Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The "We'll Fix It Later" Apologists for the HCR Bill

I asked this question, widely and often, when the folks who advise meekly accepting the piece-of-shit "Health Care Reform" measure currently percolating in the Congress, on the grounds that it is a "start," to which the Congress would return later to fix and repair and remedy its most egregiously shitty features:
It seems to me that it is impingent upon folks who counsel quietude in the face of this catastrophic clusterfuck because this is only the first step, and it will be revisited and improved, to provide relevant, contemporary examples of cases in which a truly shitty bill, being passed and signed, was later revisited and "improved--made more fair, more just--since the Bidness coup de etat in '80. One which SHOULD have been revisited and which at the time the Dims said they WOULD revisit, when they had the Congress back--but which wasn't, afaik--was the Bankruptcy Bill of '06, with which the Obamanable Sno-Job played all tricksy with his votes.

SO, quite simply, since the onset of the Raygun era, please name ONE major piece of social legislation which passed Congress under the caveat/promise that Congress would return to it, and "improve" it, but which just HAD to be passed in the shitty condition in which it was passed and signed, to which the Congress then later returned to "improve" it for the people?
Jno. Alter, on The Nation's Altercation blog reproduced the following elaboration on my theme, for which there does not seem to be an answer other than a simple "No, it has never happened." One "Charles Pierce" took up the cudgel in a recent Altercation:
My new favorite futile argument for passing the current POS is that, in our politics, simply by passing the aforementioned POS, we forever will have established, banners aloft, the notion that healthcare is a right or, at least, an affirmative obligation of the national government. As a result, we will be freer to move forward as the years go by. This is a fine argument, provided that you were cryogenically frozen in 1958.

Let me explain to everyone holding this particular view what is going to happen. The POS is going to pass. The Republicans are going to oppose it and run against it. The Democrats are going to look ridiculous for a year defending it, and the Democrats who most opposed it are going to look the most ridiculous, because it is going to be politically impossible for a Democrat to run against this bill. The prevailing media narrative will prevent it. Millions more American will have health insurance, but millions of Americans will be forced by law to fork over their money, during a grisly recession, to the greediest and least popular industry the country has seen since the railroads were running amok in the 1890's. These people will go broke a little more slowly, depending on how sick they get. The industry will jack up its rates until we all have to put in new attics. The subsidies will fail to keep up. And then the industry will lie about doing any of it, and the White House will send out a sternly worded letter. The industry will be stopped by the new "consumer protections" approximately as effectively as a butterfly stops a freight train.

By the end of 2009, these "reforms" will be thoroughly despised by a healthy portion of the electorate. The Republicans will then use the weaknesses of the reforms to assume control of the Congress, whereupon they will leave the mandates in place, gut the regulations, and laugh their way to the bank doing it. And that is what's going to happen.

Where does this optimism come from? Do the people pushing this argument honestly believe that, once this bill passes, there will be a general political consensus that we are all on the right track together and must continue to move forward to improve a system in which we all are now personally invested? Exactly what United States government have these people been watching for the past three decades, in which the notion of "government" as a political commonwealth has been spat upon and ignored? Fix it later? We can't bring ourselves to spend money to fix roads and bridges that are falling into rivers, let alone improve what has become the most contentious--and arguably, the most successfully lied about--issue of domestic policy of the past two decades.

This bill is going to suck a little until the rest of us aren't watching that closely, and then the people who hate the whole notion of reforming the "system" of health-care are going to work to make it suck a lot. Bob Cesca is a smart guy, but if he thinks we're going to add a public option before 2013, I wish he'd tell me where he buys his mushrooms. (So we "mobilize around" the idea. Who's even going to listen, let alone act on it? The White House? The Democrats? Please.) Ezra Klein has forgotten more about this debate than I'll ever know, but if he and Paul Starr believe this FANTASY, then they need to get out more.

How can anyone seriously look at the past 30 years of how we've governed ourselves and believe that anything will succeed simply because it has established a new entitlement? Hell, this president is already halfway to signing on to a SCHEME aimed at "adjusting" an enormously popular 70-year old entitlement program that's beloved by everyone except the bond merchants and financial-service grifters of whom this president is so unnaturally fond. If he's willing to do that, how firmly is he going to stand behind a brand new one, no matter how "historic" he can convince himself it is? I have no faith at all at this point.

The president is going to sign the POS because this is what he's wanted to do all along. Has there even been a rumor of his displeasure with what Joe Lieberman--his onetime mentor--pulled this week? I hadn't read any and, now, we read that the president thanked Weepin' JOE, while sending out his gunsels to attack Howard Dean on shows hosted by squinty former wingnut CONGRESSCRITTERS. It is impossible for any thinking human being now to believe anything except that this White House pretty much got the bill it wanted.

And, please, let us not hear any more about the Civil Rights Act of 1957, OK? There simply is not a consistent political continuum between that bill and, say, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. There is a general historical thread. The latter two laws came into being most directly because enough people were beaten bloody to sicken the nation, and because not a few people--including an incumbent president of the United States--were murdered in the streets in the interim.

And even if there were a parallel, which there isn't, this is such a radically different political culture as to render the comparison moot. Put the Voting Rights Act up to a vote today and it would get pecked to death by a thousand Beltway ducks and this president likely would spend several months finding a bipartisan compromise to render its toughest provisions impotent. Pass the POS. Don't pass the POS. But don't tell me we're all moving forward together through a historic moment. Y'all sound like idiots.
Yeah. What he said (though I said it shorter).

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Via Alternet

Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace: Only later did investors in $40 billion in securities discover that what Goldman had promoted as triple-A rated investments were closer to junk.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Michelle Bachmann: Feculent, Suppurating, Oozing, Running Sore

Michelle Bachmann, stalwart of the "teabagger/birther/anti-reform" movement of the Fucktard Right, opposes all manner of provisions to bestow federal largess upon average citizens. So it shouldn't come as any surprise to learn that the atrociously stupid, insipid, vacuous, venal, mendacious slag has been the recipient of over a quarter-million dollars of Federal assistance, should it. Cuz she has.

No, really! Via Truthdig:
Michelle Bachmann, welfare queen
By Yasha Levine

Michele Bachmann has become well known for her anti-government tea-bagger antics, protesting health care reform and every other government “handout” as socialism. What her followers probably don’t know is that Rep. Bachmann is, to use that anti-government slur, something of a welfare queen. That’s right, the anti-government insurrectionist has taken more than a quarter-million dollars in government handouts thanks to corrupt farming subsidies she has been collecting for at least a decade.

And she’s not the only one who has been padding her bank account with taxpayer money.

Bachmann, of Minnesota, has spent much of this year agitating against health care reform, whipping up the so-called tea-baggers with stories of death panels and rationed health care. She has called for a revolution against what she sees as Barack Obama’s attempted socialist takeover of America, saying presidential policy is “reaching down the throat and ripping the guts out of freedom.”

But data compiled from federal records by Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit watchdog that tracks the recipients of agricultural subsidies in the United States, shows that Bachmann has an inner Marxist that is perfectly at ease with profiting from taxpayer largesse. According to the organization’s records, Bachmann’s family farm received $251,973 in federal subsidies between 1995 and 2006. The farm had been managed by Bachmann’s recently deceased father-in-law and took in roughly $20,000 in 2006 and $28,000 in 2005, with the bulk of the subsidies going to dairy and corn. Both dairy and corn are heavily subsidized—or “socialized”—businesses in America (in 2005 alone, Washington spent $4.8 billion propping up corn prices) and are subject to strict government price controls. These subsidies are at the heart of America’s bizarre planned agricultural economy and as far away from Michele Bachmann’s free-market dream world as Cuba’s free medical system. If American farms such as hers were forced to compete in the global free market, they would collapse.

