Friday, August 21, 2009

Two really good questions

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How can you sustain a democracy if one of the two major political parties has been overrun by nihilists? And another question: How can you maintain the illusion of journalistic impartiality when one of the political parties has jumped the shark?
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'Nuff said.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Right wingers get a pass

The Villagers have spent the last 30 years chasing phantom hippies and black panthers.
They have not cared about or even noticed the radicalism on the right, which doesn't fit their picture of scary political terrorists because right wingers look like what they think of as Real Americans. How in the world can these nice, white middle aged and elderly people possibly be so crazy?

Every editor in the country should assign all of his reporters and spokesmodels to listen to Limbaugh, beck savage, an d the rest for a solid week. Then they might not be so surprised to find out that the people who listen to them are paranoid, racist, hysterical, narcissistic and stupid. And there are a lot of them. And they aren't wearing headbands or tie-dyed t-shirts. They look just like David Broder and Cokie Roberts.
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Monday, August 10, 2009

Jim Kunstler: Get ready for a much lower standard of living

The number problems we face are now hopeless. America will never be able to cover its current outstanding debt. We're effectively finished at all three levels: household, corporate, and government. Who, for instance, can really comprehend what to do about the number problems infesting Fannie Mae and the mortgages associated with her? There's really only one way out of this predicament: to get ready for a much lower standard of living and much different daily living arrangements. We can't wrap our minds around this, so the exercise du jour is to play games with numbers to persuade ourselves that we don't have to face reality. We're entertaining ourselves with shell games, musical chairs, Chinese fire drills, Ponzi schemes, and Polish blanket tricks (where, to make your blanket longer, you cut twelve inches off the top and sew it onto the bottom).
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Friday, August 7, 2009

The unanswered questions about the US economy

How does an economy based heavily on consumer spending recover when so many high-value-added jobs, and the GDP and payroll tax revenues associated with them, have been moved offshore and when consumers have no more assets to leverage in order to increase their spending?

How does the US pay for its imports if the dollar is no longer used as reserve currency?

These are the unanswered questions.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

The truth about the USAmerican economy .... with car smashing!

How come this working class guy gets the whole bailout scam, but the talking heads on TV don't?

Oh right. Because he's actually probably feeling the bite instead of just yammering about it in his $10,000 made-for-TV hairdo.

This is the MOST ENTERTAINING list of depressing facts about our economy that I've ever seen.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Doesn't free speech mean you can ask a cop for his name and badge number?

I think the press has focused on the race angle in the Gates debacle to the detriment of the more salient issue, i.e., that we are expected to treat police with deference at all times and that doing otherwise is a punishable crime. To equate being upset with a cop with a crime is plain wrong and has no place in a free society. Draw the obvious conclusions about just how free our society is...
“You don’t argue with a police officer,” Colin Powell told Larry King, commenting on the Gates episode and his own personal history.

But why not argue, if anyone in this society is supposed to believe it’s a free one? Why should arguing with a cop, or just demanding his name and badge---after he’s walked into your house---get you get you arrested for “disorderly conduct”? Why should he have the right to do that to you---as a Black man or as anybody else---just because he’s a cop?

A cop’s someone supposed to be doing a job protecting the public. Isn’t that the idea? Instead he or she is given impunity to bust people he/she finds personally uppity. This is a system problem.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Authoritarianism, not racism, is the elephant in the Gates-Crowley room

Have Americans really lost the suspicion of authority that Jefferson seemed to think was indispensable in a free country? Seems like the answer to that is a resounding yes.
Sure, we should treat the cops with respect and society shouldn't encourage people to be reflexively hostile to police. They have a tough job, and we should all be properly respectful of people who are doing a dangerous and necessary job for the community. But when a citizen doesn't behave well, if not illegally, as will happen in a free society, it is incumbent upon the police, the ones with the tasers and the handcuffs and the guns, to exercise discretion wisely and professionally. And when they don't, we shouldn't make excuses for them. It's far more corrosive to society to allow authority figures to abuse their power than the other way around.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Max Keiser tells the truth about Goldman Sachs

Wow. That gave me a stiffy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Our only chance as a country is to be attacked by terrorists?

