Friday, December 24, 2010

CJR Interviews William Greider : Changes Coming to Soc.Sec. (part 3)

"Over the year the country’s elite news outlets and bloggers have carried on quite a conversation about the proposed changes (to Social Security)—but how these proposals affect ordinary people has been largely absent from the discussion.
CJR's exemplary Trudy Lieberman tolls the depths with nationally renowned political economy commentator, William Greider to reveal what the changes mean toi just-plain-Joe. Read the whole fucking thing, and then read Part 1 and Part 2:
I sat down with longtime political reporter William Greider to find out why. Greider recently won the Nyhan Prize for political reporting, given by the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University. He is currently the national affairs correspondent for The Nation and has written about about Social Security for that publication. He has also worked for The Washington Post and Rolling Stone, and has written several best-selling books, including Who Will Tell the People: A Betrayal of American Democracy, which touches on the media’s role in American democracy.

Trudy Lieberman: What are we to make of this consensus on fixes to Social Security that some in the media tell us has been reached?

William Greider: This is a staggering scandal for the media. I have yet to see a straightforward, non-ideological, non-argumentative piece in any major paper that describes the actual condition of Social Security. The core fact is that Social Security has not contributed a dime to the deficit, but has piled up trillions in surpluses, which the government has borrowed and spent. Social Security’s surpluses have actually offset the impact of the deficit, beginning with Reagan.

TL: Why don’t reporters report this?

WG: They identify with the wisdom of the elites who don’t want to talk about this—because if people understand that Social Security has a $2.5 trillion surplus, building toward more than $4 trillion, people will ask why are politicians trying to cut Social Security benefits?

TL: Is that why coverage has been so one-sided?

WG: Most reporters, with few exceptions, assume the respectables are telling the truth about Social Security, when it is really propaganda. What elites are saying is deeply misleading, and they deliberately are distorting the story. But reporters think they are smart people and must know what they are talking about.

TL: Who influences the coverage?

WG: There are layers of influence that tell reporters this is the safe side of the story. They don’t go to people who might be unsafe sources, like labor leaders who know how changes will affect workers, or to old liberals who are out of favor but who know the origins of Social Security and why it was set up in the first place, or to neutral experts like actuaries who actually understand how it works and what the trust funds are all about. If they write about what the AFL-CIO thinks, they are out of the orthodoxy.

TL: What are other layers?

WG: Most reporters who cover difficult areas typically develop sources, and they write for those sources. They don’t want to offend them for fear they will lose access. Reporters, we know, are sensitive, nervous animals; they act like scared little rabbits. They also know what the owners of their publications think. And those owners think pretty much what the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce think.

TL: Are reporters disconnected from the public?

WG: Reporters are so embedded in the established way of understanding things. They are distanced from people at large and don’t spend much time trying to see why ordinary people see things differently from the people in power—and why people are often right about things.

TL: Is this different than in the past?

WG: Yes. In the last twenty years, as media ownership became highly concentrated, the gulf between the governing elites, both in and out of government, and the broad range of ordinary citizens has gotten much worse. The press chose to side with the governing elites and look down on the citizenry as ignorant or irrational, greedy, or even nutty.

TL: Why is this so?

WG: The press is dangerously over-educated itself, in that reporters have developed different kinds of expertise themselves. And that brings them closer to their sources, more motivated to write for their approval. All this technocratic expertise encourages them to take a condescending view of the people they are writing for, especially in finance and economics. If all the elite experts assume Social Security is a problem, a reporter would lose respect if he or she seriously examined the counter arguments. Frankly, most political reporters don’t have a clue about the real facts. They write about Social Security as if it were just another welfare program. They do not seem to understand the surpluses are actually the savings of American workers—the money set aside for future retirement. This is virtuous behavior—the opposite of greed or the recklessness of financial elites.

TL: What has been other fallout from the rise of the techno-expert reporter?

WG: The new technological knowledge becomes a tool that blocks old-fashioned street reporting. The polling and focus groups work against old style reporting. Political reporters rely on the pseudo-science to tell them what people think instead of doing what reporters are supposed to do—talking to real people where they live, listening to their perspectives and respecting their views.

TL: How does this play out in day-to-day reporting?

WG: My sense from the way stories are written is that unless you have the “facts” of pseudo-scientific evidence, editors don’t want reporters making any observations on what they learned as reporters. This supposedly makes them more “objective,” but it does the opposite. They become more one-sided in their reporting.

TL: Doesn’t that make them more disconnected from the public?

WG: Yes. Reporters and editors are disturbed to learn that growing sectors of the public do not trust their reporting. But this is the natural result of one-sided reporting. It reflects the unconscious class bias of the media—looking up to selected expertise that’s in power and looking down on the everyday citizens. In the old days, when I started as a reporter, newspapers were far more diverse and representative in speaking to and for the variety of popular perspectives. Each newspaper might have its bias, left or right or something else, but there were countering opinions and perspectives that tended to keep the other side more honest. That variety is pretty much gone now, so lots of citizens are finding their own ways to inform themselves, putting their faith in the bloggers or other renegade sources. Who can blame them?

TL: Who are the losers in this paradigm?

WG: It’s pretty obvious. I start with the conviction that people in every station of life are not stupid. Most people are pretty capable of forming opinions and insights of their own, based on their own experiences and what they see happening around them. They don’t get everything right but—guess what—neither do the governing elites, the economists and policy wonks who tell us what is correct thinking. The financial collapse and economic breakdown are dramatic evidence of elite failure, yet I see most media reporting still relying on the same old sources as if nothing went wrong. In a functioning democracy, what the people think would be regarded as a vital source for informing democratic debate. That is what the people lose—their seat at the table.

TL: Do the losers care?

WG: As we are learning every day, most of them gave up on the press a long time ago. They realized that newspapers were not on their side. There was no longer that old-time relationship. People got the feeling that newspapers weren’t speaking for them. The new technologies give the “losers” new options for how to inform themselves. Some of these are half-baked or worse, but people will keep exploring alternatives and refining what they are willing to trust. The crucial point I am trying to make is that this process of citizens in a democracy keeping themselves informed does not belong to private enterprise. It does not depend on finding the right business model. People must find a way—and I think they will—regardless of whether newspaper and broadcasting owners want to assist them, or merely make money.

