Sunday, October 30, 2011

30 October 2011

2 from CNN:"meet the 99%"(photo essay)

"Iraq project not worth the millions spent"
(note the original title, per the url, seems to be: "Report deems major Iraq project not worth investment or lost lives")

Two from Ian Welsh: “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.

In our current age the word demand has been debased. A day does not go by without some person or organization “demanding” an apology or retraction or that someone do something. These are not demands as a prior generation would have understood them.


Education and retaliation in OWS

Naked Capitalism, "The Natural Chaos of markets"(also here)

Prominent skeptic says he now believes in global warming
(also here and here)

Evidently this study cost about 600,000 bucks and a quarter of the funding came from a Koch brother, which is apparently supposed to be a big deal. Is it? I'm reminded of the recent news that Goldman Sachs gave 5 grand to a credit union in NYC then demanded it back when the CU had dealings with the OWS people. Climate change is not a religious tenet, or at least it shouldn't be. Koch pays for goodwill like any other corporate entity, whether it's sponsoring a show on PBS or a study. Speaking of Goldman Sachs, it seems the sponsor "" including "the art of overcoming poverty" which has people and images but I'm not sure what it's supposed to tell the viewer about overcoming poverty, the title notwithstanding. They also include some Buñuel and some anti-Islamic agitprop.

Republican lawmakers spin funding tall tales(also here)

see also
The Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature site.

Lisa Margonelli| Slate: Alms for the Rich How policies meant to promote alternative energies are actually hurting the middle class.
Christian Science Monitor, Jared Bernstein, Guest blogger / October 27, 2011 "Republican tax plans will make inequality worse"

Jason Linkins, Huffington Post, Occupy Wall Street: Not Here To Destroy Capitalism, But To Remind Us Who Saved It (via Jack Crow, "Safe For Business")
Both reference a recent NYT op-ed by Nicholas Kristof regarding OWS. Jack Crow's commentary seems more useful, and Linkins essentially rehashes Kristof, both reassuring presumed squeamishly bourgeois readers that OWS represents nothing that should frighten them. Perhaps the co-op op-ed will soon be recognized as a new genre.

As I mentioned before, Jodi Dean of I Cite has been closely keeping up with goings on at OWS, and has offered a lot of interesting recent commentary.

Dmitry Orlov, Stages of Collapse Revised: “Joined at the Wallet”

I thought that government interventions in private finance would prolong the agony somewhat; what I didn't think was that they would prolong it even onto the death of the governments themselves! The effect of the interventions since then, in the US and in Europe, have been to knock down every firewall between public and private finance, to the point that now we are faced with two monstrous, and monstrously sick, conjoined twins, and the death any one of them is sure to spell the death of the other. Trying to separate them with a cleaver will be of no use: they will simply hemorrhage red ink and die sooner than they would otherwise.

Perhaps their early demise would be useful. Now that economic growth is pretty much over and done with, big finance and big government stand directly in the path of an orderly shriveling-up of the global economy. What I mean when I say “an orderly shriveling-up” is a process by which the economy shrinks at a healthy rate, corresponding to rates that were once considered to be a healthy growth rate, but in a way that allows most people to survive by providing a few essentials, such as food, shelter, security, access to medical care, ability to raise children and so on.
I wished for an orderly cascade of collapsing institutions, with enough of a gap between them for public psychology and behavior to adjust to the new reality. But almost four lost years of both government and finance betting on a future that cannot exist, doubling down every time they lose again, has dashed those hopes. The effect, I think, will be to compress collapse into a single chaotic episode. Global commerce will not be far behind, because it is dependent on global finance, and if international credit locks up then the tankers and the container ships don't sail. Shortly thereafter it's lights out.