Is the point to have us demand as much violence as is necessary? Wow. These right-wing dudes are even worse than I'd imagined, and that's saying something.
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Scheuer: The only chance we have as a country right now is for Osama bin Laden to deploy and detonate a major weapon in the United States. Because it's going to take a grass-roots, bottom-up pressure. Because these politicians prize their office, prize the praise of the media and the Europeans. It's an absurd situation again. Only Osama can execute an attack which will force Americans to demand that their government protect them effectively, consistently, and with as much violence as necessary.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

We don't really think about it.

Bob Herbert meant for the following quote to describe the USAmerican attitude toward gun violence, but I think it accurately describes the USAmerican attitude toward just about everything pressing, important, and horrifying.

We don't think.

We go through the motions.

We never really do anything about it.
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Actually, that’s our problem. We don’t really think about it. If the crime is horrible enough, we’ll go through the motions of public anguish but we never really do anything about it. Americans are as blasé as can be about this relentless slaughter that keeps the culture soaked in blood.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Marijuana "more dangerous" than alcohol or tobacco, US Attorney blows smoke up law students' asses

Of course, US Attorney Russoniello is right, marijuana is far more dangerous than alcohol or tobacco, but not for any reasons that are given.

It is more dangerous for the simple fact that once you've tried pot and seen how absolutely un-dangerous it is, you realize that the US government lies to you.

And if it is willing to lie to you about something as relatively insignificant as the health implications of the occasional toke, how much more is the state willing to lie to you in matters of real importance --- like bailing out Wall Street banks with tax payer monies, invading countries that haven't threatened us, or pretending that carbon caps and trading will have any real effect on global warming.

Once you realize you can't trust the government, you start to wonder about your church and the local Chamber of Commerce. And then all hell breaks lose...
Joe Russoniello, US Attorney for the Northern District of California (a Bush appointee), says at a Hastings Law School forum that all medical marijuana dispensaries are profiteering operations in violaton of state law and therefore “fair game” for DEA raiders. He asserts that marijuana is “a more dangerous substance” than alcohol or tobacco... Dispensary operators who draw “reasonable compensation” and who only obtain their cannabis from and sell it to collective members hope they can be distinguished from “egregious offenders.”
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

We need to create a new culture

To reverse what is happening, we must create strong alternative ideas and hardy alternative institutions and communities, a counter culture that rejects the myths of Washington and Wall Street just as, in the 1960s, a generation put the establishment on the defensive or in the closet.
In any case, we need to act, but independent of those responsible for the mess, those exculpating them, those offering remedies that are mere manipulated shadows of the failure, and those engaged in misleading or misguided organizing on their behalf even if with purportedly noble intent.
The collapse of American culture was an inside job. Its cure is to be found on the outside, in a counter culture that is clear and worthy in its goals, eclectic in its alliances, and which builds community, recovers integrity and helps us to sing again. If we can't save our culture, we can at least create a new one.
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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Banksters: We need $2 trillion, but we're solvent

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Geithner is publicly saying that it's going to take $2 trillion — a trillion is a thousand billion — $2 trillion taxpayer dollars to deal with this problem. But they're allowing all the banks to report that they're not only solvent, but fully capitalized. Both statements can't be true. It can't be that they need $2 trillion, because they have masses losses, and that they're fine.
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Global currency? Global bank?

Of course conspiracy theorists (as opposed to coincidence theorists, I guess) will "love" this, since it is precisely what "they" have been suggesting is in the works for some time.

I always thought that the prime measure of a theory's merit was how accurately it made predictions. Seems to me that the prognostications of the "conspiracy theorists" have been a lot more accurate than those put forward by the coincidence theorists in the MSM, especially lately.
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In effect, the G20 leaders have activated the IMF's power to create money and
begin global "quantitative easing". In doing so, they are putting
a de facto world currency into play. It is outside the control of any
sovereign body. Conspiracy theorists will love it.
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Friday, March 27, 2009

