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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

consensual surreality

It's the Official Narrative.

...I honestly don't understand how anyone is able to sustain this fairy tale in their brain, pleasurable though it might be. Is Roger Cohen even aware that, as his own newspaper put it today, "many of the deposed [Arab] leaders were close American allies and partners in counterterrorism operations"? And even that understates the case: these tyrants weren't merely U.S. allies, but stayed in power for decades largely because the U.S. fed them with money, weapons, and training to maintain their grip on their own citizenries -- and continued to do so until their demise became inevitable.

It's one thing for the U.S. Government to "leave unsaid" these uncomfortable facts (and they are facts): that's just standard government propagandizing. And it's another thing for people to defend such conduct on "realist" grounds: that it's wise or at least necessary to keep dictators in place to serve American interests. But it's just extraordinary for a political columnist to proclaim that the same country which has spent decades propping up many of the world's most heinous dictators -- whom we agree not to hate until it's time to wage war on them and then righteous condemnation is suddenly unleashed against all their alleged sins (Saddam pulled babies from incubators, gassed his own people and had rape rooms!; Gadaffi's son abused his domestic servant!!) -- is devoted to freedom-spreading as a core "value." In light of this long and overwhelming history, in what conceivable sense can it be said that removing dictators is a "value" of the U.S. or that it is "dedicated" to a "universalist idea of freedom"?

The world is as flat as a Mobius strip, and as free as the Company.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

dirty deeds and they're done dirt cheap. not.

Chris Floyd tells you exactly what he thinks of our bipartisan Endless War on Terra, as the Laureate makes beautiful speeches to those who run the slaughterhouse in the name of 9-11.

Not only will they be killing far more people than can kill them, they will be killing far more of themselves than anyone else can, too.

Monday, August 29, 2011

welcome to the new Dark Age

While we're hearing how they're evacuating the space station, for your consideration, Paul Krugman:

...According to Public Policy Polling, only 21 percent of Republican voters in Iowa believe in global warming (and only 35 percent believe in evolution). Within the G.O.P., willful ignorance has become a litmus test for candidates, one that Mr. Romney is determined to pass at all costs.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge...

One of these years, eh? How about 2000? How about in 2009?

If the Republicans are vocally against science, the DINOcrats are tacitly against it. After all, who helped turn NASA into a private contractor cash cow where the alledged science had no outside peer review? Of course, now the Companies take in 40% of the Pentagon budget- the non-black budget, that is- as no-bid contracts. Who needs the space station when you're don't even have the facade of oversight?

Sunday, August 28, 2011

He's away on Business

Like the best explanation of it all I've heard.

Why does the Laureate do this? Because he wants to do it.

...I’m no genius, I just listened to what these people actually said and did. Obama mocks the idea that he is an honest politician, overtly, lying about NAFTA and FISA very early on in power. Miller lied to activists about being willing to put bankers in jail, and then said he was negotiating with banks in secret. It was overt. For Miller, as with Obama, few people really picked up on the lies until recently. Iowa activists who heckled Miller got it, as did Naked Capitalism readers. Now it’s becoming more and more obvious. That’s just how it is, I suppose, people in the establishment are paid to not notice corruption until the harsh glare is too bright.

The crazy thing is that robosigning is apparently still going on. Right now, the “settlement” talks are the equivalent of law enforcement negotiating with a serial killer over whether he’ll get a parking ticket, even as he continually sprays bullets into the neighborhood. Even having these “settlement” talks when the actual crimes haven’t been investigated or a complaint hasn’t been registered should be example enough that this process is rigged as badly as Dodd-Frank. It should not be a surprise that the administration is putting pressure on Eric Schneiderman, that Tom Miller is kicking him out of the club house. That’s who these people are. It’s what they believe in. Just as it should not be a surprise, though it is laudable, that Schneiderman isn’t knuckling under to the administration. I suspect he probably is laughing at the idiocy of Miller’s pressure tactic. I mean, this is a guy going up some of the most powerful entities in the United States: Bank of New York Mellon, Bank of America, the New York Fed, etc. And the Iowa Attorney General isn’t going let him on conference calls? Mmmkay.

