Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fox News Smackdown Sunday

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit one of my best friends. We are approximately the same age. His computer was hosed and really needed some attention. We had dinner, looked out the sliding glass doors at the beautiful view over the Saco River and then while I had a sub-routine running and time to wait, we went into the TV room. Fox News was the default channel when he turned on the TV. I am somewhat used to this as my neighborhood is mostly conservative, but then as the lies, hate and vitriol spewed forth I could not stand it. I rose from my chair and wondered aloud how he could submit himself to such aggregious bullshit day after day? Oh no, he said - Fox News is the most trusted news in America. Well... that put me right into a tizzy. My voice raised, I pointed out many, many problems with that statement. He tried to console me, said that Fox always shows both points of view... Eyes blazing, I told him that is like the Blues Brothers being told that the customers like both kinds of music... Country and Western... so they are a diverse crowd. I was in a blind rage. Fox News is the enemy of all that is good in this country. The rest of the argument went as could be expected... I ended up looking like an angry, crazed, liberal.

I am a peaceful person for the most part - the whole "Fox News" subject really strikes a chord with me. I cannot think of a more harmful organization to our democracy than Fox News. A corporate terrorist cell within our own borders.

Now think about this... I tried to explain to my friend that Fox News is not even an American company! Murdock is Australian and his largest investor is Saudi. He wouldn't hear of it. "No effin' way!!", he said.

Well... read 'em and weep: Saudi billionaire eyes new links with News Corp

CAIRO – The Saudi billionaire whose investment firm is one of the biggest
stakeholders in Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. said he is looking to expand his
alliances with the media giant, in the latest indication that his appetite for
growth remains robust even as his company retrenches.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a nephew of the Saudi king and who was
listed last year by Forbes as the world's 22nd richest person, met with News
Corp.'s chief executive Rupert Murdoch on Jan. 14 in a meeting that "touched
upon future potential alliances with News Corp.," according to a statement
released by his Kingdom Holding Co. late Saturday.

Kingdom Holding's statement said Alwaleed is already the second largest
stakeholder in News Corp., with 5.7 percent of the shares of the media company.
The stake is held through Kingdom Holding, in which Alwaleed holds a 95 percent

OK - so the facts are the facts but the fingers in the ears Repugs are in deep denial.

How about some Paul Krugman standing up to Roger (Jabba the Hut) Ailes on ABC?

via FDL

And with the latest ruling from the SCROTUS.. Ailes and Alwaleed bin Talal will have even more power over our electoral process.

OUTLAW Fox News now. Just do it.

I Heard it was Darth Cheney's Birthday Saturday - where is the proof?

Where is the Birth Certificate?

Anyway... here is my choice for a birthday ensemble, meatshorts with a bacon bra.
Do they fit? Oh yes, you look fabulous!

I didn't tell him that I had another special gift, particularly poignant, one that he has always wanted...

A vicious, hungry Warg... oh, wait.. the meatclothes.. careful Dick... he looks hungry! Look out!!!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

More Randian Class Bullshit from David Brooks - Taken Apart by Matt Taibbi

I don't know about you, but I am ready to duke it out with the "upper class". I know I could take David Brooks, Sam Alito, Tim Geithner or any of those wealthy assholes any day of the week. If it's a class war they want, lets give it to them... and bring the guillotine.

Populism: Just Like Racism! by Matt Taibbi

"It’s easy to see why politicians would be drawn to the populist pose. First, it makes everything so simple. The economic crisis was caused by a complex web of factors, including global populist narrative, you can just blame Goldman Sachs."

via Op-Ed Columnist – The Populist Addiction –

"Normally one would have to be in the grip of a narcissistic psychosis to think that a columnist for the New York Times has written an article for your personal benefit. But after his latest article in the Times, in which he compares the “populism” of people who “blame Goldman Sachs” with exactly the sort of racist elitism I ripped him for last week, I think David Brooks might be trying to talk to me."

"I think that’s at least part of what’s going on in his latest column, which is odd. If I were in his position, I probably would have punched me in the nose for the shot I took at him last week, but the response of David Brooks to being called out as a racist weenie is to write a passionate defense of the rich, one that includes the admonition that while blaming the wealthy is easy and feels fun, truly wise men should “tolerate the excesses of traders.”

"I don’t want to get into the position of fixating on one guy for personal reasons. Obviously I’ve done too much of that with Brooks already, and I absolutely promise to give that part of it a rest for a good long while after this."

