Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jennifer Gets Her Keith On

She still needs to stop tolerating lying repugs and to find a professional production crew somewhere, but dayum, this one had me standing and cheering.

Creative Idea of the Week

Teddy Partridge at Firedoglake:

Our government has a “No-Fly” list and a “Do-Not-Call” list — and now some unknown enterprising citizens have asked the White House to create a “Do-Not-Kill” list.

It's one thing if they ignore the request or refuse it. But what if they set up a "Do-Not-Kill" list and then refuse to put you on it?

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Guerilla Radio"

Uploaded by RATMVEVO on Feb 26, 2010

Big Power Gives Up On Yet Another Coal Plant

When they won't commit to coal even in the coal-owned Commonwealth, it's time to kick coal to the curb and start sucking up to Big Renewables.

Scott Sloan at the Herald:

Kentucky Power on Wednesday asked to withdraw its controversial request to upgrade an aging coal-burning power plant.

The last-minute reversal came just days before the Monday deadline by which the state Public Service Commission would have ruled whether the electric utility could spend almost $1 billion to install pollution controls on its Big Sandy plant north of Louisa. The plant is its only one in the state.

Kentucky Power's change of plans is another blow to coal in a state that's one of the nation's leading producers. Nationally, coal has come under fire by federal regulators who have created more stringent pollution rules.

Utilities are opting to close coal plants rather than pay millions to upgrade them. They're turning instead to natural gas, which has become cheaper due to new production techniques.

Natural gas is only slightly less lethal than coal, and just another head-in-the-sand fossil fuel that costs far more in both direct price and indirect damage than renewables.

Time to cut ourselves free from fossil fuel feudalism and find renewable energy freedom.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Good Riddance to Criminal, Snit-Throwing Corporations

I have to give Extendicare Health Services credit: not many corporations hve the balls to come right out and admit they are leaving the state because the General Assembly won't give them a free pass to physically assault helpless old people.

Valerie Honeycutt-Spears at the Herald:

A major nursing home chain said it no longer will operate in Kentucky because of increased litigation and the 2012 General Assembly's failure to pass a law making it more difficult to file lawsuits against nursing homes.

Extendicare Health Services Inc. has entered into an agreement to lease all 21 of its skilled nursing centers in Kentucky — representing 1,762 beds — to an unidentified long-term care operator based in Texas. Extendicare is based in Ontario, Canada, with U.S. headquarters in Milwaukee.

The Kentucky facilities include two in Richmond and one each in Irvine, Stanton, Somerset and Salyersville.

Three nurse's aides at Richmond Health and Rehabilitation, also known as Madison Manor, pleaded guilty to abuse of an adult after being caught on a hidden video camera abusing an elderly resident in 2008. By 2010, all three had initially received diverted sentences.

This is the state-level version of the national temper tantrum thrown by the Facebook founder renouncing American citizenship in order to avoid paying 15 percent in taxes on his hundreds of billions of dollars in work-free profits from the IPO, and Wall Streeters screaming and stamping their tiny feet because we 99 percenters aren't prostate in gratitude for them fucking us over and stealing all our money.

You know the real reason why the Masters of the Universe will never carry through on their threats to Go Galt? Because they know as soon as they depart, we're going to find out that not only can we get along without them, but that we are better off without them.

Fuck 'em. Corporations can follow the rules, or they can get the fuck out. And stay the fuck out.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Was't That a Time"

Uploaded by klbrisby on Feb 14, 2011

Two founding members of The Weavers singing quartet, specifically Lee Hays and Pete Seeger, were interviewed by the Senate committee investigating potential Communists in this country. In this scene, actual testimony is intercut with a performance of a song "Wasn't That a Time" which the investigators (ridiculously) thought demonstrated anti-American sentiments. Shawn P. Rohlf, Kat Fitzpatrick, Kent Brisby, and Steve Denyes (left-to-right) perform excerpt from a workshop staging of THE WEAVERS SONG, adapted by KL Brisby.

Despite that misinterpretation - or perhaps because of it - the song became popular as a protest song during the Sixties.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "If I Had a Hammer"

Uploaded by cschoon1213 on Aug 12, 2009

If I had a hammer,
I'd hammer in the morning
I'd hammer in the evening,
All over this land
I'd hammer out danger,
I'd hammer out a warning,
I'd hammer out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

If I had a bell,
I'd ring it in the morning,
I'd ring it in the evening,
All over this land
I'd ring out danger,
I'd ring out a warning
I'd ring out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.
If I had a song,

I'd sing it in the morning,
I'd sing it in the evening,
All over this land
I'd sing out danger,
I'd sing out a warning
I'd sing out love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Well I got a hammer,
And I got a bell,
And I got a song to sing, all over this land.
It's the hammer of Justice,
It's the bell of Freedom,
It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.
It's the hammer of Justice,
It's the bell of Freedom,
It's the song about Love between my brothers and my sisters,
All over this land.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Freight Train Blues"

Uploaded by ersm on Nov 29, 2006

Rosemary Rainey recreates the role of Ma Rainey singing the Blues classic in a juke joint. This is not a documentary, just filmed to look that way from "Travelin' Trains," now available on DVD. Watch online

Right Direction, But Not Fast Enough

It's going to be 90 degrees today, and our coal-generated AC is blasting away throughout the Commonwealth. Yet even here, where we basically live in a giant Big Coal company town, coal energy is down.

Stephen Lacey at Think Progress:

Power generation from coal is falling quickly. According to new figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal made up 36 percent of U.S. electricity in the first quarter of 2012 — down from 44.6 percent in the first quarter of 2011.

That stunning drop, which represented almost a 20 percent decline in coal generation over the last year, was primarily due to low natural gas prices. As EIA explains, natural gas generation will climb steadily this year, while coal will see a double-digit drop by the end of 2012:

Natural‐gas‐fired generation continues to expand its share of total generation at the expense of coal‐fired generation. During the first quarter of 2012, natural gas accounted for 28.7 percent of total generation compared with 20.7 percent during the same quarter last year. In contrast, coal’s share of total generation declined from 44.6 percent to 36.0 percent over the same period.

Prices for natural gas delivered to the electric power industry fell by 7.5 percent in 2011, which contributed to a significant increase in the share of natural‐gas‐fired generation. EIA expects this trend to continue in 2012, with electric power sector coal consumption falling by 14 percent. Natural gas in the electric power sector grows by almost 21 percent in 2012, primarily driven by the increasing relative cost advantages of natural gas over coal for power generation in some regions.

EIA also projects that coal production at mines will fall by more than 10 percent this year. However, with prices falling due to an increase in secondary inventories, the agency predicts that domestic consumption may rise by just over 1 percent next year.

The U.S. coal industry if facing major headwinds. The current drop in generation is mostly due to competition from natural gas. But there are other factors that will assist in pushing coal out of the electricity mix: An aging fleet of plants, cost-competitive renewables, new clean air regulations, and a strong anti-coal movement are working together to reduce the attractiveness of coal. Since 2010, plant operators have announced 106 retirements of coal facilities — representing 13 percent of the U.S. fleet, according to the Sierra Club.

The continued decline in domestic coal generation is good news for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide emissions from the fossil fuel sector are expected to decline by almost 3 percent this year — continuing the 1.9 percent decrease seen in 2011. Emissions from natural gas will rise by 5.5 percent, while emissions from coal will fall by almost 12 percent.

Those Killed in the War at Home

Whether we workers realize it, whether we are fighting back, capitol is waging a war on labor, and the casualties are real.

Annie-Rose Strasser at Think Progress:

4,690 people were killed at work in 2010, up three percent from 2009, the Center for Public Integrity reports. That means that more Americans died in their workplaces in one year than died during the entire war in Iraq.

But while Republicans are fighting tooth and nail to protect defense spending from budget cuts, they are simultaneously looking to defund the agency that protects workers from physical harm in the workplace.

Many on-the-job deaths were met with only a small fine, an average of $7,900. Some workplaces were never inspected at all. And because of understaffed regulation offices — and the looming threat of further budget cuts — the numbers aren’t likely to change:

It would take the perpetually short-staffed OSHA 130 years to inspect every workplace in the U.S. Managers and their underlings must strike a balance between meeting “performance goals” set in Washington and conducting comprehensive inspections when deaths occur. A target of 42,250 inspections nationwide was established for fiscal year 2012, up 5.6 percent from the previous year’s goal. The number of federal inspectors, meanwhile, has stayed mostly flat; there were 1,118 in February 2012.

