Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our THIRD Bloggi--Versary!!!!
April 30, 2006 was the date of the inaugural post on this, my FIRST Blog.
It is entirely appropriate that this occasion be celebrated under the image of Homer Simpson, the Patron Saint of "D'oh!" whose infallible sense of the obvious is now and shall always be shining example for all Bloggers.
On this, along with the rest of my bloggy, bloggy doings, there have already appeared in excess of 3,000 posts: Mr. Natural, (friends will note the element of self-portrait) with ALL the ANSWERS. Hup Ho! Yep!

But, of course, this celebration couldn't be complete without an homage to that magical Cannabinoidal substance that makes it ALL possible AND wonderful!
And, Yea!, though you struggle though the Valley Of Debt, you shall fear no re-po...

And if anyone were inspired to send us a commemorative present, would it be too much to consider something like this, please?

Happy Monkey!!!
Thank you.
--The Management

PS: I plan to leave this little celebratory device up all day today. My usual posting and comments continue on The Lamb of "dog"...

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Myth of the "Math": The Owners Will ALWAYS Have The Votes

Okay, so a notoriously lying, unreliable, dishonest shitheel, Sen. Arlen Specter of PA, has decided that the pressure from the extreme/Looney-Tunes/Flying-Monkey/Fucktard segment of the PA electorate has driven him from the Party.

For the last 30 years, Spectre has been a loyal, diligent, happy warrior for the Right. He's not now, and never has been a "moderate," even by the incredibly lax standards of the GOPukes. He's supported every war, every fascist prick nomination (think Clarence Thomas, for whom he humiliated himself in attacking Anita Hill, and exculpatory theory ("the single-bullet") the Wack-loon GOPukes have ever produced (although, early on, inexplicably, he did oppose the Robert Bork nomination).

Why, then, o why o why o WHY would the brainless, feckless, useless, gutless Dims take him in?

It's not like they need another "Blue Dawg"--which is the very BEST that anyone could expect from the drooling fuckwad/dickweed/douchebag Specter who announced within minutes of proclaiming his support for Obama's agenda that he wouldn't support key parts of (EFCA) or pass certain nominees (Dawn Johnsen).

Apparently, the saintly Obamanistas think he can help them in the Senate, but why they would trust him, after his 30 years of lies. All he can do is propel an already far-too-right-of-center Dim party even further to the Right. Plus, the deal to get him to switch promised that PA Dims would not back any primary challenges so he'd have a clear path to the nomination, so there's no chance to put a 'real' Dim in the spot.

Much of the apparent euphoria over Specter's defection to the Dims revolves around the dream of a filibuster-proof majority. With a 60-vote caucus, the argument goes, the Dims needn't fear cloture votes. But this assumption is cods-wallop: With the 'red-state' Dims--the soi disant "Blue Dawgs'--numbering as many as 30% of the Dim caucus, one more unreliable vote is completely absurd. The Bosses and Owners can ALWAYS get 41 votes to prevent cloture on measures that really mater to 'em.

So, Dims, be smart: Fuck Arlen Specter. The value of having him is never gonna be worth the price...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scott Horton's Persuasive Precis For Prosecution

In reply to a David Broder column in WaPo recently, in which Auntie David gets positively giddy with disdain for the notion that Bushevik torturers in the CIA and enablers in the OLC should face criminal responsibility for war-crimes, the ubiquitous Harpers'mag "No Comment" blogger, and legal scholar offers the best and briefest summary of the argument FOR prosecution, the virtual and practical impossibility of it notwithstanding:
Since I am an advocate of accountability, and Broder presumes to question my mental health, I’ll offer a personal response. I have no interest in vengeance or retribution, but I have a strong interest in upholding the rule of law and in stopping torture. Unlike Broder, I do not consider the law to be a political plaything but rather a repository of our highest values. The United States has a series of criminal statutes which apply to this situation and which were violated. Further, the United States signed a very important international convention under which it promised to open a criminal investigation into any credible allegations of torture. At this point there is a uniform consensus that the United States is in breach of its treaty obligation. (A matter of indifference to Broder, apparently). Moreover, its conduct is sending a clear message around the world: the prohibition on torture is a trivial matter which can be defeated by a tyrant in any corner of the world. All he needs to do is hire a lawyer and have him issue an opinion that when he tortures, it’s completely lawful.
That's it, exactly. The argument is air-tight. The alternative, Horton concludes, is:
And note the means that Broder sees for resolving the matter. President Obama should resolve the question of criminal accountability himself, Broder says, bypassing the Justice Department. This surely is advice Broder has taken straight from his friend Karl Rove’s playbook. But just think about this for a while. Do we really want to live in a country in which the president is the constant arbiter of who is and who is not criminally investigated? That is the very hallmark of a banana republic, a practice that the Founding Fathers worked very hard to insulate us against. But for Broder, all the talk of independent judgment exercised by professional prosecutors is rubbish. No Washington pundit worth his salt really believes any of this. The White House calls the shots, Broder tells us, and that’s the way it should be. Broder is so deeply steeped in Beltway cynicism he hardly knows how to disguise it.
Broder is so deeply steeped in Beltway cynicism he hardly CARES to disguise it.

Look to the post just below this one for what I take to be the arguments why the truth of Horton's argument isn't going to matter...

There Will Be No "War-Crimes" Trials In The USofA

There is still so much hopeful, agitated rhetoric about bringing the Busheviks to "justice" for "war-crimes" that I feel it again impingent to inject a note of realism into the mix. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, repeatedly, permit me to (once again) outline in quite simple terms why I believe Obama is sooo reluctant to initiate any prosecutions--or investigations that were directed toward initiating prosecutions--against the bloody-handed, murderous, venal, dishonest, probably traitorous gang of thugs and gunsels that conducted a dictatorial coup d'etat over our heads, and quite appallingly successfully, between 2001 and 2009.

And THAT simply couldn't have been accomplished without at least the silent acquiescence, and more likely without the cooperation, compliance, connivance, and complicity of the WHOLE government establishment, including the soi disant "opposition." Congresscritters aren't priests of a civil religion. They are under no "moral" obligation to keep secrets which should not be kept. So the primary, pragmatic, practical, political reason that there will be no "legal" consequences for the law-breakers, the torturers (above the rank of Lieutenant), the lawyer-enablers, the propagandizers, et al, is that to do so would expose and embarrass the entire 'political' class, and possibly delegitimize--and thereby compromise--it enough to render it slightly more susceptible to public pressure for reform.

The obvious political down-side for the Owners and their overseers notwithstanding, nevertheless Obama has three categories of legitimate excuses to employ to rationalize his (political) reluctance to prosecute the Busheviks without bowing exclusively to the political one:
1) It is pretty much entirely unprecedented. That's a HUGE hurdle, just on the practical side. We SHOULD have prosecuted Nixon, which is the core of the current dilemma.

2) By bringing prosecutions, and creating a precedent, he'd be opening himself to the same treaatment by vindictive GOPukes at the end of his own regime. This is not entirely selfish, because he' also be making that the almost inevitable consequence for every subsequent presidency.

3) No jury in any venue in the USofA would now or will EVER convict Bush and his minions of crimes committed against despised, marginalized, demonized, rabid, foreign 'enemies' ("them fuckin' Hajis") in the stalwart 'DEE-FENCE!' of the country. You'd have to be institutionalizable not to see that.
Do the math: 75% of folks thinks its war-crimes. 25%, presumably, therefore don't thinks so. There are 12 members of a jury. 25% of 12 = 3. Three jurors, on average, on any jury panel will be already predisposed to jury nullification of any conviction that might be accomplished.

So, even if Obama tells Holder to go ahead, and Holder courageously ignores the problems and dilemmas posed by doing so (see points one and two above) and brings some of the malefactors to the Bar for war crimes, there's STILL (probably MORE than) a 25% it's all in vain--from the get-go...Utterly futile.

So he loses in court AND sets a pretty terrible (in the hands of the Pukes, let's say) precedent, and all for naught?

Here, let me spell it out again:

Na Ga Ha-apun...

Monday, April 27, 2009

Torture: Punishment for Imagined Crimes

Former CIA operative, Michael Scheuer had a piece on the Op-Ed of the WaPo yesterday defending USer torture policy by appealing to wildly improbable scenarios, "24" screen-plays, and exaggeration, in which a known terrorist was known to have real information about a known threat--all of which is about as unlikely as hitting the lottery.
Schreuer thinks it is wrong to strike the weapon from "freedom's arsenal."

