Monday, October 31, 2011

Slick Rick

So what we really need is another drunk cowboy in the White House - but this time, instead of a drunk who doesn't drink, what we need is a drunk who does lotsa drinking?

(hat tip - John Gorman)

Let Herman Be Herman

Cain has spent some time trying to defend having 2 or 3 different stances on the abortion rights issue over the last coupla weeks. So Bob Schieffer brings him on CBS's version of the Sunday morning Wave-Your-Dick-At-America show, and plays at being a real journalist by pinning Cain down on his abortion position. And Cain nails himself to the Pro-Lifers' cross like a dutiful little Repub who feels the need to pander to the crazies, and ol' Bob just smiles and nods 'cuz that's all according to the script. But then Cain goes on to make the usual ridiculous assertions about Planned Parenthood, and about how Margaret Sanger's real intention was to launch a genocide against black people. Schieffer "challenges" him for proof, and Cain pulls the standard malarkey out of his ass - "If you look at the history..." And ol' Bob just smiles and nods - way to get tough there, Bob.


So fast forward to the question of that goofy campaign ad. Schieffer asks a coupla puffball questions, and then we get to the real meat of the story - smoking. And now ol' Bob is on the attack 'cuz suddenly it's not about some esoteric nonsense of a political party fucking half the US population out of their rights; it's all about Bob and how Bob survived a bout with a smoking-related cancer; and how Bob feels so strongly that smoking ain't cool. Jesus H Fucking Schwartz.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

OWS Today

The cops really are just a lay-off or two away from joining the protesters.  The Politicos know this, of course, so it'll be interesting to see the how things begin sort themselves out.

Steve-O-Lanterns

By way of old high school buddy, and wood carver extraordinaire, Steve Pancoast at Piece Of The Wind:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Thank God For Matt Taibbi

Taibbi can get pretty far off into the weeds sometimes, but just as often, he comes thru for us with a gem like this:
STUPIDITY INSURANCE. Defenders of the banks like to talk a lot about how we shouldn't feel sorry for people who've been foreclosed upon, because it's they're own fault for borrowing more than they can pay back, buying more house than they can afford, etc. And critics of OWS have assailed protesters for complaining about things like foreclosure by claiming these folks want “something for nothing.”
This is ironic because, as one of the Rolling Stone editors put it last week, “something for nothing is Wall Street’s official policy." In fact, getting bailed out for bad investment decisions has been de rigeur on Wall Street not just since 2008, but for decades.
--snip--
...When Joe Homeowner bought too much house, essentially betting that home prices would go up, and losing his bet when they dropped, he was an irresponsible putz who shouldn’t whine about being put on the street.
But when banks bet billions on a firm like AIG that was heavily invested in mortgages, they were making the same bet that Joe Homeowner made, leaving themselves hugely exposed to a sudden drop in home prices. But instead of being asked to "suck it in and cope" when that bet failed, the banks instead went straight to Washington for a bailout -- and got it.
--snip--
Millions of people have been foreclosed upon in the last three years. In most all of those foreclosures, a regional law enforcement office -- typically a sheriff's office -- was awarded fees by the court as part of the foreclosure settlement, settlements which of course were often rubber-stamped by a judge despite mountains of perjurious robosigned evidence.
That means that every single time a bank kicked someone out of his home, a local police department got a cut. Local sheriff's offices also get cuts of almost all credit card judgments, and other bank settlements. If you're wondering how it is that so many regional police departments have the money for fancy new vehicles and SWAT teams and other accoutrements, this is one of your answers.

The Modern Republican Fantasy

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What Would Jesus Do?

He'd find a stick or a whip or something, and he'd knock the crap out of a few bankers - that's what he'd do.

