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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Morning in Dementia

If the One is actively trying to channel the Gipper, that means he wants to go down in history as somebody else's sock puppet.

Whose, one wonders?

...No American brand is more associated with Reagan than General Electric, and it was that corporation’s chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, who popped up as the president’s new wingman when the White House rolled out its latest jobs initiative on Jan. 21. Obama’s speech on Tuesday, with its celebration of the nation’s can-do capitalist ingenuity, moved him still closer to Reagan’s sweet spot as a national cheerleader. The president even offered a remix of the old Reagan-era G.E. jingle “We bring good things to life” — now traded up to the grander “We do big things.”

Let's forget all about that "good" silliness, it doubtless just confuses the issue...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

revolting behavior

Avedon on the One's latest feel good speech:

...The revolution has not been in technology. The revolution has been that the immorally rich have finally rebelled against the very possibility of democracy and equality and are making sure to nail down any hole in their walls against the rabble, eliminate any possibility of clever "little people" being able to better themselves with hard work or clever ideas. It has become increasingly difficult for any small business to emerge or survive, for poor kids to work their way up to a decent living. And it's not an accident.

A government's policies determine who lives and who dies, who earns and who starves. Government makes the money and decides where to spend it. It can give to rich people and buy nothing in return, or it can give it to the rest of us and give us roads and jobs and a stable base of government-employed public servants whose steady income results in steady spending in the real economy and thus creates the private sector jobs. A government can set policies that protect its workers, or one that forces them to compete with the worst, most corrupt slave economies.

Obama has chosen to give our money to the Malefactors of Great Wealth and make up excuses about technology and international competition to convince us that we should survive on subsistence wages in order to "compete" with China and India. Compete for what? Why, compete to make our rich people richer than their rich people. Whoever's behalf we are working for, it won't be for us...

the usual suspects

So Low Orbit Ion Cannon does exactly what it was designed to do, expose naive people who support the idea of Wikileaks to the FBI and lead to their arrest.

Like Timothy Leary a generation or two before, Julian Assange has made a perfect lightning rod for the authoritarians.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Green Crisis Management

Some recent good posts by Juan Cole and Ian Welsh define the source of the most current middle eastern conflagration.

Although most of these are dictators supported by 'Merikan policy, the riots are not pro-Islamic at all.

People are starving, due to a combination of Company importation of asian slave labor guest workers and austerity as policy imposed by the IMF.

Of course, the public reaction is to wag fingers and tell the dictators they aren't listening to us enough. Privately the Oborg and the Clintonista just want it all shut down so the wheels of global profiteering can continue to spin. After all, soylent green can be used as machine oil too.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

not happy with this line of inquiry

and they really want it to stop, right now:

The United States would derive no meaningful military benefit from increased use of alternative fuels to power its jets, ships and other weapons systems, according to a government-commissioned study by the RAND Corporation scheduled for release Tuesday...

The major funding for the RAND corporation? Aside from cushy government contracts? Why, individuals of course, and if said individuals also happen to profit from the global depletion of fossil fuels and the concomitant and subsequent global neo-feudalism that develops, well, that's just good business.

Monday, January 24, 2011

beating teh competition


...It’s true that we’d have more jobs if we exported more and imported less. But the same is true of Europe and Japan, which also have depressed economies. And we can’t all export more while importing less, unless we can find another planet to sell to. Yes, we could demand that China shrink its trade surplus — but if confronting China is what Mr. Obama is proposing, he should say that plainly.

Furthermore, while America is running a trade deficit, this deficit is smaller than it was before the Great Recession began. It would help if we could make it smaller still. But ultimately, we’re in a mess because we had a financial crisis, not because American companies have lost their ability to compete with foreign rivals.

But isn’t it at least somewhat useful to think of our nation as if it were America Inc., competing in the global marketplace? No.

Consider: A corporate leader who increases profits by slashing his work force is thought to be successful. Well, that’s more or less what has happened in America recently: employment is way down, but profits are hitting new records. Who, exactly, considers this economic success?

Still, you might say that talk of competitiveness helps Mr. Obama quiet claims that he’s anti-business. That’s fine, as long as he realizes that the interests of nominally “American” corporations and the interests of the nation, which were never the same, are now less aligned than ever before.

Take the case of General Electric, whose chief executive, Jeffrey Immelt, has just been appointed to head that renamed advisory board. I have nothing against either G.E. or Mr. Immelt. But with fewer than half its workers based in the United States and less than half its revenues coming from U.S. operations, G.E.’s fortunes have very little to do with U.S. prosperity.

By the way, some have praised Mr. Immelt’s appointment on the grounds that at least he represents a company that actually makes things, rather than being yet another financial wheeler-dealer. Sorry to burst this bubble, but these days G.E. derives more revenue from its financial operations than it does from manufacturing — indeed, GE Capital, which received a government guarantee for its debt, was a major beneficiary of the Wall Street bailout...

And about that trade deficit the Villagers keep wringing their hands over...

...The trade deficit is when the total goods and services the U.S. imports is greater than the total it exports. In 2009, the total U.S. trade deficit was $380.7 billion which is $1.5 trillion in exports minus $1.9 trillion in imports. This is almost half of the 2008 trade deficit of $695.9 billion...America's dependence on foreign oil drives the trade deficit.

Last time I looked the situation remains the same:

The U.S. trade deficit probably widened in November as higher oil prices and a growing economy boosted imports faster than exports, economists said before a report today...

It's the Oil, stupid. Green energy would effectively end the trade deficit and put men like Mr. Immelt out of a job. But what's good for Business is good for America, right? Which is why the One is channeling the Gipper, right?


Sunday, January 23, 2011

plausible deniability

We are treated to the spectacle of the New York Pravda admitting the Company has some pretty rogue subcontractors who get to modify imperial policy just because.

Duane R. Clarridge parted company with the Central Intelligence Agency more than two decades ago, but from poolside at his home near San Diego, he still runs a network of spies.

Over the past two years, he has fielded operatives in the mountains of Pakistan and the desert badlands of Afghanistan. Since the United States military cut off his funding in May, he has relied on like-minded private donors to pay his agents to continue gathering information about militant fighters, Taliban leaders and the secrets of Kabul’s ruling class.

Hatching schemes that are something of a cross between a Graham Greene novel and Mad Magazine’s “Spy vs. Spy,” Mr. Clarridge has sought to discredit Ahmed Wali Karzai, the Kandahar power broker who has long been on the C.I.A. payroll, and planned to set spies on his half brother, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, in hopes of collecting beard trimmings or other DNA samples that might prove Mr. Clarridge’s suspicions that the Afghan leader was a heroin addict, associates say.

Mr. Clarridge, 78, who was indicted on charges of lying to Congress in the Iran-contra scandal and later pardoned, is described by those who have worked with him as driven by the conviction that Washington is bloated with bureaucrats and lawyers who impede American troops in fighting adversaries and that leaders are overly reliant on mercurial allies.

His dispatches — an amalgam of fact, rumor, analysis and uncorroborated reports — have been sent to military officials who, until last spring at least, found some credible enough to be used in planning strikes against militants in Afghanistan. They are also fed to conservative commentators, including Oliver L. North, a compatriot from the Iran-contra days and now a Fox News analyst, and Brad Thor, an author of military thrillers and a frequent guest of Glenn Beck.

For all of the can-you-top-this qualities to Mr. Clarridge’s operation, it is a startling demonstration of how private citizens can exploit the chaos of combat zones and rivalries inside the American government to carry out their own agenda...

From his days running secret wars for the C.I.A. in Central America to his consulting work in the 1990s on a plan to insert Special Operations troops in Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, Mr. Clarridge has been an unflinching cheerleader for American intervention overseas.

Typical of his pugnacious style are his comments, provided in a 2008 interview for a documentary now on YouTube, defending many of the C.I.A.’s most notorious operations, including undermining the Chilean president Salvador Allende, before a coup ousted him 1973.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, things have to be changed in a rather ugly way,” said Mr. Clarridge, his New England accent becoming more pronounced the angrier he became. “We’ll intervene whenever we decide it’s in our national security interests to intervene.”

