Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Dept of "Top 10" Lists: Index of Some "Top 10" Lists

The approaching new year/ new decade/new epoch always seems to be accompanied by retrospective (and occasional prospective) summations of the recent events in the form of "Top 10" lists. Elsewhere on this blog this week I have been/will be posting more politically inflected of such. But it occurred to me that there are more (tainted) fish in the sea, and sop I set 'the google' my question, and have herewith, below, reproduced the names and links to some interesting, but far more specific, taxa...First, though, Dave Barry's Top Miami Story of 2009: THe Shark on the People Mover

Now that's out of the way, here's the List list...
The "Top 10 Franchises for 2010." (Top 1: Subway Sandwiches)

The3 "Top 15 PR Blunders of 2009." (#1: The Air Force One Photo Op over Manhattan)

The "Top 10 (Car) Dealer Scams." (#1: Avoid the local retail environment altogether...)

The FBI's "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives." (Usama finally made the list!)

The "Top 10 Futurist Foerecasts." (Top 1: By 2030, everything you do and or say will be recorded somewhere.)

The "Top 10 Beaches in the UsA." (#1: Hanalei, HI)

The "2009 Top Ten List of Data Disasters and Remarkable Recoveries Compiled by Kroll Ontrack."

The "Publishers Weekly’s Top 10 Best Books of 2009: The Reviews."

The "AOL Radioblog Top 10 Songs of the Year." (#1: Taylor Swift: You Belong To Me.")

The "Top 10 Fastest Cars In The World." (#1: SSC Ultimate Aero: 257 mph, 0-60 in 2.7 secs)

The "Harvard top 10 health stories of 2009."

The "TripAdvisor's 10 Filthiest Hotels."

The "Top 10 Church-State, Religious Liberty Developments In 2009." (#1: Catholic bishops criticize Obama on abortion.)

The "Top Ten Google Searches of 2009."

The Nielsen's Top 10 TV Shows of 2009." (#1: American Idol.)

The "TAKE FIVE Top 10 Jazz Recordings of 2009." Allen Toussaint's "Bright Mississippi" is in there.)

The "USAToday's Top 10 Places to Live." (Albuquerque tops the list, but it's arranged alphabetically.)

The "USPSC Top 10 Children's Toys Recalls of 2009." (#1: Playskool Travel-Lite Play Yards)

The Spike "Top 10 Viral Videos of 2009." (#1: UNM's Elizabeth Going Postal in Soccer Match.)

The "Top 10 Top 10 Lists Of The Decade, 2000 to 2009."

The International Institute for Species Exploration of ASU's "Top 10 New Species - 2009." (#1: A palm that flowers itself to death.)

The "FAIL Blog’s Top Ten FAIL Lists for 2009." (#1: Kanye West's Dick-Act with Taylor Swift.)

The "Time (Magazine) Top 10 Lists of Everything."

And finally, some other kind of Liszt:

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Dept. Of "Top 10 Lists: "Top Ten" Ethical Collapses of '09


Alternet links to CREW for their essay on the most egregious ethical lapses affecting the political/DC Village-class in their familiar, laconic, insouciant voice, enumerating each in a poetic taxonomy rather than an ascending or descending, strictly numeric order. Along with each case, the CREW appends a season's wish...Via Alternet:
Madoff, Sanford and Murtha are just a few who made it onto the top 10 list of the nation's most ethically challenged players of the year. This list of the year's top 10 ethics scandals was compiled by the staff of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington -- better known as CREW.
H/w I C&P the first segment, and repeat the headlines of the subsequent cases.

Let Them Eat Cake!

As the federal government authorized the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to bail out the nation's failing financial institutions, the Wall Street executives responsible for the financial meltdown awarded themselves $18.4 billion in bonuses. AIG, which is now 80 percent owned by American taxpayers, doled out $165 million in executive bonuses. Merrill Lynch authorized $3.6 billion in bonuses after receiving $10 billion from the government and on the brink of bankruptcy, $209 million of which went to 10 bankers alone. President Obama voiced the public's anger over the bonuses, stating, "It is shameful. And part of what we're going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility."

In June 2009, the White House appointed Kenneth Feinberg as "special master for compensation," more commonly known as the "pay czar," to oversee the compensation for senior executives and the top 100 earners at AIG, Bank of America, Citigroup, General Motors, GMAC, Chrysler and Chrysler Financial, all companies that received money through TARP.

Although the pay czar is taking steps to limit bonuses, Wall Street expects to dole out bonuses 40 percent higher than 2008 levels, totaling an estimated $26 billion, by the end of 2009. The federal pay czar is currently trying to force AIG to cut back on $198 million in bonuses. Meanwhile, the government still awaits TARP repayments from some of these firms.

CREW's holiday wish: For the federal government's pay czar to exert his authority over bailed out firms to stop excessive bonuses, demonstrating that the government really does value the interests of Main Street at least as much as Wall Street.
Mighty nice thought, but since the latest officer installed to monitor compliance for the feds comes to his new job fresh from the Goldman-Sachs teat--and undoubtedly anticipating taking his new-found experience to the Street in a couple of years, ad an enormous premium--that might be a case of asking too much...

The remaining nine sub-heads are:
  • The SEC: Failing to Catch Madoff Since '92
  • Public Corruption Prosecutions Were So 2009
  • What, the FEC Is Supposed to Enforce (Not Gut) Campaign Finance Laws
  • How Sen. John Ensign Is Losing Friends and Alienating Constituents
  • Gov. Mark Sanford's Excellent Argentinian Adventure
  • Rep. Charlie Rangel and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year
  • Sure, the Senate Passed Ethics Legislation. Oh, Did You Think That Meant Something?
  • Earmarks Traded for Campaign Contributions? CREW is Shocked. Shocked.
  • No Really, Congress Will Drain the Swamp Next Year...Promise
In every case, of course, their wishes are as earnest and unlikely as in the first. But they have to be 'serious,' it's in the discourse.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dept. of "Top 10-Lists": Wall Street Lies

I love Nomi Prins, utterly and irrevocably:

Wall Street's 10 Greatest Lies of 2009
By Nomi Prins, AlterNet. Posted December 28, 2009.

Lies that justify screwing over Main Street.

On December 13, President Obama declared that he was not elected to help the “fat cats." But the cats got another version of that memo. A day later, 10 of them were supposed to partake in some White House face-time to talk about their responsibilities to the rest of the country, but only seven could make it. No-shows for the "very serious discussion" -- due to inclement New York weather or being too busy with internal bonus discussions to bother with the President -- were Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack and Citigroup Chairman Richard Parsons.

Yes, Obama inherited a big financial mess from the Bush administration – which inherited its set-up from the Clinton administration (financial recklessness, it turns out, is non-partisan) -- but he and his appointees have spent the year talking about fighting risk and excess on Wall Street, while both have grown.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner patted himself on the back for making the "difficult and necessary” decisions of fronting Wall Street boatloads of money to cover its losses and capital crunch last fall. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (a Bush-Obama favorite) was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for saving the free world as we know it. And Congress is talking "sweeping reform" about a bill that leaves the banking landscape intact, save for some minor alterations. For starters, it doesn’t resurrect the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, which separated risk-taking (once non-government-backed) investment banks from consumer oriented (government-supported) commercial banks.

Meanwhile, Wall Street is restructuring (the financial equivalent of re-gifting) old toxic assets into new ones, finding fresh ways to profit from credit derivatives trading, and paying itself record bonuses -- on our dime. Despite recent TARP payback enthusiasm, the industry still floats on trillions of dollars of non-TARP subsidies and certain players wouldn’t even exist today without our help.

