Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Racism" 101

Back when I was in the professin' bidness, and I was teaching a class in which the notion of 'racism' might crop up (since I professed in the field of Education, it was pretty much in every class I taught), I'd have to deliver a lecture including the following points:
"Let's not confuse individual acts of bigotry, or bias, or prejudice with 'racism.' There will always be cretins and morons, in every social group or culture, who regard anyone exogenous to the group to be inferior, and nurture an animus against anyone whom they regard as an exogene. That is not "racism," per se: "Racism" does not consist in individual acts, no matter how ignoble; it is systemic, social, embedded.

The best example I can imagine is recent; it is probably going to become the exemplary case: the "spontaneous" rejection by the (White) lower and middle classes of health care reform measures which would have improved conditions for everyone in the whole country. "Racism" in the systemic sense (which is the only kind there is) is revealed in the willingness of even marginalized "Whites" to reject the improvement in the health benefits they'd experience with reform, so as to deny any improvement to the "minorities" whom they regard as their inferiors.
E.g.: "Ah don' wan' MAH tayx dollurs goin' t' help no got-dam, drunk, lazy, drugged-out, baby-making ________s!" (Fill in the blank yourself)
The individual acts of bias, prejudice, bogotry or discrimination are invidious enough, but their effects can be vitiated, locally, by close, private attention to one's own behavior. It's the systemic problem, the tacit agreements on superiority/inferiority, and the social conventions that arise from those tacit agreements that are the well-spring of real 'racism.'

A correspondent (this discussion occurred on Facebook today) replied:
It's not limited to whites. Dare YOU to go to areas in large rust belt cities after dark, or some rural southwestern towns and try to stay. I'm sick of racism being labeled as a whites only issue, that's total BS. It's unfortunately everywhere people haven't been exposed to other races in a positive way. Once you've personally been judged by your color you know what a foul stench racism is. Yes, systematic and embedded. It may be regional, or institutional, but it's not just whites.
One of the interesting things that White people do is to avoid responsibility for their own participation in racist practices by finding examples of it in "non-White" cultures and societies. Such examples do not alter the fact that, in the in the USofA, it is "whites only." Show me how USer minorities have ever used their status to deprive Whites of basic rights or the benefit of commons HERE.

Racism is a function of power, not of individual depravity. For example, in Japan, the Japanese culture is "racist" with respect to other Asians. They erect (tacit, but well-understood) barriers to the social integration of Koreans, Chinese, and others. In Britain, there are still deep, societal attitudes which permit the marginalization and exploitation of "colonials.'

I'm sorry to be the one to bear the bad news, but yeah: In Murka, racism is a "whites only" kinda thing......
Okay, well there's the bell. Class dismissed.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Energy Corps to Citizens: "Frack You!"

The so-called "Halliburton loophole" inserted in the in the 20005 energy bill by Dick Cheney exempts energy exploitation industries from the Clean Water Act. Amy Goodman, on Democracy Now discusses the consequences of this with the auteur of the Sundance Film Festival award for best documentary. Below is the 3-part Q&A Session after the Sundance showing of this award-winning film, "Gasland." I think you can watch the whole film here.

Part 1:

It is happening all across America—rural landowners wake up one day to find a lucrative offer from an energy company wanting to lease their property. Reason? The company hopes to tap into a reservoir dubbed the “Saudi Arabia of natural gas.” Halliburton developed a way to get the gas out of the ground—a hydraulic drilling process called “fracking”—and suddenly America finds itself on the precipice of becoming an energy superpower.

But what comes out of the ground with that “natural” gas? How does it affect our air and drinking water? GASLAND is a powerful personal documentary that confronts these questions with spirit, strength, and a sense of humor. When filmmaker Josh Fox receives his cash offer in the mail, he travels across 32 states to meet other rural residents on the front lines of fracking. He discovers toxic streams, ruined aquifers, dying livestock, brutal illnesses, and kitchen sinks that burst into flame. He learns that all water is connected and perhaps some things are more valuable than money.
Part 2:

Part 3:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Raj Patel: "There is no such thing as a 'free market'"

They're all owned by, paid for by somebody. It's just a matter of who's paying the bill, who's calling the tune: who can sell what to whom are not trivial matters. There are always rules. This specious claim that there IS such a thing has been a peeve of mine for DECADES.

(Meanwhile, it IS true that "freedom isn't free." So just shut the fuck up and pay your goddam taxes, like the rest of us...)