During the Bushevik Regime, Scheuer used to be regarded a kind of "good guy," mainly because the folks at Powerline, The Corner, and the Freepers detested him, primarily for his oppositiont and criticism of the ICORP*. He's got certain cred as the former head of the CIA's bin Laden section (which notably did NOT capture or even impede bin Laden very much apparently over the 4 years he led the section, and the lack of any such notable successes ought possibly to taint his reputation for expertise, but let that pass). This recent piece places him firmly in the ranks of the "Villagers," however, as if there were ever any doubts (22 years in the CIA? "Villager"!)

What's known about torture, since time immemorial, is that it is NOT good for 'real' intelligence: getting accurate information about the names, locations, and/or future plans of the associates of the person being tortured. It is GREAT for extracting confessions and/or repentances. (Visit the "criminal" museum in Rothenburg ob der Tauber to see the fascinating array of instruments and appliances devised and devoted to these two purposes since the early Middle Ages.)

What I do know is this: If I were a captive of the CIA and suspected of being a terrorist/insurgent (and if I actually WERE such a person), and if I were to be subjected to torture--either to elicit information or a confession of some fell deed--I would be certain to seem to be reluctant to talk. Then I'd talk.

But when I did, I would lie and lie and lie and lie.

I'd tell 'em something different every day. Every breath.

I'd tell 'em wrong dates, wrong times, wrong places, wrong weapons, wrong names.

Every single time.

And I'd try like hell never to repeat myself.

Yes, they'd probably kill me/let me die. But if I were the person they thought I was, that'd be okay, too...


*ICORP = Invasion, Conquest, Occupation. Rape & Pillage

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Fierce Swine/Human/Avian Flu Manufactured By Smithfield Farms?

Grist, the invaluable, reliably snarky/punny environmental/climate/science-news site, has a piece up which, for the first and only time I am aware of, locates the source of the newest, hyper-lethal strain of animal-borne flu at a hog-raising/slaughtering/butchering site in Vera Cruz, Mexico, where nearly 1 million hogs are "processed" annually. The facility is owned and operated by Smithfield Farms, the largest hog processor in the world.
The outbreak of a new flu strain—a nasty mash-up of swine, avian, and human viruses—has infected 1000 people in Mexico and the U.S., killing 68. The World Health Organization warned Saturday that the outbreak could reach global pandemic levels.

Is Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork packer and hog producer, linked to the outbreak? Smithfield operates massive hog-raising operations Perote, Mexico, in the state of Vera Cruz, where the outbreak originated. The operations, grouped under a Smithfield subsidiary called Granjas Carrol, raise 950,000 hogs per year, according to the company Web site—a level nearly equal to Smithfield’s total U.S. hog production.

On Friday, the U.S. disease-tracking blog Biosurveillance published a timeline of the outbreak containing this nugget, dated April 6 (major tip of the hat to Paula Hay, who alerted me to the Smithfield link on the Comfood listserv and has written about it on her blog, Peak Oil Entrepreneur):
Residents [of Perote] believed the outbreak had been caused by contamination from pig breeding farms located in the area. They believed that the farms, operated by Granjas Carroll, polluted the atmosphere and local water bodies, which in turn led to the disease outbreak. According to residents, the company denied responsibility for the outbreak and attributed the cases to “flu.” However, a municipal health official stated that preliminary investigations indicated that the disease vector was a type of fly that reproduces in pig waste and that the outbreak was linked to the pig farms. It was unclear whether health officials had identified a suspected pathogen responsible for this outbreak.
From what I can tell, the possible link to Smithfield has not been reported in the U.S. press. Searches of Google News and the websites of the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal all came up empty. The link is being made in the Mexican media, however. “Granjas Carroll, causa de epidemia en La Gloria,” declared a headline in the Vera Cruz-based paper La Marcha. No need to translate that, except to point out that La Gloria is the village where the outbreak seems to have started. Judging from the article, Mexican authorities treat hog CAFOs with just as much if not more indulgence than their peers north of the border, to the detriment of surrounding communities and the general public health. Get this:
De acuerdo con uno de los habitantes de la comunidad, Eli Ferrer Cortés, los desechos fecales y orgánicos que produce Granjas Carroll no son tratados adecuadamente, lo que genera contaminación del agua y del viento en la region.
My rough translation:
According to one community resident, the organic and fecal waste produced by Granjas Carrol isn’t adequately treated, creating water and air pollution in the region.
I witnessed—and smelled—the same thing in Hardin County, Iowa, a couple of years ago, another area marked by intensive industrial hog production. The article goes on to say that area residents have long complained of “fetid odors” in the air and water, and swarms of flies hovering around waste lagoons. Like their counterparts who live in CAFO-heavy U.S. areas, they also complain of respiratory ailments. Now, with 30 percent of the area’s residents now infected with the virulent flu bug, people are demanding that state and federal authorities inspect hog operations there. So far, reports La Marcha, the response has been: nada.

The Mexico City daily La Jornada has also made the link. According to the newspaper, the Mexican health agency IMSS has acknowledged that the orginal carrier for the flu could be the “clouds of flies” that multiply in the Smithfield subsidiary’s manure lagoons.

I’ll be in touch with contacts in Mexico as this story develops —and I’ll be curious to see whether the U.S. media explores the link with Smithfield’s Mexico operation.
I'll be bl;oody surprised if there is even passing mention made to any corpoRat branding of this new menace. Luckily, I'm probably old enough that my immune system is too compromised to kill me trying to fend off this virus. And "Earth" does need another cleansing (human) pandemic.

Why not now?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

"We Don' Need No Steeenkeen Moral Compass!"

The Busheviks will NEVER face prosecution for torture or war-crimes, or for anything else. No FUCKING Way!

Apparently even Nobel-laureate economists can be delusional about these things. Although Krugman's surely right about this, he's clearly delusional to believe that anything will happen:
Krugman: "'This government does not torture people,' declared former President Bush, but it did, and all the world knows it. And the only way we can regain our moral compass, not just for the sake of our position in the world, but for the sake of our own national conscience, is to investigate how that happened, and, if necessary, to prosecute those responsible."
Yes, he's right. Let's stipulate to the underlying truth of his assertions.

But it's not gonna happen.

No Way!

Primarily, pragmatically, because if "thePrez"/the Govt "goes after" the Busheviks, Obama'd be signing up for his own--whenever he left office--indictment. He's not that brave. Fuck, he's not brave at all, that I can see. He's an accomodationist, a go-along/get-along kinda fella. There's no way he'd EVER consciously put himself in the way of that kind of trouble.

No Way! Gay-Ron-fucking-TEED, chers.

Plus, there's no precedent for it, unless you think some toothless commission--like the 9/11 Commission, or the Iran Contra Commission, led by the feckless fuckwit Lee Hamilton--would bring justice. (Yeah, right...)

And then there's this: NO JURY IN THE USA WOULD EVER CONVICT.

The country's totally polarized, and conviction requires a unanimous jury, and there's no fucking way in hell--even with smoking guns, videos, the scorched flesh, and the recorded, orchestrated screams of the tortured--that any "MURKIN" jury would ever get 12 votes to convict these fuckers, if their defense was "good faith." That is, if they claimed they did what they were doing to "protect" the country, and prevent more 'terror' attacks, and to keep the scary "sand-ni88ers and rag-haids" at bay...Hell, 30 percent of the people still ADMIRE that strutting, simpering, smirking poppinjay, the Chimp. 30% of 12 = 3 or 4 automatic votes for acquittal...

In addition, Obama would risk his political life to permit them to be tried in any other venue. It'd be an death-sentence for whatsoever (progressive/liberal) agenda his regime might propose. Imagine the turmoil form Beck, et al: Wogs trying White Murkins for War Crimes? Yeah, right...

NAGAHAPUN, people.

If these folks are gonna pay any price, it's either gonna be at the hands of fate or in the imaginary never-never land of heaven-and-hell...

Surely you must all see this. Even Krugman.

We're gonna have to learn to go through our Imperial decline WITHOUT a "moral compass." But the direction is clear and irreversible, so probably we don't really need a compass to get where were going...