Wall Street’s return to robustness and Main Street’s continued deterioration are the main takeaways for 2009 that stemmed from the 2008 choices to flush the financial system with capital and leave the real economy to fend for itself. Lies that exacerbate this divide only perpetuate its growth. With that, here is my top 10 list of lies. Please consider adding your own, and let’s all hope for a more honest New Year.
Precis follow:
1) The economy has improved.
2) If you give banks capital, they will lend it out.
3) Taxpayers are being repaid.
4) Homeowners are being helped.
5) Big banks will help small businesses.
6) The Fed values transparency.
7) History will not repeat itself.
8) The pay czar will fight against – pay.
9) The lobbyists made us do it.
10) Citigroup is the picture of health and too-big-to-fail is over.
Bonus Lie: Goldman Sachs is sorry.
Read it and weep. The psychos are running the asylum and we are SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO fucked.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Health Care "Reform" That Really Isn't (& They're Gonna Fuck Us Again on Climate Change Intervention, Too; You Just WAIT!)

Health Bill Passes Key Senate Hurdle; Legislation Restricts Abortion Funding, Stripped of Public Option, Medicare Expansion. The legislation has no public option, no expansion of Medicare eligibility and includes restrictions on the use of federal funding for abortions. We speak with Salon.com blogger, Glenn Greenwald.
(The vote, of course, didn't "break" any actual filibuster; it prevented the threat of one being realized--W)


What it (the Senate bill) does do, according to Jane Hamsher @ FDL is:
  1. Forces you to pay up to 8% of your income to private insurance corporations -- whether you want to or not
  2. If you refuse to buy the insurance, you'll have to pay penalties of up to 2% of your annual income to the IRS
  3. After being forced to pay thousands in premiums for junk insurance, you can still be on the hook for up to $11,900 a year in out-of-pocket medical expenses.
  4. Massive restriction on a woman's right to choose, designed to trigger a challenge to Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court
  5. Paid for by taxes on the middle class insurance plan you have right now through your employer, causing them to cut back benefits and increase co-ays
  6. Many of the taxes to pay for the bill start now, but most Americans won't see any benefits -- like an end to discrimination against those with preexisting conditions -- until 2014 when the program begins.
  7. Allows insurance companies to charge people who are older 300% more than others
  8. Grants monopolies to to drug companies that will keep generic versions of expensive biotech drugs from ever coming to market.
  9. No reimportation of prescription drugs, which would save consumers $100 billion over 10 years
  10. The cost of medical care will continue to rise, and insurance premiums for a family of 4 will rise an average of $1000 a year -- meaning in 10 years, you family's insurance premium will be $10,000 more annually than it is right now.


PNHP (Physicians for National Health Program) has weighed in with the following Jeremiad:

It is with great sadness that we urge you to vote against the health care reform legislation now before you. As physicians, we are acutely aware of the unnecessary suffering that our nation’s broken health care financing system inflicts on our patients. We make no common cause with the Republicans’ obstructionist tactics or alarmist rhetoric. However, we have concluded that the Senate bill’s passage would bring more harm than good.

We are fully cognizant of the salutary provisions included in the legislation, notably an expansion of Medicaid coverage, increased funds for community clinics and regulations to curtail some of private insurers’ most egregious practices. Yet these are outweighed by its central provisions – particularly the individual mandate – that would reinforce private insurers’ stranglehold on care. Those who dislike their current employer-sponsored coverage would be forced to keep it. Those without insurance would be forced to pay private insurers’ inflated premiums, often for coverage so skimpy that serious illness would bankrupt them. And the $476 billion in new public funds for premium subsidies would all go to insurance firms, buttressing their financial and political power, and rendering future reform all the more difficult.

Some paint the Senate bill as a flawed first step to reform that will be improved over time, citing historical examples such as Social Security. But where Social Security established the nidus of a public institution that grew over time, the Senate bill proscribes any such new public institution. Instead, it channels vast new resources – including funds diverted from Medicare – into the very private insurers who caused today’s health care crisis. Social Security’s first step was not a mandate that payroll taxes which fund pensions be turned over to Goldman Sachs!

While the fortification of private insurers is the most malignant aspect of the bill, several other provisions threaten harm to vulnerable patients, including
:* The bill’s anti-abortion provisions would restrict reproductive choice, compromising the health of women and adolescent girls.

* The new 40 percent tax on high-cost health plans – deceptively labeled a “Cadillac tax” – would hit many middle-income families. The costs of group insurance are driven largely by regional health costs and the demography of the covered group. Hence, the tax targets workers in firms that employ more women (whose costs of care are higher than men’s), and older and sicker employees, particularly those in high-cost regions such as Maine and New York.

* The bill would drain $43 billion from Medicare payments to safety-net hospitals, threatening the care of the 23 million who will remain uninsured even if the bill works as planned. These threatened hospitals are also a key resource for emergency care, mental health care and other services that are unprofitable for hospitals under current payment regimes. In many communities, severely ill patients will be left with no place to go – a human rights abuse.

* The bill would leave hundreds of millions of Americans with inadequate insurance – an “actuarial value” as low as 60 percent of actual health costs. Predictably, as health costs continue to grow, more families will face co-payments and deductibles so high that they preclude adequate access to care. Such coverage is more akin to a hospital gown than to a warm winter coat.
Congress’ capitulation to insurers – along with concessions to the pharmaceutical industry – fatally undermines the economic viability of reform. The bill would inflate the already crushing burden of insurance-related paperwork that currently siphons $400 billion from care annually. According to CMS’ own projections, the bill will cause U.S. health costs to increase even more rapidly than presently, and budget neutrality is to be achieved by draining funds from Medicare and an accounting trick – front-loading the new revenues while delaying most new coverage until 2014. As homeowners seduced into balloon mortgages have learned, pushing costs off to the future is neither prudent nor sustainable.

We ask that you defeat the bill currently under debate, and immediately move to consider the single-payer approach – an expanded and improved Medicare-for-All program – which prioritizes the advancement of our nation’s health over the enhancement of private, profit-seeking interests.


Glenn sez:
"Saying that it's imperative to pass any health care bill because it helps some people ignores those that it hurts -- while insurance company stocks jump. But that's what happens when "stakeholders" get to carve up the health care bill first and foremost, while the people it's meant to help are secondary to whatever Aetna wants."
"People" are mere chips in the game, used to bluff or bargain or intimidate, to achieve CorpoRat ends. We are being 'ruled' by a bunch of tinhorn gamblers. What we need is a couple of rails, some tar, feathers, and some people brandishing pitchforks and burning brands...Though, by seeming to advocate such things, I could be prosecuted for inciting terrorism, under the PATRIOT ACT that Prez. Shamwow vowed to repair...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Media Matters' "Miss-Informer-Of-The-Year"

I normally wouldn't taint these hallowed, blistered, bleeding bytes with the following images, but as MediaMatters vets it, I suppose it cannot be too corrosive (What am I saying? It's Glenn Beck! You'll need a shower, afters, and wanna burn your clothes!!! Chuy! The STOOOOOOOOPIT!!!!! It BURNNNNNSSSSSS!!!!!!!!):

Quotha:
Every day, Media Matters documents conservative misinformation in the media -- from cable news to right-wing radio, from online publications to major newspapers. We hold the media accountable for all too often passing along conservative spin, smears, and distortions as fact. Each year, we award Misinformer of the Year to the media personality or outlet that has been the most egregious disseminator of conservative misinformation. Previous awardees include Bill O'Reilly, Chris Matthews, ABC, and Sean Hannity. This year's "winner" took the title by a landslide.
There's a pledge page, but I hope spreading the word is good enough, cuz if I ain't broke, I'm badly bent.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

What Is The "Brand Obama" Product's Retail Niche?