Via Alternet (and with a DOTOF™ to Bo in the comments on the Pond):

Raj Patel opens his new book, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, with Oscar Wilde’s observation that “nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Patel shows how our faith in prices as a way of valuing the world is misplaced. Revealing the hidden ecological and social costs of a hamburger -- as much as $200 -- he asks how we came to have markets in the first place. Both the corporate capture of government and our current financial crisis, Patel argues, are a result of our bankrupt political system. Searching for solutions, Patel goes back to basics in both economics and politics.

Raj Patel has worked for the World Bank and WTO and been tear-gassed on four continents protesting against them. He is a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies, a researcher at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy (Food First) and the author of Stuffed and Starved. Though recently heralded as the Maitreya (or chosen one) by members of Share International, Patel protests he's just an ordinary bloke.
You don't have to be a demi-god to0 have sussed the truth behind the mythology of corpoRatism. Even I, who am utterly unenlightened in the ways of Maitreya, had figured that out.

It's a very long interview. This is one of the many instructive parts:

Although a price is the most superficial example of the economy at work, all the major economists, certainly Adam Smith and Karl Marx, knew very well that supply and demand, scarcity and availability, determined what something cost. As investigators, they were trying to figure out why something costs what it does. For Smith and for Marx, the question came down to labor.

Work and labor are somehow different from anything else that goes into a good, because labor transforms something from being a static inanimate part of nature into something that has much more value. This labor theory of value is why Adam Smith thought that the real value of anything was essentially the trouble that went into the making of it. Smith also had a much more sophisticated idea of how the economy was structured so that workers were systematically different from landowners who, in turn, were systematically different from merchants, who profited from the employment of laborers.

Karl Marx took that idea much further and systematized it much more thoughtfully into an explanation of why capitalism looks the way it does, and why modern capitalism is always going to externalize environmental costs while internalizing the profits.

Marx also made another point that I think is tremendously important, which is that modern capitalism doesn’t pay for household work. Modern capitalism doesn’t pay for the business of making new workers. Bringing up kids, educating them, and building new community won’t be paid for by capitalism because that’s a subsidy that capitalism needs in order to survive. Some U.N. researchers figured out that women’s unpaid work (in 1995) would cost $17 trillion if we were to pay market value -- pretty much half the total world output. Yet women own less than 10 percent of the world’s resources in developing countries and less than 10 percent of the land. And this is not an accident, it’s integral to the way the system works.
Socialize risk, privatize profit. Getting folks to buy into that insidious, pernicious bullshit has been the lives' work of the "media" since about 1900. It's been working phenomenally well...

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Chris Hedges Discusses Wolin's "Inverted Totalitarianism"

Quotha: In his recent article, “Democracy in America is a Useful Fiction”, Hedges defines “inverted totalitarianism”:
“Inverted totalitarianism represents “the political coming of age of corporate power and the political demobilization of the citizenry [...] Inverted totalitarianism differs from classical forms of totalitarianism, which revolve around a demagogue or charismatic leader, and finds its expression in the anonymity of the corporate state. The corporate forces behind inverted totalitarianism do not, as classical totalitarian movements do, boast of replacing decaying structures with a new, revolutionary structure. They purport to honor electoral politics, freedom and the Constitution. But they so corrupt and manipulate the levers of power as to make democracy impossible.”

Friday, February 19, 2010

It's Not Often I Wish I Lived In Britain, But...

this is one of them. One can only hope there's a dvd or Netflix, or somebody, can pick it up for the Pythons on this side of the puddle...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Brotha On Brotha" : Glen Ford Discusses Obama

Ford publishes the Black Agenda Report blog.
Part 1

Part 2

The Art of Corporate Mind Control -- Propaganda 101

Via Information Clearinghouse:

Television is the most powerful weapon of psychological warfare in history and yet it is a member of the family in most households. The programming that we are constantly assaulted with conditions us to a particular worldview. This fake reality changes our behavior making us less active and more compliant with society's shortcomings.

Since television is controlled by a small handful of powerful corporations, viewers will never witness informing, truthful news and entertainment. As political and corporate power unite at an ever increasing rate, being informed is more important than ever.

People need to seek out independent and alternative unbiased sources on the internet for their information or we will continue to be manipulated by the corporate controlled media.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Does This Look Like The Record of An "Environmental President"?

Via Obama Watch, at PEER, this is what your "environmental" Shamwow is doing to help keep the environment clean. G'wan, read to the very end:
A visitor to the White House website for information about eco-policies will not find an “agenda” for the environment. Instead, the category is “Energy & Environment” and that ordering appears intentional.

Other than curbing greenhouse gases, there is no mention of environmental priorities such as safeguarding clean water, reducing pollution threats to public health, conserving wildlife and protecting vital habitat, averting collapse of marine fisheries, or ending abuse of public lands through practices ranging from mountaintop removal to overgrazing.