Republicans have proposed slashing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) budget by 20 percent, and have argued that OSHA should be focusing on enforcing penalties for killing an employee.

Republicans consider enforcement of OSHA standards ‘job-killing’ regulation. On the other hand, a lack of enforcement, decreased inspections, and an even smaller budget for regulation actually lead to workplace deaths.

Workers are also the casualties in the repug/conservadem War on Regulation and War on Government.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Simple Way Off This Budget Cliff

By @KYYellowDog

So Our Hero is running for her life through the jungle with a pack of hungry jaguars chasing her. Suddenly she comes to the edge of a cliff, with a thousand-foot drop onto jagged rocks below. The jaguars are almost on top of her - quick, choose! Torn to shreds or broken to pieces? Either way, she's dead.


Next week: Our hero is back in town, sporting a black fur coat and looking none the worse for wear. What happened? She escaped, of course. Silly question.

If only budget problems were are simple as old-time movie serials. Guess what? They are.

David Dayen at Firedoglake:

The Congressional Budget Office is out with their economic projections for the fiscal cliff. They pretty much match Goldman Sachs’ prediction from last week, but these are the numbers Congress is likely to parrot for the next 6 months, so we’d better take a look.

CBO projects that $607 billion in deficit reduction items are at stake at the end of 2012, when various tax and spending measures expire. Because the cuts will begin at the beginning of the calendar year and not the fiscal year, we’re talking about a substantial cliff:

Most of the policy changes that reduce the deficit are scheduled to take effect at the beginning of calendar year 2013, so budget figures for fiscal year 2013—which begins in October 2012—reflect only about three-quarters of the effects of those policies on an annual basis. According to CBO’s estimates, the tax and spending policies that will be in effect under current law will reduce the federal budget deficit by 5.1 percent of GDP between calendar years 2012 and 2013 (with the resulting economic feedback included, the reduction will be smaller).

When they refer to economic feedback, CBO means that federal revenues will shrink as a result, because economic growth will be stunted and unemployment will rise. In fact, CBO predicts a recession for the first half of 2013 if all the items on the fiscal cliff are allowed to go through.


CBO sets this up as a choice: risk a recession in the first half of 2013, or risk a larger debt crisis down the road. Those are not the only alternatives.

For example, letting the Bush tax cuts expire and then coming back with a different set of “Obama tax cuts” could reshape the tax code to promote a healthy middle class, while taking in more revenue. Eliminating tax cuts at the high end would hardly affect growth to any real degree; Jared Bernstein puts it at about $24 billion in “foregone stimulus” for 2013, and I think the number could be lower; you’re talking about tax cuts that largely are going into bank accounts, which for the truly wealthy should not impact their spending whatsoever. The key about a tax cut expiration policy is that it’s not like the fiscal impact of expiration starts pounding within a week; you could design a retroactive policy, where the Bush tax cuts are dead and buried and pressure is put on Republicans to pass a new round of tax cuts to avoid recession.

It's even simpler than that - restore all the non-defense spending while letting the tax cuts die and keeping the defense cuts. Domestic spending grows the economy; tax cuts hurt it and current defense spending is stupendously wasteful.

No, of course repugs won't accept it. But nothing has to be done before the election, so dems should Shut. The. Fuck. Up. about making a deal nownownow when there's no crisis and it may never be needed anyway.

As Digby put it in a critique of the Kill Social Security and Medicare "Grand Bargain":

You either believe in stimulus or you don't. If you do, borrow the money at very cheap rates and hire a bunch of people to do something. When the economy gets going again and people are working and paying taxes, then raise taxes to pay down the cheap loans, if that's even necessary.

This endless haranguing about deficit projections long into the future, even if it is "combined" with another inadequate stimulus, is in service of one thing and one thing only --- dismantling the sad remnants of the American welfare state once and for all. We know this because the whole argument is riddled with lies and misconceptions --- and fabulously wealthy celebrities like Tom Friedman are either too uninformed to understand this or are in on the con. Either way, they are accomplices to a great crime that's being perpetrated by the American people.

So far, Americans of both the left and right, for very different reasons, have come to the common sense conclusion that none of the elites can be trusted and it's better if these people do nothing at all than enact this plan. More power to them.

Because War Profiteering Does Not Support the Troops

Tomorrow is the perfect time to step back from the flag and think clearly about what is real national defense and what is merely feeding the Permanent War Beast.

Robert Reich:

We can best honor those who have given their lives for this nation in combat by making sure our military might is proportional to what America needs.

The United States spends more on our military than do China, Russia, Britain, France, Japan, and Germany put together.

With the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the cost of fighting wars is projected to drop – but the “base” defense budget (the annual cost of paying troops and buying planes, ships, and tanks – not including the costs of actually fighting wars) is scheduled to rise. The base budget is already about 25 percent higher than it was a decade ago, adjusted for inflation.

One big reason: It’s almost impossible to terminate large defense contracts. Defense contractors have cultivated sponsors on Capitol Hill and located their plants and facilities in politically important congressional districts. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and others have made spending on national defense into America’s biggest jobs program.

So we keep spending billions on Cold War weapons systems like nuclear attack submarines, aircraft carriers, and manned combat fighters that pump up the bottom lines of defense contractors but have nothing to do with 21st-century combat.


At a time when Medicare, Medicaid, and non-defense discretionary spending (including most programs for the poor, as well as infrastructure and basic R&D) are in serious jeopardy, Obama and the Democrats should be calling for even more defense cuts.

A reasonable and rational defense budget would be a fitting memorial to those who have given their lives so we may remain free.

Read the whole thing.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "The Peekskill Story"

Uploaded by Kampflieder on Mar 5, 2011

Southern Governor Signs Progressive State Budget

OK, border-state governor. Like Maryland, Kentucky's a border state. With a Democratic governor and a Democratic-majority state house. And a state-appointed tax commission holding public meetings on tax reform.

This is an opportunity; let's not miss it.

Susie Madrak at Crooks and Liars:

If Martin O'Malley is pretending to be a progressive so he can run for president, well, I wish more Democrats were that ambitious! Can we clone this guy? This is what a real progressive agenda looks like, Gov. Cuomo:

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley signed into law a package of tax increases Tuesday targeting six-figure earners, tobacco users and companies engaged in real estate transactions to cover record spending on education.

In a two-hour ceremony, it was easily the most recognizable measure O’Malley (D) signed but hardly the most popular. Rather, union members, minorities and interest groups crowded the State House to celebrate more than 200 lesser-known and often narrowly tailored bills. They passed the General Assembly with little fanfare but, taken together, will color the social and political identity of the Old Line State a slightly deeper shade of blue.

The bills included efforts to stimulate the economy, protect the environment and help family farms. And nearly a century after three-quarters of U.S. states ratified the 17th Amendment — which allowed U.S. senators to be elected instead of appointed by state legislatures — Maryland got on board.

One of the first bills O’Malley signed was a capital budget, which will accelerate borrowing of more than $100 million to promote job growth through construction and maintenance of schools, parks and public housing.

Answering a call from President Obama, Maryland will raise the age that children will be required to stay in school, from 16 to 17, and raise it again within five years, to 18.

Click for video.

Interest, Consent, Harm, Stigma

"The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion." -- Arthur C. Clarke

How long would religion last if it could no longer bamboozle people into thinking that religion is the sole source of morality? If everyone had the courage to trust the human, social, natural morality in each of us?

@PZ Myers:

There is a common line of attack Christians use in debates with atheists, and I genuinely detest it. It’s to ask the question, “where do your morals come from?” I detest it because it is not a sincere question at all — they don’t care about your answer, they’re just trying to get you to say that you do not accept the authority of a deity, so that they can then declare that you are an evil person because you do not derive your morals from the same source they do, and therefore you are amoral. It is, of course, false to declare that someone with a different morality than yours is amoral, but that doesn’t stop those sleazebags.


If I were confronted with such a question, I would say that no, I would not torture toddlers because I do live by an objective set of moral principles that allow me to assess whether an action is moral or not. It is not a subjective morality; I do not reject torture of toddlers or anyone else because I think it is icky (although, of course, I do), but because it breaks my moral code.

Here’s my objective, ungodly moral reasoning that I use to assess the rightness of an action. Let’s call this the basics of an objective humanist morality.