When you look closely at most significant areas of government, it becomes clear that the President and his administration are enormously powerful actors who get a lot done. Handing over our national wealth to the banks and to China is not nothing. These people are reorganizing the economy and the political system so that there are no constraints on the oligarchical interests that fund and pay them. That is their goal, it has been their goal from day one (or even before that), and anyone who says otherwise is just wrong or deluding him or herself. Obama spoke at the founding of Robert Rubin’s Hamilton Institute, and his first, and most important by far policy initiative, was his whipping for TARP, a policy that was signed by Bush but could not have passed without Obama getting his party in line. That was his goal, and he’s still pursuing it. The numerous “what happened to Obama” wailing editorials overlook the consistency of his policy agenda, which stretches back years at this point.

If someone worked or works for the Obama administration, or the Department of Justice, or any other executive branch agency, they need to remember their service as a mark of shame for the rest of their lives. Remembering how they participated in this example of how to govern is literally the least they could do for the damage they have caused. I would leave out the small number of people who are there to overtly prevent as much damage as possible, and those who resign or are fired in protest.

For the rest of the Democratic Party, well, reality is just beginning to intrude into the fantasy-land of partisans, even though the 2010 loss should have delivered a searing wake-up call to the failure Obama’s policy agenda. From 2006-2008, the Bush administration’s failures crashed down upon conservatives, and they in many ways could not cope. But their intellectual collapse was bailed out by Obama. Faux liberals are seeing their grand experiment in tatters, though right now they can only admit to feeling disappointed because the recognition that they have been swindled is far too painful. And the recognition for many of the professionals is even more difficult, because they must recognize that they have helped swindle many others and acknowledge the debt they have incurred to their victims. The signs of coming betrayal were there, but in the end it all comes down to judging people based on what they do and who they choose as opponents. And this Democratic partisans did not do, choosing instead a comfortable delusional fantasy-land where foreclosures don’t matter and theft enabled by Obama (and Clinton before him) doesn’t matter.

So typical of it all, we give you the Martin Luther King Memorial, built using Chinese slave labor.

I'd sell your heart to the junkman baby
For a buck, for a buck
If you're looking for someone
To pull you out of that ditch
You're out of luck, you're out of luck

The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
The ship is sinking
There's leak, there's leak,
In the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers

God's away, God's away,
God's away on Business. Business.
God's away, God's away,
God's away on Business. Business.

Digging up the dead with
A shovel and a pick
It's a job, it's a job
Bloody moon rising with
A plague and a flood
Join the mob, join the mob
It's all over, it's all over, it's all over
There's a leak, there's a leak,
In the boiler room
The poor, the lame, the blind
Who are the ones that we kept in charge?
Killers, thieves, and lawyers
God's away, God's away, God's away
On Business. Business.
God's away, God's away,
On Business. Business.

Goddamn there's always such
A big temptation
To be good, To be good
There's always free cheddar in
A mousetrap, baby
It's a deal, it's a deal
God's away, God's away, God's away
On Business. Business.
God's away, God's away, God's away
On Business. Business.
I narrow my eyes like a coin slot baby,
Let her ring, let her ring
God's away, God's away,
God's away on Business.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

simple answers to leading questions

"Why won't 'Merika embrace the Left? (itself a disinformation hit-piece, like the main$tream was mainstream and the whole counterculture that gave rise to the civil rights and antiwar movement wasn't)

Because the Company wants it that way.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

good bye international space station

No Apollo, no shuttle, no supplies, no chance.

MOSCOW — A Russian cargo rocket ferrying three tons of food and fuel to the International Space Station broke down about five minutes after it blasted off on Wednesday, completing its flight by arcing into a Siberian forest rather than achieving orbit...

The Company realized it could plunder more money like bank$ters instead of pretending to run a space program.

End of story.

didn't something like this happen in Numenor?

It seems real wrath of Valar stuff. Just sayin.'

it's a good thing we don't have a weak Precedent

Did I hear someone say "we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again..."

Aside from supporting the Endless War on Terra, covering up for Big Oil in the Gulf, the Laureate flexes his muscles to make sure the BoA, the Chase, and Goldman-$acks get away with usury and worse.

A power play is underway in the foreclosure arena, according to the New York Times.

On the one side is Eric Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who is conducting his own investigation into the era of securitizations – the practice of chopping up assets like mortgages and converting them into saleable securities – that led up to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

On the other side is the Obama administration, the banks, and all the other state attorneys general.

This second camp has cooked up a deal that would allow the banks to walk away with just a seriously discounted fine from a generation of fraud that led to millions of people losing their homes.