Look at a growing record that is cause for concern:
Climate Change
At the Copenhagen Climate Conference, President Obama put forth greenhouse gas reduction targets that are far less stringent than scientists say is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change;
Obama has embraced a watered-down climate change bill that Dr. Jim Hansen and other experts warn will do too little too late;
Central to the Obama effort is embrace of a cap-and-trade approach that is unworkable and unenforceable.
Coal Embrace
Central to the Obama energy program is an embrace of more coal and developing “Clean Coal Technology” – a process that does not yet exist. In the interim, the administration is funding schemes to pump sequestered carbon into the ocean floor;
The Obama team has backed away from promises to restrain the environmental damage wreaked by mountaintop removal coal mining;
In a huge and dangerous hidden subsidy to the coal industry, the Obama administration delays taking action to address toxic coal combustion wastes.
OIl & Gas
The Obama plan seeks to reduce reliance on foreign oil by increasing production of domestic oil – with no limits:
Drill, Baby, Drill – No part of the Outer Continental Shelf or the domestic U.S. has been put off-limits to petroleum production. Some lease sales have been slowed for further review – but they will be back;
The Obama administration has approved a pipeline to bring Canadian oil sands, one of the most environmentally destructive petroleum extraction sources, to U.S. refineries (so much for ending dependence on foreign oil);
Obama’s Interior department has defended a Bush plan to lease western Colorado’s beautiful Roan Plateau for oil and gas drilling; and
A key priority is to back the construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline championed by Alaskan ex-Gov. Sarah Palin;
Washington Post, Oct. 20: The Interior Department has approved permits for Shell to drill exploratory oil wells on two leaseholds in the Beaufort Sea off the north coast of Alaska.
The administration did not object to a Corps permit allowing a gold mine to dump its wastes into Alaska’s Lower Slate Lake, killing all its aquatic life;
Natural Resources
The Obama administration has embraced the failed Bush salmon recovery plans for the Pacific Northwest that put power production ahead of species survival;
The administration has allowed Bush permits for destructive fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico to go into effect;
The administration approved the first timber sale in a roadless area of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest;
Endangered Species
In one of its earliest actions, the administration took the wolf off the endangered species list, clearing the way for hunting to begin through much of the West;
Backing a move by the Bush administration, the Obama administration issued rules forbidding use of the Endangered Species Act to address habitat loss, like the shrinking ice shelves on which polar bears depend, caused by greenhouse gas emissions and climate change;
The National Marine Fisheries Service under Obama has reduced protections for endangered sea turtles from incidental capture by longline fisheries near Hawaii, despite its own admission that this capture constitutes the major threat to the sea turtle's survival.
Parks & Refuges

Obama signed legislation allowing the open carrying of loaded firearms in parks and refuges – the first time a president has signed a law weakening wildlife protections in the National Park System;
Obama’s Interior Department is defending the planting of genetically-modified crops on National Wildlife Refuges.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson dropped an appeal to the Supreme Court in a case that struck down Bush-era limits on mercury pollution from coal power plants, which unnecessarily permit more of the toxic chemical into the atmosphere;
The Obama administration has ducked the problem of growing water pollution from oil “fracking” chemicals and coal-bed methane gas operations; and
EPA continues to endorse using shredded tires in playgrounds despite red flags raised by its own scientists.
Appointees (Dis-Appointments--W)
The Obama Administration has nominated a former pesticide lobbyist to be the chief agricultural negotiator in the Office of the United States Trade Representative (October 26, 2009).
Obama’s Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, proclaims that “energy independence” is his number one priority. Not only is energy independence an unrealistic goal but any attempt to realize it from the public lands managed by Interior would involve turning America’s great heritage of wild lands into a giant energy farm;
Obama’s EPA pick, Lisa Jackson, compiled an abysmal record in New Jersey including a dysfunctional toxics program, suppression of science, and retaliation against whistleblowers;
The pick to head the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Sam Hamilton, has the weakest record on Endangered Species Act enforcement in the country and tried to fire a scientist who exposed scientific fraud by the agency in issuing an unending stream of development approvals (even to this day) in shrinking habitat of the highly endangered Florida panther; and
The choice to head the Office of Surface Mining, Joseph Pizarchik, has drawn the opposition of citizens and conservationists alike for his horrid record on acid mine drainage, subsidence from longwall mining, valley fill with mine slag and using toxic coal combustion waste as mine fill. Astoundingly, he ducked all questions on mountaintop removal mining at his confirmation hearing.

