Saturday, October 31, 2009

Cover Your Assets!: Pols Are NOT "Whores." Leading Economist Says They're Really "Pimps."

Via the Naked Capitalist, through George Waswhington (of the eponymous blog), we read the trenchant, mordant analysis of the accuracy of easy characterizations of pols as persons of easy virtue, from the pen of the Chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University. "George Washington's" introductory remarks are also acute and perspicuous:
Preface: My apologies if this is offensive. As always, Yves Smith is not responsible for this content, does not necessarily agree, sponsor or endorse it.

Many people have called politicians prostitutes.

True, Obama has received more donations from Goldman Sachs and the rest of the financial industry than almost anyone else.

And Summers, Geithner and the rest of Obama’s economic team have made many millions – even recently – from the financial industry.

And Congress has largely been bought and paid for, and two powerful congressmen have said that banks run Congress.

So yes, they have certainly sold their goods to the highest bidders.

Indeed, at least some people trust prostitutes more than elected officials.

But the prostitution analogy is inaccurate.

Specifically, as the chairman of the Department of Economics at George Mason University (Donald J. Boudreaux) points out:
Real whores, after all, personally supply the services their customers seek. Prostitutes do not steal; their customers pay them voluntarily. And their customers pay only with money belonging to these customers.

In contrast, members of Congress routinely truck and barter with other people’s property…

Members of Congress are less like whores than they are like pimps for persons unwillingly conscripted to perform unpleasant services.

Consider, for example, agricultural subsidies. Each year a handful of farmers and agribusinesses receive billions of taxpayer dollars. These are dollars that government forcibly takes from the pockets of taxpayers and then transfers to farmers.

The customers, in this case, are the farmers and agribusinesses. The suppliers of the services performed for these customers are taxpayers, for it’s the taxpayers who possess the ultimate asset — money — that farmers and agribusinesses lust after. And the intermediaries who oblige the suppliers to satisfy the base lusts of the customers are politicians. Just as pimps facilitate their customers’ access to prostitutes’ assets, politicians facilitate their customers’ access to taxpayers’ assets.

We taxpayers have less say in the matter than we like to think. Sure, we can vote. But if even just 50.00001 percent of voters cast their ballots for the candidate proposing higher taxes, the assets of not only our pro-tax citizens, but also those of the remaining 49.00009 percent of us anti-tax citizens are put at the disposal of our pimps’ customers. (And note that many of those who vote for higher taxes are not among those persons actually subject to higher taxation)…

Politicians force taxpayers to pony it up — just as the services rendered for a pimp’s customers are rendered not by that pimp personally, but by the ladies under his charge. The pimp pockets the bulk of each payment; he’s pleased with the transaction. His customer gets serviced well in return; he’s pleased with the transaction. The only loser is the prostitute forced to share her precious assets with strangers whom she doesn’t particularly care for and who care nothing for her.Also like the ladies under pimps’ power, taxpayers who resist being exploited risk serious consequences to their persons and pocketbooks. Uncle Sam doesn’t treat kindly taxpayers who try to avoid the obligations that he assigns to them. Government is a great deal more powerful, and often nastier, than is the typical taxpayer. Practically speaking, the taxpayer has little choice but to perform as government demands.

So to call politicians “whores” is to unduly insult women who either choose or who are forced into the profession of prostitution. These women aggress against no one; like all other respectable human beings, they do their best to get by as well as they can without violating other people’s rights.

The real villains in the prostitution arena are those pimps who coerce women into satisfying the lusts of strangers. Such pimps pocket most of the gains earned by the toil and risks involuntarily imposed upon the prostitutes they control. No one thinks this arrangement is fair or justified. No one gives pimps the title of “Honorable.” Decent people don’t care what pimps think or suppose that pimps have any special insights into what is good or bad for the women under their command. Decent people don’t pretend that pimps act chiefly for the benefit of their prostitutes. Decent people believe that pimps should be in prison.

Yet Americans continue to imagine that the typical representative or senator is an upstanding citizen, a human being worthy of being feted and listened to as if he or she possesses some unusually high moral or intellectual stature.

It’s closer to the truth to see politicians as pimps who force ordinary men and women to pony up freedoms and assets for the benefit of clients we call “special-interest groups.”
Note: There are a handful of honest politicians, fighting for the American people. But the exception proves the rule. (Emphases original--W)
Indeed, they are rare enough that it might be possible to enumerate them with the benefit of the fingers of no more than two hands.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The "Teabagger" Trio: A Modern Classic

Brad Friedman, the proprietor of The BradBlog has assembled a quartet of short films--two of which he himself created; one the product of the subjects--celebrating the stunning stupidity of the rightwing fucktards who have been demonstrating and fomenting revolution against "obama."

First, here's Brad's original effort:

Part II:


Lastly The Teabaggers' own version (which proves, if nothing else) that you cannot make-up shit like this:.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"A NATION OF LAWS"

Ed Brayton at Despatches From The Culture Wars found the following bit of news: Ordinary people who are convicted of 'torture' --felony torture, defined as inflicting "great bodily injury" for the purpose of "revenge, extortion, persuasion and for a sadistic purpose"--are susceptible upon conviction to life imprisonment.

This bit of intelligence was revealed when cops in California busted a couple who would abduct strangers, torture them, rob them, and then release them.
The couple, Daniel Weston and Mary Ann Parmelee, and three other people are accused of luring their two victims to an office where the men were tied up, held for hours and beaten, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County district attorney said...
Weston, Parmelee and the three other defendants each were charged with two counts of torture, two counts of false imprisonment by violence and two counts of second-degree robbery, according to a criminal complaint filed against them.
...
Each count of felony torture, defined as inflicting "great bodily injury" for the purpose of "revenge, extortion, persuasion and for a sadistic purpose," carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Brayton then connects the necessary dots:
So they tie people up and beat them for a few hours and face life in prison for torture. Our government tied people up in stress positions for days at a time, subjected them to hypothermia, waterboarded some people more than a hundred times, engaged in beatings and much worse. And they face....nothing whatsoever. So much for the notion of being a nation of laws.
We must look FORWARD, not BACK!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Anybody Surprised That The CIA's In Bed With Afghan Drug Lords?

In the NYTimes today, with Dexter Filkins by-line:
Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials. ("Suspected" is a euphemism for the fact that everybody knows Karzsai's dirty up to his neck, but cannot speak on penalty of death--W)

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House. (But mostly, it pays him to buy off the family--W

The ties to Mr. Karzai have created deep divisions within the Obama administration. The critics say the ties complicate America’s increasingly tense relationship with President Hamid Karzai, who has struggled to build sustained popularity among Afghans and has long been portrayed by the Taliban as an American puppet. (Funny thing! He IS a puppet of the US--W) The C.I.A.’s practices also suggest that the United States is not doing everything in its power to stamp out the lucrative Afghan drug trade, a major source of revenue for the Taliban. (Since the CIA takes kickbacks from every illicit drug thug in the world, this should come as no surprise--W

More broadly, some American officials argue that the reliance on Ahmed Wali Karzai, the most powerful figure in a large area of southern Afghanistan where the Taliban insurgency is strongest, undermines the American push to develop an effective central government that can maintain law and order and eventually allow the United States to withdraw.

“If we are going to conduct a population-centric strategy in Afghanistan, and we are perceived as backing thugs, then we are just undermining ourselves,” said Maj. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the senior American military intelligence official in Afghanistan.

Ahmed Wali Karzai said in an interview that he cooperated with American civilian and military officials, but did not engage in the drug trade and did not receive payments from the C.I.A.