How To Speak Republican

(hat tip: John Gorman)
  • America (United States of): A country located in the Northern/Western Hemisphere that is #1.
  • Bible: A sacred text that provides incontestable answers when thumped.
  • Birth Certificate: An official birth record required of all US Presidents, regardless of race, since 2008.
  • Capitalism: A system of economic organization that has never been attempted.
  • Christmas: A holiday commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ, now rarely celebrated due to persecution by atheists.
  • Compromise: (uncommon) A form of political suicide.
  • Coast (East): A very bad coast of the continental United States.
  • Coast (West): Another really inexcusable coast.
  • Communism: The belief that the government should ever do anything.
  • Condescending: Accurately informed.
  • Constitution (U.S.): The hallowed founding document of the United States, the text of which must be interpreted literally, adhered to strictly and amended immediately.
  • Corporations: Large people who are overtaxed.
  • Deficits (1): Fiscal shortfalls incurred by Democrats that will bankrupt the country.
  • Deficits (2): Fiscal shortfalls incurred by Republicans that don't matter.
  • Democrat: A political party.
  • Election: A method of selecting representatives, the fraudulence of which may be determined by the outcome.
  • Elitist: Qualified.
  • Endangered Species: Animals that have it coming.
  • Evolution: A theory of human origins that is out there.
  • Extremist (Liberal): Espousing or adhering to political beliefs that are held by only a majority of Americans.
  • Fact: Information that has been verifiably posted to a RedState comments section.
  • Forest (National): Trees that have it coming.
  • Gut: Region of the body from which decisions should be made.
  • Homosexuality: A membership-only lifestyle organization that perpetuates itself through youth recruitment.
  • Hitler: A man to whom it would be inappropriate to compare President Obama in spite of the many uncanny similarities.
  • Jesus: Charismatic religious leader and son of God; born in Bethlehem in the year zero; beliefs include love, charity, enhanced interrogation, privatized healthcare, elimination of the estate tax, and the right to carry concealed semiautomatic weapons.
  • League (Ivy): an association of eight Eastern universities and colleges, the lack of a fancy education from which qualifies a candidate for political office.
  • Liberal: A person who should be rounded up and shot but not really.
  • Marxism: A political and economic philosophy developed by Karl Marx and promulgated by Paul Krugman.
  • Media (Mainstream): Where you won't hear things.
  • Medicare: A fraudulent, socialistic boondoggle that is sacrosanct.
  • Mexicans: Brown people who have it coming.
  • Mountaintops: Ancient rock formations that have it coming.
  • Muslims: More brown people who have it coming.
  • News: Fox News
  • Obamacare: A Federally-mandated policy to address the national oversupply of grandparents through euthanasia.
  • Organic: Eaten by lesbians.
  • Party (Tea): A grass-roots movement of patriotic Americans fighting for the principle of "No Taxation With Representation."
  • Poll: A survey used to determine (within a margin of error) how few Americans are right.
  • Poverty: The condition of having inadequate financial or material resources due to not trying hard enough.
  • Propaganda: The politically motivated dissemination of biased information, opinion, or data through its publication in the New York Times.
  • Punishment (Capital): The legally authorized killing by the State of someone who is definitely guilty.
  • Racism: A form of discrimination that typically happens in reverse.
  • Regulation: Rules issued by a government agency for no reason.
  • Ronald Reagan: A fictional character based loosely on President Ronald Reagan.
  • Scientist: A person who employs a rigorous system of observation, experiment, measurement, and verification to perpetuate his Godless left-wing agenda.
  • Social Security: A redistributionist Ponzi scheme that is sacrosanct.
  • Socialism: An economic system invented by FDR.
  • Taxes: Levies imposed by the government that raise more revenue the lower they are.
  • Torture: A method of interrogation that does not rise to the level of torture.
  • Terrorist: A person to whom a certain someone threatening to destroy the U.S. economy unless his demands are met should not be compared.
  • Unbiased: Giving equal weight to both sides of the looking glass.
  • Wealthy (the): People who earned every penny.
  • Up: A direction which, depending on circumstances, is down.
  • Warming (Global): An anomalous, anthropogenic increase in the earth's atmospheric and oceanic temperatures that isn't happening.
  • Welfare: A government program to distribute Cadillacs to unwed mothers.
  • Yes: (no translation available)

Stupid Dog

Monday, October 24, 2011

Playing For Change

Operation Fox Hunt - Anonymous

Not sure I like this, but it could be both fun to watch, and hard not to join in.

Corporatizing The NYPD

One puzzle has at least been solved. Wall Street’s criminals have not been indicted or sent to jail because they have effectively become the police.
Wall Street Firms Spy on Protestors in Tax-Funded Center (truthout.org)


OWS

Zappa Sez

The Costs Of War

And another generation of Americans is forever changed.