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Dear John..." : Some Things Just Make You Wonder

I used to bother people at a lot of different blogs (okay, I guess I still do, sometimes). I think the first "major" at which I was banned was DU. I was banned at Slate (under at least 10 sock-puppets), then at BartCop, and in 2007 by Atrios. Kos never even permitted me to register. Mostly it was because of my proclivity for profane epithet and scathing invective, often coupled together for effect, in the context of usually impeccable grammar and apt syntactical construction...

After Atrios, I went around to a bunch of sites, looking for a home...I usually stopped where I saw discourses not so different from my own: anti-fascist, anti-Bushevik, anti-war, anti-corporat. One was FDL (FireDogLake), an "A-level" blog, with friends in high places. For a while they semi-tolerated my profane apostasy--being almost wholly-owned subsidiary of some part of the Dim party machine, they were not inclined to much tolerance of criticisms of the accepted wisdom, and I am pretty much non-doctrinaire. In the end, they shunned me.

It was subtle. I was not ever officially, or explicitly banned, but eventually my posts were constantly--ALWAYS, every one--"held for moderation," which is the death-knell for conversation. It was definitely conscious...So I stopped trying to plunk down my 2 cents worth of profanity-laden, literate, sophisticated vituperation and criticism of the orthodoxy at FDL (and also Corrente-wire, to which I was invited after Atrios banned me; but my opinions were too coarse for the Correntists, too, apparently, as they also shunned me into retiring), and betook myself to other, more tolerant, climes.

Anyway, I was taken a little aback by the friendly, collegial tone of the following missive which I found in my in-box this morning:

Dear John,
At the end of the month, when I pay my phone bill, I'm much happier knowing that part of that money is going to groups like the ACLU and EFF. That's why I'm delighted to announce that our friends at CREDO Mobile are offering a special deal to FDL readers -- if you switch your mobile phone service to CREDO, they'll cover the cost of your current termination fee up to $200 (see below for all the details). CREDO supports nonprofits every year with 1% of their members' phone bills -- and members nominate those groups and get to vote on the how those donations are allocated.

We've worked closely with the folks at CREDO on holding the Bush Administration accountable for illegal wiretapping, so I hope you'll take a minute to read what they have to say below and consider using your power of economic choice to do something good for all of us.

Jane Hamsher
Firedoglake.com
SO because I cannot but concur with the program--though I am amused by the friendly presumption--here's a link to the CREDO page. (I don't have a cell-phone because I feel no need to make myself constantly and unavoidably accessible to every semi-simian pecksniff with thumbs.

But some folks find them useful, and the argument--'tis better to give your phone dollars to a corp with some vestiges of a social consciousness than to pay them to att or verizon or any of the rest of the CorpoRat vultures--is compelling. Also the terms are very attractive. They'll even pay off some of your contract, under certain conditions.

So screw the censorious pricks at FDL--screw, as a matter of fact, ALL censorious pricks everywhere--and avail yourself of the CREDO offer if it is germane to your existence...

PS: the word "Socialist" will trigger certain spam/moderator filters. Wanna guess why?

Look at the word.

Embedded in it is the product name "cialis"...Funny, eh?

From "Hopium" To "Hypium": Obama's Disillusioned Progressive Base

Naomi Klein, in The Nation this week, turned her not inconsiderable talents to creating an appropriate lexicon with which to describe the fading prospects for real change in the Obamanista regime, at least from the perspective of the left/liberal wing of the base:
All is not well in Obamafanland. It's not clear exactly what accounts for the change of mood. Maybe it was the rancid smell emanating from Treasury's latest bank bailout. Or the news that the president's chief economic adviser, Larry Summers, earned millions from the very Wall Street banks and hedge funds he is protecting from reregulation now. Or perhaps it began earlier, with Obama's silence during Israel's Gaza attack.

Whatever the last straw, a growing number of Obama enthusiasts are starting to entertain the possibility that their man is not, in fact, going to save the world if we all just hope really hard.

This is a good thing. If the superfan culture that brought Obama to power is going to transform itself into an independent political movement, one fierce enough to produce programs capable of meeting the current crises, we are all going to have to stop hoping and start demanding.

The first stage, however, is to understand fully the awkward in-between space in which many US progressive movements find themselves. To do that, we need a new language, one specific to the Obama moment. Here is a start.
What follows is clever--
Hopeover. Like a hangover, a hopeover comes from having overindulged in something that felt good at the time but wasn't really all that healthy...
Hoper coaster. Like a roller coaster, the hoper coaster describes the intense emotional peaks and valleys of the Obama era, the veering between joy at having a president who supports safe-sex education and despondency that single-payer healthcare is off the table at the very moment when it could actually become a reality....(etc.)...
, but too "hopeful" by half in my humble opinion. Klein seems to think that the Murkin "prog/lib/left" has sufficient coherence that it can mobilize without a figure-head around which to rally.

Klein concludes by referencing:
Political scientist Sam Gindin (who) wrote recently that the labor movement can do more than protect the status quo. It can demand, for instance, that shuttered auto plants be converted into green-future factories, capable of producing mass-transit vehicles and technology for a renewable energy system. "Being realistic means taking hope out of speeches," he wrote, "and putting it in the hands of workers."
I never understand injunctions like this. Precisely HOW is "labor," which cannot even count of the Congress to consider, much less to PASS, the EFCA legislation, going to garner the support necessary to "re-open" closed automotive factories, re-tool them, and go into production?

There is one and only one thing that assures political activity will follow your agenda: MONEY. Labor doesn't have any. Hence they are condemned (as they have been since PATCO/Reagan) to sucking a dry, empty hind tit.

The problem is that wherever the word "hope" is appropriate, so it another four-letter word: "hype." I shall make no new friends with this assertion, but I have been pretty much convinced since late 2007 that the "hope" and the "hype" were virtually interchangeable in the Obama-con vocabulary. I think "thePrez" is even more a puppet/figure-head than even Raygun was. My deepest fear, and one I believe is increasing likely to be the true state of affairs, is that he is the "Ultimate Token," installed primarily to at least partially disguise the horrific stench of the contaminated USer politics of race: Political "Febreez"!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

False Equivalence, Revisited.

On C&L, this afternoon, Amato's crew dips their ladle into the bubbling cauldron of cess that is cable "news," and comes up with an exchange between MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell and Darth Cheney's daughter Liz Cheney (is she the lesbian? I fergit...W). Cheney, who is a lightweight--no, a light-featherweight--intellect, conflates the participation by USer troops' a military training program, explicitly DESIGNED by war-planners to prepare the troops to face torture without weakening--with the application of these "enhanced interrogation methods" against supposed, or accused, or believed-jihadist detainees, and implies that therefore this ISN'T really torture because.... errrr, ummmm, yanoooo, if we call that torture, then we must face the accusation that we we tortured our own troops...

Take my word. That's what she says. Not in so many words, but in essence...She doesn't KNOW she said it. But that's what she said. It is...

You REALLY Don't Have To WATCH! The STOOPIT! IT HURTS!!!!ITHURTS!!!!! OMIGAWDITHURTS!!!!!!!!!!



This argument, you now see, is the epitome of dim-witted speciousness; or the apotheosis of utterly cynical, intellectual and historical dishonesty. No one can be this stupid and be allowed to drive.

See, here's the point: Soldiers were "trained" with "SERE" "techniques" to prepare them to face TORTURE their bosses thought they'd face on--or after-- the battlefield!

SERE soldiers were subjected to treatments the Brass expected pow's to have to endure. They assumed that our enemies would do to our captives what we would do to theirs, and the SERE training arose from that tactical decision. "We" knew what to expect: US Marines were (often fatally) "waterboarding" Filipino insurgents during the so-called "Spanish-American War" a Century and a bit ago. USer troops went through SERE training to harden them to the TORTURE their bosses anticipated they'd face. SERE replicated tortures the USer military establishment had reason to believe might be inflicted on USer troops by people who knew as much about torture as they did.

Get it, now?

Chuy!