TL: Let’s go back and put all this in the context of the press coverage of Social Security. What should the press be reporting that they haven’t been?

WG: Opponents of Social Security are deliberately confusing Social Security with Medicare; they are distorting reality. There are simple facts that should be reported: 1) Social Security never contributed a dime to the deficit; 2) Social Security softened the impact of the Reagan deficits by building up a surplus; 3) the federal government borrowed the money and spent it on other things; 4) the federal government has to pay this money back because it really belongs to the working people who paid their FICA deductions every pay day. The elites in both parties know the day is approaching when the federal government has to come up with the trillions it borrowed from the workers. That is the crisis the politicians don’t want to deal with, so they create a phony argument that slyly blames working people for their problem. That’s the propaganda they want the public to believe.

TL: What are the facts about Medicare that they should be reporting?

WG: Medicare is separate and in serious financial trouble for two basic reasons driving up costs. First, thanks to medical advances and the effective public health system, our aging population gets to live steadily longer. That ought to be understood as good news for people and society, but instead elite opinion laments it. Second, the private health-care system is still centered on the profit motive, and that gives virtually every health care provider from doctors to drug companies strong incentive to keep raising the costs. That debate has also been grossly distorted in media coverage that typically dismisses alternatives as socialist—and that ends the discussion.

TL: Who is representing the public in this debate?

WG: The same people who rallied the public against Social Security privatization in the Bush administration. They have organized again. Some are the same players. Labor is on the barricades. Some righteous members of Congress. But in general the mass media don’t go to those dissenting voices. Instead, they are reporting factual errors as correct opinion.

TL: What do you want the press to do?

WG: I am daring reporters to go and find out the truth about this and report it. I’m not asking them to draw big conclusions or to assert their opinions. Just be honest reporters. It’s so frustrating to see the coverage. I’m not asking reporters to change any minds. I’m just asking them to do some real reporting. I mean, go to the facts—the actuarial records—and talk to a variety of experts. Reporters ring up the same sources and ask them how to think about Social Security.

TL: What does the public understand about what is happening?

WG: Not everyone understands what is happening. But most do. Most people know they have paid money into Social Security all these years and the money belongs to them, not the federal government. This is not welfare. It’s probably the best-understood program in the federal government. In fact, polls indicate in these troubled times the public believes people need increased benefits.

TL: Why hasn’t the press talked about Social Security as social insurance?

WG: My guess is that very few reporters understand what it is, or know that the concept of social insurance originated as a conservative idea—conserving social solidarity. It was first proposed more than one hundred years ago in Germany by Bismarck—not exactly a left-winger. Today’s critics style it as an entitlement program, and therefore reporters think that it’s like welfare. It’s not something the government gives to greedy old people. Alan Simpson has been relentless on this point. The press has picked up on Simpson’s language and made it sound like it’s a hand-out.

TL: A recent Bloomberg poll shows that two-thirds of those polled think the program should be means-tested. Has the press explained what that means?

WG: Social Security is by far the government’s most popular program precisely because it is universal. Everyone pays in; everyone is protected against catastrophe. The danger in means testing is that it really may turn Social Security into a welfare program—alms for the poor—and eventually doom it by destroying the broad political support it enjoys. That’s another aspect for debate the media has glossed over.

TL: Does Bismarck’s notion of social solidarity resonate in this country?

WG: The idea of social solidarity represents the core of our society. The belief that we’re all in this together has been trampled over in the last thirty years by conservative ideology. Good citizens and politicians have been sucked into believing that solidarity is not the issue. Until Americans rediscover the importance of solidarity, we’re going to be screwed up as a society. We will be trapped in brutal class conflicts and arguments over who gets more, who must be thrown over the side in the interest of business efficiency. I believe deeply most Americans do not want this dog-eat-dog brutality, but do not see much chance of changing it.

TL: What has to happen?

WG: We have to have a come back to this central principle of this society. The Tea Party in its own crude way is reaching for it. What people want is a government that works for them. Social Security is a great test case for what people want. By all means, let’s have a debate. But we haven’t yet had an honest debate.

TL: What can the press do to improve its reporting on Social Security and make this debate happen?

WG: There are a lot of smart, capable reporters. They have to go back to the beginning and put a story together that asks two simple questions: Why go after Social Security now? What is its real condition now? They need to go back to the basics of reporting—talking and listening, observing what people think about everyday reality. Talk to all sides respectfully. On economic issues, talk to the workers, not just the bosses and management experts. You will learn valuable insights from all of them.

TL: Is there any other advice you can give to newbies on this beat?

WG: The media, despite many virtues, are failing their obligations to a functioning democracy. Reporters might ask themselves if they are complicit in this indictment, or if they could do something to prove it is wrong.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Saturday, December 18, 2010

I Got Yer Fucking Mulligan, "No Labels" Asswipes!

What "No Labels" is, at base, is the desperate, well-financed effort by a LOT of (formerly PROUDLY labelled--mainly "Republican") people who endorsed and encouraged and enthusiastically applauded the clusterfucks and the clusterfuckers of the past 8-10 years--the Busheviks, their wars, their economic collapse, their destruction of civil life and liberty--now trying claim that it really WASN'T them fucking us, and claiming a mulligan, King's X, a fucking a "Do-Over."

These are the same skeevy fux --or their retarded fucking children-- who are STILL blaming me and my fellow "dirty fucking hippies" for being fucking RIGHT for the past 40 years, and never apologizing for it...!

Fuck Dat! Bite me,'No Labels!'~

Friday, December 17, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

It's Simple. It's About World Domination

The Goal of "American foreign policy" IS simple: global, economic, military and political hegemony. In pursuit of that goal, the US Gummint--acting in Y/OUR names--has unleashed its military forces on competing Nations no fewer than 50 (FIFTY) times since the end of World War II. The death toll is staggering; uncountable, really, including the anonymous dead in both Koreas, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Chile, and now, of course, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia.
We are, indeed, NUMBER ONE in aggressive interference...

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Where's President Shamwow? Not Interested? Figgers...