"But leaving aside any discussion of Brooks the human being, this latest column of his is something that has to be discussed. The propagandistic argument he makes about the dangers of “populism” is spelled out here as clearly as you’ll ever see it expressed in print, and this exact thing is a key reason why so much of the corruption that went on on Wall Street in the past few decades was allowed to spread unchecked."

"That’s because this argument is tacitly accepted by almost everyone in our business, and most particularly is internalized in the thinking of most newspaper editors and TV news producers, who over time develop an ingrained habitual fear of publishing material that seems hysterical or angry."

"This certainly has an effect on the content of news reporting, but perhaps even more importantly, it impacts the tone of news coverage, where outrages are covered without outrage, and stories that are not particularly “balanced” in reality — stories that for instance are quite plainly about one group of people screwing another group of people — become transformed into cool, “objective” news stories in which both the plainly bogus version of events and the real and infuriating version are given equal weight."

"Brooks lays out the crux of his case his case in his first three grafs of his article:
Politics, some believe, is the organization of hatreds. The people who try to divide society on the basis of ethnicity we call racists. The people who try to divide it on the basis of religion we call sectarians. The people who try to divide it on the basis of social class we call either populists or elitists."

"These two attitudes — populism and elitism — seem different, but they’re really mirror images of one another. They both assume a country fundamentally divided. They both describe politics as a class struggle between the enlightened and the corrupt, the pure and the betrayers."

"Both attitudes will always be with us, but these days populism is in vogue. The Republicans have their populists. Sarah Palin has been known to divide the country between the real Americans and the cultural elites. And the Democrats have their populists. Since the defeat in Massachusetts, many Democrats have apparently decided that their party has to mimic the rhetoric of John Edwards’s presidential campaign. They’ve taken to dividing the country into two supposedly separate groups — real Americans who live on Main Street and the insidious interests of Wall Street."

"Now, there’s bullshit all up and down this lede. The first lie he tells involves describing everyone who is a critic of Wall Street as a populist. It’s sort of a syllogism he’s getting into here:
All people who criticize Wall Street are populists."

"All populists think of themselves as enlightened and pure, and are primarily interested in dividing society, the same way racists do. Therefore, all people who criticize Wall Street are primarily interested in dividing society, just like racists."

"This is obnoxious on so many levels it’s almost difficult to know where to start. As for the populism label, let me quote the Alison Porchnik character from Annie Hall (Woody’s first wife, in the movie): “I love being reduced to a cultural stereotype.”

"Brooks here is trying to say that by criticizing, say, Goldman Sachs for mass thievery — criticizing a bank for selling billions of dollars worth of worthless subprime mortgage-backed securities mismarked as investment grade deals, for getting the taxpayer to pay them 100 cents on the dollar for their billions in crap investments with AIG, for forcing hundreds of millions of people to pay inflated gas and food prices when they manipulated the commodities market and helped push oil to a preposterous $149 a barrel, and for paying massive bonuses after receiving billions upon billions in public support even beyond the TARP — that in criticizing the bank for doing these things, people like me are primarily interested in being divisive and “organizing hatreds.”

"He is also saying that by making these criticisms, people like me are by implication making statements about our own moral purity and enlightenment relative to others. He goes on:
It’s easy to see why politicians would be drawn to the populist pose. First, it makes everything so simple. The economic crisis was caused by a complex web of factors, including global imbalances caused by the rise of China. But with the populist narrative, you can just blame Goldman Sachs.
Second, it absolves voters of responsibility for their problems. Over the past few years, many investment bankers behaved like idiots, but so did average Americans, racking up unprecedented levels of personal debt. With the populist narrative, you can accuse the former and absolve the latter."

"Stuff like this makes me want to scream. If I’m writing about a bank that took a half-billion worth of mortgages where the average amount of equity in the home was less than 1%, and where 58% of the mortgages had no documentation, and then sold those mortgage-backed securities as investment-grade opportunities to pensions and other suckers — and then bet against the same kind of stuff they were enthusiastically selling to other people — is Brooks seriously suggesting that I also have to point out that the Chinese economy was doing well at the time?"

"Yeah, okay, the rise of China is a factor in the overall decline of the American economy, but it has nothing to do with the Goldman story, which is a specific crime story about a specific bank. If I’m writing about a gang of car thieves, what, we’re supposed to also mention that the endive crop was weak in that part of the country that year? What the fuck? And this whole business about how criticizing Goldman absolves voters — Jesus, how primitive can you get? Using that logic, criticizing anyone for anything is invalid:

ME: Well, Ike Turner was sort of a dick because he used to get high and punch his wife in the face all the time…

BROOKS: But it’s so easy to say that.