...In postings in India, Turkey, Italy and elsewhere, Mr. Clarridge, using pseudonyms that included Dewey Marone and Dax Preston LeBaron, made a career of testing boundaries in the dark space of American foreign policy. In his 1997 memoir, he wrote about trying to engineer pro-American governments in Italy in the late 1970s (the former American ambassador to Rome, Richard N. Gardner, called him “shallow and devious”), and helping run the Reagan administration’s covert wars against Marxist guerrillas in Central America during the 1980s.

He was indicted in 1991 on charges of lying to Congress about his role in the Iran-contra scandal; he had testified that he was unaware of arms shipments to Iran. But he was pardoned the next year by the first President George Bush...

What should not be suprising is that the Dick Cheney faction of the Company is still in business doing what it's always done, and that the Clintonista branch is outing them.

At one time such operations were not only against the Geneva Conventions concerning mercenaries, they were actually illegal here too.

In fact, the Company went after operatives like this with the same fervor they went after anyone else.

Once upon a time before they decided to incorporate what was too much work to liquidate.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Reel 'Merikan

Dave Lindorff:

...what are we to make of the actual announcement, that the president has named Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE Corp., to chair the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness?

Immelt heads a company that has for years topped the list of transnational corporations as ranked by the size of their foreign asset holdings. More significantly, GE is a company that for years has also received more of its revenues and its profits from abroad than from its US operations, that has far more of its 304,000 employees overseas than in the US, and that has more assets abroad than at “home,” where its headquarters offices are located.

Even those domestic revenues and earnings are less than they might appear, in terms of jobs at least, since they are primarily from the company’s financial subsidiaries, while most of the revenues and earnings from abroad are from its manufacturing operations.

What this means is that in very real terms, GE is not an American company. It is a foreign company that happens to be headquartered in the US, and that happens to have a chairman/CEO who was born in the US, and holds a US passport...

...and is Too Big to Fail, baby.

Comcast 'Bye Out

of course, had nothing to do with it, read the Official Statement.

And listen to Keith one last time:

Classic Olbermann - and Michael Moore, too:

"Those secrets, they kill people.."

And talking about them where the children can hear will cost you your job, too.

Friday, January 21, 2011

"Just when we needed an angry black man, we didn't get one."

Seymour Hersh on what we did get:

..."What I'm really talking about is how eight or nine neoconservative, radicals* if you will, overthrew the American government. Took it over," he said of his forthcoming book. "It's not only that the neocons took it over but how easily they did it -- how Congress disappeared, how the press became part of it, how the public acquiesced."

Hersh then brought up the widespread looting that took place in Baghdad after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. "In the Cheney shop, the attitude was, ‘What's this? What are they all worried about, the politicians and the press, they're all worried about some looting? ... Don't they get it? We're gonna change mosques into cathedrals. And when we get all the oil, nobody's gonna give a damn.'"

"That's the attitude," he continued. "We're gonna change mosques into cathedrals. That's an attitude that pervades, I'm here to say, a large percentage of the Joint Special Operations Command."

He then alleged that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who headed JSOC before briefly becoming the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, and his successor, Vice Adm. William McRaven, as well as many within JSOC, "are all members of, or at least supporters of, Knights of Malta."

Hersh may have been referring to the Sovereign Order of Malta, a Roman Catholic organization commited to "defence of the Faith and assistance to the poor and the suffering," according to its website.

"Many of them are members of Opus Dei," Hersh continued. "They do see what they're doing -- and this is not an atypical attitude among some military -- it's a crusade, literally..."

...with motivational speakers, too.

"...If an economic meltdown happens only to the middle class and poor, does it make a sound?"

Apparently not officially.

So Ian Welsh:

The RNC is asking for 2.5 trillion in spending cuts over 10 years. Assume Obama and Dems split the difference (remember, Obama wanted a freeze already, anyway). 1.25 trillion.

The effects of that on the US economy, such as it is, will be catastrophic...

Times are bad, they will get worse, especially as this type of austerity is happening in virtually every western country. Expect both high inflation in what you actually need (food, for example) and high unemployment (the return of stagflation), whatever the “official” rate of inflation says...

Because, there are always more choco-rations.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

litmus test

Here's how you tell an honest politician- by the words they're willing to use.

...Accounting control "fraud" by the banksters, from fraud by robosigners, fraud by their lawyers, fraud by MERS, fraud in selling the same mortgages over and over again to different clients, fraud by selling mortgage backed securities as if they were gold bricks when in fact they were The Big Shitpile (and then paying themselves bonuses), fraud by the bought-and-paid for economists who shill for all this: It's fraudsters all the way down, and the fraud is connived at, obfuscated, and completely supported by the leadership and the apparatus of both legacy parties, 100%, and without exception. How do you know that? They won't use the word.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

New Deal No More

More and more people are realizing what they say and what they mean are two very different things.

Matt Stoller, via Avedon via Yves Smith:

Since the 1970s, Democratic elites have focused on breaking public sector unions and financializing the economy. Carter, not Reagan, started the defense build-up. Carter, not Reagan, lifted usury caps. Carter, not Reagan, first cut capital gains taxes. Clinton, not Bush, passed NAFTA. It isn’t the base of the Democratic party that did this, but then, voters in America have never had a lot of power because they are too disorganized. And there wasn’t a substantial grassroots movement to challenge this, either.

Obama continues this trend. It isn’t that he’s not fighting, he fights like hell for what he wants. He whipped incredibly aggressively for TARP, he has passed emergency war funding (breaking a campaign promise) several times, and nearly broke the arms of feckless liberals in the process. I mean, when Bernie Sanders did the filiBernie, Obama flirted with Bernie’s potential 2012 GOP challenger. Obama just wants policies that cement the status of a aristocratic class, with crumbs for everyone else (Republican elites disagree in that they hate anyone but elites getting crumbs). And he will fight for them.

There is simply no basis for arguing that Democratic elites are pursuing poor strategy anymore. They are achieving an enormous amount of leverage within the party. Consider the following. Despite Obama violating every core tenet of what might have been considered the Democratic Party platform, from supporting foreclosures to destroying civil liberties to torturing political dissidents to wrecking unions, Obama has no viable primary challenger. Moreover, no Senate Democratic incumbent lost a primary challenge in 2010, despite a horrible governing posture. Now THAT is a successful strategy, it minimized the losses of the Democratic elite and kept them firmly in control of the party. Thus, the political debate remains confined to what neoliberals want to talk about. It’s a good strategy, it’s just you are the one the strategy is being played on.

A lot of people think that Obama is a bad poker player, but they miss the point. He’s not playing with his money, he’s playing with YOUR money. You are the weak hand at the table, he’s colluding with the other players...

Matt Stoller was Alan Grayson's Senior Policy Advisor. No wonder all the Villagers hated them.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

quick somebody sit on it

Personally I would've thought they would be Cyanobacteria with some Archebacteria genes spliced in, but I guess there are more E. coli vectors for assembling this kind of thing.

Neil Reynolds in the Toronto Globe and Mail:

In September, a privately held and highly secretive U.S. biotech company named Joule Unlimited received a patent for “a proprietary organism” – a genetically adapted E. coli bacterium – that feeds solely on carbon dioxide and excretes liquid hydrocarbons: diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline. This breakthrough technology, the company says, will deliver renewable supplies of liquid fossil fuel almost anywhere on Earth, in essentially unlimited quantity and at an energy-cost equivalent of $30 (U.S.) a barrel of crude oil. It will deliver, the company says, “fossil fuels on demand.”

...We’re not talking “biofuels” – not, at any rate, in the usual sense of the word. The Joule technology requires no “feedstock,” no corn, no wood, no garbage, no algae. Aside from hungry, gene-altered micro-organisms, it requires only carbon dioxide and sunshine to manufacture crude. And water: whether fresh, brackish or salt. With these “inputs,” it mimics photosynthesis, the process by which green leaves use solar energy to convert carbon dioxide into organic compounds. Indeed, the company describes its manufacture of fossil fuels as “artificial photosynthesis.”