The relationship between Mr. Karzai and the C.I.A. is wide ranging, several American officials said. He helps the C.I.A. operate a paramilitary group, the Kandahar Strike Force, that is used for raids against suspected insurgents and terrorists. On at least one occasion, the strike force has been accused of mounting an unauthorized operation against an official of the Afghan government, the officials said.

Mr. Karzai is also paid for allowing the C.I.A. and American Special Operations troops to rent a large compound outside the city — the former home of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban’s founder. The same compound is also the base of the Kandahar Strike Force. “He’s our landlord,” a senior American official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. (And nobody's questioning how he got hold of the property, one notices--W)

Mr. Karzai also helps the C.I.A. communicate with and sometimes meet with Afghans loyal to the Taliban. Mr. Karzai’s role as a go-between between the Americans and the Taliban is now regarded as valuable by those who support working with Mr. Karzai, as the Obama administration is placing a greater focus on encouraging Taliban leaders to change sides.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment for this article.

“No intelligence organization worth the name would ever entertain these kind of allegations,” said Paul Gimigliano, the spokesman.

Some American officials said that the allegations of Mr. Karzai’s role in the drug trade were not conclusive.

“There’s no proof of Ahmed Wali Karzai’s involvement in drug trafficking, certainly nothing that would stand up in court,” said one American official familiar with the intelligence. “And you can’t ignore what the Afghan government has done for American counterterrorism efforts.”
...
“If it looks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck,” the American officer said of Mr. Karzai. “Our assumption is that he’s benefiting from the drug trade.”
That's what we here in the decadent West would call a "quid pro quo."

My pal in Kabul, otoh, says EVERYBODY in Afghanistan knows the Government is corrupt through and through, and everybody who's got any power in the country --especially Ahmed Karzai-- is in cahoots with the drug thugs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nine-Eleven Redivivus, Pt. 3 --The Real News Network


More at The Real News

Back In The PRC: What "Ailes" Faux News

James Fallows, on The Atlantic blog, remarked, acidly, last weekend:
I didn't see anything on Fox from mid-2006 through mid-2009; for better or worse, it's not carried in China. (The English TV news channels you can get there are BBC, CNN International, CNBC, sometimes Bloomberg.) I have seen it since coming back this summer. And in a way, I realize that I had been seeing it all along: except for more modern production values, it's the closest thing America offers to what it's like to be exposed to the Chinese government's 24/7 internal propaganda machine. When I saw the clip below from Media Matters, as highlighted by Andrew Sullivan, I thought: make it a little more boring, put it in Mandarin, and substitute "splittists" etc for the people Fox is talking about (maybe the Dalai Lama in place of Van Jones), and I could be right back in Beijing.


Are Maddow and Olbermann on MSNBC comparably relentless and "biased"? Of course they are. But no one pretends their shows are "real" news operations or are "fair and balanced." And certainly they have become what they are as a market and political response to Fox's success. Indeed, the general polarization and spectacle-mindedness of the news ecology in part is homage to what Fox has figured out as a business and political model. Any fair person also has to acknowledge the better production values Fox brought to TV news over the past decade: it's lively, it's fast, it's interesting, the women on screen (to a shocking degree, if you've been away) set a new standard in physical looks (Faux Bimbo-News: Note the way the women are dressed (very, very short skirts, mainly) and seated in chairs which seem to offer up-skirt possibilities in ways that make it difficult to be "modest"--W), the whole thing gets your attention. (Think Sharon Stone?--W)

But a crucial part of this clip, and of the White House complaint, is that it's not just the out-and-out commentators on Fox -- the Hannities and O'Reillies who begat Maddow and Olbermann -- who supply a one-note politicized world view. It's the texture of the overall operation. I can think of honorable exceptions among correspondents and anchors, like Major Garrett (whom I do know) and Shepherd Smith (whom I don't). But this clip suggests the seamlessness of the Fox News outlook, which has impressed me on watching it. Again something it shares with China Central TV.

Main point: I disagree with my journalistic colleagues who are huffy because the Obama White House is treating Fox differently from the way it is treating other news organizations. Fox is different. As a practical matter, saying so could backfire on the White House. But as a matter of observing and stating reality, they're right. (Emphases supplied--W)

The Right-wing Media Spin Cycle: Lie, Terrify, Win, Repeat

From MediaMatters:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chris Floyd: "Why we write."

Answering a critic who criticized his insolent tone and objected to his characterization of Obama's military policies as effectively indistinguishable from Bush's --to say nothing of many of the relevant participants-- today at Imperial Burlesque, Chris Floyd produced a stemwinder which included the following declaration:
I write about these things for one reason only: to bear witness, to put down for the record that I saw the evil being committed in my name, and that I spoke out against it, as fully and honestly as I knew how.
Yup; sounds about right to me.

The Debtors' Revolt?

On Naked Capitalism over the weekend, Edward Harrison, who keeps a well-read blog titled "Credit Write-downs," takes on
"the tangled web woven by securitization, which puts a considerable distance between home owners and mortgagees which own a mortgage. The issue is causing huge problems in bankruptcy and foreclosure in courts around the U.S."
To wit: Across the country, judges have more and more been taking the parts of home-owners whose mortgage holders are unable to produce the actual, signed, documents of the mortgage's origination, etc. Sheriffs in regions particularly hard-hit by the multiple whammies of the current economic and political collapse are refusing to evict delinquent residents. Harrison repeats a piece in the NYT on Saturday by economics correspondent Gretchen Mortenson, "describing how a judge nixed all claims by mortgagee which refused to modify a home owner’s mortgage," under the fanciful hed:
If Lenders Say ‘The Dog Ate Your Mortgage’

For decades, when troubled homeowners and banks battled over delinquent mortgages, it wasn’t a contest. Homes went into foreclosure, and lenders took control of the property.

On top of that, courts rubber-stamped the array of foreclosure charges that lenders heaped onto borrowers and took banks at their word when the lenders said they owned the mortgage notes underlying troubled properties.

In other words, with lenders in the driver’s seat, borrowers were run over, more often than not…

But some judges are starting to scrutinize the rules-don’t-matter methods used by lenders and their lawyers in the recent foreclosure wave. On occasion, lenders are even getting slapped around a bit.

One surprising smackdown occurred on Oct. 9 in federal bankruptcy court in the Southern District of New York. Ruling that a lender, PHH Mortgage, hadn’t proved its claim to a delinquent borrower’s home in White Plains, Judge Robert D. Drain wiped out a $461,263 mortgage debt on the property. That’s right: the mortgage debt disappeared, via a court order.
(Emphases supplied--W)
I see this as a watershed case in jurisprudence surrounding mortgage-related bankruptcies and foreclosures. The reason this is huge is that it echoes the case in Kansas I have written about in two previous posts:
* “Why mortgages aren’t modified and what a ruling stopping foreclosures means”
* “What are the legal rights of lenders and homeowners in foreclosure?”

At issue is the question of what legal rights do lenders or their agents have in foreclosure in the new byzantine world of securitized mortgages. In the New York case the judge nixed the entire claim as the mortgagee could not prove it had legal claim to the mortgage note. With the mortgagee unable to show ownership, the homeowner might even be able to stay in his home mortgage-free, Morgenson attests. That’s huge – and we should definitely expect an appeal.

In the Kansas case, MERS, a mortgage registrar, and a second-mortgage mortgagee were not informed of the homeowners bankruptcy and disposition of assets and claims before judgment was made. Nevertheless, the district court, the appeals court AND the Kansas supreme court all upheld the original summary judgment arguing that MERS was not contingently necessary. While I would expect this case to be appealed because of the precedent it could set, I don’t see how it can be overturned after affirmation in every court – that is except through a politicization of the verdict.