As a candidate, Barack Obama frequently promised to “strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority.” Since he has been president, the only time he mentioned the need to protect whistleblowers was when he addressed the Parliament of Ghana.
None of the prominent Bush-era whistleblower cases has been settled. In fact, the Obama administration is continuing the persecution of these whistleblowers in court;
New whistleblowers are being fired or targeted while Obama appointees do nothing. Cases out of the Labor Department, Homeland Security, NASA, Wildlife Services and other agencies originated after Inauguration day and are heading to hearing;
A package of strong whistleblower protections for federal employees was dropkicked out of the stimulus bill with not a peep of protest from – or with tacit support of – the Obama administration;
The Obama administration has not committed to support whistleblower reform legislation that has passed the House for the past three years in a row; and
After denouncing Bush’s signing statements, President Obama promptly issued one while signing the FY09 Omnibus Appropriations bill that he reserves the inherent authority to prevent civil servants from disclosing inconvenient truths to Congress.
Pass the fuukin toxic Kool-Aid, kids! We're having a PARTAY!

The USofA Is NOT A "Christian" Nation.

From the prologue of a treaty between Jefferson's USofA and the "Barbary Pirates":
"As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."

Referencing the the blog, Archiving Early America, we find explicit rejection of the notion in the earliest diplomatic language of the new Nation:
(Many, misguided--or deliberately mendacious) "Christian fundamentalists attempt to convince us to return to the Christianity of early America, yet according to the historian, Robert T. Handy, "No more than 10 percent-- probably less-- of Americans in 1800 were members of congregations."

The Founding Fathers, also, rarely practiced Christian orthodoxy. Although they supported the free exercise of any religion, they understood the dangers of religion. Most of them believed in deism and attended Freemasonry lodges. According to John J. Robinson, "Freemasonry had been a powerful force for religious freedom." Freemasons took seriously the principle that men should worship according to their own conscience. Masonry welcomed anyone from any religion or non-religion, as long as they believed in a Supreme Being. Washington, Franklin, Hancock, Hamilton, Lafayette, and many others accepted Freemasonry.

The Constitution reflects our founders views of a secular government, protecting the freedom of any belief or unbelief. The historian, Robert Middlekauff, observed, "the idea that the Constitution expressed a moral view seems absurd. There were no genuine evangelicals in the Convention, and there were no heated declarations of Christian piety."
Now, Just Shut The Fuck Up About It, Okay. Stay The Fuck Out Of My Face About Your Stupid, Barbarous, Bloode-drenched, Violent, Eliminationsit SUPER-FUCKING-STITIONS.

Yes, please. Go pray for my fucking soul. But leave me and my government the fuck alone, you moronic, cretinous, feculent, reeking, toxic dipshits! You gotta pray, pray. It can't hurt, I guess. But leave my Country, my Government, my Laws, my Courts, my schools the FUCK alone, you asswholes!

No, you're right. I ain't trying to make friends or mend fences. GET THE FUCK OFF MTY LAWN, you drooling freaks!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

It's Official: Shamwow Will Use "Shock" To Gut Social Security

I have long suspected that the DimPoPs would return to the "problem" of Social Security. The problem is that there is this enormous shit-pot of money and nobody is making any private profit off it. This is unendurable to the Owners, who demand their piece of all the action.

The irony is that it will fall to the all-too-eager hands of the "First Minority President" to administer the coup de grace to the last New Deal program.

Via GlobalResearchDotCa:
It’s official: the Democrats are coming after Social Security and Medicare. How refreshing that all the backroom scheming and political conspiring is finally out in the open. Before, the corporate elite had been having this conversation in private, via right-wing think tanks and business journals. Now, mainstream media is promoting these ideas, including the Democrat’s media mouthpiece — The New York Times.

In a three-page editorial (on Sunday), entitled The Truth about the Deficit, The New York Times gives its solution to the country’s debt problems. The main idea is summed up here:
“To truly tame deficits will require serious health care reform[Obama’s plan slashes Medicare], the sooner the better. Other aspects of the long-term fiscal problem — raising taxes and retooling [reducing] Social Security — must take place in earnest as the economy recovers.” (February 7, 2010).
Later the article is clearer: “
And then there is Social Security. What is needed is a combination of benefit cuts and tax increases that preserve the program’s essential nature.”
Of course those surviving on Social Security already live in poverty and cannot afford “benefit cuts.” Also, to make a dent in the deficit, benefit cuts to social security will have to be quite substantial, to the point where the program’s “essential nature” will be destroyed.