ME: It’s easy to say that a guy who punches his wife in the face is a jerk? (Scratching head) Well… I guess you’re right about that. Would you like me to say it while juggling three chainsaws? Would it be harder to say then, and would you have less of a problem with it?

BROOKS: But by criticizing Ike Turner, you’re absolving all the people who do other bad things. Like purse-snatchers in Central Park, and those kids who keyed my Lexus, and all those baseball players who took steroids! Rafael Palmeiro lied to congress! What about them?

ME: Dude, are you okay? Your pupils look dilated.

BROOKS: You’re absolving Mark McGwire! The single-season home run record is a fraud!

ME: (backing away slowly toward the door) Okay, yeah, sure. Listen, I’ll catch up with you later, okay? I’ve got to return some videotapes.

"And so on. The entire argument is literally this nonsensical. If Brooks disagrees with criticism of banks like Goldman, he has a fantastic platform to point out where those criticisms are incorrect. The best platform there is, in fact. But not only does he not go in that direction, he does just the opposite — he concedes that these criticisms are basically true, and chooses instead to argue against the wisdom of making those criticisms, apparently because “bashing the rich” will make them less inclined to “channel opportunity to new groups.” The emphasis in this next excerpt is mine: So it’s easy to see the seductiveness of populism. Nonetheless, it nearly always fails. The history of populism, going back to William Jennings Bryan, is generally a history of defeat.

"That’s because voters aren’t as stupid as the populists imagine. Voters are capable of holding two ideas in their heads at one time: First, that the rich and the powerful do rig the game in their own favor; and second, that simply bashing the rich and the powerful will still not solve the country’s problems."

"Political populists never get that second point. They can’t seem to grasp that a politics based on punishing the elites won’t produce a better-educated work force, more investment, more innovation or any of the other things required for progress and growth."

"In fact, this country was built by anti-populists. It was built by people like Alexander Hamilton and Abraham Lincoln who rejected the idea that the national economy is fundamentally divided along class lines. They rejected the zero-sum mentality that is at the heart of populism, the belief that economics is a struggle over finite spoils. Instead, they believed in a united national economy — one interlocking system of labor, trade and investment."

"Hamilton championed capital markets and Lincoln championed banks, not because they loved traders and bankers. They did it because they knew a vibrant capitalist economy would maximize opportunity for poor boys like themselves. They were willing to tolerate the excesses of traders because they understood that no institution is more likely to channel opportunity to new groups and new people than vigorous financial markets."

"What’s so ironic about this is that Brooks, in arguing against class warfare, and trying to present himself as someone who is above making class distinctions, is making an argument based entirely on the notion that there is an lower class and an upper class and that the one should go easy on the other because the best hope for collective prosperity is the rich creating wealth for all. This is the same Randian bullshit that we’ve been hearing from people like Brooks for ages and its entire premise is really revolting and insulting — this idea that the way society works is that the productive ” rich” feed the needy “poor,” and that any attempt by the latter to punish the former for “excesses” might inspire Atlas to Shrug his way out of town and leave the helpless poor on their own to starve."

"That’s basically Brooks’s entire argument here. Yes, the rich and powerful do rig the game in their own favor, and yes, they are guilty of “excesses” — but fucking deal with it, if you want to eat."

"And the really funny thing about Brooks’s take on populists… I mean, I’m a member of the same Yuppie upper class that Brooks belongs to. I can’t speak for the other “populists” that Brooks might be referring to, but in my case for sure, my attitude toward the likes of Lloyd Blankfein and Hank Paulson has nothing to do with class anger."

"I don’t hate these guys because they’re rich and went to fancy private schools. Hell, I’m rich and went to a fancy private school. I look at these people as my cultural peers and what angers me about them is that, with many coming from backgrounds similar to mine, these guys chose to go into a life of crime and did so in a way that is going to fuck things up for everyone, rich and poor, for a generation."

"Their decision to rig the markets for their own benefit is going to cause other countries to completely lose confidence in the American economy, it will impact the dollar, and ultimately will make all of us involuntary debtors to whichever state we end up having to borrow from to bail these crimes out."

"And from my perspective, what makes these guys more compelling as a journalistic subject than, say, the individual homeowner who took on too much debt is a thing that has nothing to do with class, not directly, anyway. It’s that their “excesses” exist in a nexus of political and economic connections that makes them very difficult to police."