I realized just today, for some reason, that I had been comparing the Obamanable Sno-Job to the wrong consumer product.

I had been used to regarding "thePrez" as a kind of political "Febreez," a cosmetic, applied over odors too difficult to completely remove, but which must be camouflaged for reasons of, call it, "etiquette." Murka's grotesque and embedded structural racism was finally too much of a black mark (as it were) for the self-regard of the Owners to continue to comfortably endure. I had thought Obama's selection was mainly a way to 'freshen the air' in the system, to help improve the Owners' image, and to deflect attention away from the increasingly vast chasm between the rich and the rest. "If a black man can be President, the dream is still alive." That kinda crap. And that is still true; it is a disguise. But there's more to it...

I now think the relevant product is the Sham-wow. Once I began to understand better that Obamanable's role in the political equation is NOT merely to cover up the disagreeable stench of the previous 30 years, but is actually to become the scapegoat for it, I had to recast my metaphorical net. And the ShamWow is the perfect replacement. It works on more than one level, too.

First, because, like the legendarily absorptive miracle-fibers of the Sham-Wow, Obamanable now functions for the primary purpose of absorbing all the rage and disappointment arising from the past 30 years of corpoRat Statism--the economic fracture, the wars, the helplessness folks feel in the toils of the banksters, and the ALL the rest--which would be now, and still, be being leveled at "White" people-- if this person (i.e., "thePrez") were not now conveniently occupying the WhiteHouse.

GOPuke candidate is being his usual obstreperous self railing against Obama for taking positions McCain himself nce defended, but we should not be too hard on ol Bombin' John. He really is aggrieved: What McCain most resents is that he knows his "party" threw the election--his only chance to surpass his father--in order to place in office somebody--Pres. ShamWow--who could make white folks forget how much they were starting to hate the busheviki who are, by the way, the epitome of the white ownership class. If McCain had been elected, then the suffering people would still have White folks to blame, and that would never do.

And there's the rhetorical level, too: Sham -- that is, pretense: Pres. ShamWow campaigned as someone and/or something he was not and studiously disguised precisely what it was he is. Plus, the "Wow" factor with which thePrez" endowed the whole charade.

So now I realize it's not just one, it's BOTH, an brand new Niche market: President Febreez ShamWow to both absorb the shit--make the Ownership's political landscape "dry" as new--and smell sweet, too...

To those who might condemn me for trivializing the matter, I will only point to the fact that the Obama Brand was named most successful advertizing/public relations campaign in the world last year ('08) by the Ad Council/Ad Week.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Obama/Holder DoJ Will Continue Rove's Persuckution of Don Siegalman

More hopery-changery afoot.

I was terribly impressed with how swiftly the Dim Changer regime overturned the unjust prosecution and conviction of long-time Alaskan OP bag-man Ted "We were just borrowing it" Stevens. So I waited for the announcement that they were pursuing a similar vindication for former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, whose politically-inspired prosecution was and is deemed by all those familiar with it as a far greater travesty than what befell that old thief Stevens.

And waited.

And waited.

So you can imagine how I reacted when I read today, via Mark Crispin Miller, that the Obamanable Sno-Job and his pet, murdering-para-military apologist, Eric "Chiquita" Holder had decided NOT to drop the case against Siegalman, in the face of a vast record of prosecutorial misconduct, corruption, collusion and co-optation, but instead to actually continue, with expanded vigor.

No. Really!
Siegelman says he believes that the Administration appears to be sitting on its hands with regards to reviewing his case and other Demcorats who were politically targeted by the Bush Administration.

"I think Holder's well aware of my case and other cases so there's been a decision made not to do anything for what reason I don't know but it's pretty clear they've made a decision not to do anything."

If the opinion stands, Siegelman says it will give prosecutors way too much discretion to pick, choose and charge defendants and get a prosecution in cases of legal campaign contributions.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is expected decide December 15, 2009 whether it will hear Siegleman's case.
I am no naif. I never really expected Obamanable Sno-Job to actually be an improvement upon Bush, except in vocabulary and syntax. But shit like this REALLY, REALLY pisses me off.

And, I'd like to add, in the spirit of ragging on the apparently STILL Bushevik DoJ: When the fuck are you gonna replace the left-over bushevik US Attys? These guys/gals all demonstrated their loyalty to Bush in '06, during the Rove/Fredo purges...

So why are there any still holding office on the Obmanable Sno-Job's DoJ?

Friday, December 18, 2009

There WILL Be A BILL!

There will be a "hcr" bill. There is NO DOUBT about it. It does not matter whether or not it is a piece of shit (which it will be), or that it helps the insurance industry FAR more that it will be of any assistance to anybody truly NEEDING it (which it does), or if it betrays the hopes and aspirations of the myraid Obaman-aid drinkers (which it will).

The Obamanable Sno-Job MUST have a bill to sign, and the Dims all know it. He cannot have spent this amount of time and this amount of political capital, and this amount of prestige, and come away with nothing.

So, they also know he'll sign ANYFUCKINTHING as long as it is so dense and complicated that it will be hard to deny that ANYTHING is in it.

If Obmanable DOESN'T have a bill to sign BEFORE the SOTU--where it would be the centerpiece of the torrents of self-congratulatory adulation he will heap on himself and the Dims--he will begin the first week of the second year of his only term as a lame-duck--which would be some kind of record. But it won't happen, he'll have his bill.

That's because the Owners need him to administer the coup de gras to Social Security and the last vestiges of the New Deal, so they can't let him become irrelevant yet. He has more chores to do. A bright, young man, I'm sure he'll do them very well...

This plain recitation of the obvious seriously aggrieved a correspondent on Facebook last evening. Quoth "Laura":
If he had been able to get the ball rolling without the obstructionist party of NO we could of had something, a done deal by now. So they will be happy, after all THEY stupid asshat GOP still have THEIR gov. health care. Don't blame it on Obama put the blame on the Party of NO! And woody, I think you are the Lame duck here, just sayin'....
then there was this gem, on another thread:
If Obama has misjudged anything, it's that those on capitol hill are there to do the Peoples Work. Instead it's all for the Fame, glory and money. The majority are Not there to Serve the people, but to become superior over them for heir own personal gains.
To the first post, from Laura, I replied as gently as I knew how under the circumstances:
... that is just about the dumbest post I've read here today...not the dumbest I've ever read, of course...not even in the top 10...but for today it qualifies. If he hadn't been opposed by the GOPukes (everything would have been fine)? What color is the sky where you live, dahlin? What did you think they were gonna do, say, OMG the Dems were right, and we were wrong, and now we're gonna repent and get all pink fuzzies?
To the second, it is only possible to respond:
"If, after four years in the "greatest deliberative body in the world," Obamanable Sno-Job hadn't figured the exact and precise calaculus of greed, pride, and power it would entail to govern, I would seriously question his competence for the job you have entrusted to him."
It is for these obvious reasons that it is not only the "right" I mistrust with the power of the plebiscite...


Then I'd like to revisit this issue: Since the onset of the Raygun era, please name ONE major piece of social legislation which passed Congress under the caveat/promise that Congress would return to it, and "improve" it, but which just HAD to be passed in the shitty condition in which it was passed and signed, to which the Congress then later returned to "improve" it for the people?
Anybody?

One which SHOULD have been revisited and which at the time the Dims said they WOULD revisit, when they had the Congress back--but which wasn't, afaik--was the Bankruptcy Bill of '06, with which the Obamanable Sno-Job played all tricksy with his votes...