The Times acknowledges that such a course of action will be completely undemocratic and unpopular, but that politicians “must gather the political will to do what must be done…”

How can politicians destroy these cherished social programs in the face of such popular resistance? By trickery, of course. And this is exactly what Obama has proposed with his “bi-partisan deficit-reduction commission.” This idea puts Democrats and Republicans together to create a plan to destroy social programs. This way both parties share the blame, so that no one is to blame. The ...Times reveals Obama’s hidden motives:
“The deficit commission that Mr. Obama intends to establish could be helpful in breaking this logjam [resistance to cutting social security], by calling for necessary changes that politicians would be loath to broach without political cover."
Labor unions and community groups also understand Obama’s treacherous motives. Dozens of them — including the AFL-CIO and Change to Win — signed a statement condemning the goals behind Obama’s “deficit commission.” The statement included some politically savvy points, including the following:
“…the proposed budget commission — which will be viewed as a way to actually cut Medicare benefits, while insulating lawmakers from political fallout — could confuse people and undermine the reform effort. And an American public that only recently rejected privatization of Social Security will undoubtedly be suspicious of a process that shuts them out of all decisions regarding the future of a retirement system that's served them well in the current financial crisis.”
The statement concludes: “We urge you to act decisively to prevent the creation of such an extraordinary and undemocratic budget commission.” (Huffington Post,January 20, 2010).

However, it is not enough for only the leaders of unions and community groups to pressure the Democrats over this issue, especially when Obama has made it clear that he prefers the advice of Wall Street CEO’s. Unions and progressive groups must educate and mobilize their base to confront both the Democrats and Republicans over the protection of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

None of the major unions who signed the anti-commission statement have information about this plot on their websites; none are organizing their members to confront this plan — a plan that the entire political establishment is in agreement with. Nor are unions seriously proposing other ideas to fix the deficit, and the fixes are obvious.

The military budget must be gutted. Obama plans to spend over $700 billion in 2011 for the military — both Democrats and Republicans are fine with this. Most Americans are not.

More importantly, taxes on the rich need to be dramatically increased. The nation’s tax structure changed drastically under Reagan and the two Bushes, with taxes on thewealthiest Americans dropping from 70 percent to the present day 35 percent. Under Eisenhower the richest Americans paid 90 percent of their income towards taxes. The loss in revenue that resulted from these giant tax reductions is one of the major contributors to the current deficit. It must be reversed in order to save Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

This is the solution that working-class Americans would prefer, rather than have their Medicare, Social Security, and public education destroyed. It is up to the union movemen and community groups to unite and mobilize their members and all working people to demand this as a solution to the deficit and Great Recession.

Without a massive mobilization with rank and file participation, the corporate elite will continue to have their way unchallenged, with more bank bailouts and more war. A coalition of progressive groups with clear demands to address the recession will have the backing of the majority of Americans, while being resisted adamantly by both Democrats and Republicans.
Of course, all calls to an activated and engaged public to address such problems amount to little more than pissing into the wind, because the CorpoRat State has grown to almost complete invincibility, exacerbated by the the recent "Citizens United" ruling.

The only avenue now open is the one that no sane person wants to take: violent, bloody, ruinous revolution. America's oligarchs and elites are flagrantly, aggressively anti-democratic. They do not possess in their DNA any of the cautions known elsewhere by elites who have a memory of guillotines and/or firing squads. It is the greatest weakness of our system.

Monday, February 8, 2010

That Recession Ever'body Keeps Sayin' Is Over? Donchew B'leev It!

We are ALL "Sub-primates" now!

Per The HousingWire:
Monday, February 8th, 2010, 9:50 am
The performance of US prime jumbo loan performance within residential mortgage-backed securities (RMBS) slipped again in January as serious delinquencies (60+ days past due) rose for the 32nd consecutive month and edged closer to 10%, according to the latest market commentary from Fitch Ratings.

Prime jumbo loan delinquencies began to rise in Q207 but accelerated since then. In 2009, the rate of delinquency nearly tripled during the year. The serious delinquencies rose to 9.6% in January from 9.2% in December.

“The new year has brought no relief from declining jumbo loan performance,” said Fitch managing director Vincent Barberio. “The trend line for delinquencies indicates the 10% level could be reached as early as next month.”

A jumbo mortgage has an initial principal amount above the $417,000 conventional loan limit set by Fannie Mae (FNM: 0.9847 +1.52%) and Freddie Mac (FRE: 1.16 0.00%). In higher-priced markets the limit is $729,750, and, in October, appropriations committees in both the House and Senate proposed an extension of the limit through 2010.

