Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Jump! You Fuckers!

It's the little things in life that you treasure.

Fighting the Wall Street bailout: General strike?

So, if the PIGAC tries scaring you with "Great Depression," to make you cower, acquiesce -- and pay for! -- the Wall Street Bailout, then buck them, scare them back with "General Strike!" Such an event may be a necessary step between the government we have and the government we want.
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Friday, September 26, 2008

McDonalds: Self-preserving non-food

This is a hamburger from McDonalds that I purchased in 1996.

That was 12 years ago.

Note that it looks exactly like it did the very day I bought it.

The flecks on the bun are crumbs from the bun.

The burger is starting to crumble a bit

It has the oddest smell.
People always ask me - what did you do to preserve it ?

Nothing - it preserved itself.

Ladies, Gentleman, and children alike - this is a chemical food. There is absolutely no nutrition here.
The burger on the right, off the paper is a 2008 burger.  I had to buy it to get the groovy paper and bag.

The meat is a tad darker, the bun a little less golden but in 12 years it will look exactly like that too.

Do you find this horrifying?
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Sarah Palin: Nothing short of frightening

And I've got a question for folks out there? Why is every available version of the interview broken, so that the sound doesn't play and the video stops after the first few seconds?
clipped from www.salon.com
Sarah Palin's performance in the tiny vignettes of unscripted dialogue in which we've been allowed to see her has been nothing short of frightening -- really, as I said, pity-inducing. And I say that as someone who has thought from the start that the criticisms of her abilities -- as opposed to her ideology -- were much too extreme. One of two things is absolutely clear at this point: she is either (a) completely ignorant about the most basic political issues -- a vacant, ill-informed, incurious know-nothing, or (b) aggressively concealing her actual beliefs about these matters because she's petrified of deviating from the simple-minded campaign talking points she's been fed and/or because her actual beliefs are so politically unpalatable, even when taking into account the right-wing extremism that is permitted, even rewarded, in our mainstream. I'm not really sure which is worse, but it doesn't really matter, because with 40 days left before the election, both options are heinous.
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F*** You (What's on her mind?)

Ah, young Chinese girls learning to emulate the ethos of Wall Street financiers...

clipped from 1x.com

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Obama to hold "townhall meeting" in lieu of debate if McCain is a no-show

Cool. Frankly, though, not cool enough.

Sadly the Republicans have mastered the art of selling shit as foie gras, and so can turn any political disaster into its opposite.

Far more importantly, this news ultimately perpetuates the electoral dog and pony show that keeps us from waking up to the real problems facing us, including but not limited to the Wall Street giveaway.

Barack Obama is committed to hosting a public, televised event Friday night in Mississippi even if John McCain does not show up, an official close to the Obama campaign tells the Huffington Post.

In McCain's absence, the Senator is willing to make the scheduled debate a townhall meeting, a one-on-one interview with NewsHour's Jim Lehrer, or the combination of the two, the official said.

Such a course of action could make life incredibly difficult for McCain, who has called for the suspension of the debate in light of the current economic crisis.

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Protesting preachers: More political clout for conservatives

Great. Conservative preachers decide to "protest" (which I thought was un-American to their way of thinking, by the way) the fact that they can't advocate for a political candidate without paying taxes like the rest of us. One more example of the right-wing turning the culture and meaning of protest on its head.
clipped from www.nytimes.com
Defying a federal tax law they consider unjust, 33 ministers across the country will take to their pulpits this Sunday and publicly endorse a candidate for president.
They plan to then send copies of their sermons to the Internal Revenue Service, hoping to provoke a challenge to a law that bars religious organizations and other nonprofits that accept tax-deductible contributions from involvement in partisan political campaigns.
Organizers said they wanted a range of clergy of various faiths and political persuasions to join the protest, but acknowledged that the participants might be “weighted” toward the conservative end of the spectrum and more likely to support the Republican candidate
The Rev. Barry Lynn, of Americans United, said of the protest on Sunday: “They act like this is a massive act of civil disobedience, but this is not like sitting in at a lunch counter. This is trying to change the law to give certain conservative churches even more political clout.”
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Nader on the bailout

Why would Congress, particularly the one serving during the Bush administration, investigate options before rushing blindly to vote on a piece of "emergency legislation"?