It seems to me that it is impingent upon folks who counsel quietude in the face of this catastrophic clusterfuck because this is only the first step, and it will be revisited and improved, to provide relevant, contemporary examples of cases in which a truly shitty bill, being passed and signed, was later revisited and "imporved--made more fair, more just--since the Bidness coup de etat in '80.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

One Should Never Miss An Opportunity To Slag This Vapid, Feculent, Suppurating Running-Sore.

Via TPM:


At (the recent) conservative "Code Red" rally against the health care bill, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) rallied the faithful with a fun historical and literacy reference: "It's the charge of the light brigade!"

The fun part here is that the Light Brigade lost that famous battle of the Crimean War -- they lost it badly, sustaining heavy numbers of deaths and injuries. They are celebrated not for victory, but for their bravery in taking on truly insurmountable odds in a military disaster. It's hardly the sort of positive example that could truly rally the political faithful to success, is it?

Had Bachmann actually read about the Light Brigade, she might have understood this reference from the famous poem by Lord Tennyson:
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

When it comes to appreciating Tennyson, Bachmann is no Rod Blagojevich!
Actually, we could do worse than hope that the "charges" she advocates will have precisely the same consequences on the teabaggers that the Russian artillery had on the Light Brigade--decimated the fuck out of 'em...Here's a link to the IMDb page of the Tony Richardson version, in 1968, in which I think he got it just about right: The Light Brigade was badly led, by incompetent officers, into the wrong battle, which they fought with supreme--albeit futile--bravery, and from which fewer than a third returned.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

N-CHEAT* The CorpoRat Congress Would Fuck Us. Really.

At this moment in the kabuki/bukkake that is the ritual being played out in Congress over the fate of the health of, basically, ALL Americans, now and for all foreseeable time (cuz they NEVER "return" to "improve" anything, ever--witness the PATRIOT ACT) this seems to be a rough outline of the most salient points of the compromises and such labored over so extravagantly for the past year--but which would have been exactly the same in most particulars if it had been presented last February--if you are a citizen of average means:
1. A Legal Mandate upon every American buy insurance from private companies, at whatsoever price the supplier decides, without the choice of a public option;
2. Higher (even first-time) taxes on middle class health care plans--e.g., unions-- and a free ride for the wealthy;
3. Higher insurance premiums, which will INCREASE in cost by about/at least $1000 a year;
4. Increased O-o-P (out of pocket) health care costs in higher deductibles and co-pays;
5. Insurance companies will continue to be exempt from anti-trust laws, inhibiting competition;
6. A sweet, sweet deal for PhRMA preserving them from being required to negotiate prices for Medicare drug users;
7. Monopolies granted on new biologic drugs so they will never become generics
8. NO medicare expansion
9. Despite explicit declarations to the contrary, there will be annual and life-time limits on benefits and
10. And to top it all off, the IRS fines you if you won't shell out money to insurance companies!
Howzatt f' CHANGE, M'fu'er? You got a pro'lem widdat? Do you? Well, DO YOU??? Good...I didn't think so....
(BTW: N-CHEAT = "Noone Could Have Ever Anticipated That/This")

From Luke Mitchell's excellent essay in the Dec. # of Harper's:
"The private insurance industry, as currently constituted, would collapse if government allowed real competition. The companies offer no real value and so instead must create a regulatory system that virtually mandates their existence, and soon will actually do so."
With the "Lieberman" Bill, this will become a fait accomplis. Which was, of course, what was always the plan.

This whole "kabuki/bukkake-debate" was and is pre-emptive. The intention, expressed in the discourse, was never to reform health care, per se, but to enslave everyone to CorpoRat interests BEFORE momentum toward real (i.e., single-payer) reform--which peeked out provocatively, tantalizingly, and seemed ready to explode during the campaign--could have a chance to flower into REAL reform/movement.

That's a likely reason why Obamanable Sno-job jumped it to the head of the line, ahead of the economic crisis, and why single-payer was declared 'doa' from Day 1. Now, once the Health Insurance Parasites have EVERYONE in their toils, they reckon the inertia of complaisance will inevitably set in, and it will become more and more difficult to dislodge the parasites without damage to the hosts. Even acute displeasure may be mitigated by the perils of the "unknown."

To say nothing of socialism...

I continue to be astonished, and to a certain extent appalled, by the apparent naivete, or gullability, or credulousness, of blind faith, or whatever it is that makes anyone ever think that any "change" or "reform" would redound to the benefit, aid, or assistance of average people. Roosevelt did it, with the NRA; LBJ's civil rights and Medicare initiatives. I cannot think of ANY case since 1980, and damn few before it, when a major shake-up hasn't resulted in the people getting fucked.

Monday, December 14, 2009

"Your Money Or Your Life": CorpoRat Culture Is The Well-Spring Of Murkin Sociopathy

Corporations act solely in the interest of increasing profit. Nothing else matters. That’s the very definition of sociopathy.

Any capitalist system ruled by corporations will, therefore, by definition qualify as sociopathic.

Harvard's Umair Haque has written about this. Haque points out that most of the businesses of Capitalism 1.0 are evil, and evil is unsustainable as a business model.

What is "evil?" How about charging people money to save their lives, or protect their health? How about "offering" credit for such charges, but charging usurious rates of interest on the 'loan?' How about enlisting the fucking Government in your scheme as co-conspirator through the purchase of legislation which actually ENCOURAGES duch outrages?

"Health Insurance" is fundamentally evil because it’s a form of extortion, and as we all know, extortion payments keep getting bigger and bigger over time until the victim can’t pay anymore. That’s what’s happened with the health care system in America. “Your money or your life,” and since you have to fork over the money, the amounts just keep getting larger. Forever. Without end. So of course health care costs have exploded. What else did you expect? It’s an evil business model, “your money or your life,” and all evil business models are unsustainable in the long run.

Slavery was unsustainable, mercantilism was unsustainable, colonialism was unsustainable, rapine and pillage were unsustainable (that was the Vikings’ business model), and now the basic mechanisms of the American capitalist 1.0 economy are unsustainable-—scams, Ponzi schemes, extortion rackets, and monopolies.

When your basic business model is evil, sociopaths obviously rise to the top.

D’oh! as Homer Simpson would say.

Most of America’s basic business models are now evil—they no longer depend on producing things of value that people want, but, like Microsoft, on forcing customers to buy shit (Vista, Windows 7) because they’re locked into a monopoly; or, like insurance companies, taking peoples’ money and then scamming them out of their promised health care. Or, like the financial “industry,” taking peoples’ money outright and stealing it.

Those aren’t business models. That’s theft and lies and scams. In the long run, it doesn’t produce a working economy.

But of course, in the long run, aas the Chimp memorably noted once, "we're all gonna be dead." So, no harm, no foul, I guess?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Triumph Of The "Won't"?

A psychologist on Alternet asks the wrong question: "Have consumerism, suburbanization and a malevolent corporate-government partnership so beaten us down that we no longer have the will to save ourselves?" THAT answer is a "qualified yes." It depends on if you think a whole populace can be trained "behavioristically" (e.g. Skinner; see also Bernays) to predictably respond to predetermined stimuli, and if so, then idea of "will" per se become pretty evanescent. Cuz the majority of folks, I believe, would regard those instruments--consumerism, etc--as "apps," not "bugs." You've gotta love Big Brother.