Fitch indicated delinquency rates on pre-2005 prime jumbo RMBS vintages are still lower than recent vintages. But seasoned RMBS pools have deteriorated over the last year, rising to 4.3% in serious delinquency from 1.8%. Of all prime jumbo senior RMBS classes issued before 2005, about 40% are under a negative rating outlook due to weak collateral performance, despite only 5% having experienced downgrades so far.
Meanwhile, per CalculatedRisk:
According to the BLS, there are a record 6.31 million workers who have been unemployed for more than 26 weeks (and still want a job). This is a record 4.1% of the civilian workforce. (note: records started in 1948)

The number of long term unemployed is one of the key stories of this recession. Last year, David Leonhardt at the NY Times wrote an excellent piece about this: Wages Grow for Those With Jobs, New Figures Show
In the job market, at least, the recession’s pain has been unusually concentrated.
People who have lost their jobs are struggling terribly to find new ones. Since the downturn began in 2007, companies have been extremely reluctant to hire new workers, and few new companies have started. The economy and the job market are churning very slowly.
Try thinking of it this way: All of the unemployed people in the country are gathered in a huge gymnasium that’s been turned into a job search center. The fact that this recession is the worst in a generation means that there are many, many people in the gym. The fact that the economy is churning so slowly means that there is not much traffic into and out of the gym.

If you’re inside, you will have a hard time getting out. Yet if you’re lucky enough to be outside the gym, you will probably be able to stay there. The consequences of a job loss are terribly high, but — given that the unemployment rate is almost 10 percent — the odds of job loss are surprisingly low
People who lose jobs during this recession have less than a 50-50 chance of regaining their former financial position in 25 years.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Prez Shamwow's "Five Health Care Reform Mandates"

Shamwow says he wants to hear "solutions" from "the People" on how to proceed with Health Care Reform.

Here's what he said:

If anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen medicare for seniors and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. Let me know. Let me know. I’m eager to see it.
Do you suppose Shamwow knew he was being disingenuous?

I do.

Why, you ask?

Because the lying, fake, phony, glib, smug, smiling Son-Of-A-Bitch MUST KNOW--ABSOLUTELY HAD TO KNOW; COULD NOT NOT KNOW-- that the ONLY possible way to achieve those ends, comprehensively, is to adopt a plan that Shamwow and his henchmen took off the table FROM THE START, would NEVER agree to consider, and still now REJECT, wholly: Universal, single-payer coverage for ALL.

And because he cannot face the wrath of the CorpoRat Health Insurance parasites, who contribute nothing--to the care of Murkin's health, anyway; they contribute LOTS to campaign war-chests--but skin 30% off the top for "profit" and "overhead," the Murkin people are getting, and will continue to get screwed, fucked, raped, and ravished by these motherfuckers. Leaving aside the moral quagmire of encouraging private profit from the personal disasters of accidental injury and illness, it is the MOST inefficient, discriminatory, wasteful, and corrupt system in the whole entire fucking 'developed' world.

Yet it is to that system that the messiah of "Change" is wedded until death? So wedded, and so unwilling to "change" is he that two DOCTORS who advocate for the ONL:Y practical soultion--Universal, Single-Payer--were arrested last week when trying to present their plan to Prez. Shamwow.

No, really.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Spinning the News: "The Big Lie?" News, Media, & The Fiction Of Non-Fiction

For the Big Lie to work, two conditions are required, after the lie itself, which must be so big that normal people wouldn't think to lie abouot it, even though they'll lie about trivia.
Item: a believable source/imprimatur
Item: incessant repetition
Celebrity culture supplies the 'imprimatur,' by short-circuiting and replacing any kind of actual 'achievement' as a condition for authority.

The Cabloid "24-hour news cycle" supplies the endless repetition.

With enough of both, the most egregious falsehoods may join the conventional wisdom.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Michael Parenti: The Kennedy Assassination & "The Gangster Nature of the State"

The video aspects of these are mainly relevant stills which provide some context byut are not essential. Just listen:

Part 1

Part 2

I am pretty certain JFK was assassinated primarily because, when he fired Allan Dulles from the CIA, Murka's wealthy fascists lost trust in him and decided he needed to die. It was a CIA opp that did the deed. Oswald was just a scapegoat...

How DO You Get Congress To Reform Itself?

Professor Lawrence Lessig has known Barack Obama for 20 years, and supported all his campaigns. In this video produced for The Nation and, Lessig outlines his concern over President Obama's limited approach to truly "changing Washington," and his view that Congress is a deeply broken institution in need of need reform. Learn about Professor Lessig's ideas and read about his proposed solutions in this video companion to his cover story for the February 4, 2010 issue of The Nation magazine, "How To Get Our Democracy Back."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Our Incredible Shrinking "Democracy"

Our "leaders"--all of them, but especially those nominally representing the interests of the average citizen, the DimPoPs--would do ANYTHING to avoid being held responsible for betraying their public duty to serve 'the People' to the demands of their financial masters and owners in the Corporate State. So they gin up "commissions" to promulgate the "recommendations" of the Owners. Shamwow's as guilty of this as anyone ever was. Former Labor Sec'y Robert Reich has noticed.
I wish conservatives would stop complaining about big government and start worrying about the real problem – small democracy. I wish we’d all worry more about our incredible shrinking democracy.