However, Bachmann doesn’t think other Americans should benefit from such protection and assistance. She voted against every foreclosure relief bill aimed at helping average homeowners (despite the fact that her district had the highest foreclosure rate in Minnesota), saying that bailing out homeowners would be “rewarding the irresponsible while punishing those who have been playing by the rules.” That’s right, the subsidy queen wants the rest of us to be responsible.
Who ELSE is on the Federqal AgPad? The whole Grasseley family, even unto a grandson; the Brownback clan, among the Pukes: both are deeply indebted to Fed ag subsidies for the family wealth, to the tune of millions of dollars over time. Not surprisinig, either, is the fact of Max Baucus' family's receipt of $250k in farm subsidies, or Blanch Lincoln's family's glad appropriation of more than $750k over the years.

I will be glad when these venal slags are all coated in hor tar and chicken feathers, and are ridden off to some poor-house, there to languish and repent their sins...

Monday, December 21, 2009

Eleven-Dimensional Chess Masters

Via Robert Parry's ConsortiumNews, a labor of love, if ever there were one. He's got some the widest and best contacts in bloggo-land. Parry recounts that Prz. Shamwow faced an incredible array of clusterfux from Day 1. He had choices among which advisors and what advice to adopt. Prob'ly he fucked up:
A year ago, as Barack Obama was assembling his administration, he was at a crossroads with two paths going off in very different directions: one would have led to a populist challenge to the Washington/New York political-economic establishments; the other called for collaboration and cajoling.

Faced with a dire financial crisis and two foreign wars – not to mention a host of long-festering problems like health care, the environment, debt and de-industrialization – Obama’s choice was not an easy one.

If he took the populist route and further panicked the financial markets, the nation and the world might have plunged into a new Depression with massive unemployment. (Possibly it would be as accurate to say, "He would have been punished by the financial mavens, whou would have vengefully plunged the world int ruin rather than concede even a sciontilla of their wealth and power"?--W)

There were also political dangers if he chose the populist path. The national news media rests almost entirely in the hands of corporate “centrists” and right-wing ideologues, who would have framed the issues in the most negative way, blaming the “radical” Obama for “wealth destroying.”

This media problem dates back a quarter century as American progressives have mostly turned a deaf ear to those calling for a major investment in media and other institutions inside the Washington Beltway, as a way to counter the dominance of the Right and the Establishment. (Jooc, who are the leftish cognates of Coors, Koch, Murdoch, Scaife, et al?--W)

So, if Obama had nationalized one or more of the major banks, the stock market would likely have dived – even more than it did in early 2009. And there would have been lots of commentary about the inexperienced and inept Obama making matters worse.

He would have confronted media denunciations as a “socialist” or worse. The CNBC “free-market” crowd, led by Larry Kudlow, would have used their influential forum to rally the business sector; Fox News would have cited nationalization as proof they were right about the “communist” Obama; Washington Post editorials would have chastised him. (Ummmmm. Which of those things DIDN'T happen, anyway?--W)

A new Depression might well have been pinned on Obama. (Yah think>--W)

Similarly, if Obama had ordered aggressive investigations into torture and other crimes committed by George W. Bush and his administration, there would have been howls about Obama’s vindictiveness; about how his promises of bipartisanship had been lies; about coddling terrorists. (Investigating/prosecuting the Busheviki was always a non-starter for the simple reason that had Prz. Shamwow undertaken it, he would have been signing the warrant for his own eventual persecution when the regimes changed again. That is nto to say it still mayn't--or probably won't--happen. But to have pursued the Busheviki would have guaranteed it--W)

Given the tiny size and marginal influence of the progressive media, any cheers for Obama’s courage and principles would have been drowned out by the condemnations that would have bellowed forth from CNN, Fox News, the Washington Post and other powerful media voices.

In other words, the populist route would have traversed some very dangerous territory. At least superficially, the collaborationist route looked less daunting. (Except that that terrain was gonna be--and ultimately was-- traversed, no matter what--W)

By continuing Bush’s policies of bailing out the banks, Obama might succeed in stabilizing the financial markets. He could reverse the collapse of the stock markets (which had wiped out trillions of dollars invested in middle-class retirements and union pension funds, as well as the paper wealth of many rich people and top executives).

By reaching out to Republicans and Democratic “centrists” on health reform – and by adding lots of tax cuts to his stimulus bill – Obama also could blunt right-wing attacks portraying him as a crazed radical. By “looking forward, not backward” on Bush’s crimes, he could show independent voters that he was serious about his campaign promises regarding bipartisanship.

By retaining Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates (a Washington Establishment favorite) and by recruiting his primary opponent Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, he could win applause from the mainstream media for his “team of rivals” and maybe win over a few influential neoconservatives who would see these hawkish appointments as continuity for Bush’s war policies.
Such are the blandishments of the CorpoRat State and the Status Quo. We can see where this is leading, by now. It would have required a really strong leader/personality to have resisted. And Prez Shamwow--the negotiator, the compromiser--is not that person. So what follows is "traingulation" and the eventual, inevitable capitulation to the "special interests."

I admonish you to get thee thither and read the rest of the story, and if you have a little scratch, leave a smidgeon behind. Such devotion deserves it.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fucking Tinhorn Banksters

The USer political economy, and increasingly that of the whole world, is dominated by a bunch of cheap, sleezy, cheapskate, cheating tinhorns playing "no -limit hold'em" with the House's money and nothing to lose.

We NEED to make 'em scared. Tar & Feathers, anyone? We don't have to kill 'em. Just put the fear of the fucking LORD in their mercenary souls so thjey NEVER EVER EVER forget that it is OUR lives these skeevy fuckers are gambling with....

How bad is it? My pal Edger, on Antemedius, brought together a couple of telling pieces of video from The Real News:
Part 1--

Part 2: "Let the pitchforks do their work!"

From the IMDb page for "American Casino":
...I don't think most people really understood that they were in a casino says award-winning financial reporter Mark Pittman. When you're in the Streets casino, you've got to play by their rules. This film finally explains how and why over $8 trillion of our money vanished into the American Casino. For chips, the casino used real people, like the ones we meet in Baltimore. These are not the heedless spendthrifts of Wall Street legend, but a high school teacher, a therapist, a minister of the church. They were sold on the American Dream as a safe investment. Too late, they discovered the truth. Cruelly, as African Americans, they and other minorities were the prime targets for the subprime loans that powered the casino. According to the Federal Reserve, African-Americans were four times more likely than whites to be sold subprime loans.

We meet the players. A banker explains that the complex securities he designed were fourth dimensional and sold to idiots. A senior Wall Street ratings agency executive describes being ordered to guess the worth of billion dollar securities. A mortgage loan salesman explains how borrowers incomes were inflated to justify a loan. A billionaire describes how he made a massive bet that people would lose their homes and has won $500 million, so far.

Finally, as the global financial system crumbles and outraged but impotent lawmakers fume at Wall Street titans, we see the casinos endgame: Riverside, California a foreclosure wasteland given over to colonies of rats and methamphetamine labs, where disease-bearing mosquitoes breed in their millions on the stagnant swimming pools of yesterdays dreams.

Filmed over twelve months in 2008, American Casino takes you inside a game that our grandchildren never wanted to play.
There is only one way Phil Gramm, or any of 'em, is EVER gonna pay any price at all, and that is if somebody kneecaps the motherfuckers...Baseball bat or bullet? Six of one, just so's it leaves 'em crippled, whining, and begging...