Via CARE2:
On Thursday chief U.N. climate negotiator Christiana Figueres spoke movingly with young climate activists at the Cancun climate talks (COP16). This video shows the strain on Figueres as well as the source of her determination as she took the time to speak to the young people from tcktcktck's Adopt a Negotiator campaign. Figueres tears up when speaking of why the talks are important; she also describes the inspiration that keeps her working toward a global agreement:

Friday, December 03, 2010

Real News Interviews Ray McGovern, re: Iran & Assange

RN: "...It's a little fortuitous that right at a time when Israel would like some support on the issue of Iran as a threat to the region that they get it out of WikiLeaks. Right at a time the Korean crisis is blowing up, you get some disclosures of cables that China may be ready to back away from North Korea, which would help threaten North Korea in some way. So what's your, first of all, take on the credibility of the whole process?"

RAY MCGOVERN, RETIRED CIA ANALYST: It's completely credible to me. I've been around a few years. I think Julian Assange is the real deal. I really kind of resent all the focus on all these trees, missing the forest for what it is. Here's an outfit that had the courage to face into the Defense Department, do what the United States government really warned it against doing, and all because one young private in our Army saw abuses that he couldn't tolerate and wanted to get that out to the rest of the world. That's what he said in his emails. I hope--what my hope is is that this information become available to the American people. Then the American people can debate these issues, which is not the case now, with the fourth estate being in disrepair.
There's a complete transcript on the REAL NEWS link.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

From the Department of Ain' Dis Some SHIT?

Yesterday evening, a "shellacked" Pres. Itoljaso Obama met with the leadership ot the GOPukes. A chastened, remorseful, and penitent St. Barry got down on his political knees and begged, and begged, and according to reports from the scene, "SERIOUSLY" begged the Pukes to abandon their plan to torpedo the country and the economy for mere political gain.

But the supplicant's pleas fell on deaf ears, apparently:

Senate Republicans Plan To Block Virtually All Democratic-Backed Bills
DAVID ESPO | 11/30/10 10:25 PM |

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans intend to block action on virtually all Democratic-backed legislation unrelated to tax cuts and government spending in the current postelection session of Congress, officials said Tuesday, adding that the leadership has quietly collected signatures on a letter pledging to carry out the strategy.

If carried out, it would doom Democratic-backed attempts to end the Pentagon's practice of discharging openly gay members of the military service and give legal status to young illegal immigrants who join the military or attend college.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has made both measures a priority as Democrats attempt to enact legislation long sought by groups that supported them in the recent midterm elections.

A nuclear arms treaty with Russia that President Barack Obama wants ratified would not be affected, since any debate would take place under different rules than those that apply to legislation. Even so, its passage is not assured as Republicans are seeking concessions from the White House.

Officials who disclosed the new Republican maneuver did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss it.

It was not known how many of the Senate's 42 Republicans had signed the draft letter, which the leadership intends to make public quickly.

Senate Democrats need 60 votes to overcome any delaying tactics, meaning they could be thwarted if 41 Republicans join in the commitment.

Democrats' chances of passing politically charged legislation will dim when the new Congress convenes in January, since Republicans will take control of the House and gain more Senate seats.

The letter comes after comments by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and others in his party that the voters made it clear in the elections they want lawmakers to focus on economic issues.

"Despite what some Democrats in Congress have suggested, voters did not signal they wanted more cooperation on the Democrats' big-government policies that most Americans oppose," McConnell and incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, wrote in an op-ed article published in the Washington Post.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Friday, November 26, 2010

Meet Al Stefanelli: "The Myth of Christian Persecution in the United States"

I personally do not find it confidence-inspiring to learn that a secular, political 'leader' consults with imaginary beings--gods, angels, saviors, etc--before or while considering and/or enacting public policy. Stolen whole:
It’s getting to that time of year again when the Christian whiners start complaining about being persecuted because the evil, heathen, baby-eating, godless horde of devil-worshipping atheist are trying to steal Christmas. This is in addition to the whining they normally do, which is sickening enough. They walk around with a Gibralter-sized chip on their shoulders, crying about how they are being treated unfairly and compare themselves with David in that mythical story we all know so well. I won’t even get into the rages they fly into when we have the unmitigated gall to throw up a billboard here and there about godlessness because we all know there are almost NO Christian billboards out there…

The fact is that Christians are very much privileged in the United States. Christianity is an ideology in the US that enjoys implicit, unreflecting, and uncritical acceptance and one would have to be a complete fucking idiot to counter the fact that the mythical delusion of Christianity is dominant here. Christians are continuously told that they are special and deserve privileges. Many stores take the Christian sabbath into account and are not open for business on Sundays. Most Christians don’t have to work on their holidays. They can assume that television programming will be geared toward their holidays. They can generally construct holiday displays such as nativities without fearing vandalism. “Merry Christmas” is a greeting that they will most often hear during this time of year and can, with impunity, ignore and be ignorant of the holidays celebrated by other religious groups. In fact, many school events will probably address Christian holidays. There is no shortage of churches for a traveling Christian to worship at and whenever someone talks about or thanks god, Christians can assume it’s their god. Almost every hotel in the United States has bibles in their rooms and when there is a need, Christians have many charities to donate to or get assistance from.

Persecuted? Please… Unlike those of us who do not believe in a deity, christians won’t be discriminated against because of their religion and can assume that their opinion won’t be ignored because of their religion and they never have to worry about living in a place where they are not welcome because they will almost never encounter groups that exclude Christians. While it can be a gut-wrenching decision for an unbeliever to “come out”, Christians don’t worry about revealing their religion to parents, friends, etc. Without worry of being labeled a bigot amongst their own, they christians can discriminate in ways not otherwise allowed.

Christians can wear evangelistic clothing or jewelry without fear of persecution, as well, and can promote their religion on cars or houses without fear of vandalism. They rarely have to worry if their religion will hinder their professional ambitions, but if you are known as atheist, it becomes very difficult to find or keep a job. In fact, Christians can assume that most neighbors and coworkers share their beliefs and many Christian owned businesses participate in advertising in directories of other Christian-owned businesses. In short, Christians can assume that almost anywhere they go and anything they do, they’ll feel normal.