It seems as if more and more decisions that should be made democratically are being shunted off somewhere to a few people who make them in back rooms. Which programs should be cut, which entitlements pared back, and what taxes raised in order to reduce the long-term budget deficit? Hmmm. Let’s convene a commission and have them decide.

Commissions are a default mechanism when politicians want to hand off difficult issues to “experts.” But reducing the long-term budget deficit has almost nothing to do with expertise. It’s about our nations’ values and priorities. Nothing could be more central to the democratic process.

Democracy requires at least three things: (1) Important decisions are made in the open. (2) The public and its representatives have an opportunity to debate them, so the decisions can be revised in light of what the public discovers and wants. And (3) those who make the big decisions are accountable to voters.

But these principles are in retreat, and I say this not just because of the proposed deficit commission.

The notorious Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) began with a virtual blank check from Congress. Treasury officials then secretly decided which companies were to receive hundreds of billions of dollars. Why these particular entities were chosen and not others remains a mystery. For months, the Treasury didn’t even disclose the identities of the major banks that giant insurer AIG repaid with its bailout money – 100 cents on each dollar AIG owed them.

The Federal Reserve, meanwhile, has gone far beyond its traditional role of setting short-term interest rates. It has bought up massive amounts of debt – mortgage debt, Treasury bills, and debt instruments emanating several public agencies, many of them supporting a wide range of private entities. No one outside the Fed knows the ultimate beneficiaries of all this government backing, the criteria used by the Fed for making these commitments, or even how much debt the Fed is buying.

Even if the economic emergency justified such secrecy – and it’s hard to see exactly why it would – the emergency is over, and yet closed-door decision making continues. Will Treasury use what’s left of TARP to help stimulate more jobs and, if so, how? Will the Fed stop buying mortgage-backed securities? No one knows.

The same pattern is evident on other issues. Congress can’t decide whether or how to limit the pay of financial executives. So where does the issue end up? The Securities and Exchange Commission and the Fed both say they’re going to look at whether pay levels are appropriate. The House and Senate can’t agree on what to do about climate change. Who decides? The Environmental Protection Agency concludes it has authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act.

The debate over health-care reform looked like democratic deliberation until you realize the key negotiations that framed the deal occurred behind closed doors, between the White House and Big Pharma and Big Insurance. The Administration promised these industries some thirty million new paying customers. In return, they agreed not to oppose the plan. Big Pharma even placed a firm limit on how much it would cut its costs over the next ten years – $80 billion, and not a penny more. How do I know this? Not because this crucial deal was made in public, but because it was leaked to the press.

Personally, I want the government to limit the pay of financial executives, regulate greenhouse gases, and reform health care. And no one wanted a financial meltdown. But I’m appalled by the process that’s been used to reach these objectives.

A big piece of the problem is this: Washington is now so overrun by lobbyists representing moneyed interests that it’s become almost impossible to make policy in the open. If the Treasury and Fed tried to decide publicly which industries and firms should get hundreds of billions, they’d be inundated. Wall Street lobbyists are blocking real financial reform. The energy industry has filled the House’s cap-and-trade bill with special subsidies and exemptions. Big Pharma and Big Insurance would have killed off the health-care reform if they hadn’t been bought off. When it comes to the long-term deficit, Congress is incapable of acting because so many special interests have their hands out.

But the answer isn’t to give up on democracy. Back-room policy making can succumb to private interests just as easily as lobby-infested legislatures (much of the public suspects the Treasury of being too cozy with Wall Street as it is).

The real answer is to recommit ourselves to cleaning up democracy. Yes, I know: The Supreme Court’s recent grotesque Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission, which decided corporations are people entitled to First Amendment protection, complicates this. But the goal is still possible to achieve with more public money for congressional and presidential candidates who refuse private funding, more constraints on lobbyists, tighter rules for who must register as a lobbyist, fuller disclosure, and tougher rules on the revolving door between public service and private gain. Yale’s Bruce Ackerman recently came up with another good idea: A $50 tax credit per person, which they can send to the candidate of their choosing.

Yet nobody seems to be talking about these sorts of reforms. They don’t appear on Obama’s agenda. True, they don’t generate lots of public excitement or appreciation, and they’re murderously difficult to enact. But without them our democracy doesn’t stand a chance.
Yeah, right!