The idea behind this federally-guided “settlement” is to concentrate and centralize all the legal exposure accrued by this generation of grotesque banker corruption in one place, put one single price tag on it that everyone can live with, and then stuff the details into a titanium canister before shooting it into deep space...

It's a good thing no one kept any records, isn't it?

Why is this? Robert Scheer:

...They will get away with it, at least in this life. “They” are the Wall Street usurers ...who have brought more misery to this nation than we have known since the Great Depression. “They” will not suffer for their crimes because they have a majority ownership position in our political system. That is the meaning of the banking plea bargain that the Obama administration is pressuring state attorneys general to negotiate with the titans of the financial world.

It is a sellout deal that, in return for a pittance of compensation by banks to ripped-off mortgage holders, would grant the banks blanket immunity from any prosecution. That is intended to short-circuit investigations by a score of aggressive state officials, inquiries that offer the public a last best hope to get to the bottom of the housing scandal that has cost U.S. homeowners $6.6 trillion in home equity in the past five years and left 14.6 million Americans owing more than their homes are worth...

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan
...has good reason not to want an exploration of the origins of the housing meltdown: He has been a big-time player in the housing racket for decades. Back in the Clinton administration, when government-supported housing became a fig leaf for bundling suspect mortgages into what turned out to be toxic securities, Donovan was a deputy assistant secretary at HUD and acting Federal Housing Administration commissioner. He was up to his eyeballs in this business when the Clinton administration pushed through legislation banning any regulation of the market in derivatives based on home mortgages.

Armed with his insider connections, Donovan then went to work for the Prudential conglomerate (no surprise there), working deals with the same government housing agencies that he had helped run. As The New York Times reported in 2008 after President Barack Obama picked him to be secretary of HUD, “Mr. Donovan was a managing director at Prudential Mortgage Capital Co., in charge of its portfolio of investments in affordable housing loans, including Fannie Mae and the Federal Housing Administration debt.”

The HUD website boasts in its bio of Donovan that “under Secretary Donovan’s leadership, HUD has helped stabilize the housing market and worked to keep responsible families in their homes.” If that is so, we have to assume that the tens of millions savaged by an out-of-control banking industry were not “responsible.” And if the housing market has in any way been “stabilized,” why did the Commerce Department report Tuesday that new home sales have dropped for the third month in a row?

Shifting the blame from the swindlers to the victims is the cynical rot at the core of the response of both the Bush and Obama administrations to the housing collapse. It is a response that aims to forgive and forget the crimes of Wall Street while allowing ordinary folks to sink deeper into the pit of debt and despair. It infects Donovan and many others who claim to be concerned for the very homeowners they are betraying by undermining the few officials such as Schneiderman who seek to hold the bankers accountable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

helping out the RIght sort of people

It's not just that the Fed gave out $1.2 trillion in interest-free loans above and beyond the bailout, it's that about half of them went outside the country.

...It wasn’t just American finance. Almost half of the Fed’s top 30 borrowers, measured by peak balances, were European firms. They included Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, which took $84.5 billion, the most of any non-U.S. lender, and Zurich-based UBS AG (UBSN), which got $77.2 billion. Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding AG borrowed $28.7 billion, an average of $21 million for each of its 1,366 employees.

The largest borrowers also included Dexia SA (DEXB), Belgium’s biggest bank by assets, and Societe Generale SA, based in Paris, whose bond-insurance prices have surged in the past month as investors speculated that the spreading sovereign debt crisis in Europe might increase their chances of default.

The $1.2 trillion peak on Dec. 5, 2008 -- the combined outstanding balance under the seven programs tallied by Bloomberg -- was almost three times the size of the U.S. federal budget deficit that year and more than the total earnings of all federally insured banks in the U.S. for the decade through 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg...

Not marked down as part of the deficit in those final days of Bu$hCo because among friend$ who'$ counting?

They don't call it the black budget for nothing.

open water in the time of the sun


One suspects soon it will be green in Greenland again.

"...an unnecessary distraction,"

like the Fairness Doctrine, impinging on their right to lie as much as they want.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Zoo Hypothesis

I suspect the Cosmic Cathouse scenario holds to explain the Great Silence.