I mean, that's what you'd expect from an actual republic, and not a corporately controlled simulacra.

Nader's ideas need to be heard and discussed. So do Senator Bernie Sanders' and those of various economists. Again, why is the media falling down on the job, buying the line that this is a crisis that demands immediate, thoughtless action when just last week they were telling us it was peachy, that the fundamentals of our economy are strong?
Congress should hold a series of hearings and invite broad public comment on any proposed bailout. Congress is supposed to be a co-equal branch of our federal government. It needs to stop the stampede to give Bush a $700 billion check. Public hearings should be held to determine what alternatives might exist to the four-page proposal advanced by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson.
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Economic meltdown: Just let the markets crash? Is that such a bad idea?

I have to admit to some unpopular opinions in regard to this piece. I'm on the side of the "some House Republicans" referred to here. I work two jobs and barely make $40K doing so, so I'm not sitting in an ivory tower here either. I understand that a market contraction of the size implied here would be devastating.

I also recognize, though, that not allowing the market to contract will be more devastating in the long run. First, from what I know, the market is "contracting" because it has been artificially inflated through lending of way too much credit; so this sort of contraction is inevitable. All Congress would be doing here is giving $700 billion of tax-payer money to the same agents responsible for the crisis we're facing, with few strings attached. There go even more social programs, etc. into Wall Street's gluttonous maw.

Even more importantly though is that the current program of economic growth uber alles is what is threatening the very survival of humanity or at least of civilization as we know it, in terms of resource depletion and global warming.

A crash would not be pleasant to anyone, although the poorest among us would probably feel it least, ironically, having endured privation in the midst of the economic "boom" of the last few decades. But it might give us a chance to start anew, and approach our economies more wisely, with people and the planet in mind.

A tenuous agreement on a bailout plan for Wall Street that had been reached Thursday morning was threatening to fall apart by the time evening had arrived. At fault, it became clear, was a divided Republican Party within the House of Representatives, whose leadership begrudgingly favored the $700 billion bailout but whose ardently conservative members were balking at the idea.

Things grew so heated within the caucus, the Politico reported, that "some House Republicans are saying privately that they'd rather 'let the markets crash' than sign on to a massive bailout."

One GOP lawmaker, referring to his defiant colleagues, asked rhetorically: "For the sake of the altar of the free market system, do you accept a Great Depression?"

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McCain economic meltdown proposal: More deregulation and tax cuts

Remember the classic definition of insanity? Doing the same thing while expecting different results. Isn't it clear to everyone that decades of deregulation are what got us into this pickle?
During the White House meeting, it appears that Sen. John McCain had an agenda.  He brought up alternative proposals, surprising and angering Democrats. He did not, according to someone briefed on the meeting, provide specifics.

One the proposals -- favored by House Republicans -- would relax regulation and temporarily get rid of
certain taxes in order to lure private industry into the market for
these distressed assets. 
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Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Netherlands: Tobacco a no-no, grass A-OK

Frankly, this isn't difficult to understand at all. Tobacco, even second-hand, is linked to thousands of deaths per year. Marijuana has been linked to ZERO deaths per year. It's more paradoxical in my mind that we subsidize the growing of tobacco while also funding Medicare to pay for the resulting cancers and emphysema, all while regarding humble cannabis as a scourge. Whoever thought that scenario up must have been stoned.
clipped from www.thaindian.com
The bizarre Dutch policy of allowing smokers to puff away on pure cannabis but not tobacco has apparently perplexed police in the Netherlands, who have fined a man for mixing the two substances.
A spokesman for the Amsterdam Police has accepted that it is very difficult to understand the rule that allows cannabis smoking while fining tobacco users.
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Bingo! Help the economy by helping the people losing their homes

I know. That would be "socialism." Which is OK if it involves the redistribution of wealth from working folks to parasitic banksters, but not to help everyday folks like you and me keep their homes.