He references his earlier article from February of 2008, "The five stages of collapse"[see also PDF link]

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

some preliminary notes for a post on Libya

above, Ron Paul talks to David Gregory on "meet the press" via Mediaite and

below: Fox News interview with Michele Bachmann regarding Gadhafi and Libya, via Crooks and Liars, October 23, 2011 09:00 AM
Bachmann: Gaddafi 'May Be' Still in Power If I Were President

via Xymphora, who writes:

"Bachmann: Gaddafi 'May Be' Still in Power If I Were President" I believe that Bachmann is certifiably insane, but her voting record, and her stated positions on many of the most important issues, are in many ways far more progressive than most Democrats, and most so-called American progressives. It is simply sad that this 'progressive' website is using her better instincts to make fun of her. The United States is fucked for a very good reason.

According to Wikipedia

In 2009 Libya had the highest HDI in Africa and the fourth highest GDP (PPP) per capita in Africa, behind Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Libya has the 10th-largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world and the 17th-highest petroleum production.

from the CIA Factbook about Libya:

The Libyan economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contribute about 95% of export earnings, 25% of GDP, and 80% of government revenue. The weakness in world hydrocarbon prices in 2009 reduced Libyan government tax income and constrained economic growth. Substantial revenues from the energy sector coupled with a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, but little of this income flows down to the lower orders of society. Libyan officials in the past five years have made progress on economic reforms as part of a broader campaign to reintegrate the country into the international fold. This effort picked up steam after UN sanctions were lifted in September 2003 and as Libya announced in December 2003 that it would abandon programs to build weapons of mass destruction.

The process of lifting US unilateral sanctions began in the spring of 2004; all sanctions were removed by June 2006, helping Libya attract greater foreign direct investment, especially in the energy sector. Libyan oil and gas licensing rounds continue to draw high international interest; the National Oil Corporation (NOC) set a goal of nearly doubling oil production to 3 million bbl/day by 2012. In November 2009, the NOC announced that that target may slip to as late as 2017.

Libya faces a long road ahead in liberalizing the socialist-oriented economy, but initial steps - including applying for WTO membership, reducing some subsidies, and announcing plans for privatization - are laying the groundwork for a transition to a more market-based economy. The non-oil manufacturing and construction sectors, which account for more than 20% of GDP, have expanded from processing mostly agricultural products to include the production of petrochemicals, iron, steel, and aluminum. Climatic conditions and poor soils severely limit agricultural output, and Libya imports about 75% of its food. Libya's primary agricultural water source remains the Great Manmade River Project, but significant resources are being invested in desalinization research to meet growing water demands.

Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
5.6% (2007)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 77.65 years
country comparison to the world: 58
male: 75.34 years
female: 80.08 years (2011 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 82.6%
male: 92.4%
female: 72% (2003 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 97% of population
rural: 96% of population
total: 97% of population
urban: 3% of population
rural: 4% of population
total: 3% of population (2008)

Physicians density:
1.9 physicians/1,000 population (2009)
CIA(the same stats for Iraq):
Children under the age of 5 years underweight:
7.1% (2006)
country comparison to the world: 72
Life expectancy at birth:
Field info displayed for all countries in alpha order.
total population: 70.55 years
country comparison to the world: 145
male: 69.15 years
female: 72.02 years (2011 est.)

definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 74.1%
male: 84.1%
female: 64.2% (2000 est.)

Sanitation facility access:
urban: 76% of population
rural: 66% of population
total: 73% of population(2008)

Physicians density:
0.69 physicians/1,000 population (2009)

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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Oakland, October 2011: Scott Olsen

Huffington Post, Oakland Police Critically Injure Iraq War Vet During Occupy March

The local police's use of force seriously injured an Occupy activist and Iraq War veteran. Scott Olsen, 24, remains sedated on a respirator, in stable but critical condition at Oakland’s Highland Hospital after being hit in the head with a police projectile. Olsen's roommate, Keith Shannon, 24, told The Huffington Post that Olsen is still in the emergency room.
Activists staged Tuesday night’s march through downtown Oakland in response to a violent police raid on the Occupy Oakland encampment earlier that day, during which officers rained tear gas and rubber bullets on the activists in an effort to clear the camp. Police arrested scores of protesters during the eviction.

When reached at her Wisconsin home, Sandra Olsen, Scott's mother, told HuffPost that her son's condition was serious. "He has a head injury," she said. "They are still trying to figure it out with him. I don't want to tie up the phone line. He's not in the best shape."