"We have at least some way of dealing with the average guy who doesn’t pay his debts — in fact our government has shown remarkable efficiency in passing laws like the bankruptcy bill that attack that particular problem, and of course certain banks always have the option of not lending that money (and I won’t even get into the many different ways that the banks themselves bear responsibility for all the easy credit that was handed out in recent years)."

"But the kinds of things that went on at Goldman and other investment banks, in many cases there are not even laws on the books to deal with these things. In some cases what we’re talking about is the highly complicated merger of crime and policy, of stealing and government, which is both fascinating from a journalistic point of view and ought to be terrifying from the point of view of any citizen, rich or poor."

"And even if I were to accept the Brooksian view of an upper class that must be looked to to fix things and take care of the lower classes and create the needed wealth to help us escape our economic crisis, the whole point is that this upper class he is talking about has abdicated that very responsibility — and, perhaps having reached the cynical conclusion that our society is not worth saving, has taken on a new mission that involves not creating wealth for all but simply absconding with whatever wealth is remaining."

"It’s not pessimism or “combative divisiveness” to talk about these problems and insist that they get fixed. On the contrary, it’s a very positive view of what citizenship is to believe that everyone has a real role in fixing his country’s problems, and that when we identify problems, we should try to do something about them because we might actually succeed."

"On the other hand, telling oneself that when powerful people “rig the game” one should just tolerate it, because one’s best hope for seeing the situation fixed rests in hoping those same powerful people fix it themselves — I would describe that as pessimism, or something worse than pessimism. The whole point of America is that we are all supposed to be our own masters, never viewing anyone as being by birth or situation inherently better or more capable than ourselves, and so the notion of relying upon some nebulous class of investment bankers to “channel opportunity” from on high strikes me as being un-American."

"And besides, the fact that a lot of these guys have made a lot of money recently doesn’t make them “upper class.” They’re the same assholes we all were in high school and college, except that they made some very particular moral choices in adulthood, and became criminals, and have now arranged things so that they’re going to be tough as hell to catch. And when they fall, which a lot of them will… I mean a lot of these guys are ten seconds from losing it all and spending the next ten years working the laundry room at Danbury or pushing shopping carts under the FDR expressway. And they know it. These people aren’t the nobility. They’re people just like us, only stupider and less ashamed of themselves."

That’s not a class story. It’s a crime story, and it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with China

Monday, January 25, 2010

NewsFlash to the 'baggers - The Founding Fathers Were Against Big Corporations!

What do we always hear from the likes of Glenn (the humble rodeo clown) Beck, Sarah (I like all of them) Palin and the rest of the obviously under-educated 'baggers.. "The Founding Fathers this... and, The Founding Fathers that..." ad nauseum, but hey, what about the REAL Founding Fathers of Jersey Shore... eh?

Here's what they had to say about corporations:

The Founding Fathers Did Not Want Large Corporations
From The Daily Seminal (FDL) by Jim Moss (emphasis added)

"Many proponents of the free market defend our current system of corporate-based capitalism as if it descended directly from heaven into the pen of Adam Smith and then onto the hearts of our all-knowing Founding Fathers. An investigation of the history of the corporation, however, reveals a much
different story.

"The first corporations appeared in Europe in the 16th and 17th
centuries and were chartered by governments for specific public
missions. The largest and most powerful of these early corporations
was The East India Company founded by Queen Elizabeth in 1600 to
facilitate trade between England and her colonies. At the height of its
power, The East India Company held economic control over 1/5 of world’s
population and maintained a private army of over 250,000 soldiers. Unjust
taxation policies favoring this company insured that the crown, and not the
colonists themselves, reaped the benefits from the colonies’ natural wealth and

"During the 18th century, Enlightenment ideals began to challenge the power of monarchies and corporations, and the power of the queen’s corporation began to fade. The Boston Tea Party of 1773 signaled not only a victory over the economic tyranny of the East India Company, it also helped pave the way for the political uprising known as the American Revolution. Also around this time, Adam Smith published the Wealth of Nations, arguing for free market economics, but against the concept of large corporations, claiming that they limit fair competition among smaller-sized merchants and artisans."

"When the United States gained its independence in 1776, there were 336
corporations in the United States, but most had been chartered by state
governments for specific public works projects. The Founding Fathers, still
mindful of the crushing power once wielded by the East India Company, severly
limited the power of corporations
and never would have dreamed of nor
allowed the trans-national behemoths we see today. In fact, the original
limitations seem laughable when we consider our modern corporations -

More here, please take a look it's well worth a minute.