From Seth D. Baum, Jacob D. Haqq-Misra, and Shawn D. Domagal-Goldman:

...A third response to the Fermi paradox suggests that ETI are actually already widespread throughout the galaxy but are somehow invisible to us. The ETI could be unintentionally invisible, if it just happens to take some form that is undetectable to or otherwise undetected by humans. Alternatively, the ETI could be intentionally invisible. The intentional form of this solution is sometimes known as the Zoo Hypothesis [22] because it implies that ETI are treating Earth like a wildlife preserve to be observed but not fully incorporated into the Galactic Club...

Preserve? Or resource?

In any event, there is a potential explanation why we never got to the Tomorrowland of the Kennedy era. You just don't let the big predators loose in the neighborhood. You keep them behind the moat.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

oil in the water

Again, although "officially" not.

I bet the Coast Guard tries to stop them from taking pics, next time.

For now, a slideshow.

a season of salt

Expect a dislocation of 17 million people soon:

...The vast, humid expanse of the delta is home to more than 17 million people, who have relied for generations on its thousands of river arteries. But rising sea water caused by global warming is now increasing the salt content of the river water and threatening the livelihoods of millions of poor farmers and fishermen.

Vietnam is listed by the World Bank among the countries most threatened by rising waters brought about by higher global temperatures, with only the Bahamas more vulnerable to a one-metre rise in sea levels. Such a rise could leave a third of the Mekong Delta underwater and lead to mass internal migration and devastation in a region that produces nearly half of Vietnam's rice.

"If there was a one-metre rise, we estimate 40% of the delta will be submerged," says Tran Thuc, director general of the Vietnam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment. "There is also the threat of cyclones and storms linked to climate change. The people in this area are not prepared for any of this."

Already affected by regular flooding, those who live in the low-lying delta are focusing on the rising salt content of water in land that has for thousands of years been used for rice paddies, coconut groves and other crops which locals rely on for their livelihood.

According to the Ben Tre department of agriculture and rural development, salt water at four parts per thousand has, as of April, reached as far as 35 miles inland, causing significant damage to crops and livestock, with rice production particularly affected.

"Salination will become higher and higher and the salt season will last longer and be worse," predicts Thuc...

The dislocation is slow now, but an event precipitating a sudden rise will trigger a movement of peoples and a cascade of violence that civilization has never before seen. Because it won't only be the Mekong. It will be Shanghai, it will be Bangladesh, it will the Egypt and Louisiana. It will be the low warm fertile coastal areas around the world where the greater proportion of humanity lives.

Of course, we know how Grover Norquist and the Tea Partiers will deal with that.

recurrent themes in a very old song

Paul Krugman: "...what we’re seeing now is what happens when influential people exploit a crisis rather than try to solve it."

A commenter, John Emerson, at Brad DeLong:

"...shouldn't we be asking whether some of the people who seem so stupid have an agenda that they're not sharing with the rest of us? They know that Social Security isn't bankrupt. They know that spending isn't out of control. They know that taxes aren't high. There's something else going on.

Arguing with their explicit public statements, or critiquing these statement, is a waste of time. Their public statements are meant to get today's political job done by scaring the bejesus out of a sufficient number of people. These statements will be inoperative very soon and no one will acknowledge that they were ever made.

The players I'm talking about include Democrats and some of them in the Obama administration.

Technocracy has always been the mask of power politics. The economic questions have never been as decidable as the technocrats claimed. The deficiencies were compensated for with ideology and mystification.

The corollary of this is the technocrats aren't really advocates of using the technology for anything other than personal gain.

Then there's the inescapable conclusion that if the economy's being taken to the cleaner's someone's making money off of the laundry.

The Economy could be settled if the SEC wasn't owned by the bank$ters.

Then there's the small matter of tax-free highly profitable mega corporations, the effectively untaxed 1% of us who own 90% of everything, and the cost of Endless War for the sake of Endless War.

The energy crisis could be solved by bacterial hydrocarbon production, but the foxes own a piece of that henhouse too. It won't go anywhere as long as the Company has a controlling interest.

And then there's NASA. A huge cash cow for the Company for decades, if there was ever an organization that existed for purely political reasons, it's NASA. The very last thing they ever wanted to do was put people on the moon or into the solar system in viable, independent colonies. After all, look how that turned out here in the Americas.

It's almost as if it existed to prove unequivocally that technology was futile, and all the hope and dreams of space and new frontiers were pointless.

They did and continue to do that pretty well.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

the foxes run the henhouse

Matt Taibbi

Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file – "Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?" No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.

That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back...