San Jose Mercury News, Marine Scott Olsen injured during Occupy Wall Street confrontation in Oakland

Yahoo/AP: Iraq war vet injured during Oakland protests
(also here: Boston Globe)

Scott Olsen, 24, suffered a fractured skull Tuesday in a march with other protesters toward City Hall, said Dottie Guy, of the Iraq Veterans Against the War. The demonstrators had been making an attempt to re-establish a presence in the area of a disbanded protesters’ camp when they were met by officers in riot gear.

It’s not known exactly what type of object struck Olsen or who might have thrown it, though Guy’s group said it was lodged by officers. Several small skirmishes had broken out in the night with police clearing the area by firing tear gas and protesters throwing rocks and bottles at them.

What hit him? Who knows. Who threw it or launched it? Also unclear. But evidently the protesters definitely threw rocks and bottles. It's plausible that they did, or at least some of them did, but still.

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Oakland: 25 October 2011

The first clip, from RT, seems to be from earlier in the day, while the second was posted around 11 pm or midnight Pacific Time.

Yahoo/AP: "Patience with protester waste, crime wears thin across U.S." MEGHAN BARR - Associated Press

Also here: Boston Herald, ABC News

Whose patience is unspecified, at least in the headline. Possibly it's unimportant.

Tuesday, Oct 25, 2011
Justin Elliott, Salon: "Police in riot gear raid Occupy Oakland And tear down protesters' tent city" An eyewitness account of the protesters' eviction from Frank Ogawa Plaza

2 things from Facebook:

2. somebody else: Incredible!!! I just listened to the audio of an Oakland TV station talking about the crackdown there tonite. So why, one flak asked, do you think the violence started here in Oakland when there are so many other locations?Was that jerk kidding? He's got the most violent police force in the country, with that track record established over many YEARS, and he wants to know why the violence started there? Here's a clue, jerkwad. Look for the guys wearing uniforms. They're the perps.

Also, the jerks on that TV station were all agog over what they said were tear gas explosions, and how much further they were being launched this time. I could only hear what they were seeing, but that crap wasn't tear gas. That was the percussion bombs, and those dorks didn't even know the difference. No wonder the public ends up stupid.

I don't know what teargas canisters sound like when they discharge, nor what percussion bombs sound like, but it's definitely true that the Oakland P.D. has a bad reputation. Maybe it's ironic that I hear a helicopter overhead as I type this. Maybe police forces all over are a bit nervous right now.

see also
"Oakland police Sgt. Derwin Longmire sues city" April 7th, 2010

"Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts quits" October 11th, 2011

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Sunday, October 23, 2011

23 October 2011

Where Do We Go From Here? Occupy Wall St. from Ed David on Vimeo.

This video above from OWS is from earlier today, here.

Below: Keiser Report 200, October 22nd

The subject of discussion above, at 5:00-6:00 regarding BofA, is also referred to here:

Federal Reserve and Bank of America Initiate a Coup to Dump Billions of Dollars of Losses on the American Taxpayer |

Bloomberg reports that Bank of America is dumping derivatives onto a subsidiary which is insured by the government – i.e. taxpayers. Yves Smith notes: If you have any doubt that Bank of America is going down, this development should settle it...

Below: Keiser Report 196,"Dog & Pony Show"(Oct 13th)

see also Speculum Criticum Traditionis, "The liberal bias of American media" [via Jack Crow]

Two from CNN:
Six-figure salaries, but homeless,
Foreigners are buying U.S. homes

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Friday, October 21, 2011

21 October 2011

video 1, above The Alyona Show ( Sep 30th) Can we Stop a Second Great Depression?

video 2 (October 1st): Keiser Report: 'WW3 will make us all rich' pt 1, Interview with Roseanne Barr in pt 2. (E191)

