security advisor, Ret. General James Jones estimated that there are about 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan with the rest migrating to other countries. And one might add, those whose migrate are increasing their numbers because they cast themselves as fighting to expel the foreign invaders.

So many capable observers have made this point: occupation by our military fuels insurgencies and creates the conditions for more recruits and more mayhem. Even Bush's military and national security people have made this point.

The American people must realize that their reckless government and corporate contractors are banking lots of revenge among the occupied regions that may come back to haunt. We have much more to lose by flouting international law than the suicidal terrorists reacting to what they believe is the West's state terrorism against their people and the West's historical backing of dictatorships which oppress their own population.

American was not designed for Kings and their runaway military pursuits. How tragic that we have now come to this entrenched imperium so loathed by the founding fathers and so forewarned by George Washington's enduring farewell address.

Where are "We the People"?

We the People are the trees falling in a forest where no media is allowed to hear.

Mr. Nader gets one thing very wrong. The Praetorians do not take orders from Caesar. The President is a figurehead for the Company he is embedded in. The real centers of power are often far from Washington and on many continents.

But Mr. Nader as always has more than a few things very right.

American was not designed for Kings and their runaway military pursuits.

an ACORN of truthiness

So it turns out the videotape indicting ACORN was not quite what the main$tream made it out to be to anyone who would listen.

Brooklyn prosecutors on Monday cleared ACORN of criminal wrongdoing after a four-month probe that began when undercover conservative activists filmed workers giving what appeared to be illegal advice on how to hide money...

While the video by James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles seemed to show three ACORN workers advising a prostitute how to hide ill-gotten gains, the unedited version was not as clear, according to a law enforcement source.

"They edited the tape to meet their agenda," said the source...

"On Sept. 15, 2009, my office began an investigation into possible criminality on the part of three ACORN employees," Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes said in a one-paragraph statement issued Monday afternoon.

"That investigation is now concluded and no criminality has been found."