There is not the slightest, faintest, least, tiniest scintilla of a chance that the "people" will prevail against the interests of the CorpoRats. There is NO FUCKING WAY.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Dept of Ain't It The Fuukin Truth: "This is NOT 'Defense.'"

Norman Solomon, media/govt critic in many venues, offers this assessment of the newly announced Shamwow "budget" for the Pentagon, at AlterNet this day. How does TWO BILLION FUCKING DOLLARS A DAY sound to you?

This isn't "defense."

The new budget from the White House will push U.S. military spending well above $2 billion a day.

Foreclosing the future of our country should not be confused with defending it.

"Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors," the New York Times reports this morning.

It isn't defense to preclude new domestic initiatives for a country that desperately needs them: for healthcare, jobs, green technologies, carbon reduction, housing, education, nutrition, mass transit ...

"When a nation becomes obsessed with the guns of war, social programs must inevitably suffer," Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out. "We can talk about guns and butter all we want to, but when the guns are there with all of its emphasis you don't even get good oleo. These are facts of life."

At least Lyndon Johnson had a "war on poverty." For a while anyway, till his war on Vietnam destroyed it.

Since then, waving the white flag at widespread poverty -- usually by leaving it unmentioned -- has been a political fact of life in Washington.

Oratory can be nice, but budget numbers tell us where an administration is headed. In 2010, this one is marching up a steep military escalator, under the banner of "defense."

Legitimate defense would cost a mere fraction of this budget.

By autumn, the Pentagon is scheduled to have a total of 100,000 uniformed U.S. troops -- and a comparable number of private contract employees -- in Afghanistan, where the main beneficiaries are the recruiters for Afghan insurgent forces and the profiteers growing even richer under the wing of Karzai-government corruption.

After three decades of frequent carnage and extreme poverty in Afghanistan, a new influx of lethal violence is arriving via the Defense Department. That's the cosmetically named agency in charge of sending U.S. soldiers to endure and inflict unspeakable horrors.

New waves of veterans will return home to struggle with grievous physical and emotional injuries. Without a fundamental change in the nation's direction, they'll be trying to resume their lives in a society ravaged by budget priorities that treat huge military spending as sacrosanct.

"At $744 billion, the military budget -- including military programs outside the Pentagon, such as the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons management -- is a budget of add-ons rather than choices," says Miriam Pemberton at the Institute for Policy Studies. "And it makes the imbalance between spending on military vs. non-military security tools worse."

Of course the corporate profits for military contractors are humongous.

The executive director of the National Priorities Project, Jo Comerford, offers this context: "The Obama administration has handed us the largest Pentagon budget since World War II, not including the $160 billion in war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan."

The word "defense" is inherently self-justifying. But it begs the question: Just what is being defended? (Dang this pisses me off. Is it too much to ask that pundits use the language properly? "Begging the question" does NOT mean "finding a question that needs to be asked." "Petitio principii" means "asserting, a priori, the truth of that which is to be demonstrated or proven." Solomon, an educated man, ought to know better.--W)

For the United States, an epitaph on the horizon says: "We had to destroy our country in order to defend it."

As new sequences of political horrors unfold, maybe it's a bit too easy for writers and readers of the progressive blogosphere to remain within the politics of online denunciation. Cogent analysis and articulated outrage are necessary but insufficient. The unmet challenge is to organize widely, consistently and effectively -- against the warfare state -- on behalf of humanistic priorities.

In the process, let's be clear. This is not a defense budget. This is a death budget.
"Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors". In the vernacular of the age, it seems to me that's not a 'bug,' it's an 'app.' The Grover Norquist plan: shrink domestic spending down small enough that it can be drowned in a shallow bathtub.

Prez. Shamwow: The Change You've Been Waiting For!

Monday, February 1, 2010

"Natural Capitalism" DOESN'T Sound Like An Oxymoron When Amory Lovins Explains It

Amory Lovins along with his wife, Hunter, both exceptional scholars in their own rights, founded the Rocky Mountain Institute about 30 years ago, and have been on the frontiers of efforts to mitigate the effeccts and the causes of global climactic catastrophe. Both Hunter and Amory, by the way, are kids of scientists at the Los Alamos nuclear labs. I met 'em in the mid-'70s, before the evidence of the impending crisis was widely circulated. To my chagrin, at the time, I more or less ignored them, which conceit I have since frequently regretted.

Below find an interview with Amory Lovins, by Harry Kreisler of the UC-TV system program, "Conversations With History."
I began to mend my ways of thinking in the mid-80s. I fear by now it may be too late. But these are some of the clearest alternatives I've ever heard anyone describe.