Friday, December 11, 2009

Limey "Anti-Terror" Cops

(Can YOU spot the little incipient terrorists?)
English anti-terror cops ask nursery school workers to watch 4 year olds for signs of "radicalization"

Posted: (BoingBoing) Fri, 11 Dec 2009 07:15:47 PST

England's West Midlands counter-terrorism unit is putting nursery schools on notice to check out their four-year-olds to make sure that they're not being "brainwashed" into "Islamic extremism."
Arun Kundnani, of the Institute of Race Relations, contacted the officer and said he was told that officers had visited nursery schools. Mr Kundnani added: "He did seem to think it was standard. He said it wasn't just him or his unit that was doing it. He said the indicators were they [children] might draw pictures of bombs and say things like 'all Christians are bad' or that they believe in an Islamic state. It seems that nursery teachers in the West Midlands area are being asked to look out for radicalisation. He also said that targeting young children was important because they would be left aware of what was inappropriate to say at school. He felt that it was necessary to cover nurseries as well as primary and secondary schools. He said it was a precaution and that he wasn't expecting to come back with a list."

Now, I'm no fan of parents instilling racial intolerance in their kids, but if "All Christians are bad" is the gold standard for telling whether a kid is being "radicalised," then I quake for all the Jewish kids I grew up with hearing things like "A shikker is a goy" (gentiles are drunks). I'm likewise pretty certain that there are many Christian kids being brought up on messages like "Jews are all cheap" and "Muslims are all terrorists."
Probably true. But presumably, no non-xian cops are monitoring Xian schools to prevent the same sorts of "indoctrination," right?--W)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ben Bernanke

"thePrez" (well, the Banksters and Geithner) wants to reappoint Ben Bernanke as head of the Fed.

Both Dean Baker and I think this is a terrible idea. I'll let him tell ya exactly why, but mainly what it comes down to is that it is a serious fuck-up to put the guys who could but didn't intervene to stop the last financial clusterfuck in charge of overseeing the guys they didn't oversee/regulate the last time, which negligence led to the collapse:
Yes, It's Bernanke's Fault
Tuesday 01 December 2009
by: Dean Baker | The Center for Economic and Policy Research

The Fed chairman Ben Bernanke could have acted to burst America's housing bubble – and yet he did nothing.

As the senate debates Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke's reappointment, it is striking how the media views blaming Bernanke for the Great Recession as being out of bounds. Of course Bernake bears much of the blame for America's economic collapse.

He was either in, or next to, the driver's seat for the last seven years. Bernanke was a member of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve since the summer of 2002. He served a six-month stint as head of President Bush's council of economic advisors beginning in the summer of 2005 and then went back to chair the Fed in February 2006.

This crisis is not a weather disaster like Hurricane Katrina; it is a man-made disaster that was brought about by seriously misguided economic policy. And, after Alan Greenspan, Bernanke was better positioned than any other person in the country to prevent this disaster.

The basic argument is very simple. The US had an enormous housing bubble. This bubble drove the economy ever since the last recession in 2001. It propelled the economy directly through a building boom that sent housing construction to record levels. Indirectly, it led to a consumption boom as people spent money based on the $8 trillion in housing equity that was temporarily created by the bubble.

When the bubble collapsed it was inevitable that it would lead to the sort of disaster that we are now seeing. We lost close to $500bn in annual demand due to the collapse of housing construction. The building boom created an enormous glut of housing. There will be little need for new construction for several years in the future.

The disappearance of trillions of dollars of bubble-generated housing equity led to a plunge in consumption. Annual consumption has fallen by close to $500bn. If we add in a loss in demand of close to $200bn associated with the bursting of a bubble in commercial real estate, the collapse of the bubbles led to a fall in annual demand of close to $1.2tn. The Fed has nothing in its bag of tricks that allows it quickly replace $1.2tn in demand, which is why the country is now mired in double-digit unemployment.

In spite of the heroic efforts at obfuscation by many economists, there is not really much to dispute in the above story. Add in the fact that the bubble was both recognisable and preventable, and you have a very solid indictment of Bernanke.

The bubble was easy to recognise, Bernanke just failed to do it. Nationwide house prices had already experienced an unprecedented 30% increase by the summer of 2002. Since there was nothing in the fundamentals of the housing market to justify this run-up, and no remotely corresponding increase in rents, Bernanke should have already been aware of the housing bubble by the time he joined the Fed in 2002.

The Fed has a large arsenal with which to attack a housing bubble, but the first weapon is simply talk. If Greenspan and Bernanke had used their platform at the Fed to educate Congress, the financial industry, and the public at large about the existence of the housing bubble and the risks it posed, this likely would have been sufficient to pop it.

This is not about mumbling "irrational exuberance," it's a question of using the Fed's full research capacities to document the existence of a housing bubble (they actually did the opposite) and then disseminating this research as widely as possible. If this proved inadequate, the Fed also had substantial regulatory powers to curb the deceptive subprime loans that helped inflate the bubble in its later stages.

If talk and regulation failed, then the Fed could have used interest rate hikes. A policy of raising interest rates with the explicit target of bursting the bubble – for example, a commitment to raise rates until house prices fall, – would almost certainly accomplish its goal in fairly short order.

Bernanke and his sidekick, Greenspan, chose to take none of these measures. Instead they insisted everything was fine the whole time. Things were not fine and the country is paying the price. And yes, it is very much Bernanke's fault.
That pretty much covers things, donit?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Who Does Not Believe The Pukes "Threw" The Election?

Greg Sargent's Plum Line quotes "thePrez" recently at the "jobs "summit, and I am just astonished he's finally (almost) said it:
So, in the weeks and months that followed, we undertook a series of difficult steps to prevent that outcome. And we were forced to take those steps largely without the help of an opposition party which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve.
And THAT is as close as I have heard anybody--much less Obama himself--come to alluding that the Pukes threw the election last year (though I admit he may be referring to Congressional Pukes' complete abdication, too).

But of course, that’s just what happened. The Pukes (and their Owners) noticed that even white people were starting to hate the Busheviks, and things were falling apart, and shit was gonna hit the fan, so it might as well hit it with a Dim--the first woman or the first Person of Color (PoC) would be nice. So they:
  • chose a ticket that managed to make half-African Obama look (at least temporarily, by comparison) smart, sane and safe;
  • apparently foreswore their penchant for electronic electoral larceny;
  • abandoned (apparently) the flank attacks by US Attys–-even though the ones in situ were proven partisans of the regime–-and
  • otherwise kept their distance,
  • took their “defeat” with signal good humor,
  • and set about to make sure that Obama and the Dims were utterly and completely implicated in their crimes and fiascoes by the end of the first year.
It was done so smoothly that almost nobody noticed it.

It seems that Obama was in fact one who did.

Which to me makes his desperate efforts to forge ‘bipartisanship’ all the more puzzling…

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pushy Fucking Christians

"Religious" fuckers who want to use public money to fund discriminatory activities? And what the fuck is a Christian Legal Society, anyway? Is the law different if one is a Christian? Via Americans United:
The U.S. Supreme Court today announced it will hear a dispute from California involving an evangelical Christian club at a public law school that wants recognition and funding as an official campus organization, even though it discriminates on religious grounds.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State urged the high court to use the case as a vehicle to make it clear that groups seeking public funding and official recognition on public college campuses must be open to all.

“This case is about fundamental fairness,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “If the student religious group wins, it will mean some students will be compelled to support clubs that won’t even admit them as members. That’s just not right.”

The dispute involves a branch of the Christian Legal Society at Hastings College of Law at the University of California in San Francisco. The group sought funding and official status from the school, even though it effectively bars gays and non-Christians from membership by requiring all officers and voting members to sign an evangelical Christian statement of faith.