Many of the laws in the United States come with built-in exemptions for Christians and their beliefs and Christians can assume that most politicians are Christians who represent Christian interests and this is reflected in that almost without exception, government prayers are Christian in nature. Yes, many of these privileges are seeing a decline as more and more of the godless are becoming vocal and getting involved, and so Christians interpret this as persecution, but this is only because privilege is all they have ever known. They have been on top of the food chain in this country for so long that they are largely clueless that in a free society, such privileges are inappropriate.

Of course, you will never get them to admit that as long as they continue suffer under their memetic viral delusions. They will continue to whine like petulant children until they either come to their senses and embrace reason and abandon their silly, outdated and completely ridiculous superstitions, indoctrination and dogmatic bullshit or they manage to die off without infecting their own progeny.

I, for one, refuse to be accommodating. I refuse to stand idly and quietly on the sidelines while my fellow unbelievers get routinely thrown under the bus. I cannot bring myself to keep my mouth shut while the children of our Nation get mentally mind-fucked every Sunday morning, rendering them totally and completely unequipped to integrate into a post-modern society because they believe the earth was created six-thousand years ago, that a nine-hundred-year-old man crammed a shitload of animals into a boat for forty days, that donkeys and snakes talk and all the other countless and totally insane bollocks that they are taught as unmitigated truth. That I should be tolerant and accommodating is an insult to the collective of human intellect and I won’t have any part of it. Call me what you want, I don’t give a shit, really. I am done being nice to these fundamentalist ass-fedoras, and that includes Muslims, as well. You can only beat a dog so much before it bites back.

Peggy McIntosh, 20 years bestowed upon us the contents of the knapsack of White privilege. I thank Al for doing us the same service enumerating the extent of Christian privilege.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Symphony of Science: "A New Wave of Reason"

Part, the Seventh:

Welcome to the Symphony of Science
NEWS (11/22/2010):
I'm proud to present the latest in the Symphony of Science series, "A Wave of Reason"! It is intended to promote scientific reasoning and skepticism in the face of growing amounts of pseudoscientific pursuits, such as Astrology and Homeopathy, and also to promote the scientific worldview as equally enlightening as religion. The video features Carl Sagan, Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Carolyn Porco, Richard Dawkins, Richard Feynman, Phil Plait, and James Randi. Enjoy!

The Symphony of Science is a musical project headed by John Boswell, designed to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form. Here you can watch music videos, download songs, read lyrics and find links relating to the messages conveyed by the music.

The project owes its existence in large measure to the wonderful work of Carl Sagan, Ann Druyan, and Steve Soter, of Druyan-Sagan Associates, and their production of the classic PBS Series Cosmos, as well as all the other featured figures and visuals.

Continuation of the videos relies on generous support from fans and followers. You can make a donation if you wish to contribute support to the project. Thanks to everybody who has donated - enjoy what you find!

I am currently available for hire as a composer and / or video producer. If you like what you see and you have a job in mind, contact me at !

The Previous Six:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

An Anthem For The TSA

Normally, I'd have posted this on WG's Guitar. But given 1) its topicality, and 2) I just put Jim Terr's latest up over there, I'll risk it. It's frisky and funny...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Position Wanted: Local Vicar Near Porthcurno

Times are getting tight for the Official Anglican Church, as recently another cabal of 50 disaffected (presumably unmarried--and there for suspect) 'conservative' Anglican priests deserted Westminster Abbey for the Vatican.

Here's how The Guardian reported it:
Around 50 Anglican priests are expected to defect to the Catholic church, it emerged today, as the first details were disclosed of an unprecedented initiative that will allow Anglicans disaffected over the ordination of women to convert. The clergy have registered their interest in the Vatican scheme and will undergo training for priesthood in the Catholic church.

The initiative, known as a personal ordinariate, is the response by Benedict XVI to the demands of traditionalists who are unhappy with liberal developments in the Church of England and want to convert to Catholicism but retain elements of their Anglican heritage.

A statement from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales said five bishops who earlier this month announced their resignation would "enter into full communion" with Rome in early January. The Catholic church is providing £250,000 to set up the ordinariate and said local dioceses will "respond generously" with "regard to housing and looking for ways in the beginning in which they can be sustained financially."

The details were released as the archbishop of Canterbury, the Right Rev Rowan Williams, warned that the departure of clergy could pose practical challenges to the Church of England. But in an interview with Vatican Radio he said there was "no ill feeling" between him and the five bishops who were heading to Rome.
In reply to the current crisis, I today sent Bishop Williams the following missive:
Dear Prelate Williams: I am currently at leisure and would be willing to relocate to some nice, little, sea-side village in Cornwall--with a decent wave nearby--and take up residence there as the local "priest."
I assure you I would faithfully extol the wonders of prayer, God's divine beneficence, Anglicanism, and would pump relentlessly for the new roof for the vestry, for a reasonable emolument and transportation expenses for me and the dogs...
Rev. Woody

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Dreaded Taiwanese Animators Take On TSA

With subtitles: a relatively rare chance to "see ourselves as others see us"; always a salutary objective...

Aerial Operations: "Drop Trou For FREEDOM!"

The "Pirate Party" in Germany gets into the act.

Now, jump over here and enjoy the prankster Penn Jillette as he takes the TSA down a peg or two for messing with his junk (Don't try this at home, unless you are a white celebrity):
Federal V.I.P Penn - 11/13/02
Last Thursday I was flying to LA on the Midnight flight. I went through security my usual sour stuff. I beeped, of course, and was shuttled to the "toss-em" line. A security guy came over. I assumed the position. I had a button up shirt on that was untucked. He reached around while he was behind me and grabbed around my front pocket. I guess he was going for my flashlight, but the area could have loosely been called "crotch." I said, "You have to ask me before you touch me or it's assault."

He said, "Once you cross that line, I can do whatever I want."

I said that wasn't true. I say that I have the option of saying no and not flying. He said, "Are you going to let me search you, or do I just throw you out?"

I said, "Finish up, and then call the police please."

When he was finished with my shoes, he said, "Okay, you can go."

I said, "I'd like to see your supervisor and I'd like LVPD to come here as well. I was assaulted by you."

He said, "You're free to go, there's no problem."