Notice how PHH and MERS, the two lender agents in each cases, are not the actual owners of the mortgages. They are the agents of the mortgagees. This is why these cases have a lot to do with securitization.

See also: How much money is Wells Fargo really making? for how some of this affects earnings at money center banks.

Morgenson had another article of merit on this topic last week. See her piece The Mortgage Machine Backfires. This could get interesting.

Oh, and in an unrelated case, but also involving bank customers successfuly contesting big finance, Citibank Belgium is being held liable by state prosecutors for duping its savers into taking safe money out of their savings account and investing it in Lehman Brothers. When Lehman went bust, 128 million euros of their savings money went poof. See my story here. Agence France Press has covered it, but don’t expect it to get huge coverage in the U.S. Mish thinks Citigroup is in “serious trouble” globally. So do I.

Let the backlash against reckless finance begin.
Who's got the pitch-forks and the bubbling tar?

Seriously, unless they can produce the mortgage documents with your signature affixed, you have the right to sit tight. And Sheriffs in jurisdictions from California and Nevada to Illinois and Michigan are sympathetic to the plight of the 'dispossessed.'

Friday, October 23, 2009

Alan Grayson Uses "The Media" About As Well As Anybody

Here's how you 'school' an adversary.
Topic: Bills of Atttainder, the Constitutionality thereof.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) ---CongressmanWithGuts.com --- acidly reminds Republicans, and fellow Democrats in the bargain, on the unconstituionality of legislation designed only to punish ACORN (which has been convicted of NO crimes).

At the end, when the Chair recognizes Sensenbrenner, that vicious asswipe seems to be moving to have the exchange stricken. I don't know how that turned out...

Leonard Pitts Opens, Spills A Whole Can Of Whuppass On "Rushbo's" Football Fantasies



As you sow, so shall you reap, brother
BY LEONARD PITTS JR.
LPITTS@MIAMIHERALD.COM
We are gathered here today in sympathy with our brother, Rush Limbaugh.

As you are no doubt aware, these have been difficult days for Brother Limbaugh. There he was, happily revealing that he was part of an investment group that had submitted a bid to purchase the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League. Next thing you know, Al Sharpton is on him like ugly on King Kong, urging the NFL to reject him.

And NFL players, not previously known for commenting on or even visibly caring, who owns a team so long as the paychecks clear, are saying they would not play for him.

And owners, who must vote to approve him, are telling reporters they will not.

It all came to a head last week as the talk show host was dumped by his fellow investors. Whose heart is so stony that it does not weep for Brother Limbaugh to find himself humiliated so? Put yourself in his shoes.

You're a college dropout and OxyContin junkie who somehow managed to climb to the top of the media pile. You've made yourself one of the most popular and influential voices in the national dialogue and that, in turn, has made you rich beyond dreams of avarice. How satisfying must that be.

And you're an avid sports fan, too, so naturally you jump at a chance to fulfill every sports fan's dream -- to buy yourself a team. You picture yourself watching games from the luxury box with a babe or two on your arm, evaluating talent and signing off on trades, partying in the locker room, champagne stinging your eyes, at the end of a championship game.

How cruel to have it all snatched away from you. And why? Because a bunch of black African-American Negroes start making noise? What reason do they have to be upset with you?

Just because you once called Philadelphia Eagles star Donovan McNabb overrated, the victim of media too eager to see a black quarterback do well?

Just because you referred to Barack Obama and Halle Berry as ``Halfrican Americans''?

Just because you told your listeners Obama's economic program is ``reparations''?

Just because you called Obama ``the little black man-child''?

Just because you said the NFL ``all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips''?

Just because you once told a black caller to ``take that bone out of your nose and call me back''?

For those trifles the sensitive pansies of the NFL don't want to have anything to do with you? Why do they even care? Just because 65 percent of their players are black African-American Negroes? Oh, the shame! Oh, the humanity!

So yes, the rest of us should rally around Brother Limbaugh. If they can deny one rich, racially inflammatory media lout his constitutional right to own a football team, what's to stop them from denying another? This is a clear and present danger. Pat Buchanan, Glenn Beck . . . none of us are safe while this injustice stands.

And besides, what lesson does this teach our children?

That there are things (like respectability) even money can't buy? That there are doors (like the one to the owner's box) even fame can't open? That you only have one reputation and it's not stain-resistant, so you'd better not soil it? That karma is a female dog?

Do you really want your children to learn that sort of socialist claptrap? I don't. How dare the high and mighty NFL act like the things we say carry consequences?

So let's stand up for Brother Limbaugh. Indeed, here and now, I am starting a legal fund to help him carry on the fight. I will make the first contribution -- a shiny new Franklin Roosevelt dime.

What about you? Wouldn't you like to see poor Rush get what he deserves?

Please give generously.
Here's my dime. (Clink, rattle)
DOTOF™ to YellowdogGranny

Nine-Eleven Redivivus, Part 1: The Real News


More at The Real News

Real News Networks Paul Jay interviews former FBI agent and whistleblower Coleen Rowley about the leadup investigations to the September 11, 2001 WTC attacks.
DOTOF™ to Edger, who put this up earlier at Antemedius.

I'm of the LIHOP persuasion, personally...("Let It Happen On Purpose"). The PNAC cabal needed a "Pearl Harbor," and they got it...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

From The Dept. Of Jeezus-Fucking-KeeRyst: Poll Finds USer's "Belief In" Climate Change "Cooling"

American asshole-dom is (still) confused about the difference between "climate" and "weather."

Which is why I would resist to my dying breath any effort to install instant, plebicitory "democracy": Under the onslaught of the truly sophisticated, expensively manipulative, highly research-tested (dis)information-propaganda-advertizing campaigns of which the descendents of the "MadMen" have become masters, the "average" voter can be convinced of anyfuckingthing, if it is repeated often enough by a figure with sufficient "authority." Think: The BIG Lie. It works, better now than ever, since the invention of the 24-hour news cycle.

Proof: There is NO legitimate, disinterested science anyfuckingwhere which reaches even "tentative" conclusions doubting wide-spread, anthropogenic, global climate change anyfuckingmore. It's here, and we did it to ourfuckingselves, and ourfuckingselves are going to have to do something about it or be responsible for visiting the consequences on our (well, your) progeny.

But the deniers have "intere$t$," $billion$, minion$, and the cabloid 24-hour news cycle. If I were a professional propagandist proponent of the "Big Lie" --like Rupert Murdoch, e.g.-- and the 24-hour news cycle didn't exist, I'd have to invent it

Via Yahoo/AP, though the google says discover.net broke it a couple of hours earlier:
WASHINGTON – The number of Americans who believe there is solid evidence the Earth is warming because of pollution is at its lowest point in three years, according to a survey released Thursday.

The poll of 1,500 adults by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press found that only 57 percent believe there is strong scientific evidence the Earth has gotten hotter over the past few decades, and as a result, people are viewing the situation as less serious. That's down from 77 percent in 2006, and 71 percent in April 2008.

The steepest drop occurred during the past year, as Congress and the Obama administration have taken steps to control heat-trapping emissions for the first time and international negotiations for a new treaty to slow global warming have been under way. (That is, coincidentally, precisely at the when special interests spent untold BILLIONS of dollars to spin and lie about climate change science--W.) At the same time, there has been mounting scientific evidence of climate change — from melting ice caps to the world's oceans hitting the highest monthly recorded temperatures this summer.

The poll was released a day after 18 scientific organizations wrote Congress to reaffirm the consensus behind global warming. A federal government report Thursday found that global warming is upsetting the Arctic's thermostat.

But while the evidence appears clear (fuck "appears clear;" it's unfuckingassailable--W), only about a third, or 36 percent of the poll respondents feel that human activities — such as pollution from power plants, factories and automobiles — are behind a temperature increase. That's the first decline since 2006.