Apparently titles must grab your attention or they are useless. Are things that dire? Are the super-duper-mega rich that evil? I guess we'll find out in due time, or a bit sooner. I don't see how Soros' centralized treasury can work, especially if all you are doing generating more debt and not writing any of it off. It will only forestall a default and make it worse when it finally comes. As Stacy Herbert says at around 3:00-5:00 in the Max Keiser video, increased centralization is dangerous. She's not specifically talking about Soros but rather the EU's Barroso, but the principle still applies. Barroso seems more concerned with consolidating the power of the EU organization(and presumably Germany) rather than help the Greeks or the overall economic situation. Barroso talks aboput ensuring the "integrity of the Euro area...and it's financial stability" as if the fortunes of ordinary people in Europe are in fact aligned with the "integrity of the Euro area."

I'd say that's pretty questionable. Why should the weaker EU countries surrender more of their sovereignty to an EU central bank? So far the EU has been disastrous for them, much as the 2008 bank bailout has been a net negative for most Americans. When people discuss the bailout in the establishment media, they almost always do it in terms of our choice having been the bailout or nothing, which is obviously a false equation. (Although I recall that in 2009 Jim Rogers argued that even doing nothing may have been preferable. I gather he has since modified his view somewhat.) -JV

John Emerson, Trollblog:
Obama has blown his Presidency
JE:" I look at the future with dread. I have no useful advice to give and am just thinking day to day...It wasn't liberals that didn't vote in 2010. It was the new Democrats that Obama suckered with empty slogans and then betrayed."

Cops Who Stay Undercover and Murdered Whistle-Blowers

Abby Zimet,Common Dreams: In Praise of Hippies

Tea Party to Businesses: "Stop Hiring!"|

"Emergency Committee For Israel Board Member Advocates Genocide Of Palestinians" | Political Correction (via John Emerson, who feels that Rachel Decter Abrams is a pretty influential person.)

Debt, Deficits, and Modern Monetary Theory — An Interview with Bill Mitchell | Harvard International

ColorLines Magazine, There’s An App for That: Figure Out How Many ‘Slaves’ Work for You

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Breaking Down: healthcare and other cultural artifacts

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Above: "Man Robs Bank for $1 To Get Health Care in Jail/"

Liz Goodwin, Yahoo: Suspected domestic abusers go free as Topeka city, county officials bicker over funds

A bitter argument over money in Topeka, Kan., means that city and county authorities have neglected to prosecute or charge people suspected of domestic battery since Sept. 8.
In other words, the local justice system has spent a month effectively sending the message that misdemeanor domestic assault will go unpunished--at least for now. The dispute started last month, when Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor announced that a 10 percent budget cut to his office in 2012 meant he would no longer be prosecuting any of the city's misdemeanors, effective immediately.

The Chronicle for Higher Education,August 11, 2010 "Salary for Interim Commissioner Raises Eyebrows in Louisiana":

Should Louisiana’s interim higher-education commissioner be making $25,000 a month—plus $1,500 a month for housing and $600 for a car?

Balloon-Juice, "This class war thing is more complicated than you'd think":

Archer, 52, abruptly quit her job on Aug. 19 as the No. 2 official at the powerful Department of Administration. She made $124,000 in that position. She was to start the following Monday as legislative liaison at the Department of Children and Families, but began taking paid medical leave that day.

She is making $99,449 in that job – $39,129 more than her predecessor. That 65% pay hike was possible because Walker’s fellow Republicans turned 39 civil service jobs into political positions earlier this year.

Daniel Politi, Slate, Sep. 15, 2011
Postal Service Could Get Slower:Plan calls for shutting down more than 250 mail processing facilities and eliminate 35,000 jobs.

CNN, "Financially-strapped cities cut jobs, services"

Christian Science Monitor, "A long, steep drop for Americans' standard of living"

New York Times, "Use of Private Contractors Don’t Save Government Money, Study Finds"

The government paid billions of dollars more to hire contractors than it would have cost federal employees to perform comparable services, according to the study.

via Gary Farber who writes, "The study found that in 33 of 35 occupations, the government actually paid billions of dollars more to hire contractors than it would have cost government employees to perform comparable services. On average, the study found that contractors charged the federal government more than twice the amount it pays federal workers. Remember: government is inefficient, and privatization is wonderful!"