Yes, but these are the Right Sort of People, to suggest otherwise would be class warfare.

their kind of boy

The BoA throws its coils around one of its own kind.

And this particular viper is a DINOcrat, too.

It must have something to do with Perry's avowed desire to re-write the Constitution by executive order, no doubt, if the states refuse to ratify his amendments.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Herschel's Cocoon
In this remarkable infrared skyscape of interstellar clouds adrift in the high flying constellation Cygnus, the eye is drawn to the Cocoon Nebula. Also known as IC5146, the dusty star forming region is shown in blue hues in the Herschel Space Observatory false color image, at wavelengths more than 100 times longer than visible red light. And while visible light images show the Cocoon nebula at the end of long dark nebula Barnard 168, Hershel's infrared view finds the cosmic Cocoon punctuating a trail of filamentary clouds of glowing dust. The dusty filaments have widths that suggest they are formed as shockwaves from exploding stars travel through the medium, sweeping up and compressing the interstellar dust and gas. Herschel data also indicate stars are forming along the dusty filaments. The Cocoon Nebula itself is about 15 light-years wide and 4,000 light-years away.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the 11-dimensional check bounce

Methinks the Laureate has finally out-thunk himself, impaling his chances on his own pointy ears.

One speculates he thinks he can ignore his electoral base, do that Chicago School Horatio Alger thing, and pull himself up by his own bootstraps with a little help from his Ba$e.

It could be suggested he's been drinking his own Kool-Aid.

Whose purposes does this- among other things- serve? Who will profit from the nation's loss? You can't help but wonder...

But not for long, if you've been paying attention.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

bizarro FDR

David Sirota doesn't buy the myth of the helpless president either:

...Obama is not a flaccid Jimmy Carter, as some of his critics insist. He is instead a Franklin Delano Roosevelt—but a Bizarro FDR. He has mustered the legislative strength of his New Deal predecessor, but he has channeled that strength into propping up the very forces of “organized money” that FDR once challenged.

On health care, for instance, Obama passed a Heritage Foundation-inspired bailout of the private health insurance industry, all while undermining other more progressive proposals. On foreign policy, he escalated old wars and initiated new ones. On civil liberties, he not only continued the Patriot Act and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects but also claimed the right to assassinate American citizens without charge.

On financial issues, he fought off every serious proposal to re-regulate banks following the economic meltdown; he preserved ongoing bank bailouts; and he resisted pressure to prosecute Wall Street thieves. On fiscal matters, after extending the Bush tax cuts at a time of massive deficits, he has used the debt ceiling negotiations to set the stage for potentially massive cuts to Social Security and Medicare—cuts that would be far bigger than any of his proposed revenue increases.

As hideous and destructive as it is, this record is anything but weak. It is, on the contrary, demonstrable proof of Obama’s impressive political muscle, especially because polls show he has achieved these goals despite the large majority of Americans who oppose them.

Importantly, though, Obama himself has not suffered from equally negative polling numbers. While his approval rating is not terrific, he is in decent shape for re-election—and, more significantly, he has suffered only a minimal erosion of Democratic support. He is relatively popular, in other words, despite advocating wildly unpopular policies. Thanks to that reality, every one of his stunning legislative triumphs now has the previously unprecedented imprimatur of rank-and-file Democratic support...

Chris Floyd has a few words to say along this line:

So the deed is done. The "debt ceiling" crisis has been "resolved" by a further maniacal destruction of the commonweal, in a bipartisan pact that completely ignores the murderous imperial wars as the primary drain on the nation's treasury. As we noted here yesterday, the deal also sets up an unaccountable politburo (the special "Super Congress" committee) that will remove further coddling of the rich from the democratic process altogther.

However, I do feel I must defend our president from the charges of "weakness" and "cowardice" and "capitulation" that are pouring in on his noble head from all sides. Many learned Thebans are advancing the idea that Barack Obama has somehow "capitulated" to "extremists" who "forced" him into this "terrible deal."

The truth of course is that the Republican "extremists" served the same function for Obama as the "fatal vision" of the daggers did for Macbeth: "Thou marshal'st me the way that I was going." Obama came into office declaring his intent to strike a "grand bargain" on the deficit, eagerly putting Medicare, Social Security and other programs on the table for "reforms." He made clear from the start that his first and foremost allegiance was to the elite institutions of the financial markets (and the militarist oligarchy they feed); hence the $13 trillion offered up to Wall Street as compared to the transparently inadequate £700 billion offered as "stimulus" to the rest of the country -- money that was like tossing a few grains of sand into an ocean of economic need ... and which is now gone anyway.