And from Thom Hartmann:

The Real Boston Tea Party was Against the Wal-Mart of the 1770s

"...The real Boston Tea Party was a protest against huge corporate tax cuts for the British East India Company, the largest trans-national corporation then in existence. This corporate tax cut threatened to decimate small Colonial businesses by helping the BEIC pull a Wal-Mart against small entrepreneurial tea shops, and individuals began a revolt that kicked-off a series of events that ended in the creation of The United States of America."

"They covered their faces, massed in the streets, and destroyed the
property of a giant global corporation. Declaring an end to global trade run by
the East India Company that was destroying local economies, this small, masked
minority started a revolution with an act of rebellion later called the Boston
Tea Party."

"That is how I tell the story of the Boston Tea Party, now that I have read
a first-person account of it. While striving to understand my nation’s struggles
against corporations, in a rare book store I came upon a first edition of “Retrospect
of the Boston Tea Party with a Memoir of George R.T. Hewes, a Survivor of the
Little Band of Patriots Who Drowned the Tea in Boston Harbor in 1773,”
and I
jumped at the chance to buy it."

"As I read, I began to understand the true causes of the American Revolution.
I learned that the Boston Tea Party resembled in many ways the
growing modern-day protests against transnational corporations and small-town
efforts to protect themselves from chain-store retailers or factory farms. The
Tea Party’s participants thought of themselves as protesters against the actions
of the multinational East India Company. "

"Although schoolchildren are usually taught that the American Revolution was a rebellion against “taxation without representation,” akin to modern day conservative taxpayer revolts, in fact what led to the revolution was rage against a transnational corporation that, by the 1760s, dominated trade from China to India to the Caribbean, and controlled nearly all commerce to and from North America, with subsidies and special dispensation from the British crown."

Hewes notes:

“The [East India] Company received permission to transport tea, free of all
duty, from Great Britain to America…” allowing it to wipe out New England–based
tea wholesalers and mom-and-pop stores and take over the tea business in all of

“Hence,” wrote, “it was no longer the small vessels of private merchants,
who went to vend tea for their own account in the ports of the colonies, but, on
the contrary, ships of an enormous burthen, that transported immense quantities
of this commodity … The colonies were now arrived at the decisive moment when
they must cast the dye, and determine their course … ”

"A pamphlet was circulated through the colonies called The
and signed by an enigmatic “Rusticus.” One issue made clear the
feelings of colonial Americans about England’s largest transnational corporation
and its behavior around the world: “Their Conduct in Asia, for some Years past,
has given simple Proof, how little they regard the Laws of Nations, the Rights,
Liberties, or Lives of Men."

"They have levied War, excited Rebellions, dethroned lawful Princes, and
sacrificed Millions for the Sake of Gain. The Revenues of Mighty Kingdoms have
entered their Coffers. And these not being sufficient to glut their Avarice,
they have, by the most unparalleled Barbarities, Extortions, and Monopolies,
stripped the miserable Inhabitants of their Property, and reduced whole
Provinces to Indigence and Ruin. Fifteen hundred Thousands, it is said, perished
by Famine in one Year, not because the Earth denied its Fruits; but [because]
this Company and their Servants engulfed all the Necessaries of Life, and set
them at so high a Price that the poor could not purchase them.”

"The citizens of the colonies were preparing to throw off one of the
corporations that for almost 200 years had determined nearly every aspect of
their lives through its economic and political power. They were planning to
destroy the goods of the world’s largest multinational corporation, intimidate
its employees, and face down the guns of the government that supported it."

Please, read the rest here

Sounds familiar doesn't it? I like to say, "How many dollars left 'till the revolution?" How long will we let trans-national corporations push us around through our elected representitives until we do something? How broke and indentured do we have to get as a people until we realize, as a whole, that corporations do not have our best interest at heart? What will it take to get the truth out to the teabaggers, and arm those crazy bastards in indian garb and throw the Fox News - Rush Limbaugh conservatives the hell overboard?

Thom Hartmann is one of my heroes. This is some of his best work. Now riddle me this, batblog... How come the corporate right was able to usurp the message of the original Tea Party movement to advance their "populist" cause? Hmmm... could it be that education has taken a sound beating over the last 30 years producing some of the least educated Americans ever? Could it be the dumbing down of the Television-watching public through stupid media with subtle messaging? Or the overt overthrow of local education boards by know-nothing board members like in Texas? Or maybe the Right-wing takeover of the news media outlets by corporate villagers, always trying to gain advertisers (corporate) money and access through propagandizing?