Interest. Am I even interested in carrying out a particular action? There’s a wide range of possible actions I can take at all times, and all of them have consequences. In this realm of possibilities, most options never come up: I have never been in situation where I desire or am compelled to torture a toddler, nor can I imagine a likely scenario for such an activity. It is a non-decision; my default choice is to not torture, and the only time the choice comes up is in bizarre abstract questions by not-very-bright philosophers.

Consent. If I’m contemplating an action, I’d next consider whether all participants agree to engage in the action. If it isn’t consensual, it probably isn’t a good idea.

Where does this value come from? Not gods, but self-interest. I do not want things done to me against my will, so I participate in a social contract that requires me to respect others’ autonomy as well. I also find a non-coercive, cooperative culture to better facilitate human flourishing.

Harm. I avoid behaviors that cause harm to others.

Again, this is not done because an authority told me to do no harm, but is derived from self-interest and empathy. I do not want to be harmed, so I should not harm others. And because I, like most human beings, have empathy, seeing harm done to others causes me genuine distress.

Stigma. This should be the least of my four reasons, but face it, sometimes we are constrained by convention. There are activities we all are interested in doing, that do no harm and may be done with consenting partners, but we keep them private or restrain ourselves to some degree because law or fashion demand it.

These are human and social constraints, not at all divine, and are also not universal or absolute — they can and do change over time. And sometimes, when cultural biases cause harm, I think we have a moral obligation to change the culture.

My rules are not perfect, of course. Sometimes they can conflict. Imagine a situation where consent can’t be obtained, but inaction will cause harm; a child getting a vaccination, for instance. Conversely, you can have cases where there is consent to do harm to some degree: a sadomasochistic sexual relationship, or a prophylactic mastectomy for a woman at high risk of breast cancer. But many decisions, especially the simplistic gotcha games of shallow Christian philosophers, are objectively resolved very easily. Torturing toddlers, for instance, violates all four of my principles hard. I have no problem at all in explaining that I have very good, non-subjective reasons for not abusing children, and that Jesus doesn’t come into play in any of them.

Or as our friend Blue Girl writes:

If your religion is the only thing stopping you from raping and killing, then I don't want to be around when you have a crisis of faith.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Frustration and Disappointment Are No Excuse for Stupidity

I try to avoid criticizing other bloggers, even superb liberal ones. We've got too many real enemies to waste time sniping at each other, and family fights are just fucking boring.

I love Down with Tyranny. But this is suicidal bullshit.

In 2008 Tennessee attorney John Wolfe voted for Obama. I did too. But that isn't all we have in common. He's dissatisfied with Obama's first term-- but he doesn't want to go backwards into the Republican nightmare that is at the root of all the country's problems. His beef with Obama is that he campaigned as a populist and them governed as a corporatist. “What he did," says Wolfe, "was he brought in people who caused the crisis and made them his closest advisers: Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, Jack Lew. He basically institutionalized failure... He has such eloquence, intelligence, charisma, we can only emulate that. I would never even approach it, but he should have used that to rally people around an idea and push for something more. Instead, he just played it safe."

Previously Wolfe, who's running a "word-of-mouth campaign," won 3 parishes in the Louisiana primary. Tuesday "Uncommitted," the only alternative to Obama, won 41.2% in the Kentucky Democratic primary. And in Arkansas Wolfe managed to get 67,491 votes (42%) to Obama's 94,852 (58%). Wolfe did better than Ron Paul, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich combined (just over 47,000 votes).

Wolfe wasn't attacking Obama from the right-- the way corporate whores like Cory Booker, Lanny Davis, Harold Ford and Ed Rendell have. He's going after the corporatist gestalt that has more and more made the Democratic and Republican parties almost indistinguishable on everything but divisive social issues. The Weekly Standard isn't someplace to go for news but it's worth taking a look at their celebration of Wolfe and the hope that he would embarrass the president.

Some have dismissed Obama’s troubles in red states like Arkansas and West Virginia as inconsequential, but the previous Democratic president, Arkansas native Bill Clinton, won both states twice. Both states currently have Democratic governors, and Democrats have won several elections in these states in recent years. Wolfe says his underdog candidacy is the manifestation of a large number of Democrats’ frustration with Obama.

“Now the people have a choice,” Wolfe says. “I think that the people think Obama isn’t listening to them.” He cites the doubletalk by Obama and national Democrats regarding private equity and Wall Street bankers.

“He criticizes Wall Street during the day, and at night he goes into these luxurious soirees with the bankers,” Wolfe says. “He leaves those meetings with millions.”

Wolfe argues that if the government can get health care costs under control and institute stricter banking regulations, many of the country’s remaining fiscal and economic problems can solve themselves. He says he supports restoring the Glass-Steagall banking act of 1933 and opening up the credit default markets, as well as a single-payer health care system that he says would alleviate the costs by getting rid of the expensive, high-risk pools.

Next week Wolfe will be on the primary ballot in Texas. I wish he was running in California as well... in November.

Really? You want Mitt Romney to win? You want Grover Norquist, Paul Ryan and Pat Robertson running the country? You want to live in a feudal theocracy that would make Afghanistan look like Sweden?

No, of course you don't. You just want Daddy to notice that you're pouting and force him to make some gesture of appeasement. Coming out in favor of gay marriage wasn't enough for you?

I'm as pissed at Obama as anybody, and my posts prove it. But liberals who play this I'm-holding-my-breath-until-Obama-admits-the-left-is-correct-about-everything game are as bad as the Wall Street motherfuckers who are throwing a hissy fit because obscenely monstrous profits aren't enough; they want to be adored and worshipped for fucking over the rest of us.

Or maybe Down with Tyranny really does want Romney to win. Maybe he wants to bob his head in smug satisfaction while the nation goes down in flames, sneering "I told you Obama betrayed us."

Grow the fuck up. Conservadem Obama is the only thing standing between us and the end of liberal Democracy in America.

After we re-elect him, then we work on taking him out back and beating the metaphorical shit out of him.

Progressives Spreading Liberty in Malawi

In some places, a progressive succeeding a nasty-ass dictator uses the opportunity to strike off the chains of repression and set her people free.


Malawi has come a Lilongwe in a short time. Last month, longtime autocrat Bingu wa Mutharika died at the ripe age of 78, leaving, gasp, a vacuum of leadership! Enter Joyce Banda. She’d been deposed from Mutharika’s government, yet Malawi’s Constitution called for her to become President. Next thing you know, she overturned the country’s colonial-era law forbidding homosexuality. Like she’d never even listened to the entire Book of Leviticus on Youtube!

Emboldened by Legalizing Gay, Banda went on a roll, repealing broad police powers of search and arrest and the ability of members of Cabinet to shut down newspapers. And there’s an added bonus on top of doing the right thing(s): $$$!

“Malawi is not a poor country but Malawians are poor,” the recently dead Mutharika was fond of saying. Banda’s moves have the UK about to give her country a bunch of money. According to the BBC, Malawi’s relations with donors have already improved thanks to Banda’s actions — and the British government, which had been extremely critical of Mutharika, is now urging other donors to restore funding as soon as possible.

Now everyone in the Great Lakes region of Africa will have rich, gay neighbors just like we do here in America!

In Malawi, not far from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, things are getting fabulous! In America’s Heart of Darkness, the Deep South, we have Mississippi’s Andy Gipson, a man who has most definitely listened to the entire Book of Leviticus on Youtube! He’s all blah blah blah burnt offering sin offering, dunno go read it for yourself. IF YOU DARE!

Hey, millionaires: looking for an international investment opportunity? Call President Joyce Banda, Lilongwe, Malawi. I am sure she has some excellent ideas.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "No Irish Need Apply"

A reminder that the history of America is one of despised immigrants assimilating into the majority, then turning on the next immigrant group, forgetting what it was like to be the newly despised minority.

Uploaded by apple0708 on Oct 24, 2010


"We commit ourselves to upholding the ideals for which so many patriots have fought and died."

Attend a Memorial Day ceremony in your town this weekend.

Full transcript here.

Debt: 5,000 Years Is Enough

The biggest reason why even the most liberal prescriptions for economic growth inevitably succumb to vulture capitalism is the inability of policymakers to imagine a system not enslaved to "market" imperatives.

No, the Almighty Market is neither natural nor inevitable, and David Graeber's "Debt: the First 5,000 Years" explains why.

The book looks and sounds dull, but is anything but. Graeber convincingly explains early non-money credit systems that supported rather than exploited families and communities; explodes pernicious myths about bartering, markets and capitalism; and connects the debt system with the rise of slavery, misogyny and violence.