I said, "I have a problem, please send someone over."

They sent a guy over and I said that I'd like to register a complaint. I insisted on his name and badge number. I filled it out with my name. The supervisor, I think trying to intimidate me, asked for my license, and I gave it to him happily as he wrote down information. I kept saying, "Please get the police," and they kept saying, "You're free to go, we don't need the police." I insisted and they got a higher up, female, supervisor. I was polite, cold, and a little funny. "Anyone is welcome to grab my crotch, I don't require dinner and a movie, just ask me. Is that asking too much? You wanna grab my crotch, please ask. Does that seem like a crazy person to you?" I had about 4 of them standing around. Finally Metro PD shows up. It's really interesting. First of all, the cop is a BIG P&T fan and that ain't hurting. Second, I get the vibe that he is WAY sick of these federal leather-sniffers. He has that vibe that real cops have toward renta-cops. This is working WAY to my advantage, so I play it.

The supervisor says to the cop, 'He's free to go. We have no problem, you don't have to be here." Which shows me that the Feds are afraid of local. This is really cool. She says, "We have no trouble and he doesn't want to miss his flight."

I say, "I can take an early morning flight or a private jet. " The cop says, "If I have a citizen who is saying he was assaulted, you can't just send me away."

I tell the cop the story, in a very funny way. The cop, the voice of sanity says, "What's wrong with you people? You can't just grab a guy's crank without his permission." I tell him that my genitals weren't grabbed and the cop says, "I don't care, you can't do that to people. That's assault and battery in my book."

The supervisor says that they'll take care of the security guy. The cop says, "I'm not leaving until Penn tells me to. Now do you want to fill out all the paper work and show up in court, because I'll be right there beside you."

The supervisor says it's an internal matter, and they'll take care of it. "If you want to pursue this, we're going to have to go through the electronic evidence."

I say, "You mean videotape? Yeah, go get it."

She says, "Well, it'll take a long time, and you don't want to miss your flight. We have no problem with you, you're free to go."

The cop says, "Your guy grabbed his crank. That ain't right."

So, I fill out all the paper work and insist on a number to call to register a complaint. She says that I filled out a complaint, and I say, "I want more, give me another number. " She gives me a number that I find out later has been disconnected. I leave. I have a card with the name and number on it and the bad 800 number for the FAA.

My flight is way delayed, so I go to Burger King with Glenn - and all the feds are now off duty and at BK and sneering at us.

The next day the woman in charge of public relations calls me to "do anything to make my McCarran experience more enjoyable." I was a little under the weather with allergies and busy, so I didn't call back until yesterday.

It took some phone tag, but I finally got the woman on the phone. I was very cool and sweet. I explained the problem. "Do you allow your crotch to be grabbed without being asked?" I didn't exaggerate, I said that there was nothing sexual, I wasn't hurt, and it wasn't my genitals. I just said it was wrong. She said "Well, your feedback is really important because most people are afraid of us." She said, "I'd love to meet you so we could clear this up, and everyone wants to meet a celebrity." She said she had watched the videotape and there was no sound, but she saw him reach around. She said she couldn't tell me what was being done to him but . . . and I stopped her and said, she shouldn't do anything wrong.

I said that I had talked to two lawyers and they said it was really a weird case because no one knows if he can be charged with assault and battery while working in that job. But I told her, that some of my lawyer friends really wanted to find out. She said, "Well, we're very new to this job . . ." and I said, "Yeah, so we need these test cases to find out where you stand."

She said, "Well, you know a LOT about this." I said, "Well, it's not really the right word, but freedom is kind of a hobby with me, and I have disposable income that I'll spend to find out how to get people more of it."

She said, "Well, the airport is very important to all of our incomes and we don't want bad press. It'll hurt everyone, but you have to do what you think is right. But, if you give me your itinerary every time you fly, I'll be at the airport with you and we can make sure it's very pleasant for you."

I have no idea what this means, does it mean that they have a special area where all the friskers are topless showgirls, "We have nothing to hide, do you?" I have no idea. She pushes me for the next time I'm flying. I tell her I'm flying to Chicago around 2 on Sunday, if she wants to get that security guy there to sneer at me. She says, she'll be there, and it'll be very easy for me. I have no idea what this means.

I tell her that I'm still thinking about pressing charges, and I don't just care about me, it's freedom in general. I say the only thing that was good about it, was that while they were dealing with me, maybe they weren't beating up people in wheelchairs. It was amazing. All she was trying to do was make me happy. She said she'd burned a CD ROM of my video and it was being sent all around and they were going to change their training. She said, "We're federal employees, we're working for you, you pay us and we want customer satisfaction. It doesn't matter what the law is, we have to make you very happy so your flying experience is a pleasurable one, and most people don't give us this kind of intelligent feedback."

So, that was it. I'm flying on Sunday, I have no idea what will happen. How crazy is this? Do I really have some sort of mysterious VIP status to shut me up? Should I press charges? She said she was going to talk to the cop. I said he didn't see anything. She said, "Well, he may be able to see the forest for the trees, because he was right there." I quoted his "crank" comment and she laughed and then knew that was a very bad sign. I said, "He'll tell you I was polite, cold, angry, and funny" - that's more than should be expected of me. I still don't know what I'm going to do, but my advice to everyone is complain all you can and call the cops. I think it might make a little difference. Maybe you can become a VIP too.
And here is just some gratuitous titty, from Ukraine; there is no such thing as too mych pretty titty!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Diane Ravitch: The Return of the Prodi-Gal?

It's nigh on 90 minutes, but they'd be well spent. The Obama/Duncan "Education" plan varies in almost NO particulars from the Bushevik plan, NCLB. Prof. Ravitch was an advocate and acolyte of the corpoRat "reform" movement which has fucked up the public schools beyond ALL recognition over the past 30 years since she signed on as one of the 'school-killers' with bibulous Bill Bennett and "Chucker"--the Fucker--Finn in the Raygun camp in the '80s.

REEP, KIPP and TFA Lecture Series from Jon Paul Estrada on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Honest To Crap, I Was Only Kidding...

By Dana Milbank
Wednesday, November 10, 2010; 6:42 PM

I miss George W. Bush.