The real reason why the Murkin People no longer (if they ever did) resist their oppression by the CorpoRat state is because--thanks to the genius of the Murkin schools, and their civilian handmaids in that effectively endless, generations-long, trillion-dollar, propaganda campaign, called the Murkin CorpoRat media--they have NEVER even seen (and never will see) that what their corrupted institutions were doing to them was in fact, in almost all particulars, textbook 'oppression.' They were never told it's a zero-sum game--that's how the Bosses play it--and to the extent that the CorpoRats prevailed, the workers lost. It's systemic, intentional, predictable.

Naw, they'll tell ya, that's just life. That's just how things were 'spozed' to be.('Sides, ma life's good! Got m'plasma screen, the beer fridge, Play-offs in a coupla weeks, Fox News, and delivery pizza. What else do ah need?)

We have been taught--conditioned since birth by school, church, the State, family norms, everything; think BF Skinner--to 'normalize' our own oppression; to "love" it, in Orwell's lexicon. The teacher is that avatar which Dan Quinn in "Ishmael" characterizes as "Mother Culture," the less threatening face of pair, though her son, Big Brother, can be heard breathing, nearby.

Yeah, dammit, he's right again...still...If Oedipus was an icon for a previous generation of obsession, then today it is certainly Narcissus. Remember Vonnegut, in Mother Night? "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."

The interesting part is that perhaps no society before has tried to sustain itself amid so much ambiguity between the real and the mediated "reality."

Friday, December 11, 2009

O, Obama! Why Dost Thou Vex Us So?

I have mined this vein before. This is the most current iteration on the theme of "O, Obama...": What the fuck did you expect, really?" I wrote it as a comment on Taibbi's blog, on a post attached to very good vid I couldn't figure our how to c&p. It is the best summary of my position and reasoning on the matter that I've done so far, I think. I'd be interested in your opinion:

I have to wonder how some people still seem stupefied by of the Obamanable Snowjob-man. It is not a simple matter, but neither is it impenetrable.

The situation was this: For the last 30 years, the Busheviki, and before them, Clinton, and the Raygunauts, had created such a mess with their predatory, exploitative, manipulations ad schemes that even white people were beginning to hate them. White people, as you know, still comprise about 70% of the USer population. This is a vital bloc, if you are trying to maintain the penumbra of legitimacy without, or prior to, resorting to the expedient of jackboots.

So, the word went around that the GOP was basically gonna throw the election. The senior partners in the Party of Property more or less conceded the contest to the junior members, who eagerly threw into the fray members of two "minority" groups which had long lobbied the body politic to elect one of their number President: People of Color and women.

Regardless of which "novelty" candidate the Dems chose, they were always about 5-to-3 favorites to win, because the country was thoroughly sick of the whole depraved ensemble that had played havoc with the economy and the Constitution, and had committed war across the globe for 30 years. The GOP chose McCain, who was as close as they had to being the Chimperor, only 20 years older, sicker, meaner, dumber, and thicker between the ears. The tip-off, of course, was Palin. Never had anyone so amazingly unqualified for the job EVER been selected by a major party for a slot on the national ticket. She was (and is) a blindingly unself-conscious grifter, a parvenu of the firsts water. Ignorant, parochial, ill-educated, unread, unmannered: her selection sent the clearest POSSIBLE signal of capitulation.

The GOP just wanted OUT. AWAY! Not merely "plausible," but real, actual, somebody-ELSE-fucked-up deniability.

And that's what they got. In place of more and older and meaner Busheviki, they got the one person who was already pre-positioned to become a ready receptacle for and symbol of all the inchoate feelings of fear and insecurity and disappointment and foreboding and desperation that had been building through the long period of oligarchic re-indenturing, through "easy credit," of the (always already predominantly white) middle class. And they licked their chops, and stood back and just waited.

And who they got was/is a "fatherless" child, a striver who was compelled by his situation to find his identity in close to absolute conformity to the norms of CorpoRat Murka, a man driven by needs for approval, admiration, belonging. A man who, although I do not know if he's ever read it, must certainly live in the condition described by WEB DuBois as
"double consciousness," a person for whom virtually every move is a compromise. A living, breathing, paradigm case of it: someone who knows that, whomsoever they see in the mirror in the morning, when they leave the house, they are always already someone "other" in the eyes of the (powerful) majority of the people with whom they must interact and from whom he is visibly distinct.

Obama's seems to be an intelligent, a reflective guy. I get the sense he knows he has been offered as a scape-goat, someone to take the fall for all the abuses heaped on the people for the last 30 or 40 years by an increasingly dictatorial, Imperial Government. It seemed to me he almost as much as admitted it the other day at the jobs "summit."

A similar fate would have befallen HRC, too. Not, perhaps, at the same level of vitriol, because a white female gets preferential treatment from the mob far more easily than a black (even by half) male. As a polity, we are far more inclined to pile on any black than on any white person. Think Tiger Woods vs Mark Sanford or John Ensign.

So, from the perspective of the folks who Own the place, Obama was far the preferable candidate. I knew this when Rupert Murdoch endorsed Obama against McCain--his motives were, of course, purely economic: he knew Obama would be GREAT for his business, compared to McCain; and besides the fix was in by that time.

So here is my quandary: How is that folks with better than average sophistication and subtlety ever imagined that a person who found himself (in this case) raised to an almost unimaginable pinnacle of celebrity, and power, and (access to) wealth, who strove to make a 'good impression,' who then won the approval and attention for which he strove so mightily, from those whom he strove to please, and was so richly rewarded, would somehow turn and nip at--far less seize and savage--the hands which had curried, and cosseted and carried him to the absolute peak of acceptability and approval.

Now granted, they dropped him there, like a cur at a crossroad...

But he was never gonna bite 'em.
Anyhoo, that's how I see it, how it feels and seems, and appears and interprets from here.

Amory Lovins, Co-Founder of Rocky Mountain Institute: TED

"Winning the Oil Endgame?"

Both Amory and his wife Hunter are both Los Alamosians, whose parents worked on "the BOMB."

They got better.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

C'mon! Admit It! You Knew All Along They'd Screw Us!


Obamanistic "Hopery/Changery" aside, you KNEW it, didn't you, down in the dark little places in your heart? You knew it: The only reason they started talking about health care reform at all was to pave the way for reductions in services, increases in costs, and preservation of profits for the Health Insurance parasites.

Move-On sent me an e-mail appeal for more "activism." They want me to call my Senators (and send money) to appeal for their votes to support a plan which is already inadequate, too expensive, incomplete, and a 'betrayal' of the (admittedly implicit) promise to make health care available, more universally (oxymoron?), and less expensively. Here's the plaintive text of the Move-On missive:
How could they?

Senate Democrats have just announced a tentative health care deal that doesn't appear to include a real public health insurance option.

Instead of pulling out all the stops, they've bargained away the heart of health care reform—allowing conservative senators like Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson to hold the process hostage and protect Big Insurance.

And sure enough, the insurance companies are reportedly thrilled with these terms. "We WIN," one industry insider said during the negotiations. "No government insurance competitor."2

If the health care bill doesn't include a public option, it'll be a huge giveaway to the insurance companies. But the deal isn't final yet, so we need to send an immediate message to Congress and President Obama that any health care bill without a real public health insurance option is simply unacceptable.
(...)
Details are still emerging about this new deal. According to The Washington Post, "the government plan preferred by liberals would be replaced with a program that would create several national insurance policies administered by private companies."

But half-measures simply won't cut it: we desperately need a real public option in order to hold private insurance companies accountable. That's far more important than appeasing Joe Lieberman and his friends in the insurance industry.