Louisville, Courier-Journal, September 9, 2011: "Sherman Minton Bridge closed indefinitely due to structural cracks"
via Thom Hartmann,"America’s infrastructure now ranks 16th in the world"

The Sherman Minton Bridge is just one of several bridges in danger of collapsing –- As the American Society of Civil Engineers points out, 34% of all the bridges in Kentucky are considered “structurally deficient.” Of course – Kentucky is the home state of Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell – who opposed increased infrastructure spending in the 2009 stimulus bill – opposed it again when Republicans blocked a jobs bill in 2010 – and threw cold water last week on President Obama’s “American Jobs Act” that includes billions in transportation infrastructure products. According to a study by the Urban Land Institute – our nation’s infrastructure needs $2 trillion worth of repairs.

CNN, September 13, 2011: In one year, 2.6 million more poor

Amy Bingham, ABC News, September 13, 2011: "Tea Party Debate Audience Cheered Idea of Letting Uninsured Patients Die"

Carrie Gann, ABC News, Sept. 2, 2011:
Man Dies From Toothache, Couldn't Afford Meds

A 24-year-old Cincinnati father died from a tooth infection this week because he couldn't afford his medication...According to NBC affiliate WLWT, Kyle Willis' wisdom tooth started hurting two weeks ago. When dentists told him it needed to be pulled, he decided to forgo the procedure, because he was unemployed and had no health insurance.

I'm tempted to leave it there and let the reader make her own conclusions. But in 2014 when the so-called Affordable Healthcare Act fully kicks in, people like Kyle Willis and dollar bank robber James Varone still won't have universal healthcare, they'll have a universal obligation to purchase insurance, which isn't exactly the same thing. And if they don't they'll be fined. The plan, of course, is designed to be fully implemented after the 2012 election, and to include subsidies for poor folks.

Why was it designed this way? Was it a good-cop,bad-cop routine played out(and still playing out), not in an interrogation room on a television show, but on television screens nonetheless, before millions? Was it because the republicans are supposed to sweep in and gut funding for the Kyle Willises who need subsidies, so the democrats can't be blamed, and the GOP can tell their supporters they tried their damnedest to get rid of Obamacare altogether, but all they could do was defund it, because the courts wouldn't "let" them get rid of the individual mandate? And so the democrats who voted for the mandates could say, "let us back in power, see what happens when we're not there to protect you?"

What do you think?

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Oh, why can't those *&%$in' OWS protesters lay off the bongo drums and comb their hair when there are TV reporters lurking nearby?

Occupy Wall Street! From: theresident| Oct 7, 2011

2 updates below

Lori Harfenist("the resident") writes: "You know I wouldn't be doing my thing if I didn't have a little fun, but in all seriousness, I very much am in support of what these folks are doing."

Maybe this is true, but I'm skeptical; I've posted other videos of Harfenist's before, generally appreciating them, but in at least one she comes across as a bit of a reactionary. Obviously she doesn't have to be supportive in her stance towards OWS to report on them, but I wonder if her interview subjects were mostly chosen to make OWS look like a bunch of flakes.

I get the impression this is a common establishment media tactic. I couldn't help but notice that lots of more clean-cut looking persons kept passing by in the background during the first 30 seconds while she talked to the guy who said he intended to stay until there was change or "the world blew up." The older man she talks to in the very next sequence suggests that the younger people who are there aren't in need of work, which sounds in context like a criticism of the first subject, who never mentions jobs, and the narrative sequence suggests he has all the time in the world. Finally, I would have been interested in seeing more of the person interviewed in 1:45-2:10, as he seemed articulate and thoughtful. (Note there's a jump cut in the middle of the segment which makes you wonder what was taken out.)

By contrast, there's this from Occupy LA from this past Saturday October 15th, uploaded by "wrestlingdivanewyork"

Look at those decadent Californians, trying to fool us by looking so...normal.