I don't miss him in the sense that I wish he were still president. If he were, we might be at war with Iran and North Korea by now, and perhaps Portugal. Neither do I miss the endless debates over waterboarding and the Iraq war - bad memories that have returned to the news as Bush has re-emerged into public view this week to launch his book.

Rather, I miss him because in the end he was willing to toss aside his ideological orthodoxy when the national interest required it - a trait conspicuously absent among his fellow conservatives these last two years.

It was the final chapter of Bush's presidency, and is correspondingly the final chapter of his memoir, "Decision Points." As Bush describes it, he had just been told by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson that they should spend hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to buy up mortgage assets, and he approved the plan in full. "If we're really looking at another Great Depression," he recalls saying, "you can be damn sure I'm going to be Roosevelt, not Hoover."

By Tea Party doctrine, that's heresy. But Bush, in "Decision Points," doesn't back off at all from his defense of the auto industry rescue and the federal ownership of financial companies - even though those positions today would make him a pariah in his own party.

"The strategy was a breathtaking intervention in the free market," he writes of the TARP bank-bailout program. "It flew against all my instincts. But it was necessary to pull the country out of the panic. I decided that the only way to preserve the free market in the long run was to intervene in the short run."

In an extended book-launch interview with Bush, NBC anchor Matt Lauer referred to a Pew Research Center poll that found nearly half of Americans hold the false belief that TARP was passed under President Obama, while only 34 percent know it originated under Bush.

"Oh, yeah?" Bush replied. "Fifty percent of the people were wrong." He defended his rationale for supporting TARP: "Do you adhere to your philosophy and say, let them all fail? . . . Or do you take taxpayers' money and inject it into the system in hopes that you prevent a depression? And I chose the latter."
To quote a poster which has had some prominence in the Left-ward protuberances of the Book: Heh, heh. I fucked ya. Thanks for blaming the Negro..."

If The TSA Wants To See You Nude, Flash The Fux

The main reason I am loathe to travel via public conveyance since 9/11, why I no longer cherish even the slightest desire to travel overseas, or to any quite distant locale, is because I deeply resent and utterly detest having to subject myself to the ham-handed, knuckle-dragging, prognathous, slack-jawed, pimply-faced, vile -smelling attentions of the cretins and morons employed by the TSA as 'inspectors.'

They, themselves, mostly have never been further from home than the airport or rail/bus terminal where they make the lives of travellers unbearable. The seem to harbor insane, lumpen-prole jealousies toward the travelling public.

I don't go anywhere anymore that I cannot drive.

The German people are very good at this sort of thing.
The underwear bomber's Christmas Day 'attack' has prompted calls for the increased use of full-body scanners at airports.

So to protest, members of the Pirate Party in Germany organized a fleshmob of people who stripped down to their skivvies last Sunday and converged on the Berlin-Tegal airport.

The protesters marked their bodies with a number of messages such as, Something to hide? and Be a good citizen — drop your pants.

One woman has the word diaper scrawled on her lower back with an arrow pointing to her underwear and the word prosthetic printed on her leg. The word piercing and an arrow point to one of her breasts.

The full-body scanners use high-frequency radio waves to produce an image of a passengers naked body beneath clothes. Anything a passenger is carrying against the body — weapons, drugs or explosives — would be exposed. The scanners would also reveal the presence of prosthetic devices and breast implants.

As such, there have been privacy and legal concerns raised about the invasive equipment, particularly because its unclear if the scanners would be able to detect explosives hidden in body cavities and would therefore likely provide only minimal security.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

"Inside Job": The Facts About Wall Street's Massive Larceny

Here's the 'trailer' for "Inside Job," the documentary which presents the plain, unvarnished facts about the late financial melt-down: It was NOT "just one of those things." It was a deliberate act of larceny.

There's a guy in a $10THOUSAND suit who, very archly, declares he doesn't owe us an explanation? What the fuck? I would argue that if you lost a job in consequence of these skeevy fux and their financial fun-and-games, you have the RIGHT to search out one or some of these dirty, vile, evil, vicious fuckers and kick their asses til they whine.

Inside Job: Film Brings Us Face to Face with the People Who Nearly Destroyed Our Economy
Director Ferguson makes the case that the meltdown wasn't just an unfortunate accident, it was totally avoidable.
November 6, 2010 |

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Inside Job, the infuriating and compelling new documentary from Charles Ferguson, tells the story of the global financial crisis of 2008, which led to millions of people around the world losing their homes and jobs.

Critics have been raving about the film's insight and incisiveness. Kenneth Turan from the Los Angeles Times wrote, "After watching Charles Ferguson's powerhouse documentary about the global economic crisis, you will more than understand what went down -- you will be thunderstruck and boiling with rage."

Ferguson makes the case that the meltdown wasn't just an unfortunate accident -- it was totally avoidable. Through interviews with financial experts such as International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, French Minister of Finance Christine Lagarde, and former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, and detailed explanations of credit default swaps and derivatives, Ferguson paints a picture of an unethical industry driven by greed, rampant deregulation and an indifferent government. Ferguson, who also made No End In Sight, about the Iraq war, has a PhD in political science, and worked as a government consultant and a Silicon Valley entrepreneur. He is clearly outraged about what happened. "You can't be serious," he tells a former governor of the Federal Reserve who claims they tried to find out who was responsible.

Ferguson sat down with AlterNet in San Francisco to talk about how he felt compelled to make this movie after recognizing the level of criminality to which the financial industry had sunk.
If you see even one of these skeevy, scurvy fux, approach 'em casually, then kick 'em in the nutz, hard! I'll send you a couple of bucks for bail, and so would any other red-blooded Murkin...

Monday, November 08, 2010

Hanging Ten Off A Sailboat! Radical

Via BoingBoing:
This is what luck looks like. Luck, combined with a whole lot of skill. Notice the person at the front. I'm sure they're locked in with a harness, but that would still be a wild ride.

The harbor is Svaneke, a town on an island in the Baltic Sea. According to this thread at the Wooden Boat Forum, local guides say you shouldn't even attempt entering Svaneke harbor during strong onshore winds. I have no idea what prompted this crew to take a shot, but I'm guessing they decided the alternatives were worse.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A 10-Year Ban On The DC Revolving Door? Great Idea, But...