Hastings College of Law bans discrimination against gays and lesbians, as well as religious discrimination, and officials there said they did not want to support a club that was not open to all.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hastings.

Americans United filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the appeals court and says the Supreme Court should uphold the 9th Circuit decision.

“Public schools have every right – indeed, an obligation – to refuse to advance religious discrimination,” Lynn said. “Groups that wish to engage in discrimination should not expect public subsidies.”

The case is titled Christian Legal Society v. Martinez.
There is a certain additional irony that it is a "Christian LEGAL Society" that is seeking this egregiously unconstitutional subsidy.

In any other Murka, I'd say this'n'd be a slam-dunk dismissal. But given this Court, and the continuous, egregious grants of immunity from general civil standards accorded merely on the basis of "conscience," this does not look good.

I mean, in principle, I'll not object to their discriminatory hiring, etc, policies, while using public money to fund their organization if, when their church catches fire, a Muslim or a gay or an atheist fireperson can, without blame, excuse themselves from helping put the fucker out...


Friday, December 4, 2009

Creationist "Scientist" Michael Behe:

Who made the mistake of fucking with dauntless You-Tube creationism critc Aron Ra (the big dude in the wrestler's beard and the calm, scientific demeanor, whom I would gladly pay money to watch rip Behe's arm from it's sockwet and beat him to death with it...)

DOTOF™ to PZ Myers/Pharyngula.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Perhaps It Would Be Wrong

to leave messages instead of money in the Salvation Army's donation pots.

Perhaps not. Jesus' astonishingly heterosexual General recommends against it.

It'd be a real shame if wicked people tried to pressure the Salvation Army into treating everyone with dignity by doing something like this:
1. Download the graphic below.
2. Print it.
3. Cut it into check-sized pieces.
4. Deposit "checks" in Salvation Army kettles.

The "Salvation" Army

From Aravosis/AmericaBlog:
Salvation Army accused of checking immigration status of kids before giving them toys
by John Aravosis (DC) on 12/02/2009 08:09:00 AM

Let's not forget - the Salvation Army is a far-right evangelical Christian right church. They're rabidly anti-gay, and they work in Washington, and around the world, against the civil rights of gays and lesbians. So if you've got a dime to spare this Christmas, do not give it to the guys with the red buckets. Fund a real charity, not an evangelical activist. (This year, I've noticed the bell-ringers are often apparently 'handicapped' folks. Is this a ploy to evoke MORE sympathy? Jis' askin'--W)

To wit. A story is running around that the Salvation Army has been checking the immigration status of kids before giving them toys. The Salvation Army denies it, saying they're only checking for 'residency', to make sure the kids getting the toys live in the area (apparently because children in other areas don't deserve a visit from Santa). Then I noticed this little gem at the end of the article:
The Salvation Army also verifies the immigration status of anyone who comes to their shelter.
Merry Christmas to you too.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


My pal Russ, who is going through a pretty rough patch right now, still found time for this eloquent rumination on applied semiotics:

Just for fun
The DNC could use the RNC's ideological purity test in anti-GOP ads - just rephrased. Something along the lines of "What they say" versus "What they really mean" comes to mind:
1) We oppose economic relief for Main Street; we support huge bonuses for Wall Street;

2) We oppose Medicare and Medicaid; we support the profits of predatory health insurance companies;

3) We support global warming, the melting of the polar ice-caps, and the demise of the polar bear;

4) We oppose unionization and unions; we support big business's unfair labor practices;

5) We don't want any more Hispanics in our America;

6) We support never-ending, futile wars;

7) We support belligerence and saber-rattling; we disdain diplomacy;

8) We're anti-gay;

9) We're don't believe Supreme Court decisions are the law of the land; we support the health insurance industry's right to ration care;

10) We support unmitigated gang violence, the right of psychotics and felons to buy guns, and the drug cartels that have turned our inner cities into war zones.
You can probably paraphrase better than I. Try it. It's fun!

Will the DNC take advantage of this golden opportunity?
I'm not holding my breath!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Your "Liberal" Media In Action

Via John Cole/Balloon Juice, whose cryptic, concise intro suffices for all:
Oddly enough, they still find ways to surprise:
Apparently, Castellanos makes enough money doing media work for private health insurance companies and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that he’ll be unpaid for his work as the RNC’s senior communications adviser. And since Castellanos won’t literally be on the Republican National Committee’s payroll, CNN is entirely comfortable paying him to offer “political analysis” on the air.
And here I thought the ethical/professional lines had already been blurred too much. Now, CNN —you know, the network that has positioned itself as above the fray—will feature regular on-air commentary from the Republican National Committee’s new message/strategy guy.
Here is some of Castellano’s handiwork:

Cole continues:
I guess we can all figure out why the RNC needed to pick him up.

I wonder if Chuck Todd thinks I am being subjective when I say it was outrageous Castellano had a job at CNN in the first place, but now that he is officially working for the GOP, it is an appalling breach of ethics.

And if CNN won’t do anything about it, how about the liberals and Democrats who appear on CNN do something about it. Call him out every time you are on- make sure every chance you get you point out that CNN’s political commentator is an official GOP hack.
Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Move along...

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Realtors Who Complain About Buyers' Ethics

You may know: So-called "business ethics" is the most monstrous, offensive, blinding oxymoron of all time. There simply are NO "ethics" in '[bidness]' which would be recognizable to anyone NOT already committed to the "process."

Which makes the following most amusing: Realtors™, apparently, are complaining about some buyers' willingness to simply walk away from mortgages the properties represented by which are "underwater." The are saying it is "unethical" to abandon a property and cease making contractual payments just because the nominal 'market value' of a piece of property is less than what is owed on the place, even though they COULD still afford to pay on the loan.

No. Really! It's a tactic called "strategic default," and the practice seems to be increasing, especially in those markets where property devaluations and failures have been epidemic. "People default because of the size of their negative equity, not just because they cannot afford to pay," according to authors quoted in the study in the LA Times reported today by Calculated Risk. The questions being raised are two-fold: ..."(J)ust how prevalent are these "strategic defaults"? And what are the social and moral ramifications of jumping ship?"

"Social and moral implications" of refusing to pay on extortionate mortgages? The implications of fucking the bankers who are fucking you? It is to laugh, nest paw? What of the social and moral implications of the rip-offs, distortions, and out-right lies told by banksters and mortgage brokers to put people into hugely over-priced, bubble-burdened properties to begin with? Ah-Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm? Here's CR's post on the matter:
More on Strategic Defaults
by CalculatedRisk on 11/21/2009 09:22:00 PM

From Lew Sichelman at the LA Times: Owners' willingness to 'strategically default' on loans depends largely on how far underwater they are (ht Ann)

Most of the LA Times article is based on the paper by Guiso, Sapienza and Zingales that I covered in June: Moral and Social Constraints to Strategic Default on Mortgages (pdf)

Sichelman adds some comments from real estate agents on the ethics of strategic defaults:
Nellie Arrington of Long & Foster Real Estate in Columbia, Md., says it is "morally wrong, legally wrong and just plain wrong" for an owner to walk away from a mortgage he can afford simply because the balance exceeds the value of the underlying property.

And on the other side:
Bob Hunt of Keller Williams O.C. Coastal Realty in San Clemente says the moral duty to protect your family outweighs the moral duty to repay the loan.

"Promise keeping is not the highest moral value," said Hunt, who before his real estate career taught ethics and logic at the University of Redlands. "If I promised to lend you my gun and you are now in a clearly dangerous psychotic stage, breaking my promise would be the right thing to do, not the wrong thing."