Joule says it now has “a library” of fossil-fuel organisms at work in its Massachusetts labs, each engineered to produce a different fuel. It has “proven the process,” has produced ethanol (for example) at a rate equivalent to 10,000 U.S. gallons an acre a year. It anticipates that this yield could hit 25,000 gallons an acre a year when scaled for commercial production, equivalent to roughly 800 barrels of crude an acre a year...

Now watch the major oil companies, or Goldman-Sachs, or some serious players try to buy these guys out. Or take them out. There is about a trillion dollars of fossil fuels left in the ground, and they seriously don't want this technology developed until they've squeezed us some more.

All of this effort since the turn of the century to turn humanity towards a post-industrial neofeudalism as we ride down the oil depletion curve. And now some bright girls and boys have gone and come up with a solution to the problem before its time.

Stay out of small airplanes, kids, and watch out for short selling Wall Street bank$ters- a.k.a. the technology police the $ystem uses to destroy things that are too good to make them a dirty buck.

Ah, too late- the squid have a tentacle in it already.

equivalence of humor

Nice frame of the question, CNN?

"The thing I worry about is not rhetoric. It’s the construction of paranoid narratives," Frum, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush who now runs his own blog, said on CNN's "Reliable Sources."

"When people say that Barack Obama is deliberately trying to destroy the economy of the United States in order to overthrow the constitution and lead us to a Marxist dictatorship – you can say that without a single harsh syllable or negative adjective, but it's a false and paranoid narrative, and that attacks the governance of the country," Frum said.

The former Bush aide insisted, however, that there were "comparable degrees of paranoia" among liberals when his boss was president, citing the belief that Bush deliberately lied the nation into war with Iraq...

Except, you know, what little Obama did is almost exactly what little Bu$hie did, and Bu$hie actually did know about exactly who planned 9/11 in August, but went after Saddam's oil fields anyway. Which we still control, all rumor aside.

To be accurate, Obama most certainly does not want to destroy the country, or set up a Marxist dictatorship. He is much more interested in maintaining the Company takeover.

"...a state-sanctioned private militia"

George Monbiot:

This is what the head of a police unit set up to monitor domestic extremism said in 2009: "I've never said – and we don't see – that any environmentalist is going to or has committed any violent acts." That chimes with my experience. Two years ago I searched all the literature I could lay hands on, and couldn't find a single proven instance of a planned attempt in the UK to harm people in the cause of defending the environment. (That's in sharp contrast to animal rights campaigning, where there has been plenty of violence.) No one has yet produced a factual challenge to that conclusion. Yet every year a shadowy body spends most of its £5m budget on countering a non-existent threat that officers call eco-terrorism.

The National Public Order Intelligence Unit (NPOIU) employed the undercover officer Mark Kennedy, who was embedded and bedded for seven years among peaceful green activists. Kennedy claims that it has supervised 15 other undercover agents on the same mission. But what is the mission? Sorry, can't tell you. NPOIU is run by the Association of Chief Police Officers. As Simon Jenkins pointed out last week , Acpo is not a police force but a private limited company, beyond democratic scrutiny, not subject to freedom of information laws. While it receives much of its funding from the government, it is not accountable to the public. It looks to me like a state-sanctioned private militia, fighting public protest on behalf of corporations.

Until it was forced to back down by bad publicity, one of the other units that Acpo runs published a list of domestic extremists, to help its officers identify dangerous elements. Dr Peter Harbour, a 70-year-old retired physicist and university lecturer, found his name on the list. Apart from the occasional speeding ticket, he has never been tried or convicted of an offence. So why was he on the database? Because he had peacefully marched, demonstrated and petitioned against a proposal by RWE npower, which owned Didcot power station, to drain the beautiful lake beside his village and fill it with pulverised fly ash. He had broken no law, damaged no property, issued no threats. Dr Harbour wrote to the unit, asking for his name to be removed from its blacklist. It refused.

NPOIU, the unit for which Kennedy worked, runs a similar list of extremists – which means people who have attended a protest or a public meeting. Surveillance officers are given spotter cards so that they can follow people on the database and monitor their movements. Vehicles which have been used by protesters are tracked all over the country by number-plate recognition cameras. One man, who has never been convicted of an offence, has been stopped 25 times because his car appears on the list.

There is no obvious connection between the kind of people in these files and criminality: they're distinguished only by the fact that they have taken an interest in politics. You might expect that this would mark them out as good citizens. But this policing appears to have nothing to do with the public good. If the claims that Kennedy also functioned as an agent provocateur are true, it has nothing to do with upholding the law. Acpo appears to be persecuting peaceful citizens who are trying to protect the places and values they cherish from destructive companies.

Twenty of the activists whose plans Kennedy betrayed to his handlers were convicted on the desperate charge of conspiracy to commit aggravated trespass. This means they had decided to step on to property belonging to the power company E.ON. The prosecutors couldn't find anything more serious to throw at them. Aggravated trespass is a crime invented by the previous Conservative government, to prosecute protesters who weren't otherwise breaking the law. The judge who passed sentence described these dangerous criminals as "decent" people with "the highest possible motives" (they were campaigning to prevent climate breakdown). The case against another six was dropped when the police realised they would have to release documents about Kennedy's activities, and tanked the trial...

...The people challenging corporate power are often defamed as destructive anarchists. Yet they are seeking to defend the fabric of our lives from the anarchic destruction of market fundamentalism. The police, on the other hand, are fighting – often without obvious justification – to shield destructive companies from both unlawful and lawful challenges. They are defending neoliberalism's atomising, kleptocratic projects from those who question them.

So who are the domestic extremists? Which body represents the real threat to society, to public order and the rule of law? A group of peaceful campaigners acting on "the highest possible motives"? Or a private corporation running a secret spy ring, which looks as if it's using police budgets to try to change the political character of the nation?

We know what our betters would say...

Monday, January 17, 2011

he had a dream and a shadow

one always watching

That photo of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. riding one of the first desegregated buses in Montgomery, Ala.? He took it. The well-known image of black sanitation workers carrying "I Am A Man" signs in Memphis? His. He was the only photojournalist to document the entire trial in the murder of Emmett Till, and he was there in Room 306 of the Lorraine Hotel, King's room, on the night he was assassinated.

But now an unsettling asterisk must be added to the legacy of Ernest C. Withers, one of the most celebrated photographers of the civil-rights era: He was a paid FBI informant.

On Sunday, The Commercial Appeal newspaper in Memphis published the results of a two-year investigation that showed Withers, who died in 2007 at age 85, had collaborated closely with two FBI agents in the 1960s to keep tabs on the civil-rights movement. It was an astonishing revelation about a former police officer nicknamed the "Original Civil Rights Photographer," famous in part for the trust he had engendered among high-ranking civil-rights leaders, including King...

[tip o'the tinfoil to Cryptogon]

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Teh 'Merikan Entrepreneurial Spirit

It's a jobless recovery:

Aided by at least $43 million in assistance from the government of Massachusetts and an innovative solar energy technology, Evergreen Solar emerged in the last three years as the third-largest maker of solar panels in the United States.

But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China...

I think Cryptogon's response to this is very fitting:

there ain't nothing like the real thing baby

via Avedon, we see harbingers of a really violent conflict of interests developing.

Mike the mad biologist:

If you haven't heard by now, Sarah Palin compared criticism of her to "blood libel", the disgusting medieval falsehood that Jews used Christian blood in religious rituals. While some have chalked this up to paranoia, I don't think that's correct (besides, Palin's paranoia stems from the bursting of her narcissistic bubble). Because there's an increasingly tendency among fundamentalists to view themselves as Jews. Now, this might sound odd, since they seem to have some difficulties with the Judeo part of Judeo-Christian. But they do see themselves as new and improved Jews...