39 Tea Party party candidates will be inaugurated into the House of Representatives come February. It has just become exponentially LESS likely that ANY reforms Cenk urges here will EVER be adopted.

Who is going to vote to FUCK the Owners?

Short Answer: No Fucking Body! If yesterday's results demonstrated one thing, it is that the day of even the faux-independent is OVER. CorpoRats win, where a LOT of money can make a BIG difference, in small district, House races, local and state races, judgeships, etc.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Laura Flanders & Bob Scheer on the "Obituary of Hope"

Heckuva Job, Mr. Obama...
by Edger,
October 29, 2010 - 10:22am

This past Wednesday, Barack Obama was a guest on The Daily Show, thereby becoming the first sitting president to appear as Jon Stewart's guest. (In July, Obama became the first sitting president ever to appear on The View.) In the half-hour-long interview, Stewart quizzed his grizzled guest about health-care reform, the financial crisis, and the midterm elections."

"Stewart’s most combative query concerned National Economic Council director Larry Summers—in particular, Obama’s hiring thereof. 'We can’t expect different results with the same people,' Stewart said, referring to Summers’s previous stint as treasury secretary under Bill Clinton. He continued, 'Larry Summers ... that seems like the exact same person.' Obama, inadvertently quoting his imminently quotable predecessor, replied, 'Larry Summers did a heckuva job.' Stewart, somewhat shocked, advised him, 'You don’t wanna use that phrase...'"

This morning at GRITtv Laura Flanders talked with journalist and Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer, who reminds that "Summers was the chief architect of Clinton-era policies that created the economic crisis in the first place, and that Obama's appointment of him to get us out of it was never going to result in anything but more money being thrown at Wall Street."

It's no wonder that there is now so much irrepressible enthusiasm among the liberals and independents and progressives who tipped the balance in the democrats favor in 2006 and in 2008 to get out and vote for democrats in the 2010 midterm elections.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Yurtle McConnell Cops: "The GOP Mission Is Make St. Barry A 1-Termer!"

And presumably to thereby return to the Tihadists "their country," Miss Mitchie, you fucking cracker ass-munch?

Imaho*, Obama always has seemed to me to be sort of a 'designated' one-termer.

Imaho, (this is a LONG sentence) he was elected for the sole and only purpose of distracting the seething White, lumpen-middle and lower classes from the finally SEEING the culpability of the WHITE oligarchy in the pains the lumpen-White folks were experiencing with the end of cheap and easy credit--which Raygun and his boys had conspired with the Fed and the Corporats to provide the workers in lieu of (though workers didn't know it) the wages their increased productivity SHOULD have provided them but instead were channeled into the pockets of the Owners as profits. Somebody's gotta pay.

There's a poster around on Facebook which features a foto af the stupidly imperious, smug Prez. GWBush gazing down with open mouth and the legend reads "I want to thank you for blaming the black guy for all my fuck-ups."

The Dims thoughtfully provided two possible candidates, Hillary and St. B. She would not have succeeded any more than he has. The only difference between them ultimately would have been, instead of the wretched recrudescence of racist rhetoric, misogynist fears and stereotypes would have re-arisen from the polite silence of the tomb of "political correctness." Racism, sexism, and classism are the three pillars of oppression in the Murkin partriarchy.

I gotta say, I miss political correctness (P-C). The world was a more civil place when folks felt they had to guard their tongues lest they give offense. Since Obama's election, the hateful, vicious vocabularies of bigotry are once again in the public provenance. It was as if the elevation of a Black person to the "HIGHEST" office re-authorized the use of those slurs which had fallen into at best private conversations.

(Imaho = In my always humble opinion)

Monday, October 25, 2010

(Entlich) Again: Why St. Barry Can't/Won't Prosecute the Busheviks

This a pretty common complaint on the walls of Facebook where I go to read/converse--leftish joints, mostly (I'm 65; I don't need to hear the same cant and boilerplate from the rightards again/anymore, ever): Why won't Obama prosecute the Cheney/Bush cabal, punish them for their crimes--to some of which the alleged malefactors have indeed all but confessed, in jocular tones. To many whose enthusiasm for St. Barry has waned significantly, this is a fundamental complaint.

The following exchange occurred today:
I wrote, as a comment (later additions are in parens):
If St. Barry had had the temerity to pursue ANY of the foremost criminals of the previous regime, he would be under impeachment at this very moments.
There are 4 reasons he didn't pursue 'em:
1) No precedent. Never happened before (that former high, elected, federal officials were prosecuted for crimes committed in office).
2) No case: If the defendants claimed National Security in 'war-time' as a defense, ...NAGAHAPUN, and EVERYBODY knows it.
3) Jury nullification: there's still 25% (extreme partisans) who think Bush/Cheney did no wrong.
4) The long knives of the Right would already be filleting him...(Even worse than now, if you can imagine it; but now they're just trying to frustrate his efforts; they're not REALLY trying to destroy him, yet).
An interlocutor replied
I beg to differ:
1) Precedents are there to be set... if precedents were never set, Nothing would ever get done.
2) No Case? National Security? No, there was and still there is and there will always be a case. When they lie, when they distort, when they subvert and circumvent the Constitution, etc., etc., that is a matter of Nationall Security as far as the treasury and, more importantly, the lives of those who died unknowingly protecting those crimes.
3) 75% is still a higher number in my book
4) I don't think so... a message would have been sent to the right-wing nuts as "DON"T FUCK WITH ME!"
Illustrating several problems with the popular understanding of judicial procee4dings if nothing else. I subsequently replies:
Al. 1) You may have noticed St. Barry isn't much of a precedent-setter.
2) No DA in the country would take a case to a jury wherein the PRESIDENTIAL defendants were claiming to have been 'saving the country.' Unwinnable. No POSSIBILITY of a unanimous verdict.
In the context of which, 3) jury nullification: Even if criminal malfeasance could be proven unambiguously, there are still one in four citizens who would excuse it for strictly partisan reasons. There are 12 jurors. that means THREE would likely resist any effort to achieve unanimity, and would torpedo it.
And 4) you saw what they did to the WHITE guy who pissed 'em off...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Bite Back! (A Pretty Good Ad)

It of course neglects the little matter of who (or what) COUNTS the votes which, as Stalin allegedly noted, is MUCH more important than who casts the ballots.