At the end, Graeber proposes the kind of universal debt forgiveness that was common in societies before the Greek Empire.

"... one that would affect both international debt and consumer debt. It would be salutary not just because it would relieve so much genuine human suffering, but also because it would be our way of reminding ourselves that money is not ineffable, that paying one's debts is not the essence of morality, that all these things are human arrangements and that if democracy is to mean anything, it is the ability to all agree to arrange things in a different way."

Instead, empires from Athens to Washington D.C. have "softened the edges" of debt without eliminating the burden.

"... never allowing anyone to question the sacred principle that we must all pay our debts. At this point, however, the principle has been exposed as a flagrant lie. As it turns out, we don't "all" have to pay our debts. Only some of us (the poor, the workers, the non-rich) do. Nothing would be more important than to wipe the slate clean for everyone, mark a break with our accustomed morality, and start again."

Fascinating and illuminating, "Debt" opens the door to economic ideas free of the artificial and destructive strictures of a capitalistic market.

Ideas like the ones proposed by Gar Alperovitz and Thomas M. Hanna in The Nation:

It’s time to put the taboo subject of public ownership back on the progressive agenda. It is the only way to solve some of the most serious problems facing the nation. We contend that it is possible not only to talk about this once forbidden subject but to begin to build a serious politics that can do what needs to be done in key sectors.

Elsewhere we have urged a “new economy,” a community-sustaining vision of the next stage of American development—one made up of public enterprises where necessary, private corporations in numerous sectors, and a powerful and growing mix of small businesses and firms that in general aim to democratize the ownership of capital in a nation where a mere 1 percent at the top owns just under half of all investment wealth (see Alperovitz, “The New Economy Movement,” June 13, 2011; Alperovitz et al., “The Cleveland Model,” March 1, 2010; and

Rebuilding the spirit and drive of the next progressive politics calls for developing economic ideas that make sense at every level and scale. The Tea Party, for all its inane posturing, teaches a useful lesson—namely, that saying clearly what you want has a compelling force. When progressives are being called “socialists” no matter what, there is little to lose and much to gain by clearly making the case for a long-term plan that confronts—and ultimately overcomes—the centrality of corporate power.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Barack and Hillary Own This One

By @KYYellowDog

The War on Drugs is the new Cold War, justifying flushing billions of tax dollars down the Central American Brutal Right-Wing Dictator Toilet along with millions of innocent lives purely to support U.S. corporate interests, the U.S. military-industrial complex and the fever dreams of congressional wingnuts and freakazoids.

Exhibit A: Hondurans, where the thugs running the place are rapidly approaching a level of corruption and violence to rival even that of U.S.-created Guatemalen monster Rios-Montt. And they're doing it with U.S. tax dollars.

Dana Frank in The Nation:

The United States has, in fact, been quietly escalating its military presence in Honduras, pouring police and military funding into the regime of President Porfirio Lobo in the name of fighting drugs. The DEA is using counterinsurgency methods developed in Iraq against drug traffickers in Honduras, deploying squads of commandos with US military Special Forces backgrounds to work closely with the Honduran police and military. The US ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, recently said, “We have an opportunity now, because the military is no longer at war in Iraq. Using the military funding that won’t be spent, we should be able to have resources to be able to work here.”

Missing from the official story—never mentioned by US officials, and left out of mainstream news coverage—is that the US government’s ally in this campaign, the Lobo regime, is the illegitimate progeny of the military coup that deposed democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya on June 28, 2009. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at first criticized the coup government, led initially by Roberto Micheletti, but then legitimated it. After almost all the opposition candidates (as well as international observers) boycotted the post-coup election that brought Lobo to power, heads of state throughout the region refused to recognize his presidency; but the United States hailed him for “restoring democracy” and promoting “national reconciliation.” The State Department and Clinton continue to repeat both fictions, as did President Obama when he welcomed Lobo to the White House in October.


The propriety of a US alliance with such a brutal and undemocratic government is finally being challenged in Washington. On November 28, Howard Berman, the top-ranking Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, sent a letter to Secretary Clinton asking whether the United States was in fact arming a dangerous regime. Ninety-four members of the House, including many in the Democratic leadership, signed a March 9 letter sponsored by Representative Jan Schakowsky calling for the suspension of police and military aid, especially in light of the situation in the Aguán Valley. On March 5, seven senators signed a letter sponsored by Barbara Mikulski expressing concern over “the increasing number of human rights violations” in Honduras.


This idea that the Honduran government needs US help to fix itself—which critics regard as naïve at best, given the Lobo administration’s manifest unwillingness to reform itself—is how US officials justify support for the Lobo regime. Vice President Joe Biden flew to Honduras on March 6, promising that “the United States is absolutely committed to continuing to work with Honduras to win this battle against the narcotraffickers.” Biden promised increased military and police funds under the Central American Regional Security Initiative, to the tune of $107 million. Obama’s proposed budget for 2013 more than doubles key police and military funds to Honduras.

Biden’s visit came amid a growing chorus of criticism of US drug policy throughout the region. Presidents Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia and Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala have openly called for the legalization of drugs, repudiating what they charge are ineffective US-driven military solutions.

What’s driving the administration’s aggressive policy? The United States has long regarded Honduras, its most captive client state in Latin America, as strategically important. As in the 1980s, when Honduras served as the US base for the contra war against Nicaragua, the country is the regional hub for US military operations in Central America. It received more than $50 million in Pentagon contracts last year, including $24 million to make the barracks at the Soto Cano Air Base permanent for the first time since 1954. Soto Cano has great strategic significance as the only US air base between the United States and South America. Sixty-two percent of all Defense Department funds for Central America in 2011 went to Honduras.

Moreover, US corporate interests in Honduras are enormous, including mining and hydroelectric investments, Dole’s and Chiquita’s expansive banana operations (employing 11,000 people), and apparel, auto parts and other manufacturers that employ more than 110,000, including 3,000 at a Lear Corporation factory in San Pedro Sula that makes electrical distribution systems.

The most frightening thing is how the brutalization of Honduran democracy and society is merely an extreme version of what the corporatist/freakazoid element in the U.S. is pushing: privatizing all public services; eliminating all protections, benefits and rights for workers; making reproductive rights - including contraception - illegal; ignoring or encouraging violence against women and the poor; militarized police; massive, endemic corruption of police and politicians, and of course crushing dissent.

The repug road map for America leads directly to us becoming Honduras. Read this and weep.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy: "Death of Harry Simms"

It's still happening, every day.

Uploaded by solidaritet2010 on Feb 25, 2011

The Death of Harry Simms

Come and listen to my story, come and listen to my song
I will tell you of a hero, who's now dead and gone
I will tell you of a young boy, whose age was nineteen
He was the bravest union man, that I have ever seen

Harry Simms was a palomine, we labored side by side
Expecting to be shot on sight, or taken for a ride
By them dirty cold operator gun thugs, that roamed from town to town
A-shooting down the union men, where e'er they may be found

Harry Simms was walkin' down the track, one bright sun-shiney day
He was a youth of courage, his step was light and gay
He did not know the gun thugs was hiding on the way
To kill our brave young comrade this bright sun-shiney day

Harry Simms was killed on Brush Creek, in nineteen thirty-two
He organized the miners, into the N.M.U.
He gave his life in struggle, that was all that he could do
He died for the union, also for me and you.

Aunt Molly Jackson

Jim Garland

An Obama Democrat in Deep Red Northern Kentucky

So, a teenaged Texas parasite bought a Kentucky congressional seat for a freakazoid teabagger.

This sets up as clear a choice for Democratic voters as is ever seen in Kentucky outside of Louisville: your typical wingnut crazy repug against not the usual conservadem, but an actual proud progressive.

Zandar, who has a ringside seat in the Fourth:

Bill Adkins, (who won the Democratic primary), has raised...about $14,000. It's a shame too, because Bill Adkins is that rarest of breeds: A Kentucky Democrat who isn't running screaming from President Obama.

Bill Adkins, one of two Democrats running in the 4th Congressional District, said he believes government-payer health care system can best tackle the inefficiencies and problems and that’s the way to preserve Medicare.

“Single payer is my preference. I think that the compromise that is the buy-the-insurance mandate is an incremental move,” Adkins said (7:00).

He also said he would consider one of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul’s proposals — to decrease the level of benefits for seniors with the highest incomes, known as means testing.