Lula tells it like it is; Brown looks mildly uncomfortable

We white folks really are funny. We get so embarrassed at the wrong stuff. We're ashamed of being called out on crashing the world economy (e.g., Lula's "outburst"), but we aren't ashamed of crashing it in the first place. Can't have "fuck" written on the canisters of napalm we use to incinerate women and kids, after all.
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"This crisis was caused by no black man or woman or by no indigenous person or by no poor person," Lula said after talks with the prime minister in Brasilia to discuss next week's G20 summit in London.
"This crisis was fostered and boosted by irrational behaviour of some people that are white, blue-eyed. Before the crisis they looked like they knew everything about economics, and they have demonstrated they know nothing about economics."
You go to a shopping mall and you are filmed. You go to the airport and you are watched. I can't imagine that only the financial system has no surveillance at all."
Brown looked mildly uncomfortable during Lula's outburst.
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Promise and perils of the growing public anger

There is a growing public anger out there, anger that is long overdue. People are finally beginning to wake up, however foggily, to who is the real enemy of America’s interests and who is the real predator with its fingers rifling their pocketbooks. If this populist rage is properly directed, we could get some sort of healthy outcome, like a reprise of the New Deal social safety net and a badly needed robust regulatory apparatus. If it is not, it might instead be miraculously used to breathe political life back into the very corpses of those who brought this storm down on all of us.
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"Reality has entered the house of America without knocking."

FDR got his pressure from the left; Obama gets his from the right thanks to the unwillingness of progressives to push him. FDR could take action without a gang of media manipulators telling him to be careful. There wasn't an inordinate pyramid of bureaucracy chipping away at every decision before it went into action. Liberals had more passion than status and really cared about those at the bottom of the American heap.

Are we trapped forever in this contemporary paradigm? Or can we face what has happened to us and start to change it? Can liberals once again represent the ordinary American or can such Americans only expect a few nods in their direction? Can we condemn a whole class of citizens because of what we fear some rightwing Republicans will say if we do something real to help them?

This is a time when status, style and semantics won't save us. Reality has entered the house of America without knocking. It can't be spun away. And time is running out.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Judges who imprison kids for kickbacks deserve a shivving in the pokey

These judges, and all others like them, need to be publicly executed, along with the cocksuckers who gave them the kickbacks. Let's hope that the noble felons with whom these douchebags will be incarcerated give them the sharpened-spoon-to-the-throat treatment.

Earlier this month, two Luzerne County, Pa., judges--Mark Ciavarella Jr. and Michael Conahan--pled guilty to taking $2.6 million in kickbacks in exchange for throwing juveniles into two for-profit private detention centers, PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care. Under a plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and be disbarred.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

It's the lack of jobs, not the lack of lending

What is needed to fix this crisis is job security, and the only way to create that is by creating jobs.
If the president really wanted to kick-start the economy, he would have announced a government program to directly hire the unemployed, by both the federal government and state and local governments (through block grants to the states), which would put people to work right now as teachers’ aides, park workers, school crossing guards, library assistants, companions for the elderly, city and rural clean-up crews, housing renovation project workers, mural painters, etc.
Millions of out-of-work people could be put productively to work with far fewer dollars than what is about to be shoveled out to contractors to construct or repair bridges and highways a year or more from now.
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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Clean coal harnesses the awesome power of the word "clean"

Thanks to the Coen Brothers for harnessing their awesome powers for good.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Popular explosions are inevitable

Given a global situation in which one startling, often unexpected development follows another, prediction is perilous. At a popular level, however, the basic picture is clear enough: continued economic decline combined with a pervasive sense that existing systems and institutions are incapable of setting things right is already producing a potentially lethal brew of anxiety, fear, and rage. Popular explosions of one sort or another are inevitable.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"What has Wall Street given up?"

Awesome, awesome, awesome. Virg Bernero, the mayor of Lansing, MI, deserves every working person's support and kudos for calling it like it is on national television. On Faux "News" even!

When asked another loaded question about what unions are willing to give up, Mr. Bernero "snaps" and calls the interviewer out on the assumptions built into his question. "Why do working Americans always have to be the ones who make concessions?" he asks. "What has Wall Street given up?" Indeed.