Friday, October 15, 2010

..."The Very Model Of A Modern US President.."

This is soooo smart.

This Is The Very Model Of Comedic Verbal Brilliance
The Reward for Never-Ending Facebook Cruising Dilligence...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The "Precautionary Principle": What's the WORST That Could Happen?

What happens if you take the Precautionary Principle seriously? Possibly, you save the fucking species, civilization, and everything! G'wan! Take the ten fucking minutes!

The Most Terrifying Video You'll Ever See" has over 7,200,000 views, but this sequel makes the better argument.

And now even this 7-hour series has been trumped by the book: "What's the Worst That Could Happen? A Rational Response to the Climate Change Debate." Available from Amazon and others through the links at

Author Bill McKibben said "This book trumps most of our accounts of the global warming crisis," the former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. CENTCOM Gen. Anthony Zinni called it "innovative and intelligent.... superbly crafted.... A must read," and the New Scientist said "If Craven could get everybody who has weighed in on this debate to go through the exercises in the book, Al Gore should share his Nobel peace prize."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 08, 2010

Obama and the Charter School Sugar Daddies

It is encouraging to me that critical members of the black community are on to these tricks, because the minority communities are the ones being promised spurious accomplishment and achievement which the Charters are neither designed nor intended for.
"As hedge funds spin their financial webs to spur charter school expansion and President Obama bullies states to lift caps on charters, "right-wing foundations are attempting to swallow whole the entire school district of Washington, DC." For a $65 million donation, the Wal-Mart family and other fat cats demand DC schools drop union rules - and threaten to take back the money if the voters change administrations."

Obama and the Charter School Sugar Daddies
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
"Hedge funds and bankers have become the Sugar Daddies of charter schools."

When it comes to the public schools, the Obama administration is allied with the most rapacious sectors of Wall Street and far-right foundations. That political reality is most evident in the administration's campaign to establish a parallel national network of charter schools, with a heavy emphasis on inner cities. Obama and his education chief, Arne Duncan, have spent their first year and a half in office coercing states to expand charters or lose out on more than $4 billion in federal education moneys. Obama's allies on Wall Street invest heavily in charter schools, tapping into the public money stream to build their own vision of corporate education.

Historically, Wall Street is to Democrats what Big Oil is to Republicans. Hedge funds and bankers have become the Sugar Daddies of charter schools, using their clout with big city Democrats to give charters every advantage over conventional public schools.
Wall Street finds charters especially attractive, since bankers and hedge funds can exercise extraordinary influence on the schools while the public pays most of the tab. And profiteers have found numerous ways to turn charter schools into cash cows, where taxpayers finance private contracts over which the public has no control. Charter schools are a low-risk, fast buck dream, tailor-made for corporate exploitation and political manipulation.

RIch foundations have banded together to amass a mountain of money to ensure that charter schools have sources of funds that most public schools lack, plus a steady income from the taxpayers.

"If the voters get rid of Mayor Fenty, they can kiss the fat cats' money goodbye."
Rightwing foundations have become so emboldened in their privatizing campaigns, they are attempting to swallow whole the entire school district of Washington, DC. Four foundations, led by the Wal-Mart owners' Walton Family Foundation, have offered DC almost $65 million to help fund the public schools - with plenty of strings attached. In addition to dropping important seniority system protections for teachers, the foundations demand that the city and school administration remain intact, or they'll take their money back. That means, if Adrian Fenty, the corporatist Black mayor of DC, fails to win re-election this year, or his union-hating schools chancellor Michelle Rhee, loses her job, the Walton Family and the rest of the foundations think they can pick up their millions and leave DC to find some other way of paying for the schools.

This is blatant rule of the rich, an oligarchy of extortion by the worst elements of the ruling class - all under the guise of helping inner city school kids.
When you think of it, $65 million is a cheap price to pay for the foundations to control, not only the DC public schools, but the entire political process of the nation's capital city. If the voters get rid of Mayor Fenty, they can kiss the fat cats' money goodbye.

Actually, that's no more outrageous than President Obama making states jump through charter school hoops to get a piece of his $4 billion "Race to the Top" prize. Obama is also a bully and an extortionist, in league with the Wal-Mart family's foundation and the bankers and hedge funds on Wall Street.

For Black Agenda Radio, I'm Glen Ford. On the web, go to

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Robert Jensen, Ph.D.: The Real Deal

I was reminded again this morning of Robert Jensen, a (full) professor in the UofTexa Journalism School, whose work I have always admired. I have been aware of Jensen for around 20 years. We became acquainted (he wouldn't remember) at a Journalism academic conference in New Orleans in about 1991 or '92, when he was finishing his doctoral work.

In the wake of 9/11, he was one of those of the professoriate who showed enormous courage in pointing to the (unpopular) equivalency of that tragedy with the murders the US carried out i9n even just his own lifetime. Via Wiki :"Jensen drew widespread attention for an opinion piece he wrote for the Houston Chronicle on September 14, 2001, shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks.[8][9]

In the piece, Jensen wrote that the September 11th terrorist attacks were "reprehensible and indefensible" but "no more despicable than the massive acts of terrorism -- the deliberate killing of civilians for political purposes -- that the U.S. government has committed during my lifetime." [10]

Jensen's piece drew both praise and criticism. Some individuals demanded that The University of Texas fire Jensen. In response, University of Texas President Larry Faulkner wrote in a letter to the editor published in the Houston Chronicle that he was "disgusted by Jensen's article" and called Jensen "a fountain of undiluted foolishness on issues of public policy." [11]

I have assembled here a couple of videos and links to a handful of papers and presentations which I believe fairly represent why I am a Jensen partisan. (He's also married to singer Eliza Gilkyson, an older, somewhat closer acquaintance.)

Both of these are longish--around an hour. The first vid is Jensen on home turf, addressing a pro-seminar in qualitative research.

Robert Jensen, PhD from A.J. Avila on Vimeo.

I've posted this before, but being relatively recent, I believe it emblematic of his evolved stance.