They --Obama and the Banksters--Are Robbing Us Blind

"Some people rob you with a pistol,
Some with a fountain pen..."
--Woody Guthrie, The Ballad Of Pretty-Boy Floyd
David Sirota on his blog at OpenLeft, has the following, most apposite, observations:
We're Being Robbed
by: David Sirota
Thu Apr 23, 2009 at 11:54
Not that we didn't know it already, but three separate stories this week tell us that taxpayers' bank bailout money A) is being stolen B) is being handed over to lobbyists and C) hasn't stopped banks from foreclosing on homeowners. Bailout critics who stood with the vast majority of Americans in opposing this bailout predicted exactly this outcome - and yet were nonetheless berated by Establishment pontificators as Not Serious Extremists Who Hate America. Now, the facts are in.
And whether Obama and Geithner and Summers and rest of the Wall-Streeters now in Govt. are accomplices or merely ineffective tools, they're either stealing everything that isn't too heavy to lift, or standing by watching the thieves abscond with the treasury...
Fact 1 - Our taxpayer money, as predicted, is being stolen:
In the first major disclosure of corruption in the $750-billion financial bailout program, federal investigators said Monday they have opened 20 criminal probes into possible securities fraud, tax violations, insider trading and other crimes.

The cases represent only the first wave of investigations, and the total fraud could ultimately reach into the tens of billions of dollars, according to Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general overseeing the bailout program. The disclosures reinforce fears that the hastily designed and rapidly changing bailout program run by the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve is going to carry a heavy price of fraud against taxpayers -- even as questions grow about its ability to stabilize the nation's financial system.
Fact 2 - Our taxpayer money is subsidizing bank lobbyists, who are lobbying against executive pay caps and financial regulation:
Top recipients of federal bailout money spent more than $10 million on political lobbying in the first three months of this year, including aggressive efforts aimed at blocking executive pay limits and tougher financial regulations, according to newly filed disclosure records.
*Fact 3 - Our taxpayer money isn't stopping bank recipients from foreclosing on homeowners:
Some of the nation's largest mortgage companies are stepping up foreclosures on delinquent homeowners. That will likely lead to more Americans losing their homes just as the Obama administration's housing-rescue plan gets into gear.

J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac all say they have increased foreclosure activity in recent weeks.*
This is what kleptocracy looks like - it doesn't come at the tip of a bayonet, it comes via politicians wearing designer suits and ties. We're being robbed - and stopping this theft, even if it means going up against the Obama administration, has to be a central part of the progressive movement. Because if it isn't, we'll not only cede the populist political mantle to the right, we'll see our country's assets plundered and our future flushed down the toilet.
And probably the only way to stop it is to bring out the tumbrels, and drag a few of these scum-sucking plutocrats up onto the deck of Mme. Guillotine...And St, Barry has effectively ceded "populism" to the Rightard/Fuckwitz/Flying Monkeys like O'Reilly, Hannity and Beck because to assume the Progressive mantel would have been "too divisive."

*And as through your life you travel,
Yes, as through your life you roam,
You won't never see an outlaw
Drive a family from their home.

"Hairline" Sean Hannity Volunteers To Get Waterboarded For Charity

They'd make A LOT OF MONEY if they auctioned off the privilege of waterboarding the gutless, vile, vicious shitheel. I'd pay real money for the chance to inflict terror on his empty little soul...$10,000 just to (not gently) stuff the dirty, shit-soaked rag into his vile, feculent, vicious, drooling gob...

How anyone whose hairline intersects his eyebrows can be regarded as a credible source for anything I have no idea. And normally--except for efforts to humiliate Bill O'Reilly (shoot the fucker in the nutz with a taser)--I eschew remarking upon anything pertaining to or involving Faux "News," but I can make an exception in this case. I won't waste the bandwidth supplying here the actual clip, and instead supply you with a link if you choose to defile you bytes and pixels with the unmitigated crap and bullshit spewed last night by the nation's leading torture-exponent (via TheMom, whose gag-reflex is somewhat weaker than my own and is apparently able to sit through the whole thing). TheMom writes:
Once you get through all the bullshit between these two (Charles Somebody, an actor), the offer was made by Sean (gag) Hannity, to be waterboarded FOR CHARITY!!!! WTF?!?! I wonder if the waterboarding would have gone easier on the enemy combatants...if they offered to do it for charity? Hannity is one of those Cheney followers, as we well know, and says he doesn't believe in torture, but waterboarding is OK.

One part of this clip even brings up the ANN COULTER name. What a darling she is and how much Hannity likes her. {{{{gagging still}}}}!!

After Dubya managed to weasel back into the White House in '04...Hannity's mantra was "get over it - you lost!" Now that the tables have turned - he just can't "get over it!" I have been to every "hate Sean Hannity" site on the internet - and he still will not go away!

Bottom line - I WANT TO SEE HANNITY WATERBOARDED BY THE PROFESSIONALS! Not by some dipshit with a water pitcher. But face it, this will never happen. Sean Hannity is a pussy. He's an overbearing, know-it-all (yet knows nothing) asshole. And NO, I am not president of his fan club!
That guy who got the treatment 183 times in a month would be the poster child for charitable contibutions. I would actually pay real money to watch that helmet-haired little fucknozzle waterboarded by somebody who wasn't trying NOT to hurt him...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Why Are ANY Of The Bushevik US Attys Still In Power?

>Remember the US Attorney scandal? It's hard, I know, but try...It was a couple of years ago, and so may have passed from your recollection under the remorseless barrage of other horrors attending the slow, poisonous decline of the Busheviks--to say nothing of the latest homely/pre-pubescent singing sensations to sweep the nation.

A refresher: Various GOPuke Grand Panjandrums and High Functionaries called upon the Bushevik "Justice" Department to dismiss a number of US Attorneys in some seven (or 10, depending on who's being counted) venues and jursidictions for their evident and gallingly insufficient attention to the political needs of the incumbent GOPukes and the local parties to have brickbats to fling at the Dims in coming elections. Prosecutions were needed, and these seven (or 10) were apparently not producing them (the well-known, long-standing official prohibitions against bringing such prosecutions in the immediate proximity to and election notwithstanding).

These several USAttys--including New Mexico's David Iglesias--were judged by their GOPuke (political) superiors to have had insufficient zeal for politicizing their offices. Complaints flowed to Karl Rove--notably from two of New Mexico's most prominent legislators, "Pajama" Pete Domenici and "Leather" Heather Wilson, Domenici's lap-top and heir presumptive--to "Alfredo "Fredo" Gonzalez at the Do"J" that certain USAttys--including Iglesias--weren't "pulling their share of the loads" for the political purposes of fostering and sustaining the eternal GOPuke majority, and they had to go.

And go they did.

Seven (some say 10) were summarily dismissed for a variety of ginned-up, spurious reasons.

That left 83, or so, USAttys whose tenure was unaffected by the shake-up. And of those, as far as I know, very many if not most of them are still in the employ of the Obama/Holder USDoJ.

Perhaps under other circumstances, retaining the services of some remnants of the previous administration's appointments might make sense. But not now! Remember, these were people who HELD their jobs when others were being fired for not being political enough in their prosecutions! These are 'legal officials' who have demonstrated by retaining their jobs that they are willing to do anything they're told to do. These are people--officers f the Court, for chrissake!-- who are demonstrably lacking in honor, principle, and shriven of every scintilla of legal ethical perspective.

What, anyone with the tiniest sliver of conscience must ask, did these people DO to merit retention in the vast, deep, vile, murderous criminal enterprise known as the Bushevik "Justice" department? They followed orders, just like their colleagues in the CIA, and the FBI, and HSA, and (willingly or grudgingly, it is irrelevant) broke the law.

An apt example of the breed is provided by one of those still practicing USAtty craft in the new administration after demonstrating utmost fealty and devotion to the previous regime by railroading the governor of Alabama into prison on trumped up charges. That one, especially loathsome example is the execrable, feculent, reeking, foul creature called Leura Canary, of the Middle Alababma jurisdiction.

Thom Hartmann has taken up the cudgel to try to get Holder to dismiss Canary who, if memory serves, is the wife of one of Karl Rove's closest personal friends. He has invited listeners to phone Holder's DoJ to "request" that Canary be dismissed, forthwith. Hartmann believes Holder is "basically a nice guy," and that callers
"...ask Holder to remove Leura Canary from her position now. We should ask that all the Bush-appointed U.S. attorneys should be removed from office. And we should ask for the charges against Don Siegelman should be dropped. He said that Eric Holder is a good guy and that we should be polite and respectful when we call. He gave out the phone number: 202-514-2001. Thom said that Don Siegelman’s case is the one that can most substantially lead to the prosecution of Karl Rove,"
according to a post on Mark Crispin Miller's NewsFromTheUnderground blog. You can find background on the Siegalman case here, also here, and there. I don't know that "request" is the term I'd use. I'd "demand." Public officials who object to citizens' "demands" are in the wrong fucking business. And I would also note that "politesse" does not preclude a certain degree of snark...