Whatever the cause.. we, the American people are like the frogs in the ever-warming corporate bath, soon to be boiled in the corporate/facist takeover of our dear and wonderful country. Especially after the SCOTUS ruling of Jan. 21, 2010. We won't even feel it...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I Get The "Same 'Ol Blues" (the year after we elect a Democratic majority)

Now Get Back to Work

No, you can't have a pony, or Health-care, or Financial Reform, or Labor Reform, or a Middle Class where the government stands between you and the short-term profit driven corporate aristocracy.. none of it!! Get used to it. What? Level the playing field for average citizens against multi-national corporations? In your dreams, peon.

The ol' greendayman has been out of commission lately and needed a break from the veritable plethora of bad news floating across my monitor. I cannot believe how badly the Dems are handling governing this country. A new outrage almost daily last week finally drew me out of my stupor.

Well... as they say - when the going gets tough the tough get going... or much betterer from Dr. Thompson - "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Time to step it up a notch.

Watchdog groups warn: ‘Corporate globalization’ of US elections is upon us

From RawStory:

""The Supreme Court may have ruled in Citizens United v.
Federal Election Commission
days ago, but the decision's shockwaves are
still rippling across American democracy."

"Key among them is a concern first raised by Justice John Paul Stevens,
who wrote in his dissent that the court, by removing all prohibitions against
corporate or union money in U.S. elections, "would appear to afford the same
protection to multinational corporations controlled by foreigners as to
individual Americans."

This is a truly frightening development for any American with a 6th grade level grasp of US Government. I Guess "big" John Cornyn must have slept through that class:

Cornyn: Effect of Supreme Court campaign finance ruling ‘overstated’

Again from Rawstory:

"I think [the impact has] been overstated," Cornyn (R-TX) told Fox News' Chris Wallace.

Apparently Cornyn thinks that contributions to campaigns by individual
donors is more of a threat than unchecked money from large corporations.
"Frankly, there has been an explosion of money into federal races for public
office since, well, in the last ten years since campaign finance reform. It
hasn't done anything to stop the flow of money in," he said.

Yeah, damn those DFH's and their individual $25.00 contributions.

Well... dare we consider that there is still a shred of decency in the
world of politics? Will all the pols cave to the promise of unlimited
funding for campaign messaging?

Not this guy:

Grayson: Fight now or ‘kiss your country goodbye’ to Exxon, Wal-Mart

"Responding to the Supreme Court's ruling Thursday to overturn corporate
spending limits in federal elections, progressive firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) immediately
highlighted a series of moves to "avoid the terrible consequences of the

"If we do nothing then I think you can kiss your country
goodbye," Grayson told Raw Story in an interview just hours after the decision
was announced.

"You won't have any more senators from Kansas or Oregon,
you'll have senators from Cheekies and Exxon. Maybe we'll have to wear corporate
logos like Nascar drivers."

Grayson said the Citizens United v. Federal
Election Commission ruling
-- which removes decades of campaign spending
limits on corporations -- "opens
the floodgates for the purchases and sale
of the law."

Read the rest here, well worth it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I'm a fighting liberal

By Steve Gilliard (H/T to Driftglass)

I'm a fighting liberal You know, I've studied history, I've read about America and you know something, if it weren't for liberals, we'd be living in a dark, evil country, far worse than anything Bush could conjure up. A world where children were told to piss on the side of the road because they weren't fit to pee in a white outhouse, where women had to get back alley abortions and where rape was a joke, unless the alleged criminal was black, whereupon he was hung from a tree and castrated.

What has conservatism given America? A stable social order? A peaceful homelife? Respect for law and order? No. Hell, no. It hasn't given us anything we didn't have and it wants to take away our freedoms.

The Founding Fathers, as flawed as they were, slaveowners and pornographers, smugglers and terrorists, understood one thing, a man's path to God needed no help from the state. Is the religion of these conservatives so fragile that they need the state to prop it up, to tell us how to pray and think? Is that what they stand for? Is that their America? Conservatism plays on fear and thrives on lies and dishonesty. I grew up with honest, decent conservatives and those people have been replaced by the party of greed. It is one thing to want less government interference and smaller, fiscally responsible government. It is another thing entirely to be a corporate whore, selling out to the highest bidder because the CEO fattens your campaign chest.