Adkins, a Williamstown lawyer and the Grant County Democratic Party Chairman, said he decided to get into the 4th District race because he said he wanted to make sure there was a full discussion of the issues.

“We needed a Democratic presence in this race,” he said.

Yeah, that's right, a Kentucky Democrat who acts like a real gorram Democrat. Single payer. I love this guy. The problem is after redistricting, KY-4 has gone from fairly conservative to blood red. Adkins is going to need a miracle against Massie ....

Not giving up entirely on Adkins either. He's one of the folks we need in Congress.

When Democratic candidates lose to repugs in Kentucky, the Kentucky Democratic Party "leadership" screams the same thing: "Not conservative enough!" Time after time, Blue Dogs to the right of Mitch McConnell lose to real repugs, and the KDP uses every loss to justify yanking the party further over the DINO cliff.

Adkins winning would be the KDP's worst nightmare: proof that Democratic candidates who run as loud, proud progressives - who actually stand by That Ni**er In The White House - can win by inspiring discouraged Democratic voters.

So the party will ensure he loses by denying him money and support - maybe even going so far as to actively harm his campaign with whisper campaigns and threats to potential supporters.

How to puncture the conservadem myth that a liberal dem can't win outside Louisville but a Blue Dog can? Simple: make sure Adkins gets more votes and a higher percentage of the vote than that received by the dems who lost to retiring incumbent Geoff Davis.

Yes, the DCCC and conservadems will claim liberals are losers regardless of the facts, but that's not a reason not to support Adkins; that's a reason for Democratic candidates and Democratic voters to get the fuck off our fat asses and make the liberal argument publicly. Why are we ceding them the stage?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Release the Biden!

More of this, please.

David at Crooks and Liars:

Vice President Joe Biden on Tuesday warned that presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's social polices would take the U.S. back to the 1950s.

Speaking to supporters in Keene, New Hampshire, Biden noted that his speech would focus on the economy but he also wanted to make a point about Romney's social and foreign policies.

"We will not go back to the 50s on social policy, to the Cold War on our foreign policy and to the policies of the last administration on our economic policies!" the vice president exclaimed. "We will not do it their way again! We intend to move forward!"

"I haven't even touched on Romney's social policy, either," he explained. "One that says a woman should no longer get to make her own decisions about her body and her health. One that says that it's OK for insurance companies to charge women more for health insurance than men, to count pregnancy as a pre-existing condition. I know this sounds like fiction."

Biden continued: "Ladies and gentlemen, the new Republican Party's attempt to unravel the bipartisan consensus on something that I wrote and I'm proudest of in my whole career, the Violence Against Women Act. The Violence Against Women Act has become part of our popular culture. Businesses, everybody has embraced the notion that a woman has a right to be free of violence an intimidation on the street and in her own home, wherever it is. And these guys in the House just voted down our version, the continuation of the existing Violence Against Women Act. And they cut out big chunks."

"Folks, this is not your father's Republican Party."

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues"

Uploaded by ReamsAndBarnstormers on May 15, 2007

James Reams & The Barnstormers play Winnsboro Cotton Mill Blues at Song of the Mountains ( ), taped at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Virginia, for broadcast on Blue Ridge PBS ( ).

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Continuing Betrayal By Blue Dogs

Did DINO Ben Chandler win the repug primary in Kentucky's Sixth District? Why not? He's such a loyal repug vote.

Down with Tyranny:

For those who keep track of this sort of detail, Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced an amendment (Friday) to end the occupation of Afghanistan. Cosponsored by John Conyers (D-MI), Walter Jones (R-NC), Peter Welch (D-VT) and Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Lee's amendment would have ended the war in Afghanistan "by limiting funding to the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors from Afghanistan." It failed 113-303. Most Democrats-- 101 of them-- voted YES, to end the pointless occupation. They were joined by 12 Republicans. But 79 Democrats crossed the aisle to voted with Boehner and Cantor. Any interest in knowing which side your congresscritter was on? All the names are listed on the link above.

John Yarmuth, D-KY3, voted to end the war. Benny Boy joined all of Kentucky's repug reps in voting to keep it going. Remember that the next time a Kentuckian dies to make Wall Street richer.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Commonwealth of Toil"

Uploaded by CanadianFolkBlues on Feb 8, 2011

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

In Which I Test Kentucky's Voter ID Law, and Receive a Racist Ballot

So I walked up to the same precinct officers who have been working my polling place for the last 12 years and I handed them my Social Security card.

The one with a signature and no picture. The one the Kentucky Secretary of State's office claims the law allows to be used as voter identification at the polls.

The precinct officer accepted it immediately, but mentioned that was the first time someone had presented a Social Security card as ID at that polling station. Kudos to my county clerk for superb training.

It went downhill from there.

The precinct officer continued by scoffing at my poor, flimsy, half-century-old Social Security card and commenting that she didn't think they should accept Social Security cards because it wasn't "real" identification to her (although she accepted it.)

Strike One.

Then she handed me my paper ballot. Kentucky has been using optical scan machines for several years now, although you can choose to use the old touch-screen machines if you want.

The paper ballot was for Democratic voters only - there was a separate one for repugs. My ballot had two two-person races on it. The second race was for the Democratic candidate in the open Fourth District Congressional race.

The first race was for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States.

And this was a problem.

There were two choices in that race. No, there was no convicted felon running against Barack Obama. Running against Barack Obama was some motherfucker named "UNCOMMITTED."

Strike Two.

I voted in Kentucky's 1996 presidential primary election, the last time there was an incumbent Democratic president on the ballot. I know for a fact there was no "UNCOMMITTED" challenging William Jefferson Clinton for the nomination.

The precinct officer admitted that the "UNCOMMITTED" line was new and unusual. She did not actually say it was appropriate because a ni**er was the only other candidate.

On the repug ballot, the candidates for president are Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul and "UNCOMMITTED."

Here's what I think happened: somebody in the Secretary of State's office got wind of that little trick in West Virginia that put a criminal - but white! - on the ballot next to Barack Obama, thus depriving our duly elected and sworn President of the United States of 40 percent of the Democratic vote. It was too late to troll through the inmates at Eddyville to find a likely ringer, so they just substituted "UNCOMMITTED." They added "UNCOMMITTED" to the repug presidential candidates only because the current Secretary of State is nominally a Democratic office-holder and either would object to the obvious ni**er-bashing or be held accountable by national Democrats.

Kentucky's registered Democratic voters outnumber repugs almost two to one, but in national races (President, U.S. Senators, most U.S. Representatives) Kentucky almost always votes repug.

Yes, there are a lot of nominal "Democrats" who always vote repug, but I think that repugs win because many real Democratic voters stay home on election day, uninspired by the pathetic and cowardly worms like Steve Beshear and Ben Chandler who run for office on the Democratic ticket.

Secretary of State Allison Lundergan Grimes is predicting 10 - 12 percent turnout for today's primary. I think we'll be lucky to crack double digits.

The question is who will constitute that nine percent - real Democratic voters who will give Barack Obama an overwhelming victory, or repug-voting fake dems who will delight in sticking it to that ni**er in the White House by voting for "UNCOMMITTED?"

If the latter, then Strike Three.

UPDATE: Yep, Strike Three.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Listen Mr. Bilbo"

Uploaded by wulfric82 on Oct 4, 2010

Glenn Beck claims to not be aware of any racists in the Tea Party...Let's help him spot the racists! It's like Where's Waldo, except THEY'RE ALL WALDO!

Music: "Listen, Mr. Bilbo" sung by Pete Seeger - song written in 1946 referring to then Senator Theodore Bilbo, an outspoken racist and Pre-McCarthyite anti-Communist, right wing facist.

Attacks on Veterans at Peaceful Protest

How cowardly is Chicago Mayor Rahm Fucking Emmanuel?

So cowardly he sicced his storm troopers on nonviolent demonstrators from Veterans for Peace.

From Truthout:

Thousands of protesters marched beside Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans Sunday to accompany the vets as they marched, hoping to return their service medals to NATO's generals.


Or rather, the veterans attempted to return their medals, but didn't quite make it. Chicago police, including about a dozen horse mounted officers, shut down the perimeter around McCormick Place, so the veterans spoke instead from a stage nearby the conference.

One emotional veteran addressed the crowd, "Looking out at this peace-loving crowd, I'm convinced my daughters will have peace."

Veteran Scott Olsen, perhaps best known for being severely injured by police during an Occupy Oakland march, returned his service medals, as well.