I'm sure paranoia factors into this phenomenon: there is a self-identification with Jews, due to the history of religious oppression. But they also view themselves as 'improved and better' Jews. This is nothing new: since the inception of Christianity, there have been repeated attempts to claim the mantle of 'real Judaism' by Christians. So, at some level, Palin is using the term because she believes it really does apply to her.

Sure, it doesn't make any sense, but that's never stopped the theopolitical right. (Consider creationists who want to teach the origin of biological diversity as depicted in the Bible. Well, even a precursory read of Genesis 1 and 2 yields very different creation stories. So which is it? They just don't get that far; instead, they just double down and demand creationism even more loudly).

I don't think people realize just how radical their religious beliefs are, even in the context of Christianity.

Actually it's pretty remarkable if people have any sense of perspective about their worldviews at all, with the torrent of disinformation they're hosed down with by the main$tream. It's a flow that changes direction sometimes just from day-to-day.

Steve Striffler on Jared Loughner:

...it is amazing that any person in their twenties is able to develop anything resembling a coherent political framework for understanding the world, let alone acquire the tools to decipher between news and entertainment, to critically evaluate the fragments of information flying at them 24 hours a day from their TVs, computers and smart phones. Most do not have these tools by the time they arrive to college, and I long ago stopped expecting them to. But neither do I hold it against them, or dismiss their views simply because they are (from my perspective) muddled, incoherent and frequently go in completely opposite directions. I take them seriously both because it is my job as an educator and because I know a better future depends on equipping them with the ability to piece together a critical framework for understanding the world.

It is a bit ironic that at the same time as many commentators are urging us to listen more closely to our opponents' ideas and resist the urge to demonize them, that we are dismissing Loughner's political views without even so much as a real discussion. What he did is horrible, but the commentary has gone too quickly from "Loughner's actions were politically motivated" to "it had nothing to do with politics." We are now told that because his political views do not fall seamlessly into a neat box labeled "left" or "right" that they were irrelevant for understanding events in Arizona and, by connection, for understanding the current political situation in the United States. We should take Loughner's political views seriously. His mental state may have led him down a particularly destructive path, but his political confusion is by no means unique.

Analytic thinking is something both the Company and its theopolitical operatives want to discourage.

It's not just in the Homeland where dissent is being questioned, either. Take a look at what's going on in the 51st state:

..just hours after the Knesset approved a motion calling for a parliamentary investigation into the activity of B'Tselem, Yesh Din, Breaking the Silence and other groups, National Union MK Michael Ben-Ari referred to members of the leftist organizations as "traitors who must be persecuted at any cost."

Speaking at an SOS Israel conference in Jerusalem Wednesday evening, Ben-Ari called the leftists "germs" and "enemies of Israel."

The rightist lawmaker went as far as equating the leftist organizations to Hamas and Hezbollah.

In an audio tape obtained by Ynet, Ben-Ari can be heard saying, "Elements that want to destroy the Jewish state are operating within the State of Israel. They are nothing short of traitors. They are persecuting IDF soldiers and want to castrate our resilience.

"I see the people from Peace Now; they each have a private car. Every clerk has the finest equipment. Who funds all of this? The greatest Israel haters are funding this. If we'll have to enact a law in the Knesset to eradicate this dangerous enemy, that is what we'll do. Such a germ can destroy Israeli society. This enemy threatens the state's existence," he added...

Leftist organizations in Israel are well funded by leftist Jews in America- who apparently aren't real Jews now according to the Right in both America and Israel. Leftists, in general are pretty universally regarded as traitors by Right-wingers and their Company handlers. Which sets up a tension people everywhere should be concerned about. When they eliminate all their opposition at home, it's only a matter of time before the new Zionists take out the old Zionists by force... especially once the new ones' financial ba$e decides it wants the petrochemicals the Old Ones could control.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

just go Galt

...please, Galt. go far, far, away and don't ever bother coming back...

...America really does need many of its plutocrats. We benefit from the goods they produce and the jobs they create...

This kind of self-serving tripe is dished out for the elite to read and justify their plunder. Some how wholesale piracy of a world has assumed the label meritocracy. Exactly how do any of these people merit anything they derive from theft and manipulation of the system to propagate their ability to steal? Yeah, they're obsessive-compulsive aggressive workers... in their own interests.

I'm sorry, I don't see any of the so-called jobs they create, except perhaps creation of jobs for people that serve them instead of society.

That includes an intellectual base that functions primarily to justify the social Darwinism the elite call just and proper without considering the first thing about Darwin.

Even those jobs wouldn't exist without massive governmental financial support of their $ystem.

Capitalism would have ruined virtually all of them in 2007, so call what they really believe in neo-socialism: public risks, private profit.

So the elite have to own the government to maintain their status. This, they're doing a pretty good job of doing. Robert Scheer:

...While it is widely recognized that the banking meltdown has left enormous economic pain and political upheaval in its wake, it is amazing that the folks who created this mess are rewarded with ever more important positions in our government. Yet the recent appointments of Gene Sperling and William Daley, key Wall Street-connected perps of this crisis, to the most critical positions in the Obama White House have not generated much controversy.

The justification for the media’s indifference appears to be that the new appointees can hardly be worse than the hustlers they replaced. From its beginning, the Obama administration has been flooded with veterans of the Clinton White House who pushed through the radical deregulation that Wall Street had long sought and were rewarded with fat fees from the big banks when they left government.

Sperling was a key proponent, back in the Clinton Treasury Department, of the deregulation of the financial industry that precipitated this crisis, but his then-boss, Lawrence Summers, the man he will now replace as Barack Obama’s top economic adviser, was certainly even more culpable. Both were well rewarded for their efforts. Summers received $8 million in Wall Street compensation back in 2008 while he was an adviser to candidate Obama, and during that same year Sperling got $2.2 million from his various consulting activities, mostly for banks that ran into trouble. His main employer was Goldman Sachs—which paid him $887,727 for advice on, of all things, charitable giving while Goldman’s dubious business practices were leaving many around the world more desperately in need of charity.

So, too, the case of Daley filling the shoes of Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff. Both are Democratic Party operatives with long histories of parlaying political influence into private wealth. But Daley, a scion of the Chicago machine that was so instrumental in the rise of Obama, is an even more persistent combatant on the side of Wall Street against the pubic interest. After serving as commerce secretary in the Clinton administration, where he developed a particularly strong connection with Enron before that company’s implosion, Daley went into the private sector, where he played a major role in making the large corporation’s case against the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 1982, designed to prevent another Enron debacle...

Thus things go from bad to worse in Washington. All of this while the One sheds tears for innocents gunned down by psychopaths. Tears that are no doubt real, if at the same time opportunistic.

Every time an idiot picks up a gun it's spun to create new laws that consolidate the grip of those who would rule on the public.

Friday, January 14, 2011

same planet, different worlds

Some people see it as a toy. Some people see it as a shield. Some as a god-given right.

Some see it as a profit margin.

I see it as an evil waste.

I am not alone, but neither are those other people.

That, as Krugman talks about today, is America today.

...One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state — a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net — morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

There’s no middle ground between these views. One side saw health reform, with its subsidized extension of coverage to the uninsured, as fulfilling a moral imperative: wealthy nations, it believed, have an obligation to provide all their citizens with essential care. The other side saw the same reform as a moral outrage, an assault on the right of Americans to spend their money as they choose.

This deep divide in American political morality — for that’s what it amounts to — is a relatively recent development. Commentators who pine for the days of civility and bipartisanship are, whether they realize it or not, pining for the days when the Republican Party accepted the legitimacy of the welfare state, and was even willing to contemplate expanding it. As many analysts have noted, the Obama health reform — whose passage was met with vandalism and death threats against members of Congress — was modeled on Republican plans from the 1990s.

But that was then. Today’s G.O.P. sees much of what the modern federal government does as illegitimate; today’s Democratic Party does not. When people talk about partisan differences, they often seem to be implying that these differences are petty, matters that could be resolved with a bit of good will. But what we’re talking about here is a fundamental disagreement about the proper role of government...