When do we finally get it thru our heads that nobody wins a war? Whoever convinces themselves that they lost the least gets to declare themselves the victors; and then go about preparing for the next go 'round.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

People Of The lie

Podcast
I listen to this podcast every Sunday instead of watching the morning bobblehead shows.  They've been evolving a general theme that's aimed at creating and distributing vocabulary and tactics that can be used to countervail the constant stream of nonsense that seems to dominate any random political discussion.

It all comes down to fighting the Conditioned Response and/or the Confirmation Bias and/or the Reflexive Reactions that we're all susceptible to - in order to move a little closer to the big-t Truth.  But just substituting one kind of knee-jerk response for another doesn't get us where we need to go either.

One suggestion: Everybody gets tired of trying to rebut the idiot emails they get from their "conservative" friends and in-laws. One solution is simply to stop rising to the bait, and instead demand the sender provide straight-up proof of whatever the email's about.  Let the facts tell the story.  And yeah, I know - some "conservatives" flat out deny the facts, or just make shit up.  The direct challenge is still the best antiseptic for that.  "What you can't prove qualifies as nothing more than a crock full of shit."  One thing that comes in pretty handy is that I can look stuff up on my phone now and make 'em look foolish in public.  I love that.

Something else that sticks in my brain is the idea that people are not just well conditioned in what they say, but also in what they hear you say in rebuttal.  It's pretty apparent, but I think it bears repeating.  And really, it's just the Straw Man thing, where they take what you say; turn it into something you didn't actually say; and proceed to tear it apart.

Whenever I'm arguing policy now, I'm trying to remember the thing about framing that George Lakoff talks about in Don't Think Of An Elephant.*  If the listener is properly conditioned (ie: the frame of his thinking is set), then he'll hear and agree with whatever is said that fits that frame, and disregard or dispute anything that doesn't fit.
(*)


If your debate partner is at all "typical" of the total putz nozzles who pass for conservatives these days, then he's going to be in line with "The Sweeping Generalization" --government is bad.  --poor people are just lazy.  --taxation is burdensome and oppressive.  --and on and on;  We all know the drill.  You make a point in criticism of something generic like Corporate Greed, and you can bet the rebuttal will be all about how you hate Capitalism, and how you want the gubmint to enslave the noble job-creators, blah blah blah.  It has nothing really to do with the point you made, but it works if you don't recognize what he's doing, and if you don't then turn it back around by insisting that he address the actual point instead of the one he just pulled out of his ass.

Being aware that the other guy is only hearing what he wants to hear, requires me to improve my arguments and to improve how I make my arguments.  If I can anticipate his reaction, I have the advantage.

But here's the real kicker:  I'm not going to convince the guy I'm arguing with, and he's not the guy I'm really talking to.  I'm talking to the people who are listening around the edges; the people who read the comments on facebook or the blogs, but never leave comments of their own.  They're there looking for something that strikes them as reasonable. They're looking for something that rings true.  Give it to them.

Another part of the ProLeft podcast had to do with keeping up with the machinery that produces the crap that too many people take for the truth.



Whatever you believe nobody cares 
Whatever it is you think you know 
Don't give a Goddamn 
Reality is bullshit 
Reflection is a concept 
Based on your own fucked up ideal 

Don't call it part of your faith 
Another way you justify hate 

Voices shouting under water 
Drown you out, steal your air 
Blinded by their own illusion 
Through a crooked looking glass 

Army of theives 
Blood on their hands 
Lightning, fire and brimstone 
They'll say whatever they can 
Conspiracy theories, Arrogant trash 
They prowl alone and trvel in packs 

[Chorus] 

Vocies shouting in the water 
Drag you down, steal your air 
Dissolut, Diabolic 
Snake oil salesmen everywhere 


[x4] 
People of the lie 

Whatever you believe 
Nobody cares 
Idol worship, made of fantasy 
Don't push your deity on me 

Reality is bullshit 
Reflection is a concept 
Based on your own fucked up ideal 


[x4] 
People of the lie 

Friday, October 21, 2011

OWS Statement

Shoulda done this a while ago.