"The priority that people give to pollution and environmental concerns and a whole host of other issues is down because of the economy and because of the focus on other things," said Andrew Kohut, the director of the research center, which conducted the poll from Sept. 30 to Oct. 4. "When the focus is on other things, people forget and see these issues as less grave."

Andrew Weaver, a professor of climate analysis at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, said politics could be drowning out scientific awareness.

"It's a combination of poor communication by scientists, a lousy summer in the Eastern United States, people mixing up weather and climate and a full-court press by public relations firms and lobby groups trying to instill a sense of uncertainty and confusion in the public," he said.

Despite misgivings about the science, half the respondents still say they support limits on greenhouse gases, even if they could lead to higher energy prices, and a majority — 56 percent — feel the United States should join other countries in setting standards to address global climate change.

But many of supporters of reducing pollution have heard little to nothing about cap-and-trade, the main mechanism for reducing greenhouse gases favored by the White House and central to legislation passed by the House and a bill the Senate will take up next week.

Under cap-and-trade, a price is put on each ton of pollution, and businesses can buy and sell permits to meet emissions limits. (How long before ya figger before the banksters'll be atradin' them some "emission-default-swap instruments?"--W)

"Perhaps the most interesting finding in this poll ... is that the more Americans learn about cap-and-trade, the more they oppose cap-and-trade," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., who opposes the Senate bill and has questioned global warming science. Republicans in general have grown even more steadfast in their opposition. A majority — 57 percent — now say there is no hard evidence of global warming, up from 42 percent last year, according to the poll. (On matters of truth and reality, one may safely ignore Sen Inhofe. It was for the likes of him that the term "know-Nothing" was coined. For one thing, he's a fucking cracker Okie. For another Inhofe brags there has never been either a gay or a divorce anywhere in his whole, inbred clan. His sole and only claim to ANY expertise of any kind is based on a bachelors in economics from UTulsa and a notable business failure--W.)

Other results of the survey also suggest that it will be tough politically to enact a law limiting emissions of global warming pollution. While three-quarters of Democrats believe the evidence of a warming planet is solid, and nearly half believe the problem is serious, far fewer conservative and moderate Democrats see the problem as grave as they did last year. (Yeah, but the black man in the White Hous gives'em 'da blues'--W)

Regional differences were also detected. People living in the Midwest and mountainous areas of the West are far less likely to view global warming as a serious problem and to support limits on greenhouse gases than those in the Northeast and on the West Coast. (It's not regarded as fly-over country for nothing--W.) Both the House and Senate bills have been drafted by Democratic lawmakers from Massachusetts and California.

One of those lawmakers, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, told reporters Thursday that she was happy with the results, given the interests and industry groups fighting the bill.

"Today, to get 57 percent saying that the climate is warming is good, because today everybody is grumpy about everything," Boxer said. "Science will win the day in America. Science always wins the day." (Errrm, Senator? Ever hear of the Snopes "monkey" trial (e.g.)?--W)

Earlier polls, from different organizations, have not detected a growing skepticism about the science behind global warming.

Since 1997, the percentage of Americans that believe the Earth is heating up has remained constant — at around 80 percent — in polling done by Jon Krosnick of Stanford University. Krosnick, who has been conducting surveys on attitudes about global warming since 1993 was surprised by the Pew results.

He described the decline in the Pew results as "implausible," saying there is nothing that could have caused it. (
Emphases supplied--W)
What kind of fucking pathologically delusional mental midget believes the "balance of nature" WILL NOT BE upset when, in the course of merely 300 years, we--Humans, mainly in and of "the West"--release back into the environment more than half of the CO2 that the planet had successfully sequestered over the previous several BILLION fucking years?

Unfuckingbelievable!

We--everybody and everything--are SOOOOOOOOO fucked.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Michael Moore Pwns Sean Hannity

It took a while for this to reach the Tube. C&L had it up in a timely fashion, but I cannot unpack the mystery of copying their embed code; shit, I can't even find it. So, unless you make a habit of practicing the kind of self-flagellation required to sit through ANY Fox News production, probably you missed it. It's delightful:

Michael Moore, in a suit!, no less, hands Hannity his shanty Irish ass...and yes: WAAOAIT!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Is Rush Limbaugh a Racist? Do Bears Defecate In The Woods?

Is the Pope of the Roman Catholic persuasion? He's an ARCH-Racist, because he publically exploits the endemic racism of the nation for his own political and economic advantage. Duh!@!

On C&L yesterday there was a longish discussion about the merits denyingg from the notorious public bigot Rush Limbaugh permission to participate in a syndicate that was attempting to buy the St. Louis Rams of the NFL. Of what, if any, sin was the NFL, the Players' Union, and any number of opponents of the move, guilty? Howard Kurtz' TV interview with ESPN's Mike Wilbon, who is black, and in which Kurtz was at distinct pains to deflect Wilbon's mild and judicious criticism over Limbaugh's well-documented public record of racial and ethnic slurs at despised "others," provided the context.

In the course of the thread that followed, Limbaugh's alleged remark that "Slavery hadn't been so bad..." became the subject of a minor flurry of posts, in the course of which I took it upon myself to render the following opinion:
Without Slavery and Genocide, The USofA COULDN'T have succeeded.

It wouldn't exist, and certainly not as we know it.

What were the two most feared events in colonial Murka, especially on the east Coast? Raids by "savages" (insurgents protecting their homes), and slave rebellions (the struggle for liberty, etc).

In Murka today, the exception is not Rush, the racist, because the USofA is still, and probably always be a nation of racists, because racism--the system of agreements, and arrangements, and policies and practices which support, approve, and even endorse consequential bias, bigotry, and diecrimination--is built into the dna of the country.

The exception is the really RARE 'white' person who is NOT a player in the racism of the State. I'd go so far as to say that anyone whose self-identification included "white" in a prominent role--within the first three or four words--was probably, whether knowingly or not, likely to be guilty of behaviors that betrayed their self-conscious 'superiority' to minorities.
And maybe they'd be embarrassed if it were pointed out; but probably not. They'd be defensive, uncomfortable with the truth.

What's ironic is that possibly the only occasion in all his public bloviation when he might have actually been telling the (uncomfortable) truth, he claims he didn't say it...

We are a nation of assholes. As with all personality disorders, a certain measure of--if not complete--recovery is possible. But you gotta wanna kick the habit. The obdurate defenders of the racism of Rush, Beck, O'Reilly, Hannity, and the rest have not made the first necessary step: recognizing there's a problem.

On the day they do, Rupert Murdoch's empire will start slowly to unravel. But until then, he and his willing stooges are coining money, and having far too much influence...

Monday, October 19, 2009

NPR Memory Hole: Shit Just "Happens!"

There are no reasons, no causes, no agency, no intentions. It just "happens," in a void, detached, alien...

From the blog NPRCheck:
The Economy Just Happened
It kills me how clueless the supposed brightest lights in our nation often are. (Thursday) on Morning Edition, Inskeep interviewed Gail Collins about a book (When Everything Changed) she wrote looking at the transformation of American women since 1960. I heard this little exchange and scratched my head.
Inskeep: "I feel like reading this, that you do get a sense of women not necessarily grasping an opportunity, but assuming an economic obligation."

Collins gets around to explaining this as follows:
"Before World War II, we lived very simple lives....then the war changed, the post-war economy came in. Everything boomed and suddenly on one person's salary, because of the GI bill and the loans, the home loans, you were able to have a house, to have a car, to have a TV, to expect to send your kids to college....And they got it on one person's salary often in those early years.