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Teachers Who Go Into Administration

Stephen Krashen is one of the most astute observers and acute commentors on Federal 'education policy' around, especially since the recent passing of the memorable, and infamous Gerald Bracey. NCTE is the National Conference of the Teachers of English, and is the largest group in the field. The LEARN act is the Obama/Duncan proposed legislation that would perpetuate everything that was wrong with similar literacy initiatives in the previous regime, indeed the previous 40 years.

This arrived today from widely admired author/educator/firebrand Susan Ohanian, one of my go-to sources on matters of teaching and learning. She's the beans; you should visit and bookmark her sites if you have ANY interest--personal or professional--in humane, democratic, emancipatory teaching and learning.

I Do Not Support the LEARN Act

by Stephen Krashen
The NCTE is supporting the LEARN act and asks NCTE members to support it here.

I do not support the LEARN Act. As described in the Senate Bill, the LEARN Act is Reading First expanded to all levels. It is Reading First on steroids.

The methods required by LEARN are nearly identical to those promoted by NCLB and Reading First: ". . . systematic, and explicit instruction in phonological awareness, phonic decoding, vocabulary, reading fluency, and reading comprehension."

The Senate bill lists the same areas of instruction that were in the report of the National Reading Panel, which was heavily criticized by some of the most respected scholars in the field. These principles were used by Reading First, which failed every empirical test. LEARN assumes that direct instruction is the only way children become literate, that "The intellectual and linguistic skills necessary for writing and reading must be developed through explicit, intentional, and systematic language activities. . ." and assumes that there is no contrary view.

LEARN endorses excessive testing, requiring "diagnostic, formative and summative assessments "at all levels." This is an astonishing recommendation at a time when children are already overwhelmed with tests, when schools are being turned into test-prep academies, and when education is facing severe budget cuts. It also presumes that we do not trust our teachers to evaluate their students.

There is no mention of the most important factor in developing literacy: quality school and classroom libraries, and professional librarians in all schools. The Senate bill only mentions "making available and using diverse texts at the reading, development, and interest level of students" and mentions "library media specialists" only once.

I must ask if those at NCTE who endorse this proposal have actually read it.

— Stephen Krashen
NCTE ning
Susan adds her own remark:
I am opposed to the LEARN act for the same reason Stephen Krashen names. I'd like to know just who at NCTE does support this act--and voices this support on behalf of all of us members.

Go to the NCTE ning and voice your concerns. We must speak up NOW.

You can also send e-mails to NCTE officers:

President, Kylene Beers: kBeers@prodigy.net
Past pres., Kathleen Yancey: kyancey@fsu.edu
Pres.-elect., Carol Jago: cjago@caroljago.com
Vice-pres., Yvonne Siu-Runyan: hanalei@indra.com
Incoming Vice-pres., Keith Gilyard: rkg3@PSU.EDU
They'll just LOVE to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"...(It) was hard to believe that I was in America.": Conditions Speak Louder Than Words

For those who do not yet believe that the clash over health care provision is major campaign in a full-fledged culture war, Susie Madrack's Suburban Guerilla caught this one:
Rich Stockwell, senior producer at MSNBC’s “Countdown”, writes about his experiences at the free clinic funded by viewer contributions:

New Orleans, La. — – It happened as I watched a 50-something woman walk out, after spending several hours being attended to by volunteer doctors. “She’s decided against treatment. A reasonable decision under the circumstances,” the doctor tells us as she heads for the next patient. The president of the board of the National Association of Free Health Clinics tells me why: “It’s stage four breast cancer, her body is filled with tumors.” I don’t know when that woman last saw a doctor. But I do know that if she had health insurance, the odds she would have seen a doctor long ago are much higher, and her chances for an earlier diagnosis and treatment would have been far greater.

After watching for hours as the patients moved through the clinic, it was hard to believe that I was in America.

Eighty-three percent of the patients they see are employed, they are not accepting other government help on a large scale, not “welfare queens” as some would like to have us believe. They are tax-paying, good, upstanding citizens who are trying to make it and give their kids a better life just like you and me.

Ninety percent of the patients who came through Saturday’s clinic had two or more diagnoses.

Eighty-two percent had a life-threatening condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or hypertension. They are victims of a system built with corporate profits at its center, which long ago forgot the moral imperative that should drive us to show compassion to our fellow men and women.

Health reform is not about Democrats or Republicans or who can score political points for the next election, it’s about people. It’s about fairness and justice in a system that knows none. I’d defy even the most hardened capitalist-loving-conservative to do what I did on Saturday and continue to pretend that the system in place right now is working. (It WOULD be nice to think so. And a pony!--W)

Countdown chose to highlight and raise money for the Association of Free Clinics because we knew the work they do is so vitally important and we wanted to show in real terms how great the need is. We invited several politicians to attend so they could see first hand how critical the situation is. All declined. Some explained that they talk with constituents all the time and know very well of the need for reform.

I have news for them, these people didn’t need to speak. Their actions spoke far louder than any words. Having to get a check up and diagnosis at a free clinic because they have no other option tells you all you need to know. There are no words that can accurately describe the quiet desperation on the faces of the patients. Every single one I spoke to, and every one I heard talking with doctors, expressed their gratitude for the event and wished that they were held more often.

Posted in The Best Healthcare in the World

Monday, November 16, 2009

Folks Who Say: "We Can Put A Man On The Moon. Why Can't We...?"

The Question:
"We, in civilized societies, are rich. Why then are the many poor? Why this painful drudgery for the masses? Why, even to the best paid workman, this uncertainty for the morrow, in the midst of all the wealth inherited from the past, and in spite of the powerful means of production, which could ensure comfort to all in return for a few hours of daily toil?

The (Well-Known, Oft-Repeated) Answer:
The Socialists have said it and repeated it unwearyingly. Daily they reiterate it, demonstrating it by arguments taken from all the sciences.

It is because all that is necessary for production -- the land, the mines, the highways, machinery, food, shelter, education, knowledge -- all have been seized by the few in the course of that long story of robbery, enforced migration or wars, of ignorance and oppression, which has been the life of the human race before it had learned to subdue the forces of Nature.

It is because, taking advantage of alleged rights acquired in the past, these few appropriate today two-thirds of the products of human labor, and then squander them in the most stupid and shameful way.

It is because, having reduced the masses to a point at which they have not the means of subsistence for a month, or even for a week in advance, the few only allow the many to work on condition of themselves receiving the lion's share.

It is because these few prevent the remainder of men from producing the things they need, and force them to produce, not the necessaries of life for all, but whatever offers the greatest profits to the monopolists. In this is the substance of all Socialism."
By "the substance of all Socialism," the author (it'll be in the test) means that the conditions he describes above are the stimulants that give rise to "socialist" sentiments and politics. I parsed the answering paragraph to highlight the elements the author (Peter Kropotkin, The Conquest of Bread) already by 1892, had discerned as the trajectory of predatory "capital" in an 'evolutionary' framework. He had been fascinated with Darwin AND Wallace and, contrary to the Hobbesian/Malthusian readings of those texts in Western Europe, he came to the conclusion that intra-specific was much less common than the models that prompted the emergence, for example, of Social Darwinism overlooked or ignored considerable evidence that cooperation--especially within species--was a normative feature. The Europeans, he wrote:
"...came to conceive of the animal world as a world of perpetual struggle among half-starved individuals, thirsting for one another’s blood. They made modern literature resound with the war cry of woe to the vanquished, as if it were the last word of modern biology. They raised the pitiless struggle for personal advantages to the height of a biological principle which man must submit to as well, under the menace of otherwise succumbing in a world based upon mutual extermination.”