Official Statement from Occupy Wall Street - this statement was voted on and approved by the general assembly of protesters at Liberty Square: Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
"As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless nonhuman animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press.
They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians supposed to be regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantive profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad.
They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.*
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive."

Money Talks

Is it irony or satire or what?  (hat tip: Democratic Underground)

Biased Media

The contention that "the mainstream media" is slanted toward the Liberal side of the spectrum is a myth that gets exposed on a pretty regular basis.

There's a good long post at Crooks and Liars:
As if to prove the truth of this study, The Hill ran with an amazing headline today:
Poll: Half of Americans believe Obama doesn't deserve reelection
Hmmm. Let's see. If half of Americans believe he doesn't deserve re-election, then that means the other half does, right? Which means that headline could easily have been flipped around to read "Half of Americans believe Obama deserves re-election." And if that headline could have been flipped and wasn't, one might ask why? Here's another way they could have worded it: "Americans evenly split on whether Obama deserves re-election". That would have been neutral, at least.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Another Dead Dictator

Qaddafi is (apparently) dead as of this morning, so the question now is: How will DumFux News manage to give the Repubs most of the credit while still practically denying the very existence of Junior Bush?

Makes Me Wanna Holler

It Takes A While

From prototype to market in less than 20 years - wow.


Introduced at a trade show in Chicago in 1961, this thing featured a flat screen (4 inches thick) and a programmable recorder.

(hat tip The Atlantic)

Sheesh

It would be so good to get back to where we could count on the reporter being as smart as the subject of the interview.


My only recollection of anything even remotely to do with SDS: When I was a sophomore in high school in the fall of 1968, some of the senior footballers declared a random Friday "Chuck Taylor Day". This being in the time of strict dress codes, it was considered quite the rebellion to be wearing your low-cut black Converse tennies outside of gym class. The school administration was so paranoid about this turning into some kind of "SDS-style demonstration" (their words), they became alarmed enough to call the "instigators" into the office and grill them about their motives; wanting desperately to avoid any kind of potentially violent clash.

I can understand being worried over safety issues, and it was 1968 after all, but you can't superimpose today's sensibilities on it. The simplest fact is that they were scared witless by the thought of a few dozen 17-year-olds wearing tennis shoes - that's how threatening the prospect of a little civil disobedience is to authoritarian power.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Poll Of One

There are good reasons not to vote for Obama (Gitmo, Drones, Death Warrants, Torture, etc).  But when I look at the alternatives, I can't justify voting against him.

He knows all that, btw.  He also knows that the Hard-Left Hippies are finally getting a little traction; pulling the whole thing back towards the center - and he knows this is a good thing for him.

I think he's having an FDR moment.  He's been constantly scolded for not doing "what we sent him up there to do", but until recently, all of the real pressure has come from the Repubs and Blue Dogs.  Now that Planet Occupy is kinda up and runnin', he can finally point at something tangible and tell John and Mitch, "See?  The people are making me do this - opposing me will cost you".

Next, I don't think the Repubs have any real chance to glom onto the Occupy thing.  They spent the first 3 weeks trashing it, which has had the effect of putting the Democrats' brand on it.  They know they screwed the pooch and are only now trying to cozy up with it.  I think the Dems have played it about right so far.  They know they'll get more votes from the Occupy folks than the Repubs will get, so it's a matter of working the leverage.

Lastly, if the Dems are careful not to let it look like a co-opting thing, they could benefit in a big way.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Solution Seeks Problem

The need to fight rampant voter fraud is one of those really scary sounding memes the Repubs love to trot out as they try to beat back the tide of Youth and Minority voting that they fervently believe threatens to wash them away at any moment.

Rampant Voter Fraud is also - you guessed it - almost completely baseless.

Here's a good look at the "issue" in The Tennesseean (not exactly a bastion of liberal bias):
“They identified a lot of fraud, but very, very, very, very, very, very little of it could be prevented by identification at the polls,” Levitt said.
The remainder involved vote buying, ballot-box stuffing, problems with absentee ballots, or ex-convicts voting even though laws bar them from doing so. Over the same seven-year time period covered by the cases Levitt reviewed, 400 million votes were cast in general elections.
“If there was evidence of this, we’d know about it,” said Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters. Her organization, which has affiliates in every state, knows voter registrars, attends election meetings, observes and works at polls and is intimately aware of how the election system works.
It's not about protecting the franchise.  It's about keeping people from voting a certain way - in this case for Democrats - and it stinks.  If a big majority (of either party) showed up in some state houses, the electees might grow some balls, step out of line, and then the Lords of Lucre will lose a big measure of control.  And we can't have that now, can we?