Holder risks looking like a butt-wipe of the Rightard fuckwitz if he can recommend setting aside Ted Stevens' conviction but makes no effort to do exactly same for Siegelman. I have as yet seen no reason to trust Holder (or much of the Obamanista contingent) on matters of justice.

Monday, April 20, 2009

On The Occasion Of His 63rd Natal Anniversary...

...Doctor "J," the "Tokin Librul" invites both (of) his readers and any passers-by to "Toke-Up, Mang"!!! Pass that kutchie...
Join me in celebrating the odd accident of the date (4/20) and the time (4:20 am, CST) of my delivery, with the etymological derivation of my family name, a cognate in its original form with the local word for cannabis (i.e., "hemp,") all of which circumstances have concatenated to result in the man you would now behold, were you beholding me now...Over there, on the left...(Photo: Forest Taber)

Happy Monkey, one and all!

(Note: You cannot FIND this recording for less than $50. Go Figger!)
Here's an idea!
Pass the Kutchie by The Mighty Diamonds

Ozomatli's on it!

Coda: If there is to be any hope of actually pacifying the Border, we GOTTA

Sunday, April 19, 2009

NTLB, NPLB, and NFLB: A Parable of "Accountability"


I found this gem over on Susan Ohanian's essential (if you care about education, rather than schooling) blog:
Dentists, Doctors, and Policemen to be Held Accountable

(Another item in the news you will read nowhere else.)

by Stephen Neat, Eggplant.

Little noticed in the furor over the economy, treabagging and the torture memos, last week, President Obama unveiled three radical, new federal initiatives aimed at increasing accountability in three vital areas of American life: Dental clinics, hospitals and police departments. Together, the measures were described as necessary for "raising the dental hygene standards of patients in America's struggling dentist offices, holding hospitals accountable for America's declining health, and improving America's failing police departments." The programs would be enacted under three Congressional acts: No-Tooth-Left-Behind(NTLB), No-Patient-Left-Behind (NPLB), and No-Felon-Left-Behind (NFLB).

Under NTLB dentists' offices that reduce the rate of dental caries or cavities in their patients would receive federal tax breaks. Some dentists argue that other factors besides the quality of their care have a role in the health of patients' teeth and gums. Proponents of the proposed law scoff at such claims. They claim, without any accurate evidence, that the United States is falling dangerously behind other developed nations in oral health, and that the situation must be reversed.

NPLB would assess the "achievement" of hospitals based on the health of their patients. This would be measured by a battery of tests administered between April 22 and May 9 of each year. Some doctors argue that improving patients' health is an ongoing process and cannot be assessed by one group of tests, given once a year. These objections are being ignored in the mainstream media, however, as they cannot be accurately or engagingly summarized in ninety seconds or less.

The measure aimed at improving the performance of law enforcement, NFLB, calls for 100% of all investigations to be solved by 2012. If this does not happen, police
departments would begin to lose tax funding and be required to contract much of their services out to private security companies. Police departments that do not turn themselves around in five years would be closed and reconstituted as charter police departments. "Some people have argued that NFLB is unrealistic," said Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA), a co-sponsor of the legislation,"But it's for the children!"

The responses to the proposed legislation have been immediate. Across the nation doctors laying aside their stethoscopes--gynecologists are laying aside their love-- police officers have put down their guns, and dentists have put down their...their, umm, those sharp, little pointy things dentists use and their drills. These professionals have taken to the streets to protest the proposed legislation.

"Do they really believe that we're going to take this sitting down," said one protesting dentist? "Do they think that we're going to let them tear our professions apart while we carry on gamely with our work?

"Who do they think we are? Teachers!?" he laughed...

Let's Go VIRAL!


Via The American Nihilist:

You are cordially invited to steal this picture, medallion, or whatever you call it. Drag and drop it to your desktop. Attach it to your e-mails and send to friends. Post it on your blog if you are as annoyed as I am about Tempest in a Tea Bag Day. All rights are hereby waived.

The Teflon Gang who organized Tempest in a Tea Bag Day know damn well who should take the blame for the economic mess in which we find ourselves. Don’t let them get away with this political game of diversion and deception. So go ahead, take it, and go viral.

Our current national debt, also known as sovereign debt, is currently $11 trillion dollars. Deficit spending by three, successive Republican administrations accounts for $9 trillion of the total … a whopping 82%. Yet, Republicans want to pin their transgressions on the Democrats, and specifically the Obama administration, in an attempt to derail important legislation designed to fix this mess.

Nine out of 11 trillion dollars in total! What an interesting ratio! It reminds me of another 9/11, but undoubtedly any reference to the terrorist attack of 9/11 would surely offend.

Octopus will even customize it for you, if you wish, as an extra incentive to get the message out. So go ahead, take it, post it, and go viral.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Obama's Choice To Head The Auto Re-Organization: Is He A Fucking Scab Union Buster?


Steven Rattner.

Here's his Wiki bio:
Steven "Steve" Lawrence Rattner is an American financier and private equity investor. He is one of the four founding partners of the private investment firm Quadrangle Group, which invests media and communications companies globally. On February 23, 2009, the Wall Street Journal announced that Rattner would be named to the Treasury Department as auto industry adviser The New York Times reported that he would be lead advisor and leader of the industry group for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.[1]

A graduate of Brown University, Rattner started his career as a reporter with The New York Times, first at the Washington bureau, where he became close friends with Times' ownership-family member Arthur Sulzberger, who also was at the time working as a reporter; and then at the London bureau. Subsequently, Rattner quit journalism and joined Morgan Stanley, where he founded their Communications Group. In 1989 he joined Lazard as a General Partner; he founded their Media and Communications Group. In 1997 he became Lazard's deputy chairman and Deputy CEO, a new position. He stepped down from those positions in 1999, and left Lazard in 2000, with three other partners in that firm, to found the Quadrangle Group.

In January 2008 it was reported that, through his friendship with Rattner, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's extensive business interests were placed in "a sort of blind trust" because of Bloomberg's possible run for the presidency. Bloomberg would "continue to have control of and access to certain investment decisions."[2] Quadrangle will continue with its responsibilities for Bloomberg after Rattner's departure for the Treasury position. Bloomberg also strongly endorsed Rattner's Treasury appointment.[1]

In April 2009 reports surfaced that he had directed his firm to pay $1 million to New York state officials to obtain control of $100 million of the state's pension fund.[3]
You'll have noticed that the description is pretty bland? Nothing in it to justify the extreme expostulation of the hed on this piece, certainly. Just the spoor of the average, aspirant sycophant's nose up the ass of the "connected" to that nirvana of wealth and power: Acquiring the taste for gilded shit. Nobody every amounted to anything who couldn't or wouldn't tongue-lave the prostates of the powerful on demand. Nothing unusual there, right? It's the American Way.

But then you read the piece on Wednesday by John MacArthur, Harper's Magazine publisher, and the quite understandable distaste the biography engenders becomes the stuff of my headline:
Wall Street Sharks Circle the UAW

by John R. MacArthur

Barack Obama's commitment to helping labor has always been suspect, but handing over the American car business to the investment banker Steven Rattner might well turn the president into the last great union buster.

To be sure, we're already long past the point where industrial unions have any real clout in our so-called service economy - this thanks to "free trade" (that is, guaranteed cheap labor in foreign locales and low import tariffs on foreign-made goods) and Bill Clinton's alliance with the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC). Franklin Roosevelt's old party of labor is now almost entirely the party of Wall Street and only a severe depression might alter this political reality. When Obama sent economist Austen Goolsbee to reassure the Canadian government that the candidate's criticism of the North American Free Trade Agreement during the Ohio primary didn't mean anything, he meant it.