One side has a lot of guns, and isn't afraid to use them. The other side prefers to subcontract out its violent tendencies to others from the first group as it preaches Unity and Hope largely to itself. Both sides are engaged in a lot of magical thinking about the world as it is.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

...what is the sound of one hand?

It's impossible to engage in civil discourse when only one side wants to speak with civility

The other side won't even acknowledge a problem.

Yet... for all of the outrage over innocents lost and injured, there is this:

...As President Barack Obama consoled the nation Wednesday with talk of "rain puddles in heaven," his agents were murdering four more people in his illegal war in Pakistan. The incongruity was excruciating; you could almost feel your neck snapping from the moral whiplash induced by the contrast between word and deed...

Only if you were paying attention, Chris.

...even this report was itself drenched in the mindset of righteous murder that lurked behind the treacly tropes that Obama was delivering to a rapturous crowd. You can see it in the language of the very first paragraph:

Suspected U.S. unmanned aircraft fired four missiles at a house in a militant-infested area of northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing at least four people, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

An "infested" area -- the language used for vermin, for insects, for filthy creatures fit only for extermination. These insects are what is being killed in the wilds of Pakistan: not human beings, not sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters. Just strange, worthless little creepy-crawlies called "militants."

...So what are we told? That four "militants" were killed. Well, surely they had it coming, right, if they were militants? "Militant" means "insurgent" which means "terrorist" which means "big swarthy devil-worshipper coming to shtup your woman and eat your babies." We know what to do with these insects: you crush them.

But who said they were "militants"? Well, unnamed Pakistani intelligence officials, as indicated at the very beginning of the story. But just three paragraphs later, these same anonymous officials admit that "the identities and nationalities of those killed in Wednesday's strike were unknown."

In other words, the "officials" didn't know who was killed. They didn't know their names. They didn't know their affiliations, their activities, their beliefs, their intentions. They didn't know who they were. They didn't know where they were from. They didn't know anything about them. Yet we are told confidently, without contradiction or the slightest doubt, that they were "militants."

Yes, it's a sorry statement on 'Merika the Free Market. Bloody murder has a place in our culture. If Jared Loughner wasn't a dysfunctional paranoid schizophrenic, he could have a Company job killing all the innocents he could get his hands on. That is, if he could wait until his government told him it was okay.

reefer madness

one rather thinks not

...For contrast, America's most popular legal drug, alcohol, played a role in the deaths of "approximately 79,000" Americans from 2001 and 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Deaths resulting from intoxication on marijuana are virtually unheard of...

Although it does happen. I had a teenaged friend who drove off a mountainside once joyriding with some other friends. Did I mention beer and Jack Daniels were also on board?

This makes about as much sense as saying the Gestapo's depredations were caused by Goebbels' love of schapps. But I think you could make a case Bu$hie's use of a tootsie of coke had something to do with the start of the Iraq war.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

the power of persuasion

"All political power issues from the barrel of a gun." -Chairman Mao, Osama bin Laden, or Sarah Palin, I can't remember which.

Joanne B. Freeman in The New York Pravda gives us a little historical perspective:

...The announcement that Representatives Heath Shuler of North Carolina and Jason Chaffetz of Utah are planning to wear guns in their home districts has surprised many, but in fact the United States has had armed congressmen before. In the rough-and-tumble Congress of the 1830s, 1840s and 1850s, politicians regularly wore weapons on the House and Senate floors, and sometimes used them.

During one 1836 melee in the House, a witness observed representatives with “pistols in hand.” In a committee hearing that same year, one House member became so enraged at the testimony of a witness that he reached for his gun; when the terrified witness refused to return, he was brought before the House on a charge of contempt.

Perhaps most dramatic of all, during a debate in 1850, Senator Henry Foote of Mississippi pulled a pistol on Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. (Someone eventually took it from his hand.) Foote had decided in advance that if he felt threatened, he would grab his gun and run for the aisle in the hope that stray shots wouldn’t hit bystanders.

Most famously, in 1856, Representative Preston Brooks of South Carolina caned Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts on the Senate floor so brutally that Sumner had to be virtually carried from the chamber — and did not retake his seat for three years. Clearly, wielded with brute force, a cane could be a potent weapon.

By the 1850s, violence was common in Washington. Not long after Sumner’s caning, a magazine told the story of a Michigan judge who traveled by train to the nation’s capital: “As he entered the main hall of the depot, he saw a man engaged in caning another ferociously, all over the room. ‘When I saw this,’ says the judge, ‘I knew I was in Washington.’”

In Congress, violence was often deployed strategically. Representatives and senators who were willing to back up their words with their weapons had an advantage, particularly in the debate over slavery. Generally speaking, Northerners were least likely to be armed, and thus most likely to back down. Congressional bullies pressed their advantage, using threats and violence to steer debate, silence opposition and influence votes.

In 1842, Representative Thomas Arnold of Tennessee, a member of the Whig Party, learned the hard way that these bullies meant business. After he reprimanded a pro-slavery member of his own party, two Southern Democrats stalked toward him, at least one of whom was armed with a bowie knife — a 6- to 12-inch blade often worn strapped to the back. Calling Arnold a “damned coward,” his angry colleagues threatened to cut his throat “from ear to ear.” But Arnold wasn’t a man to back down. Ten years earlier, he had subdued an armed assassin on the Capitol steps.

As alarming as these outbursts were, until the 1840s, reporters played them down, in part to avoid becoming embroiled in fights themselves. (A good many reporters received beatings from outraged congressmen; one nearly had his finger bitten off.) So Americans knew relatively little of congressional violence.

That changed with the arrival of the telegraph. Congressmen suddenly had to confront the threat — or temptation — of “instant” nationwide publicity. As Senator John Parker Hale of New Hampshire reminded his colleagues within minutes of the Foote-Benton clash, reports were “already traveling with lightning speed over the telegraph wires to the remotest borders of the Republic.” He added, “It is not impossible that even now it may have been rumored in the city of St. Louis that several senators are dead and weltering in their blood on the floor of the Senate.”

Violence was news, and news could spawn violence. Something had to be done, but what? To many, the answer was obvious: watch your words. As one onlooker wrote to the speaker of the House shortly after Sumner’s caning, “gentlemen” who took part in the debate over slavery should “scrupulously avoid the utterance of unnecessarily harsh language.” There was no other way to prevent the “almost murderous feeling” that could lead to “demonstrations upon the floor, which in the present state of excitement, would almost certainly lead to a general melee and perhaps a dozen deaths in the twinkling of an eye.”

Unfortunately, such admonitions had little effect. The violence in Congress continued to build until the outbreak of the Civil War.

Today, in the wake of an episode of violence against a member of Congress, we’re again lamenting the state of political rhetoric, now spread faster than ever via Twitter, Web sites, text messaging and e-mail. Once again, politicians are considering bearing arms — not to use against one another, but potentially against an angry public...

Because, you know, armed Congresscritters kept the peace so well in the run-up to the first Civil War.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

sowing the wind

Obama, Congress, even the Company bosses of Fox can try to back off all they want.

It won't work:

After a Glock-wielding gunman killed six people at a Tucson shopping center on Jan. 8, Greg Wolff, the owner of two Arizona gun shops, told his manager to get ready for a stampede of new customers.

Wolff was right. Instead of hurting sales, the massacre had the $499 semi-automatic pistols -- popular with police, sport shooters and gangsters -- flying out the doors of his Glockmeister stores in Mesa and Phoenix.

"We're at double our volume over what we usually do," Wolff said two days after the shooting spree that also left 14 wounded, including Democratic Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition...

You want to cool things down a bit? Create some jobs. The Feds shouldn't just buy back billions of dollars in Treasury bonds to effectively print money to bail out the robber-barons. If they're going to print money the back way like that, they should buy bonds for public works and put people to work at it. Regulate and prosecute some bank$ters. Lower those fossil fuel costs by developing renewable energy sources.

You want to cool the rhetorical climate, sirs? Realize the greater part of this country is still in the Great Recession. Realize a jobless recovery is no recovery at all. And end it.

keeping on dis course

The Village is already wringing its hands.