Obama had many options for avoiding this "crisis," long before it came to a head. He didn't take those options because, like all good disaster capitalists, he wanted and needed a crisis of this sort to enact the brutal economic agenda he has openly advocated from the beginning. The result, of course, will be further impoverishment and diminishment in the lives of millions of ordinary people, for years to come -- and, ironically, the eventual collapse of the monstrous system that supports the ravenous elite that Obama serves with such panache.

History affords few examples of the political elite of a country commiting such an act of national suicide in order to protect the already super-rich from the slightest impingement of their already colossal fortunes.

I suppose Easter Island might serves a pertinent precursor.

compromise with a hungry lion

Drew Westen realizes that sometimes you just gotta shoot that big cat before he bites:

...In similar circumstances, Franklin D. Roosevelt offered Americans a promise to use the power of his office to make their lives better and to keep trying until he got it right. Beginning in his first inaugural address, and in the fireside chats that followed, he explained how the crash had happened, and he minced no words about those who had caused it. He promised to do something no president had done before: to use the resources of the United States to put Americans directly to work, building the infrastructure we still rely on today. He swore to keep the people who had caused the crisis out of the halls of power, and he made good on that promise. In a 1936 speech at Madison Square Garden, he thundered, “Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred.”

When Barack Obama stepped into the Oval Office, he stepped into a cycle of American history, best exemplified by F.D.R. and his distant cousin, Teddy. After a great technological revolution or a major economic transition, as when America changed from a nation of farmers to an urban industrial one, there is often a period of great concentration of wealth, and with it, a concentration of power in the wealthy. That’s what we saw in 1928, and that’s what we see today. At some point that power is exercised so injudiciously, and the lives of so many become so unbearable, that a period of reform ensues — and a charismatic reformer emerges to lead that renewal. In that sense, Teddy Roosevelt started the cycle of reform his cousin picked up 30 years later, as he began efforts to bust the trusts and regulate the railroads, exercise federal power over the banks and the nation’s food supply, and protect America’s land and wildlife, creating the modern environmental movement.

Those were the shoes — that was the historic role — that Americans elected Barack Obama to fill. The president is fond of referring to “the arc of history,” paraphrasing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous statement that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” But with his deep-seated aversion to conflict and his profound failure to understand bully dynamics — in which conciliation is always the wrong course of action, because bullies perceive it as weakness and just punch harder the next time — he has broken that arc and has likely bent it backward for at least a generation.

When Dr. King spoke of the great arc bending toward justice, he did not mean that we should wait for it to bend. He exhorted others to put their full weight behind it, and he gave his life speaking with a voice that cut through the blistering force of water cannons and the gnashing teeth of police dogs. He preached the gospel of nonviolence, but he knew that whether a bully hid behind a club or a poll tax, the only effective response was to face the bully down, and to make the bully show his true and repugnant face in public.

IN contrast, when faced with the greatest economic crisis, the greatest levels of economic inequality, and the greatest levels of corporate influence on politics since the Depression, Barack Obama stared into the eyes of history and chose to avert his gaze. Instead of indicting the people whose recklessness wrecked the economy, he put them in charge of it. He never explained that decision to the public — a failure in storytelling as extraordinary as the failure in judgment behind it. Had the president chosen to bend the arc of history, he would have told the public the story of the destruction wrought by the dismantling of the New Deal regulations that had protected them for more than half a century. He would have offered them a counternarrative of how to fix the problem other than the politics of appeasement, one that emphasized creating economic demand and consumer confidence by putting consumers back to work. He would have had to stare down those who had wrecked the economy, and he would have had to tolerate their hatred if not welcome it. But the arc of his temperament just didn’t bend that far.

The truly decisive move that broke the arc of history was his handling of the stimulus. The public was desperate for a leader who would speak with confidence, and they were ready to follow wherever the president led. Yet instead of indicting the economic policies and principles that had just eliminated eight million jobs, in the most damaging of the tic-like gestures of compromise that have become the hallmark of his presidency — and against the advice of multiple Nobel-Prize-winning economists — he backed away from his advisers who proposed a big stimulus, and then diluted it with tax cuts that had already been shown to be inert. The result, as predicted in advance, was a half-stimulus that half-stimulated the economy. That, in turn, led the White House to feel rightly unappreciated for having saved the country from another Great Depression but in the unenviable position of having to argue a counterfactual — that something terrible might have happened had it not half-acted.