Trickle-down doesn't work, folks. Time to try trickle-up.
Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University, is describing the plan as a raw deal for taxpayers. What’s needed most, Stiglitz argues, is to assist struggling homeowners. “We should begin with the core of the problem, the fact that millions of Americans were made loans beyond their ability to pay. We need to help them stay in their homes, including by converting the home mortgage deduction into a cashable tax credit and creating a homeowners’ Chapter 11, an expedited way to restructure their liabilities.” If these mortgages are fixed so the debts are paid, will that not make the banks solvent? It is time to build the economy from the base, rather than the top. Trickle down does not work — especially when it is debts that trickle down.
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The Subprime Primer

What better way to explain the intricacies of the financial wizardry that brought us to this lowly state than with stick figures? It's easier than reading the WSJ and more truthful too.
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Debt expansion and forgiveness: Bring the Jubilee

I've read a few interviews with Michael Hudson, a former Wall Street economist and professor of economics, and have found them relatively easy to follow (given how confusing all the Wall Street gobbledygook can be) and very insightful. Here he talks about the history of credit and debt, and the role of debt forgiveness (i.e., the Biblical Jubilee). This entire piece is well worth reading.

No economy can grow at steady exponential rates; only debts can multiply in this way. That is why Mr. Paulson’s $700 billion giveaway to his Wall Street colleagues cannot work.

What it can do is provide a one-time transfer of wealth to insiders who already have been playing the debt-credit system and siphoning off its predatory financial proceeds to themselves.

The idea is to take as much as you can. As the saying goes: “You only have to make a fortune once in a lifetime.”
Their plan now is for icing on the cake — to take Mr. Paulson’s $700 billion and run. It’s not a “bailout of the financial system.” It’s as giveaway — to insiders, to sell out all their bad bets.
This change always is sudden, arranged under emergency conditions.
These bad loans are toxic because they can only be sold at a loss — if at all, because foreign investors no longer trust the U.S. investment bankers or money managers to be honest. That is the problem that Congress is not willing to come out and face.
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"Suspending" campaign: Not smart

clipped from www.politico.com
Is the McCain campaign's decision to "suspend" campaigning and the Friday debate smart or not smart?
"It ranks somewhere on the stupidity scale between plain silly and numbingly desperate.... I’m confident that somehow the administration and the other 533 members of congress will be able to muddle through without tapping into the superior wisdom and intellect of their nominees. Sorry, john; it really sounds like you're afraid to debate. This sounds like the sort of ploy we used to use in junior high school elections." --- Mickey Edwards, Princeton lecturer and former Republican congressman
"Not smart. I agree with Mickey Edwards. It is not as if McCain has a reputation for being able to contribute to the solution of this economic problem, and it smacks of "you can run, but you can't hide." I think this is more likely to raise doubts rather than reassure independent voters." -- Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Professor at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government
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Desperate and reckless: typical John McCain

Bringing the presidential candidates and their press entourages back to Capitol Hill won't speed or improve the process of coming up with a good bailout deal. It will politicize it. That's so transparently obvious that it barely requires stating. And of course that is the point.
This isn't a reaction to the national financial crisis but to the McCain polling crisis.
He's desperate and reckless. This is what it appears to be: political stunt dressed up as vainglorious self-sacrifice. In other words, typical John McCain.
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Detonating hot dogs: More silliness in the "War on Terror"

clipped from cbs3.com
The discovery of several hot dogs in packages outside Citizens Bank Park brought the bomb squad out and forced the temporary evacuation of the stadium Wednesday evening.
Bomb squad members further investigated the packages and determined they were simply several hot dogs in foil wrappers. Sadly, the wieners were detonated as a precaution.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Wall Street's misfortune could spread? What do you call the last eight years?

Guess what assholes? Wall Street's good fortunes have already spread misery and misfortune far and wide. Millions of jobs have been exported, benefits slashed, unions castrated, and homes repossessed. If that is Wall Street working for the people, then maybe it's about time that Wall Street took a flaming dive.