Watch for calls to prosecute bank$ter fraud and war crimes to be called equivalent to death threats from neo-nazis.

Monday, January 10, 2011

'Merikan Taliban: blood on their hands

William Rivers Pitt pretty much says it all to the main$tream.

...You false patriots who bring assault rifles to political rallies, you hack politicians and media personalities who lied through your stinking teeth about "death panels" and "Obama is coming for your guns" and "He isn't a citizen" and "He's a secret Muslim" and "Sharia Law is coming to America," you who spread this bastard gospel and you who swallowed it whole, I am talking to you, because this was your doing just as surely as it was the doing of the deranged damned soul who pulled the trigger. The poison you injected into our culture is deeply culpable for this carnage.

You who worship Jesus at the top of your lungs (in defiance of Christ's own teachings on the matter of worship, by the way) helped put several churchgoers into their graves and into the hospital. You who shriek about the sanctity of marriage helped cut down a man who was about to be married. You who crow with ceaseless abandon about military service and the nobility of our fighting forces helped to critically wound the wife of a Naval aviator who fought for you in a war. You who hold September 11 as your sword and shield helped put a little girl born on that day into the ground.

You helped. Yes, damn you, you helped.

The "mainstream" media is already working overtime playing up the "Disturbed loner" angle with all their might. There is no doubt, from the available evidence, of Mr. Loughner's transformation into a disturbed individual. But here's the funny part: all the crazy crap he spewed, about the gold standard (a favorite of Glenn Beck, the master of Fox "News" fearmongering...so he can sell his gold scam to suckers) and government mind control and everything else before going on his rampage, is straight out of the Right-Wing Insanity Handbook. His personal YouTube ramblings were a mishmash of right-wing anti-government nonsense...the kind that attracts sick minds like Loughner, the kind that only reinforces their paranoia, the kind that finally pushes them over the brink and into the frenzy of violence that took place on Saturday. The kind that the likes of you have been happily spreading by the day.

He did not act alone. You were right there with him. You helped.

I'm talking to you, "mainstream" media people, who created this atmosphere of desperate rage and total paranoia out of whole cloth because of your unstoppable adoration for spectacle, and ratings, and because the companies that own your sorry asses agree with the deranged cretins you helped make so famous and powerful. It was sickeningly amusing on Sunday to watch Wolf Blitzer bluster and bluff on CNN about how the media owns no responsibility for this disaster. It was like watching a ten-year-old try to explain how a lamp got broken while he was running through the living room, but no, it wasn't him. It was, in reality, a pathetic display...but that is what you generally get whenever Wolf is on your screen.

"Mainstream" news personalities like David Gergen and John King bent over backwards warning people not to blame Sarah Palin and her ilk for this calamity. It was a sick man who did this, they said. Bollocks to that. I hate to break this to the "mainstream" media know-betters, but words matter. When people like Palin spray the airwaves with calls to violence and incantations of imminent doom, people like Loughner are listening, and prepared to act. The "mainstream" media lets it fly without any questions or rebuttal, because it's good for ratings, and here we are. Words matter. Play Russian Roulette long enough, and someone inevitably winds up dead.

Remember the run-up to the Iraq invasion, and the subsequent occupation? "WMD everywhere, al Qaeda connections to 9/11, plastic sheeting and duct tape because we're all gonna die!" was the central theme of the majority of your broadcast schedule for years...until it was all proven to be a lie. You helped the liars, you were the liars, but you knew that. You also got your spectacle, and the corporations that own you got paid a king's ransom, so everyone was happy, except the dead.

Tell me this is any different, I dare you. For the spectacle, the ratings and the pleasure of your owners, you ran names like "Sarah Palin" across the sky in lights, even after she should have faded into well-deserved obscurity, and helped this blister of right-wing rage fester until it finally burst. This was your show, and in perhaps the most wretched irony of all, I would bet all my worldly possessions that your ratings are through the roof right now. You got what you wanted. I hope you are pleased.

And yes, I'm talking to you, Sarah Palin, you unutterably disgusting fraud. You pulled it off your ridiculous website, but it's out there: you put cross-hairs - literally, cross-hairs - on Rep. Giffords, you blithered about "reloading" instead of "retreating," and you made this country more stupid and violent with every breath you took. Well, congratulations, you failure, you quitter, you inciter of mobs. You put the cross-hairs on her, and someone finally pulled the trigger. Run from it all you like, Lady MacBeth, but this blood will never be washed from your hands.

I'm talking to you, Sharron Angle, you walking punch-line, who talked about "Second Amendment remedies" being necessary if you didn't get your way on health care reform during your failed Senate campaign.

I'm talking to you, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Savage, and Ann Coulter, and Laura Ingraham, and to every other right-wing tripe-spewing blowhard blogger and Fox News broadcaster. I hope you are proud of yourselves, because this is the day you get to reap what you have been relentlessly sowing since you were forced to encompass the unmitigated outrage of a Black man winning the office of President of the United States.

That's right, I said it. Anyone who thinks good old-fashioned American bigotry and racism are not the core motivation for a vast majority of these so-called "revolutionaries" should get their heads examined. You've heard of the "elephant in the middle of the room?" Well, this is the burning cross in the middle of the room, and no amount of spin will douse those flames.

I'm talking to you, Koch Brothers. Your money to create and spread this disease was well-spent; you now have one less Democrat in the House to worry about, at least for the foreseeable future. Congratulations, you un-American sacks of filth.

And I'm talking to each and every one of you who listened to these traitors and believed the nonsense they spewed at you for no other reason than to pick your pockets for campaign/organization contributions. I'm talking to you who wore your silly fatigues and carried your badly-spelled fact-deprived signs to protests with pistols on your hips and rifles on your shoulders. You who threw bricks through the windows of politicians you disagreed with. You who shot out the windows of Rep. Giffords' office not even a year ago.

You worked very hard to create exactly this atmosphere in America, and now it has come to be. We have entered the age of the Wrath of Fools, and we now must again exist in an America where the word "assassination" has become all too relevant.

You helped this happen. You.

You know it. I know it. Have the guts to admit it, even if only to yourselves.

I know many Republicans and conservatives, and consider them to be dear friends. The single most influential person in my life (aside from my mother) was a rock-ribbed conservative Republican, and there is no person I respected more than him. I do not count these people, and those like them, among those whom I address here. They are as sickened and repulsed by you as I am.

This is not the end of the story, but is just the beginning. The good people of the United States of America, the true patriots, have finally seen you with your media-painted masks ripped off. They have seen what comes to pass when hate, venom, ignorance and violence goes unchecked and unanswered. You have been exposed, and the fact that it took such an unimaginably horrific act for that exposure to take place only increases the fierceness with which you will be answered. You will be repudiated, not with violence, but with the scorn and rejection you so richly deserve. Spin it as you will, scramble all you like. You are found out, and you have nowhere to hide...

Except in plain sight, Mr. Pitt.

David Edwards notes a pattern of anti-government violence emerging over the last few weeks.

Watch this drive: Obama and the dancing DINOcrat dandies will do their best to equate any critiques of the government to the cries of the lynch mob.

Which will make the mob cry all the louder, especially as the bank$ters continue to ratchet up their class plunder, and the feds continue to look the other way.

The robber baron wannabee billionaires like Murdoch and the Koch brothers and the looters like Goldman-Sachs would much rather see it all aimed at their sock puppets than at them.

it has only one purpose

Gail Collins:

...Today, the amazing thing about the reaction to the Giffords shooting is that virtually all the discussion about how to prevent a recurrence has been focusing on improving the tone of our political discourse. That would certainly be great. But you do not hear much about the fact that Jared Loughner came to Giffords’s sweet gathering with a semiautomatic weapon that he was able to buy legally because the law restricting their sale expired in 2004 and Congress did not have the guts to face up to the National Rifle Association and extend it.

If Loughner had gone to the Safeway carrying a regular pistol, the kind most Americans think of when they think of the right to bear arms, Giffords would probably still have been shot and we would still be having that conversation about whether it was a sane idea to put her Congressional district in the cross hairs of a rifle on the Internet.