To the average American, who was still staring into the abyss, the half-stimulus did nothing but prove that Ronald Reagan was right, that government is the problem. In fact, the average American had no idea what Democrats were trying to accomplish by deficit spending because no one bothered to explain it to them with the repetition and evocative imagery that our brains require to make an idea, particularly a paradoxical one, “stick.” Nor did anyone explain what health care reform was supposed to accomplish (other than the unbelievable and even more uninspiring claim that it would “bend the cost curve”), or why “credit card reform” had led to an increase in the interest rates they were already struggling to pay. Nor did anyone explain why saving the banks was such a priority, when saving the homes the banks were foreclosing didn’t seem to be. All Americans knew, and all they know today, is that they’re still unemployed, they’re still worried about how they’re going to pay their bills at the end of the month and their kids still can’t get a job. And now the Republicans are chipping away at unemployment insurance, and the president is making his usual impotent verbal exhortations after bargaining it away.

What makes the “deficit debate” we just experienced seem so surreal is how divorced the conversation in Washington has been from conversations around the kitchen table everywhere else in America. Although I am a scientist by training, over the last several years, as a messaging consultant to nonprofit groups and Democratic leaders, I have studied the way voters think and feel, talking to them in plain language. At this point, I have interacted in person or virtually with more than 50,000 Americans on a range of issues, from taxes and deficits to abortion and immigration.

The average voter is far more worried about jobs than about the deficit, which few were talking about while Bush and the Republican Congress were running it up. The conventional wisdom is that Americans hate government, and if you ask the question in the abstract, people will certainly give you an earful about what government does wrong. But if you give them the choice between cutting the deficit and putting Americans back to work, it isn’t even close. But it’s not just jobs. Americans don’t share the priorities of either party on taxes, budgets or any of the things Congress and the president have just agreed to slash — or failed to slash, like subsidies to oil companies. When it comes to tax cuts for the wealthy, Americans are united across the political spectrum, supporting a message that says, “In times like these, millionaires ought to be giving to charity, not getting it.”

When pitted against a tough budget-cutting message straight from the mouth of its strongest advocates, swing voters vastly preferred a message that began, “The best way to reduce the deficit is to put Americans back to work.” This statement is far more consistent with what many economists are saying publicly — and what investors apparently believe, as evident in the nosedive the stock market took after the president and Congress “saved” the economy...

...the arc of history does not bend toward justice through capitulation cast as compromise. It does not bend when 400 people control more of the wealth than 150 million of their fellow Americans. It does not bend when the average middle-class family has seen its income stagnate over the last 30 years while the richest 1 percent has seen its income rise astronomically. It does not bend when we cut the fixed incomes of our parents and grandparents so hedge fund managers can keep their 15 percent tax rates. It does not bend when only one side in negotiations between workers and their bosses is allowed representation. And it does not bend when, as political scientists have shown, it is not public opinion but the opinions of the wealthy that predict the votes of the Senate. The arc of history can bend only so far before it breaks.

And you can feed that hungry lion only so much of your arm before he comes for your liver, too.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

compromise by just enjoying the rape

So let's get this straight.

We had to compromise and give the Republicans everything they wanted so we could raise the debt limit, because if we didn't, the deficit hawk bank$ters would lower our national credit rating, forcing up interest rates for everyone, and sending the economy into the ditch. Again.

Of course, after the compromise and the cuts and the reading of Grover Norquist's lips, the deficit hawk bank$ters- some of the same ones we all bailed out a couple years ago that helped create the huge budget deficit- lowered our national credit rating anyway.

Because, you know, they like those higher interest rates on their loans, anyway.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

just try to cut this budget

They call it the black budget because you don't know how much it costs.

This is why they keep Grover Norquist as the titular fore man of the Tea Party.

He's a Bu$hCo operative and doesn't rock the boat.

protection racket

"...nice country you've got here, it'd be a pity if anything happened to it..."

that didn't take long now, did it?