But this isn't to say there aren't a few remaining pockets of working-class resistance to the money power that Wall Street and the DLC would like to crush. And right now, Rattner and the Treasury Department task force's biggest target is not the overpaid executive staff at General Motors, but the United Auto Workers union, the country's best and traditionally most honest mass labor organization.
After a short summary of the rise and fall of the USer Union movement, MacArthur returns to is main point (I bold-faced one of the "money" quotes):
...Right-wingers still whine about "big labor's" supposedly disproportionate influence, but campaign contributions tell a different story: The finance, insurance and real-estate sector (FIRE) gave Obama just over $38 million in this last campaign, while labor gave a paltry $466,324, according to the research group Open Secrets. Granted, UAW political-action committees donated $2.32 million to various Democratic candidates in the latest election cycle (according to the FEC), but this is loose change in the world of Steven Rattner and his wife, Maureen White, a former banker and one-time national finance chairwoman of the Democratic Party. Combined, the bundled contributions of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and J.P. MorganChase just to the Obama campaign amounted to $2.28 million.
Let's pause for just a brief moment to consider this paragraph. "FIRE gave Obama just over $38 million in this last campaign, while labor gave a paltry $466,324..." Savor that flavor? Yep. Corruption. No, no not the FIRE bribery. It's the Unions. Really!
Nevertheless, we will hear no end of the overpaid and gluttonous autoworkers who dared to demand health insurance, pensions and good wages. Isn't it outrageous that a GM production worker can make $28 an hour, including benefits, and that he or she can retire in some comfort after decades on the assembly line? Isn't it terrible that GM is contractually obliged to take care of its workers? God forbid we protect Americans by raising the 2.5 percent tariff on imported cars to compensate for indirect Japanese export subsidies.

But the UAW's critics needn't worry. Whether Obama eases GM into Chapter 11 bankruptcy - that wonderful system of corporate protectionism - no doubt favored by Austen Goolsbee and Lawrence Summers, or whether he forces the UAW to destroy itself with givebacks, we're headed for the end of the line for middle-class unionism.

Bankruptcy would make it easier to break union contracts, but the UAW, relentlessly attacked for being too successful for its members and so far unable to organize Japanese car plants in the United States, will probably cave in for PR reasons before it comes to Chapter 11. If that happens, it won't be a union anymore.

Meanwhile, autoworkers (and automakers) in Japan will continue to benefit from government-funded national health insurance unavailable to American employees of non-union Japanese plants in the U.S. And Steven Rattner can go on throwing benefits for Democrats at his home on Fifth Avenue.
Anyone with the cognitive acuity of a sand-dollar has known from the very outset of this crisis that the "bidness interests"--that is, the corporate wing of the State--would use the "shock" of the financial crash as the opportunity--if indeed, it was not the express purpose--to seriously wound if they couldn't kill the last vestiges of union protection for workers which still survive after 30 (well, 28) years of Reaganism. It was and is transparent.

It took GOPuke Nixon to go to China (though it was Carter who opened relations). It needs a Dim (Obama) to kill the Unions, all the better if it's a woman or a minority. This, in fact, might just be the exact purpose for which the Owners chose Obama to be President...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Excelence In Broadcasting: Free, and Worth Every Penny


The Ditto-Heads, as well as the Head Ditto, like to proclaim the huge number of stations carrying Limpball's three-hour-long puddle of Rightard crapulence is a testament to the Biggest Piggie's popularity. But all is not what it seems in the Slimeball-ville.

How DID Rush Limbaugh's show get to be so ubiquitous (not "popular," just ever-present)?

Cap-Cities Communications, a wholly-owned spin-off ot ABC/Disney, which "owns" the franchise, gave it away to hundreds of small- and mid-market all across the country.

When you're out there, slogging across in fly-over country at 75 mph, --East Jesus, NE, or Bumfuck, Tx, or Shit City. La--and the radio dial is replete with Slimeball's sick, twisted bloviation, chances are that the stations carrying Rush/EIB are NOT paying for the syndicated service, but are instead probably GETTING PAID to carry it.

No, really. It's called barter:
So, a local talk station got Rush's show for zilch. In exchange, Premiere took for itself much of the local station's available advertising time (roughly 15 minutes an hour) and packed the show with national ads it had already pre-sold.

Think Gold Bond Medicated Powder.

It's a very sweet deal for local radio station owners, explained Bill Exline a respected radio broker (he helped people buy and sell local stations). "Not only does the local station get three hours of free programming," Exline explained, "but that's one less local talk-show host on staff they need. It makes small- and medium-market radio properties more profitable and attractive by cutting down staff expenses."
Sweet deals.

Obama's Education Policies EXPAND The (Failed) Bushevik NCLB

In The Face Of Tragedy, Testing Goes On!
Arne Duncan, the Obamanista Education Minister, is a corporatist, privatizing, authoritarian, militaristic control freak who confuses 'obedience' with 'learning.' The Obamanista Plan for schools is just more and worse interference by the Feds to punish schools which don't truckle to their fascistic plans. Via Andy Kroll, Truthout:
"Before an audience of big-city mayors and school superintendents in late March, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan offered an early - and troubling - indication of his vision for the future of public K-12 education in the United States.

Duncan told audience members at the Mayors' National Forum on Education in Washington, DC, that more mayors need to take control of low-performing, urban school districts, and that he was prepared to do whatever it takes to shift leadership of urban districts from school boards to City Halls. 'I'll come to your cities. I'll meet with your editorial boards. I'll talk with your business communities,' Duncan said. 'I will be there.'

For those familiar with Duncan's controversial legacy in Chicago, one that emphasized the privatization and militarization of that city's mayor-led public schools, Duncan's vow to give more big-city mayors control over their city's schools is a worrying harbinger of reforms to come."
Duncan's pledge to put more big-city mayors in charge of their school districts would exclude democratic forms of school governance and let big businesses decide the fate of public schools.
His vocal support of mayoral control in underperforming urban school districts looks an awful lot like an attempt to replicate the Chicago education model of shuttering public schools, replacing them with privatized or militarized schools, shutting out teachers' unions and taking power away from community members and citizens - all on the recommendation of the city's corporate elite - on a national scale. (This from an appointee of the guy whose MOST compelling historical experience was as a 'community organizer? Yeah, CHANGE WE CAN FUCKING BELIEVE IN. W.)

This is hardly the kind of "change" needed to boost student achievement, encourage more young people to become teachers and turn around this country's underperforming schools. Instead of empowering local school boards in urban districts to better govern their schools, promoting mayoral control of schools would likely consolidate power in the hands of a single leader - and a politician at that, someone beholden to wealthy supporters and special interests, always with an eye on reelection. By giving more big-city mayors control over their school districts, Duncan is essentially handing that control to the corporate elite of these big cities to craft educational reforms with their own interests in mind.
Follow the link and read the rest. It's sure to enlighten and enrage. Another good site on which to track the Obamanista Revolt Against Public Schools is linked just below: Susan Ohanian's blog. And read her books too. She's very smart, very concerned, and very, very correct...

People who do 'well' in school are prepared thereby to...yes, DO WELL IN SCHOOL.

But goddamn little else.

DOTOF™: Susan Ohanian/SusanOhanian.Org for the photo

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jaw-Dropping Credulity? NPR "Interviews" Economic "ID" Guru

How is one supposed to gum one's kippers, or even sip one's tea under the un-hindered onslaught of amazing and apparently un-reality-connected information pouring from what one takes under normal circumstances to be a reliable information source?

From Dean Baker (of/on the TAP/Beat the Press blog), one of the few economists who seem to have had it mostly right, on the subject of Richard Bove ("Bovay") getting his nationally broadcast, lingual prostate-laving this morning by NPR's eternally credulous and chipper news reader, Steve ("Little Squeaky") Inskeep. The 'interview' seemed in keeping with NPR's self-appointed duty to buck up the spirits of Middle-Class (and upwards) America in these hard times...The hed is Baker's:
NPR Presents the Views of Economic Creationist

The banks are just fine. Only a small number of loans have gone bad. Ah yes, it's a beautiful day. I suppose we have full employment also.

It's great to have diverse viewpoints, but NPR should try to make sure that the economic analysts it features have some grasp of reality. Richard Bove, who was featured on a segment on Morning Edition, doesn't fit the bill. Banks are seeing record default rates on all forms of loans and will continue to do so for the next two years. It is absurd to contend that the banks are just fine as Mr. Bove contends. It is irresponsible to present this as a serious position.
Irresponsible it might be, but I bet you there were waves of relief lapping like oceans of warm urine around the kitchens and breakfast nooks of Murkin middle management this morning.

Unasked, of course, was/is: "If you're correct, and the crisis is a scam, what happened and still is going to happen to all that loot that the Busheviks shoveled at the banks in their last months in power?"

Squeaky, of course, couldn't even bring himself to ask Bove what the sources were for the numbers he was throwing around to buttress his claims. Apparently he didn't want to risk embarrassing his guest by inquiring why his numbers were so much smaller than those in the public conversations. He noted a disparity, but never asked Bove to explain it.