"These medals once made me feel good," said Olsen, adding, "I came back to reality. I don't like these anymore."


After the veterans spoke and descended the stage, protesters milled about for a bit, trying to figure out their next move.

That's when CPD suddenly accelerated aggressively.

Initially, no order for dispersal was given, when suddenly police arrived in what can only be described as souped-up riot gear that gave the officers the appearance of Storm Troopers.

CPD appeared ready for a violent confrontation with protesters, which of course became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Police attacked protesters, clubbing them across their heads with billy clubs, and generally shoving activists around.

At least two protesters were badly injured.

"Just saw protesters gushing blood from head," independent journalist John Knefel tweeted, "Photog witnessed it, called it terrifying."

Later, Knefel tweeted, "2 protesters bleeding from head being treated by medics in alley."

The infamous LRAD, or sound cannon, also made an appearance. Additionally, independent journalist Jesse Myerson tweeted that he saw Chicago police dolling out ear plugs among themselves, and protesters tweeted they too were suiting up with earplugs and gas masks after several witnesses noticed police and fire fighters donning masks.

Digby explains what the protesters were up against:

Evidently, some people don't understand why this is a problem. I'll let an expert spell it out for you:

Ex police chief Joseph McNamara addressed this dynamic in this op-ed:

Simply put, the police culture in our country has changed. An emphasis on "officer safety" and paramilitary training pervades today's policing, in contrast to the older culture, which held that cops didn't shoot until they were about to be shot or stabbed. Police in large cities formerly carried revolvers holding six .38-caliber rounds. Nowadays, police carry semi-automatic pistols with 16 high-caliber rounds, shotguns and military assault rifles, weapons once relegated to SWAT teams facing extraordinary circumstances. Concern about such firepower in densely populated areas hitting innocent citizens has given way to an attitude that the police are fighting a war against drugs and crime and must be heavily armed.

Yes, police work is dangerous, and the police see a lot of violence. On the other hand, 51 officers were slain in the line of duty last year, out of some 700,000 to 800,000 American cops. That is far fewer than the police fatalities occurring when I patrolled New York's highest crime precincts, when the total number of cops in the country was half that of today. Each of these police deaths and numerous other police injuries is a tragedy and we owe support to those who protect us. On the other hand, this isn't Iraq. The need to give our officers what they require to protect themselves and us has to be balanced against the fact that the fundamental duty of the police is to protect human life and that law officers are only justified in taking a life as a last resort.

It really doesn't take much imagination to realize that militarizing the police and outfitting them as if they are about to mount an assault on Fallujah (when they are really just manning a political protest) might lead them to adopt the attitude that they are at war against their fellow citizens.

I wrote a long piece about this a while back. It looks like we're seeing it play out in the streets of Chicago today. Huckuva job Rahm.

Monday, May 21, 2012

BREAKING: Kentucky Debates Treating Inmate Humanely

Yes, that "BREAKING" is sarcastic. This story has been picked up by papers around the country since it broke in the Herald last week.

I don't know whether it's popular because people are horrified that Kentucky might spend tax dollars to spare a convicted felon from excruciating pain, or it's popular because people are horrified that Kentucky is still - after a year and a half - debating the necessity of spending tax dollars to spare a convicted felon from excruciating pain.

I do know is that what horrifies me is the large number of intelligent, educated, otherwise compassionate people who start foaming at the mouth and screeching in fury at the idea that imprisoned human beings might experience a moment of humane treatment.

A condemned killer’s fight to receive surgery for agonizing hip pain pushed Kentucky officials into an uncomfortable debate over security, politics and even the possibility of inviting scorn from Fox News pundits.

Emails and memos obtained by The Associated Press show corrections officials struggling for a year to reconcile their duty to provide medical care with the political ramifications of spending tens of thousands of dollars for surgery on a man they plan to execute. A key problem would turn out to be security issues that led several hospitals to balk at treating inmate Robert Foley, who still hasn’t had the surgery.

Read the whole disgusting thing.

Foley was sentenced to death, not to 18 months and counting of excruciating pain.

Anyone who has suffered a degenerated hip, knee or back that needs surgery knows that the pain quickly surpasses the ability of even the strongest painkillers to quell it.

Again, no one sentenced Foley to the continuous torture of unending pain for months on end.

Considering that Kentucky's death penalty has come under increasing criticim lately, Foley could easily spend another 40 years on Death Row, with no relief from unrelenting, unbearable pain.

Sounds to me like the Kentucky Department of Corrections is deliberately and with malice aforethought using torture to force Foley to demand immediate execution, just to make the pain stop.


Shame on the Department of Corrections. Shame on the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Shame on everyone who thinks of prison inmates as animals who deserve torture and abuse to which they were never sentenced.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "D.D.T."

Uploaded by CanadianFolkBlues on Feb 8, 2011

Kentucky Joins Multi-State Fight Against Citizens United

The case is a long shot, but we now have 22 states on record against the Billionaires Buying Government, which is a big step toward getting an overturning Citizens United plank into the Democratic Party platform before the September convention.

From the AP:

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are backing Montana in its fight to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court's 2010 Citizens United decision from being used to strike down state laws restricting corporate campaign spending.

The states led by New York are asking the high court to preserve Montana's state-level regulations on corporate political expenditures, according to a copy of a brief written by New York's attorney general's office and obtained by The Associated Press. The brief will be publicly released Monday.

"Dumb" Science and Repug Lies

Repugs: Moronifying America for fun and profit.

Kevin Drum:

Members of Congress love to grandstand about allegedly idiotic studies being funded by federal grants. But guess what? It turns out that a lot of this dumb sounding research ends up being pretty useful:

Federally-funded research of dog urine ultimately gave scientists and understanding of the effect of hormones on the human kidney, which in turn has been helpful for diabetes patients. A study called “Acoustic Trauma in the Guinea Pig” resulted in treatment of early hearing loss in infants. And that randy screwworm study? It helped researchers control the population of a deadly parasite that targets cattle — costing the government $250,000 but ultimately saving the cattle industry more than $20 billion, according to Cooper’s office.

More here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Only Democrats Can Destroy Social Security and Medicare

And it looks like that's exactly what they are determined to do.

From Digby:

I'm afraid we are looking as a scenario in which they'll end up accepting "tax reform" (another word for tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations) in exchange for tax hikes on the middle class and benefits cuts to social security and medicare. And they will strut and puff and knock themselves over patting each other on the back for being "responsible" and doing the "hard work" of screwing the American people, including the most vulnerable, in the middle of a depression and at a time when their futures have never been more insecure. Heckuva job.

I don't know what more to say about this. Voting against them will not stop it. Voting for them will not stop it. So far, public opposition will not stop it. Certainly, there's little reason to believe that the administration will stop it. They brag about their program cutting prowess with charts like these:

Everyone keeps telling me that they will never cut social security and medicare because they're popular programs. One would certainly think that should be true. So can someone please tell me what they have to gain by pretending they want to? Honestly, I don't see it either as a negotiating ploy or a public relations tactic. The only thing I can come up with is that they believe the Village hype that they will be "heroes" for bucking the popular will. And perhaps they will be -- not in the public's mind, of course, but Gloria Borger and Cokie Roberts will think they're just dreamy andPete Peterson and his pals on Wall Street will surely be grateful.

Look, Obamacare cut hundreds of millions from Medicare already (which the GOP also used as a bludgeon against the Democrats in 2010.) The whole point of that Rube Goldberg mess, including the mandate, was to create incentives to lower health care costs over time. The people who are screaming about deficits want to repeal Obamacare which will add to health care costs and raise the deficit. And Social Security is not part of the budget so these people have no business lumping it in with everything else. If they want to "shore up" Social Security, it's a separate issue and could be easily dealt with by making millionaires pay more into the system. If they insist on paying down the deficit in the middle of a depression in which all projections are predicated on the present disaster, they should look to the Pentagon where they are building weapons systems that don't work to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. Those we know we aren't going to need.

Democrats know all this. Becerra should have his district offices inundated with phone calls. People should picket and protest. But I doubt it will do any good. They are determined to do this and they aren't being honest about the reasons why. (Either that or they are too stupid to be in elective office and that's saying something.) Bill Clinton is one of the most astute students of the budget in the entire country. He knows very well that he is spouting utter crapola. There is no earthly reason for him to do this except as a reflexive desire to appear reasonable to people who loathe the very air he breathes --- or appease Pete Peterson and his pals. Actually, in his case, it's probably both.