But then the '70s came and the economy just no longer could support families like this on one person's salary. But that was really the point at which people realized that if you wanted to have a middle-class lifestyle, you needed to have two people working. And it - now I believe women grow up with the same expectations men do for the most part, that it's their job."
You know, this kind of aggressive-passive assertion just drives me nuts. Where was the interviewer saying, "Yes, that postwar boom was POLICY driven." During and right after WWII NATIONAL loan, tax, and education policies pushed the income gap a bit closer and helped create a larger middle class."

It wasn't that the economy just magically stopped supporting single income families in the 1970's. It was that the 70s marked the beginning of a new policy of directing the nation's wealth up. This policy really gained steam under Reagan, of course, and has only accelerated of late. It's pretty sad - that as we are living through a virtual financial coup d'etat by the wealthy and further economic depression of the middle and lower classes in this country, all we get from NPR is such vacuous, sloppy analysis.
The oldest conceit of the SCUM "news Bidness" is that they needn't repeat any contextual information.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Limbaugh's Lies

A couple of weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh floated a trial balloon about joining a combine which offered to buy the "troubled" St. Louis Rams NFL franchise. Participation by pilonidally cystic Limbaugh drew immediate criticism from many sources, due mainly to the satchel-assed bigot Slimeball's record on racial matters, in which he has been--to put it mildly-- a "polarizing figure."

He denied he was in any way a racially compromised oligarch. Of course he lied. Robert Greenwald's outfit put out a vid which contained explicit rebuttals of the fat fux' claims, but the vid's been pulled--who the fuck is "Brad Trent"?



Via Media Matters:
On October 12, Limbaugh responded to critics by claiming that he is "colorblind," "treat[s] everybody equally" and that he "doesn't see [President Obama] as black," but rather as "president of the United States." As Media Matters' research documents, there are at least 28 examples of Limbaugh making racially charged remarks, including:

* "We are being told that we have to hope [Obama] succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles ... because his father was black."
* "I do believe" Obama is an "angry black guy."
* "[I]n Obama's America, the white kids now get beat up with the black kids cheering."
* "Obama's entire economic program is reparations."
* Obama is "more African in his roots than he is American" and is "behaving like an African colonial despot."
* Obama is "Halfrican-American."
* "Obama has disowned his white half ... he's decided he's got to go all in on the black side."
* Sotomayor "a reverse racist" appointed by Obama, "the greatest living example of a reverse racist."
* Obama "wants us to have the same health care and plan that he had in Kenya" and "wants to be the black FDR."
* Latching onto LA Times op-ed, Limbaugh sings "Barack, The Magic Negro."
* "God does not have a birth certificate. Neither does Obama"; Obama "has yet to prove he's a citizen."
* Limbaugh on Gates controversy: "Here you have a black president trying to destroy a white policeman."
* Limbaugh suggests Obama would not have acted on Somali pirates if he'd known they were "actually young, black Muslim teenagers."
* Limbaugh suggests Democrats, media believe "you can't criticize the little black man-child."
* "The government's been taking care of [young blacks] their whole lives."
* "The days of [minorities] not having any power are over, and they are angry."
* "[M]inorities never do anything for which they have to apologize."
* Limbaugh: "The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well."
* Limbaugh says "NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips."
* Limbaugh declares basketball "the favorite sport of gangs."
* Limbaugh invented "racial component" to Hackett's decision to withdraw from Ohio primary race.
* Limbaugh on Survivor series: "African-American tribe" worst swimmers, Hispanics "will do things other people won't do."
* Limbaugh suggested Colin Powell only supported Obama because of race.
* Limbaugh: Gates is an "angry racist."
* Limbaugh called illegal immigrants an "invasive species."
* Limbaugh repeatedly calls Native Americans "Injuns."
* Limbaugh says Democrats' interest in Darfur is securing black "voting bloc."
* Limbaugh says that if "feminazis" had remembered to oppose "affirmative action for black guys ... they wouldn't face the situation they face today."
I haven't the patience to c&p the links which are supplied at the Media Matters site, but the dutiful researchers at MM linked them ALL.

No one who employs the term 'reverse racism' deserves ANY attention at all, as they are clearly too stupid to live: There is no such thing as "reverse racism," only "racism," which in the USofA has an exclusively greyish-pink pallor...

And if anybody knows this dipstick "Brad Trent" who, from the google page summarizing links to his pages, seems like a litigious prick, shove his copyright up his ass, please...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Howzzat Recession Thing Going, There, Fellas?

CJR performs a great, weekly service by providing needful links:
About that housing market: (WaPo announced:) Foreclosures in the third quarter jumped 23 percent from a year ago and 5 percent from the second quarter. Some 925,000 households got a foreclosure notice sometime between July and September. (Hundreds of thousands of ARMs are scheduled to reset this autumn, promising MORE foreclosures before Xmas. W.:
Option ARMs were the most popular types of mortgage product between 2003 and 2006, as they provided many borrowers who otherwise would be unable to afford a home with a chance to purchase. Offering low mortgage rates for a fixed time (usually 5 years), interest rates were scheduled to readjust some time in the future.
...
It is predicted that from 2010 to 2012 there will be approximately $150 billion of option ARMs resetting. Some predict this will lead to a slew of new foreclosures across the country.)
Meanwhile:
MSNBC has a nice graphic look at how and where the recession is hitting the country. One-fifth of metros are in technical recovery. The rest are in moderating or full-blown recession.
That means the 80% of the country is still strruggling under the burdens of economic turmoil.

But just keep clapping, and YOU can SAVE Tinkerbelle!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

From the Dept of Simple Solutions: Any Financial Instrument Too Complicated To Be Regulated Should Be Prohibited


The vast, bi-partisan, federal conspiracy to empty the Treasury into the pockets of the Goldman-Sachs' elite proceeds apace.

Everybody from "thePrez" down to the hacks and shills on CNBC, et al, is extolling the proposed "re-regulation" of Wall Street in the aftermath of the worst financial meltdown in history (in raw numbers) being touted by Geithner, Summers, and the rest of the Wall Street hierophants.

Today comes the news that two of Geithner's closest (kitchen cabinet) advisors have been wallowing in bankster dough and peddling their influence in the Treasury in the name of the gangs of thugs they're ostensibly supposed to control: Via C&L's indefatigable Susie,
Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Some of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s closest aides, none of whom faced Senate confirmation, earned millions of dollars a year working for Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Citigroup Inc. and other Wall Street firms, according to financial disclosure forms. [This and subsequent tmphases supplied @ C&L. W]

The advisers include Gene Sperling, who last year took in $887,727 from Goldman Sachs and $158,000 for speeches mostly to financial companies, including the firm run by accused Ponzi scheme mastermind R. Allen Stanford. Another top aide, Lee Sachs, reported more than $3 million in salary and partnership income from Mariner Investment Group, a New York hedge fund.

As part of Geithner’s kitchen cabinet, Sperling and Sachs wield influence behind the scenes at the Treasury Department, where they help oversee the $700 billion banking rescue and craft executive pay rules and the revamp of financial regulations. Yet they haven’t faced the public scrutiny given to Senate-confirmed appointees, nor are they compelled to testify in Congress to defend or explain the Treasury’s policies.

“These people are incredibly smart, they’re incredibly talented and they bring knowledge,” said Bill Brown, a visiting professor at Duke University School of Law and former managing director at Morgan Stanley. “The risk is they will further exacerbate the problem of our regulators identifying with Wall Street.”
Here, Susie supplied a sardonic: "Ya think?" and then continues:
[...] Treasury spokesman Andrew Williams said the department needs people with a deep understanding of markets and the financial system, especially as it works to fend off the worst recession in half a century.