And this fight isn't over yet, no matter how many times the media tries to declare the death of the public option. It'd only take one or two senators to unravel this deal, and progressive senators Russ Feingold and Bernie Sanders both indicated last night that their support can't be taken for granted.4

So to win, we've got to send a powerful message to congressional Democrats and President Obama that we won't accept this deal. Instead of giving up on the public option, they ought to show real leadership and ratchet up the pressure on Lieberman and any Democratic senators who are threatening to filibuster.
There follows the phone numbers of my two senators, the amazingly disappointingly silent, invisible Tom Udall, and the predictably compromised Jesse F "Jeff" Bingaman, whose wife, Ann, is a self-interested, corpoRat-compromised lobbyistwho once served as head of the Anti-Trust dept of the Clinton DoJ. Using that experience, she then went to work DEFEATING anti-trust measures after leaving Govt. Jeff, a southern NM boy (Silver City, just about the whitest, most conservative little burg in the State) still dances to those folks' tunes.

All of which is to say: We Are ALL SOOOOOOOOOOO Fucked.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

It's Was All Just A Big "Myth-take!"

Two stories from the indefatigable and inconsolable Robert Parry's Consortium News highlight the fabulous--in the literary sense--inventions surrounding tales, legends, and 'truths' of both the Christian "Christmas," and the Jewish, Roman-era "diaspora," which are bound to set the teeth of "in-believers" (folks who "believe in" absurdities) on a bit of an edge, which I take to be (perhaps his, but certainly) my only legitimate purpose in life. Vide...

In the first instance, Parry has invited a noted Christian minister/theologian Howard Best to recount some of the cautions that must surround the literal belief in the events which "christmas" celebrates. In a Bold-face Editor's Note, Parry warns:
In the modern age, religious mythologies – when mixed with politics – have led to very harmful and often bloody consequences, especially involving the leading monotheistic religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

So, in this guest essay, Baptist minister Howard Bess reminds Christians that many of their most cherished beliefs about the birth of Jesus were not based on empirical evidence, but on politically motivated mythology:
(Ummm. Okay, a quibble: One of the constant features of religious mythologies of ALL times is that they are readily--some would argue, designedly--mixed with politics to ENABLE and/or justify the "bloody consequences" of doctrinal deviation. Just saying. Parry's being really gentle here.--W

Rev. Best is 'catholic' in the net he casts across the mythic seas of Christmas, starting with one major problem: there are two (and only two) accounts of Jesus' birth, and they seem irreconcilable on certain points. He also gives a short, precise picture of the geo-political stage upon which these two narratives were being offered, including the 'poetic" mimicry employed by the Christians to disguise their affinities amid a hostile civitas. Then he turns to literary criticism and historiography (the Rev.'s a fuuking HUMANIST? Hoocoodanode?--W): "For whom were the birth narratives written?... What literary device was used by the authors?" for clues to understanding how the texts were used. He finally arrives at the (expectable) conclusion that the story of the Divine Natality is both a metaphor and a parable, one to be enjoyed and honored for its (what Colbert might call) "Truthiness."

Another story, brought up today from the Archives of Consortium News, features an examination of a book and a theory by Israel scholar and author Schlomo Sand, whose premise--
"Sand explicitly presents his book as an attempt to undermine the twin notions that the “Jewish people” share a single ancestry and that this people share ancestral rights to the land of Israel."--
will almost certainly cause an epidemic of 'pearls' of fury and dismissal to irrupt in the relevant cultural oyster beds.Again there is a prefatory Editor's Note:

In April, we published an article by Middle East expert Morgan Strong about the controversial findings of Israeli historian Shlomo Sand, calling the Roman Diaspora of the Jewish people a myth that has been misused to justify the current displacement of Palestinians by European Jews, whom Sand argues have no geneological connection to the Holy Land.

Since then, Sand's book, renamed The Invention of the Jewish People, has been published in English, and the author has recently appeared on international news programs to respond to questions about his findings. Clips from one such interview are included below, along with Strong's article.
As we can see, this, too, is a potentially explosive topic. Morgan Strong composed and assembled the piece for Consortium, and it includes clips from video-taped Q&A sessions Sand underwent recently. Here's one:

Provocative, nest paw? Strong asserts :
There has been no serious rebuttal to Sand’s book, which has been a bestseller in Israel and Europe – and which is expected to be released in the United States within the year. But there were earlier genetic studies attempting to demonstrate an unbroken line of descent among Ashkenazi Jews in Europe from the Hebrew tribes of Israel.
And just in time for Christmas, the USer version/translation of the book is out in English. It's a fascinating story, and in its own way fitting for your Solstice celebratory ruminations...

Jolly Holidays.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Probably, It Is Already Too Late To Prevent Global Climate Catastrophe

I Really Do Not Think We're Gonna "Exceptionalize" Our Way Out Of This One...

But the motherfuckers in climate-change denial seem willing and able to take (no) responsibility for their intransigence. Via Grist:
"The science is complex but the facts are clear. The world needs to take steps to limit temperature rises to 2C, an aim that will require global emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 5-10 years. A bigger rise of 3-4C — the smallest increase we can prudently expect to follow inaction — would parch continents, turning farmland into desert. Half of all species could become extinct, untold millions of people would be displaced, whole nations drowned by the sea. The controversy over emails by British researchers that suggest they tried to suppress inconvenient data has muddied the waters but failed to dent the mass of evidence on which these predictions are based.
Those are pretty horrific stakes. The deniers won't probably live long enough to reckon with the consequences of their own venality, dishonesty, and cowardice. But one could be forgiven, I think, for hoping their children and grand-children are among the first victims of whatsoever ensues...

The thing is, it is true. The fate of the rest of the whole fucking WORLD--all its people, all species of life, the oceans, the forests, the rivers, the glaciers, the whole fucking thing--is held hostage to the narrow, blinkered, parochial, corrupt, psychotic, bottom-line, deranged, short-sighted, venal, quarterly-report "politics" of the USofA's entrenched oiligarchy,

which apparently doesn't give a fuck as long as they are making a buck...


Under the circumstances, the rest of the world would be more than justified in eliminating US, by whatever means were available to 'em. Who could blame them? Their lives and their lands, and their progeny depend on it. Eliminating the biggest obstructionist bloc (USer denialists, i.e., but they are unfortunately inseparable from the rest of us) is a matter of national and global security.

Grist has a section of the site dedicated to "Copenhagen," to which your attention should be devoted at least once per day. Right now there's new post up by Bill McKibben: The physics of Copenhagen: Why politics-as-usual may mean the end of civilization.

Addendum: The thing is: the fate of the rest of the whole...WORLD--all its people, all species of life, the oceans, the forests, the rivers, the glaciers, the whole fucking thing--is held hostage to the narrow, blinkered, parochial, corrupt, psychotic, bottom-line, quarterly report "politics" of the USofA's entrenched oiloigarchy, which apparently doesn't give a fuck as long as they are making a buck...

These fucking people are crazy! They seem to view the coming catastrophes as some kind of "good news." A binness opportunity. And the REAL, BATSHIT, GOD-BLIGHTED CRAZIES actually HOPE this crisis, finally, will summon the "redeemer." And then they (though not "we") will all gloriously escape this vail of tears for eternal happiness.

Wasn't there a comet cult that believed "in" the same sort of apocalyptic horseshit? Doncha wish they'd all leave together?

Eventual global consequences of even a small fraction of the enormously complex, interwoven effects of the MINIMUM of global temperature change could well BE apocalyptic. Population displacements--either the folks in places are gonna move or they're gonna hafta grow gills and fins; and where are those MILLIONS going to go?Habitat loss, and the loss of productive agricultural regions--and the uselessness of the accompanying infrastructure which will be (too?) expensive to relocate? In 50 years, if things aren't fixed (and even mebbe if they are) cities like Albuquerque should shrink to desolate shells of their present state. This city's still GROWING, and not too long from now there isn't enough water, anywhere, for the people who are already here...