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

starve grandma this winter to pay for new guns

New horizons for the War on Terra!

how a real President handles opposition

too much 11-dimensional chessplay

perhaps something like this happened in the White House recently

losers and winners

Guess which side the Pentagram Pentagon lands on?

takedown of the shakedown

Joe Nocera

...Inflicting more pain on their countrymen doesn’t much bother the Tea Party Republicans, as they’ve repeatedly proved. What is astonishing is that both the president and House speaker are claiming that the deal will help the economy. Do they really expect us to buy that? We’ve all heard what happened in 1937 when Franklin Roosevelt, believing the Depression was over, tried to rein in federal spending. Cutting spending spiraled the country right back into the Great Depression, where it stayed until the arrival of the stimulus package known as World War II. That’s the path we’re now on. Our enemies could not have designed a better plan to weaken the American economy than this debt-ceiling deal.

One thing Roosevelt did right during the Depression was legislate into being a social safety net to soften the blows that a free-market economy can mete out in tough times. During this recession, it’s as if the government is going out of its way to make sure the blows are even more severe than they have to be. The debt-ceiling debate reflects a harsher, less empathetic America. It’s sad to see.

My own view is that Obama should have played the 14th Amendment card, using its language about “the validity of the public debt” to unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. Yes, he would have infuriated the Republicans, but so what? They already view him as the Antichrist. Legal scholars believe that Congress would not have been able to sue to overturn his decision. Inexplicably, he chose instead a course of action that maximized the leverage of the Republican extremists...

Who owns said extremists? Why, the Koch Brothers and their ilk. Who owns the Compromised One? Why, the Wall Street bank$ters, of course.

That is the simplest and most straightforward explanation of what has just happened, and so, it's the one you won't hear on cable news.

Monday, August 01, 2011

you are special, yes you really are

...there is no one else like you

...The Progressive stalwart, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) emerged from the meeting distributing copies of the Congressional Budget Office's parsing of the report. He had highlighted a line noting that the proposed defense spending caps would not apply to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq...

I'll bet there's Classified riders to this agreement that keep the secret government and the black budget pretty well funded, too.

Of course that has nothing to do with the budget crisis, absolutely nothing, just like the War on Terra and the Bu$h tax cuts. If it did it would be Classified, and a violation of National Security to say it.

Primary Him Out

It is as Krugman says:

...the deal itself, given the available information, is a disaster, and not just for President Obama and his party. It will damage an already depressed economy; it will probably make America’s long-run deficit problem worse, not better; and most important, by demonstrating that raw extortion works and carries no political cost, it will take America a long way down the road to banana-republic status.

...Did the president have any alternative this time around? Yes.

First of all, he could and should have demanded an increase in the debt ceiling back in December. When asked why he didn’t, he replied that he was sure that Republicans would act responsibly. Great call.

And even now, the Obama administration could have resorted to legal maneuvering to sidestep the debt ceiling, using any of several options. In ordinary circumstances, this might have been an extreme step. But faced with the reality of what is happening, namely raw extortion on the part of a party that, after all, only controls one house of Congress, it would have been totally justifiable.

At the very least, Mr. Obama could have used the possibility of a legal end run to strengthen his bargaining position. Instead, however, he ruled all such options out from the beginning.

But wouldn’t taking a tough stance have worried markets? Probably not. In fact, if I were an investor I would be reassured, not dismayed, by a demonstration that the president is willing and able to stand up to blackmail on the part of right-wing extremists. Instead, he has chosen to demonstrate the opposite.

Make no mistake about it, what we’re witnessing here is a catastrophe on multiple levels.

It is, of course, a political catastrophe for Democrats, who just a few weeks ago seemed to have Republicans on the run over their plan to dismantle Medicare; now Mr. Obama has thrown all that away. And the damage isn’t over: there will be more choke points where Republicans can threaten to create a crisis unless the president surrenders, and they can now act with the confident expectation that he will.

In the long run, however, Democrats won’t be the only losers. What Republicans have just gotten away with calls our whole system of government into question. After all, how can American democracy work if whichever party is most prepared to be ruthless, to threaten the nation’s economic security, gets to dictate policy? And the answer is, maybe it can’t.

There is only one way out of this. Replace Obama with a Democratic member of the Democratic Party in the Primaries next Spring. Of course, that still might not work.

Why not? Because of the possibility that many on the left who oppose Obama are wrong: he's not simply a fusion of all the bad traits of LBJ and Carter who was an adherent of Chicago-School economic theory all along.

He may have entered office with a real intent to reform and be the 21st Century FDR- until someone showed him what really happened with Jack and Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, too.