“The secretary thought that the best way to utilize their talents was to allow these individuals to provide advice to the secretary on policy issues through appointments as counselor,” Williams said.

All of Geithner’s counselors are subject to federal ethics rules, including a pledge to avoid contact with their former firms for at least a year, Williams added.

Most officials at the Treasury who have been approved by Congress come from academic, legal or non-Wall Street backgrounds.
That's because the careers of these financial prodigies cannot withstand the spotlight of confirmation hearings, given their constant association with plague-bearing vermin in banks and other institutions,, and the corpoRat ponzi-schemers whose sole function is to separate people from their money and whose bounden allies they position themselves to be...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ROAD TRIP!!!!!

Doncha Wonder Why The Guardian (e.g.) Published This, Not The NYT?


Via InformationClearhinghouse, from The Guardian, Dean Baker explains it all for us:
The elites hate to acknowledge it, but when large numbers of ordinary people are moved to action, it changes the narrow political world where the elites call the shots. Inside accounts reveal the extent to which Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon's conduct of the Vietnam war was constrained by the huge anti-war movement. It was the civil rights movement, not compelling arguments, that convinced members of the US Congress to end legal racial discrimination. More recently, the town hall meetings dominated by people opposed to healthcare reform have been a serious roadblock for those pushing reform.

Those disgusted by the bank bailouts, and the bankers who brought us this recession, will have a chance to make their views known when the American Bankers Association has its annual meeting in Chicago this month. A large coalition of labour, community and consumer organisations are organising a protest at this "Showdown in Chicago". (Please go to Chicago. W)

A big turnout at this event can make a real difference. Just to review the scorecard, most of the country is still suffering the fallout from the bankers' irrational exuberance of the housing bubble era. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and other forecasters expect the suffering to endure for years to come.

The ("Official"--W.)US unemployment rate is about to cross 10%, with an additional 9 million workers only able to find part-time work. CBO projects that unemployment will not return to normal levels until 2014. Almost 200,000 people are losing their homes every month through foreclosure. Tens of millions of people who had expected a comfortable retirement just saw most of their wealth disappear with the collapse of the housing bubble. State and local governments are being forced to lay off school teachers and fire fighters under the pressure of enormous budget deficits.

But not everyone is suffering. Thanks to the bailout programmes put in place last fall, most of the country's major banks are back on their feet. In fact, in the most recent quarter, bank profits hit a new record high as a share of all corporate profits.

And the banks are sharing their wealth. Many of their top executives and high performers will be getting bonuses this year worth millions of dollars. In some cases the bonuses will be in the tens of millions.

In the meantime, in elite Washington circles people are busy making plans for a national sales tax so that the government can limit the fiscal damage caused by the bankers' recession. A sales tax is of course very regressive, since low- and moderate-income people typically spend the vast majority of their income, while our banker friends will more likely to be able to save some of their income or spend it in other countries where they will not be paying this new sales tax.

To summarise: the bankers wrecked the economy with their greed, ran off with taxpayer dollars in a massive bailout and now plan to raise taxes for the rest of us. If that picture doesn't sound quite right, then go to Chicago.

This is a case where the divisions are not left-right, but of the elite against everyone else. When Congress was debating the Tarp bank bailout last fall, members of Congress were hearing calls from people across the political spectrum who were outraged that their tax dollars were going to the banks that had wrecked the economy. A higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats ended up voting against this bankers' piƱata.

The policies that will rein in the banks: reform of the Federal Reserve Board to make it democratically accountable, a tax on financial speculation to pay for the bankers' mess and restrictions on the bank abuses of consumers that caused the carnage have support from people on both the left and right.(N.B.: These policies are all explicitly opposed by both Geithner and "thePrez." W)

A bill that would require the Fed to disclose what it did with more than $2tn (TRILLION! W) in loans to banks and other financial institutions was originally co-sponsored by Ron Paul and Alan Grayson, one of the most conservative and one of the most progressive members of Congress. Due to public pressure, it now has more than 270 co-sponsors.

This is exactly the sort of alliance that gets the elite worried. Reining in the power of the financial industry will be a long, hard-fought war, but it is one that must be fought. President and Nobel peace prize winner Barack Obama may not have been able to bring the Olympics to Chicago, but everyone who wants to retake our country from the banks can bring their backside there on 25 October.
ROAD TRIP!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Obama Regime Supports PATRIOT ACT Renewals


"Supports?" "Endorses?" "Advocates?" What the fuck!!!! Am I wrong in recalling that the campaigning candidate said explicitly that he would reverse or repeal the most intrusive, invidious provisions of the thing?

Via Sibel Edmunds:
Last month, in a letter from the Justice Department to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Obama administration went on record supporting the extension of key provisions of the USA Patriot Act, including the provision that gives the government the power to subpoena library records of any individual.

The sections that our president is so keen to keep alive and take even further; allow roving wire taps on multiple phones, access to business records, and a never-used provision to conduct surveillance of a non-U.S. citizen who may not be part of a recognized terrorist group.

Last week the Committee obliged and passed a bill to renew all of the PATRIOT powers that were set to expire at the end of the year.

Here is the reaction by one of the exasperated civil liberties groups, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF):
“…the Committee this morning voted to accept seven Republican amendments to the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act to remove the few civil liberties protections left in the bill after it was already watered down at last Thursday's Committee meeting. Surprisingly and disappointingly, most of those amendments were recommended to their Republican sponsors by the Obama Administration.”
Here is the section I have a bit, okay more than a bit, of a problem with: ‘Surprisingly.’ Surprisingly?! Don’t take me wrong. I am, and have been, a big supporter of EFF, and applaud their great work, especially in the case of NSA illegal eavesdropping. But Surprisingly? How could anyone be surprised with this move, when it is absolutely consistent with every single move this President has made since he took office?

When it comes to the draconian State Secrets Privilege, he’s been advocating, using, and even pushing further this common law fit only for monarchs and kings. When it comes to secrecy and classification to cover up the deeds of those implicated in torture and rendition, this President has proven to be a relentless advocate. Same with this President’s support and advocacy of illegal wiretapping of Americans… Now why in the world would this move, his consistent efforts to expand executive branch power, meaning his power, to take away our civil liberties, to further our descend towards a police state, be a surprise to all these well-intended and well-informed legal communities? Am I missing something? If so, could someone please enlighten me?
No president other than Washington (and rather trivially, Jimmy Carter) has ever voluntarily returned to the State powers arrogated to meet a particular crisis. I said from the beginning that it wasn't gonna happen, that Obama would NOT restore the Constitution, despite promises to the contrary. I a=m not surprised, just dismayed...

Monday, October 12, 2009

Obamanauts Go "Fox"-Hunting (with a butter-knife)


She's not wrong. Fox IS the un-official propaganda arm of the GOPuke wing of the Party of Property ("In the Corporate State, corporate media ARE State Media!").

Fox is engaged in a full-fledged corpoRat frontal attack on Obama and the Dims. And it is attacking Obama and his agenda with open fury, derision, lies, and threats. They want Obama either dead or disgraced--preferrably the former. The Owners --of whom Murdoch is a prominent, public member-- plan to use Obama's future failures to destroy the Dims entirely, and reduce the possibility of another "novelty" candidate--black? brown? female?--to zero.

This is of course not unprecedented. The 'right' IS anti-democratic, and anti-fairness, and anti-justice, and anti-equity. And always has been: Henry Luce HATED Roosevelt, and turned all his resources to defeating him, beginning in 1937 (the same year Luce named Hitler "Man of the Year").