They are building an America which cannot be sustained. One based on the benefit of the few at the cost of the many. The indifferent boss who hires too few people and works them to death or until they break down sick. Cheap labor capitalism has replaced common sense. "Globalism" which is really guise for exploitation, replaced fair trade, which is nothing like fair for the trapped semi-slaves of the maquliadoras. In the Texas border towns, hundreds of these women have been used as sex slaves and then apparently killed,the FBI powerless to do anything as the criminals sit in Mexico untouched by law. For the better part of a decade, the conservatives made liberal a dirty word. Well, it isn't. It represents the best and most noble nature of what America stands for: equitable government services, old age pensions, health care, education, fair trials and humane imprisonment.

It is the heart and soul of what made American different and better than other countries. Not only an escape from oppression, but the opportunity to thrive in land free of tradition and the repression that can bring. We offered a democracy which didn't enshrine the rich and made them feel they had an obligation to their workers. Bush and the people around him disdain that. They think, by accident of birth and circumstance, they were meant to rule the world and those who did not agree would suffer. Liberal does not and has not meant weak until the conservatives said it did. Was Martin Luther King weak? Bobby Kennedy? Gene McCarthy? It was the liberals who remade this country and ended legal segregation and legal sexism. Not the conservatives, who wanted to hold on to the old ways.

It's time to regain the sprit of FDR and Truman and the people around them. People who believed in the public good over private gain. It is time to stop apologizing for being a liberal and be proud to fight for your beliefs. No more shying away or being defined by other people. Liberals believe in a strong defense and punishment for crime. But not preemption and pointless jail sentences. We believe no American should be turned away from a hospital because they are too poor or lack a proper legal defense.

We believe that people should make enough from one job to live on, to spend time on raising their family. We believe that individuals and not the state should dictate who gets married and why. The best way to defend marriage is to expand, not restrict it. It was the liberals who opposed the Nazis while the conservatives were plotting to get their brown shirts or fund Hitler. It was the liberals who warned about Spain and fought there, who joined the RAF to fight the Germans, who brought democracy to Germany and Japan. Let us not forget it was the conservatives who opposed defending America until the Germans sank our ships. They would have done nothing as Britain came under Nazi control. It was they who supported Joe McCarthy and his baseless, drink fueled claims.

Without liberals, there would be no modern America, just a Nazi sattlelite state. Liberals weak on defense? Liberals created America's defense. The conservatives only need vets at election time. It is time to stop looking for an accomodation with the right. They want none for us. They want to win, at any price.

So, you have a choice: be a fighting liberal or sit quietly. I know what I am, what are you?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Pictures of War You Aren’t Supposed to See

By Chris Hedges via truthdig

Image Caption (left) An Iraqi woman takes her dead son into her arms. The 6-year-old was killed on the way home from enrolling for his first year of school.

War is brutal and impersonal. It mocks the fantasy of individual heroism and the absurdity of utopian goals like democracy. In an instant, industrial warfare can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, who never see their attackers.

The power of these industrial weapons is indiscriminate and staggering. They can take down apartment blocks in seconds, burying and crushing everyone inside. They can demolish villages and send tanks, planes and ships up in fiery blasts. The wounds, for those who survive, result in terrible burns, blindness, amputation and lifelong pain and trauma. No one returns the same from such warfare. And once these weapons are employed all talk of human rights is a farce.

In Peter van Agtmael’s “2nd Tour Hope I don’t Die” and Lori Grinker’s “Afterwar: Veterans From a World in Conflict,” two haunting books of war photographs, we see pictures of war which are almost always hidden from public view. These pictures are shadows, for only those who go to and suffer from war can fully confront the visceral horror of it, but they are at least an attempt to unmask war’s savagery.

“Over ninety percent of this soldier’s body was burned when a roadside bomb hit his vehicle, igniting the fuel tank and burning two other soldiers to death,” reads the caption in Agtmael’s book next to a photograph of the bloodied body of a soldier in an operating room. “His camouflage uniform dangled over the bed, ripped open by the medics who had treated him on the helicopter. Clumps of his skin had peeled away, and what was left of it was translucent. He was in and out of consciousness, his eyes stabbing open for a few seconds. As he was lifted from the stretcher to the ER bed, he screamed ‘Daddy, Daddy, Daddy, Daddy,’ then ‘Put me to sleep, please put me to sleep.’ There was another photographer in the ER, and he leaned his camera over the heads of the medical staff to get an overhead shot. The soldier yelled, ‘Get that fucking camera out of my face.’ Those were his last words. I visited his grave one winter afternoon six months later,” Agtmael writes, “and the scene of his death is never far from my thoughts.”