Get Rich By Running For Office

I'm not sure I have a huge problem with this, but there is definitely something about it that stinks just a little.
“All candidates publish books and they offer them as premiums to donors, but most candidates aren’t buying them from their own companies,” he said. “It raises the question of his campaign contributions ending up in his own pocket.”
Read all about it over at Bloomburg.

Occupy Dylan Ratigan

Here's an old-ish rant from a Dylan Ratigan show that aired a few months ago.  I dunno if this is really what it's all about, but it's pretty close.  The corrosive influence of money has to be addressed.   And I love the passion - reminds me of what I get criticized for all the time.  I kinda like the overly dramatic soundtrack too.

Signage

(From Occupy Wall Street) A couple of indications that this was definitely not a Tea Party rally:
1) The message is a bit long, so it requires some higher brain function to process the meaning.
2) All the words are spelled right.


Signage

From Occupy Boulder - an important message from an important bunch of voters.  (hat tip to JR)

Monday, October 17, 2011

My Kinda Veteran

As long as the protesters fit the hippie/hipster stereotype, the police can function within a comfortable frame of reference. But throw 'em a curve, and they're lost - it blows their programming all to pieces.

Bunny Hitler

It's a good idea to mock these assholes for a thousand eternities.  This is what hell is about for a nonbeliever like me.  If there's any possibility of an afterlife, then it's important to make sure that every time Adolf tunes in to find out what's happening, what he sees is many many people reiterating what a fuckin' jerk he was.


James Fallows - Again

The guy is fast becoming one of my faves.

Critical of a recent WaPo article, Mr Fallows writes:
- It reflects so thorough an absorption of the idea that the filibuster-threat is normal business that it describes the latest cloture vote as a vote on the bill itself: "Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jon Tester (Mont.), who are both up for reelection next year, took to the Senate floor and delivered a sizeable blow to the bill's prospects by voting against it." No, they voted against the cloture measure, which they knew had zero chance of getting the necessary 60 votes. Several other Democrats with doubts about the bill itself nonetheless were persuaded to vote for cloture, so that it would end up with a symbolic but ineffective 51-vote majority.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Yay James Fallows

From The Atlantic:
'Enabler' problem: The reluctance of the mainstream media to call this what it is, and instead to talk about "partisanship" and "logjam" and "dysfunction." Yes, those are the results. But the cause is intentional, and it comes overwhelmingly from one side.
I tend to read Fallows as a "goodguy conservative".  ie: He has a point of view that's generally "more right-of-center" than mine, but he understands (and has begun insisting) that policies have to be in line with facts and not ideology.

I think I see many more signs that a real shift could be taking place.

Yay David Frum - Kinda

From truthout:
This is not a moment for government to be cutting back. … Right now we’re watching state governments try to balance all of their budgets at the same time in the middle of this crisis. We’ve seen half a million public sector jobs disappear. Now, if these were good times, I would applaud that. We need to see a thinner public sector — especially at the state and local level. But we’re seeing what happens when you do that as an anti-recession measure and you make the recession worse. And even though we’re in a technical recovery, incomes and employment — all of that remains lagging for people — I think that we’ve rediscovered in this crisis something that I think we all knew. Which is, there’s a reason why the people of the 1930s built some kind of minimum guarantee — unemployment insurance, health care coverage and things like that. And it’s not because they wanted to be nice. It’s because in a crisis when people lose their jobs, if there is no social safety net they loose 100 percent of their purchasing power.
Even tho' I agree with him on the basics of keeping Government under control, I've not been much of a fan of Lil Davey Frum because there was always something in the way he spoke that sounded hollow.  The piece from truthout goes a good way to explaining it.  Maybe it's just that it's always good to find out there are others who think like me. Dunno, but Frum has a decent-sized audience, and while he won't be delivering them to the Dems, leading them away from the Extreme Right should be a good thing.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Gentle Reminder

The New Colossus
By Emma Lazarus, 1883

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"


Victoria Jackson - Super Genius

I remain unconvinced that she's not making a fairly lame attempt at satire.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Signage

From my quick trip last Thursday up to DC to check on Occupy K Street.