This has the feeling of a runaway train to me. The Republicans have worn them down and they just want to get past the election. Sure, they may get some little token of a tax hike on the wealthy in return. But it will be nothing to the sacrifices that average Americans will have to make. Indeed, this whole formulation is fundamentally immoral --- tax hikes on millionaires in exchange for poor, sick old people having to do with less than their already meager guarantee is disgusting. Couldn't we at least agree to fuck over the sick, old people only as a last resort?

(Maybe we could cut the kids a break too --- at least until the economy can provide them more than a subsistence living.)

Read the whole thing.

It was relatively easy to save Social Security back in 2005 from Smirky's "privatization" plan when the ones trying to kill Social Security were the usual repug/corporate/rich fuckers suspects. It's going to be much, much more difficult when the attacks are coming from "friendlies" swearing they have to destroy the village to save it.

There are still a few liberals you can count on:

"The wealthiest 400 people own more wealth than the bottom half of the American people --- more than 150 million people."

"If you can believe it the bottom 60% of the people who will be hurt by what's coming out of this conference own 1% of the wealth of this country."

"And the situation is getting worse."

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: Talking Atomic Blues

Uploaded by autoharpca on Apr 6, 2009

"Talking Atomic Blues" (aka "Old Man Atom") was composed by California newspaperman Vern Partlow (1910-1987) in 1945. Inspired by interviews he conducted with nuclear scientists for an article he wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News. First recorded by Sam Hinton for ABC Eagle Records in 1949, it was covered by a number of artists, including Ozzie Davis and the Sons of the Pioneers. The song became one of the most popular novelty records of 1950, until the United States government's War on Communism prompted record companies to withdraw the recording from circulation.

IOKIYAR on Keystone

Oh, silly Kevin: consistency is for commielibs!

Kevin Drum:

Mark Kleiman points out (Wednesday) that support for building the Keystone XL pipeline is an article of faith on the right. However, it can only be built if TransCanada is able to acquire the land it needs to get its tar sands oil from Alberta down to the Gulf Coast:

Of course this runs into another article of the right-wing faith: that using eminent domain to seize property for private, as opposed to public, use — for economic-development projects, for example — is one short step away from the Gulag. Recall that some of the nuttier wingnuts wanted to seize Justice Souter’s home to punish him for his opinion in the Kelo case. I’d been wondering whether any of the anti-Kelo fanatics would let the eminent domain principle interfere with their support for Keystone.

....It’s perfectly consistent to think that eminent-domain powers can be used to complete projects better left unstarted, and also to think that bad projects ought to be blocked on their merits. It’s not quite so consistent to back property rights except when the big energy companies want to confiscate them.

As it happens, my view at the time — and still today — is that Kelo was properly decided. If Congress or the states want to place restrictions on eminent domain, that's fine, but the Constitution itself doesn't impose any restrictions except "just compensation." So if the government decides that the public needs a new oil pipeline, then it can use eminent domain to get the land as long as it pays for it. And if the government further decides that it prefers to have someone else build the pipeline, it can do that too. I might not always like this, but as near as I can tell that's what the Constitution says.

But most conservatives don't believe this. So here's the question: is it hypocritical for them to support the pipeline anyway? Or is their sole obligation to argue their position in front of the Supreme Court and then, if they lose, work within the court's rules to their best advantage? Generally speaking, I'd say the latter. Just because the government passes a law you don't approve of doesn't mean you can't — or shouldn't — exploit the law to your full advantage. Once it's passed (or handed down), the law is the law for all of us, even those of us who don't like it.

This isn't even speculation; it's history. When a repug president needs zillions of dollars to give away to all his obscenely rich parasite friends, deficits don't matter. When a Democratic president needs a couple of trillion dollars to rescue the economy and put people back to work, deficits are all that matters, and the only way to eliminate them is to eliminate social programs to help the non-rich.

Really, it's a waste of time and effort to refute repug positions (you can't call their "me hate!" grunts "arguments") - just take the opposite position and you're guaranteed to be right every time.

If the NDAA Is So Essential, Then Use It Right

Barack Obama is the most grown-up president we've had since Eisenhower. Yet even he cannot turn down unconstitutional power handed to him on a platter.

Adam Serwer at Mother Jones:

... there's a bipartisan group of Senators who want to protect the president's authority to imprison American citizens without proving they're guilty of anything at all. Barack Obama, for his part, hasn't weighed in on either side—but given that the president has promised never to attempt to use this power, it's a mystery why he wouldn't vocally oppose it. If Obama and his advisers believe this kind of indefinite detention is an anathema to due process, why not support a bipartisan effort to ensure that Americans' constitutional rights aren't dependent on the whim of whichever president is in office?

At least the battle lines here are clearly drawn in a way they weren't over last year's defense bill. One group of legislators thinks Americans can be deprived of their liberty in their own home country without a trial. The other thinks the government has to actually prove you're guilty of something first.

Or as Wonkette commenter Wile E. Quixote put it:

It's too bad that President Obama doesn't have my finely developed sense of irony. If Wile E. Quixote were in the Oval Office and was handed an Enabling Act like the NDAA by a bunch of teabaggers and craven Democratic dipshits like Carl Levin the first thing that President Quixote would do with his shiny new NDAA powers would be to declare everyone who voted for the NDAA a terrorist and have them sent to Gitmo. Just to be sure he'd also find all of the people who contirbuted to their campaigns, and everyone at Fox News, and send them there as well. Think of how much fun that would be.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Fare Ye Well, Bad Congressman"

Uploaded by chokingvr0ckstdy on Sep 13, 2011

"Wall Street Reform is About Making This Economy Stronger for You"

Possibly in reaction to J.P. Morgan losing $3 billion on the bank equivalent of slot machines, repugs in the Senate approved two nominees to the Federal Reserve. That makes this week's appeal from President Obama to Congress to do something slightly less than usually ludicrous.

Full transcript here:

Democrats Have to Make the Argument For Government

The proof of repug political power is the way Democrats let them get away with blatant, obvious, easy-to-refute lies.

Repugs: "Government spending kills jobs!"

Democrats, knowing this is false, but thinking that since repugs said it, voters believe it: "We've cut government spending more than they have!"

Brilliant, geniuses: you've just eliminated any reason for people to vote Democratic.

Steve M:

Well, of course Romney treats "debt" and "spending" as if they're interchangeable terms -- ordinary Americans struggle to understand the national debt and budget deficits, and, being a Republican, Romney's certainly not going to make understanding these concepts any easier, is he? Much better for the GOP if Romney takes advantage of the fact that the public already confuses debt and spending; it's much better for the party if Romney reinforces that sense of confusion, which the GOP has spent years trying to induce. The right has the American people just where it wants them -- misunderstanding these things in precisely this way, and thus blaming all debt and deficits on the spenders. Romney's just carrying on the right's existing work, which has borne great fruit for the party.

Democrats compound the problem because they're afraid to say that there are good government programs that voters clearly want, and therefore those programs need to be funded, and therefore taxes are necessary, which means the important thing is to take in an appropriate amount from an appropriate mix of taxpayers, not to just look for spending cuts. Democrats will never, ever say this outright -- even though everyone now knows that the public wants the rich to be taxed more, and even though people often say they'd pay more in taxes to pay for popular programs -- because Democrats never want to remind voters that government exists.

So Mitt deceives voters on how budgets work, even though we know he (unlike a lot of Republicans, including officeholders) knows better. But we knew he was a cynic, didn't we?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What is the Path to Justice in theTrayvon Martin Case?

We Are Respectable Negroes looks at everything and concludes:

George Zimmerman will walk free--do not be confused, he is not innocent by any stretch of the imagination. I hold little hope that the jury is capable of thinking through the steps which led a vigilante to kill an innocent person beyond the most immediate and final act, where self-defense by Trayvon Martin is interpreted as violent, unwarranted assault by the George Zimmerman faction, those who idolize him, and wish they could have acted as he did that faithful evening.

The question remains: what will the defenders of Trayvon Martin do now?