But if you're the Nation-wide Propaganda Repeater, probably there are things you don't wanna ask...I, for one, am not especially excited that NPR seems to have become the apotheosis of the CorpoRat Press, given that

In the CorpoRat State, corporate media are the State Media!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Triumph Of "Agit-Prop": The Great American "*Tea-Bagging*"

Much has been made, as much was supposed to have been made in the *SCUM* and in the blogospheres, over the clever propaganda trick rolled out by the GOPuke/CorpoRat Rightards to co-opt that iconic American image, the Boston Tea Party, and turn it into a rally--on Tax Day--against the Obama agenda, which is characterized in an array of instantly recognizable GOPuke/Rightard/CorpoRat talking points (with which I shall not at this time burden my readers, either of them, but which can be recovered by visiting this link).

The sense of grievance on which this astro-turf ‘rebellion’ depends for any sense of legitimacy is real.

We’re ALL pissed at the largesse strewn in the paths of the bankers, and the thorns and adders that BOTH the departing Busheviks AND the arriving Obamanistas have thrown down in front of the Big Three and the Unions–conveniently lumped together by teh Health Insurance industry now as ‘enemies' because of their sympathies for public health care guarantees...but that's another story...We're pissed because the lies we were sold have cost us plenty, and the price to us continues to rise disproportionately with the actual costs to the people responsible for the calamity, the latter being, effectively, "None."

Right now the “People” are beginning to be pissed--not just privileged White folks who feel deprived by no longer being able to publically patronize their inferiors. Now, for the first time in 40 years, the great sweaty inchoate monster of popular resentment is gradually stirring from decades of somnolence. (Bad timing that the "left" should be thought to be in power just this minute, init?)

Of course the demagogues of the Right, sensing the movement, are sharpening their practicing of the arts of disinformation which they’ve so polished and refined over the last 40 years--since the last time they were required to quell acute popular resentment. And if anything, their control over the "press" is greater than when Walter Cronkite could openly dispute with LBJ, oe even when Dan Schorr could make Nixon's enemies list. They still control the public pulpit that is the Press, in whatsoever form it now consists. The “press” is now and forever more, as an institution, in the clutches of corpoRat/State ideology.

The events tomorrow--what the astro-turf organizers call "American Tea Parties" and what critics and snark artists on the left immediately dubbed *'tea-baggings'--will get far more coverage than the participation in them would otherwise deserve because the ‘press’ everywhere, in every town, city, burg and village will be focused on the “tax day” story and will be desperate for material to fit the official propaganda theme of the day: pay your taxes–an ironic admonition from corpoRat entities which ship their cash out all over the globe in search of havens wherein they can ESCAPE taxes.

There is a counter-movement. Small, un-financed, un-planned, un-organized: a typical liberal effort to reply to a Puke meme framed by the corpoRat fascists. They’re doing street-gatherings in some cities. There’s one here in Albuquerque, as a matter of fact. Details at FBIHOP.

But it’s days late, and dollars short of the local, slick, well-funded effort by the teabaggers, set for a middle-brow lounge in Albuquerque’s predictably White, predictably Rightard NE Heights (colloquially known hereabouts as "the Wheights").

They've got enough money to place radio ads on the Clear Channel station that runs the ‘liberal’ radio station here, 1350AM, notably during the Thom Hartmann show, the only time I was listening–yesterday. The ads are boilerplate ‘aggrieved conservative’ issues, but played for the emotional effect of the crudest 'revanchist' sentiment. The only reference to the "teabaggers" is in the last sentence of the outro.

Clever, well-financed, “good” propaganda–good, in the sense of accomplished, and effective; in the same way Limbaugh is "good" at what he does, howsoever detestable and reprehensible, dishonest and vindictive.

There were 60 million folks more or less who voted against “thePrez.” That’s a huge constituency, especially if built on the platform of “betrayal,” and the substantial REAL reduction in living standards that is unavoidably going to follow as the long-feared, international 'great levelling' starts to unfold and entomb the Murkin Middle Class.

Note: Pat Garofalo notes this priceless quote from MSNBC’s David Shuster: “If you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all around the country, you’re going to need a Dick Armey.” If I were going to attend, I'd probably wear a set "Truck Nutz" sewn to my fly.

(Agit-Prop, via Wiki:
"Agitation" meant urging people to do what Soviet leaders expected them to do; again, at various levels. In other words, propaganda was supposed to act on the mind, while agitation acted on emotions, although both usually went together, thus giving rise to the cliché "propaganda and agitation".
; *SCUM* = SoCalledUnbiasedMedia)

Monday, April 13, 2009

"All Money Is Fungible": Two-and-a-half Cheers For The WallStreet Journal!

Ryan Chittum is a pretty perceptive and very busy fella over at the Columbia Journalism Report blog, CJRdotorg. Today he bestows kudos to the WSJ for the paper's taking the lead in highlighting the "Warren Report" on the uses andmisuse of the TARP funds doled out by the Busheviks in the waning months of their (immediate) power.
Good for The Wall Street Journal for giving a nice run to an exclusive that the TARP oversight panel is investigating banks for gouging customers despite getting billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts.

I criticized the Journal and much of the rest of the press for giving short shrift to the Congressional Oversight Panel’s report last week on the state of the TARP, so it’s especially nice to see the group and its chairwoman Elizabeth Warren not just not ignored, but prominently placed on page one.

Here’s the Journal’s good lede, which explains the issue and puts it into good context quickly:
The committee overseeing federal banking-bailout programs is investigating the lending practices of institutions that received public funds, following a rash of complaints about increases in interest rates and fees.

Since the Troubled Asset Relief Program was launched last October, banks bolstered by capital infusions have boosted charges on a wide range of routine transactions, hiked rates on credit cards and continued making loans criticized as predatory by consumer advocates. The TARP funds are intended to open lending spigots and make it easier for people to borrow money.
While banks may be making it easier to borrow money, they’re making it much more difficult to pay it back.
Last week, for example, Bank of America Corp. told some customers that interest rates on their credit cards will nearly double to about 14%. The Charlotte, N.C., bank, which got $45 billion in capital from the U.S. government, also is imposing fees of least $10 on a wide range of credit-card transactions.

Citigroup Inc., another recipient of government cash, is trying to entice customers to borrow at high rates. “You could get $5,000 today,” Citigroup’s consumer-finance unit wrote in fliers mailed to customers. The ads don’t disclose that the loans often carry annual interest rates of 30%.
See, Warren gets it. If we’re going to turn around this economy and make it structurally healthy for the long run, these practices aren’t going to cut it. It’s not like credit cards and bank fees weren’t already outrageously high before these latest hikes.

The story also illustrates what happens when you give someone from outside the bubble responsibility for overseeing the system, even if Warren is just empowered to squawk from a somewhat elevated platform, not to actually regulate.
“The people who are subsidizing the activities of the banks through their tax dollars are the same people who are furnishing the high profits through consumer lending,” Ms. Warren said in an interview. “In a sense, we’re asking taxpayers to pay twice.”
Compare that to the banks’ actual regulator:
So far, regulators are focusing mostly on nursing banks back to health. “To my knowledge, the TARP funds weren’t supposed to change consumer-protection requirements that apply to all institutions,” Comptroller of the Currency John Dugan said in an interview.
Nothing to see here. Business as usual.

Meanwhile, big banks are using taxpayer funds to give usurious loans to their most-needy customers. Don’t think 30 percent credit-card APR is usury? How about 120 percent payday loans—and not from a shady pawn shop with bulletproof glass?
Regional banks U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co. offer “checking account advance” loans that allow customers with direct-deposit accounts to access funds before they are credited to a customer’s account balance. The short-term loans carry annual interest rates of about 120%.
One beef I have is that the Journal pretty much lets a bank flack from Pacific Capital Bancorp get by with saying that it isn’t using TARP money for its most-injurious loans, which charge interest rates of more than 100 percent:
Debbie Whiteley, a Pacific Capital spokeswoman, said the bank isn’t using TARP capital to make tax-refund loans. Still, the government infusion is helping to improve the bank’s overall financial health, according to the company, meaning it will be in better position to make a variety of loans.
Look, once and for all, money is fungible. Stop letting these banks spin like this by saying that government money is separated over here and we’re using our money over there for the bad stuff. A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. The Journal followup sentence there seems to be refuting that, but it’s not strong enough. It should say point blank that the bank’s reasoning is just false.