I do not think there is anywhere anything like the political will it would take to marshall the globes fractious 'national' entities to foresake their petty antagonisms and regard their mutual responsibilities.

I give it 20 years.

I give me 15.

Friday, December 04, 2009

Bring Out The Tumbrells!

The root problem with the class division in the USofA is that we've never had a real, class-based, revolutionary blood-letting.

We've never cleaned out the Aristos, never beheaded the courtiers, never dispropriated the rich; so they believe and behave as if they have their privilege by irrevocable, divine right. They are confident that the USer people are sufficiently docile that they won't have to worry about their sins and crimes...

The situation is that the Owners and Bosses are not afraid of us, or not afraid enough, anyway....So they have no dis-incentive to fuck with us. There is no cost to 'em, no price they pay, no 'tax' on their privileges when they undermine the social contract, and eviscerate the safety nets...

So they fuck us with impunity, without any reflection on the consequences of their decisions. In a real democracy, they'd never try to palm off this ridiculous, expensive, no-change "health care reform" bill on the people. They'd be too afraid of the public reaction (cf: burning vehicles in the streets of France, e.g.)...

They're as insulated as money can buy, owning both the police and the military... They don't have to look over their fur-clad shoulders, or worry about too much ostentation. They don't have to mind their steps, or avoid affronting the poor, because they have the police to protect them. They are immune from the consequences of their deeds.

And that's not good for the rest of us...

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Why are we still in Afghanistan?


Why are "we" in Afghanistan, still?

Can you say "The Great Game?"

Whatever else anyone says, the reasons 'we' are still in Afghanistan are, first, because "we" are maneuvering to isolate Iran between USer forces in Iraq on the west and in Baghram, on the east, and Murka's animus against Iran will not be satd until "we" shed a bunch of Iranian blood; and

2) because it's the closest 'failed state' to the Caspian basin from which USer tactical aircraft--indisputably the best in the world--can "project influence in the region," as the Generals and pols say; that is to say, to keep the region's resources under USer bomb- and gunsights...Look at a map...

They're Gonna Fuck Us!

The 'debate' on aligning the two 'health-care reform" proposals in Congress opens today ...

What is ultimately the shape of the result has already been decided. There is no ambiguity in Congress, though they maintain the pretense that the debate is 'real.' They have to, to keep the rubes, proles, and drones happy.

They're just going through the kabuki now, the formalized distractions designed to make us believe that some real soul-searching is somehow informing their so-called 'deliberations.'

It's utter, total complete, unremitting, conscious bullshit.

The deal is done and--surprise, surprise--you and I, and your wife and kids, and their eventual wives, husbands and kids are gonna get FUCKED!

You have been fucked from the moment the process began. There never was any way you were not gonna get fucked by this.

Never.

The Party of Property and Privilege runs things. You don't vote on them. And they're gonna fuck you, laughing.

Remember ENRON? Yeah, just like that...

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dick Cheney: The Worst Person In The WORLD


Not only in the opinion of Keith Olbermann, though that is also periodically true.

Also in the estimation of one of the cooler, least "partisan" commentators in the bidness: James Fallows.

Scott Horton, at the Harper's blog, repeats Fallows' analysis (from The Atlantic blog, where Fallows is the leading voice):
Praise George W. Bush, Damn Richard B. Cheney
By Scott Horton

James Fallows pens a striking side-by-side of the last president and last vice president in retirement.
Since the results of the 2008 election became clear, the 43rd President of the United States has behaved in a way that brings honor to him, his family, his office, and his country. By all reports he did what he could to smooth the transition to his successor, including dealing with the house-is-burning-down world financial crisis. Since leaving office he has — like most of his predecessors in their first years out of power — maintained a dignified distance from public controversies and let the new team have its chance. He has acted as if aware that there are national interests larger than his own possible interests in score-settling or reputational-repair.

The former vice president, Dick Cheney, has brought dishonor to himself, his office, and his country. I am not aware of a case of a former president or vice president behaving as despicably as Cheney has done in the ten months since leaving power, most recently but not exclusively with his comments to Politico about Obama’s decisions on Afghanistan. (Aaron Burr might win the title, for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel, but Burr was a sitting vice president at the time.) Cheney has acted as if utterly unconcerned with the welfare of his country, its armed forces, or the people now trying to make difficult decisions. He has put narrow score-settling interest far, far above national interest.
Does silence have the power to redeem? If so, then Fallows is right about Bush. But he’s certainly right about Cheney. Indeed, the Cheney “interview” with Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim Vandenhei marks a new low point. Cheney attacks Obama’s “weakness” for ordering as many as 44,000 more troops into Afghanistan—whereas he, presented with the same request, simply rolled it over for his successor to address a year later. A Senate report has concluded that Osama bin Laden and his entourage escaped because of an order that Donald Rumsfeld issued to pull out of Tora Bora. But most of the key leadership of Al Qaeda was, at about this time, encircled in Kunduz, their last redoubt, as American and Northern Alliance forces laid siege to it in November 2001. How did they escape? Dick Cheney knows. He personally authorized “Operation Evil Airlift,” shutting down the bombing and opening an air corridor so that Pakistani transports could airlift them to safety in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, where they were able to regroup. Perhaps Dick Cheney would like to own up to his catastrophic bad judgment? It’s just part of the vast mess that he left behind for others to clean up.
I would smile to see Cheney's head on a pike--hell, all the Cheneys' heads on pikes--on the fence around the WhiteHouse.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

TDSWJS: The REAL Immigration Scandal

American Refugees Seek Health Care in Mexico
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Wyatt Cenac is finding his style...

Snaking the Memory Hole: Busheviks Got "Pre-Conviction" GOOJF*-Card

Via, and blog-pal:


Me? I'd guess this law is still on the books. Every President from now on will need a "get-out-of-jail-free"* (GOOJF) card, and this one was written just for the occasion.

Remind me? Didn't "thePrez" promise, as one of those "hopery/changery" thingees, to restore the Constitution?

Or was that just "the Brand" gaining market share?

Monday, November 30, 2009

Irony--and 13 People at Fort Hood--Is Dead


As reported by BuzzFlash, today, the alleged Ft. Hood killer bought the alleged murder weapon and the alleged murder bullets at "Guns Galore" in Killeen (No, REALLY! You can't make this shit up), TX, USA. KILLeen, Texas? Sad that Kurt Vonnegut didn't live, to let us have his wit with which to appreciate the poignancy.
Did you know that the shooter at Fort Hood did not use an army issued gun? No, he bought his weapon legally at a firearms store with the name of "Guns Galore":
Law enforcement officials say a 5.7-millimeter pistol used in the Fort Hood shooting rampage was purchased legally at a Texas gun store.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case.

Records indicate Hasan bought the FN 5.7 at store called “Guns Galore” in Killeen, Texas, well before the attack that left 13 people dead. The pistol has been dubbed a “cop killer” by those who have tried to stop its use.

The most powerful type of ammunition for the gun is available only to law enforcement and military personnel. Gun control advocates call it a “cop killer” weapon because that ammo can pierce bulletproof vests, and its use by Mexican drug cartels worries police.
There's no apparent evidence that the alleged shooter used the alleged 'cop-killer' rounds, afaik. But a bigger point could be that, if the Ft. Hood shootings are an "act of terror"--as the demagogues on the right would have us believe, to further justify their anti-Muslim crusades--then perhaps it would behoove us to pay much more attention to the sale and copmmerce in these weapons than we are doing now, if it was so easy for an alleged "domestic terrorist" to acquire his weapons.