And since when are OUR representatives supposed to be shills for Wall Street, giving us their pep talks. Pathetic.
clipped from www.reuters.com

With Main Street up in arms over a proposed $700 billion financial bailout of Wall Street, lawmakers turned to top U.S. officials to make the case for them that failure to act would unleash a financial armageddon.

While most congressional leaders have conceded something must be done to avert an economic crisis, they have had little success so far in explaining to the electorate why Wall Street's misfortune could soon spread far and wide.

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The Wall Street "bailout" rewritten as a blackmail drama

Luckily, from what I've been reading, many USAmericans refuse to take this lying down, and their anger is spreading across party lines. Please take the time to call your Congressthings and Senile-tors to demand that they not simply fork over $700 billion of our hard-earned dollars to these criminals.
FADE IN: Our camera eye sees nearly two dozen people in a conference room. They appear serious and somewhat anxious.
The phone rings.
An FBI agent in charge says, "OK, senator, answer it."
CLOSE-UP SHOT: The senator carefully picks up the phone.
VOICEOVER: A man's voice can be heard, low and menacing.

"Do you have the money?"
"We are having trouble putting that much money together," the senator says. He is stalling for time.

"Listen carefully, senator. We are holding something we think you want. If you want it back safe and sound, deliver the $700 billion today, or the economy's dead. Understand?"
"But if you kill the economy, you'll be in big trouble, and you'll get caught, sooner or later."

The voice on the other end laughs a confident laugh.

"Senator, you'll never catch us. We won't spend a day in jail. We have connections in high places."
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Socialize debt, privatize profits

The Bush Administration finds socialism despicable, when it comes to an issue like health care, but not when it benefits private corporations through corporate welfare – like the $3,000,000,000 annually given to the fossil fuel industry, that takes our tax money, then gouges us at the gas pump, while making record profits.  This Treasury Proposal is another attempt by the Bush Administration to socialize debt and risk, and private profits. 
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Bailing out Wall Street and the collapse of the dollar

It’s not about saving Main Street, as Paulson claims. Main Street, under the bailout, is toast. It’s about helping the banks and investment banks and insurance companies that brought on this crisis to ride it out in style, their astronomical losses bankrolled or absorbed by the American public, so that they can shift their operations overseas and continue with their rape and pillage of the global economy.

The US will be left behind, a smoking ruin, with Americans, like Weimar Germans before them, going shopping with wheelbarrows full of worthless green paper to exchange for a few days’ groceries.

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Ron Jacobs to Wall Street: Bail your own selves out.

It’s time Wall Street and Washington DC start practicing for itself what it preaches to the rest of us. No more bailouts and no more fat no-bid contracts. No more wars fought by other people’s kids for the war industry’s profits and the politicians’ egos. No more pay raises and no more free health care. No more taxpayer-funded travel and no more free gas. No more compensation packages unless they do a good job. Either that, or share the wealth and make health care universal, wars illegal, and fuel affordable.

It’s time we tell these folks: Bail your own selves out. Or, if you can’t, then start swimming. That’s what you expect us regular folks to do.

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Guillotines, not billions, for the bankers and their enablers

What will it take for Americans to finally throw off the yoke of the billionaires and their buddies in government?

In other words, how many guillotines could we buy for $700 billion?

The Republicans, in their party platform, spell out the reasons they need to be executed en masse. They "support ... carefully targeted aid" to the people losing their homes in the economic meltdown, but they prefer the shotgun blast, no stipulations bailout of the bankers who knowingly created this mess.

And you have to "love" the irony of the line: "We do not support government bailouts of private institutions." That's Republican-speak for "fuck you, John Q. Public. Your tax money is ours to play with and you have no say in how we spend it."

Someday these people will pay.
clipped from www.gop.com
We support timely and carefully targeted aid to those hurt by the housing crisis so that affected individuals can have a chance to trade a burdensome mortgage for a manageable loan that reflects their home’s market value. At the same time, government action must not implicitly encourage anyone to borrow more than they can afford to repay. We support energetic federal investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution of criminal wrongdoing in the mortgage industry and investment sector.  We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself. We believe in the free market as the best tool to sustained prosperity and opportunity for all.
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