“There were three of us inside, and the jeep caught fire,” Israeli soldier Yossi Arditi, quoted in Grinker’s book, says of the moment when a Molotov cocktail exploded in his vehicle. “The fuel tank was full and it was about to explode, my skin was hanging from my arms and face—but I didn’t lose my head. I knew nobody could get inside to help me, that my only way out was through the fire to the doors. I wanted to take my gun, but I couldn’t touch it because my hands were burning.” [To see long excerpts from “Afterwar” and to read an introduction written by Chris Hedges, click here.]

Arditi spent six months in the hospital. He had surgery every two or three months, about 20 operations, over the next three years.

“People who see me, see what war really does,” he says.

Filmic and most photographic images of war are shorn of the heart-pounding fear, awful stench, deafening noise and exhaustion of the battlefield. Such images turn confusion and chaos, the chief element of combat, into an artful war narrative. They turn war into porn. Soldiers and Marines, especially those who have never seen war, buy cases of beer and watch movies like “Platoon,” movies meant to denounce war, and as they do so revel in the despicable power of the weapons shown. The reality of violence is different. Everything formed by violence is senseless and useless. It exists without a future. It leaves behind nothing but death, grief and destruction.

Chronicles of war, such as these two books, that eschew images and scenes of combat begin to capture war’s reality. War’s effects are what the state and the press, the handmaiden of the war makers, work hard to keep hidden. If we really saw war, what war does to young minds and bodies, it would be harder to embrace the myth of war. If we had to stand over the mangled corpses of the eight schoolchildren killed in Afghanistan a week ago and listen to the wails of their parents we would not be able to repeat clichés about liberating the women of Afghanistan or bringing freedom to the Afghan people. This is why war is carefully sanitized. This is why we are given war’s perverse and dark thrill but are spared from seeing war’s consequences. The mythic visions of war keep it heroic and entertaining. And the press is as guilty as Hollywood. During the start of the Iraq war, television reports gave us the visceral thrill of force and hid from us the effects of bullets, tank rounds, iron fragmentation bombs and artillery rounds. We tasted a bit of war’s exhilaration, but were protected from seeing what war actually does.

The wounded, the crippled and the dead are, in this great charade, swiftly carted off stage. They are war’s refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them. They are doomed, like wandering spirits, to float around the edges of our consciousness, ignored, even reviled. The message they tell is too painful for us to hear. We prefer to celebrate ourselves and our nation by imbibing the myth of glory, honor, patriotism and heroism, words that in combat become empty and meaningless. And those whom fate has decreed must face war’s effects often turn and flee.

Saul Alfaro, who lost his legs in the war in El Salvador, speaks in Grinker’s book about the first and final visit from his girlfriend as he lay in an army hospital bed. More here

Saturday, January 2, 2010

War Reporting, Now and Then

First, the CNN's Michael Ware, obviously the most truthful war correspondent of the 2000's. Notice the file footage, no real fighting going on - mostly speculation and bullshit being shot down by Ware as fast as it comes up.

Below is a CBS news report featuring an embedded reporter in 1968 VietNam. Don Webster of CBS, Hue South Viet Nam. Dead bodies, guys getting shot up. The real war, not some obscure abstraction of semantics to be argued over like a football game.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Terrorism Still Less Deadly in US Than Lack of Health Insurance, Salmonella

I knew this. How come no-one else does except a handful of people who actually pay attention? Why does the talk of terrorism take all the air (and resources) in the room? How about because it means money for contractors. Period. Seems like it is all about the money. Oh, and Ideology, but that is not even a close second as far as I can see.

Here is a great article by Blue Texan via Firedoglake.

Since we still seem to be having a national freakout over some loser who got on a plane with a bomb in his underwear, which was apparently worthy of a presidential address, it might be a good idea to put the actual danger posed by terrorist attacks in some numerical perspective.

If you count the Ft. Hoot shooting as a terrorist attack, which even the likes of Pantload doesn’t, 16 people have died in the United States as result of terrorism in 2009. The other three deaths include the Little Rock military recruiting office shooting (1), the Holocaust Museum shooting (1), and Dr. George Tiller’s assassination (1), the last two coming at the hands of right-wing extremists.

On the other hand, 45,000 Americans died because they didn’t have health insurance and 600 died from salmonella poisoning.

Clearly, providing health care to all Americans is beyond our capabilities, so when do we launch the $700 billion-a-year War on Salmonella?

Happy New Year!!