This is mainly scene-setting, though, too. It's context for the 'white/populist' revolt they are trying to stimulate.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Comittee Awards Peace Prize to Obama

Which, if you think about it, given what Obama has not YET done to bring peace of ANY kind to the world, anywhere--along with what he already has done to NOT TO END any of the wars in which we are now engaged--makes about a much sense as awarding the prize in Medicine, or Biology, to a first-year med student based on their lab reports and their grades in high-school chemistry.

But he DOES give a good speech:


Addendum: A better simile. It's like giving an Academy Award for Best Picture on the basis of a treatment and a pitch...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Alan Grayson: Pukes Would Ban Bacon!

This is Alan Grayson discussing health care on the floor of the House on 10/8/09. He sends a message to Democrats: No one elected Olympia Snowe President of the United States. And he sends a message to Republicans: No one cares about your feelings.
Grayson posts these from his own blog.

The greatest menace facing our nation today: ACORN!

The inimitable, inestimable, irreplaceable Tom Tomorrow:"No, Mr. Beck, I expect you to die!"
Hermeneutics for the culturally deprived, here.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Dims Contemplate Self-Inflicted Clusterfuck


If Democrats enact something like the health-care bill emerging from the Senate Finance Committee, they may call it a legislative victory and it may keep the campaign donations flowing from the insurance industry, but the Democrats would surely infuriate millions of American voters.

So declareth ConsortiumNews' Robert Parry, who has a habit of being uncomfortably, presciently correct about shit like this...

Not that the Dims actually give much of a rosey-red, rabid rat's fat ass. They only exist to provide the illusion of choice to the distressingly monolithic mythos of oligarchic "democracy."
ndeed, it seems like some Democrats, such as Sens. Max Baucus and Kent Conrad, have lost themselves so much in the inside-Washington reeds of legislating a convoluted compromise acceptable to the insurers, that they are inviting an angry backlash from average Americans.

The danger for Democrats is that this industry-friendly legislation would impose new burdens on citizens, including government fines for failing to sign up for a health-insurance plan, without guarantees that the coverage won’t be almost as crappy and expensive as it is now. The bill rejects a public option that would put competitive pressure on private insurers.

Plus, key elements of the bill, like the so-called shopping “exchanges,” aren’t to take effect until 2013, meaning that Americans will have watched this messy process unfold for months and then be told that the current system, which has cruelly pushed millions of sick people into bankruptcy, will get four more years to bankrupt more Americans.

By contrast, Medicare, the single-payer health system for senior citizens, was signed into law on July 30, 1965, and took effect on July 1, 1966, less than a year later.

The Senate Finance Committee bill also is so complicated that few citizens can possibly understand it or how it might affect them. Instead of straightening out the health-insurance maze, the bill makes it trickier to navigate. [To see for yourself, click here.]

While dumping the relatively straightforward public option, which President Barack Obama favors and which is in the four other committee-approved health-care bills in Congress, the Finance Committee bill offers “non-profit, member-run” co-ops for individuals and “small group markets.”

The co-op notion is a populist-sounding alternative favored by the insurance industry because a co-op’s organizational difficulties and relatively small size would make it easy to compete against, much as small food co-ops can be overwhelmed by the pricing advantages that favor large grocery store chains.

The other glaring problem for co-ops is that most Americans, especially small-business people, are extremely busy already. They don’t want to take part in running an insurance company; they simply want to get health insurance at a reasonable price.

Nor do most Americans want to puzzle their way through Baucus’s hodge-podge of private insurers, government subsidies, emergency waivers, penalties for non-compliance, etc., etc. If Americans lose a job or fall on hard times, they don’t want to go hat in hand to some government bureaucrat and have to lay out their financial problems to get some special favor.
...
What Americans want is affordable health coverage provided in as simple a package as possible.
The Dims would have to actually proceed as if decent health care--never so costly as to jeopardize one's independence--is a fucking HUMAN RIGHT.

But that'll never happen, cuz none of 'em actually believe it, nor would risk a single chip of their political stash to promulgate such an idea...

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Hey. Sweetheart, gimme re-write!

In a spirit one would regard as at least in some sense 'catholic,' the Xianist/fucktard theo-fascisti have undertaken to "retranslate" the Xian "Bible" so that it reflects the values of late capitalist, patriarchal, global, militarist empire exemplified in the biblical tales born in early Iron Age Palestine.

No, really. You cannot make this shit up. It's not allowed. We have standards.

For some in the Rightard Religious extreme, their Bible had "gotten" too "Liberal." Scott Horton delivers a concise, trenchant dismissal (N.B.: pun) at his Harper's blog, No Comment:
Writing at Belief.net, Rod Dreher highlights a new initiative on the religious right: the Conservative Bible Project. The effort aims to rewrite the Bible to remove its notorious liberal bias and clarify the gospel basis of free-market economics. It follows a ten-point guideline:
1. Framework against Liberal Bias: providing a strong framework that enables a thought-for-thought translation without corruption by liberal bias
2. Not Emasculated: avoiding unisex, “gender inclusive” language, and other modern emasculation of Christianity
3. Not Dumbed Down: not dumbing down the reading level, or diluting the intellectual force and logic of Christianity; the [New International Version] is written at only the 7th grade level
4. Utilize Powerful Conservative Terms: using powerful new conservative terms as they develop; defective translations use the word “comrade” three times as often as “volunteer”; similarly, updating words which have a change in meaning, such as “word”, “peace”, and “miracle”.
5. Combat Harmful Addiction: combating addiction by using modern terms for it, such as “gamble” rather than “cast lots”; using modern political terms, such as “register” rather than “enroll” for the census
6. Accept the Logic of Hell: applying logic with its full force and effect, as in not denying or downplaying the very real existence of Hell or the Devil.
7. Express Free Market Parables; explaining the numerous economic parables with their full free-market meaning
8. Exclude Later-Inserted Liberal Passages: excluding the later-inserted liberal passages that are not authentic, such as the adulteress story
9. Credit Open-Mindedness of Disciples: crediting open-mindedness, often found in youngsters like the eyewitnesses Mark and John, the authors of two of the Gospels
10. Prefer Conciseness over Liberal Wordiness: preferring conciseness to the liberal style of high word-to-substance ratio; avoid compound negatives and unnecessary ambiguities; prefer concise, consistent use of the word “Lord” rather than “Jehovah” or “Yahweh” or “Lord God.”
Writes Dreher: “It’s like what you’d get if you crossed the Jesus Seminar with the College Republican chapter at a rural institution of Bible learnin’.”
Horton does Dreher a bit of disservice, because Dreher begins his description by exclaiming "It's just crazy..." But heither he nor anyone of the literalist school can (0or wants to) address just how ANY "new" translation" squares with the whole "inerrancy/literal TRUTH-word-of-god thing? Who among the Xianist hermeneuts is now conversing with God?

I have two great sins to expiate, the second of which was not trying to talk Rod Dreher out of journalism and into accounting or theology when he was a student in classes I taught at in the J-School at LSU in the mid-'80s.

Nations Seek to Dump Dollar as Oil Currency

And you thought things were chancey now? Just you wait til China, and the Middle East drop the dollar as reserve currency. Via TruthOut:
Robert Fisk, writing on Tuesday for The Independent UK, has reported that a number of Arab states, along with several major world powers, have been holding secret meetings to formulate a plan that would eliminate the US dollar as the main form of currency in international oil transactions (by 2018).
...
Many of the nations involved in the plan hold vast dollar reserves - $2.1 trillion in Saudi Arabia and Qatar alone - and believe the plummeting value of the dollar has become a threat to their financial stability.