But we might not have lost a federal judge, a 76-year-old church volunteer, two elderly women, Giffords’s 30-year-old constituent services director and a 9-year-old girl who had recently been elected to the student council at her school and went to the event because she wanted to see how democracy worked.

Loughner’s gun, a 9-millimeter Glock, is extremely easy to fire over and over, and it can carry a 30-bullet clip. It is “not suited for hunting or personal protection,” said Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign. “What it’s good for is killing and injuring a lot of people quickly.”

Other than the fact a lot of gun geeks funnel large amounts of money into the campaign chests of some Congresscritters, there is no reason why this kind of thing isn't illegal.

Concealable handguns are mostly used for violent crime. Despite the NRA propaganda, societies where everyone is armed to the teeth end up like Iraq or Afghanistan. The idiots end up shooting up the place and driving out the civilized.


...It’s important to be clear here about the nature of our sickness. It’s not a general lack of “civility,” the favorite term of pundits who want to wish away fundamental policy disagreements. Politeness may be a virtue, but there’s a big difference between bad manners and calls, explicit or implicit, for violence; insults aren’t the same as incitement.

The point is that there’s room in a democracy for people who ridicule and denounce those who disagree with them; there isn’t any place for eliminationist rhetoric, for suggestions that those on the other side of a debate must be removed from that debate by whatever means necessary.

And it’s the saturation of our political discourse — and especially our airwaves — with eliminationist rhetoric that lies behind the rising tide of violence.

Where’s that toxic rhetoric coming from? Let’s not make a false pretense of balance: it’s coming, overwhelmingly, from the right. It’s hard to imagine a Democratic member of Congress urging constituents to be “armed and dangerous” without being ostracized; but Representative Michele Bachmann, who did just that, is a rising star in the G.O.P...

And there’s a huge contrast in the media. Listen to Rachel Maddow or Keith Olbermann, and you’ll hear a lot of caustic remarks and mockery aimed at Republicans. But you won’t hear jokes about shooting government officials or beheading a journalist at The Washington Post. Listen to Glenn Beck or Bill O’Reilly, and you will...

Violence is the final refuge of the incompetent.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

moronic rage

Tiabbi on Boehner but it's a general garment for the way people feel:

...here's the thing: In this age of greed-enabling bailouts and rampaging Tea Parties and coast-to-coast voter rage toward the entire political process, Congress in particular now ranks as one of the single most unpopular political entities on earth. Recent polls show that only 13 percent of Americans approve of the job performance of their national legislature — which makes our elected representatives even less popular here at home than, say, Al Qaeda is in Pakistan. (Bin Laden and Co. scored an 18 percent approval rating not long ago.)

Rage begets violence, the final refuge of the incompetent.

Thus idiots with guns kill innocents. Here or in Palestine or Iraq or Afghanistan. The innocent suffer the rage of the incompetent over the system the idiots can't steal from as well as their well-tanned leaders.

Case in point: Naomi Prins says the vampire squid blows a social media bubble.

Facebook and Goldman Sachs unleashed a tech investing mania this week compared far and wide with the euphoric 1990s dot-com run-up. By arranging a $500 million private investment, at a staggering $50 billion valuation, Goldman at once delayed a Facebook public offering (now expected in 2012), prompted a likely LinkedIn IPO, and thrilled its clients, who clamored for a piece of Mark Zuckerberg's behemoth.

But for all the nostalgia for pre-IPO "friends and family" stock in Pets.com, the dot-com era comparisons are off base. Instead, Goldman's Facebook deal mirrors the subprime collateralized debt obligation deals that blew up entire companies, as well as crater-size hole in our economy. In fact, what Goldman just engineered might well be worse...

the Facebook phenomenon shows us that nothing has changed. Goldman again moved aggressively to get the business—investing $75 million into Facebook early, at a low valuation, through one of its hedge funds, in the same way it used to get CDOs rolling—again will rake in the fees (to the tune of $60 million—upfront) and again will pawn off the overvalued results to its clamoring clients, who don't have nearly as much information as Goldman.

If you're one of those investors, here's the deal in a nutshell: You get to buy shares, forking over 5 percent of any possible gains, on top of a 4 percent placement fee and a 0.5 percent expense reserve fee (so you're down 10 percent before the game starts) in a private company that doesn't have to disclose any pertinent financial information to you or any regulator for 15 months. For the privilege, Goldman gets its eight-digit windfall.

The rich Goldman clients aren't allowed out until 2013. But Goldman is.

...The rich Goldman clients who must pony up a minimum $2 million investment aren't allowed out until 2013. No exceptions. Ditto Facebook employees (although they were allowed to cash out about $100 million last year). But Goldman is. Whenever it wants "without notice to the fund or investors in the fund."

CDOs were private, unregulated, overvalued, disclosure-lite, fee-intensive deals. The Facebook deal is private, unregulated, overvalued, disclosure-lite, and fee intensive. CDOs sold like mad— until they didn't. That can happen here. At the end of the holding period, there may be no bid for Facebook shares anywhere near the price paid. Plus, by that time all the enthusiastic global users of Facebook may have dropped it for thenextgreatfad.com taking the advertiser money along with them.

The Facebook deal sucks so badly that one of Goldman Sachs' own funds didn't want a single share of it. Richard Friedman, who runs the money for past and present Goldman partners, among others, said, thanks, but no thanks. That should tell everyone something...

Assuming the bubble continues until the One is re-$elected or his Company-sanctioned replacement rides into Washington, the rage when it bursts will no more hit the target than the bullets of a gold-standard tea-bagger fired at an innocent child born on September 11, 2001.

the Clinton appointee Obama won't hire

Robert Reich:

“If you widen the lens, the public is being sold a big lie — that our problems owe to unions and the size of government and not to fraud and deregulation and vast concentration of wealth. Obama’s failure is that he won’t challenge this Republican narrative, and give people a story that helps them connect the dots and understand where we’re going.”

Saturday, January 08, 2011

the honest politician is one who stays bought

...by the highest bidder.

Glen Ford:

...President Obama has taken the lead in dismantling the Democratic coalition assembled by President Franklin Roosevelt, in the 1930s. In two short years in office, he has gone for the jugular, targeting unionized teachers as the villains of education, thus setting the stage for massive corporate penetration of public schools through charterization. Obama played the same scapegoating game with federal employees, blaming them for budget deficits and imposing a wage freeze.

American presidents are said to have the biggest “bully pulpit” in the world. Obama uses his bully pulpit to tell the people that unions and public workers are the enemies of society. As a Black Democrat, he's much more convincing than the Republicans – which is what makes him so valuable to the moneyed classes.

Next, the public is softened up to the idea that local and state government will go bankrupt, and that the problem is public employee pensions. In steps the Democrat Richard Daley, outgoing mayor of Chicago, who says employee pensions, which are huge government obligations, should be allowed to go bankrupt.

Daley was just playing the stalking horse for the hedge funds and other financial Dukes of Disaster who have been using derivatives to make bets on which cities and states will default on their obligations – just as they have been doing with the smaller nations of Europe. Creating a public hysteria ups the ante and also hides the fact that it is Wall Street that is creating the crisis, through its financial dealings and its purchasing of Democratic politicians. The banker-inspired hysteria creates a self-fulfilling prophecy of social, economic and political destruction. And one of the messengers of the evil-minded prophesying is Barack Obama.

But you gotta vote for $omebody, right? Although one gets the impression over the years of $elections the votes land on the money- or is it the other way around?

art for art's sake

The Rude One speaks for me on this:

...let's put literary analysis aside. How about this: don't fuck with works of art. Don't cover the tits or dicks on statues. Don't put out DVDs with the naughty bits cut out of a film. If you can't handle it or are offended by it, move on. The Rude Pundit can't abide intense violence against women in movies, so there's a few allegedly great flicks he's missed. But he wouldn't ask to see Irreversible with the notorious rape scene cut out.