Send him a note of support here:

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The bloated, Blagojevich-esque Faux "newsman" tries to maintain "decorum" (the same decorum that cringes when the word "fuck" is painted on the napalm we plan to drop on women and kids) by steering the mayor back to his loaded question about salaries, and the mayor will have none of it. Good for him.

No more playing nice guys, folks. The people on Wall Street need to feel the extent of our pain. I suggest we help them come to an understanding by eating their livers with a nice chianti.

Welcome to the Casino at the End of the World

This is the best explanation for all the quasi-magical economic terminology that's been flying around for the last couple of years. Too bad it all boils down to bad gambling debts that we get to pay off.

So welcome to the Casino at the End of the World. Where you’re now backing every remaining wager and paying off the winners. In bailout bucks.

Why, instead of doling out trillions of taxpayer dollars through the Fed and Treasury Department, didn’t our government simply nullify these crazy bets that never should have been made — thereby averting the present crisis? It can’t be that contracts are really all that sacrosanct. Credit card companies change terms on us all the time.

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The people in power are either nitwits or manipulating an opportunity to profit further

My money, such as it is, isn't on them being nitwits.
Either the people in power in Washington and the financial community are total dimwits or they are manipulating an opportunity to redistribute wealth from taxpayers, equity owners and pension funds to the financial sector.
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Monday, February 23, 2009

"The average American used to be able to borrow to buy a home, send their kids to a good school... A lot of that is gone."

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But "the worst is yet to come," according to Howard Davidowitz, chairman of Davidowitz & Associates, who believes American's standard of living is undergoing a "permanent change" - and not for the better as a result of:

  • An $8 trillion negative wealth effect from declining home values.
  • A $10 trillion negative wealth effect from weakened capital markets.
  • A $14 trillion consumer debt load amid "exploding unemployment", leading to "exploding bankruptcies."

"The average American used to be able to borrow to buy a home, send their kids to a good school [and] buy a car," Davidowitz says. "A lot of that is gone."

Going forward, the veteran retail industry consultant foresees higher savings rate and people trading down in both the goods and services they buy - as well as their aspirations.

The end of rampant consumerism is ultimately a good thing, he says, but the unraveling of an economy built on debt-fueled spending will be painful for years to come.

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Olympian toker's gold medals dispel drug war mythology

“If 14 gold medals aren’t enough to prove that marijuana users can achieve success and shouldn't be scrutinized, what will it take to break the stigma?”
“The situation reeks of hypocrisy,” the petition states. “More than one hundred million Americans have smoked marijuana at least once in their lives (including the president, former presidents, members of Congress and justices on the Supreme Court). Smoking marijuana is not unusual behavior and you shouldn't hold Phelps to a higher standard.”

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Obama's no-brainer: Reduce the deficit by raising taxes on the wealthy

Let people making more than a quarter of a million dollars pay their fair share.

Obama also seeks to increase tax collections, mainly by making good on his promise to eliminate some of the temporary tax cuts enacted in 2001 and 2003. While the budget would keep the breaks that benefit middle-income families, it would eliminate them for wealthy taxpayers, defined as families earning more than $250,000 a year. Those tax breaks would be permitted to expire on schedule in 2011. That means the top tax rate would rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent, the tax on capital gains would jump to 20 percent from 15 percent for wealthy filers and the tax on estates worth more than $3.5 million would be maintained at the current rate of 45 percent.

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The big question: What will the near future look like, and what will be its impact on the long-term viability of H. sapiens?

Ultimately, it is a question of whether the great depth of our Madness will carry us into a final conflict with biophysical reality – a madman flaying at imaginary demons while being tormented by a disinterested reality to which he is blind – or will we come again into the wind and the rain, into the seasons, cycles and other realities of earthly existence? 
My sensible reason answers that the Madness will dominate the final days of this iteration of my species, that over the next 30 to 80 years we will cling to the most misguided and defeating self-referenced notions of reality until an enraged environment indiscriminately smites the living world – and we will still behave badly even in the ruins of our world. 
But my capacity of imagination and wonder believes, in the way that the consciousness order designs impossible ‘possibilities,’ that we can come to see the madness and demand its retreat; the way that smokers now have to hide next to the dumpster in the back of the building.
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