You know they're up to something.

wrestlingdiva:I heard them coming in, and had to catch this for you all to see, the estimate is there are 10,000+ people here.

Occupy Austin(Texas):
WHEN : 10/6/2011 @10am - 12/6/2011 @10pm

Occupy Portland(Oregon):

Occupy Columbus

Occupy L.A.

October 8th: "Democracy is for those who show up"

Let me be clear: I'm not saying the "hippie-looking" and "flaky-looking" protesters are less important or that their views have less validity. It's just that the reporters seem to zero in on them as an editorial strategy designed to make OWS seem foolish, and it needs to be noted. It's not just Lori Harfenist by any means. Her report reminded me of the CNN clip from Erin Burnett I posted the other day, and if anything Burnett's piece seems even more brazenly slanted.


Ms Xeno in comments writes,

When it comes to reality shows or sports, the mass media can't get enough of funny outfits or goofy behavior. Why shouldn't they duplicate such priorities in their coverage of OWS? After all, the media's real job is to trivialize an important event and render it as disposable as they possibly can. What better way to do this than to use the same techniques they use to cover trivial, disposable events that are meant to be consumed like popcorn and then promptly forgotten...

also, Rob Payne mentions this from Pam Martens in Counterpunch:

Meet the “Lower Manhattan Security Initiative” Wall Street Firms Spy on Protestors In Tax-Funded Center

update 2:

Also, as I mentioned in comments, you should really check out Jodi Dean's recent posts regarding OWS.

And from Good Media, "Fox News Won't Air Wall Street Protester Who Humiliates Fox News"


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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Throwin' eggs at th' IMF

CNN video:IMF speaker egged by students

CNN|Added on October 14, 2011
The International Monetary Fund's Western Turkey Representative Mark Lewis is egged during a lecture in Turkey.

See what fun you missed out on, when you blithely erased that email invite from the IMF with your usual "Ankara is so unbearable this time of year"?

see also "Is Time Ripe to Abandon the IMF?"
via Reality Zone.


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Thursday, October 13, 2011

13 October 2011

How to Stop a Multinational:
Three Argentineans put themselves in harm's way as they try to stop a gold mining company destroying their environment.
Activate Last Modified: 12 Oct 2011 09:02

VizTV News #7 - 10-10-2011

The first video, top is from Al Jazeera, via KFO. The second from "VizTV" is via VizTV Guy telling me about it.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

Days of Rage, Evenings of Indifference

above: uploaded 17 Sep 2011, below: 20 September 2011

below CNN:Erin Burnett: Wall St. protesters vague on details 4 October 2011

Slate, "Even the Protesters at Occupy Wall Street Are Confused About What They’re Protesting"
(This article was also titled: Vacant: The Occupy Wall Street protests and the creation of the post-Obama left. By David Weigel Monday, Oct. 3, 2011, at 3:24 PM ET)

Douglas Rushkoff, CNN: "Think Occupy Wall St. is a phase? You don't get it"
updated 1:09 PM EST, Wed October 5, 2011

Peter Hart,, "Erin Burnett Hears the Critics--But Still Misses the Point"

Dennis Perrin writes:
I admire these kids. They're off their asses. Agitating. Arguing. Providing a living example. There's passion and feeling in their dissent. They're willing to be punished. It's easy to mock them, but how many of you would take their place? Primarily when the cops attack?
Our owners fear any rustling from below. They'll throw whatever they have at those unsatisfied with our paradise. There are signs that the Wall Street protests will expand nationally. If so, get ready for serious shit slinging.

Yet I have doubts. The class war from above demoralizes as much as it incites. Countless people have surrendered. Faded from view. To demonstrate or occupy corporate turf doesn't seem like a wise option. You'll get beaten and arrested. For what? Making mortgage payments is tough enough.

I've been checking for signs of any thing related to Occupy Wall Street. They have links dedicated to Nancy Pelosi, Chris Christie, "Is the Supreme Court too liberal?", "Kids of illegal immigrants", even "Is Social Security constitutional?" But Occupy Wall Street? Thus far, zilch.