Elizabeth Warren

I'm a Capitalist because God's a Capitalist.  And I favor regulation because God favors regulation.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Signage

The Jobs Bill

Obama asked the Senate to put aside their rancor for a moment in order to try something that might help get a coupla million Americans a little help finding work.  And the Senate replied:

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tech Solutions For The Revolution

Whenever the rabble get a little riled up and start to do that icky and unsanitary thing called "a protest", the establishment (or powers that be, or whatever you choose to label them) always try to tamp the thing down by interfering with the crowd's ability to communicate.  In Iran and Egypt and practically every other arab state where protests sprang up, the governments took down the internet, or they suspended cellphone service or they blocked twitter - they did whatever they thought would be the most disruptive to the protestors' need to communicate and coordinate.  It's a primary tactic in every conflict, and every government does it whenever they feel threatened.  Remember that the USSR banned fax machines for years, and when they finally allowed them, each machine had to be registered and each transmission was monitored and recorded.  That's how threatening free and open communication is to any government, including here in the good ol' USofA.

Occupy Wall Street has struggled with NYC's prohibition on the use of amplification in public spaces.  Their work-around has been to use humans to relay the speakers' words out to the crowd by simply repeating what the speakers are saying.  Semi-brilliant in that it's organic and cheap and very "community-ish".  I imagine it also tends to work in favor of keeping the oratorical blather to a minimum.

I'm wondering, tho', if maybe there's a better solution that serves the purpose and stays within the law.  What if you just put together a conference call?  One quick pass thru Google and I found a company offering "free" conference calling, allowing up to 1,000 listen-only participants.  If you had a thousand cell phones scattered thru the crowd (on external speaker), it'd be like one of those church services at the old drive-in theater setups.

There must be other tech solutions too.  Get thinkin', you guys.

This Is What You Call A Recovery?

To go along with Bush's Jobless Recovery, now we get Obama's Wageless Recovery.  And it kinda makes sense in a weird, Compendium-of-Official-Horse-Shit kind of way.  We already have the Non-Denial Denial, and the Non-Apology Apology - now we can add the Non-Recovery Recovery.

NYT
Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study by two former Census Bureau officials. During the recession — from December 2007 to June 2009 — household income fell 3.2 percent.
It gets harder and harder for me to justify voting for Obama again.  I'll probably stick with him because the alternative (so far) just seems too terrible to contemplate.  That could change tho'.  Everybody has to decide; at what point are you willing just to let the fuckin' thing burn?

OWS Statement

Oo-rah

And what would you like to say to Sean Hannity?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Megan And Me

Megan McArdle in The Atlantic:

I spent quite a lot of time on the "We are the 99%" website last night and this morning. There's been a considerable amount of carping about it from the conservative side, and to be sure, some of the stories strain plausibility (the percentage of people in the sample who have either taken up prostitution, or claim to have seriously considered doing so, seems rather high, for instance, and as far as I could tell, not a single person on the site had been fired for cause). Many of the people complaining made all sorts of bad decisions about having children, getting very expensive "fun" degrees, and so forth.

But quibbling rather misses the point. These are people who are terrified, and their terror is easy to understand. Jobs are hard to come by, and while you might well argue that any of these individuals could find a job if they did something different, in aggregate, there are not enough job openings to absorb our legion of unemployed.

When the gap between the number of job openings and the number of people who are out of work is so large, there are going to be a hefty number of unemployed people. Maybe these people individually could have done more to get themselves out of their situation, but at the macro level, that would just have meant that someone else was out of work and suffering.

I think it's hard to read through this list of woes without feeling both sympathy, and a healthy dose of fear. Take all the pot shots you want at people who thought that a $100,000 BFA was supposed to guarantee them a great job--beneath the occasionally grating entitlement is the visceral terror of someone in a bad place who doesn't know what to do. Having found myself in the same place ten years ago, I can't bring myself to sneer. No matter how inflated your expectations may have been, it is no joke to have your confidence that you can support yourself ripped away, and replaced with the horrifying realization that you don't really understand what the rules are. Yes, even if you have a nose ring.