In 1902, btw, he gathered these ideas together in Mutual Aid, a Factor in Evolution, a work that has mostly disappeared down the Anglo-American memory hole. Yet his ideas on the cooperative nature of life on Earth, though radical in his time, have received greater support over the past 30 years. Life, it turns out, may even be more cooperative than Kropotkin thought.

Nobody reads the "old guys" anymore. It's been 30 years since I read him, I think.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In Short: "Charitable" Organizations

Such as the Catholic Church, the hierarchies of which--along with any number of the members--are more worried and concerned about scriptural/textual/divine orthodoxy than about doing the charitable works for which they petitioned and now generally and ubiquitously receive otherwise entirely unwarranted and unmerited protections and exemptions from the body politic.

This includes, of course, but is not limited to, anything involvement in the provision of medical services by the Catholic Church, or any other "religious" organization, which claimed an exemption from its responsibilities for equality and fairness. This would have the advantage of withdrawing state support from outfits like the Boy Scouts, or any other organization of the public teat in any way that they are forbidden by law from disccriminating even against those who their cant and supersticion would demonize.

The particular case in point is the threat by Catholic Charities, (Inc.) or DC to withdraw itself from the provision of aid to its clients if proposed DC legislation forbids the CC to discriminate in hiring on the basis of sexual orientation.

Americans United issued a press release on the matter:

D.C. Council Should Not Cave In To Catholic

Church’s Demands On Marriage Exemption

The religion exemption in a proposed same-sex marriage bill adequately protects religious freedom, and the District of Columbia Council should not give in to demands from the Catholic Archdiocese that it be broadened, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

In a Nov. 10 statement, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington threatened to drop contracts with the District government to provide social services, unless church programs are broadly exempted from civil rights provisions that will protect same-sex couples.

Catholic Charities DC, the social service arm of the archdiocese, received $16 million of its $23 million budget last year through governmental contracts.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, “The church’s demand is outrageous. If ‘faith-based’ charities cannot or will not obey civil rights laws, they ought not benefit from public funds.

“I am amazed that church officials would threaten to stop helping the disadvantaged because they are being asked to treat all citizens of the District fairly,” he continued. “They seem to have lost all perspective. How strong is their commitment to helping the poor if they’re willing to take this hardline stance?

“If Catholic Charities drops its participation in publicly funded social services,” Lynn concluded, “I am confident that other charities would be happy to pick up the slack.”

Lynn said Americans United attorneys have examined the religion exemption proposed in the “Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act” and found it to be a reasonable balance that protects the civil rights of all city residents as well as the independence of religious institutions.

Said Lynn, “We made several suggestions to the council in regard to the religion exemption, and most of our concerns have been met. The archdiocese’s demands are extreme, and council members should reject them.”

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Presidential "Discomfort"

Who didn't ALWAYS know that, desperate to show some big success in the first year, Obama would sign any piece of shit bill that could get enough support to get to his desk, even if it were only cosmetically helpful to the American people, and was always going to be an enormous financial windfall for the least deserving industries in the whole fucking world: for-profit medicine. Now the heralds are proclaiming an historical event, the equal of Civil Rights and Social Security, and it's all bullshit:
Status Quo

by digby

NY Times:
President Obama suggested Monday that he was not comfortable with abortion restrictions inserted into the House version of major health care legislation, and he prodded Congress to revise them.

The only thing he seemed uncomfortable with was the idea of the bill blowing up.

It's important to understand what "revision" at this point means. The status quo is no longer the compromise between those who believe that all women should have access to insurance coverage for abortion and those who believe that abortion should be illegal. That ship sailed many years ago with the egregious Hyde Amendment which denied coverage to the women who need it most --- poor women on Medicaid. For years pro-choice groups had agitated to repeal it, but took that completely off the table in this negotiation and agreed to codify it instead. That compromise already changed the status quo.

Now, the Stupak amendment goes even farther and says that any woman who is in the individual private insurance market will not be allowed to purchase a policy if they receive a subsidy. If the president will now take a "revision" of that, as now seems possible, we will see the "status quo" become something else again.

The status quo has already been dealt away.
This has been pretty obviously the track the whole process would take, pretty much from the beginning...

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Ft. Hood Affair: Collateral Damage On The Homefront

In a very visible, terrible, horrific--but nonetheless, not unpredictable--way the wars we wage return upon us. The events at Ft. Hood are just the latest, and largest, canckers to irrupt in this violent, depraved, indifferent wasteland of wrongful war and needless slaughter.

There are reports today that some of the dead and wounded may have been shot by people--presumably soldiers--shooting at the shooter. If true, that would certainly attack the credibility of folks who claim an armed society is a safe society.

Via AlterNet:

The Victims At Fort Hood Are Casualties of War: Why Won't the Government Count Them Among the Dead?

By Aaron Glantz, New America Media. Posted November 6, 2009.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of Thursday's shoot-out at Fort Hood is that none of the 12 (now 13--W) people who died in the melee will be counted as casualties of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. These soldiers – "brave Americans," President Obama called them – will join an unknown number of American soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines, who are not among the 5,267 the Defense Department counts as having died in our most recent wars, but who have perished nonetheless.

It will take days or weeks to learn what really happened at Fort Hood and why, but even at this early moment, we can make one statement for certain. The government's refusal to accurately count their sacrifice of these young men and women dishonors not only these soldiers' memories, but also obscures the public's understanding of the amount of sacrifice required to continue wars in two countries, simultaneously, overseas.

Go on the website, icasualties.org, which regularly publishes the names the Pentagon reports as having died in two wars, and a discerning eye will see a lot of other names are missing.

Missing are the names of service members, like Sgt. Gerald Cassidy, First Warrant Officer Judson E. Mount, or Spc. Franklin D. Barnett who died stateside after receiving substandard medical care for wounds sustained in the war zones. Cassidy sat dead in a chair for three days at Fort Knox before anyone noticed that he had passed away from complications related to a brain injury sustained in Iraq. Mount died in April 2009 at San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center after taking shrapnel from a roadside bomb in November 2008. Barnett died in June 2009 from wounds he sustained in Afghanistan earlier in the year.

Missing, too, are the names of American soldiers and veterans who have killed themselves after serving a tour in Iraq or Afghanistan, people like 19 year old Spc. John Fish of Paso Robles, California who told his superiors he was thinking of killing himself after his first deployment, but was ordered overseas a second time anyway. While he was training for that second deployment to Afghanistan, Fish walked out into the New Mexican desert after a training exercise for his second deployment and blew his brains out with a military issued machine gun. Or Sgt. Brian Jason Rand of North Carolina, who was found under the Cumberland River Center Pavilion near Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in February 2008 with a bullet through his skull and a shotgun by his side.

The Army reports 117 active duty Army soldiers killed themselves in 2007, the year Fish took his life. At the time, it was a 26-year high. But that record was quickly eclipsed by the 2008 Army figure of 128 suicides. In January 2009, more American soldiers committed suicide than died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined, but none of these deaths are listed in the official casualty count.

Neither are the dozens of soldiers who have killed in altercations with law enforcement brought on by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder incurred during deployments overseas ...It's unknown how many Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have died this way, but like the 12 soldiers gunned down at Fort Hood this week, their deaths would not have occurred if not for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Regardless of what you think of these wars, it's absolutely necessary that the American public be fully appraised of their cost. After all, how can we even begin to honor their memories, if we don’t even track their sacrifice. (Emphases supplied--W)

Perhaps needlessly, to reiterate:
...It's unknown how many Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans have died this way, but like the 12 soldiers gunned down at Fort Hood this week, their deaths would not have occurred if not for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As a coda, it might be noted that Ft. Hood has/has the highest number of suicides of any other Army post. Makes ya wonder if being out there in the middle of one of the most god-benighted parts of Texas has anything to do with it.