Which would--or at least should--entail making it more difficult for just anybody to walk in off the street and purchase such weapons? To become MORE strict in regulating access, rather than less, to require MORE in the way of information about gun purchasers rather than less? You'd think anyone really worried about 'domestic terrorism' would be supportive measures, wouldn't you?

Or am I missing something?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Why Obama Isn't Getting Anything Done...And Won't...

"Hyar com' de new bahss, jis lahk de o' bahss."

All that vaunted and hyped and spun "hopery-changery" is sheerest, purest de/illusion, the vague assurance of some kind of "corpoRate" brand quality.

It has to do with the calculations of the Owners and the fact that even WHITE people were developing a deep dislike and distrust for the Chimp and his cheneyed minions. A change was definitely needed. Folks--even white folks--were becoming restive.

SO, in a year when, literally, ANYBODY could have beaten the Pukes at the polls, when the Party suffered the lowest approval numbers in 50 years, with the Puke candidate pool either cancerous or carcinogenic, the Dims put up "novelty" candidates--the first woman, the first non-white, both, simultaneously--either one of which would have faced exactly the same problems with governing, but both of which would emboss the "Dim" brand with "cred" for the 'lower orders' whom the Party is supposed to represent. (One reason why the Dims anymore have so little authority is that their constituency, while numerous, is also economically and socially powerless: i.e., the "losers." It's like high school, and the Pukes are the BMW-driving jocks and their retinues, whole the Dims are the nose-pickers. Revenge of the nerds? It is to laugh!)

In the event, Obama was "preferable" to the owners--whence, Rupert Murdoch's entirely sensible personal endorsement of him; Obama's been the BEST thing for Faux Gnuz since 9/11 and terrorism)--mainly because there is already a greater cultural predisposition to hate a "colored" person than a 'white' woman. And, since the job of this president--whomsoever it turned out to have been--was to be someone onto whom 'angry white' voters could displace their fear and loathing of the Bushies, thereby paving the way for their return in the next cycle, a male PoC is a more viable--a mopre 'acceptable'--object of hatred and derision than a 'white' woman would have been.

So as president, Obama is probably going to preside over a devastating series of apparent and real failures, festooned with a couple of symbolic, but nevertheless Pyrrhic "victories"--probably they'll give him a basically meaningless health-care-insurance-reform-savings bill to sign.

But, he cannot abandon Central Asia. That's where his owners' and paymasters' real interests lie: in and under the mud of the Caspian Sea. To have any say in the disposition of the undeveloped riches there, "we" must be able to "extend influence" in the region: that is, bring under the bomb- and gun-sights of USer tactical aircraft--indusputably and unopposably the best in the world--every person, place and thing in a thousand-mile radius. So we're not leaving Central Asia.

And despite the best evidence of many thousands of studies, charts, and cores, nobody--including "thePrez"--is going to get serious about the imminent collapse of the world climate system, the poisoning of the oceans, the eliimination of fish stocks, the poisoning of more forests, the mining of more 'blood-minerals.'

And he's turned Wall Street right back to the venal mendacities of the criminals and cretins who nearly brought the whole thing down in the first place. And he's restored their perqs, and he hasn't restored any meaningful regulation.

It is symptomatic of just how weak he is in really practical matters that it took until last week to get his FIRST appellate judicial nominee confirmed, and there were at LEAST 70 former Bushevik US attorneys still mucking up the works in the DoJ, which is still and probably irremediably now a sump of politicization and obstruction.

It was a set-up. Anyway, that has seemed obvious to me for some time, since the primaries.

Now, with the renewed "official/bipartisan" attention to "fixing"--that is, "gutting"--Social Security to "pay for" limited, preferential, expensive health insurance, it seems another part of his job may be to preside over the final coup de gras to the New Deal. Like it took a Puke--Nixon--to go to China, it needs a Dim to eviscerate the social safety net. Obama's the designated hitter here (but the job would have fallen to--and been gladly assumed by--Hillary, too, if she'd been selected instead.).

Between bouts of fellating the ghost of Ronald Reagan and dissing the movements of the 60s and 70s which paved the way for his eventual emergence onto the national stage, Obama did say, during the campaign, that SS 'reform' would be on the table.

How easy to forget, because the voice is mellifluous, and the discourse articulate, that once on there, nothing ever leaves whole...

Saturday, November 28, 2009

If You've Got A Boss, You Need A Union!


Didja ever wonder how Bosses work to thwart organizing? Via Alternet, this day, here's a story of one reporter's journey from hopeful organization, to cynical retaliation, and ending with the usual hopelessness in the face of deep pockets, dishonesty and managerial intransigence: Sara Steffens tried to organize a small node of a coprpoRat giant (the Contra Costa Times (at which, a long time ago I also labored as a reporter), lost her job, and was (predicatbly) defeated by corpoRat power and influence. The take-away lesson? USer Labor Law is fucked..well, the piece says "Broken":
Steffens' employment experience "shows both the best of EFCA and its limitations." Take the card check option. It offers employees the option to check a card to show their support to unionize versus the NLRB secret-ballot election process. If a majority elects to sign cards, talks between the union and the company begin. That change to card check would help workers by "allowing the union to avoid the worst of the employer opposition," said Bronfenbrenner. Further, "the stiffer penalties for all employer violations could have a restraining effect on the opposition" to unionizing.

However, big companies such as MediaNews, which owns daily papers, radio and TV stations across America, have deep pockets. Thus, "the EFCA penalties probably are not large enough to be any disincentive at all and they (companies) may play hard ball through the entire election and first contract campaign taking every penalty they get, still doing the lay off, and forcing an imposed first contract," according to Bronfenbrenner.

Against this backdrop, Steffens and her fellow laid off journalists have had another reality check. Consider this. Their Guild filed three NLRB unfair labor practice charges at the regional and national levels against MediaNews for the post-election layoffs of July 2008. The Guild lost each time and lost a request for reconsideration, Steffens said. According to her, the NLRB rulings show that, short of written evidence from MediaNews of her and co-workers' layoffs being due to union activity, the Guild has no case.
"When I started losing the NLRB cases, I realized that the system of labor law is broken," Steffens said. "It doesn't work. The law says that you have the right to organize a union and can't be fired for it. The law prohibits employers from threatening or intimidating employees during an organizing campaign. But all of those things are routine. The recourse you have through the NLRB isn't very efficient and it doesn't really work for most people."
Hello, understatement. USer labor law rewards Bosses for exercising all the power and might in their CorpoRat quivver, up to and including firing, but it (and really ALL USer laws) punish as criminal the only actions at the workers' disposal to combat the CorpoRat advantages.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Aerial Ballet (Organic Information Processing)

(Just so all y'all don't think I am unremittingly gloomy!)

DOTOF™ to Joanne Cannata-Kelly (FB) for the vid...

Whatever else they may be doing, they're exchanging information about local conditions they've explored during the daylight hours.

You're a bird. Y ou don't have a lot of reserves. You cooperate...


25 or so years ago (and still today, for all I know), you could have witnessed the same phenomenon nightly as the flocks of starlings reassembled and regrouped from their day's foraging, and got ready to roost in the timbers of the docks in the harbor of Bellingham, WA. There was a tavern nearby, with a view of the scene, where the members of the Western Washington Space Patrol (WWSP) would fore-gather for the view and our evening's refreshment...

Signed:

Cdr. Woody, Sector Prefect, WWSP