There are, admittedly, some items that may be peripherally related: "Can you trust Washington?" and "Distribution of money and wealth" but these are summaries of older and unrelated polls. You'd think the establishment media was blithely unaware of 'OWS',(Ha!) but one assumes they've been hoping the kids would just go away. I'm not even sure how accurate it is to characterize them as all or mostly kids but either way they didn't just go away, at least they haven't yet. One assumes the powers that be have a certain patience threshold with respect to how long OWS may go on, but it hasn't been reached yet. They recognize it's in their interest to seem indifferent at this point.

Finally, CNN released a poll today about OWS, saying that roughly half the population has heard of the protests going on. If a poll conducted after this has been going on for over two weeks shows 49% of respondents still haven't even heard of "Occupy Wall Street", how many do you suppose were even aware of the various one-day demonstrations in D.C. over the years, whether related to the Iraq war or other things ? 20%? 15%?

(I mean the noncommercial ones of course, mounted by the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition and their ilk, as opposed to those media spectacle faux demonstrations sponsored by Fox News or Comedy Central.)

It reminds me of the conceit of looking for "untainted" jurors for high-profile murder trials. I've always wondered about that, why it's supposed to be preferable to have incurious lunkheads as stewards of the juroring, or whatever you call it.

Poll: Half the country has heard about the Occupy Wall Street protests

An ORC International Caravan Poll released Monday[pdf link] indicates that 51% of Americans say they've heard about the Occupy Wall Street movement, with 49% saying they haven't heard about the demonstrations, which started in New York City 24 days ago and have spread to cities across the country.

According to the survey, 27% say they agree with the movement's overall position on the financial system and social change, with 19% saying disagree with Occupy Wall Street on those issues. Fifty-four percent of those questioned have no firm opinion about Occupy Wall Street.

The pdf link CNN provides barely scratches the surface. Maybe there were many other questions. I'm curious how people's views correlate to age, whether or not they usually vote, to level of education, and obviously viz-a-viz employment status and income. The perennial drum-beating about how persons with bachelor's degrees making so much more over the course of a lifetime than high school grads has struck me as a bit fishy for some time, and I wonder about how those numbers are derived.

A detour, of sorts: Discussing Slavoj Žižek means you get to use diacritical marks, which is always fun. I've read people like John Caruso and BDR saying he's an overblown fraud, but have tried to reserve judgment because I haven't read any of his books, just an occasional essay in The Guardian or Counterpunch. But he comes across as a clueless, egocentric jerk in this linked 2 part Youtube video [via] of his visit to OWS from this Sunday. Why do the kids co-operate with his insistence that they repeat everything he says, like extras in The Life of Brian? So Fox News can make fun of them?

Cain: Not rich? No job? Blame yourself (CNN Political Ticker)

Herman Cain: "Don't blame Wall Street. Don't blame the big banks. If you don't have a job and you're not rich, blame yourself."

( And he's supposed to be one of the less wacky candidates.) I hope somebody asks him about the phenomenon of CEOs occasionally getting performance bonuses for trimming their workforces, in light of the above.

He's right though, that ultimately the Occupy Wall Streeters represent a critique of capitalism, but I suspect that now that the establishment media has their angle of "the liberal tea party", this critique will be increasingly difficult to discern for people watching on television. At any rate, it probably behooves us to mistrust our own reactions sometimes, when we are convinced

"the American People are so...[insert quality x]"

because the media often works to make us give up on each other.

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Sunday, October 09, 2011

9 October 2011

via Crooks and Liars, from yesterday. I think programming this is part of the reason I watch much less TV nowadays.

from a couple of weeks ago, via Dennis Perrin: Marisol Bello, USA TODAY, Poverty affects 46 million Americans

Paul Craig Roberts: Is the war on terror a hoax?
(via KFO's Buck v. Bell, where he has some additional comments. BvB was apparently named for this case from many years ago.)