Some might be tempted to accuse the author of attempting to make "political points" from the tragedy yesterday. That, of course, would distort the nature of the critique but, given the sources one would imagine making the complaints, that would be expected, too...

As a post-script, it should be noted that the death-toll of the VietNam invasion/occupation is possibly nearly twice what the official tally acknowldedges-- around 55 Thousand--for the same reasons enumerated in the piece above for the DoD's counting practices today.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Sister" Carrie Prejean/PerezHilton -- Dallas Penn

DOTOF™ to Ina on FB:

Just because they're short and pithy, here's another, on "Conversations about Race": Treat 'em like they took your wallet!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Drug Wars

I wonder why the Oligarchs and Owners seem to be willing to sacrifice Mexico's stature as a Nation to the futile task of closing down the use of (mainly) marijuana. Such is the official fervor to compel acquiescence from the stoner brigade--whose contributions to the cause, when straight CANNOT be the equal of their efforts stoned. What purpose can possibly served--in this land of pharmacological fantasy, amid a phantasmagoria of potency, there cannot be many 'real reasons' to the legalization of pot? Not reasons that would stand up to the scrutiny of the "interplanetary ethnographer." Acts by the State such as prohibition are efforts to flex the iron fist inside the velvet glove. The role of prohibition is always the exercise of state power over civil resistance, more than anything else.

Whatever that case, pobrecito Mexico's a mess and is falling further into chaos and catastrophe, as the peons and campesinos displaced by NAFTA, and unemployable in their numbers in Mexico's emergent--and already declining--industries, have been effectively driven into the para-military armies of the drug cartels battling for supremacy--if monopoly is impossible--in the market supplying narcotics (not a perjorative term, initially) and psychological analgesics to pacify America's terminally conflicted, too-well-armed, and potentially violently psychopathic population.

"It's A War!" declares the hook/headline of the Sunday LA Times. And the Times then delivers one of those pieces of journalism for which I, for one, am not certain the "new media" have the chops or resources to pursue. The Times is to be unstintingly applauded and commended for maintaining and adding to this valuable record of the times...

The link is to a page on which much relevant data is presented in very readable form, including a rolling counter that tolls the number of the dead in the increasingly intermural, normally fatal squabbles among the cartels, and in the cartels' efforts to intimidate the Mexican authorities. As of the posting of this message, the number was 9,303. There is also a very useful map of our southerly neighbor, which will be of inestimable use to readers and others whose interest in or knowledge of their national surroundings are circumscribed by the local tv newscast's weather map.

The most important part, of course, is the index of the stories the Times has filed on the story. There must be 100 or more, dating back to the first story, on June 3, 2008, datelined Nuevo Laredo, Tx., and headlined "Army's role in Mexico drug war seen as crucial yet risky," over the slug: "Observers fear the deployment will hurt democracy and civil institutions, but they see no alternative."

The whole index itself charts the decline into bloody anarchy along the border, but also in traditionally recalcitrant parts of the country where there is little to be fond of or grateful about what the central government represents. I didn't look for and in my swift perusal of the heds I did not see any indication that the "drug war" might ever have been thought to be possibly a node--a front, really--in a long-festering civil/class war that has been churning in Mexico since Napoleonic times, at least.

Maybe the failure of Mexico-qua-state on our southern border may turn out to be our own, local Iraq.

DOTOF™ to the "other" Woody, Alex, who put the link up on FB...

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Forget all that crap about serving the "people," protecting the Constitution, and such. Bush's real "Job" --the reason he was installed-- was
To "Disempower" the People -- and finish the job Raygun began:
To gut the Constitution,
To attack the infrastructures of justice and fairness, public health and safety, and
To facilitate the Corporat take-over of the public's political and economic 'commons.'
On the other hand, Obama's job is to make the ("white") People forget how much they hated and distrusted the Busheviks, and to assume the burden of those emotions onto himself (and the Dims), thereby preparing the way for the next wave of Puke theo-fascism. Given his ethnicity, he's already close to half-way there, as the tea-party/birther/tenther/gun-loon/FauxNooz (Beck/Hannity/Limbaugh) wacktardity has clearly already shown...

This has the additional "benefit" (for the Owners) of depriving any further "minority" candidate for high national office any oxygen for a possible campaign.

I thought it was sheer genius for the Owners to schedule the worst economic collapse of the past three/quarters of a Century, right at the intersection of a retreating, embarrassed, beseiged GOP hierarchy and in-coming Democratic one which would handily absorb the blame...


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

White Privilege

Tim Wise explains it all for you: Layers upon layers upon layers of privilege. It takes about an hour, but you'll get the point in the first 15 minutes: Even if your family never owned slaves, if you are "white," you--and likely an ancestor or two--have had advantages that were denied to "people of color."

White folks hate to hear this message.

Anti-abortionist Supporters of Murder

You cannot make this shit up: Anti-abortionists are having a "bake" sale--a raffle, including an Army of God field manual and a prison cookbook--to raise money for Scott Roeder, the man who shot and killed Wichita (KS) doctor George Tiller earlier this year. Neiwert quotes a KC Star story:
An Army of God manual. A prison cookbook compiled by a woman doing time for abortion clinic bombings and arsons. An autographed bullhorn.

These are among the items that abortion foes plan to auction on eBay and other Web sites in a fundraiser for Scott Roeder, the Kansas City man charged with killing Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller.

“This is unique,” said Regina Dinwiddie, a Kansas City anti-abortion activist who will sign the bullhorn. “Nobody’s ever done this before. The goal is that everybody makes money for Scott Roeder’s defense.”

One abortion-rights leader called the auction deplorable and said it could lead to more violence.

“The network of extremists promoting and defending the murder of doctors is contributing to escalating threats against clinics and doctors across the country,” said Kathy Spillar, executive vice president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.

Roeder, charged with first-degree murder in the May 31 shooting of Tiller, is scheduled to go to trial in January.

Really! David Neiwert at C&L put up the story yesterday.

Rachel Maddow discusses this with attorneys for Tiller's family, who are resolved that any funds raised in Roeder's name be confiscated and dedicated to victims of similar crimes:

Monday, October 26, 2009

Evan Bayh: Smarmy. Scummy. Sleezy. Slimy. Sneaky. Shitty. Skeevy, In The Same Dwarf!

Here's how you make LOTS and LOTS of money while "serving" your country in the Wworld's Greatest Deliberative Body": Conflict of interest.

NO, silly. Your hands are clean. But your wife sits on the boards of, and receives stock options in compensation from corpoRats whose business comes before you in your official capacities.


Scummy. Sleezy. Slimy. Sneaky. Shitty. Skeevy.


From Rick Ungar, via Mike's Roundup on C&L:
Yesterday’s post here at The Policy Page described Senator Evan Bayh’s huge conflict of interest in the health care reform debate. As the Democratic Senator likely to represent the 60th procedural vote that could block a Republican filibuster of a reform bill, I discussed how profoundly disturbing it is that Senator’s Bayh’s wife, Susan, sits on the board of directors of WellPoint – the nation’s largest (by membership) for profit health insurance company. I also noted that Mrs. Bayh’s currently held stock options in the company – which would likely take a significant financial hit should a public option succeed – represent a significant percentage of the family’s net worth.

While the piece garnered some readers here at True/Slant, I continue to be surprised by how little coverage this matter is receiving from the national media. While the subject has popped up, from time to time, we now know just how important Sen. Bayh’s vote is likely to be and how much this clear conflict of interest could weigh on the result. Still, the mainstream media remains remarkably silent on this, including the more liberal skewing news organizations.