I'm not sure that this constitutes the seeds of a political movement, however. For all the admiring talk about bravery and perseverance, it's not really al that difficult to get young, unemployed people to spend a couple of weeks camping out somewhere. They have a low cost of time, they're in no danger, and yes, I have to say it, demonstrating is fun. No, don't tut-tut me. I was at the ACT-UP die-ins, the pro-choice marches, the "Sleep Out for the Homeless" events and the "Take Back the Night" vigils. It's fun, especially when you can see yourself on television. This is not the Montgomery bus boycott we're talking about here.

So my question is, how does this coalesce into a broader platform? Does someone have a coherent, plausible answer for someone whose pricey liberal arts degree has not equipped them for a tough job market? And is it a coherent, plausible answer that they will believe? I don't think those kids in Zucotti park are waiting to hear about QE3 and the American Jobs Act.

My posted comment:

Nice try, Ms McArdle.
Was this supposed to make yourself sound almost human? ("Many of the people complaining made all sorts of bad decisions about having children, getting very expensive "fun" degrees, and so forth.") 

And almost kinda bright? ("When the gap between the number of job openings and the number of people who are out of work is so large, there are going to be a hefty number of unemployed people.")

They pay you for this?

Let's be really clear on a couple of points. First, the people who do the hiring and set the policies in practically every business are not overly troubled at the prospect of having 15 or 30 or 100 applicants for every job posted, because it means they can pick up some pretty great talent at ridiculously low prices. It's called Free Market Economics, and it's exactly the kind of Labor Market most of the big players have been working towards for at least 30 years. Do you have any research help at all, or do you simply choose to ignore it?

Second, your little puff piece here is a classic example of how you Press Poodles have become completely disconnected from what's happening. Mocking the choices people make does nothing about the effects of those choices. You say you don't want to sneer at these people, and then you sneer at them anyway. Typical of the snobbery of Corporate Media, you build a false reality by trying to substitute 'what if' for what actually is.

Also typical - your reporting is so lousy that your analysis has no credibility at all.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Strategy Revealed

It feels a little paranoid, but given the fact that beating Obama in 2012 has been identified in public and on the record by more than one prominent Repub as pretty much the only thing that matters, I think it's not unreasonable to put a couple of things together, and to reach a conclusion (or at least postulate) that Repubs are willing to fuck us all over just to have a shot at getting Obama out of office.


The simplest explanation is that while Obama's signature measure to boost the economy has had fairly significant positive results in terms of Net New Jobs, the Repubs (who control enough State Governments to make a difference) have been busy laying off enough public sector workers to make the gains in the private sector look far less impressive.

Friday, October 7, 2011

USA USA USA

A return to the bad old days of Protectionism, and of Unions that were too big and too powerful isn't a good idea either.  So don't try to play that binary bullshit on me.  What I'm talking about is making an effort to get some sanity and balance back into the system.

Legislative / Judicial / Executive
Management / Labor / Government
Company / Customer / Vendor

Ya gotta have balance.  If you let any part(s) of any system overwhelm the other(s), then the system becomes unstable.

The guiding principle is that when anything becomes too big and too powerful, it has to be beaten down and brought back into balance.  I'm pretty sure that's what American Exceptionalism is supposed to be.  All of history before the USA was about playing and replaying all that imperial crap; "we're God's chosen people"  Well shit, how many empires were "chosen by God" before us?  How many of them are still around?  Is God just really lousy at choosing empires?

I'm pretty sure the people who started this country had the same ideas that occur to me, and they tried to set up a system aimed at resisting the temptations of power; to make it as hard as possible for any one entity to dominate the others; to ensure that we'd at least have the means to prevent the ruinous drift back into monarchy and empire if only we could muster the will.

Over time, of course, people forget.  We get sold on a different idea of how it's supposed to be.  Politicians and Marketeers blur the lines and turn meanings upside down.  We end up believing it's our patriotic duty to support policies that do damage to our founding principles.

And now we have giant multi-national Mega-Corporations taking the place of the old lines-on-a-map Nation States.  (This is nothing new, btw)  People who sit at the top of these Mega-Corps are not called Barons or Captains or Kings for the hell of it, or because it makes them seem quaint or whimsical.  We call them Barons and Captains and Kings because that's how their organizations function, and that's what they are.