You can't take the word "nigger"? Then, sorry, you don't get to enjoy the rest of Twain's satire of human degradation and idiocy (and you should probably avoid Pudd'nhead Wilson, too). You don't get to watch Pulp Fiction. You don't get to watch unedited episodes of The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son. You don't get to hear Archie Bunker explain about how he got his ass kicked when he was a kid by a black boy because he used the word: "That's what all them people was called in them days. I mean everybody we knew called them people 'niggers.' That's all my old man ever called them, there." No, we're just not that mature anymore. (Yeah, yeah, you can say we've gotten more "sensitive" or some such shit. All that's happened is that we've made the word more powerful by its false invisibility.)

This is ain't about people in places of business or public officials using "nigger." It's about art. Art pisses people off. You think it's ludicrous when dumbass members of Congress get offended by ants crawling on a cross in a video by a gay artist at the Smithsonian? Well, welcome to the other side of the coin.

The name of the game is resale. Biznessmen want to cash in on Twain the way they always have. The N-word doesn't sell anymore.

But there's more to it than that. Read a lot of Samuel Langhorne Clemens and you come up with the inescapable conclusion the man was a liberal progressive even by modern terms. His popular works changed minds and laid a lot of foundation work for the universal suffrage that developed in the late 19th and early 20th century.

Friday, January 07, 2011

the learned helplessness of the spiritual warfighter encouraged by Dr. Happy

So it turns out the same psychologist that invented the learned helplessness paradigm the Company uses to torture modify the attitudes of its victims detainees is out to make sure everyone in the Army is God-fearing.

An experimental, Army mental-health, fitness initiative designed by the same psychologist whose work heavily influenced the psychological aspects of the Bush administration's torture program is under fire by civil rights groups and hundreds of active-duty soldiers. They say it unconstitutionally requires enlistees to believe in God or a "higher power" in order to be deemed "spiritually fit" to serve in the Army.

Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) is a $125 million "holistic fitness program" unveiled in late 2009 and aimed at reducing the number of suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) cases, which have reached epidemic proportions over the past year due to multiple deployments to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the substandard care soldiers have received when they return from combat. The Army states that it can accomplish its goal by teaching its service members how to be psychologically resilient and resist "catastrophizing" traumatic events. Defense Department documents obtained by Truthout state CSF is Army Chief of Staff George Casey's "third highest priority."

CSF is comprised of the Soldier Fitness Tracker and Global Assessment Tool, which measures soldiers' "resilience" in five core areas: emotional, physical, family, social and spiritual. Soldiers fill out an online survey made up of more than 100 questions, and if the results fall into a red area, they are required to participate in remedial courses in a classroom or online setting to strengthen their resilience in the disciplines in which they received low scores. The test is administered every two years. More than 800,000 Army soldiers have taken it thus far.

But for the thousands of "Foxhole Atheists" like 27-year-old Sgt. Justin Griffith, the spiritual component of the test contains questions written predominantly for soldiers who believe in God or another deity, meaning nonbelievers are guaranteed to score poorly and will be forced to participate in exercises that use religious imagery to "train" soldiers up to a satisfactory level of spirituality...

...CSF is based entirely on the work of Dr. Martin Seligman, a member of the Defense Health Board, a federal advisory committee to the secretary of defense, and chairman of the University of Pennsylvania's Positive Psychology Center, who the Army calls "Dr. Happy."

Seligman, who once told a colleague that psychologists can rise to the level of a "rock star" and "have fame and money," is the author of "Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment." The Penn Resiliency Program, upon which the Army's CSF is based, "teaches cognitive-behavioral and social problem-solving skills and is based in part on cognitive-behavioral theories of depression by Aaron Beck, Albert Ellis" and Seligman.

Despite his "happy" reputation, in some circles, Seligman is best known for developing the theory of "Learned Helplessness" at the University of Pennsylvania more than four decades ago. As psychologist and torture expert Dr. Jeffrey Kaye noted in a report published in Truthout last year, Seligman and psychologist Dr. Steven Maier developed the concept of Learned Helplessness after they "exposed dogs to a situation where they were faced with inescapable electrical shocks."

"Within a short period of time, the dogs could not be induced to escape the situation, even when provided with a previously taught escape route," Kaye wrote. "Drs. Seligman and Maier theorized that the dogs had 'learned' their condition was helpless. The experimental model was extended to a human model for the induction of clinical depression and other psychological conditions."

Seligman's work in this area influenced psychologists under contract to the CIA and Defense Department, who applied the theory to "war on terror" detainees in custody of the US government, according to a report published in 2009 by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

In May of 2002, the timeframe in which the CIA began to use brutal torture techniques against several high-value detainees, Seligman gave a three-hour lecture at the Navy's Survival Evasion Resistance Escape school in San Diego. Audience members included the two psychologists - Bruce Jessen and James Mitchell - who have been called the architects of the Bush administration's torture program.

Five months earlier, Seligman hosted a meeting at his house that was attended by Mitchell, along with the CIA's then-Director of Behavioral Science Research, Kirk Hubbard...

...Seligman's biggest payday came last year, when the Positive Psychology Center received a three-year, $31 million, no-bid, sole-source Army contract to continue developing the program...

It's all good when you're a righteous rock star inquisitor working to keep the Faithful happy killers.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

smoother than Rahm

...and evil as sin.

..."This was a real mistake by the White House," Adam Green, the co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, said. "Bill Daley consistently urges the Democratic Party to pursue a corporate agenda that alienates both Independent and Democratic voters. If President Obama listens to that kind of political advice from Bill Daley, Democrats will suffer a disastrous 2012."...

What is this "shake-up" of which they speak?

...He is a top executive at JPMorgan Chase, where he is paid as much as $5 million a year and supervises the Washington lobbying efforts for the nation’s second-largest bank. William M. Daley also serves on the board of directors at Boeing, the giant defense contractor, and Abbott Laboratories, the global drug company, which has billions of dollars at stake in the overhaul of the health care system...

And they seem to think that's a Good thing.

Oh sure he's one disinterested party alrighty.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

meet the new boss, same as the old boss

Chris Hedges has a thing for Uncle Ralphie. Like all such affairs, it can only end badly:

...“The more outrageous the Republicans become, the weaker the left becomes,” Nader said when I reached him at his home in Connecticut on Sunday. “The more outrageous they become, the more the left has to accept the slightly less outrageous corporate Democrats.”

“The left has nowhere to go,” Nader said. “Obama knows it. The corporate Democrats know it. There will be criticism by the left of Obama this year and then next year they will all close ranks and say ‘Do you want Mitt Romney? Do you want Sarah Palin? Do you want Newt Gingrich?’ It’s very predictable. There will be a year of criticism and then it will all be muted. They don’t understand that even if they do not have any place to go, they ought to fake it. They should fake going somewhere else or staying home to increase the receptivity to their demands. But because they do not make any demands, they are complicit with corporate power.

“Corporate power makes demands all the time,” Nader went on. “It pulls on the Democrats and the Republicans in one direction. By having this nowhere-to-go mentality and without insisting on demands as the price of your vote, or energy to get out the vote, they have reduced themselves to a cipher. They vote. The vote totals up. But it means nothing.”

There is no major difference between a McCain administration, a Bush and an Obama administration. Obama, in fact, is in many ways worse. McCain, like Bush, exposes the naked face of corporate power. Obama, who professes to support core liberal values while carrying out policies that mock these values, mutes and disempowers liberals, progressives and leftists. Environmental and anti-war groups, who plead with Obama to address their issues, are little more than ineffectual supplicants...

C'mon, sir, where have you been? This is news?

The difference between the Republicans and the Democrats? One, a group of sanctimonious hateful racist ruthless company whores pretending to be religiously moral, the other a group of myopic ruthless fecklessly hypocritical company whores pretending to liberal morality?

Or should we vote for Ralphie, the cult of green personality? Yet that's hemoglobin in those veins, not chlorophyll.

Real liberation only works on a personal level. You just keep on looking for the right Leader. I am sure you will get led, righteously.