Guardian UK, "Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media"

Dan Hancox,"The Real Reason Why Police Cage Peaceful Protestors" October 3, 2011

Duncan, "In my back yard"

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak said in a recent interview that a lot of talk about "sustainability" is misconceived, because the lifestyles people want to sustain simply aren't sustainable. And some well-meaning people just don't get it: one person commented on Facebook, "When I have enough to feed myself for the month and not Overdraft...Overdraft ..I will undoubtedly suffer help I those less fortunate." It's a nice sentiment, but it misses the point. Personal, private charity can't fix the systemic structural problems the world faces.


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Friday, October 07, 2011

Operation Forever War

Af Pak demo


Friday was the 10th anniversary of the launch of the war in Afghanistan, launched less than 30 days after the terrible events of September 11th, 2001. The war on the Taliban was originally called "Operation Infinite Justice" but was renamed Operation Enduring Freedom when somebody decided that "Infinite Justice" had a creepy fundamentalist tinge or something. Infinite Justice also suggests an operation never meant to end, and maybe the name change was meant to avoid that suggestion, although evidently it would have been more honest.

Why are we still in Afghanistan? Because we are needed? Because they want us there? This is pretty unlikely. When an American reporter goes to some rural village, surrounded by US soldiers and asks if they want us to be there, what are they going to say? "No, get lost, and take those gun-toting soldiers with you, they're really ticking us off!" I wonder what Americans think when they're told we're needed or wanted in Afghanistan.

Slate, Gen. McChrystal: "After 10 Years, Our Work in Afghanistan Is Only Halfway Done"

McChrystal: "Frighteningly simplistic" view of the country has crippled the war effort.
By Will Oremus | Posted Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, at 12:01 PM ET

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, McChrystal said the United States had a “frighteningly simplistic” view of the country when it invaded, CBS News reports. Even today, McChrystal argued, the country lacks the understanding needed to complete the mission successfully.

“We didn't know enough and we still don't know enough,” he said. “Most of us — me included — had a very superficial understanding of the situation and history, and we had a frighteningly simplistic view of recent history, the last 50 years.”Knowledge isn’t the only problem, he added. President Bush’s decision to invade Iraq was a costly diversion that has tarnished Muslims’ perception of the United States.
The most difficult task still ahead, he continued, is building a credible Afghan government that could rule the country peacefully once outside forces withdraw.

The celebrated personal difficulties between BHO and McChrystal notwithstanding, the language above, in which McC describes GWB's decision as a "costly diversion", suggests that he's 'on message' with the Obama administration in terms of delivering the right talking points. But whether it's McChrystal or Petraus, or Condoleezza Rice or Gates or Hilary Clinton delivering the speech, and whether it's 2005 or 2009 or 2011, the message is depressingly similar. A superficial understanding isn't the problem. They don't want us there, and will never want us there, at least not as occupiers imposing our will.

People like McChrystal must know this, even if they feel they also have to support doomed policies, apparently because it's expected of them. I don't know if this is sad or monstrous. I suppose it's both.

I wrote about the Af-Pak war at some length in the summer of 2009, here and here. While the US may have killed bin Laden since then, I fail to see what has otherwise changed, or even how killing him has changed the war. More people have needlessly died, on all sides, who were alive in 2009. What else?

Even the reliably hawkish Fred Kaplan acknowledges that the Af-Pak war is going badly:

As for Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, who appeared alongside Mullen at Thursday's hearing, it is hard to tell whether his spin on recent events was evasive, delusional, naïve, or a combination of the three. The assault on the embassy, Panetta insisted, marks "a sign of weakness in the insurgency." Having been dealt a string of setbacks on the battlefield, the insurgents are now shifting tactics to go after "high-profile" targets, such as Afghan officials, peace negotiators, and the American embassy. This shift, Panetta said, will have no effect on the Taliban's "odds of military success."

Also here:

Hearts, Minds, and Murders: The killing of Hamid Karzai's brother means the war in Afghanistan is going worse than we thought

Two from Greg Scoblete, How Important is Af-Pak?

The Alluring, Enduring Myth of Energy Independence

and, A decade of war [via BDR]


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Monday, October 03, 2011

from Wikinews 3 October 2011

Brooklyn Bridge

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