Small consolation, but a good start would be work to overturn Shoot First laws in every state that has one.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Black, Brown and White"

Uploaded by HaloedG on Jan 23, 2009

This little song that I'm singin' about,
People, you all know that it's true,
If you're black and gotta work for livin',
Now, this is what they will say to you,
They says: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
Stick around,
But if you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I was in a place one night,
They was all havin' fun,
They was all buyin' beer and wine,
But they would not sell me none.
They said: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, hmm, hmm, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I went to an employment office,
I got a number and I got in line,
They called everybody's number,
But they never did call mine.
They said: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, hmm, hmm, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

Me and a man was workin' side by side,
Now, this is what it meant:
They was payin' him a dollar an hour,
And they was payin' me fifty cent.
They said: "If you was white,
You'd be alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I helped win sweet victories,
With my plow and hoe,
Now, I want you to tell me, brother,
What you gonna do 'bout the old Jim Crow?
Now, if you is white,
You's alright,
If you's brown,
Stick around,
But if you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

Abstinence-Only Non-Education Harms Children

By funding abstinence-only programs, the Obama administration is guilty of child abuse.

Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress:

A new study from the Guttmacher Institute unsurprisingly finds that greater knowledge about contraceptive services is directly correlated
to a decrease in young adults’ risky sexual behavior. However, after quizzing a nationally representative sample of 1,800 sexually active Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 on their basic knowledge of contraception methods, Guttmacher reports that “more than half of young men and a quarter of young women received low scores on contraceptive knowledge, and six in 10 underestimated the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.” The study ultimately concluded:

Programs to increase young adults’ knowledge about contraceptive methods and use are urgently needed. Given the demonstrated link between method knowledge and contraceptive behaviors, such programs
may be useful in addressing risky behavior in this population.

Pervasive misinformation about contraceptives — often leading to higher rates of unintended pregnancies — is one of the serious consequences of abstinence-only education programs. Sex education programs that lack comprehensive sexuality information prevent young adults from fully educating themselves about their reproductive health, their contraceptive options, and the best sexual practices to avoid potentially risky behavior.

The Guttmacher study highlights this very educational gap. Although a majority of respondents (69 percent of the women and almost half of the men) agreed that they were “committed to avoiding pregnancy,” they seem to doubt that birth control is an effective means to achieve this goal. 40 percent of respondents said that birth control doesn’t matter because “when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen.”

It’s especially important to emphasize the need for comprehensive sexual education programs in light of the Obama administration’s recent decision to support an abstinence-only curriculum as part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ list of “pregnancy prevention programs.” Considering that abstinence-only programs have been proven to be less effective at preventing pregnancy, how much more evidence does the Obama administration need to revoke its endorsement of birth control misinformation campaigns?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Departure of the Galts

For four years, the obscenely rich parasites have been threatening that if they were made to pay a single red cent back to the country that handed them their fortunes, they would take their job-creatin'killing awesomeness somewhere they'd be appreciated.

Promises, promises. But now at least one of them has actually carried through on the threat.


A lot of folks have torn into Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin for renouncing his US citizenship last week in order to avoid his tax bill from the company's IPO, which is really about as high up the Wall Street scumbag scale as you can get considering he's A) turning his back on the country that made this possible and B) stiffing the American taxpayer for about half a billion. Ilyse Hogue at The Nation:

Saverin exemplifies the spoiled 1 percenter who erodes the fabric of the country that afforded such opportunity by not paying back the investment America made in him. His decisions are a slap in the face of every person who recognizes that, to be a place that can facilitate the birth of new innovations like Facebook, the United States needs resources. Doubt that? Remember what government funded the research that created the Internet and the web? Harvard University, where the Facebook plot was hatched, took in almost $700 million in federal grant support for tuition and research last year alone. But Saverin’s decision is even more insulting to the millions of his less wealthy fellow immigrants who work hard to gain the privilege of giving back to the country that affords them opportunity to pursue their dreams in relative safety. Not to mention the DREAMers who offer to fight and possibly die for the country that they yearn to make their own.

But no, Eduardo just got himself printed on the One Douchebag bill...on both sides. When I say the problem in this country is "I got mine, screw you peons" this is exactly what I mean.

Good luck to him somewhere else. I can't wait for the argument from the right that actually making Saverin pay any taxes at all is what drove him away from America, so we should just exempt rich people from everything: taxes, laws, death. Otherwise they'll go somewhere else, you know.

May this be the beginning of a flood of the motherfuckers out of the country for good.

Songs to Fight the Plutocracy By: "Voting Union"

Uploaded by chokingvr0ckstdy on Sep 13, 2011

How Israel Broke Our Hearts

I am of "Exodus" generation: we who read Leon Uris' book as teenagers in the '70s and fell like a ton of bricks for the heroic story of Israel's founding. We loved and defended Uris' Israel unconditionally, which is why the Socialist Utopia's recent sharp right turn to savage and brutal colonialism cuts so deeply.

From the Herald:

Most of the people who gathered in protest at the Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza in downtown Lexington on Tuesday had not even been born 64 years ago, when Israel became an independent state.

Still, they said they long for the return of the land to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who were forced to leave or flee in the wake of the declaration.

The rally, attended by more than 50 people, was one of many held throughout the world Tuesday, which has become known as Nakba Day, or "Catastrophe Day," for Palestinian supporters.

I still have very little sympathy for the hard-liners demanding full "right of return," but I do know that today, Israel's brutal Occupation is handing Palestinians the moral high ground.

Eric Alterman at The Nation:

Those in the market for conspiracy theories might be pleased by the mainstream media reaction to Peter Beinart’s The Crisis of Zionism. Not only has the book been widely attacked but so too have its author’s motives for writing it. Beinart’s book is essentially a call for American Jews to challenge the professional Jewish establishment that has failed to stand up for the liberal values of the community it professes to represent and acts instead as an apologist for Israel’s rightward, anti-democratic drift toward permanent occupation. With an impressive uniformity of opinion, Beinart’s reviewers have by and large ignored the details of his critique. Jewish liberals, centrists, neocons and far-right chauvinists all apparently agree that Beinart has written the wrong book. Instead of focusing his attention on the shortcomings of Israeli and American Jewish institutions, he should be complaining about Palestinian rejectionism and suicide-bombing (as might be expected of former protégés of Marty Peretz), as it is obviously their behavior, rather than any action that Israel may have been forced to take in self-defense, that lies at the root of the conflict.

Even were one to grant the substance of the anti-Beinart attacks, one would still be left with Lenin’s age-old question: What is to be done? Where are the alternatives to an all-out effort — risks and all — to end the occupation? While some of the reviewers profess distaste for the policies of the Israeli government, none propose a solution that involves anything much more than Palestinian surrender. And since that is not going to happen — indeed the political weakness of Palestinian “moderates” is often cited as yet another roadblock to a sustainable peace agreement—then what we are left with is the passive acceptance of Israel’s slow-motion destruction of its democracy coupled with an apparently endless (and brutal) military occupation.

As is always the case when Israel is criticized, discussion in that country has been far more open and self-confident in its press than in our own. Writing in the invaluable +972 webzine, Mairav Zonszein observes, “Beinart’s writing does not shed new light on the situation, but the fact that he is making such waves reflects just how hard it is for American Jews to figure out their identity vis-à-vis Israel—and how, after 64 years trying to figure it out, it continues to be the mainstay of American Jewish discourse.” Her colleague Noam Sheizaf writes, “The panic with which the ‘Crisis of Zionism’ was met had nothing to do with the book’s not-so-new political message…but rather from the thought that Beinart does represent something real, that the Jewish establishment is indeed failing, not in terms of political effectiveness, but on a much deeper level that has to do with the moral values and the self-perception of the people it claims to represent.”


American Jews could play a useful role in aiding our Israeli cousins to see that they are destroying what was noble and admirable in the creation of a democratic and egalitarian Jewish homeland over fears that are in some significant respects (albeit not entirely) driven by psychological rather than real-world factors. But as the ferocious reaction to Beinart’s book, coupled with the nonreaction to the PRIME project, demonstrates, the opposite is unfortunately going to be the case. As Sheizaf observes, the project of “Jewish establishment and members of the Jewish media—the manufacturers of ideology” is to do whatever is necessary “to relieve the pain of their community by blurring the existence of a problem. It is an ungrateful task, which will last as long as the occupation does.”

So again, the alternative? Kiddushin 39b in the Babylonian Talmud tells us, “And wherever the potential for harm is ever present we do not rely on miracles.” Yet that is exactly what the American Jewish establishment and its media apologists do when it comes to the preservation of a Jewish and democratic Israel. And therein lies the true “crisis” of Zionism.

The neo-con wingnuts and freakazoids who foam at the mouth about "defending Israel" at all costs are Israel's true enemies; a true ally would demand it return to its founding values.