But that’s just a relatively minor quibble. The Journal’s piece is a really good news story. It even gets into the fees like overdraft charges, which I wrote about last week, that make up a huge portion of banks’ overall revenue:
Last year, U.S. banks and savings institutions collected $39.5 billion in deposit-account charges, and fees for everything from ATM usage to balance transfers accounted for about 25% of the industry’s total revenue, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

A big chunk of that revenue comes from overdraft fees. The industry’s median overdraft charge is up 10% to $27.50 in the six months since the government began pumping capital into banks, according to Moebs Services Inc., a Lake Bluff, Ill., research firm. The median charge previously held steady for five years. Meanwhile, the average annual credit-card rate has climbed to 12.35% from 11.38% six months ago, according to CreditCards.com.
And I’ll leave you with this anecdote, which pretty much sums up why the TARP panel is right to look into this:
Don Mawson, a 49-year-old who works in Boston for State Street Corp., said he called Capital One Financial Corp. to complain about its decision to increase the late-payment interest rate on his credit card to 29.4% from 7.9%, even though he has never missed a payment. Mr. Mawson says the bank, which got $3.6 billion from the federal government, declined his request.
I think that about says it all, aqt least for now. (Fair Use, please!!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

David Broder, the "Villagers' Idiot"

He has been one of the pundits most reliably falling into the category of "ignorant," "stupid," and "jis' plain wrong" over the 20 years since the Raygun left office.

In that time he's become the quintessential "Villager" (and its official "Idiot," now the Chimp is gone--well, except for Buchanan, Barnes, and the cabbage-Mallet and the rest of the Rightard, wackloon fucknozzles, including Wan Williams and the whole crew of sold-out panty-waists and toadies at NPR). He reinforces is status as the pundit dumber than George Will today in his column in the ODIOUS WaPo (FP: Obama's new puppy?) today, where reprises the same refrain as to questioner in a recent on-line exchange with bloggers:
“I understand the reluctance to open a wide-ranging probe of past practices. It seems to me we are better off focusing on cleaning up the policies and practices for the future than trying to settle scores for past actions.”
This is the official line, uttered by the Villagers predominantly, but echoed by the Obamanistas, however somewhat less loudly.

I know I am not the only one who mentioned it during the various recent campaigns, but I have been saying quite insistently since at LEAST 2007 that, whosoever the winner were, the official refrain would be "Don't Look Back." Broder's framing the potential for prosecuting the various, numerous Bushevik crimes and torts as "settling scores," however, is pretty ignorant, even for Broder. It's nothing less than a plea for simultaneous blanket immunity, forgetfulness, and forgiveness in the teeth of incontrovertible, and in many cases, self-incriminated public testimony, public records, and first-person depositions testifying to the crimes.

Yes, crimes: Start with the illegal and unwarranted invasion, conquest, and occupation of Iraq. Following therefrom, torture, murder, kidnapping, warrantless spying, war-profiteering, graft, bribery; to say nothing of the missing BILLIONS OF DOLLARS.

Those are things for which some sort of score-settling is deserved, from any even remotely objective standard.

And in civilized societies, when we 'settle our scores,' it's called "Justice." We "settle our scores" by bringing the accused before the Bar, indicting, and trying them and then, if they're found to be guilty, punishing them. The law is, when you get right down to it, merely a somewhat more abstract means for 'settling our scores' than a bullet or a rope, or tar-and-feathers.

Of course, Broder led the charge against Bill ("Clenis") Clinton, accusing him, in effect, of defiling the sanctity of the Village with his libido. Broder was far less disprobatory of the Busheviks, whose blood-baths, thefts, and other manifest illegalities he not only tolerated by actively celebrated. The Villagers are far more hostile to sexual than to legal 'indiscretions.' And some folks profess confusion a this apparent hypocrisy.

But actually, it is pretty easily explained--if not forgiven. Sexual peccadilloes actually implicate only the individual principals in illicit or embarrassing behaviors.

Whereas, when when legal indiscretions come to light, they cast the glare of publicity on the whole array of corrupt and unethical-- if not down-right illegal-- activities in which the whole Village is always already actively implicated, merely by the nature of their profitable participation in the corrupted system.

Americans do not respect history, mostly because our mythology--led in the recent past by the likes of Broder, Will, Friedman and a passle of others who should have known better-- encourages the blinding optimism of American Exceptionalism. It's the optimism of a dedicated drunk convinced he's the one going the right way onto a freeway ramp full of on-coming traffic.

"Obama's Got A Secret"

"thePrez" has created no small propaganda/pr problem for himself and his regime by seeming to adopt wholesale some of the most egregious of the departed Busheviks' violations of legitimate Constitutional authority, especially in the areas of the human/civil rights accorded to captives in the so-called (but recently semantically abandoned) GWOT. This has not gone unnoticed by those who were the fiercest critics of the Bushevik excesses, including Chris Floyd and Scott Horton, easily two of the most literate and forthrightly literate of the bunch.

Scott Horton, the ubiquitous critic/commentator whose primary domain is at Harper's Magazine's "No Comment" blog, doesn't need my help to promulgate his imminently sensible notions, but this piece, from late last week (Apr. 10), both amplifies and explains a point I have made many times since the last Presidential campaign began 18 months ago: No President except Washington ever ceded back to the State/Congress any power arrogated to meet some present emergency:
It’s funny how those who criticize sweeping exercises of presidential power suddenly take a different stance once they become president. Take Barack Obama. As a senator and constitutional law professor, he felt that the government was abusing the state secrets doctrine by using it to shut down litigation that should be permitted to go forward. He also felt the idea of giving telecommunications companies immunity for their collaboration with the National Security Agency in warrantless surveillance was terrible. Here’s what his office said: “Senator Obama unequivocally opposes giving retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies… Senator Obama will not be among those voting to end the filibuster.”

That was Senator Obama (who, it should be recalled, might have been lying even then, inasmuch as he eventually DID vote to sustain the Bushevik bail-out for the Telcomsters. W.). Now President Obama not only steps into the shoes of his predecessor, he actually has his Justice Department make still more preposterous arguments in which they insist they are above accountability to the law. Their new mantra is “sovereign immunity,” by which they lose consciousness of the annoying detail that, in America, the people and not the President hold sovereignty. ABC’s Jake Tapper takes a timely look at Barack Obama then and now, and Salon’s Glenn Greenwald continues to report on the issue.
Sovereign Immunity. And State Secrets. And Indefinite Detainment. And Extraordinary Rendition. Maybe the Congress/People don't want 'em back?

Chris Floyd also attacks the Obamanista's hesitation to abandon the worst excesses of the Busheviks, and to pursue the criminals of the recent past:
It was obvious from the moment that Barack Obama appointed Leon Panetta to head the CIA that there was going to be no serious investigation -- much less prosecution -- of the high crimes of torture committed by the agency at the order of the Bush White House. Panetta, a Clinton retread (who actually began his career in the Nixon administration), has always been a bland, feckless, obedient servant of the Establishment; he has no outside power base, no pull, no heft, no popularity -- nothing that would enable him to grab hold of the CIA with both hands and clean that fetid, blood-encrusted house. And of course, it was precisely this kind of powerless figure that Barack Obama wanted in the post.

The appointment was very typical of the Obama operation. Panetta had made a few very mild statements over the years that would allow him to be passed off as some kind of "progressive" in the witless, substanceless "process stories" that the corporate media do for new government appointees. This would be enough to keep the progressive "base" -- which was overwhelmingly inclined to give Obama every benefit of every doubt -- lulled long enough to get the patsy into the job. Of course, to actually get the job, Panetta had to make it clear to Congress that he wasn't going to stir up any trouble on the torture front, and was willing to play along with anything the Unitary Executive might order him to do. But the corp-media made little of this, concentrating instead on Panetta's rote assertions that "America doesn't torture," and his embrace of the Army Field Manual as the standard for CIA interrogation. (Of course, the vaunted manual also allows practices that any rational human being would consider torture, but that's another story.)
Smoke and Mirrors, smoke and mirrors, more; lies, deceptions, crimes: Anything to defend the POWER. If you want to stay abreast of the latest examples of the ways that the present Regime will jiggle and dance to avoid having to relinquish some, any (illicit) power, then stay tuned to Horton and Floyd.

Or my readers (both of them--HI! guys--Happy Equinox) can return here periodically, for up-dates...