300 years ago, Nation States were family-owned private enterprise military organizations that subcontracted out for food, clothing, shelter and trade goods in exchange for protection.  Whenever one of those contractors pushed a little too far into somebody else's territory, the Crown would try to hold up its end of the bargain by invading or otherwise making war on somebody to protect the interests of the merchants, which were in turn, the interests of the Crown.  Government and Business both gradually morphed away from the Inherited Entitlement System towards a more egalitarian system, but there's always a kind of gravitational pull; always something inside us that wants us to return to what our faulty and selective memories perceive as a better time; fueled by the relentless energy of profit-at-any-cost (an oxymoron if ever there was one).  We have to resist that backslide, and remember always that good people continue to fight and bleed and die - sometimes for the noble cause, but mostly for the good of the multi-national companies, and to further the interests of an Entitled Aristocracy that is again coming to believe it owns the government - and owns it by God-given right.

If you want the power, you have to take the power.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I try never to be unaware of boobies, but I truly appreciate the concept of a whole month dedicated to them; when it's more or less OK to tell women how much you love those beautiful secondary gender characteristics.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Yo, Thumpers

Art Of The Deal

Dad: I want you to marry a girl I've chosen for you.
Son: No way.
Dad: She's Bill Gates' daughter.
Son: Well, in that case, sure.

-- Dad goes to Bill Gates --
Dad: I want your daughter to marry my son.
Gates: Nope.
Dad: But my son is CEO of World Bank.
Gates: That's different - OK.

-- Dad goes to the Chairman of World Bank --
Dad: I want you to appoint my son CEO.
Pres: No way.
Dad: He's about to become Bill Gate's son-in-law.
Pres: By all means then.

And that's how shit gets done.

Corporate Media

Things are changing pretty fast.  We're becoming more aware that some things we've been told over and over for the last 20 years are total bullshit.  Like the notion that we have a free press.  The press is not free - it's owned and operated by big corporate interests, just like practically everything else in this country.  Another one is the lie about "the liberal press".  Take a quick look at the utter contradiction at work here.  Corporations are anything but liberal (most of them anyway), so I'll bet you dollars to dog shit that the people who run those corporations aren't voting for a lot of "Lefties"; and they're going to use the very powerful tools at their disposal to shape a narrative that makes the political climate favorable to themselves and their Corporate Clients (ie: Cronies)

From Wonkette, via Balloon Juice:

Mainstream

Has anyone ever heard either Roger Ailes or Rush Limbaugh say that their organizations present a general viewpoint that ISN'T widely-held?  Don't they at least intimate that their political bent is in agreement with a big majority of the American people?

How do these bozos get away with bitchin' about "the mainstream media" when they ARE the mainstream media?

We Are So Fucked

Campaign Finance has to change if we're ever going to get anything that remotely resembles what American Democracy is supposed to be.

From The Atlantic:
"This may be the first presidential election where we really have no idea who's funding the campaigns until it's too late," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "By January 31, the first five primaries will be done, the nomination process could be all but over, and we'll just be finding out where most of the money came from."

Monday, October 3, 2011

Payback's A Bitch

Don't Let The Bastards Get Ya Down

But Is It Real?

We hear and see what want to hear and see.

It's A Problem

Part of the bigger problem of "they're all alike" and "both sides do it" is Obama's pursuit of the terrorist bad guys, and the use of drones to kill them.  Bush put the program together and now, under Obama, the operators seem to have refined it to a very sharp point.  And that's usually at the heart of this kind of problem.  We develop these deadly capabilities without regard for the legal ramifications, and then we find it almost impossible not to use them in the face of political pressures.

I think we can see the standard political calculation going on here too.  Obama kills terrorists (and sympathizers - and some innocents as well) while ignoring the niceties of due process because he figures he gains more against his political enemies than he loses among his friends.  It's cynical, and I don't like it, and I'm sitting here every day rationalizing it away because I support Obama on most other issues; plus I can't stand the thought of putting any of the current crop of Repubs in power.

This really sucks.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Exactly

If they're not as deliberately ignorant as they seem to be, why are they constantly providing evidence that they are?