Fisk reports that China is the most enthusiastic participant in the plan because of its massive financial investments in the Middle East. Some 60 percent of China's oil imports come from that region, and at least 10 percent of all imports to the Middle East - a wide range of products that include weapons, automobiles, food and children's toys - come from China.
It was denied by all the usual suspects, of course.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Krugman "Gets" It, Clearly, But Cannot Make The NEXT Step.


Krugman:
"...ever since the Reagan years, the Republican Party has been dominated by radicals — ideologues and/or apparatchiks who, at a fundamental level, do not accept anyone else’s right to govern.
...
The result has been a cynical, ends-justify-the-means approach. Hastening the day when the rightful governing party returns to power is all that matters, so the G.O.P. will seize any club at hand with which to beat the current administration."

And I promise you, the only thing that'll change their minds is a bayonet at the throat.

How A Tenth of the One-Percent Lives


Via CfAF: "An average American family would have to work thousands of years to amass a billion-dollar fortune. America's super rich, the new data on our richest 400 make clear, can lose a billion and barely notice."

This is the crowd which comprises about 10 percent of the most privileged one-percenters who own about 60% of everything, and more than 95% of all the rest of us combined.
Tsunamis, we learned this past week, amount to equal-opportunity destroyers. Against a surging 20-foot wave, an opulent beachfront manse offers no more security than a cottage. But a recession, even a Great Recession, doesn’t work that way.

In a recession, as Forbes documents in its just-published latest report on America's 400 richest, most super rich do see a dip in that financial abstraction known as “net worth.” But, otherwise, life goes on, as comfortably as ever. The rich emerge unscratched out of whatever wreckage a recession may bring.

By contrast, as economist John Irons reminded us last week in a powerful new report on America's lean-pocket majority, recessionary tsunamis can leave average working families permanently scarred.

Let’s put some faces on that contrast. Start with Steve Wynn, the gaming industry “king of Las Vegas.” Wynn, along with 314 other billionaires on the list of America’s 400 richest that Forbes released this past Wednesday, has certainly lost “net worth” over the past 12 months.

In fact, Wynn has lost quite a bit of net worth since the financial industry meltdown one year ago. His fortune totaled $3.4 billion then and adds up to just $2.3 billion now, a $900 million fade. That’s a tidy sum. A typical American family, according to new Census Bureau figures, would have to work nearly 18,000 years to make $900 million.

But Wynn, despite that rather sizeable loss, hasn’t had to crimp his style over the last 12 months. He “rang in the New Year” skimming the Caribbean on a 183-foot megayacht he bought last summer. He went on to spend lovely winter days dodging gossip columnists on the Riviera and in the Alps.

Wynn has, to be sure, done some (s)crimping over the last year, namely on wages and benefits for workers in his corporate empire. He slashed paychecks at Wynn Resorts by 10 percent last winter and, among other cutbacks, suspended matches to employee 401(k)s.

Overall, the total wealth of Steve Wynn and his fellow Forbes 400 ultra rich dropped $300 billion, or 19 percent, between September 2008 and September 2009, the fifth time the top 400’s net worth has registered an annual slide since Forbes started keeping count in 1982.

After all four previous slides, the top 400 quickly regained the lost ground and resumed their march to ever greater concentrations of personal wealth. In 1982, the top 400 together held only $91.8 billion. The Forbes 400 combined net worth today stands at $1.27 trillion.

Since 1982, the wealth of the top 400 has soared an amazing 12 times faster than inflation.

Some of America’s super rich are still soaring, even amid our current economic unpleasantness. The Great Recession has been, for them, an opportunity to scoop up some can’t-miss business opportunities.
Doesn't get much plainer than that, does it? Read more. No, really, do!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

"I'm In..." --- Mr. Deity



For another thing: The biggest reason for the IOC's rejection of the Chicago bid was that the athletes, visitors, and sports fans from throughout the world would have to subject themselves to the droolin', moronic, abusive, arrogant, mono-browed, truculent, hare-lipped, xenophobic, knuckle-dragging cretins of the Transportation Safety Administration who regard it their sacred duty to inconvenience, insult, or humiliate any traveler who catches their fancy.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Hog-Tying Cowboy Capitalism: Moore & Sanders In The Saddle

Via (e.g.) TruthDig.com
What’s wrong with the American economic system? That’s what “Capitalism: A Love Story” auteur Michael Moore wants to know, and Sen. Bernie Sanders is on hand to answer him in his latest installment of Brave New Films’ “Senator Sanders Unfiltered” series. (Hint: It has something to do with “an unfettered, cowboy-type capitalism” that stems largely from the Reagan era.) —KA

Friday, October 02, 2009

Lewis Powell: God-Father of ALL "Fuck-tardity"

The spiritual ancestor of the Michael Weiner/"Savage-Glenn Beck-Bill O'Reilly-Sean Hannity brigade of ideological bullies, thugs, and gunsels--the shock-troops of what Krugman called "zombie-Reaganism, was the man who would later become Associate Justice of the SCOTUS, Lewis Powell.

The story of the so-called Powell Memo, and its balefully enduring influence is the subject of a fascinating essay on TruthOut by former colleague in the Edn. Bidness, Henry Giroux:
This is not simply a story about the rise of mean-spirited buffoons such as Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly and Michael Savage. Nor is it simply a story about the loss of language, a growing anti-intellectualism in the larger culture, or the spread of what some have called a new illiteracy endlessly being produced in popular culture. As important as these tendencies are, there is something more at stake here which points to a combination of power, money and education in the service of creating an almost lethal restriction of what can be heard, said, learned and debated in the public sphere. And one starting point for understanding this problem is what has been called the Powell Memo, released on August 23, 1971 (though not made public until AFTER confirmation hearings, by Jack Anderson, the legendary DC columnist. W) and written by Lewis F. Powell, who would later be appointed as a member of the Supreme Court of the United States. Powell sent the memo to the US Chamber of Commerce with the title "Attack on the American Free Enterprise System."
. . .
The Powell Memo was designed to develop a broad-based strategy not only to counter dissent, but also to develop a material and ideological infrastructure with the capability to transform the American public consciousness through a conservative pedagogical commitment to reproduce the knowledge, values, ideology and social relations of the corporate state. For Powell, the war against liberalism and a substantive democracy was primarily a pedagogical and political struggle designed both to win the hearts and minds of the general public and to build a power base capable of eliminating those public spaces, spheres and institutions that nourish and sustain what Samuel Huntington would later call (in a 1975 study on the "governability of democracies" by the Trilateral Commission) an "excess of democracy."
. . .
Any attempt to understand and engage the current right-wing assault on all vestiges of the social contract, the social state and democracy itself will have to begin with challenging this massive infrastructure, which functions as one of the most powerful teaching machines we have seen in the United States, a teaching machine that produces a culture that is increasingly poisonous and detrimental not just to liberalism, but to the formative culture that makes an aspiring democracy possible. This presence of this ideological infrastructure extending from the media to other sites of popular education suggests the need for a new kind of debate, one that is not limited to isolated issues such as health care, but is more broad-based and fundamental, a debate about how power, inequality and money constrict the educational, economic and political conditions that make democracy possible. The screaming harpies and mindless public relations "intellectuals" that dominate the media today are not the problem; it is the conditions that give rise to the institutions that put them in place, finance them and drown out other voices. What must be clear is that this threat to creating a critically informed citizenry is not merely a crisis of communication and language, but about the ways in which money and power create the educational conditions that make a mockery out of debate while hijacking any vestige of democracy.
Powell was a Nixon nominee, named to the Court at the same time as Rehnquist. He assumed the seat previously held by Hugo Black. His notorious 1971 memo to the CoC was certainly known to the Senate and the Administration. Powell retired at age 80, in 1987 having left behind a dismal record of favoring/upholding corporate and executive privilege against individual liberty.