Why is Bayh getting a pass?

Is the silence due to a presumption that, as a finalist on the Obama vice-presidential short list, Bayh must be a progressive Democrat who should not be picked on? He ‘s not.

Is it the boyish good looks that leads to a conclusion that a face like that could never be guilty of bad behavior? He is. (see the 1997 report, “Judicial Watch Files Complaint against Indiana Senator Evan Bayh with Senate Ethics Committee.”) This complaint involved Bayh’s failure to disclose his position as a director of his family foundation.
Bayh gives proof to the allegation that NO reasonably corrupt, compliant, complicit piece-of-shit glad-hander EVER left Congress less well-off than when they arrived.

Evan Bayh has the distinction, it seems to me, of being JUST the guy to make Joe Lieberman look like an honest broker.


Evan Bayh

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lord Brian Griffiths of Fforestfach (and Goldman Sachs) says his paychecks make you rich.

He lies in his decaying, ennobled Thatcherite teeth, of course. Justin Fox, at Times "Curious Capitalist" blog reports:
I get the feeling that Brian Griffiths' words at a panel discussion in London Tuesday might go down in history as some kind of let-them-eat-cakish landmark. Said the economist, a former Margaret Thatcher adviser who was raised to the peerage in 1991 and has been helping make ends meet since then by toiling away as a vice chairman (read: guy who participates in panel discussions and stuff) of Goldman Sachs International:
We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all
Griffiths is of course right that at some level there is a tradeoff between inequality and prosperity. The prospect of making more money than others gives us incentives to work harder, to take more risks, to be more inventive—all of which makes the economy grow much faster than it would if we were all perfectly equal, financially speaking. And the presence of large pools of money in private hands enables valuable investment and philanthropy.
But the argument that ever-growing inequality will make us ever more prosperous really doesn't hold up. Neither does the more specific argument—to take Griffiths' statement in context—that gigantic paychecks at Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street and City firms are good for the rest of us. I don't know that there's any incontrovertible proof that they're bad for the rest of us, either, but the standard Wall Street credo that its people get paid so much because the work they do is of such great value to society doesn't seem so convincing these days.
A commentor on the site puts Justin to "rights":
Among the thriving, prosperous countries of the world, more-equal countries grow faster:

Ditto for countries with more-progressive taxation:

And those countries provide more opportunity for talented people to climb the ladder and make everyone more prosperous.
Also worthy of note: Nations whose women experience the greatest freedoms--reproductive, political, economic, etc.--also thrive better than those in which women are kept as chattel.

Funny thing...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bad News For The Surviving Atomic Zygotes

This is gonna give the term "Boomers" a whole new meaning. Yesterday, at Politics Daily, there was posted a somber, sobering reminder for the first generation of Atomic Zygotes (among whom I am on the absolute FOREFRONT, in fact perhaps naming the cadre by my own conception, in Santa Fe, on or about July 16, 1945, the date of the Trinity blast, 135 miles south of my parents connubial doings, while my father was home on leave from the destroyer Navy in the Pacific; a little after he rejoined his ship, the war was over--but I digress):

Remember back in the "good old days," when the US, and the Soviets were practicing national, chest-thumping machismo and testing nukes in the atmosphere? Remember Strontium 90? Iodine 129? Caesium 137? They're Baaaaaack...:
Even with a half-century's hindsight, the U.S. government's willingness to risk the health of the nation's children seems somewhere between unfathomable and unconscionable.

Between 1951 and 1962, the Atomic Energy Commission detonated more than 100 nuclear bombs in the atmosphere over its Nevada Test Site, just 65 miles from Las Vegas. The radioactive fallout menaced not only the ranchers and the miners unlucky enough to live in that remote area of southern Nevada, but -- as a new study unveiled Tuesday demonstrated -- untold millions of unsuspecting Americans as well.

The winds carried Strontium-90, Iodine-129 and other lethal particles across a broad swath of the country. Infants who were bottle-fed, which was then considered the modern approach, were particularly vulnerable to the Strontium-90 that ended up in cows' milk.

In 1961, as John Kennedy was poised to resume atmospheric testing after a two-year moratorium, he met with White House science adviser Jerome Wiesner in the Oval Office one rainy day. The president wondered how fallout reached the earth. Wiesner explained that it was washed out of the clouds by rain. "You mean," Kennedy asked, "it's in the rain out there?" As Wiesner tells it, the president then "looked out the window, looked very sad and didn't say a word for several minutes." Nonetheless JFK, fearful that the Soviet Union might score a nuclear breakthrough, authorized a new round of above-ground testing before negotiating the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1963. (N.B. The Soviets exploded nearly equal numbers of tests in Siberia, where the prevailing winds swept the debris westerly into Alaska and the west coast of the USofA. --W)

With Nov. 9, 2009 marking the 20th anniversary of the breaching of the Berlin Wall, Cold War retrospectives are again in season. But the grim legacy of nuclear testing is apt to be lost amid the memories of Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, the Berlin airlift, the Cuban Missile Crisis and Ronald Reagan's famed exhortation at the Brandenburg Gate. The mushroom clouds over the Nevada desert seem so long ago, so devoid of any real-world consequences.

But a study released Tuesday documents the enhanced cancer risk that Baby Boomers face because of these long-ago atmospheric tests. Epidemiologist Joseph Mangano analyzed the lingering radiation in infant teeth (donated long ago by the parents of baby boys born in the St. Louis area between 1959 and 1961) and compared the results to contemporary cancer data from the subjects. "What we found out was shocking," Mangano said. "Persons who had died of cancer had more than double the Strontium-90 in their (baby) teeth than did healthy persons." The original variance in Strontium-90 levels among individuals, he explained, was caused by seemingly small factors such as how much milk expectant mothers drank, diet and the source of the municipal water supply.

So where did these teeth come from? In the late 1950s, researchers at Washington University in St. Louis collected teeth from about 300,000 children and chemically analyzed them to demonstrate the prevalence of nuclear fallout. Even though it contributed to public support for the Test Ban Treaty, the Washington University study had been all but forgotten. But in 2001 a biology professor at the university discovered 85,000 left-over teeth in tiny manila envelopes that had never been used in this Cold War research.

The 53-year-old Mangano, the executive director of the small anti-nuclear Radiation and Public Health Project, saw the potential to use these teeth to conduct a longitudinal study measuring the life-long effects from atmospheric testing. For reasons of simplicity and consistency, he initially limited himself to boys born during a two-year moratorium in testing (so only lingering fallout was measured) who had not been breast-fed. "This is the pay dirt right here," he said excitedly Tuesday. "All the 50 years of collecting teeth, discussing bombs tests and all, this is the payoff. The difference is statistically significant." Mangano's paper, which is slated to posted Wednesday on his organization's Web site, has been submitted to an academic journal where it will be subjected to peer review.
Hooray! The Null Hypothesis has been rejected! Statistical significance is the Grail of soi-disant 'empirical' research--number crunching. We have significance! Everyone and everything anywhere in the world since 1945 carries the poisonous traces of these hideous "experiments" ("My mushroom cloud is bigger than yours. Nyanyah!").

So, while the news would extol the successes of the latest "tests," we did weekly 'civil defense drills.' I still recall those horriffic moments in school when we--six- and seven- and eight-year-olds--desperately grabbed for the thickest book we could lift and dove under our desks and, down on all fours, with our tiny, quaking, puckered little asses tilted heavenward, we covered our heads with those books, to ward off the imminent nuclear blast.

Literally giving our sweet, young, virgin asses to GAWD!

But it was later, when it rained, that it literally rained death and destruction, especially if you were downwind--though eventually it didn't matter where you were.